BOZEMAN, Mont. – A new scientific paper contends the entire foundation of the man-made global-warming theory – the assumption that greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere by trapping heat – is wrong.
If confirmed, the study's findings would crush the entire "climate change" movement to restrict CO2 emissions, the authors assert
Some experts contacted by WND criticized the paper, while others advised caution.
Still others suggested that the claimed discovery represents a massive leap forward in human understanding – a "new paradigm."
The paper argues that concentrations of CO2 and other supposed "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere have virtually no effect on the earth's temperature.
They conclude the entire greenhouse gas theory is incorrect.
Instead, the earth's "greenhouse" effect is a function of the sun and atmospheric pressure, which results from gravity and the mass of the atmosphere, rather than the amount of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and water vapor in the atmosphere.
The same is true for other planets and moons with a hard surface, the authors contend, pointing to the temperature and atmospheric data of various celestial bodies collected by NASA.
So precise is the formula, the authors of the paper told WND, that, by using it, they were able to correctly predict the temperature of other celestial bodies not included in their original analysis.
The paper, published recently in the journal "Environment Pollution and Climate Change," was written by Ned Nikolov, a Ph.D. in physical science, and Karl Zeller, retired Ph.D. research meteorologist.
The prevailing theory on the earth's temperature is that heat from the sun enters the atmosphere, and then greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane and water vapor trap part of that energy by preventing it from escaping back into space.
That theory, which underpins the anthropogenic global-warming hypothesis and the climate models used by the United Nations, was first proposed and developed in the 19th century.
However, the experiments on which it was based involved glass boxes that retain heat by preventing the mixing of air inside the box with air outside the box.
The experiment is not analogous to what occurs in the real atmosphere, which does not have walls or a lid, according to Nikolov and Zeller.
The new paper, headlined "New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model," argues that greenhouse theory is incorrect.
"This was not a pre-conceived conclusion, but a result from an objective analysis of vetted NASA observations," Nikolov told WND.
The real mechanisms that control the temperature of the planet, they say, are the sun's energy and the air pressure of the atmosphere. The same applies to other celestial bodies, according to the scientists behind the paper.
To understand the phenomena, the authors used three planets – Venus, Earth and Mars – as well as three natural satellites: the Moon of Earth, Titan of Saturn and Triton of Neptune.
They chose the celestial bodies based on three criteria: having a solid surface, representation of a broad range of environments, and the existence of reliable data on temperature, atmospheric composition and air pressure.
"Our analysis revealed a poor relationship between global mean annual temperature] and the amount of greenhouse gases in planetary atmospheres across a broad range of environments in the Solar System," the paper explains.
"This is a surprising result from the standpoint of the current Greenhouse theory, which assumes that an atmosphere warms the surface of a planet (or moon) via trapping of radiant heat by certain gases controlling the atmospheric infrared optical depth," the study continues.
The paper outlines four possible explanations for those observations, and concludes that the most plausible was that air pressure is responsible for the greenhouse effect on a celestial body.
In essence, what is commonly known as the atmospheric "greenhouse" effect is in fact a form of compression heating caused by total air pressure, the authors told WND in a series of e-mails and phone interviews, comparing the mechanics of it to the compression in a diesel engine that ignites the fuel."
And that effect is completely independent of the so-called "greenhouse gases" and the chemical composition of the atmosphere, they added.
"Hence, there are no greenhouse gases in reality – as in, gases that can cause warming," Nikolov said when asked to explain the paper in layman's terms.
"Humans cannot in principle affect the global climate through industrial emissions of CO2, methane and other similar gases or via changes in land use," he added. "All observed climatic changes have natural causes that are completely outside of human control."
For the first time, Nikolov said, there is now empirical evidence from NASA data that the greenhouse effect of the atmosphere is not caused by the trapping of heat, but by the force of atmospheric pressure.
The pressure is the weight of the atmosphere, he added.
And the combination of gravity and the mass of the atmosphere explains why the Earth, for example, is warmer than the moon.
