I have been asked by Doug Cotton to draw attention to the paper he has written. I’m happy to do so, despite some personal reservations regarding some of the inferences drawn from observations. I request that all comments are polite, and kind-hearted. Everyone is learning about radiation, the process is ongoing.
Radiated Energy and the
Second Law of Thermodynamics
Douglas Cotton, B.Sc., B.A., Dip. Bus. Admin
March 12, 2012
The transfer of thermal energy by radiation is discussed in the context of the Earth’s
surface and its atmosphere. When considering what happens as the Sun is warming
the surface each morning, it is noted that its radiation is being directed onto the land
surfaces and some distance below the surface of the oceans. So, additional radiation
supposedly transferring further thermal energy from the cooler atmosphere to the
warmer surface would violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law must
apply (on a macro scale) between any two points at any particular time. An apparent
violation cannot be excused on the basis of “net” radiation, because “net” radiation has
no corresponding physical entity and is meaningless and useless for determining heat
flow in situations when other processes are also involved.
It may be deduced that none of the radiation from a cooler body (and only a portion of
the radiation from a warmer body) has any thermodynamic effect on the other body.
All such radiation from a cooler source is rejected in some way, and it can be deduced
that resonance and scattering occurs without any conversion to thermal energy. The
radiation continues in another direction until it strikes a cooler target, which could be
Furthermore, the stability of sub-surface temperatures will tend to maintain the
observed close thermal equilibrium at the interface between the surface and the
atmosphere. Hence other heat loss mechanisms are likely to adjust, in order to
compensate for any reduced radiation.
Some commonly raised questions are answered in the Appendix, where there is also
discussion of temperature trends and climate cycles, as well as counter arguments for several possible objections to matters raised herein.
Full pdf here