The Great Climate Clash

September 15, 2010

Dr. Eric Grimsrud and Dr. Ed Berry both live in Flathead County, Montana. As a result of their Letters to the Editor in the Daily Inter Lake, they agreed to conduct an online debate open to the general public. While they live in what many consider a remote part of America, their Climate Clash debate is relevant to all of America even into the Halls of Congress.

In accepting Dr. Ed’s request for this debate, Dr. Eric wrote:

A Scientific View of Climate Change (no politics, no personalities)

“I gladly accept Ed Berry’s invitation to participate in a scientific discussion of the climate changes we believe are presently occurring.  In accordance with Ed’s request, I will limit my remarks here entirely to the scientific aspects of climate change (in which I am a recognized expert) and will not venture into other aspects of climate change (in which I have opinions like everyone else, but I am not an expert), such as economic and societal consequences.” – Eric

Dr. Eric will argue that human-emissions of carbon dioxide are causing “significant” climate change. Dr. Ed will argue the opposite.

The Rules of Engagement

Nothing either has said or written outside this Climate Clash blog is admissible here. Each will start from scratch to build his case. Each will challenge the other only on the basis of what they present here.

So what you read here will be the full material used for the debate. They will try to show you as completely as possible the scientific cases for and against global warming.

Dr. Eric will begin by making his opening statement and his first argument on behalf of “Anthropogenic Global Warming” or AGW. Dr. Ed will follow with his critique. And so the debate will  proceed until we all become exhausted.

They present, you decide!

No matter what your views on global warming may be, Dr. Eric and Dr. Ed will help you understand global warming far beyond what you have learned from the media. They will do their best to show you the science of global warming so you can understand it … and act on it as you wish.

This is a unique opportunity you cannot get from TV, radio, letters to the editor, speeches or books. There is no better way to learn a subject than to follow a debate between profecsionals and be able to ask your own questions along the way.

This may be the first time a true scientific debate about global warming will be presented to the public with public interaction. Too many times, science is ignored when the discussion turns to economics, politics or personalities. That will not happen here. We will stick to science.

Science is impersonal.

This debate is not about Dr. Eric or Dr. Ed. They are only the messengers. This debate is about whether or not our carbon dioxide emissions are causing serious climate change.

While guest scientists may participate, Dr. Eric and Dr. Ed will ultimately be responsible for incorporating any scientific input into their own arguments.

There is no preset time limit to this Climate Clash debate. It will last as long as it needs to last. We expect the typical response times to be on the order of a week. So, if this fits your schedule you will have ample time to follow along.

Help us gather a nationwide audience. Tell your friends to sign up for The Great Climate Clash.

18 thoughts on “The Great Climate Clash”

  1. The accusation that additional CO2 in our atmosphere will lead directly to global warming is flawed because there has NOT yet been promulgated a scientifically sound argument in its favor. I await any such to be produced.

    Here's my take on the matter:

    The albedo effects of water and carbon dioxide are dominant different at various levels of the atmosphere (after new CO2 has taken up residence there). (If you don't already know, Albedo is the fraction of solar energy (shortwave radiation) reflected from the Earth back into space.) We extend this from just light to all the solar radiant energy; light + UV + Infrared.

    Water (H2O), both vapor and liquid (clouds) is overwhelmingly influnetial to the total Albedo below about 30,000 feet height (above which most long distance air travel occurs these days) . CO2 effects are perhaps 1/000th that of water . So we might just as well forget about considering CO2 effect on air below 20,000 feet or 30,000 feet height.

    Above 30,000 feet there is very little water vapor since the capacity for the air to retain it is so little. But CO2 exists there in the same concentration as found at sea level. Therefore, relatively speaking, CO2 is the major player there and above.So we expect that more CO2 will lead to greater high altitude (e.g. "stratosphere") heating in the daylight. Mixing such heat down to the surface where it will affect is is highly unlikely from day to night to day. Specifically, at night, there is no solar energy to be had but there is active infrared radiation back to space (an INCREASE in the overall Albedo) that leads to stratospheric COOLING! That such night air cooling exists cannot be denied. The degree of such cooling when compared to the daylight warming needs to be carefully considered. Are they the same? Is it a zero-sum game? Or not? If not, then where does the balance go?

