Kitchen Chemistry and the Greenhouse Effect theory


The greenhouse effect theory as it relates to Climate Change science can be stated as a process whereby back scattered radiative transfer of infrared heat from atmospheric gases and vapors that have thermal capacity causes additional surface temperature warming of the earth above that from the effects of insolation from the sun alone. The effect is said to be a ‘positive forcing’ factor of the temperature of the earth.

Insolation from the sun heats the earth – over time an equilibrium state exists with a balance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing radiation. The earth radiates heat back into the atmosphere and space in the form of infrared radiation. Infra red radiation is invisible unless the object emitting it is very hot – red or white hot. It is a long wave form of radiation just outside the visible light spectrum.

John Tyndall’s experiments in 1861 demonstrated carbon dioxide is a gas with thermal capacity –it can absorb radiant heat. In 1896 the original ideas about an atmospheric greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide (then called carbonic acid) came from Svente Arrhenius in Sweden. These ideas found little scientific support. Revival of the ideas came from the Swedish climatologist Dr Bert Bolin in the early 1970’s. Activists including Al Gore and the UN IPCC that was founded in 1988 to demonstrate human influence on global warming have reinvigorated interest in the Greenhouse Effect theory.

An experiment devised to utilise the ‘greenhouse gas’ properties of carbon dioxide and demonstrate the Greenhouse Effect theory is described below.

The initial experiment was done at Tewantin, Queensland, Australia on 28 August 2011 from 1.15 pm to 2.30 pm. Temperature was 25 degress Celsius in the boxes before they were sealed and exposed to insolation. The barometric pressure 1014 hpa. The humidity was 66 %.

Two polystyrene foam 5 kg fish cooler boxes were painted inside with matt black paint. The black surface absorbs heat from sunlight and causes infrared radiative transfer of heat within the box. Heat energy is maintained in the box by the plastic wrap creating a ‘true’ greenhouse effect whereby convection is prevented from moving the hot air or CO2 away from its contained space. The heat energy is measured by monitoring the temperature. Infrared radiation can pass freely through the plastic wrap surface of the boxes.

Type K thermocouples were inserted into the boxes with the sensor tip dangling in the mid space of the boxes.

One box was sealed up with plastic wrap (Glad Wrap ®) and contained air.

The second box was filled with carbon dioxide before being sealed with plastic wrap (Glad Wrap ®). Carbon dioxide was generated using kitchen ingredients baking soda and white vinegar to achieve the following chemical reaction with production of CO2.

Na HCO3 + HC2 H3O2 –>Na C2H3O2 + H2O + CO2

Sodium bicarbonate + acetic acid –> Sodium acetate + water + carbon dioxide.

6 heaped teaspoons baking soda + 300mls vinegar –>carbon dioxide to fill the box (12.3L)

The carbon dioxide was produced in a bowl in the box in a closed room with little air movement. The bowl was then gently removed from the box. A burning taper (long match) was used to confirm the presence of CO2 by extinguishing the flame just below the rim of the box. CO2 is retained in the box since it is heavier than air. The box was then sealed with plastic wrap (Glad Wrap ®).

Both boxes were then placed outside and tilted towards the sun – apart from one containing air and the other containing carbon dioxide the boxes could be considered identical in makeup and placement.

The initial temperature before placement outside was 25 degrees Celsius. When placed outside the temperature in both boxes rose quickly and after a few minutes the temperatures were around 40 C. The box containing air heated more quickly for around 20 minutes – being about 4 C hotter than the box with the CO2.

After an hour both boxes were observed to have the same temperature – the temperature fluctuated between 65 C and 70 C with small clouds coming over at times. The temperature was assumed to have reached its equilibrium state and the experiment was terminated.

To confirm that the CO2 was indeed still in one of the boxes –the box was taken inside a closed room. Its plastic wrap was slit open and a lighted taper was introduced into the box by an independent observer on my invitation. The match was extinguished just below the rim of the box confirming the continued containment of CO2.

Result – this preliminary experiment shows there is no such thing as back scattered infrared radiative transfer causing additional temperature rise above that from insolation by solar radiation. The Greenhouse Effect theory is not confirmed by this experiment and may be disproved by it.

