Climate Skeptics: Peter Ward’s Ozone Depletion Theory

One of the many ongoing internal debates I have with myself is how to best combat ignorant climate skeptics. It is a never-ending task that can feel like wasted effort. I would argue that it’s actually much easier for skeptics to spread misinformation than it is for actual scientists to explain how the climate system works. This problem boils down to two key issues.

#1 People don’t listen to scientists
It’s not hard to understand global warming, the basic science is simple. However, reconciling all the little details can be overwhelming. People are sometimes thrown off when scientists admit to not understanding small pieces of a large problem, even though the larger problem is very well understood. In other cases scientists just aren’t very good at communicating to non-scientists. Either of these things can really hurt the core message.

I recently bought a car and the salesman confidently told me about these really cool features I would get. He turned out to be totally wrong about those features, but for some reason I didn’t think to question him. Scientists try their hardest to only state what they know is true, and often feel obligated to mention all the things they are not confident about. Good salesmen do the opposite. The work of a scientist is naturally riddled with uncertainty, so they are comfortable talking about what they don’t know. Unfortunately, this makes a terrible sales pitch.

#2 People love an underdog story
Climate skeptics are almost never trained in climate science, in spite of being intelligent, successful people. In the same way political outsiders can gain popularity, climate skeptics have a “rocking the boat” story that grabs people’s attention. The news media is also inclined to follow a good story, and normal scientists tend to have boring stories.

I saw an article this morning about a climate skeptic name Peter Ward.  He has dedicated a book and two web sites to explain his theory of global warming:

He even had shirts made!

He has an interesting theory about how global warming is man-made, but it has nothing to do with CO2. His theory states that the real problem is ozone depletion, which allows more ultraviolet radiation (UV) to reach the surface. He states that CO2 is basically harmless.

Let me state my opinion clearly:

His theory is unconvincing garbage.

To be fair, his ideas about the effects of ozone depletion are not all wrong. They are actually quite well grounded in many ways. Loss of ozone should naturally result in a warming effect.

However, my problem with Dr. Ward’s theory is how he claims to “prove” that it is physically impossible for increased CO2 to cause global warming. He lists off many claims that are wrong in a number of ways.

Let me go over a few examples.

“[models assume] there is more thermal energy contained in Earth’s infrared radiation absorbed by greenhouse gases than in the solar ultraviolet-B radiation that reaches Earth when ozone is depleted. Common experience… confirms that this is not true: you feel hotter standing in … radiation from the Sun than you do standing outside at night with infrared radiation welling up from Earth’s surface.”

There are many issues with this statement, but it is a good example of how someone can confuse the anthropogenic global warming with all the other things that naturally occur in the energy budget of the climate system. The fact that the warming from CO2 is relatively small compared to other things does not prove that it is harmless. The change in the earth’s radiative budget by elevated CO2 is roughly 4 W/m2 of of extra downwelling radiation, considering all the feedbacks. Think about a 4W incandescent light bulb warming a square meter of the surface. It’s not something you would immediately notice on your skin, especially when standing in direct sunlight. However, adding this up over a long time, it amounts to a great deal of extra heat in the climate system.

Even without increased CO2, the atmosphere is always radiating down on us. If you were standing outside at night and the atmosphere stopped radiating down on you, you would feel a lot colder!

“Greenhouse warming theory also assumes that the heated air radiates energy back to Earth’s surface, and that this return flow of heat energy warms Earth. The problem with this is that the [lower atmosphere is] colder than Earth’s surface. Heat cannot physically flow from cold to hot. You do not stand next to a cold stove to get warm.”

Heat “flows” in a few different ways, but heat is radiated in all directions. In a way, he is correct that the net “flow” of heat is always from warm to cold, but the downward radiation from the atmosphere slows this net cooling of the planet considerably. This downward radiation is actually really important, it is a key reason why Earth is not a lifeless ball of ice. He is obviously confused about how global warming works, because no one is proposing that there is a net gain of heat from downward radiation. Instead, the idea is that the net loss of heat from the surface is slowed by CO2, which naturally results in a net warming.

( less radiation output )  +  ( same radiation input )  =  ( more internal energy )

There are more examples of Dr. Ward confusing simple facts about the physics of the atmosphere. Hopefully you can see just how wrong he is about the science of global warming.

There are also many issues with his ideas about warming from ozone, but I don’t really want to dwell on them. One of the big ones is that he claims ozone loss can explain polar amplification, since ozone depletion is strongest at the poles. Polar amplification is expected to occur most strongly at the north pole, due to the vast areas of sea ice. However, the most destruction of ozone occurs at the south pole, because of the type of polar stratospheric clouds that form there. To add insult to injury, the south pole has seen less warming in observations than the north!

So in summary, his theory is garbage. Hopefully this can help steer people away from his ideas.

95 thoughts on “Climate Skeptics: Peter Ward’s Ozone Depletion Theory

  1. Hank Roberts

    Want another? What most bothers me about atomic energy experts is their conviction that teeny weenie things can’t cause big problems.

    For example:
    “It is probable that atmospheric scientists were wrong about CFC’s”
    by Rod Adams, Atomic energy expert. Naval Academy, Naval Postgraduate School and Naval War College graduate. Publisher, Atomic Insights. Host and producer, the Atomic Show podcast.

    This is the level of knowledge that we’re relying on to build — and operate — the fission power plants we need for the next century.

    I believe these folks can learn. But I’ll be damned (so will my grand-nieces-and-nephews) if I can’t figure out some way to teach them about small effects.

  2. William Connolley

    Just to complete a circle that might interest you: my attention was draw to his wiki page, Its been tidied up a little over the last couple of days. We also looked at the page view stats for the page ( and discovered a spike on 2015/11/25, which turns out to be this blog post :-). See-also

  3. Peter L Ward

    I just found your blog. Thank you for the discussion. The problem in climate science today is that rational, scientific discussion is rare. Everything has become polarized between “the scientists” and what they dismiss as the “ignorant climate skeptics.” In that environment, neither side is listening.

    I have been doing and leading quality science for more than 50 years and have looked at more than 10,000 papers on climate that are either in my bibliographic database or in files close at hand. I am raising some very serious, well founded issues, but most “scientists” are so sure of the greenhouse consensus, that they are not even willing to consider the slightest possibility that there might be any problem with greenhouse warming theory. Scientists think of themselves as being objective and open to new ideas, but that is an illusion especially right now in climate science because of the decades of “political” battles.

    I encourage you to watch my AMS talk ( for an overview and then read my two new papers ( that explain why the radiative forcing of 4W/m2 that you mention is incorrect. Radiant thermal energy is not additive. Furthermore greenhouse gases simply do not absorb enough heat to play a major role in global warming. The science is remarkably clear once you step back from the battle line.

    There is a lot of sloppy thinking out there about radiation that you parrot. These papers describe it in detail. You need to think carefully about what radiation is, how it is radiated, and how it is absorbed. I explain in these papers and in chapter 4 of my book, the role resonance plays and why and how this governs the basic laws of thermodynamics. The physics is so clear that I have issued the $10,000 climate change challenge ( offering “to give $10,000 (ten thousand dollars) of my children’s inheritance to the first person or team of people who can demonstrate through direct measurements in the laboratory and/or in the field that a 15% increase in carbon dioxide, such as that observed from 1970 to 1998, can actually cause more warming of Earth than caused by observed contemporaneous depletion of the ozone layer of up to 60%.” If you are so sure about what is garbage and what is not, why don’t you take the challenge.

