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Science Explained: Greenhouse effect in a bottle

By Joe Romm on July 4, 2010 at 8:30 am

"Science Explained: Greenhouse effect in a bottle"

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Interesting video: “Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock from EADS Astrium visits the Royal Institution’s new Young Scientist Centre to carry out a simple experiment that shows how CO2 traps heat. ”

Of course, the BBC can’t help itself in bending over backwards to the point of breaking in its absurd scientific impartiality:

CO2, along with a range of other greenhouse gases, is often implicated in global warming. But what is its role in the greenhouse effect?

Yes, “CO2, along with a range of other greenhouse gases, is also implicated in global warming” — by the laws of physics!

Seriously, status quo media, can you just state the most basic physics plainly.

Try this from NASA climatologist (and one-time darling of the disinformers), Andrew Lacis:

The bottom line is that CO2 is absolutely, positively, and without question, the single most important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It acts very much like a control knob that determines the overall strength of the Earth’s greenhouse effect. Failure to control atmospheric CO2 is a bad way to run a business, and a surefire ticket to climatic disaster.

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9 Responses to Science Explained: Greenhouse effect in a bottle

  1. Mark Green says:

    The BBC editors really aren’t that smart. Thought so for years. I even recall coming across an article on farmed fish that said farmed fish were “much less better” at survival in the wild.

  2. Bob Lang says:

    No need to conduct an experiment to see the Greengouse Effect in action.

    The planet Venus gets about the same solar flux as the earth, yet its surface temperature is 860 degrees F (460 degrees C) because its atmosphere is 96.5% carbon dioxide. The terminal stage of a runaway Greenhouse Effect. No reason why it can’t happen here.

  3. Laphroaig says:

    Venus is ~28% closer to the sun, so the solar flux is 1/(0.72)^2, or ~1.9, times what the earth receives. OTOH, Venusian albedo is VERY high (0.8) due to the extensive cloud cover, so the energy flux actually absorbed is about half what the earth absorbs.

  4. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    I like it; nice simple demonstration. No maths, no advanced physics, just a nice simple experiment with ordinary stuff that could be repeated at any primary school, by the primary school students.

  5. BBHY says:

    I have read so many comments by deniers that climate science isn’t “real” because it depends on computer modeling and statistics that can be manipulated to produce the desired result.

    So here we have in the most basic form the central physics of global warming: more CO2 means more heat. You can repeat this experiment 1000 times and get the same result 1000 times. There is no room for claims that the “hockey stick” is a misinterpretation of the data or any of that sort of denier bunk.

  6. Anna Haynes says:

    Joe, where is the watering hole for elementary & high school science teachers, to discuss & share curriculum ideas & experiences?

    It looks like it might be
    http://climate4classrooms.org/en/
    (“Free teaching resources on climate change for students aged 11+ years. The latest climate science and predictions from climate experts.”

    “a UK site, backed by The British Council, RMetS, and the Royal Geographic Society, devoted to posting curriculum material and guides about climate change and climate science, geared for primary and secondary school classes.”)

    or is there something else?

  7. Chris Winter says:

    This is a good demonstration, but I wish more attention had been paid to physical layout. For example, it looks as though the bottle that gets the CO2 is closer to its heat lamp than the other one, and also presents more area to its lamp. Critics can argue that it’s biased.

    I’d like to see a similar experiment take the next step. Use three bottles: one with ordinary air, one with extra CO2, the third with extra CO2 and a dish of water. All would have to be sealed, with fans inside to circulate the air.

    Theory says that the bottle with CO2 and water would warm the most, due to the positive feedback of water vapor.

    (Actually, there should be a dish of water in the bottle with the ordinary air, to properly test this.)

  8. Anna Haynes says:

    Good point (I think) Chris Winter, re H2O too. So: desiccant, in the CO2-only jar.