Is there any simple experiment which can be done to show empirical evidence that carbon dioxide causes the greenhouse effect?

I'm imagining something simple like two sealed fish tanks, one filled with air that we breath every day, and the other filled with the same air but with a 50% higher concentration of carbon dioxide. Shine a light into them both and measure the temperature.

I think this would convert a lot of "deniers".

  • $\begingroup$ It would improve this question if there was evidence of cursory preliminary research as multiple easily accessed resources describe this type of experiment $\endgroup$
    – Andy M
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyM I think this is an important question despite how it's worded. If such information is readily accessible, it should be easy to provide answers here. Such an answer could be valuable to future readers. The greenhouse effect is non-intuitive (how could a gas which makes up less than 0.001% of our atmosphere be a problem?) so the ability to demonstrate this at home (if possible) could help bridge that gap. $\endgroup$
    – LShaver
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ At this point, explaining simply physics to "deniers" is not really the issue. "Deniers" don't care what science can show them. If the greenhouse effect is difficult to perceive, try building a greenhouse. $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate: earthscience.stackexchange.com/q/7502/18081 $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


Levendis et al designed a simple experiment with balloons filled with air or air and CO2. They measured how long it took to cool a heated element in the two environments. It's by no means a perfect analogy, but given the well understood physics of CO2 it's hardly necessary to experiment at this scale. Many school science resource sites will give instructions for simple 'bottle' experiments that demonstrate the IR absorption of CO2 on the lab bench.

  • $\begingroup$ This just demonstrates CO2 is a poorer conductor than regular air though doesn't it? Not related to the greenhouse effect per se which has to do with IR radiation (in other words Argon would have the same effect in the balloon) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 21:24

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