"The moon receives about the same amount of heat from the sun as Earth, yet it is 90 degrees [Celsius] colder than the Earth, because it has no atmosphere," Nikolov explained.
What it all means for science and the climate debate
This is not the first paper to reject the greenhouse-gas theory entirely.
In 2009, for example, Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner published a paper titled "Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics" in the International Journal of Modern Physics.
They wrote that the "atmospheric greenhouse effect" that "is still supported in global climatology" basically "describes a fictitious mechanism." The second law of thermodynamics, they said, shows that "can never exist."
However, their paper did not propose a mechanism to explain the higher temperature of Earth relative to the moon.
The new paper by Nikolov and Zeller does propose such a mechanism – atmospheric pressure.
If correct, the implications of the discovery would be enormous, multiple scientists told WND.
For one, it means the climate projections used to forecast warming doom and justify a wide range of policies are completely wrong.
That is because they were produced by computer models built around a "physically deeply flawed concept, the radiative greenhouse theory," said Nikolov, who works as a federal scientist but did the new study completely on his own time.
"One major implication of our recently published study is that there is indeed a fundamental problem with the physics of current radiative greenhouse concept," he told WND, highlighting the origin of the "inaccurate" theory in two 19th century papers.
"The foundation of the greenhouse theory was born of an assumption, it was never shown experimentally, and our results show this is completely wrong," Nikolov said. "Our study blows the greenhouse theory completely out of the water. There is nothing left."
"Hence, the public debate on climate needs now to shift focus to the fact that the basic science concept underlying current climate projections by the UN [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC and other international bodies is physically flawed," Nikolov added, saying the new findings require a "fundamental overhaul of climate science" and that Earth may be heading for a cooling period.
"This is what the data shows," he said. "We didn't start with a theory, we started with the data, which is the opposite of how the greenhouse theory came about."
The greenhouse theory, Nikolov explained, is based on the assumption that a free convective atmosphere – an atmosphere with no "lid" on it – can trap heat.
"This was an assumption born out of a misinterpretation of experiments involving glass boxes in the early 19th century by Joseph Fourier, a French mathematician," he said.
"Glass boxes get warmer inside when exposed to the sun not because they trap long-wave radiation, as thought by Fourier, but because they hamper the exchange of air between the inside of a box and the outside environment," he added.
Next came Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, who assumed Fourier was correct and in 1896 created an equation to calculate the Earth's temperature based on CO2 in the atmosphere.
"This equation is both mathematically and physically wrong," argued Nikolov. "Yet, this paper is still cited as 'evidence' that the physics of the greenhouse effect have been well-known for over 100 years."
The atmosphere does, indeed, increase heat near the surface of celestial bodies.
"But until our paper, the mechanism to explain this – pressure – was not known," Nikolov continued. "All of the climate science has been based on these false assumptions, all the computer models were based on the assumption, but it's incorrect."
Zeller, a retired U.S. Air Force reserve colonel and a retired research meteorologist who worked for the U.S. Forest Service and NOAA, also said that the monumental implications of the findings would extend even beyond the climate debate.
"The implications, beyond the scientific ones, of this study, are that once understood, it may be an opportunity for healing by looking back and seeing that even in this day and age science can be wrong," he told WND.
"Possibly this will demonstrate that the world’s peer-review system needs to be rethought so that it doesn't continue retarding the advancement of human evolution: Medicine, pharmaceuticals, cancer cures, proper dietary guidance, etc. are all hampered by combinations of greed and strongly held beliefs," he added.
In terms of advancing scientific inquiry, "our formula, if we can get it out there to the world, is going to open up all sorts of new lines of research," Zeller continued.
Among other examples, he noted that if the formula is applied to the earth's temperature record stretching back to previous warm and cold periods, it would explain everything from the observed reduced differences in temperature between the earth's poles and the equator, to how pterodactyls could fly despite the physics of flight not working based on today's atmospheric density.
While describing himself as a "flaming, bleeding heart liberal," Zeller noted that this should all be about science, not politics.
