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Thank you for your interest in climate.  (Act now to avert a climate crisis Nature vol. 573 no. 7774 September 19, 2019 page 309.) I have been troubled by global warming for over 60 years, ever since I saw a series of photos showing the retreat of a Swiss glacier over several years, and maybe because I live in toasty Florida.  And I hate CO2 because I love ancient art done in marble and love reefs.  But I am puzzled.  The way the planet dumps heat, for the most part, is convection of hot air high enough to dump heat into space.  Even a greenhouse does not have much greenhouse effect.  Mostly it just blocks convection. 

Since nitrogen carries heat 3 ways – translation, rotation in one plane and vibration along the bond axis – and CO2 carries it 7 ways – translation, rotation in three planes, vibration at two bonds and a kind of wishbone bending – CO2 should enhance heat loss by convection, and indeed after a big volcano dumps a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere it gets cold. 

Warming the planet by having the Arctic ice cap melting exposing dark water would make the Arctic warm faster, as it does.  And dumping water from high flying jets into the stratosphere should make high ice crystal clouds last longer, which together with smoke thrown high by volcanoes, should equilibrate between sunlight and the cold of space and, to the extent that this exceeds the normal lapse rate, turn off convection and warm the planet.

Yet the policies I see call for reducing CO2 and maybe deliberately putting opaque matter in the stratosphere.  Remarkable.  Could someone, using nice easy words, explain to me how either of these could be beneficial in limiting global warming?


M. Linton Herbert MD

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