    Consider the fraction of energy affected by CO2, day vs night. It's trivial in the daytime because most – perhaps 90% – of the solar energy is visible light, NOT in the infrared range. At night, 100% of the Albedo energy is in the infrared range. CO2 dominates the night (outgoing) albedo of the stratosphere and above.

    Turning back to the GW, GHG, CAT arguments, all of which are centered ONLY on the surface temperature, I don't see any energy connection between the surface and the stratosphere…

    What I see is the likelihood that the CO2 increase will increase the purveyance of the atmosphere for heat energy; more in by day and more out by night, with the likelihood that the night loss may exceed the day gain. That implies a decrease of surface temperature on the average. This of courseis the great argument of the day.

    More likely, I believe, is that we can have generally warmer summers and colder winters… by maybe a degree F each…

    So If I can A/C my house one more degree F in the summer and heat my house in the winter by one more degreeF in the winter, I will indeed survive! And If I want to "do my share", GO GREEN if you will, I will set my thermostt one degree higher in the summer, and lower it one degree in the winter.

    IMHO, to H… with GW and GHG.

    No need to do CAT.

    "And the all went down to the beach" (last line from movie "Never OnSunday")>


    1. I have read and tried to digest your statements. I should correct you on what appears to me to be a misunderstanding of the term “albedo”.

      As you said, this term is defined to be the fraction of incoming solar radiation that is reflected back into outer space. However, gaseous molecules do not do such mechanical reflection. Solid or liquid materials, such as clouds, surface ice, and atmospheric particles "reflect", and that's common for visible light (1/3 to 2/3 microns in wavelength), radiation whose wavelength is smaller than the water droplets and dust particles.

      For the purpose of this debate, I extend the concept of albedo – from being just the ratio of reflected visible sunlight to incident visible sunlight – by adding the re-radiated infrared energy that occurs constantly day and night; significant at night. This captures into our debate the fact that we have a another process in play; the CO2 effect that is not significant at lower altitude where instead this total albedo is controlled by water vapor and clouds. CO2 absorption and re-radiation is conversely important only in the "clear" air above any light-scattering clouds and dust.

      Recall that pure nitrogen and pure oxygen are symmetrical molecules. They have no dipole moment because of that symmetry. The ony way they can interact with electromagnetic waves (light, IR, UV) is if their electrons can be kicked out of their orbits. This is clearly not done for visible light and not done for IR, but UV and higher energy photons can indeed do that, and we witness the UV absorption edge on that count that protects our skin from UV damage.

      CO2, NO2 and O3 (ozone) are "asymmetrical molecules". They have a dipole moment. This opens the door for interaction with electromagnetic waves on account of the electric field which such waves or photons possess. This interaction is exacerbated at frequencies corresponding to the mechanical resonance vibration modes of the molecule. For instance there is a "wag" or "bending" modal frequency where the two O's vibrate around the C-atom; there is a "stretch" mode where each O vibrates to and from the C-atom, and there are combination modes of those two. These modal resonances occur at frequencies that match the frequency of several infrared photon frequencies, giving rise to the familiar CO2 resonance "lines" around 4.2 -4.5, another around 9.4 microns, and strong resonances at wavelengths longer than 13 microns.

      Such vibrating polar molecules also act as transmitters (or emitters, or re-radiators) of infrared radiation, broadcasting in all directions including the zenith and the nadir. The mass of CO2 in the air is thus effectively a "black body" that can radiate energy in the absence of sunlight. Such radiation from the earth's surface produces "dew" and "frost" at night, known to all of us.

      You state that such molecules can absorb but cannot reflect infrared radiation. You must be corrected in that a process equivalent to "reflection" does indeed exist, but in the form blackbody re-radiation. This correction must be introduced into your thinking, as it is as real as is dew and frost.

