Simple climate math is all you need

It’s amazing how the complicated we make the simplest things. In this instance, the debate about climate change. A myriad of scientists and observers have reams of data and advanced analytical models deployed to figure out why global temperatures appear to be rising and the sources – natural versus man made – of the change.

Keep it simple and you’ll know the truth.

Reality check: most things in life are very simple if you understand them clearly. In the case of climate change – which I am admittedly not qualified to confirm or deny – it strikes me that the equation needn’t be very complex. Here is a layman’s perspective that I believe is both obvious and difficult to refute.

IF the earth was in equilibrium in terms of temperature change under circumstances not affected by mankind (big assumption here that equilibrium exists / existed in natural state which is doubtful given a history of global tropics and ice ages)

THEN any additional consumption of energy on the planet will disturb that equilibrium and increase global temperatures to some extent.

Using this premise let’s look at what people do. We farm, fish, cut down trees, build cities, and – this is the big one – we dig up fuel and consume it to power everything.

So let’s look at this fuel thing. Wind and water driven energy are pretty much net zeros in the climate equation (other than the energy consumed to build, set up and run them). No big issue there. Nuclear energy basically takes radioactive rocks and forces them to release energy stored in their mass. This is a net addition to the current energy of the world, because it takes stored energy and makes it current energy. That will warm things up a bit.

Fossil fuels – the cheapest and most efficient energy source anyone has found in history – have energy that came from plants. Those plants took sunshine from millions of years ago and stored it. When the plants died and got compressed they turned into coal, gas and oil. So these fossil fuels are basically historical sunshine.  When you burn them, you are taking energy captured in the distant past and bringing it into the current environment. This obviously adds energy to the world today and will warm things up.

So does man influence climate? I think so. It seems pretty simple to me that taking energy that was stored in rocks and fossils long ago and releasing that energy today changes the overall current energy level of the earth today, and that will end up being observed as heat.

The potentially saving grace that we know practically nothing about is the earth’s innate ability to seek equilibrium of temperatures. We live on a planet that has extremely low temperature variability that enables most of the water on the planet to stay in liquid form. This is an amazing thing, and it is important: the earth has ways of seeking that happy range of temperatures between 0-100 celsius degrees and has been doing so for billions of years. Yes there have been variances and cycles that happened long before humanity emerged and started digging up fossils, but the earth has always found a way to return to the happy zone. My guess is it will continue to do so, for reasons that are not understood in the slightest today.


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