A new op-ed in The Hill: Volcanoes and ozone are missing from the climate change debate

How much greenhouse gases actually warm air?

The $10,000 Climate Change Challenge

Background: Annual average concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere measured at Mauna Loa rose from 320 ppm in 1965 to 367 ppm in 1998 (15%) while annual average temperatures, according to HadCRUT4, rose approximately 0.67oC globally and 0.75oC in the northern hemisphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes in their 2013 Technical Summary that the sensitivity of global air-temperatures to a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations “is likely in the range 1.5oC to 4.5oC with high confidence.”

Greenhouse gases are observed to absorb very narrow spectral lines of infrared energy. This absorbed energy is stored as internal energy within the bonds that hold the molecules together. Air temperature, however, is proportional to the kinetic energy of the molecules, which is proportional to the square of the average translational velocity of all the molecules making up air. It is assumed in greenhouse warming theory that internal energy absorbed is converted to kinetic energy through myriads of collisions among the gas molecules, but the efficiency of such conversions does not appear to have been measured experimentally in the field or in the laboratory. Ångström (1900) concluded that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations has little effect on the temperature of air. It should be relatively easy to measure in the laboratory the increase in temperature of air in a container caused by increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air.

Ultraviolet solar radiation, on the other hand, has enough energy to cause photodissociation of oxygen, ozone, and other gas species, so that the pieces of the molecule fly apart at high velocity, increasing the temperature of the air directly. This is how the temperature of the stratosphere is maintained as high as 70oC hotter than the temperature at the tropopause.

In my book What Really Causes Global Warming? Greenhouse gases or global warming? I, Peter Langdon Ward, show that when the ozone layer is depleted, more ultraviolet-B radiation is observed to reach Earth, warming Earth and cooling the lower stratosphere. Madronich (1993) calculates the increase in ultraviolet-B radiation reaching Earth caused by 1% depletion of ozone. Many authors describe temperature increases in the lower troposphere and associated temperature decreases in the lower stratosphere. These changes appear to be closely associated with the well observed increasing depletion of ozone caused by increasing emissions of chlorofluorocarbon gases (CFCs). The increases began in the late 1960’s and continued until 1993 when CFC emissions peaked due to limits imposed on their manufacture mandated by the Montreal Protocol On Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Ozone remains depleted relative to pre-1970 levels, explaining why ocean heat content continues to increase. New depletion of ozone caused by the eruption of Bárðarbunga volcano in Central Iceland from August 2014 to February 2015, extruding the largest basaltic lava flow observed in Iceland since 1783, appears to explain why 2015 is becoming the hottest year ever measured since thermometers were invented.

Thus, it is possible that ozone depletion may explain observed global warming far more precisely than greenhouse gases. The energy of ultraviolet radiation reaching Earth when ozone is depleted, as described by the Planck-Einstein relation, is approximately 48 times greater, 48 times hotter, than infrared energy absorbed most strongly by carbon dioxide in the vicinity of 14.9 micrometers. Thus, ozone depletion appears to be far more important than greenhouse gases, in warming Earth.

The Climate Change Challenge: I hereby agree to give $10,000 (ten thousand dollars) of my children’s inheritance to the first person or team of people who can demonstrate through direct measurements in the laboratory and/or in the field that a 15% increase in carbon dioxide, such as that observed from 1970 to 1998, can actually cause more warming of Earth than caused by observed contemporaneous depletion of the ozone layer of up to 60%.

Anyone seeking to meet this challenge must send clear, written documentation of their observational experiments in sufficient detail that these experiments can be replicated by other groups. Submissions should be sent to: Climate Change Challenge, P.O. Box 4875, Jackson, WY 83001 before December 31, 2017. Submissions will be reviewed to determine if they are complete, credible, and clearly based on observation, not theory, because, in my view, it is the current theory implemented in climate models that does not appear to calculate energy correctly. Submitters will be asked to correct any deficiencies identified at this stage. Any credible experiments, documented adequately and meeting the requirements specified, may be submitted to others for replication and will ultimately be submitted to an independent panel of three experts in thermodynamics to determine if the Challenge has been met.

It is extremely important to life on Earth, that we get this right.