      At night, the warm earth below becomes a source of infrared radiation – into these upper air levels. This earth IR – of a lower intensity than the infrared energy portion of daytime sunlight – is on its way to to be lost to outer space.

      Please reform your thoughts to include infrared black body radiation from CO2 in the upper atmosphere where if dominates, and consider the night cooling perturbation resulting from increased CO2 concentration.

      A discussion on The Heat Balance of the Atmosphere can be found in chapter 3 of Horace Robert Byers text "General Meteorology", 4th edition, McGraw-Hill, 1974, ISBN 0-07-009500-0, QC861,2,B9.


      1. Ange,

        I am not an atmospheric physicist, but it seems to me that there should be another way to treat CO2 absorption and re-radiation than to 'extend' the albedo concept in the way you propose.

        Albedo is a concept concerning (instantaneous) directional reflection and therefore cannot be extended to include (delayed) omnidirectional radiation.

        Surely stratospheric radiation during night and day must be included in amospheric heat balance analysis, one would assume? And if this part of the mechanisms by its nature deserves a separate (and valid) concept, please assign an proper name. In any case, 'albedo' would not only be confusing but even invalid.

  2. Angelo Campanella: Where is your data supporting the statement that CO2 is evenly distributed in the atmosphere? Based on the molecular weight of CO2 at 44 it is heavier than air therefore it would have a higher concentration near the ground than in the stratosphere in spite of all the aircraft. While I cannot quote a source at the moment- I believe that the web-site of http://www.stratos-sphere has some of this information.
    As CO2 is heavier that air there have been many people suffocated when they have gone into confined spaces below ground. As is well known in the hygiene field CO and CO2 have totally different effects on animal live. CO is toxic because it reacts to red blood cells in the body. CO2 can cause death at very high concentrations by displacing the O2 that we need to breath. I have been told that some workers in beer factories have been asphyxiated by the high concentration of CO2 over the fermentation vats ,lost consciousness ,fell into the vats and drowned. Thus high concentrations of CO2 can be found at ground level. Any way the finding of the US EPA on heath effects of low concentrations of CO2 are not based on facts.
    Back to CO2 in the atmosphere there are no heat transfer equations that show that there is a relationship between a given concentration of CO2 and a specific amount of heating. Later on I will be discussing an experiment that shows that the "greenhouse gas effect does not exist”, as well as why several experiments that can be found on the Internet that claim to prove the Existence of the “greenhouse gas effect” are faulty because of several technical errors, errors in physics and not well thought though set ups.

    1. OK I looked at Google hits that defined CO2 concentration with altitudes. I encourage you all to Google on keyword "CO2 concentration with altitude" and to study the subsequent hits.

      Some pertinent articles showed up… noting attempts at same in the past, but developing and calibrating instruments to do so have been irregular. Two hits are:

      These do indicate that variability was found, but not necessarily monotonic with altitude.
      One article is from 1969 volunteering only a 5 ppm change (on top of 300+- ppm basal concentration) vs altitude during one flight. . Other articles also note what I interpret as small changes. It was mentioned that concentration was "greater" at lower level, near the surface. This has had to be the case throughout the entire earth history, as the only source of CO2 must be surface emissions, releases, eruptions, etc and today's fuel consumption. Eric agrees that mixing and diffusion are effective at minimizing the concentration reduction with altitude. Another mention is that there has been observed a second peak of CO2 at the highest atmosphere levels (in the daytime?). Another detected that in one instance, the maximum level (at aircraft altitude) was found to be at 70 degrees North altitude. Clearly, this understanding of the spatial distribution of CO2 is a work in progress. Others here should Google a lot more than me and find what's known now.

      My bottom line is that the concentration variance is not great enough to exclude or minimize CO2 control the infrared albedo effects in the upper atmosphere. It is the case also that ozone (O3) contribution to the same albedo is just as significant.