    I will be publicizing widely, later this month, and sending personal emails to more than 2400 top climate scientists, the URL urging rational scientific discussion. You can check it out now.

    Questioning is central to doing good science. We all have to decide what is worth our time to question and when to follow the herd. There is a lot to learn carefully questioning greenhouse warming theory, which actually fits the details of the data rather poorly.

    As Gandhi said “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Thanks for laughing; that is a step forward. Now can you get informed enough to discuss cogently?

    1. Walter Post author


      So according to Ghandi, are we supposed to fight now? (jk)

      I apologize for the strong language in my post. I’ve been meaning to go back and tone it down. In my post about Nasif Nahle I mention that there is a lack of sensible discourse on these issues, so we can definitely agree on the need to step back from political lines.

      I watched your talk and read the paper “Problems with the Physics of Greenhouse Warming”. I have a ton of specific questions and comments, too much for a blog comment. But I’d like mention some overarching concerns. Overall, I’m still very unconvinced by your arguments. Based on the way you talk about current climate models, I don’t believe you actually know how they work. You keep mentioning they are “additive” like in the following quote from the paper:

      “Climate models add up (integrate) energy as a function of bandwidth and add radiative forcing’s together. Yet thermal energy is only a function of frequency (E=hν) and is not a function of bandwidth. Frequency is not additive. You cannot add blue light to red light to get ultraviolet light.”

      This is a very inaccurate assessment of how radiative transfer codes work. I’m open to be shown that I am wrong, but you don’t provide any proof of your claim that radiative transfer methods are actually adding frequencies. There are many freely available climate model codes that allow you to study and tinker. If you are right, you should be able to easily demonstrate that the models are wrong with some simple idealized experiments. How do you expect to convince anyone without showing some work?

      And this is a perfect segue to my other big concern with all of your presentations. And it’s a reason that critics of climate science, like yourself and Bill Gray, get lumped into a “skeptic” category. You don’t show any actual science. There’s never a “hypothesis=>experiment=>conclusions” protocol that we expect from serious scientific inquiry. You never pose a question that can be answered with a quantitative measurement or calculation. This is how the scientific community operates, and it shows that a piece of work can be taken seriously. So you’ll never get to Ghandi’s “winning” step if you don’t bring some science into your discussion.

      One last thing, I’m really humbled that you read my blog, and I hope you won’t take offense from my criticism. I really think we can make a lot of progress with more respectful exchanges. I’d be happy to chat more over email. I don’t want to take your money, but I bet we could settle this whole debate one way or another.


      1. Peter L Ward


        Radiative forcing is central to current thinking on climate. It is Chapter 8 in the IPCC Climate Change 2013 Physical Science Basis but used throughout all such reports. It is summarized nicely in table 8.6 on page 969. To get net radiative forcing, you add together the forcing from each component. Sorry, but thermal energy is not additive because it is an intensive physical property that permeates matter at the atomic level. You have to read that paper carefully to really understand this or to challenge it intelligently.

        Current radiation codes used by climate models integrate across broadened spectral lines to calculate the thermal energy absorbed by a greenhouse gas. The figure at shows the overview (not the actual spectral lines) of this approach plotted as a function of wavelength. Essentially the “fatter” the peaks such as A and B, the more energy absorbed. On this basis, current models conclude that there is more energy in the infrared absorbed by CO2 than the narrow sliver of ultraviolet energy reaching Earth when ozone is depleted around 310 nanometers. When you integrate, you add up, you calculate in effect the area under the curve. You assume that energy is the same at every wavelength. It is on this basis that most climatologists dismiss ozone depletion as irrelevant regarding global warming. The effect of ozone as a greenhouse gas is minimal, but creation and destruction of ozone in the ongoing Chapman cycle is the primary heater of the stratosphere. Dissociation directly heats air; absorption by greenhouse gases has yet to be proven to heat air substantially. Radiant energy is absorbed by greenhouse gases as energy internal to the bonds holding the greenhouse gas molecule together, which is not directly related to air temperature, which is proportional to the mean kinetic energy of all gas molecules.

        These calculations are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of what energy is. We all know that nuclear energy is more dangerous than X-rays, which are more dangerous than ultraviolet radiation, which is more dangerous than visible light, which is more dangerous than infrared, etc. Dangerous means higher energy that can cause physical change (harm). Atmospheric chemists use E=hv as the energy required to cause a chemical reaction such as the dissociation of oxygen. The Planck-Einstein relation defines this as the energy of a photon. E=hv says that the energy of ultraviolet-B radiation at 310 nm is 48 times greater than the energy of infrared radiation at 14,900 nm absorbed most strongly by CO2 (B in the figure). UV-B is energetic enough to burn your skin. No amount of IR can burn your skin. The more of this energy available, the longer the exposure, the more skin can be burned, but you need UV-B energy to burn skin.

        The closest thing to truth in science is quality observation of nature. Over ten years of full time work at an intensity only possible in retirement, I have pieced together the best observations I could find. These observations are described in detail on my website, in my book, and summarized in my talks. They provide a very strong basis for questioning the foundation of our scientific belief systems not only in climate, but also in physics. One of my best friends is a top theoretical physicist who got the Wolf Prize in Physics last year, second only to the Nobel. We have been discussing for several years whether a photon is a real thing or just a handy mathematical variable. I maintain the latter and he has never been able to prove me wrong. Yet last fall he put it quite succinctly: “Peter, if you are right, everything I have done in my life is wrong.” While I disagree with his conclusion, he expresses clearly why it is so difficult for humans to have the fundamentals of their scientific understanding questioned. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
        It took me two years of living with E=hv to really begin to understand it. Even Planck, who postulated it, saw it merely as a handy mathematical trick.

        It will take time and effort to understand what I am saying and why it appears to be true. The best part is that you are actually asking questions about it. Most just want to dismiss it so they can move on. I am more than happy to continue discussion. It helps me understand what thinking people are having trouble understanding.

  4. ...and Then There's Physics

    Since Peter is commenting here, maybe I can make a comment about the first few sentences on his ozone depletion site. One of the first things he says is

    Average global temperatures were statistically constant from 1998 through 2013 while greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise sharply. This stark divergence, plus new insight into the physics of sunlight, suggests that greenhouse gases are not causing global warming. Depletion of the ozone layer, however, explains all observations of global warming quite clearly.

    Two things would be worth clarifying. Firstly, that global temperatures were statistically consistent with no rise between 1998 and 2013 is not the same as them not having risen. The intrinsic variability means that the uncertainty in the trend is likely to be comparable to the trend for time periods of about 15-20 years or less. It seems that there was a slowdown in surface warming, but suggesting that there was no surface warming is an incorrect interpretation of the analysis. Secondly, even though there was a slowdown in surface warming, there was no apparent slowdown in overall warming (as measured by the ocean heat content).

    Does Peter agree with the above, and – if so – what does that imply about his claim that it suggests greehouse gases are not causing warming? It would seem to quite significantly weaken this claim.

