Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Denier twittery weirdness, with CO2 is a very cold gas

Sou | 8:41 PM Go to the first of 22 comments. Add a comment
CO2 sublimation
Over the last few days I've been spending some time on a long-running denier thread on Twitter. It was an opportunity to interact with the types you see at the climate conspiracy blog WUWT, but in an environment where it's much less likely anyone will be banned for posting science.

This article is to let you know about some of what I've learned about denier twitterers, with a new "theory" as a bonus.

Deniers yearn for attention from sciency types

One thing struck me above everything else. Fake sceptics are starved for attention.

As soon as a science type enters a room full of deniers, they get pounced on. Anyone who's followed comments at WUWT would have noticed the same thing. (Anthony Watts, the owner of WUWT, himself has demonstrated a yearning for recognition from scientists. That he can't get the type of recognition he wants has been a source of frustration to him.)

If you lurk, about the only exchange between deniers is the occasional "like" or maybe a retweet. It's rare for them to carry on a conversation among themselves. This happens at WUWT too. (WUWT is nothing more than a notice board for deniers and conspiracy theorists to write whatever is in their head at the moment, sit back, and enjoy seeing their name or nom-de-internet in print.)

The game of "gotcha"

On the other hand, once one engages with a denier, you'll get all sorts of people coming out of the woodwork to quiz you. The most common reason they do so is because they think they can trip you up. Their game is called "gotcha" and they love to play. The fact they always lose doesn't deter them. Often they don't appear to understand they've lost their chosen game. There are also concern trolls who are there to spread FUD, but that's a story for another day.

A short intro to Twitter

At this point, for those of you who don't use Twitter, let me explain how it works. In order to engage with anyone you need to either reply to a tweet or gain a number of "followers" and send out tweets of your own and maybe one of your followers will reply.

To get Twitter followers, you need to let your presence be known. You can do this by following people yourself (they'll get an alert when someone follows them) or by replying to them in a tweet (that will also send them an alert). You can't force anyone to follow you. They might even mute you (which you won't know about) or block you (which you will learn about if you click on their profile).

When you reply to a tweet, usually everyone who's taken part in that discussion will be alerted. The denier thread has something like 48 people who engaged in it at one time or other. Some of them aren't very active, plus there are branches in the discussion so you might not get to see everything all the time.

All that's by the way.

Deniers are only united in opposing science

The point I'm making is that deniers are starved for attention. They don't want attention from other deniers so much, except for getting a few likes and retweets. What they really want is to get the attention of people who know something about climate science.

Like the WUWT clan, deniers have very little in common. They each spout their own version of denial from "it's warming but it's the sun" to "there is no such thing as the greenhouse effect". They don't mind that they don't agree. It won't stop them "liking" each other's nonsense. Being opposed to science is what unites them.

The "CO2 is a very cold gas" theory

I'll probably write more about what I've learnt. Today I'll leave you with a "theory" I've not come across before. It goes like this.

One chap put up a chart with the different phases of CO2. (He didn't believe that if CO2 was removed from the air, the world would get a bit chilly.) His table had temperature and pressure listed in columns. There appeared to be no rhyme or reason to his tweets, but he wrote some incomprehensible gobbledegook and someone asked him to explain, in simple terms. It took him a couple of shots before he managed to get his message across. This is what he wrote (got your head vice ready?):
A 7 year old explanation would be CO2 is as a very cold gas that is very scattered in the air cooling any molecule it touches but at the same time blocking a tiny bit of energy from the sun getting to the earth and also escaping from the earth. So heatwaves will feel less hot.
I couldn't help myself. I burst out laughing. Fortunately he wasn't able to see or hear me or he might have been offended. He isn't familiar with how gases mix, collide, and shoot about in the atmosphere, and he doesn't understand the greenhouse effect.

I don't mean to disparage the guy. Lots of people don't have any background in science. What is worth commenting on is that deniers "liked" it. One unsavoury character who claimed to have a great deal of scientific expertise, apparently thought this argument had merit and didn't know why it was wrong.

All that demonstrates is the deniers relish their ignorance, pretend to understand science when they don't know the first thing about it, and have a strongly developed tribal instinct and recognise their own kind.

[For non-science readers - the air temperature is a measure of the energy of the molecules that make up the air. You won't get one type of gas having only cold molecules while surrounded by a lot of energetic ones. A molecule of CO2 will hit lots of other molecules like oxygen and nitrogen and they'll exchange energy in the process.

