Albert Einstein said no to CO2 radiative warming of the atmosphere

Posted: April 21, 2021 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Emissions, opinion, Temperature
Tags: ,

Unfortunately climate alarmists are too far down their manic road to be halted by the views of Einstein or anyone else, but worth a look anyway.
[H/T Chaeremon]


The hypothesis of global warming from man made CO2 depends on a much-repeated narrative about CO2 trapping infrared (IR) photons leaving the earth. Although a beguilingly simple idea, a host of assumptions underlie it. One of these is that the radiative photonic absorption – emission interactions of the trace gas CO2 dominate heat movement in the atmosphere. And it turns out, this argument, a pillar of the global warming theory, is false – it was refuted in advance by none other than Albert Einstein in 1917.

In this 1917 paper:

Einstein says this about radiative heating of a gas:

“During absorption and emission of radiation there is also present a transfer of momentum to the molecules. This means that just the interaction of radiation and molecules leads to a velocity distribution of the latter. This must surely be the same as the velocity distribution which molecules acquire as the…

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  1. […] Albert Einstein said no to CO2 radiative warming of the atmosphere — Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  2. JB says:

    One of the few expositions of Al he happened to get right, though in my book this does not make his view “authoritative” (like Science ever needed such).

    Mr Salmon himself is possessed of a few misunderstandings of Physics himself. Beware of them.

  3. oldbrew says:

    Absorption bands of CO2 are very limited as the graphic below shows. Compared with water vapour (with which they largely overlap) they can’t be doing much. Greenhouse gas theorists don’t dwell on these inconvenient facts for obvious reasons, but still have the nerve to claim their critics are some kind of ‘denier’.

    Greenhouse theory gets the thumbs-down from Einstein anyway, but the world marches on as though everything is hunky dory. Bizarre.

  4. P.A.Semi says:

    I’ve read through that Einstein’s paper, and it doesn’t deny radiation absorption… And Odyssey’s exegesis only adds, that such radiation energy transfer is negligible compared to convection…

    It’s also important, that the same frequency band absorbed by CO2 is also absorbed by water vapor, of which there is usually much more in the air, so that CO2 contribution is negligible wherever there is water vapor in atmosphere… Any change in Cirrus clouds or humidity has profoundly bigger influence than all of CO2…

    Therefore, any possible warming due to CO2 may happen only on deserts and in Arctic, where there is no water vapor in the air?
    Also while analyzing the distribution of past “global” warming, it’s “global” only if you average all to one number, but rather most of it happens in Arctic and Antarctic winters, where there is not -50°C but -40°C – a whopping but harmless 10°C warming that no one cares about…

    Then – during whole geological history there was more CO2 in atmosphere than there is now or in past millennium… Consider, that all those fossils were once alive plants and the Carbon circulated in the air, but it became gradually trapped and the Nature became starving of CO2…

    Then also – since evaporation rate depends on Sea Surface Temperature, the more warm the more water evaporates from oceans… The Nature has no problems with warming, instead the Drought and Cold are problems for Life…

    And since Green Nature Loves CO2 in the air and the more the better – to a certain level, which is about a thousand years ahead to reach that optimum, and most of the Green plants Love moist warm greenhouses – which is why they are used in agriculture, therefore all those diabolic efforts to limit Carbon liberation from fossils are essentially anti-Green, more so since most of their insane projects are environmentally grossly harmful and not beneficent at all – especially wind farms and solar-panel fields…

    As a painter I was contemplating, which color instead should have their efforts ? Probably BLUE. Blue is associated with air and wind, and blue sky is needed for their solar panels… (or probably poisonous bluish purple…? maybe…)

    But that “Green” Lie very well pays off for them, with societies spending huge amounts of money in their insane projects, filling coffers of those, who push and pay for this Lie of Climate Hoax and supposed harmfulness of CO2…
    Sometimes you mention here the ridiculous costs of various insane and harmful projects (wind farms and CO2 trapping and electro-mobility etc) – but consider, that most of those money ends up in sub-contractor’s coffers, and it’s partially used to pay back for this “Green” Lie and Propaganda of Climate Hoax…


  5. P.A.Semi says:

    It’s a nice coincidence we were both compelled to post a similar graphic as a reply…
    (Your post came while I’ve been proof-reading mine…)

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    Regarding CO2 trapping heat, have you been in a desert when the sun drops low in the sky, and noticed the temperature dropping? Where is that “trapped heat”?