    1. Walter Post author

      I would guess that variability and trend analysis of global surface temperature over the last 15-20 would not help address the disagreements we have about Peter’s ideas. On the other hand, the ocean heat content data provides a serious challenge to his theory. Given his objections to how energy metrics are calculated, he probably has issues with the accuracy of the ocean heat content measurements, but I shouldn’t speculate.

      Overall, the core of his arguments are more about basic physics and radiation, rather than explaining observations. And to complicate matters, changes in either gas comes with numerous feedbacks that produce a radiative balance that is not trivial to understand. Butt luckily, to prove whether Peter is correct or not we just need to address his claims about how radiative transfer should be done. Everything should fall into place from there. (I think)

      1. ...and Then There's Physics

        Thanks for the reply. My reason for bringing up the trend analysis and variablity is that it’s not – IMO – the smoking gun that Peter implies.

        Butt luckily, to prove whether Peter is correct or not we just need to address his claims about how radiative transfer should be done. Everything should fall into place from there. (I think)

        Yes, this does seem to be the key issue. I’m less confident that it should all fall into place from there, but I’m more than happy to be proven wrong.

      2. ...and Then There's Physics

        I don’t know the provenance of this figure, but it seems to show Solar UV flux varying between 22 and 23 mW/m^2. If I understand Peter’s argument, it’s that reductions in ozone can lead to an enhancement of UV absorbed by surface, warming the planet. Given that we have to divide the above by 4, we get UV insolation of around 5mW/m^2. The change in anthropogenic forcings are thought to be between 2 and 3W/m^2, which appears to be about 1000 times greater than the net UV insolation.

        Furthermore, ocean heat content has increased by around 10^23J in the last decade. That implies a planetary energy imbalance of around 0.6W/m^2. I’ve no idea how this can be possible if we’re considering a wavelength range (UV) where the variability in flux is in the mW/m^2 range.

        Of course, I’ve just looked this up now, so maybe I misunderstand something. I presume Peter can confirm what the typical solar UV fluxes are.

        1. Walter Post author

          I’m not sure he has actually calculated fluxes like this, which has been most people’s criticism of his work. Maybe I missed something though, in which case I hope he can point us to some quantitative results.

          1. ...and Then There's Physics

            That would indeed seem like a valid criticism. We have a pretty good idea of how much we’ve warmed (overall) in the last 50 years or so. Checking that the changes in fluxes are consistent with this would seem quite crucial.

            I will admit, though, that I’ve looked at the UV fluxes a bit more, and across the range 200-400nm, it’s probably more like a flux of 100 W/m^2, which would convert to an insolation of around 25W/m^2. However, given that you need this to replace a change in anthropogenic forcing of 2 to 3 W/m^2, the relative change would still need to be substantial.

          2. ...and Then There's Physics

            There is no fundamental problem with the Trenberth-like flux diagrams. They’re entirely reasonable. If you consider all the fluxes, the net TOA flux is around 0.6W/m^2, consistent with estimates of the planetary energy imbalance. Do you have an issue with these basic diagrams (bear in mind that they’re illustrative and really only show surface and TOA fluxes )?

          3. Peter L Ward

            Do you honestly think that Earth is warmed twice as much by CO2 as by the sun?? The CO2 warming, if it is occurring, happens all day and night. Earth is warmed by Sun during the day and cools at night. Standing in sunlight is much, much hotter than standing in moonlight. In fact if we assign a color temperature to each frequency of radiation based on Planck curves, UV-B is 4 times hotter than an oxy-acetylene blow torch while infrared is what your body radiates.

          4. Walter Post author

            Peter, I think you are very misinformed on this particular detail. On the Trenberth diagram the back radiation is not just CO2, a lot of that longwave radiation is from water vapor. Also, those numbers are averaged over day and night, so it doesn’t reflect the intensity of sunlight during the day. So this thing about standing in outside during the day or night cannot be used to illustrate the amount of downwelling longwave radiation. Does this sound reasonable to you?

          5. Peter L Ward

            Come on. What world do you live in? Earth is heated primarily by Sun and it is cooled at night when the sun is not around. This is common experience of all creatures living on Earth. Daytime temperatures are often 20 to 30 degrees warmer than nighttime temperatures.

            If you would take the time to actually read what I have explained in great detail, radiation from a body cannot physically warm that body because the radiation needs to have higher amplitude at every frequency to warm a body. Understanding that radiant energy equals frequency times the Planck constant says that UV-B radiation is 48 times more energetic than IR absorbed most strongly by CO2. The higher the energy, the higher the temperature to which this radiation can warm the absorbing body. Try reading the two papers at They could be informative.

          6. Walter Post author

            Peter you’re totally missing the point. I don’t know how else to explain this. More CO2 doesnt warm the planet directly, it just reduces the net cooling by a little bit, which results in a slow net warming. It doesn’t matter how I feel in the sun vs at night.

          7. Peter L Ward

            Walter, it says your research includes Tropical convection and dynamics. You know better than any that in the troposphere, far more thermal energy is transferred by convection, wind, and weather than by radiation. Thus the effect of changes in greenhouse gas absorption of IR on radiation is trivial in terms of cooling Earth.

            As explained again in my book and on my website, there are two basic ways that greenhouse gases are supposed to warm earth: 1) slowing cooling and 2) radiating energy back to Earth that warms Earth (Trenberth, Weill, etc.). There are assumptions in both that leave a critical mind wondering as I explain.

          8. ...and Then There's Physics

            Let me ask you a question. What flux diagram would you draw based on your ozone theory?

            Presumably your theory would also result in a surface temperature the same as we have now (about 288K), which means that the outgoing radiative flux would have to be as in the Trenberth diagram (396 W/m^2). If this is a quasi-steady state (i.e., in equilibrium) the surface must also be receiving at least 396 W/m^2. In fact, it has to be more than that because some of the energy from the surface is transported by non-radiative fluxes (thermals, evaporation) – about 100W/m^2. If the surface is receiving about 161W/m^2 via solar insolation, then it has to be receiving (as in the Trenberth diagram) about 333 W/m^2 via what we might call back-radiation (call it something else if you like). This is basic energy balance, and even your theory has to satisfy this or the surface temperature would not be what we know that it is.

          9. Peter L Ward

            Earth is 33 degrees warmer than it would be without an atmosphere because the stratosphere is an electric blanket warming Earth — electric in the sense that the energy to warm the blanket is coming from a distant source, Sun, not from the body under the blanket, Earth. The stratopause and mesosphere are the radiative surface from which the Earth/atmosphere system loses heat to space and temperature at the stratopause is about what you would expect for a planet/atmosphere system this distance from Sun.

            Heating of the stratosphere is done primarily by O2 absorbing UV-C and being dissociated. Many other gas molecules are dissociated in the stratosphere including CO2, but their concentrations are very low. We have observed for a long time that the top of the stratosphere averages about 70oC warmer than the tropopause. These facts are not included in typical energy balance efforts by Trenberth and others. Why not?

