How come CO2 only works in one direction? And more

I was thinking about an experiment I saw, a while ago, which was supposed to prove that CO2 was truly the mean greenhouse gas it was made out to be, by filling a glass container with CO2, radiating heat into it and measuring the risen temperature. “Surely,” I thought, “that experiment does not represent the atmosphere! (The hypothesis of how CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas is displayed in the other picture; with heat being radiated into the atmosphere, and then being trapped inside the earth’s atmosphere: the orange line. And the glass container only lets in some heat rays some get reflected back: that’s also how glass reflects your image while it’s transparent; so leaves through some light).
The experiment with the container ilseems to prove how heat reflects off the insides of the container; it has no connection to heating of the atmosphere.
Also: how come heat isn’t reflected back into space, before hitting the earth?


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I am an author & an anarcharchist

10 thoughts on “How come CO2 only works in one direction? And more”

  1. The MIRAN IR analyzer was specifically developed many years ago to determine the percent or even the ppm(v) of CO2 is a liquid and it proved to be more reliable and accurate. I sold several to breweries that needed to ensure the right amount of CO2 in each batch of beer. I also sold one to a local fish hatchery so as to determine the CO2 level in the fish tanks since a sudden increase in CO2 spelled disaster to the thousands of tiny trout in the pools.
    The principle of operation was the relative deflective of an IR beam through clear quartz windows if I remember correctly.
    It is hard to relate ppm(v) or ppm(m) of CO2 in a typical air mixture without more sophisticated types of analyzers….. and there is also the rather ambiguous GWP factors imposed on the results…….(global warming potential)…..


  2. Glass is opaque to infrared (heat) radiation, so it wouldn’t let in any infrared. Oops!

    Glass and CO2 let visible light in. That far more energetic radiation is absorbed by objects at the surface, converted into infrared (longer wavelengths, weaker) which can’t get out, but is absorbed and directed back. This is not a perfect system; some does get re-radiated upward. But the net effect is to raise the temperature.

    But CO2 has a saturation point. After a certain level, adding more CO2 does very little to increase temperature. It produces diminishing returns. Venus, for instance, has 219,000 times the CO2 Earth has in its atmosphere, but only has about 2.7x the temperature (K).


    1. I’ve heard about glass not letting heat through, but when I stand 2 yards behind my window (dbl glazing) on a sunny day I can feelconsiderable warmth.
      Thisexperiment (intended to convince people that Gore was right) can’t have been serious (perhaps even faked, or else it worked by heating te glass, and the heated glass radiating its heat inward)


      1. ludwigvanel, you bring up a good point. Glass is, of course, transparent to visible light. And visible light is more energetic than infrared (heat) radiation.

        Visible light comes through the window, strikes things in your room and some turns into heat energy which cannot get out of the glass window. But with a double-glazed window (2 panes of glass separated by a space of air), some of the visible light is converted to heat energy in the space between the panes. This quickly builds up and heats up the glass.

        Now, heat is transmitted by several methods. The two most important in your example are radiative and conductive heat transfer. The heat between the panes is passed through the inner pane by conduction. Glass molecules vibrate and transfer that vibration through the glass. On the inner edge, some of that vibration energy is converted to radiative energy and you feel that heat.

        I hope this helps.


      2. This was actually an experiment performed by Bill Nye and Al Gore. As described in Roy Spencer’s An inconvenient Delusion, chapter “Al Gore and Bill Nye’s Faked Science Experiment”, Anthony Watts exposed their deception, by faking video footage pretending there were thermometers in the glass container, when there never were.


  3. I’m not surprised that Spencer and Watts exposed their deception. They’re good!

    On your earlier comment, the surface temperature of glass doesn’t have to be too high for you to feel the heat 5 yards into the room (big room!). What you’re likely experiencing is the cumulative heat being radiated from the entire surface of the window. Your face, for instance, is receiving radiation from the top, bottom, left and right of the window. That’s a large radiative surface. I had a similar experience with the large, double-paned picture window we had in Maryland — nearly 4 feet by 10 feet, if I recall correctly. The surface was uncomfortable to the touch — about 120F, possibly warmer. Outside, the autumn air was more like 45F. These are rough figures. The experience occurred in the mid-60s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great, but how could my face feel the radiation from the top, bottom and sides when those are encased in the wooden frame?
      And 5 yards deep isn’t much for a living room with integrated dining area.


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