The greenhouse effect isn't from CO2 "blocking the sun". The air is transparent to incoming sunlight. What CO2 does is "trap" the heat coming off the surface and prevent some of it going out to space. It does this by absorbing some of the infrared radiation (what we feel as heat) emitted from the surface of the planet and re-emitting it in all directions, so instead of it all just going back to space, some is radiated back toward the surface.]

So now you've heard the latest denier meme - CO2 is freezing cold so it staves off heat waves!

Top image:By Shawn Henning - originally posted to Flickr as Fun with Dry Ice (7 of 9), CC BY-SA 2.0, Link


  1. "CO2 is as a very cold gas that is very scattered in the air cooling any molecule it touches". Did he reveal where that heat energy is going?

    1. He's got a different view of thermodynamics than most people - and in his world, gases don't behave the same way as they do in our universe, either :)

    2. This "reasoning" in Monty Python-esque!

      Q: Is the ice in the water?

      Crowd of Andies: NO!!

      Q: Then it's DRY, right?

      Crowd of Andies: YES!!!

      Q: And is dry ice hot?

      Crowd of Andies: NOO!!

      Q: Then it's COLD!!!

      Crowd of Andies: It's COLD, IT'S COLD, IT'S COLD!!!

  2. It is a possibility that his confusion is sourced from the fact that CO2 is a radiatively active gas. A radiatively active gas is one that can absorb IR radiation, which leads to an excitation of a vibrational mode... but it also means that an excited vibrational mode can relax to the ground state emitting an IR photon. So if I have a globe of gas suspended in a vacuum so it has no conductive or convective heat loss possibility, and I heat up this globe, then a globe that contains CO2 will in fact cool faster than a globe that only contains IR-inert gases like N2, O2, and argon. In that specific example, CO2 molecules would in fact be slightly cooler on average than the other gas molecules.

  3. I've got a can of co2 freezer spray (used in electronics). when I spray something it gets very cold and co2 goes into puddles on the components.

    Therefore co2 is cold "innit" any thing else is just fake science.

  4. bu66er it's not co2 - I thought it was for years
    it seems to be 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (HFC 134a)

    1. Well, something came out of my penance, didn't it :D

    2. Classed as carcinogenic now I believe.

      It used to be a cleaning product when I was a child. Was eventually banned.

  5. You can always rely on deniers for a firm grasp of conservation of energy and the laws of thermodynamics.


    'Spose I had better add the sarcasm emoji or someone will think I am being serious.

  6. Off topic, but so hilarious I have to share it. Watch as WUWT's "greatest president ever" shows the correct way to handle data:


  7. I think they are confused with the dry ice which was solid CO2 that used to be used for ice cream at fairs back in the fifties and early sixties.

    A CO2 fire extinguisher also puts out cold CO2 gas to the point of condensing water vapour in the air and it is only due to the gases expansion from being under high pressure.

    I do not how you do it Sou. I would have lost my sanity long ago dipping into that well of ignorance.

    It is as you say they think it something and something that I think I know but these scientists are mistaken.

    Best regards Bert

    1. Hi Bert - that could be it. These people are probably old -harking back to the 1950s, but lacking the wisdom supposed to come with age.

      (I'm still looking for it myself :D).

    2. I'm not sure if you're following the Twitter thread Bert, but there's been some remarkable new pressure physics presented...

    3. Oh God...

      The "PV=nrT disproves global warming" crowd is back? If so, what a crock.

      I did run across one commenting in Wapo a week or so ago, so maybe some denial blog resurrected something along those lines yet again?

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. David Irving the Holocaust denier craved the attention he received from leading academic historians in the famous libal trial, Charlie Vietch a leading 911 Twoofer actually recanted when, as part of a BBC documentary he spent days with the actual architects and engineers that built the twin towers - they painstakingly went thru all his "concerns" to his satisfaction mind

    Deniers are both selfish (they expect thier "concerns" to be individualy addressed) and craven in thier need for peer acceptance from real experts

  10. Sou, Stormy is storming around like a petulant child on that twitter thread still demanding your attention after you blocked him. He has some conspiracy notions about that too. I told him he was just boring. :D

    Hes one of the 'greenhouse' effect denying "Ned Nikolov - pressure causes the atmosphere to warm" nutters on the thread who mainly copies and pastes from junkscience blogs.

    1. Oh, it's "pressure" today, is it? Yesterday it was clouds and the day before that something else again.

      He wouldn't even make the grade for the "inexpert" category of a Dunning-Kruger experiment.

    2. Stormy finally blocked me and called me"Cyst".

      Poor creepy old fella didn't like being challenged as well as mocked.


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