      In summary, the article

      examines all these CO2 matters in a multi-year analysis (starting in 2006 and continuing) where the infrared and concentration change with time (but not with altitude) is discussed. This article is very long, but clearly refines its position progressively. At the very end, their Conclusion (at end) becomes:

      "Although carbon dioxide is capable of raising the Earth's overall temperature, the IPCC's predictions of catastrophic temperature increases produced by carbon dioxide have been challenged by many scientists. In particular, the importance of water vapor is frequently overlooked by environmental activists and by the media. The above discussion shows that the large temperature increases predicted by many computer models are unphysical and inconsistent with results obtained by basic measurements. Skepticism is warranted when considering computer-generated projections of global warming that cannot even predict existing observations. "

      The most important fact I have gathered from today's discussion is the CO2 at altitude concentration variability with geographic location ("70 degrees North").


  3. Following the scientific method: Where is the creditable experimental data from an experiment that proves the "greenhouse gas effect"? Where are the results performed by other experimenters confirming the results of the first experimenters?
    It is assumed that both sides have an acceptable definition of the "greenhouse gas effect" I may have missed it -can you direct me to your definition of the "greenhouse gas effect" I saw your explanation of the "ghg"effect is this your scientific definition?

  4. The intensity of sulight… that 's easy. See:

    The "Solar Constant" is 1.321 Kilowatts per square meter in July, and 1.413 Kilowatts per square meter in January. See:

    The circumference of the earth is 40,000 kilometers (by definition). You go figure. You can then use the Stefan–Boltzmann law to figure …., Rayleigh-Jeans law to figure spectral radiance distribution with wavelength then Planck's law to figure black body radiation intensity with wavelength. from those, one should be able to calculate the wide band albedo of the earth knowing that the average earth temperature is about 59F. The, one needs data on the fuel consumtion by man-made activities . Some old data I have indicates (in exojoules; 10^18 Joules; call one an "exj") 1850, ten exj; 1900, 39 exj; 1950 114 exj; 1987, 243 exj and 2000, 300 exj.

    I short-cut the calculations by just using the Stefan–Boltzmann law (the radiation from a black body increases as the fourth power of that black body's temperature), approximated the albedo as 36%, then figured the up-tick of earth temperature, according to , due to the addition of 360 exj along with the sun's input to the sun's input. My bottom line was an increase of about one-tenth of a degree Celsius. Someone here should check my work.

    Turning to the CO2 concentration increase because somebody thinks that it is a Green House Gas, one needs an albedo model that properly represents the role of CO2 in capturing sunlight; evaluating how many more or less exojoules of sunlight energy is captured throughout the atmosphere when air CO2 concentration increases.

    There, I've simplfied the problem into bite-sized pieces…


  5. Hello Ange: thank you for the info on Solar energy. The problem is that 99.9999% of the people reading this are totally lost in this format.( have to refresh my knowledge also) Below is some information put together from a refresher course on energy I had taken. While I had the answer to most of the questions I asked I am still interested to know if either Dr. ED or specifically Dr. Eric (I am a climate expert) can give a figure for the following questions.

