We read with great concern the recent letter to the editor by Dr. David Klein dismissing global warming because it is not based on sound scientific reasoning. Unfortunately, global-warming deniers too often demonstrate an appalling ignorance of physics and chemistry when they make their case. This is the situation with Dr. Klein’s letter.
Dr. Klein states that, “The sun-warmed earth radiates long-wave blackbody radiation, some of which, but not all, is absorbed by the greenhouse gas of the atmosphere, and the rest escapes into space.” He then says, “This absorption occurs because the gases are cooler than earth. When the gases re-emit long-wave radiation, some of it reaches earth, which is warm, and therefore the radiation cannot be absorbed as heat, since it came from a cooler object.” He further asserts that since heat flows from high temperature to low temperature, this process violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Hence, global warming is junk science.
Dr. Klein’s reasoning is deeply flawed. All bodies radiate some form of light in accordance with their temperature. This is called “thermal radiation” and is well-understood physics. Thermal radiation can indeed be emitted from a cool object and then be absorbed by a hotter object without violating the Laws of Thermodynamics. This is because thermal radiation is light energy, not heat energy.
Dr. Klein claims “The radiative greenhouse effect does not exist. Back-radiation and back-conduction are phony concepts concocted by the alarmists. CO2 has little to do with global temperatures, notwithstanding the frenzied whining of the alarmist left.” This is utter nonsense. If it were not for greenhouse gases, the Earth’s temperature would be 0 degrees instead of 59 degrees.
Ninety-seven percent of expert climate scientists polled agree that human-caused global warming is a real phenomenon. If 97 percent is not a scientific consensus, then what is?
Climate science is not driven by a liberal or conservative agenda. Science simply tries to truthfully understand the world around us. The verdict is in. Global warming is real and driven by human activity.
Steven Wiles, Ph.D.
Stuart Snyder, Ph.D.