            The concept of flux as presently calculated is incorrect because it assumes that thermal energy is the same at every frequency.We observe that when ozone is depleted, more UV-B reaches Earth. We measure the changes in UV-B at earth’s surface. UV-B is the hottest solar radiation to reach Earth. If enough UV-B reached Earth, it could warm Earth to be 48 times hotter than Earth is. Luckily the amounts are low, the dosage is low. One can make the case that the mean surface temperature of Earth is directly proportional to the mean optical thickness of the ozone layer modified primarily by volcanic aerosols in the lower stratosphere that reflect/scatter solar radiation worldwide.

          10. ...and Then There's Physics


            Earth is 33 degrees warmer than it would be without an atmosphere because the stratosphere is an electric blanket warming Earth — electric in the sense that the energy to warm the blanket is coming from a distant source, Sun, not from the body under the blanket, Earth.

            Yes, I agree. This is a basic description of the greenhouse effect.

            However, you still haven’t really answered my question. If the surface has a temperature of 288K and loses around 100W/m^2 via thermals and evaporation, then it is losing (on average) about 500 Joules per second per square metre. If it is in approximate thermal equilibrium (as we think it is if we average over a suitable time interval) then it must be receiving – on average – 500 Joules per square metre per second. Given this, what is your problem with the Trenberth-like energy diagram, and where is the extra downwelling flux coming from?

          11. Peter L Ward

            The problem with the Trenberth diagram is that it leads to the absurd conclusion that earth is warmed twice as much by downwelling infrared radiation than by solar radiation. The reason for this absurdity is that fluxes as calculated are simply wrong. They assume thermal energy is equal at all frequencies. This is clearly not the case. The flux of heat is much greater in the UV than in the IR. We all know this from personal experience. For years, I though the Trenberth diagram was outstanding and cited it often. Finally I have come to realize the basic concept is wrong. I have tried several times to discuss this with Kevin, but he simply brushes it off.

          12. ...and Then There's Physics

            You’re still not answering my question. In rough thermal equilibrium, the surface loses 500 and gains (on average) 500 Joules per second per square metre. Firstly, this is what the Trenberth diagram shows and from basic first principle physics has to be a correct representation of the surface fluxes. This is pure energy balance; frequency of radiation does not come into this. Do you disagree? If so, why?

            Also, the solar insolation at the surface is around 160 Joules per second per square metre. The maximum solar insolation (ignoring albedo) is 340 W/m^2; with albedo its 240 W/m^2. If thermal equilibrium at the surface requires that the net downwelling surface flux be around 500 W/m^2, where is it coming from, given that only about 160W/m^2 is Solar?

          13. Peter L Ward

            You are not comprehending. There is no question that the net flow of energy into and out of the Earth/atmosphere system is close to equilibrium at the top of the atmosphere, differing basically only by the net changes in surface temperature and ocean heat content. But energy flux calculated by Trenberth and all others is incorrect because it assumes that UV carries the same heat as IR. This is clearly not the case. Most heat is carried to Earth by UV and visible light. How much heat radiated from Earth actually reaches space through the stratosphere is not clear. How much heat convected from Earth reaches space and how it gets there is not clear.

            Furthermore Trenberth does not even consider the thermal role of the stratosphere in energy balance. The stratosphere is the 900 pound gorilla in energy balance. Temperatures fall at the lapse rate in the troposphere, but rise significantly with altitude in the stratosphere. For the stratopause to be the radiative surface into space from the Earth/atmosphere system, heat must be supplied continually rising up through the stratosphere and convection does not play the dominant role there. How much of this is from Earth versus how much is from UV heating of the stratosphere is not known yet because people have not been thinking this way.

          14. Walter Post author

            I have no idea where you are getting this idea that Trenberth and others “assume that UV carries the same heat and IR”. I don’t know anyone who thinks this. Why do you think we think this?

          15. Peter L Ward

            Flux is calculated by integrating spectral radiance as a function of wavelength (wavenumber or frequency). Watts, in this formulation, is on the y-axis, so y is the amount of watts available at each frequency. But watts is a function of frequency (E=hv) and no matter how much IR you have, you will not be as hot as a little UV. You casn spend the rest of your life standing in IR and will never get sunburned.

          16. ...and Then There's Physics

            I have no idea where you are getting this idea that Trenberth and others “assume that UV carries the same heat and IR”. I don’t know anyone who thinks this. Why do you think we think this?

            I don’t get this either. The Trenberth-like energy flux diagram is a simple illustration of thermal balance. I fail to see how it can be wrong since all it is illustrating is that – on average – the surface is receiving as much energy as it loses.

            Most heat is carried to Earth by UV and visible light. How much heat radiated from Earth actually reaches space through the stratosphere is not clear. How much heat convected from Earth reaches space and how it gets there is not clear.

            None of this is relevant to the point I’m making. If the surface is roughly in thermal balance, then it must be receiving about 500 Joules per square metre per second. If the most it can be receiving from the Sun is about 160 W/m^2, where is the rest coming from?

          17. ...and Then There's Physics

            But watts is a function of frequency (E=hv) and no matter how much IR you have, you will not be as hot as a little UV.

            This is nonsense. What matters is energy absorbed. If a blackbody is exposed to 100W of UV or 100W of IR, and absorbed all the energy from both, it would heat up to the same temperature. Of course, the frequency could influence how much is reflected or the depth at which the energy is absorbed, but to suggest that no matter how much IR you have, you will not be as hot as a little UV is patently incorrect.

          18. Walter Post author

            I think a better way to make this point is to recognize that E=hv applies to a single photon, and the Watts on a point really depends on the number of photons at each wavelength.

          19. Peter L Ward

            “E=hv applies to a single photon, and the Watts depends on the number of photons” is the current way of thinking about energy. But thermal energy is not additive. The energy of photons is not additive. The most obvious feature of visible radiation is that the colors (frequencies) do not interact in any way until they interact with matter. Red light plus blue light does not add up to ultraviolet light. I illustrate this in Figure 3 of the Not additive paper. I also explain that while a Fourier series provides a good approximation for any waveform where the bonds holding matter together provide a physical means to add terms together, EMR is a Fourier series with no plus signs — each term coexists and does not interact with the other terms.

            I also explain in my book, in the papers, and elsewhere why light (EMR) does not seem to travel through air and space as waves or photons. It travels as frequencies, just like the signal from your cellphone or local radio station. Waves are the deformation of a medium where the forces holding the medium together are needed to restore the medium as the wave travels by. There is no medium (lumiferous aether) in space as shown by Michelson and Morley in 1887. If light travels as photons, please explain precisely, physically, how a photon is absorbed by a molecule of CO2 and how spectral lines of absorption are formed? My good friend who is one of the top theoretical physicists now alive has been unable to answer these questions for many years even though he cannot bear the thought that photons are just mathematical variables.

            The realization that thermal energy is not additive does disagree with modern physics, but provides a way to make quantum physics much more physically intuitive, much simpler, much more understandable, and leads to solving many major problems in modern physics, some of which I discuss in Chapter 11.

          20. Peter L Ward

            That is the current way of thinking, but E=hv and this is not taken into account with currents ways of calculating watts. When you heat a body of matter, the amplitude of oscillation at each frequency is increased and the frequency with the highest amplitude it also increased as shown by Planck’s curves. Radiation from a hotter body has higher amplitude of oscillation at every frequency and when absorbed can warm a body to that higher temperature. The sun is much hotter than Earth. Your are warmed to a much higher temperature by sunlight, no matter how long you stand outside at night. Again, you can never get sunburn standing outside at night no matter how much IR you are absorbing. IR does not have high enough amplitude of oscillation to warm you like the sun.