Further experiments are planned with attention to accurate recording of temperature changes. The boxes will be dehydrated using calcium chloride as a dessicant to produce dry air. The air can also be ‘sweetened’ by Tyndall’s method of lining a surface with glycerine to remove invisible particulates like pollens and bacteria from the air.

Comment – the independent observer mentioned above is my young adult daughter. “But how can an experiment like this disprove a theory that hundreds of climate scientists around the world say is true – surely they know far more than you do”, she asked. “That my darling is science”, say I.

Richard Pearson.

This entry was posted in Science. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Kitchen Chemistry and the Greenhouse Effect theory

  1. amcoz says:

    Well done Richard.

    To my brief reading of the stupid and facile arguments (put forward by some extraordinary morons, I might say) that CO2 is somehow the world’s enemy, your experiment is the first I’ve read about that can truthfully state its scientific credential, unequivocally, as distinct from all those that play with their to[.y]s, which they have the audacity to call models.

  2. Pingback: Uh-Oh Al…it’s the Sun | Designs on the Truth

  3. Peter Champness says:

    Very Interesting Experiment Richard,

    There should be more of this type of science!.

    1. Does your simulation accurately model the physics of greenhouse in the atmosphere? The thermometer is very enclosed by the black box. Would it be different if you had a flat surface, simulating the surface of the earth and a large plastic bubble above containing the gas?

    2. Is the thermometer measuring the temperature of the gas or is it recording the temperature of the black sides of the box due to the infrared radiation impinging on the surface of the thermometer?

    3. The green house effect is supposed to contibute about 15 degress to the average temperature of the earth. That is a lot and should be measurable by your apparatus. But most of the effect is supposed to be due to water vapour. Ian Plimer said in his book (Heaven and Earth), that the CO2 effect is almost saturated at the present concentration in the atmosphere and that adding more CO2 (almost 100% in your experiment) would not add much more temperature. How about repeating your experiment with dry air and humid air in the boxes and see if you can measure the greenhouse effect of water vapour? How about shielding the thermometer from the direct IR radiation?

    I would be interested to here about any further experiments

    Yours Peter Champness

  4. Richard Pearson says:

    Thanks Peter. You can answer your own questions. The experiment here attempts to test conditions claimed for the Greenhouse Effect theory. It is not a model. It has foibles and flaws. It challenges interested minds to undertake physical experimentation themselves and indicates how easy that can be. The experiment has not been peer reviewed – but has been critically reviewed by a number of people, not my peers. The reviewers are immensely better qualified and knowledgeable than me on matters of science, physics, chemistry and mathematics. Feedback suggests they liked the experiment and thought it useful. Obvious things were pointed out. The fact that it shows no additional heating in the high CO2 concentration box above that for normal air was considered significant. In essence the experiment demonstrates the second law of thermodynamics holds true – this, in the face of a ‘consensus’ of hundreds of climate ‘scientists’ who would have us believe it does not.

  5. Mick Moylan says:

    Hi Richard

    I was very interested to read about your experiment. I have wanted to perform a similar test in the past to simulate carbon dioxide’s contribution to the greenhouse effect.

    To make the test as fair as possible, I’m planning to make the air in my boxes as dry as possible since water vapour (humidity) is also good at trapping heat and is at least as important as a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. The moderately high humidity in Tewantin might influence the result of the experiment

    The less rapid increase in heat in the “CO2″ box might have occurred because the CO2 that you made might have driven out some of the water vapour from this box – it would be interesting to know the humidity and CO2 concentrations in each box before you started the experiment. This would give other people some of the information they’d need so that they could replicate your experiment, which is one of the steps in moving from a single measurement to a widely accepted scientific theory.

    I’ll write again when I’ve repeated your experiement a few times to explore some of these variables. I also hope to include some of Peter Champness’ suggestions to make sure that this is truely a fair scientific test – that the experiment really does measure the affect of CO2 on the temperature in the box, not the influence of the other things that are in there.

    Mick Moylan.

