I’ve seen some really stupid attempts at creating scientific experiments to prove CO2 is causing global warming, and when I say really stupid, I mean stupid on an epic scale. After Anthony Watts got finished debunking Al Gore and Bill Nye’s experiment, it is amazing they will show their faces in public. Mythbusters, however, may have topped Al and Bill on the stupidity scale, Mythbusters actually disproves CO2 as the cause by trying to prove just the opposite. Here is another video doing the same experiment. Even the BBC is pushing this nonsense. This is how a real scientist runs an experiment.
First, let’s review the greenhouse gas effect. Incoming visible radiation warms the surface of the Earth. CO2 and other greenhouse gasses (GHG) are transparent to incoming radiation. Incoming radiation has a blackbody temperature 5525ºK. The warmed earth then emits outgoing long-wave infrared radiation (LWIR) with a blackbody temperature of 210-310ºK. The only defined mechanism by which CO2 can affect climate change/global warming is by “trapping” LWIR between 13 and 18 microns. That is the only defined mechanism, CO2 has a very clearly defined LWIR absorption spectrum.
Any real scientific experiment would then seek to “control” for all factors except those relevant to CO2. It would also define the ranges to which this experiment would apply. The important range for this experiment is the range of possible CO2 concentrations. Right now CO2 is at 400 parts per million (ppm), doubling it would be 800 ppm, and if we burned every drop of oil, every lump of coal and gasified every pebble of limestone, the maximum CO2 level would reach the Cambrian level of 7,000 ppm.
A well-run experiment would then seek to:
- Use a gas chamber of dry air (H2O is a GHG).
- Vary CO2 to a level up to but not exceeding 7,000 ppm (the theoretical maximum atmospheric CO2).
- Use an IR light and filter that transmits only wavelengths between 13 and 18 microns.
- Thermometers would be located throughout the chamber.
- Have a glass ceiling to allow radiation to escape, replicating the path to outer-space.
- Enclosing the gas prevents conduction from removing some of the heat as it would in the real atmosphere, so this experiment would establish a worst case scenario that wouldn’t truly be possible to reach in the real atmosphere.
- While not perfect, this experiment would seek to isolate the impact of 13 to 18-micron LWIR on CO2, and the resulting effect on temperature.
Mythbusters broke just about very one of the above lists for a good experiment, but what they did a fantastic job at were the scientific sophistry and entertaining theater. Like a magician, they use slight of hand tricks to keep the audience focused on one thing while hiding the truth in smoke and mirrors.
First, they brought in an “expert” to add credibility. The show features a chemistry professor from Berkeley, yes, that Berkeley, the one that was just torched because it was going to have a conservative speaker on campus.
Anyway, I digress, here is the Berkeley expert featured in the video. Appealing to authority is a favorite debating tactic of the Climate Alarmists, and for those that aren’t comfortable thinking for themselves. The obvious problem with this approach is that the “expert” has to have the highest moral and ethical character.
Mythbusters then created an elaborate experiment design, with stage lighting, gas chambers, precision thermometers, computer gas regulation, and ice figures.
Remember, however, the only defined mechanism by which CO2 can affect climate change is by trapping outgoing LWIR between 13 and 18-microns. CO2 and other GHGs are transparent to visible light. How then did Mythbusters control for that factor? They blasted the ice figure with a 1570 footcandle stage light emitting non-GHG activating extremely intense visible lighting. I bet you could get a sunburn standing in front of that oven.
The experiment was to demonstrate the impact of CO2 and methane on temperature. In reality, CO2 can only cause warming, it traps outgoing radiation. The Climate Alarmists change global warming to climate change not for any scientific reasoning, but for practical reasons. The 1970s gave us the Coming Ice Age, The 1990s gave us Global Warming, and post 2000 we had/have the “pause” with global temperatures showing no significant warming over the past 18 years, with the current level back at the same level we were in 1988. How then did Mythbusters control for the other GHGs in this experiment? How did they isolate the impact of CO2 and methane? You got it, they placed a 2-foot ice figure in the chamber that released plenty of the most potent GHG, H2O.
But wait, it gets better. Mythbusters makes the mistake of providing some numbers that we can work with. To start, the room temperatures in 20.4ºC, or basically room temperature of 68.72ºF.
Mythbusters then adds CO2 and methane to the chamber. Remember, CO2 is 400 ppm with a maximum of 7,000 ppm. Methane is 1,800 parts per billion (ppb), with an unknown maximum. Given those ranges, what CO2 concentration did Mythbusters use? 7.351 parts per hundred, or 7.351%. 400 ppm is 0.04%, 7,000 ppm is 0.7%. 7.351% is 183x the CO2 concentration of today, and 10.50x the highest concentration CO2 could ever reach on Earth. This experiment is far more applicable to the atmosphere on Venus than on Earth.
What concentration of methane did Mythbusters use? Only 4.51x the current level. The current methane level is 1,800 ppb or 0.00018%, and Mythbusters used 8.118 ppm or 0.00081%. Not surprising, Mythbusters didn’t dwell on these numbers or give any explanation as to the reasoning behind such unreachable levels. A good magician never gives away their secrets or calls attention to the mechanics of the trick.
Mythbusters then shines a blinding 1570 footcandle stage light on the block of ice for 3 hours, measuring the temperature as it melts. What then were the results? The chamber started the experiment at 20.4ºC, or basically room temperature of 68.72ºF. 3 hours later the control chamber reached 23.9ºC, the CO2 chamber reached 24.9ºC and the methane chamber reached 24.8ºC. The implied net effect of CO2 and methane is about 1.0ºC.
That demonstration, however, doesn’t prove CO2 and methane are dangerous GHGs, it proves just the opposite. Mythbusters inadvertently debunked the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory (CAGW) and proved the IPCC models and projections to be highly inaccurate and overstated.
The IPCC’s estimates that over the next 100 years temperatures will increase somewhere between 1 and 4ºC and CO2 will increase from 400 ppm to somewhere between 500 to 1,000 ppm.
It took Mythbusters 10.5x the highest CO2 concentration the Earth could ever reach, combined with a scorching 1570 footcandle moth killing stage lamp to get a poorly designed experiment to reach a 1.0ºC temperature increase. Even if we don’t use the marginal temperature differential of 1.0ºC, and use the entire temperature increase of 20.4ºC to 24.8ºC, the IPCC estimates still look unreasonable. Once again, Mythbusters used 10.5x the highest concentration CO2 could ever reach on earth, 8x the current level of methane combined with a 1,570 footcandle heat lamp you could bake a pizza with to achieve a 4.4ºC temperature increase. Those conditions aren’t even possible to reach on Earth, and the worst case scenario barely exceeded the IPCC’s top estimate. In reality, what the Mythbusters did was demonstrate the concept behind an Easy- Bake Oven, not the GHG effect. Note the “Bakes With 2 Ordinary Electric Light Bulbs” explanation below the name.
The bottom line is Mythbusters couldn’t even rig an experiment to make a convincing case to convict CO2 and methane. If CO2 and methane are truly the villains Climate Alarmists claim they are, they should be able to come up with some valid experiments to make their case. So far, every attempt I’ve seen has failed miserably.