"This climate controversy is costing billions, making the wrong folks rich, and keep us from solving real environmental problems," he explained.
What supporters say:
WND reached out to a wide range of scientists around the world working in a variety of fields related to physics or climate.
Most either did not respond, or said they did not have the technical knowledge needed to evaluate the new study's validity.
However, of those who responded with an opinion, most suggested that the paper was interesting and important.
Nils-Axel Mörner, the retired chief of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University, was among those who expressed support for the findings.
"The paper by Nikolov and Zeller is exceptionally interesting, a big step forward, and probably a door-opener to a new 'paradigm'," he told WND.
Mörner, who served as an expert reviewer for the UN IPCC until realizing that it was not truly interested in science, added that he "fully" endorsed the conclusions offered by Nikolov.
Professor Philip Lloyd with the Energy Institute at South Africa's Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) also expressed support for the paper.
"Nikolov's work is very interesting, and I think the underlying physics is sound," he told WND in an e-mail.
Lloyd, who was educated in nuclear physics at MIT and also served on the UN IPCC, noted that "slightly more than half of all climate scientists have just a bit of doubt about the 'human-made carbon dioxide causes global warming' hypothesis."
"However, they face the question, if not carbon dioxide, what is it?" noted Lloyd, who also serves as a professor at the Agricultural University of Beijing and was nominated by the UN IPCC in 2007 as part of the team to share the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.
"Nikolov and Zeller may have found the answer – the sun," he said. "We have known for some time that solar activity and global temperatures are highly correlated, but correlation and cause are not the same. However, Nikolov has managed to link the two in what seems to be a scientifically sound manner."
One important element to note is that the theory advanced by Nikolov and Zeller has made predictions about the surface temperature of other bodies in the solar system, he explained.
That means the theory can be tested.
"One of the reasons why many of us have doubts about the carbon dioxide hypothesis is that it, too, makes predictions, and many of those predictions have turned out to be wrong, so it is really nice to have something else we can test, rather than trying to tweak the carbon dioxide hypothesis to make it fit the facts better," he concluded.
Emeritus Professor David South of Auburn University, who has testified before Congress on issues related to atmospheric CO2 concentrations, first learned in 2012 of the "new discoveries" made by Nikolov and Zeller.
He promptly invited Nikolov to give a lecture on the "Unified Theory of Climate" to the faculty at Auburn University.
"When I introduced Ned, I said the professors would learn about a paradigm-shifting discovery," Professor South told WND in response to questions about the new paper.
"Using correct math procedures, Nikolov and Zeller realized our atmosphere warms the Earth by about 2.7 times more than is commonly believed," he said. "The reason for this extra warmth is simply due to the pressure from the mass of the atmosphere."
"Using Ned and Karl's simple equation, people can now accurately predict the average temperature of many planets by just knowing two things, the total surface atmospheric pressure and how much sunlight reaches the atmosphere," he explained.
"Thanks to the groundbreaking research by Nikolov and Zeller, we know more about our Earth than we did a few years ago," he concluded.
But of course, it will take time for the new knowledge to catch on and become accepted, he cautioned.
"As with any new discovery, many from the old school choose not to accept new ideas," South continued, pointing to the early dismissal of the continental drift theory when it was first outlined in 1915.
Today, a similar pattern is happening, with some "older experts" who assume that "ignoring the paradigm shift will somehow protect their reputation" choosing not to believe in "the Nikolov-Zeller (N-Z) equation" or to "admit their math errors," South said.
"I find many advocates will choose not to learn about new findings while true scientists will admit to math errors," he added. "There will continue to be those from the old school who refuse to accept correct math and who choose to ignore the fact that atmospheric pressure affects the temperature of the Earth."
'If it disagrees…'
South also quoted physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Richard Feynman, who said: "It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong! That is all there is to it."
Yet another prominent expert who suggested the new paper was important and needed to be considered was Nicola Scafetta, a professor at the University of Naples Federico II.
Like many other experts who spoke with WND, Scafetta said the paper was "interesting."