  6. Richard Pearson says:

    Peter Champness has gone on to design and run an experiment to demonstrate the greenhouse effect – excellent work Peter. Expert review is pending and will be advised when available. The text of the experiment is reproduced here but the full experiment with diagrams and photographs can be viewed here –

    An Experiment to demonstrate the Plausibility of the Green House Gas Effect

    Peter Champness

    The Green House Gas Effect is supposed to explain the relatively comfortable temperatures experienced on the surface of the earth (average 15C), compared to the expected temperature of -18C which should result from solar radiant heating alone in the absence of green house gases in the atmosphere (Ref 1)

    Joseph Postma (Ref 2) , proposes that solar radiation, combined with the observed atmospheric lapse rate are sufficient to explain the earth surface temperature He goes further and invokes the Second Law of Thermodynamics (heat won’t pass from a cooler body to a hotter body), which his says rules out any possibility of a green house gas effect.

    The Green House Gas Effect Theory proposes that some of the radiation emitted from the earth’s surface is absorbed by certain gases in the atmosphere (H2O vapour, CO2 and methane), which then re-emit the radiation, with approximately half returning to the earth’s surface and the remainder emitted into space. The Green House Gas effect is not the same as the gardener’s green house effect, which limits heat loss by convection only. However the effect is the same. It is like a blanket around the earth which limits heat loss. This is supposed to be basic physics and most skeptics adhere to it.

    Proposition: This experiment is designed to demonstrate the proposition that a body’s radiation, reflected back upon itself, will raise its temperature, if it is being heated by the sun.

    Experiment: In this experiment one end of a black body (food tin painted black on the outside) was exposed to the sun. The sides of the tin were encased in a plastic bottle with an air gap between to limit conductive and convective cooling. The sides of the tin are heated by conduction through the metal from the hot top. A layer of aluminium foil was intermittently placed around the plastic tube to reflect radiation back to the sides of the tin.

    A digital thermometer thermocouple was placed inside the tin to record the temperature of the tin. The opening at the base of the tin was closed with a cardboard lid. Ambient air temperature was also recorded.


    Tin can (Admona sliced tomatoes 400gm) – painted black on outside.

    Thermometer Platinum S inside/outside digital thermometer (Dick Smith). Device measures temperature (0.1 degree increments) at the display module and at a remote thermocouple with 2m of wire. Also displays humidity.

    Clear plastic bottle (lemonade 1.5 litre, with label and top removed) insulates sides of tin from atmospheric conduction and convection).

    Clear plastic cover (blister pack packaging from thermometer) insulates top of can. Temperatures within the can increased by more than 10C after the top cover was installed.

    Cardboard sheet. Holder of can and attachment of plastic covers. Shades sides of can from sun.

    Aluminium kitchen foil. Intermittently wrapped around sides of plastic cover to reflect radiation back onto sides of tin.

    Schematic of the equipment. Temperature probe is inside the tin. Tin enclosed in a plastic capsule (lemonade bottle and plastic blister pack) to limit conductive and convective losses.

    Tin, in plastic enclosure, exposed to mid morning sun. Alfoil in place around the enclosure. Temperature inside the tin is 90.5C. Ambient air temperature 28.5C


    The temperature inside the tin rises rapidly and reaches stabilizes within five minutes when the sun is high above the horizon. The tin gets quite hot (90c).
    Removing and replacing the Alfoil aluminium foil made no difference to the recorded temperature.

    Discussion: The result was unexpected. It seemed self evident to me on the basis of discussions of the thermodynamics of black bodies (Ref 3), that reflecting the radiation of the tin back upon itself would increase its temperature.

    The Alfoil aluminium foil should reflect a large proportion of the tin’s radiation back, at all wavelengths. Compare with green house gases that only return a small proportion of the radiation (a few thin line spectra in the infrared range), yet green house gas is supposedly responsible for 33C of global temperature.

    The experiment can doubtless be criticized on a number of grounds. For instance I don’t know if the plastic blocks infrared radiation. Visible light obviously gets through. It would be nice if the tin could be enclosed in a vacuum vessel to eliminate all conductive and convective transfers.

    Conclusion: The results do not support the green house gas effect theory. Neither is the proposition confirmed that reflected radiation can warm a body, even if it is heated by the sun.

    Consequently I take the views of Joseph Postma a lot more seriously than I did before and have become skeptical about the validity of the greenhouse gas effect theory.

    Reference 1:
    Global Warming-Frequently Asked Questions
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    National Climatic Data Center

    Reference 2:
    Understanding the Thermodynamic Atmosphere Effect
    Joseph E. Postma

    Reference 3:
    Why greenhouse gas warming doesn’t break the second law of thermodynamics

Leave a Reply