Co2: The Climate Change Light Post

The street light effect is a metaphor for knowledge and ignorance and is captured in the observation by Noam Chomsky that (climate) “Science is a bit like the joke about the drunk who is looking under a lamppost for a key that he has lost on the other side of the street, because that’s where the light is. It has no other choice.”

Climate advocates have used increases in CO2 to predict that they will lead to catastrophic warming unless action is taken to reduce emissions.  And, the models that are the foundation of climate orthodoxy have been built on the basis of this assumption because CO2 is a greenhouse gas.  But, CO2’s warming potential is not linear, so as more is added to the atmosphere the warming of each increment is less than the prior one.

Even though climate models routinely over predict the warming associated with changes in CO2 and climate history shows that the lack of causality, the assertion of catastrophic warming is accepted as fact by many policy makers, the mainstream media and scientists who succumb to groupthink by not taking the time to do their own analysis.

The only explanation for this wrong-headed  is that CO2 can be measured, it can be taxed and regulated, whereas the predominant greenhouse gas, water vapor cannot.  Climate change advocates continue to assume that increases in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will produce a positive feedback that enhances the warming effect of CO2 emissions.  This would be caused by increases in the amount or distribution of water vapor and clouds according to a 2013 paper by Ken Gregory—Water Vapor Decline Cools the Earth: NASA Satellitia Data.  His observation is not new.  In 1990, for example, Robert Jastrow, Fred Seitz, and William Nierenberg made the same point in a George C Marshall Institute report—Global Warming—What Does The Science Tell Us.

Gregory’s analysis concludes “Climate models predict upper atmosphere moistening which triples the greenhouse effect from man-made carbon dioxide emissions. The new satellite data from the NASA water vapor project shows declining upper atmosphere water vapor during the period 1988 to 2001” which represented at the time the latest available data.

Until climate advocates abandon the GroupThink that has been their unifying force, they will be like the drunk who uses a light post for support instead of for illumination.



Founder and president of Solutions Consulting which focuses on public policy issues, strategic planning, and strategic communications.

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