"Although this paper appears to contradict the atmospheric greenhouse theory, I believe that it needs to be taken into account for a very simple motivation: at the moment there is a severe uncertainty regarding the effect that CO2 causes to the Earth's climate," he said.
After outlining what he said were the flawed views on CO2 advanced by many governments and man-made warming theorists, he argued that the "claim that science has 'determined' what [greenhouse gases] such as CO2 can do to the atmosphere is false."
"The uncertainty is simply still too large," he added, pointing to his own research findings showing "at most a small climate sensitivity to CO2."
"Might the above uncertainty and the fact that more and more studies are indicating a smaller and smaller climate sensitivity to CO2 be due to some fatal error that the study by Nikolov and Zeller would suggest?" Scafetta asked. "I say that there is a need to be open to alternative interpretations and evaluate them carefully."
Another scientist who highlighted the potential significance of Nikolov's and Zeller's findings was Gary L. Achtemeier, a retired federal research meteorologist.
Achtemeier noted that the geophysical heating mechanism proposed by the two scientists – the pressure produced by the atmosphere – explained the entire temperature difference between the Earth and the moon.
Combined with an earlier paper published by Nikolov and Zeller (under the pseudonyms Volokin and ReLlez), Achtemeier said the findings "challenge the foundations of the current climate theory."
"Their success resides in the inclusion of knowledge of the thermodynamics of other planets and moons with atmospheres residing in our solar system," he said.
The implications could be enormous.
"The current climate theory which depends exclusively on greenhouse gas heating to explain the thermal effects of Earth's atmosphere is demolished," Achtemeier said.
Still, it could take years for the scientific community to fully confirm the results, he added.
"If the results withstand what is sure to be fiery scrutiny, then the global warming hypothesis, alarmist hysteria, 97 percent consensus, political movements, and climate treaties are reduced to hogwash," the retired meteorologist concluded.
No comment, neutral, and unsure:
A number of independent experts and scientists contacted by WND said they did not have the technical expertise to offer critiques or comments on the paper.
WND also reached out to many of the world's most prominent advocates of the man-made global-warming theory, including Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, and James Hansen.
None of the three responded to requests for comment on the study by press time.
Other scientists declined to comment on the study itself, but did point out that they did not believe man's CO2 emissions were responsible for the observed variations in climate.
"Years ago I decided to concentrate on the sun's role in climate variation, especially since CO2 and in particular, that caused by man, has little to do with the ups and downs of climate," explained longtime climate researcher and former NASA scientist John Casey, who is now the president of the science and engineering consultancy Veritence Corporation. "Therefore I don't get involved in wasting my time in debating CO2 climate impacts."
Instead, pointing to his latest book "Upheaval! Why Catastrophic Earthquakes Will Soon Strike the United States," Casey told WND he focuses on what he believes will be an upcoming period of global cooling that will produce effects such as earthquakes and volcanic activity.
Some experts were unsure what exactly to make of the new paper at this point.
Physicist Gordon J. Fulks, PhD, for example, said the paper is "interesting" and "may have some value."
However, he also told WND he would be "very cautious about over-hyping it."
"Far too many articles published today do not replicate," said Fulks, who has worked for the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago in addition to his work for a think tank supporting the U.S. Defense Nuclear Agency.
Specifically, like many other scientists, Fulks offered general criticism of today's peer-review process as inadequate at the very least or in some cases non-existent, especially in "open access" journals such as the one that published the study by Nikolov and Zeller.
"This is not to say that the Nikolov and Zeller paper you found is problematical," he added. "It may be fine. But I cannot tell with just a cursory reading, because I have not encountered their lines of reasoning before."
Fulks said that with the amount of time available to him prior to publication of this WND article, he would not be able to do a careful review and draw any solid conclusions.
Even though it can be shown that man-made CO2 "“is very clearly not the culprit" in explaining current climate behavior, Dr. Fulks said it cannot yet be known definitively which phenomenon might be dominant in terms of driving changes in climate.
