The Physics of Carbon Dioxide versus Greta and Al

Prof. Dr. William Happer (born July 27, 1939) is an American physicist specialized in the spectroscopy of carbon dioxide (CO2). He is Emeritus Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, and pioneer of the development of adaptive optics. From 1991 to 1993, Happer served as director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science as part of the George H.W. Bush administration. He was dismissed from the Department of Energy in 1993 by the Clinton Administration for not bowing to the trendy lies concerning the ozone hole. In 2018 he joined the National Security Council of the Trump Administration, to advise on the link between carbon dioxide and global warming, for a one-year term. Happer is co-founder and board member of the CO2 Coalition, which aims to inform the public that increased atmospheric levels of CO2 are necessary for the continuation of life on planet Earth.

First, Happer explains what is already known since Svante Arrhenius (Chemistry Nobel Prize 1903) described many decades before the discovery of quantum mechanics: that one has to double the CO2 concentration (from 400 to 800 parts per million) in order to achieve a global temperature rise of 1°C. Accordingly, a rise of 4°C requires a CO2 concentration of 6400 parts per million. Although this concentration would be perfectly fine for all biological life on our planet (human exhaled breath contains 14000 ppm), humanity will never achieve 6400 ppm, even if we burnt all existing trees. Svante Arrhenius, the great grandfather of Greta Thunberg, would probably make a turn in his grave upon hearing of the visionary who sees carbon dioxide with her naked eye. Second, our planet is at an archeological minimum of CO2 concentration. Without a concerted human effort to raise the CO2 concentration, planet Earth will, by course of natural evolution, turn into a desert. During the last hundred million years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has been steadily dropping as it is being consumed by sea biology, and converted into calcium carbonate. Without human activity, the CO2 concentration would have dropped to 150 ppm in about two million years from now. Below that threshold, plants collapse altogether, and with them, all animal life on this planet. Al Gore and his hysterical companions do not seem to get either of Happer’s points.

Thermal Power Emitted by Planet Earth into Outer Space.

Without greenhouse gases, the temperature on Earth would be 16 F (–9°C), due to a spectrally integrated Black Body radiative intensity of 394 W/m2 (area below the blue line). Thanks to greenhouse gases, part of the irradiated power is absorbed in the atmosphere and reconducted to the Earth, warming up the Earth to more humane temperatures (60 F, corresponding to 16°C). This temperature is achieved with a spectrally integrated intensity of 277 W/m2 (area below the black line). Upon doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide to 800 parts per million, the radiated intensity decreases from 277 to 274 W/m2 (area below the red line). This causes an increase of the global temperature of 3*(60—16)/(394—274)F = 1.1 F = 0.6°C. The reason for this ultralow increase of temperature is the saturated nature of the absorption of carbon dioxide: when its concentration is increased, the same radiation will be absorbed in an increasingly smaller atmospheric layer. The only reason of there being any excess absorption at all, is in the non-saturated sidebands of carbon dioxide. These have been calculated by William Happer, and published in specialized journals. If Al Gore already does not understand why tornadoes do not swirl on the equator, he will probably not understand the first syllable of Happer’s paper on the sidebands of carbon dioxide.

William Happer does not use woolly language: he says that the current stories about the detrimental effect of carbon dioxide are a typical example of mass hysteria, typical of communism and fascism. This may sound overstated, but the fact is that one only knows the consequences of mass hysteria once it is over. Significantly, climate hysterics invented the name ‘climate deniers’, an obvious malapropism of ‘holocaust deniers’.