    According to what I’ve seen 27% of the energy in sunlight is infrared. NASA claims that measuring IR radiation by satellite shows increasing outgoing radiation in the wavelenght bands of CO2, “prooving the Greenhouse Effect”. I take the simple view that if more heat is leaving the atmosphere then it is cooling. Of course if you take their claims that the sun doesn’t vary & the atmosphere is well mixed, then that radiation may be from the extra CO2 at the tropopause and increasing the CO2 reduces the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the surface. Bill Gates won’t like that.

    I suggest this graph

  7. tallbloke says:

    The radiative equilibrium temperature of CO2 molecules is around -70C. Below tropopause, the CO2 molecules must be very glad they have all those 99% of O2 and N2 and H2O molecules around them to keep them warm by colliding with them.

  8. hdhuffman says:

    The temperature at any level within the troposphere is governed solely by its hydrostatic condition. My November 2010 Venus/Earth comparison proved this. The “temperature lapse rate” is a product of the hydrostatic condition, and is enshrined in the Standard Atmosphere model of the troposphere, which my comparison precisely confirmed as the overwhelming reality.

    The temperature lapse rate can be jostled, locally and transiently, by winds, weather and night and day, but it re-establishes itself almost as rapidly as the “Id Monster” of the 1950s movie “Forbidden Planet”. It cannot be overwhelmed, not even affected, globally.

    See Graeme No. 3’s comment above. It follows from the essential stability and inviolability of the hydrostaic temperature lapse rate on the global scale; it rights itself from local and transient variations, at any scale, in minutes (not even hours, as his comment might seem to indicate; even the difference between night and day is powerless against its minute-by-minute reconstitution).

    Fundamentally, there are no “radiation forcings” of the temperature at any level in the troposphere AT ALL. All talk of the absorption bands of CO2 is foolish, and totally misses that point.

    I could go on, trying to correct the monumentally false debates that continue to muddy the waters of real physics of the atmosphere. But I’ve written enough here, for now. Radiation does not govern the temperature, within the atmosphere; precisely the reverse, the temperature (distribution) governs the radiations. And the atmospheric temperature is maintained, globally, by direct absorption of incident solar energy, not by warming from a previously warmed surface. The consensus physics is thus both reversed and upside down. What could go wrong? What hasn’t…

  9. A C Osborn says:

    In one speech they tell us that all photons increase the energy of anything that absorbs them.
    In the next they say that CO2 only absorbs a very minute section of the photons available and Oxygen and Nitrogen do not absorb any.
    But they are all at the same temperature at the same height. Therefore Oxygen and Nitrogen are the real “Greenhouse gases” because they really do hold the heat in the atmosphere, only emitting microwaves, whereas CO2 emits the LW radiation to space and is thus the coolant in the system.

  10. oldbrew says:

    For me the point about the absorption bands is that even if the current ‘greenhouse’ theories were true, CO2 would still be more or less irrelevant due to the predominance of water vapour.

    Let’s see how far down the road to personal and national economic distress people are prepared to go, before they react in big enough numbers to make leaders take notice.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Virtual global summit of Einstein deniers today 😆

    “The cost of inaction just keeps mounting… we have to step up.”

  12. Graeme No.3 says:

    John Tyndall – the discoverer of IR absorption by CO2 (and 20 other gases) was keen on mountains (he liked to spend summers well above the hotter plains) and knew about the atmospheric lapse rate, which he thought may have something to do with water vapour, but nothing to do with CO2.

  13. bonbon says:

    It would be great to hear if Nikolev and Zeller have seen this paper. Surely it was not ¨lost¨ until now? Again, great to read Einsteins exposition! He simply includes momentum, notes a coincidence, explains it. Wonderful!

