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Apr. 09, 2010

When positive is a negative

by Neil Wagner

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Kick-starting nature’s perpetual motion machine helps warm our climate.
 
The world gets warmer. Frozen ground melts. Stuff that’s been trapped in the ice now escapes and adds to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The world gets even warmer. And on it goes…
 
Skeptics point to historical records that appear to show carbon dioxide as trailing behind warming periods, rather than preceding them. In those cases, a natural event occurred on the globe which started a positive feedback loop. The carbon dioxide that was released then warmed the atmosphere, which in turn caused more CO2 to be released. While this scenario follows the pattern we know as global warming, it can look on paper like the CO2 is only a result of global warming, rather than also being a trigger for it.
 
Get in the loop…
 
 
 
About Neil Wagner

Neil Wagner's What on Earth? comic strip uses humor to discuss global warming.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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