Keen to show off their skilz at answering Alsup's questions, the Graun falls flat on its face. We read:
What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not? It’s rather complex, but basically the molecules of gases such as carbon dioxide are able to bend and slow down solar radiation bouncing off the Earth and returning to space. Nitrogen and oxygen aren’t able to do this and so do not have the same greenhouse impact upon the planet.
The "It's rather complex" link is to a long complex doc which I think in the end does provide the answer, but only after so much that anyone who doesn't already know will certainly give up. Why couldn't they just use RealClimate's "somewhat unique" answer? Or even HKL.
To nit-pick "able to bend and slow down solar radiation" is ambiguous. Does it mean the CO2 is able to bend, and that therefore it can slow down solar radiation? Or does it mean that CO2 is able to "bend and slow down" solar radiation? As a test, I forced the question on my highly intelligent 16 year old daughter, who didn't understand the science, and who found what the Graun had written of no use; but when forced to choose, went for the "bend and slow down" version, since there was no comma. I then explained the right answer - at the simplified level that I understand it - and she understood. So I think it is disappointing that the Graun wimped out; there was the chance to explain some interesting science.
And secondly, although you kinda know what they mean, "slow down solar radiation" is wrong. Solar radiation moves at the speed of light, or something not far off, in the atmosphere. Also, CO2 is essentially transparent to solar radiation.
Oh, but thirdly (and I only noticed this when my wife, also highly intelligent, read the Graun's text and also failed to make any sense of it): there's solar radiation bouncing off the Earth and returning to space. Is this is what Alsup is going on about with his rather silly Q4?