Reading Larry Ridlen Jr.’s letter asserting the impossibility of CO2 causing warming of the earth got me to wondering what responsibility the Advocate thinks it has for printing clear misinformation on important topics. Perhaps none. Perhaps it’s best left to readers to judge for themselves whether the earth is flat or the Apollo landings were faked or whether Ridlen has the first clue about what he’s discussing.

I’m not a scientist, climate or otherwise. Those who are no doubt tire of squandering their time and energy in the sometimes fruitless whack-a-mole task of countering endless streams of ignorant and often repetitious arguments such as Ridlen’s. But I’m retired and have more time to squander, so in the event that you don’t get a more erudite response to Ridlen, here’s mine:

The transparency of a particular atmospheric gas such as CO2 has much less to do with its “porosity” than on the CO2 molecule’s inherent ability to absorb and re-emit photons at the frequency of the light in question. Greenhouse gases work as they do because they do not absorb high-energy, high-frequency photons of sunlight as readily as they absorb and re-emit lower-frequency infrared photons emitted near the earth’s surface. CO2’s effectiveness, uses, and characteristics as a refrigerant are irrelevant, as are Ridlen’s erroneous statements regarding the gas’s sublimation temperature and expandability. His assertion that if CO2 traps heat it would make the gas impossible to cool and condense is complete nonsense.

Ridlen’s comments on attic heating are obvious and pointless. Roof shingles absorb some portion of the incoming sunlight thereby increasing in temperature, then re-emit some of the energy upward as infrared radiation, conduct/convect some energy to exterior air, and transmit some energy as conducted heat to the interior surface of the roof. Then the interior roof surface transmits heat by infrared radiation (minor component) and conduction/convection (major component) to the attic. Since radiation is a small factor in heat transmission within an attic, the interior air’s radiative properties do not much affect attic heating. What any of this has to do with global warming is a mystery.

Melting of high-latitude ice occurs in summer. Arctic air’s influence on snowfall in lower latitudes occurs in winter. Arctic air can be warm enough in summer to melt ice and cold enough in winter to condense and freeze water vapor. The relevant question is whether the planet’s ice is losing more mass than it’s gaining over many seasonal cycles.

Ridlen’s final comments regarding radiant cooling to the night sky disproving man-made climate change are more nonsense.

Ron Sammonds Jr.

retired engineer

Baton Rouge