  14. Phil Salmon says:

    I came across the Einstein quote from his 1917 paper in another blog thread. What struck me was his dismissal of “frequencies at which [gasas] absorb and emit” as being of marginal importance in radiation to gas heat transfer. This puts a wide chasm between the position of Einstein and the narrative of CO2 warming in which, in their own words, practically all atmospheric heat dynamics are about frequencies of absorption and emission.

    They can’t both be right.
    I’m not an expert, but I’m with Einstein.

  15. Phil Salmon says:

    Einstein’s position is consistent with several empirical experimental studies that have failed to show a difference between CO2 and other gasses in absorption of heat from IR radiation:

    The work of Nikolov and Zeller finding that planetary gas temperature is independent of the gas composition, also supports Einstein. Gas composition of planets is incredibly different, some with exotic organic gasses like ethane. But still temperatures line up according to pressure and insolation only.

  16. Phil Salmon says:

    I was just listening to someone justifying the greenhouse theory, and he stated explicitly that “non polar gasses [O2, N2, argon etc] do not absorb ANY heat from IR radiation”. This is flat out false. They do, as it is easy to demonstrate experimentally. In fact it is difficult to show any difference between CO2 and other gasses in heating behaviour in an IR field.

    (3 min 20 sec)

  17. Phil Salmon says:


    Radiation does not govern the temperature, within the atmosphere; precisely the reverse, the temperature (distribution) governs the radiations.

    Spot on.
    A lot of cause-effect inversion in climate pseudoscience.

  18. […] Albert Einstein said no to CO2 radiative warming of the atmosphere […]

  19. […] that release the harmless and vital trace gas CO2 with expensive heat pumps, to conform to curious and unproven climate-related ideas, may be an even worse plan than originally thought.– – –Heat pumps […]

  20. Bob Wentworth says:

    The interpretation being attributed to Einstein’s words is, frankly, bizarre.

    If you read the whole 1917 paper, it’s clear that what Einstein meant was nothing at all like the way his words are being interpreted.

    Einstein used the quoted text as constraint on his theory, to ensure that his theory of radiation was correct. He used that constraint to re-derive the Planck radiation law.

    He concluded that “this far–reaching requirement is, indeed, satisfied quite generally” given the theory he had developed, i.e., the things he talked about in the quote are rarely a problem of any sort.

    Nothing in his words said that radiative heating by gases can’t be significant.

    To read his words that way is wishful thinking.

  21. Bob Wentworth says:

    Phil Salmon wrote:

    >I came across the Einstein quote from his 1917 paper in another blog thread. What struck me was his dismissal of “frequencies at which [gasas] absorb and emit” as being of marginal importance in radiation to gas heat transfer.

    Einstein didn’t say or mean that these are “of marginal importance in radiation to gas heat transfer.”

    If you read the rest of the paper, it is clear that Einstein was saying that thermal radiation must interact with gas in a way that preserves the statistical character of molecular motion. The idea that this muxg be true “regardless of the nature of the molecules and independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit” was an insight that allowed Einstein to derive certain conclusions about the nature of thermal radiation. In particular, he used it to re-derive Planck’s radiation law, thereby validating his theory.

    His statements and conclusions had nothing whatsoever to do with how efficiently radiation can transfer heat to gases.

    His words about “independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit” did NOT mean that gases don’t absorb and emit at particular frequencies, nor did it mean that such absorption and emission is not important.

    It only meant Einstein’s theory of radiation is valid no matter what particular frequencies are absorbed and emitted by a particular type of gas molecule.

  22. oldbrew says:

    Bob W says:

    His words about “independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit” did NOT mean that gases don’t absorb and emit at particular frequencies, nor did it mean that such absorption and emission is not important.

    No-one claimed it did mean that.

  23. Bob Wentworth says:

    oldbrew wrote: “No-one claimed it did mean that.”

    Would you be willing to state what you believe is being claimed?

    People jump from citing Einstein’s words to concluding “Albert Einstein said no to CO2 radiative warming of the atmosphere” as if that conclusion follows from Einstein’s words in an obvious way. Yet, as someone who studied Einstein’s work in graduate school, I see no logical connection whatsoever between the Einstein quotes and the conclusion being offered.

    So, I’m having to guess what beliefs might support such a conclusion.

    Could you fill in any of the intervening logic, as you understand it?