About Global Warming – A Feedback Loop

He says “The only argument is “who” is mismanaging the forests, CA or USFS. We know they are mismanaged, there should be a lot of small fires that are allowed to burn, to prevent the huge fires. Also selective logging and clearing underbrush. We on the eastern US have suffered from the massive pollution from your fires, especially ~2 weeks ago. They basically canceled any environmental progress that has been made.”


Short answer – Yes, like Tucker, you blame us. Poor suffering you, it’s smoky. Well, it’s Hell over here.

Long answer – Yes, the forests have been mismanaged, for decades, maybe for over 100 years. That doesn’t explain why we (all over the Western US) are suddenly getting huge fires (historically, the largest acreage burned in a year, and the largest number of fires in a year) every year for the last 5 – 10 years. It could be related to the drought, the longest and driest and largest in geographic extent in memory, and the heat waves, hottest and longest and largest in geographic extent in memory. Why do you suppose the drought and the heat waves are getting worse and worse? It could be related to the fact that the overall average temperature of the planet is increasing – an easily demonstrated, measured, and proven fact.

By the by, a lot of the smoke you (in the Eastern US) are experiencing may be from fires in Canada. There are a lot of big fires there too, over the past few years.

As far as the environmental effects of the fires – let’s think further about that.

Yes, you are right, these fires have caused “massive pollution”, they have “canceled a lot of the environmental progress that has been made”. They will have released huge amounts of CO2, which increases the greenhouse effect, which traps more heat, which causes changes in the climate.

And that’s the point – most people don’t understand it, but you, with your good scientific, mathematical, and technical education should understand – global warming is a vicious, escalating cycle, a feedback loop, a resonant amplification. The more global warming changes the climate, the more CO2 (and methane, something like 25 or 30 times as effective a greenhouse gas as CO2 ) is released, so the atmosphere and oceans and land get hotter, more ice melts, so there is a lower albedo in the Arctic and Antarctic, so more heat is absorbed by exposed land and water, and more methane is released, so more heat affects the climate, so ….

Maybe an example from simple mechanics will make sense to you. The climate is a process, it’s an engine. Global warming puts more energy into the engine. It’s very much like turbo-charging the climate engine, capturing heat energy that would otherwise be lost (radiated into space), and feeding it back into the climate engine. Unfortunately, there is no governor on the engine, and the driver (government and corporations) keeps their foot to the floor.

© Bruce Merchant 2021

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