In the aftermath of Judge Alsup's dog and pony show, Eli thought it would be well to search out the best answers.
- What caused the various ice ages (including the “little ice age” and prolonged cool periods) and what caused the ice to melt? When they melted, by how much did sea level rise?
- What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?
- What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by CO2 in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level?
- Does CO2 in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place?
- Apart from CO2, what happens to the collective heat from tail pipe exhausts, engine radiators, and all other heat from combustion of fossil fuels? How, if at all, does this collective heat contribute to warming of the atmosphere?
- In grade school, many of us were taught that humans exhale CO2 but plants absorb CO2and return oxygen to the air (keeping the carbon for fiber). Is this still valid? If so, why hasn’t plant life turned the higher levels of CO2 back into oxygen? Given the increase in human population on Earth (four billion), is human respiration a contributing factor to the buildup of CO2?
- What are the main sources of CO2 that account for the incremental buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere?
- What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth?
Q3: What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by CO2 in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level?
A3: The extra heat at sea level comes from the Sun. CO2 reduces the rate at which the atmosphere loses its energy to space via infrared radiation, which in turn reduces the flow of energy from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere.
Energy from absorbed sunlight at sea level is transferred from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere through direct heat exchange, evaporation, and exchange of infrared radiation. All three of these mechanisms slow down if the atmosphere is retaining extra energy, as it does if greenhouse gas concentrations increase.
The resulting accumulation of energy from the Sun raises temperatures throughout the climate system. A warmer atmosphere is able to lose more energy to space, so the whole climate system eventually approaches a warmer equilibrium.So what are the bunnies favorites and who won the boobie prizes?