    Dr. Eric : How much back radiation would you expect if you can calculate it from 320 ppm of CO2?
    How much IR radiation ( in watts or Btu’s ) would you expect from the “black body “ radiation of the O2 and N2 that are the primary components of the atmosphere?
    Based on some assumed average temperature of the atmosphere What would the wave length of the IR be based on Kirchhoff’s formulas?
    This is from my response to a blog on another web-site.
    Just to help you put the effects of the variation of solar radiation intensity into perspective, you need to understand that to get to Solar effects on Earth, the earth is irradiated 24/7/365.25. At a conservative evaluation, the earth absorbs more energy in TEN SECONDS than all human activities consumption in ONE YEAR. There are some evaluations that downgrade the effect to as much as 300 seconds (or 5 minutes), in order to get the total Btu's of energy absorbed. To give you some numbers, the world uses 446 Quads (1 E+15) of BTU. The earth's upper atmosphere receives about 350 watts per square meter, and a generally accepted value is 250 watts per square meter at the surface. The earth's surface area is 510,072,000 square meters (about one third could be used as receiving full intensity). the times (24/7/365.25)=3681720second. Multiplying the numbers, you get 469,485,570,960,000,000.0 watts per year (this still needs to be converted to Btu's per year or visa versa) Anyway, small changes in intensity with changes in output of the sun or variations in the orbit varies as the ratio of the square of the distance, will have a significant effect.
    When you look at the amount of energy represented by a 0.11% change in solar energy intensity it is 3100+ time the amount of energy used by mankind in a year.
    Now that most astronomers are saying that we are in a solar minimum, we will be experiencing cooler weather for as much as 17 years worldwide. Weather data from the Southern Hemisphere and Asia are confirming this daily. Is this a climate change? Not at all. The fact, that a climate change is thousands of weather days piled end to end at one location. To be sure of a climate change, you have to look at 100 years of data, and at only one location. There are thousands of different climates in the world.
    Getting back to the issue at hand, you must remember this: Where is the data and the experiments that prove the “greenhouse gas effect exists? What other factors that are claimed by the AGW frauds to be insignificant are really significant? In conclusion, the science has not been settled. Scientists are only starting to understand that there are far more factors involved than have been looked at before.
    There is a recent article on “ Solar Speculation” by David Whitehouse (October 8,2010) that seems to give a lot more recent and interesting data.

  6. Leonard Weinstein

    Even though I am a skeptic, I disagree with the statements made about the ignorance of climate scientists wrt absorption and radiation details. They are generally very good at those details. Also, I get tired of the confusion of back radiation and if there is an atmospheric greenhouse effect. There is, get over with the disagreement. The only real debate is on feedback of clouds and aerosols, and accuracy of historical temperature and CO2 data, and such numbers as ocean rise rate.

  7. Leonard Weinstein

    I would suggest going to scienceofdoom's web site ( to get a good background on much of the atmospheric physics of radiation and the atmospheric greenhouse effect. He is a supporter of CAGW, and I disagree with some of his analysis conclusions, but much of his general material is well written and valid.

  8. Having read some of the physics on sciencofdoom's web-site,yes there is lots of physics but where is the experimental data proving that the greenhouse gas effect exists?
    Looking at the weather its not cooperating with the CAGW crowd. The oceans are not rising, the relations ships of actual temperatures to projected temperatures just do not indicate that "climate change" is occurring. There is no way to say that even a few years of weather data can be used to project 10,20, 30, 40, 50, or 100 years into the future. Weather is the results of many different things, including solar energy, axial tip of the earth, volcanic activity, cloud cover that can be effected by solar flares, and a few other factors that are not even included in the "climate models" because the computers are still to limited in capacity. As its an axiom “garbage in is garbage out”
    If the climate experts are so sure that CO2 can cause an effect on global Temperatures where is the experiments that prove it.
    How about a very simple set of experiments using a few actual greenhouses. Having notices that a greenhouse complex in my neighborhood uses CO2 , I checked with the operator and was informed that they have to add CO2 to the atmosphere during the active growing period of the crop otherwise the CO2 level drops below 100ppm when this stunts the growth of the plants thus reducing the crop.

    Now this is obviously an ideal place to do some experiments. They are set up with a controlled environment with the ability to control humidity, temperatures, CO2 concentrations and living plants to test the effects of different concentrations of CO2. Most places have multiple greenhouses thus a control greenhouse and several with various higher levels of CO2 can be monitored to see if changing concentration have any effect on temperatures. The concentrations can be doubled or tripled or quadrupled and if there is a relation between CO2 concentration and temperatures in the greenhouse.
    The cost will be far less that the millions of dollars that are wasted to sequester carbon, that will do nothing to effect global temperatures. This experiment could be duplicated in many parts of the country to see if the results are the same.
    The greenhouses have instrumentation to monitor CO2, humidity,temperature, possibly solar radiation and if other instruments to monitor IR and UV are needed they could be added at minimal cost.
    Why hasn't the scientific method been tried?
    If a simpler experiment is needed I'd be happy to show one that can prove that the “greenhouse gas effect does not exist and it would cost less that $125.00.

