In light of recent debate I would like to submit an addendum to my thesis, titled 'Why global warming is real'.
First we must take a quick journey into quantum. Quantum is derived from 'quanta', the name Max Planck gave to the smallest unit of energy. Quantum deals with areas of physics and chemistry that are governed by discrete 'jumps' of energy.
This may seem counterintuitive but it's really quite simple. Imagine a ramp where you can step at any point on that ramp. Now imagine a staircase where you can only be on one step at a time. On the ramp you could take a half step but that's not possible on the stairs.
That is quantisation. We are used to a world where we can do anything between two points but, at an atomic level that is not possible.
Now we come to the atmosphere. There are four types of quantised atomic motion, translation, rotation, vibration and excitation. They broadly translate to moving about, turning around, shaking and bouncing up to the next storey. Now these are all quantised so you need exactly
the right energy to change between one state to another.
Now we come to individual gases. As I'm sure you're aware most of the atmosphere is made of nitrogen and oxygen. These are effectively transparent at the wavelengths the Sun emits. This is important and worth noting, most of the gases in the atmosphere just ignore warming radiation. They will absorb radiation but the radiation they will absorb is not commonly available in our solar system (the exact wavelengths can be calculated with ab initio software) so they are effectively transparent.
has an absorption band within the Sun's emissions. Note that CO2
is actually quite nice in terms of warming and there are plenty of other gases that, because of their structure, absorb and transmit far more heat than CO2
. For instance methane, CH4
, is about 4 times as damaging as CO2
because it absorbs more heat. Molecules such as NF3
are several thousand times worse than CO2
at absorbing heat. The problem with CO2
is that as a species we emit far more of it than any other pollutant.
As the Sun's energy comes to our planet some of it gets absorbed by the Earth and some by the atmopshere. If it weren't for the global warming effect the Earth would be around -50'C (according to a Biology teacher I knew) but the problem is rapidly increasing concentrations of global warming agents. As we increase the proportions of carbon dioxide, methane and various other nasties we can only expect global temperatures to increase. This is relatively simple science.
I have seen experiments on radical populations and ozone degradation. The reaction proceeded slowly until a 'bath gas' was introduced that absorbed excess heat and allowed reactions to proceed. Funnily enough, IR absorbent gases absorb heat and warm the chamber
he IR absorbence of CO2
has been shown hundreds of times, all you need is an IR chamber, a sensor and some CO2
(which the Chemistry and Physics department will have loads of).