Clouds will Save Us from Climate Change

Clouds will Save Us from Climate Change

Be thankful for our fluffy friends in the sky. Not only have they entertained us for centuries by taking forms of lovable bunnies, steady footed tortoises, and more recently, objects from the industrial revolution, but they are our last hope for believing that we don't need to do anything to prevent climate change. It is a desperate hope that we must now cling to - that bits of water vapor high in the atmosphere will be our saving grace.

Climate change skeptics have been having a rough go of things. Despite the continued support of many American politicians and industrial lobby groups who wouldn't want to disturb business as usual, support from academia and the general population has been on the decline as increasing evidence suggests that we are irreversibly warming our planet. And so new theories must be made so that we can feel okay as we continue to pump CO2 and other greenhouses gases (GHG's) into the air without any fear of retribution.

Luckily there remains one mystery that we can pour all our worries into: the effect of clouds on all this supposed warming. You see, low level cumulus clouds reflect sunlight back into space, which prevents the planet from heating as much as it otherwise might. High levels of wispy and thin cirrus clouds allow sunlight to enter the atmosphere, but trap heat from escaping back out into the blackness of space. And since the effect of increasing GHG concentrations on cloud formations remains one of the greatest mysteries in climate science, disproving this theory will be hard and frankly, take time - plenty of time to make the case for inaction.

Dr. Richard Lindzen of MIT paved the way for continued suspicion. Leveraging his residency at one of America's greatest centers for research and innovation, he is publishing paper after paper purporting that increased CO2 levels will reduce the amount of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, allowing all the extra heat from greenhouse gases to escape harmlessly back into space. Please ignore the fact, as many politicians do, that each of his papers continues to be debunked by his peers.

Dr. Lindzen has boldly stated “If I’m right, we’ll have saved money. If I’m wrong, we’ll know it in 50 years and can do something.” Inspiring isn’t it?

Now that's the kind of lazy visionary I'd put my money on when betting on my children's future. Why not pin all our hopes for the future on something truly substantial - those fluffy white clouds floating above me.

May 7, 2012