‘Climate ScienceTM’ (represented and promoted by the IPCC) has so corrupted ordinary people’s way of thinking, that in order to demonstrate why there is no ‘atmospheric radiative greenhouse effect’ (rGHE), you have to start all the way from scratch. You have to step completely outside the framework of their concocted ‘mental model’ within which they shape their arguments.
‘Climate ScienceTM’ is afflicted with a dual case of monomania, two major fixations that they cannot and will not drop under any circumstances.
The first one is a complete linear trend line mania. They are unable to look at a data time series and not mentally project one onto it. The data – and especially the variation in it – basically doesn’t matter. Only the straight trend line plastered across it, from the one end to the other, does.
The second one, of direct relevance to this post, is their peculiar obsession with radiative flux intensities and their perceived direct correlation with the surface temperature of objects, expressed by the purely radiative Stefan-Boltzmann relationship. They clearly misinterpret and hence stretch the applicability of this law in the real world far beyond its actual justified range of operation, but absolutely refuse to recognise it. They worship (and use) it as sanctified truth.
Basically, they see the world in terms of radiation first and last. Everything in their world is in the end determined and controlled by thermal radiation. When it comes down to it, according to the warmists, you can simply scrape away everything else and just look at instantaneous radiative emission fluxes and directly know surface temperatures. As if we all lived in Max Planck’s conceptually pure radiative universe.
‘Climate ScienceTM’ thinks (or promotes the idea) that the temperature of any object – even real-world objects on Earth – is determined strictly by its radiative energy output (its emission flux), likewise that this final temperature is known and fixed even from the onset of heating, simply by the instantaneous intensity of its radiative energy input (the absorbed flux) minus convective loss (!).
In other words, if you only know the total (added) intensity of the instantaneous radiative energy flux input to the surface of an object and you are at the same time able to determine its energy loss through convection per unit of time, you will be able to tell its final temperature, no actual thermo-measurement required. Or, turn it around, if you know the temperature of an object, you instantly know the intensity of its radiative energy output, regardless of any simultaneous convective loss of energy.
(Well, you also need to know its surface emissivity/absorptivity, but according to ‘Climate ScienceTM’ most relevant real-world materials (like soil, rock, water, vegetation) possess emissivities close to unity anyway, and so can be approximated as (convecting) black bodies …!)
How a real-world object actually warms vs. how ‘Climate ScienceTM’ thinks it warms.
A real-world object warms by increasing its internal energy. If we disregard ‘work’, such an object will warm as long as more ‘heat’ (energy transferred thermally from hot to cold) comes IN than what goes OUT. In between, the object ‘fills’ with energy. The surplus energy accumulates within the molecules of the object raising its general temperature in the process. As its temperature rises, its heat output also naturally increases. In the end, when heat OUT finally equals heat IN, the object stops warming. It has reached its steady-state temperature.
So what will this temperature be? At what level is this steady state reached? Hard to predict. It depends on the object’s surrounding conditions. If the object in question is a pure black body radiating into a perfect vacuum at 0 K, then eventually, as the object’s heat OUTPUT finally equals its heat INPUT, its surface temperature will be exactly determined by the intensity of its (radiative) heat fluxes. The higher the instantaneous heat flux intensity, the higher the steady-state temperature. And the other way around.
But this situation is not realistic for most objects familiar to us. Why? Because of something called air …
For example, for Earth’s mean global surface, the total heat flux IN and OUT are both 165 J/s/m2. They balance each other. So there’s no doubt the surface is in a kind of dynamic steady state. And its steady-state temperature happens to be ± 289K.
But we can’t really tell how it got there from looking at the heat input/output fluxes alone. An instantaneous flux intensity of 165 W/m2 (accompanied by an emissivity close to 1) does not at all translate, through the Stefan-Boltzmann relationship, into a physical temperature of 289K. If Earth’s surface were really a black body abutting the vacuum of space, then such a flux would only correlate to a maximum steady-state temperature of 232K.
That’s 57 degrees too cold.
Earth’s energy budget according to Stephens et al. 2012.
‘Climate ScienceTM’ has found a nice ‘solution’ to this. They start off by assuming the Earth’s surface is a black body radiating into a perfect heat sink at 0 K after all. Forget about the intervening atmosphere. This means they will assume that the intensity (W/m2) of the radiative emission flux from the surface will always directly correlate with its physical temperature. It starts at 0 and grows to 398 W/m2 as the temperature starts at 0 K and rises to 289K. Directly connected all along.
But – and this is the crucial point – the assumed (calculated) 398 W/m2 radiative emission flux from the surface isn’t the radiative heat output from the surface. It is only what the radiative heat output would be for a black body in space at 289K. And ‘Climate ScienceTM’ knows this perfectly well. They just don’t care. They willfully and deliberately let the thermodynamic concept of ‘heat’ in a thermal energy exchange be conflated with the SB-calculated potential emission flux (radiant emittance) from a warm surface to a heat sink at 0 K. Basically by not mentioning either. They only ever talk about the ‘absorbed radiative energy flux’ and the ‘emitted radiative energy flux’.