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Questioning The Greenhouse Theory -- 2012 Review Of Gerlich And Tscheuschner

Updated on December 12, 2012


Sacred though it might seem, the CO2 atmospheric greenhouse theory is not immune to legitimate challenges.


Challenging An Iconic Theory

An infamous paper by mathematical physicist, Gerhard Gerlich, and co-author, Ralf D. Tscheuschner, ... Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics ... (first presented in 2007), attracted an outpouring of criticism condemning the two authors, when they concluded that a real, quantifiable and measureable, CO2 greenhouse effect does NOT exist.

In response to Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's paper, several formal responses appeared claiming to refute their conclusion. One high-profile response was presented by American Physical Society member, Arthur P. Smith, ... Proof Of The Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect ... (2008 ). Another high-profile response, Comment On "Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics"(2010)[interestingly, currently unaccessable online], was presented by chemist, Joshua B. Halpern, working in conjunction with five other co-authors. Here Smith, again, participated in a second formal attempt to defend the popular theory where Earth's atmosphere acts similar to a glass house, in which the trace gas CO2 exerts remarkable temperature-determining influences.

Heated Debate

As might be expected, a flurry of outraged replies erupted over the internet, in various blogs, discussion forums and websites. People who valued the greenhouse theory sided with Smith, Halpern In general, greenhouse theory supporters appeared to perceive that Smith, Halpern et al. decisively refuted Gerlich and Tscheuschner. What greenhouse theory supporters appeared to neglect, however, was the thorough rebuttal by Gerlich and Tscheuschner of Smith's, Halpern's et al.'s supposed refutation. Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's rebuttal was entitled, ... Reply To "Comment On 'Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics' By Joshua B. Halpern, Christopher M. Colose, Chris Ho-Stuart, Joel D. Shore, Arthur P. Smith, J'Org Zimmermann" ... (2010).

In this rebuttal, Gerlich and Tscheuschner answered their critics convincingly, in detail, effectively defending the integrity of their original conclusion -- that physicists cannot derive the mechanism of a CO2 atmospheric greenhouse effect from first principles.

Photo by Jeff Foot
Photo by Jeff Foot | Source

Ebel’s Praised But Imperfect Try

A third high-profile criticism of Gerlich and Tscheuschner, entitled The Greenhouse Effect Does Exist! (2009 ), by physicist Jochen Ebel, gives the impression of being a definitive line-by-line refutation of Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's compelling paper. Surprisingly, defenders of the greenhouse theory most often seem to provide a link to the German language version of this criticism, apparently unwilling to locate the English language version for the majority of readers who cannot read German. An English language version DOES exist, and its subtitle (in English) reads, ... Commentary On The Paper "Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics ... . At one time, Ebel's full criticism of Gerlich and Tscheuschner appeared on the Cornell University website,, but now provides only an abstract of the full criticism, along with a note that reads,

"Removed by arXiv admin because of inappropriate and excessive quotation ..."


Difficulty Of Details

Understanding the details of all these papers is extremely difficult for non-mathematicians. Understanding specific choices of mathematical variables and nuances of their uses in equations is simply beyond the comprehension of most readers. In many instances, a reader who might cite one of these papers as an argumentative defense probably does not understand the math. Nonprofessionals, thus, must look beyond the technicalities of these papers and draw conclusions based on general patterns of argumentation.

What becomes apparent is that Jochen Ebel adamantly disagrees with Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's choices of relevant mathematical variables. Ebel routinely claims that Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's main choices of mathematical variables have no significance and no importance in establishing the truth of a greenhouse effect, which seems amusing, because Gerlich is a MATHEMATICAL PHYSICIST who is quite experienced in carrying out thermodynamic calculations. Even so, Ebel dismisses Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's primary points as having nothing to do with the greenhouse effect. Ebel begs the question of his readers to attach no significance to Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's numbers that relate to the precise manner in which heat flows and changes within a medium. Ebel quotes Gerlich's and Tscheuschner's entire paper, injecting his comments at will in a different colored (blue) typeface, sometimes forcing the authors' original paper to read the way that he (Ebel) would have written it and sometimes forcing the authors' original paper to become inflated with his (Ebel's) condemning, side-bar criticisms. Ebel's overall attempt to dismantle Gerlich and Tscheuschner comes across as inelegant, confusing and aimed at discrediting thinkers rather than correcting thinkers' flawed conclusions, as he claims.

Surprising Conclusion

Again, the clearest effect of Ebel's criticism is to establish Ebel's belief in an atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect. Less clear is whether Ebel supports the idea that human beings have a measureable effect on the magnitude of the greenhouse effect. In other words, reading Ebel’s criticism raises the question, “Does Ebel’s belief in the greenhouse effect imply his belief in human-caused global warming?” On page 93 of his supposed refutation, the following passage is highlighted in blue:

"The greenhouse effect exists - for the Authors [Gerlich and Tscheuschner] it does not exist only because they reject basic knowledge like Einstein’s equations. There are so many unsolved and unsolvable problems in non-linearity, and the climatologists believe to beat them all by working with crude approximations leading to unphysical results that have been corrected afterwards by mystic methods, flux control in the past, obscure ensemble averages over different climate institutes today, by excluding accidental global cooling results by hand, continuing the greenhouse inspired global climatologic tradition of physically meaningless averages and physically meaningless applications of mathematical statistics. In conclusion, the derivation of statements on the CO2 induced anthropogenic global warming out of the computer simulations lies outside any science."

The first sentence in this passage is clearly Ebel speaking. The remaining sentences of the passage are Gerlich’s and Tscheuschner’s words, but the blue highlighting (perhaps an error in transposing) causes a reader to believe that Ebel is supportive of these words, since his convention is to highlight his favored points of view in blue type.


Sanctity Of Greenhouse Theory Uncertain

So, is the foundational pillar supporting the human-caused global warming argument secure? Does a greenhouse effect, in fact, exist?

I honestly do NOT know, and I honestly believe that non-specialists and non-mathematicians cannot find a final answer in the current quagmire of conflicting data and arguments. The fact that both sides of the human-caused global warming debate produce equally convincing arguments leads me to conclude that nobody really knows whether human beings currently influence Earth's climate or not, and if we do, then such influences, most likely, are not significant enough to matter much in the long run.


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