Tag Archives: lindzen

Its all About the Feedback

If frequent readers get any one message from this site, it should be that the theory of catastrophic global warming from CO2 is actually based on two parallel and largely unrelated theories:

  1. That CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas and can increase global temperatures as concentrations increase
  2. That the earth’s climate is dominated by strong positive feedback that multiplies the effect of #1 3,4,5 times or more.

I have always agreed with #1, and I think most folks will accept a number between 1-1.2C for a doubling of CO2 (though a few think its smaller).  #2 is where the problem with the theory is, and it is no accident that this is the area least discussed in the media.  For more, I refer you to this post and this video.  (higher resolution video here, clip #3).

In my video and past posts, I have tried to back into the feedback fraction f that models are using.  I used a fairly brute force approach and came up with numbers between 0.65 and 0.85.  It turns out I was pretty close.  Dr Richard Lindzen has this chart showing the feedback fractions f used in models, and the only surprise to me is how many use a number higher than 1 (such numbers imply runaway reactions similar to nuclear fission).


Lindzen thinks the true number is closer to -1, which is similar to the number I backed into from temperature history over the last 100 years.  This would imply that feedback actually works to reduce the net effect of greenhouse warming, from a sensitivity of 1.2 to one something like 0.6C per doubling.