            This all gets back to the reality that thermal energy is an intensive physical property permeating matter at the atomic level and is therefore not additive. Thermal energy occurs in frictionless atomic oscillators where the only way to add or subtract energy is by resonance and resonance only moves energy from higher amplitude to lower amplitude at the same frequency. This is basic thermodynamics and I try to describe it clearly in my paper Ward, P. L., 2016, Radiant thermal energy is not additive ( It takes a little effort to come to grips with this.

          21. Walter Post author

            Peter, What about the direct IR from sunlight? This Figure of the solar spectrum shows that there is quite a lot of energy in the IR bands, 1000 nm and above, but obviously not as much as UV. So when you feel warm from sunlight, it’s not just UV-B. I think this is why you feel warmed by sunlight coming through a car window, but do not get sun-burned. So your statement seems incorrect, infrared radiation CAN warm things up!

          22. Peter L Ward

            Temperature is defined in matter and you perceive temperature as a very broad continuum of frequencies over many, many orders of magnitude as shown by Plank’s law. A fluorescent bulb primarily emits radiation in several narrow bands within the visible spectrum. This radiation does not feel hot. An incandescent bulb emits radiation over a Planck spectrum and this radiation feels warm. Yes, IR from the sun helps you feel warm, but it is UV from the sun that causes you to sweat and your skin to burn or get cancer. X-rays or gamma rays, on the other hand, do not make you feel hot because you cannot tolerate them long enough for much heat to be transferred. Meanwhile they are destroying DNA and killing you unless dosage is kept very small.

          23. ...and Then There's Physics

            I think a better way to make this point is to recognize that E=hv applies to a single photon, and the Watts on a point really depends on the number of photons at each wavelength.

            Yes, I agree. That is the key point. In fact, the number of photons at each wavelength within some wavelength interval.

          24. ...and Then There's Physics

            That is the current way of thinking, but E=hv and this is not taken into account with currents ways of calculating watts.

            Yes it is. Not only are you failing to address fairly basic issues (such as fluxes) you’re saying things that are patently untrue. I have to now agree with the post author

            So in summary, his theory is garbage. Hopefully this can help steer people away from his ideas.

          25. Peter L Ward

            It is well observed that E=hv in the atmosphere. This is the basis of photochemistry. Ignore this reality at your own risk.

            Since E=hv, the concept of fluxes as currently calculated is not correct. The major flux is in the UV and visible.

          26. Peter L Ward

            It would be great to work out all the fluxes shown in the Trenberth diagram, but we do not know yet how to calculate fluxes accurately. The old method is not correct. A new method is not simple because it has to be a function of frequency. I want people to discuss and understand the physics before we start arguing over the right equations.

          27. ...and Then There's Physics

            That sounds like a cop out.

            1. Do you agree that 288K is a reasonable estimate for an average surface temperature?

            2. If you agree that 288K is a reasonable estimate for an average surface temperature, do you agree that the outgoing radiative flux is about sigma T^4 ~ 396W/m^2?

            3. Do you agree that the evaporative and thermal fluxes are non-zero and at least 10s of W/m^2?

            4. If you agree with the above, then do you agree that the outgoing surface flux is somewhere between 400 and 500 W/m^2?

            5. Do you agree that if the globally average surface temperature is quasi-stable, that the downcoming energy fluxes must match out outgoing surface fluxes?

            6. If you agree that the fluxes match, do you then agree that the downcoming energy flux must also be between 400 and 500 W/m^2?

            7. Do you agree that the solar flux at the distance of the Earth from the Sun (1 AU) is around 1360 W/m^2?

            8. If you agree that the solar flux at 1 AU is 1360 W/m^2, do you agree that the Solar insolation is around 340W/m^2 (divide 1360 by 4)?

            9. Do you agree that albedo is non-zero? If so, do you agree that the average solar energy absorbed per square metre per second is less than 340 W/m^2 (probably around 240 W/m^2)?

            10. Given the above, how do you explain a downgoing surface flux of between 400 and 500 W/m^2 (which is a direct consequence of the known outgoing surface fluxes) if the maximum possible flux from the Sun is 340 W/m^2?

          28. ...and Then There's Physics

            Again, we do not know how to calculate radiative flux correctly where E=hv. The current method is patently wrong.

            Utter nonsense. You do realise that the blackbody flux is inherently quantum mechanical and utilise E=hv?

          29. Peter L Ward

            Flux can be described via quantum mechanics in terms of photons that are added together. That is the problem. Not only does E need to equal hv, but photons are not additive.

          30. ...and Then There's Physics

            Flux can be described via quantum mechanics in terms of photons that are added together. That is the problem. Not only does E need to equal hv, but photons are not additive.

            Now you really are just talking nonsense.

      3. Peter L Ward

        Ocean heat content studies and ocean heat modelling seem to be quite well done. Ozone depletion theory explains why ocean heat content continues to rise as I explained in a post just made that may show up below. Basically ozone remains depleted and the increased UV-B penetrates tens of meters into oceans where it cannot be re-radiated to space at night. Greenhouse gas theory has no good explanation for why ocean heat content continues to rise (CO2 continues to rise) but air temperatures do not. Just that observation should cause one to wonder whether CO2 concentrations cause air to be heated.

        1. ...and Then There's Physics


          Basically ozone remains depleted and the increased UV-B penetrates tens of meters into oceans where it cannot be re-radiated to space at night.

          What are the fluxes? Are they consistent with the observed increase in OHC?

          Greenhouse gas theory has no good explanation for why ocean heat content continues to rise (CO2 continues to rise) but air temperatures do not. Just that observation should cause one to wonder whether CO2 concentrations cause air to be heated.

          Yes it does, and it’s incorrect to state that air temperatures are not rising. That the uncertainty in the trend intercepts zero, does not allow one to claim that surface temperatures have not risen.

          Also, a large majority of the GHG-induced planetary energy imbalance goes into heating the oceans (about 93%). Only a small fraction heats the land and atmosphere (2-3%). A small change in the amount going into the oceans (associated with AMO/PDO/ENSO) can easily produce a substantial change in the rate of surface/atmosphere warming. The recent slowdown is not some kind of challenge for AGW.

    2. Peter L Ward

      At I list with hyperlinks more than 50 papers and their abstracts that try to rationalize what has become known as the Global Warming Hiatus, the subject of a whole symposium at the AMS meeting in 2015. It is agreed by a large number of the better scientists that temperatures changed very little from 1998 through 2013, but there is little if any agreement on why. The most common thread is “intrinsic variability” which really gets down to arm waving—supposing something that is too complicated to quantify. Ozone depletion theory, on the other hand, gives a very direct explanation for why temperatures did not change much from 1998 through 2013 when ozone depletion was not increasing and then began to rise rapidly again in 2014 and for why ocean heat content continues to rise, because the ozone layer remains depleted.