"My advice is to be skeptical," he said.
What the critics say:
Two respected climate experts contacted by WND responded by rejecting the new paper: Physicist William Happer of Princeton University, and Lord Christopher Monckton who, while not a scientist per se, is widely recognized as an expert in the field.
Happer, a well-known skeptic of what critics refer to as "climate alarmism," took aim at the idea put forth by Nikolov and Zeller that the radiative greenhouse theory was flawed.
"There is not the slightest doubt that the Earth is warmer due to the greenhouse effect of clouds, water vapor and CO2 than it would be without them," Happer told WND, noting that computer models were not needed to understand that.
As an example to illustrate the concept, he pointed to the fact that frost is more likely to form on a clear, calm spring night than it is when it is cloudy or windy.
"On a cloudy night the upwelling radiation from the ground is partially compensated by downwelling radiation from the bottoms of clouds and from any intervening water vapor and CO2," he said. "So the surface does not cool so quickly on a cloudy night."
But on a clear dry night, "there is little downwelling radiation and you can get frost," said Dr. Happer, who has been among the prestigious experts consulted by President Donald Trump for insights on climate.
Happer did acknowledge that the current climate models are seriously flawed.
But the problem, he said, is that they "grossly exaggerate the greenhouse warming due to more CO2."
"It is not that they don't fully understand the correct parts of Nikolov's message," Happer added. "The effects Nikolov has fixated on are built into climate models from the very beginning, for example, in the approximately 6.5 C/km temperature lapse rate in the Earth's troposphere."
A more detailed criticism of the paper was offered by Lord Monckton, who advised the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and has long been a major figure in the global climate debate.
Among other concerns, Monckton suggested that the authors of the new paper had made an incorrect assumption about the strength of the greenhouse effect on the earth.
He also said that the paper's conclusions were based on a "curve-fitting exercise" that relies on only five or six planetary bodies, which he called "far, far too small a sample size to draw the conclusions the authors have drawn."
While Monckton acknowledged that there are few planetary bodies with atmospheres that have been observed with "sufficient resolution," he maintained that the sample size was "altogether inadequate to permit definitive conclusions such as that which the authors have drawn."
"Thirdly, the paper uses approximately a dozen different curves, selecting one as the best fit," he said. "I have seen too much curve-fitting in the climate debate to place much faith in it as a method, unless a clear physical mechanism explains the curve."
Monckton argued that the paper did not sufficiently explain the physical process by which the warming caused by mere atmospheric pressure was thought to arise.
In addition, he questioned the lack of analysis of temperature at altitudes beyond the surface of the celestial bodies that were analyzed in the study.
"The result (if it were real) would be greatly strengthened if the formula used by the authors were able to predict the temperature at various altitudes as well as at the surface," Monckton said, adding that the authors of the new paper had not tested their theory at different altitudes.
"Those are the reasons why I should urge caution," he concluded. "I do not think the result will withstand international scrutiny unscathed."
Instead, Monckton told WND at a conference in Montana that he and a group of other experts were about to have a new paper on climate published in the near future that would have major implications.
The new study, he explained, will expose a crucial mathematical flaw in the current narrative of "climate alarmists."
He said the results had already been confirmed by a government laboratory.
Response by Zeller and Nikolov:
The authors responded to much of the criticism by arguing that the critics were not understanding the full implications of the study, and that they continue trying to leave a role for greenhouse gases in temperatures when there is none.
Nikolov also provided lengthy but highly technical responses to the criticisms offered by Happer and Monckton.
For example, Nikolov argued that Happer's explanation, which is also found in some textbooks, confuses local drivers of weather with the drivers of the global climate.
"You cannot argue against empirical data,' Nikolov said.
On a broader level, he suggested that the lack of widespread and enthusiastic support for the new study was to be expected in science.
"The reason you are getting mixed responses to our paper even from skeptics is not because there is something scientifically wrong with our results, but because the implications of our empirical findings are so different from any existing climate concept at the moment," Nikolov told WND.