Who Was James Hansen and What Was He Selling?

The extent to which some adult humans assume and are obsessed with IR absorption and heat forcing in the atmosphere as if it’s almost exclusively due to carbon dioxide, methane, and a few other trace gases, is a clear indication we are not a highly evolved species.

There is so much wrong with this assumption it is difficult to know where to begin in setting the record straight. Let’s just admit it’s more complicated than James Hansen argued to Congress back in 1988.

Imagine you’re an IR photon emanating from the surface of the earth. What are the odds (the statistical probability) you would encounter and are then absorbed by a carbon dioxide molecule? A methane molecule? An aerosol? A water molecule, droplet, or ice crystal? Now double the number of carbon dioxide molecules and recalculate. Of course, the probabilities would vary with location, time of day, season, latitude, and numerous other variables, but on average, it wouldn’t make any difference, because carbon dioxide is not a very important GHG.

At 50 percent relative humidity, and 298K there are 24 molecules of water vapor in the atmosphere for every 1 of carbon dioxide. Now add clouds, ice crystals, and particulates and consider the chances an IR photon is absorbed by carbon dioxide. Now consider the IR absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide, a linear molecule which absorbs at very few IR wavelengths and only when asymmetrically bent or twisted, compared to water, a structurally bent molecule which absorbs IR at several wavelengths including almost all the bands absorbed by carbon dioxide.


And this is just a small example of the foolishness of this obsessiveness. Just roll your eyes at the catastrophists. I’m 75 years old. I just wish I could live long enough to observe the rude awakening of these folks when the continental ice sheets return despite our best efforts.

Sometimes I wonder if our descendants, some years down the road, will intentionally add water vapor and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to stave off the eventual end of the Holocene.

About DocStephens

Retired college professor of science and mathematics, academic administrator, and president (emeritus).
This entry was posted in Climate Science, Human Behavior, Musings, Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s