  9. Having looked for "Creditable experimental data proving that the "greenhouse gas effect" exists for the last 5 years including contacting most major Universities, and many supposed research groups receiving government grants -no one has yet provided such data or even listed sources.
    Dr. Eric: as you are such a strong believer is the "greenhouse gas effect" Why do you believe the Hypotheses without any "creditable Evidence"
    I presume that you will be providing such Proof during the course of this climate clash.

  10. @32, Berthhold,

    While there is not such thing as absolute "proof" in complex aspects of science, you will find "evidence" for the GHG effect I have, in fact, provided by reading ahead to my latest Post 6. And yes more evidence will follow. What I have posted so far is widely considered to be based on credible, but please feel free to locate and point out its faults. In addition, a bit more detail than has been provide by some (such as, "what a farce!") would be helpful in your response.

  11. Berthhold @30, 32:
    Is it possible that you are confusing the planetary "greenhouse" (GH) effect with changes in magnitude of GH effect with increase in well-mixed IR absorbing gases? These are seriously different things, and devil is in details as usual. I would hope that we will eventually get to this detail, but I doubt it.

    You are clearly confusing gardening greenhouses with planetary GH effect in #30. Please understand that the planetary GH effect is inseparable from atmospheric lapse rate, which is convectively induced in presence of gravity field. To make experiments and see the effect as you suggested in #30, you would have to build a greenhouse 30-50km tall, which would be quite a challenge.

  12. It appears that it is time to get to a detailed definition of the "greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere and how the Concentration of IR absorbing gases are changing the temperatures" This definition should differentiate the effects of IRag's that are only found as gases in the atmosphere as CO2, CH4, and NO2 and Water which is found in all three phases of mater vapor, liquid, solid.
    When discussing the "greenhouse gas effect" donot forget the heat capacity of 78% N2 , 20.6 % O2 and the remainder of CO2 and other trace gases. Of course water is a variable from near 0 to 6% thus changing the percentages of the others.

  13. Al Tekhasski says:”Is it possible that you are confusing the planetary “greenhouse” (GH) effect with changes in magnitude of GH effect with increase in well-mixed IR absorbing gases?”
    You are absolutely correct- I have no understanding of what "planetary "greenhouse effect"is. Based on the well established understanding that the "greenhouse effect" is Confined space heating,First documented in 1909 by R.W. Wood a professor of Physics and Optics at John Hopkins University from 1901 to 1955. I can not comprehend that there is confined space heating in the earth's atmosphere.
    If you are talking about the fact that a planet with an atmosphere and a water ,and vegetation covered is warmer that a planet or moon without an atmosphere you are using an illogical term that really has no definable meaning is science.
    To compare the earth to a "black body" absorber or radiator is just as illogical for the same reasons-75 -80% covered by water,snow or ice; light colored deserts, green forests,crop land and significant mountain ranges, cloud filled atmosphere, by some estimates 70% of the time. Please give us your definition of a "planetary greenhouse effect"?
    I have a very good understanding of what the "greenhouse effect" is and I will be shearing with you a definition of the "greenhouse gas effect" shortly. I'm waiting for Dr. Eric to offer us his wisdom on this subject. I find that the circumstantial evidence of million year old ice core data or other in-suto relationships of CO2 to temperature very unconvincing.
    As I have asked and still have not gotten is even a small experiment that does not have several errors in physics that shows that CO2 can cause heating of the atmosphere by absorbing IR radiation.

  14. Leonard Weinstein

    Dr Ed and Dr Eric,
    Here is an essay by a 15 year old girl, written in 2007, that puts all of us to shame with our bickering. She may not be completely correct, but her logic and details and supporting data are clear and complete and compelling. All of the viewers of this site should read it before proceeding:

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