Earth's natural negative feedbacks

Negative feedback

Feedbacks are what climate alarmism is built on. The warming effect of carbon dioxide alone is already almost at its maximum, and a doubling of the concentration would at most add less than 1 degree C to the global temperature. But the alarmist models use that modest warming to initiate positive feedbacks, increasing and accelerating it to dangerous and catastrophic levels.

Here, however, is a great example of the planet’s natural tendency for negative feedbacks:

Bacteria ate nearly all the potentially climate-warming methane that spewed from BP’s broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico last year, scientists reported on Thursday.

Nearly 200,000 tons of methane — more than any other single hydrocarbon emitted in the accident — were released from the wellhead, and nearly all of it went into the deep water of the Gulf, researcher David Valentine of the University of California-Santa Barbara said in a telephone interview.

Bacteria managed to take in the methane before it could rise from the sea bottom and be released into the atmosphere, but the process contributed to a loss of about 1 million tons of dissolved oxygen in areas southwest of the well.

That sounds like a lot of oxygen loss, but it was widely spread out, so that the bacterial munching did not contribute to a life-sapping low-oxygen condition known as hypoxia, said Valentine, whose study was published in the journal Science.

What happens to methane has been a key question for climate scientists, because methane is over 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Like carbon dioxide, methane comes from natural and human-made sources, including the petroleum industry.

The BP spill offered an “accidental experiment” that showed particular bacteria with an all-methane diet multiplied quickly as the methane spread with the underwater plume from the broken well. Peak consumption of methane probably came in late July and early August, Valentine said.

Other organisms dealt with other hydrocarbons, including ethane and propane emitted in the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The methane-eating bacteria were the last to the hydrocarbon banquet, and based on past observation, the scientists questioned whether they could do the job.

“Given observations about how slowly methane is normally consumed, we didn’t think the (bacteria) population was up to the challenge at all … we thought it would be a lot slower,” Valentine said. (source)

How wrong they were. It’s not surprising if you think about it – in a massively complex ecosystem such as our own planet, when a particular variable begins to increase (methane concentration), there will be some natural process (explosion of methane-consuming bacteria) to act as a negative feedback to restore the system to a quiescent state. Crikey, I’m beginning to sound like a Gaia-freak!

Speaking of Gaia freaks, ACM stalwart Andy Pitman (see here for one of Pitman’s previous classics) comes to a fellow warmist’s aid in today’s Australian, playing down Tim Flannery’s “earth-mother” nonsense on The Science Show (see here), and spouting all the usual alarmist nonsense we would expect from someone on the AGW funding bandwagon:

Flannery made a series of eloquent points in his interview and the transcript is worth reading in full. However, he also said: “I think that within this century the concept of strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest.” This is about as silly, in my view, as Flannery’s statement on the ABC’s Lateline program in November 2009 that global warming had not occurred over the past 10 years, that “there hasn’t been a continuation of that warming trend”. This statement was incorrect and highlights the dangers of a scientist commenting outside their area of expertise. (source)

So the one statement Flannery gets right, Pitman complains about! You get the picture…

And finally, a moral tale of junk science which cost millions of dollars (and possibly lives), which was finally exposed as fraud. Sound familiar?

RESEARCH linking childhood vaccination to autism is not only flawed but a fraud, the British Medical Journal declared yesterday.

The journal thus “closed the door” on the health scare of a decade.

It branded the bombshell study by Andrew Wakefield – published by its prestigious rival The Lancet in 1998 and retracted last year – as an “elaborate fraud”.

Mr Wakefield had been secretly working for a class-action law firm that planned to sue the manufacturers of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, at the time he published his paper linking the jab to childhood autism, the BMJ claimed in an article published yesterday.

The resulting public health scare caused by the original article triggered a boycott of the vaccine in Britain, where immunisation rates crashed to 80 per cent.

The BMJ article, by investigative journalist Brian Deer, claims that Mr Wakefield was paid a total of $677,000.

“The paper was in fact an elaborate fraud,” the BMJ says in a separate editorial. “Meanwhile, the damage to public health continues.” (source)

And this is just small fry compared to the fraud being perpetrated by the GW alarmists on the global economy and standards of living.


  1. Hi, I am from Melbourne. I came across your site via a browse on Andy Pitman re his essay in todays Oz about Gaia and climate change.

    Please find a set of references which point out that we are 100% embedded in, and hence are totally dependent on the fact that the world is an indiviisible interdepent unity- even at the Cosmic level.

    [links OT – Mod]

  2. David Cooke says:

    You’re right to draw the parallel between Andrew Wakefield’s fraud and the much more complex junk science peddled by the warmists. While anti-vaccination is largely a redneck phenomenon, it has also taken in some people who should know better; The Australian website today featured a biochemist with a doctorate in biotechnology who still withheld vaccination from her daughter. So many professional scientists lack any underlying philosophy to give them a basis for evaluating information or reasoning. In fact, they have no standards for judging truth. And both frauds depended on arousing ignorant fear of something harmless – carbon dioxide, and autism (BTW, I’m an Aspie).

  3. Entirely OT – more about positive comeback than negative
    feedback. Just got the news from Daily Bayonet that ACM is back on
    deck. And here’s me thinking ACM was gone for all money. Thought
    I’d send off this note of sheer delight before getting into the
    posts. Made my day, it has, and then some!

  4. I’m not surprised to see that numbers of bacteria increased
    in relation to the food source they wanted to consume. The same
    natural phenomena can be seen when the local population of flies
    increases with the presence of a dead animal, or when the local
    population of greenie alarmists increases when there is fat
    government funding ready and waiting.

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