      There is a very provocative observation here. Air temperatures rose only as long as ozone depletion was increasing. When ozone depletion stopped increasing in 1996, temperatures stopped increasing by 1998. The most effective way for UV-B to warm air is by dissociating ground-level ozone created by pollution. The greatest warming from 1970 to 1998 was in the northern hemisphere, almost by a factor of two. The northern hemisphere contains the greatest population, manufacturing, and ozone pollution. EPA is proud of the fact that ozone pollution levels have fallen, but depletion of the ozone layer may have had a lot to do with this. Now UV-B can warm the ground but that warming can be re-radiated into the atmosphere at night. In the ocean, however, UV-B penetrates tens of meters and thus is not radiated back at night.

  5. Hank Roberts

    I gather Dr. Ward can explain the photoelectric effect, under his assumption that photons are not particles. How does that work?

    His Field Medal friend says modern physics must be wrong if Dr. Ward is correct.

    Is there any experiment that can be done that would have different results?

    1. Walter Post author

      I’m not sure how this is relevant to the radiative balance of the planet, or Peter’s ideas. You might need to get more specific about how Peter’s theory is inconsistent with the photoelectric effect.

    2. Peter L Ward

      From my paper “Radiant Thermal Energy Is Not Additive”:
      The photoelectric effect is such a threshold: Classical electromagnetic theory (Maxwell, 1873) predicts that electrons should be released when light shines on metals and that the rate of electron emission should be increased by increasing either the frequency or the intensity of the light, the two relevant variables in Maxwell’s equations. Hertz (1887) and Lenard (1902), however, observed that electrons are released only when the frequency of light reaches some threshold, that above this threshold, the kinetic energy of the released electrons increases with the frequency of the light, and that above this threshold, doubling the intensity or amount of light, doubles the number of electrons emitted. Below this threshold, however, no intensity of light is sufficient to cause any electron to be emitted. It has since been observed that it takes certain colors of visible light to release electrons from alkali metals, higher frequency violet to ultraviolet light to release electrons from most metals, and very high frequency, extreme ultraviolet radiation to emit electrons from non-metals. This photoelectric effect is used widely to make measurements in particle physics.

      You need the paragraphs before and after this to put the discussion in context. They are here:

  6. Walter Post author

    I think the most interesting part of the above discussion is Peter’s claim in his paper (link below) that “thermal energy is not additive”.

    Obviously, temperature is not additive, as Peter states clearly in his article. But this idea that we cannot add the energy of photons leaves me very perplexed. Adding the energy is not the same as adding the frequency. If we add too air masses of the same temperature, the temperature stays the same, but I feel that the TOTAL energy should double with the mass (all else being equal).

    I need to read and think more about Peter’s thinking, so I’m going to refrain from commenting until I can really understand why Peter thinks that internal energy of molecules is not additive. It seems to contradict the first law of thermodynamics, but I might be missing something.

      1. Walter Post author

        Yea, this is exactly where I’m confused, because it seems to me that thermal energy is an extensive property, and not intensive like temperature.

        When I use energy budget techniques to study tropical wave modes, I often run into an enthalpy term like (T*cp), which I often describe to people as the “internal energy”. It has units of J/(kg m2). Since it has units of “per mass” it’s a “specific energy”, but then we multiply by the mass to get the total energy. However, you are saying this is incorrect. This is the type of thing I need to ponder before I can say/ask more.

        1. Peter L Ward

          Most people currently think the way you have been thinking. We are dealing here with the interface of the macroscopic world with the microscopic world, of classical physics with quantum physics. Recognizing that thermal energy is the oscillations of bonds holding matter together and thus is an intensive physical property is very important and has huge ramifications in climate and in physics. I am not aware of anyone expressing quite the way I do, but there is a really excellent video course in thermodynamics (Grossman, J. C., 2014, Thermodynamics: Four laws that move the Universe, The Great Courses, Course 1291.) where he emphasizes physical understanding. One point he does make well is that heat capacity of a material is a function of the number of degrees of freedom of these oscillations, in other words the number of places where heat can be stored.

          1. ...and Then There's Physics


            One point he does make well is that heat capacity of a material is a function of the number of degrees of freedom of these oscillations, in other words the number of places where heat can be stored.

            Yes, that’s why in hydrodynamics one has an equation of state. For example

            P = (gamma – 1) rho e

            where gamma is the specific heat ratio, rho is the volume density, and e is the specific internal energy density. The specific heat ratio tells you the number of degrees of freedom. For atomic hydrogen it would be 5/3 (3 degrees of freedom) , for molecular hydrogen it is 7/5 (3 degrees of freedom plus rotation).

            Clearly, as you can see from the equation above, if you have more degrees of freedom, the relationship between pressure and internal energy changes (if you add energy, the pressure rises more slowly if you have more degrees of freedom). However, this is all well known and taken into account.

            Why do you think that people don’t know these things? You’ve made a number of claims about things that are being ignored, that are very obviously not being ignored.

      1. Peter L Ward

        “this idea that we cannot add the energy of photons leaves me very perplexed.”
        The fact is that energy is not additive. The problem with photons is much deeper. Photons do not exist physically. We view a continuum of light. No matter where we stand of how much we move, we still see light from a distance star. That light, when emitted, spreads as the square of distance traveled. How closely would those photons have to be spaced when they leave a distant start in order to appear continuous from Earth? If you want to believe in photons, please explain to me
        physically, conceptually, i.e. without the use of equations the following:

        1. What physically is a photon? The standard answer is a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. This is more a concept than a description of what a photon is physically. Is it simply a massless oscillation in space?

        2. If the energy in a photon equals the Planck constant times frequency, the Planck-Einstein relation, is there a different photon for every frequency or does a photon possess a spectrum of frequencies?

        3. Frequencies occur along a continuum, i.e. a frequency only becomes discrete when you assign it a number. Is there a different photon for every integer in every decimal place? Is the photon for 5954.469240567 terahertz different from a photon for 5954.469240568 terahertz?

        4. Do the photons interact with each other in space? If not, why not? If yes, how?

        5. How does a photon interact physically with a molecule of CO2 gas for example? Does it collide with the molecule? What happens if it glances off the molecule? How close to the molecule does it have to be to interact? What physically occurs during the interaction?

        6. The gas molecule absorbs energy from the photon. How is this energy transferred? What is the physical nature of the process allowing the molecule to absorb the photon?

        7. We talk of an electromagnetic field that can be mapped out in three dimensions and time with a suitable sensor. What is the physical relationship of such a field to photons?

        8. Spectral physicists document in great detail that a gas molecule of CO2, for example, absorbs spectral lines of energy from a field and that the frequencies of these lines relate closely to the resonant frequencies of all the normal modes, of all the degrees of freedom, of all the oscillations of all the bonds holding the molecule together. Please explain physically what role and how photons play in this process?

        9. Electromagnetic radiation appears to expand into space. If radiation consists of photons, how closely must the photons be packed on a very distant star in order for light from that star to appear continuous to an observer on Earth no matter how they more about?

        10. How do photons interact with the human eye?

        1. Walter Post author

          I actually prefer thinking about radiation as waves, but so many people use “photon”, I use it when they use it, just avoid the whole debate.

          1. Peter L Ward

            Again, I describe at length why radiation in space cannot travel as waves and cannot travel as photons. Radiation travels as frequency. And you say what is frequency? We cannot see it. Well doesn’t it seem a little strange that for 2500 years since Democritus and Aristotle, we have debated whether radiation, something we cannot see, travels as either as waves or particles, both of which are things we can see or at least visualize. Once you understand that radiation is frequency and travels as frequency, you understand why E=hv (which the Planck-Einstein relation says is the energy of a photon) and a whole lot of physics becomes a lot easier to understand. I describe some of that in Chapter 11 of my book.

        2. Hank Roberts

          This is why I asked how Peter Ward explains the photoelectric effect — because he, near as I can tell, believes light isn’t quantized. That makes sense of his Field Medal friend’s analysis — if he’s right, modern physics — back to the explanation of the photoelectric effect — would be wrong, I think.

          So what observation — what experiment — would show a different result?

          1. Peter L Ward

            One of the points I make is that frequency of EMR is a continuum and if E=hv, then energy is a continuum, but the effects of energy, such as the photoelectric effect, are quantized because you have to reach some level of energy before the effect can occur. The photoelectric effect only happens when the frequency of light is above some value depending on the metal involved. Similarly dissociation requires a minimum level of energy.

            If you really want to think deeply about photons and the photoelectric effect, I highly recommend Falkenburg, B., 2010, Particle metaphysics: a critical account of subatomic reality, Springer, 386 p. She got a PhD in quantum mechanics and then a PhD in philosophy. Among other things, she explains how we get experimentally what we anticipate, which may not be physical reality. Most of quantum mechanics is built on the foundation of wave particle duality. Trying to shoehorn everything into this, makes the math hideously complex.

            Ah but back to climate….

          1. ...and Then There's Physics

            Then what is your issue? Sometimes the particle nature of light dominates (photoelectric effect) sometimes the wave nature dominates (interference). It seems to me that you’re questioning some very fundamental aspects of physics. I think Hank is correct, that if you’re right, you’ll rewrite fundamental physics. How likely do you think that is?

          2. Peter L Ward

            Light displays wavelike properties in the immediate vicinity of matter (reflection, refraction, diffraction, birefringence, the classical double slit experiment, etc)., but it is the bonds in the matter that make this happen. Light can be thought of as a light quantum (photon) when some minimum energy is required to cause an effect. But thinking of light in space as traveling as a wave or photon seriously muddies the waters. This confusion has been around especially since Maxwell formulated his highly successful equations in the 1860s. I trace the failure of greenhouse-gas theory to Maxwell’s assumption that light travels as waves in space and the equations that follow from that assumption and still dominate climate studies.

            I am intimately aware of where and why I disagree with current physical theory. I have worried long and hard that statistically I must be wrong. But in hindsight, the physics is remarkably clear and I am convinced that I have the main story right. No human is completely right, but the main story appears quite correct.

          3. Peter L Ward

            It is a free world. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but in science it gets down to the quality and veracity of the observations. I have laid out the observations and interpretation very carefully in extensive detail. You have looked at a very small part of that. If you care to look deeper, I am always open to thoughtful comments positive or negative.

          4. ...and Then There's Physics

            I have laid out the observations and interpretation very carefully in extensive detail.

            No, you haven’t. You’ve completely failed to address the issue of fluxes. You keep claiming that things aren’t possible, when they very obviously are. You claim others are ignoring things when they very definitely are not.

          5. Peter L Ward

            Please explain to me how to calculate heat fluxes allowing for the fact that UV-B at 310 nm is 48 times more energetic, 48 times “hotter” than IR at 14,900 nm absorbed most strongly by CO2.

          6. ...and Then There's Physics

            Please explain to me how to calculate heat fluxes allowing for the fact that UV-B at 310 nm is 48 times more energetic, 48 times “hotter” than IR at 14,900 nm absorbed most strongly by CO2.

            Pretty simple. The Planck function is

            B(\nu, T) = \dfrac{2 h \nu^3}{c^2} \dfrac{1}{\exp{h \nu / kT} - 1}

            This has units of W sr^{-1} m^-2 Hz^-1. The energy in some frequency interval dv = v2 – v1, for a blackbody of temperature T, is simply the integral from v1 to v2 (with maybe a 4pi to account for the sr). If you know the temperature of the Sun, then you can estimate how much energy it is emitting in each frequency interval. If you know the distance to the earth, you can estimate how much we’re intercepting. The spectrum isn’t a perfect blackbody, but one can then incorporate a more accurate spectrum.

            I’m really struggling to see what your problem with this is. If you’re considering the radiative transfer through the atmosphere, then you can start with the incoming spectrum and calculate how photon packets (each with a certain energy) will propagate through the atmosphere. Similarly for energy from the surface. It’s clearly quite a complex calculation, but it’s certainly quite possible.

          7. Peter L Ward

            But energy is not additive. You cannot integrate; integration is physically meaningless. There is an energy at each frequency and they all coexist. This is the error of current ways. Furthermore, to actual heat a body, there has to be energy added over many different orders of magnitude of frequency or you have to add energy in a narrower band and let conduction even it out over a Planck curve spectrum.

          8. ...and Then There's Physics

            But energy is not additive. You cannot integrate; integration is physically meaningless.

            Yes, it is additive. Integrating is NOT physically meaningless. You’re talking utter nonsense. All that the integration is doing is calculating the total amount of energy emitted per square metre per second. This is utterly trivial first-year physics.

          9. Peter L Ward

            You are not getting it. There is 48 times more energy per square meter at 310 nm in the UV than at 14,900 nm in the IR. Energy at the high frequencies dominates total energy. Furthermore since E=hv, then E=h(v1+v2+v3). But it is physically meaningless to add v1+v2+v3. If you put together some red, some green, and some blue light, they do not interact. So you just end up with some red, some green, and some blue light.

          10. ...and Then There's Physics


            There is 48 times more energy per square meter at 310 nm in the UV than at 14,900 nm in the IR.

            No, there isn’t. There is 48 times more energy per photon at 310nm than at 14,900nm. To determine the energy per second per square metre, you need to know the number of photons emitted in each frequency band (and yes, it has to be a frequency interval, not a specific frequency) every second, per square metre. This is what the Planck function tells you. The Planck function is indicating – for a blackbody – how much energy is emitted per second per square metre per steradian in frequency interval dv. From this you can determine (if you want) the number of photons.

            If the body is not a perfect blackbody, then you can still get this information from the spectrum, which one can estimate.

            You are not getting it.

            I’m not the one who is not getting it. I am genuinely amazed that someone with your background is making these elementary mistakes.

          11. Peter L Ward

            While that is the way most look at it today, it is based on a misunderstanding about what electromagnetic energy is. As I explain carefully in my book, website, and papers, thermal energy IS the amplitude and frequency of oscillations of the bonds holding matter together. When you increase the temperature of a body of matter you increase the amplitudes and frequencies of these oscillations. The amplitudes and frequencies of these oscillations on the surface of matter induce an electromagnetic field that carries these amplitudes and frequencies to another body. When the other body absorbs them, they increase the amplitudes and frequencies of oscillations in the other body, warming that body. Thermal energy IS frequency. E=hv is the actual energy of an atomic frictionless oscillator. When you have several of these atomic oscillators together, you would like to think of them as photons, then each photon has the same energy and while the number of photons increases, the energy remains the same unless you increase the frequency and it is physically meaningless to add frequencies in air and space.

            Furthermore I gave you a list of questions yesterday to answer about photons, if you want to defend the idea that they actually exist, you need to answer these questions. No top physicist can answer these questions in a meaningful way. This is a fundamental shift in understanding of thermal energy. While you can rant and rave and cast aspersions, you are not providing any scientific reason for what is wrong with what is written above.

          12. ...and Then There's Physics

            Furthermore since E=hv, then E=h(v1+v2+v3). But it is physically meaningless to add v1+v2+v3. If you put together some red, some green, and some blue light, they do not interact. So you just end up with some red, some green, and some blue light.

            Again, this is wrong. If a 1 square metre surface emits in one second, N1 photons at frequency v1, N2 photons at frequency v2, and N3 photons at frequency v3, then the total energy emitted from that one square metre patch in that second is

            E_tot = N1 h v1 + N2 h v2 + N3 h v3.

            You don’t add the frequencies, you add the energies.

            If all of those photons are then absorbed by another surface, then the energy absorbed by that surface will be E_tot. Simple.

          13. ...and Then There's Physics


            No top physicist can answer these questions in a meaningful way.

            Have you considered why this might be.

            This is a fundamental shift in understanding of thermal energy.

            As I mentioned earlier, either you’re going to rewrite fundamental physics (physics that has been associated with many remarkable successes over the last few hundred years) or you’re going to be embarassingly wrong. I know which one I think is most likely, but I’ll leave it for others to make up their own minds.

            Oh, and I also asked you a bunch of questions that you decided not to answer.

            Seriously, some of what you’re disputing is stuff we teach in undergraduate physics degrees. Either virtually every university physics department is teaching incorrect physics, or you’re wrong. There isn’t really a third option.

          14. Peter L Ward

            This is a fundamental shift in physics brought about by the fact that physics is not successful in explaining climate change observations. I am well aware of that, have weighed all the alternative for many years, am convinced that the major new story is correct, and am proceeding very carefully.

            I did not answer your questions because, as I explained, current methods of calculating flux are wrong and I have explained why. Please open you mind to the possibility that I might be right. Then you can evaluate the science objectively.

          15. ...and Then There's Physics


            This is a fundamental shift in physics brought about by the fact that physics is not successful in explaining climate change observations.

            This is simply untrue. I suspect you’re confusing “I can’t explain” with “can’t be explained”.

            I did not answer your questions because, as I explained, current methods of calculating flux are wrong and I have explained why.

            Again, it is not wrong and no you haven’t. Also, you still haven’t corrected this extremely obvious error.

            There is 48 times more energy per square meter at 310 nm in the UV than at 14,900 nm in the IR.

            This is, plain and simple, wrong. There is 48 times more energy per photon at 310nm, than at 14,900 nm. There is NOT 48 times more energy per square metre at 310 nm, than at 14.900 nm. Can you at least correct this error? It would a step at least.

          16. Peter L Ward

            Thank you for the vote of confidence. The evidence is all there. Stop reflexively defending current thought and enjoy examining the data that are all carefully explained. What if “I am right?

          17. ...and Then There's Physics

            What if “I am right?

            Well, you’re not right about this

            There is 48 times more energy per square meter at 310 nm in the UV than at 14,900 nm in the IR.

            and you seem very reluctant to admit it, so I’m not confident.

    1. Peter L Ward

      But this is only the greenhouse effect. It does not include the modulation of UV-B that results from changes in the optical thickness of total column ozone. The UV-B effect is much greater and the greenhouse effect has yet to be demonstrated experimentally.

      I am not a climate skeptic. Warming has definitely occurred. Man is at least partly to blame. We need to take action. I am a retired senior geophysicist with a strong scientific record, questioning the detailed evidence for what is causing the warming. At one time I managed a group of 40 PhD scientists and 100 staff. I was a key developer of a major national scientific program. I have testified twice before Congress. I chaired a committee at the White House. I worked on a committee for VP Gore. The basis for the climate science I propose is laid out in full-referenced detail at together with all papers I have written about this subject. Whether I am right or wrong depends on evaluating the science that I describe in detail.

      1. Walter Post author

        Maybe I should change the title to “CO2 Skeptic”?

        Peter, I definitely don’t want to challenge your record. You are definitely a well accomplished scientist, no one can argue with that.

  7. Hank Roberts

    P.P.S., cautionary:

    “In the upper stratosphere there is a clear recent ozone increase, which climate models suggest can be explained by comparable contributions from declining [ozone depleting substance] ODS abundances and upper stratospheric cooling caused by carbon dioxide increases….

    … While ODS levels remain high, a large stratospheric sulfuric aerosol enhancement due to a major volcanic eruption or geoengineering activities would result in a substantial chemical depletion of ozone over much of the globe. ”

    1. Peter L Ward

      The use of the infrared thermometer you propose is not a definitive experiment because there are too many explanations. Clouds are warmed by the sun. Plus we know the lapse rate and how it varies for wet and dry atmospheres. Then when you measure blue sky, what altitude are you measuring?

      Bill Nye and Al Gore supposedly did a much more focused experiment which is critiqued here: I am very impressed with the depth of this critique.

  8. Hank Roberts

    Perhaps you could convince the Field Medal winner, or another mathematical physicist, to opine on what kind of experiment would test this stuff.

    Challenging ordinary readers out on the Internet to prove or disprove either quantum mechanics or any suggested alternative to that seems a bit pointless, no matter how much money is on offer to do it.

    Overthrowing Einstein is done all the time on the Internet.
    That’s not the useful place to do it.

    1. Peter L Ward

      The Climate Change Challenge was sent by personal email to more than 2000 climate scientists who either wrote or reviewed the 2013 IPCC Physical Science Basis. It was also publicized broadly and is available on Internet for anyone who might be interested.

      If E=hv, no one can ever show that greenhouse warming is greater than the effects of ozone depletion. Then if you add the issues I raise about how the energy absorbed is into internal energy of the bonds, etc. the liklihood of winning the challenge becomes infinitesimal.

      The only published effort to quantify the effects of CO2 absorption on temperature experimentally was by Ångström in 1900, a very good experimental radiation physicist. I translated his paper and it is available on my website. ( He showed two different ways that the effect on temperature was minimal. These are not the most robust experiments possible, but they are the only that exist that I can find and I have looked very throroughly. After that, physicists gave up on greenhouse gas theory. Raymond Pierrehumbert is a good current day physicist, but theoretical, not so much experimental. His main effort was to write a good physics textbook for grad students on greenhouse gases, not to test if they really perform as the theory in his book claims. He criticizes Ångström’s work without really giving it careful thought.

  9. Walter Post author

    Alright, I think that’s enough. I’m gonna disable the comments section. Many good points were made.

    After all this discussion I have a much better understanding of Peter Wards ideas about energy and radiation, but I still feel very strongly that he is fundamentally wrong. It doesn’t help that he makes unfounded conjectures about wave-particle duality that he cannot even articulate very well.

    I’m glad the discussion didn’t get out of hand, and no one was mean with their comments, but I don’t see how any further comments would add to what has already been said. Feel free to email me if any of you would like some further discussion.

Comments are closed.