Just some gentle teasing today.
Every climate scientist knows that it’s the feedback that counts, that the few squirts of carbon dioxide contributed to the atmosphere are powerless in isolation. What makes the situation dreadful is that, some suppose, the CO2 molecules gang up on themselves to strong-arm the “assistance” of other greenhouse gases. This makes for a bad brew.
Problem is, this dire feedback is nothing more than supposition. Or was. There is now proof that feedback exists! Two disparate groups of scientists have found, if not the holy grail of climate science, then at least a map to its hiding place.
This is science, folks: peer-reviewed truth. Don’t forget that if it’s in print, and the people behind the research are earnest and sincere, and that if the money that funded the work came from the government and not some corporation (Apple corporation is an exception), and that if the findings are in line with your political philosophy, then the results must be so.
This is the feedback:
- Global warming makes people fat, and fat people make the globe warmer!
A vicious, inescapable treadmill to hell! The globe itself is conspiring to make people fatter, and what do you think these fatties do? They make the globe hotter because of all the food they eat. Which in turns makes the obese swell, which again turns the screws on the heat engine, and so on ad infinitum.
Danish researcher Lars-Georg Hersoug gave us one half of the circle. He found that lately “skinny people showed proportionately as much weight gain as those who were already overweight.” And so did eight different species of laboratory animals Hersoug happened to have milling about.
Hersoug racked his brain but could not discover why all these creatures should be gaining weight at the same rates. Until he hit upon the happy idea of using statistics:
Hersoug notes that atmospheric levels of the gas have risen during the same period and that in the United States, obesity has increased most rapidly on the East Coast, where CO2 concentrations are highest.
This is, of course, sufficient proof, but Hersoug is a diligent man and sought an airtight case. What happened next will be the stuff of scientific legend:
Hersoug…conducted…an experiement [sic] in which six young men were placed in special climate rooms for seven hours. They were then given the opportunity to eat as much as they wanted, and those who had been exposed to increased CO2 levels ate six percent more than those who had not.
His theory? (For there is always a theory, which is much to be preferred to data.)
Hersoug believes that hormones in the brain are affected by CO2 and may in turn alter our appetite and metabolism. He also suggests that CO2 in beer may be to blame for beer bellies and recommends spending more time outdoors, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and engaging in vigorous exercise to pump excess CO2 out of the bloodstream.
Now what about the other half of the circle? Enter researchers Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts who say “When it comes to food consumption, moving about in a heavy body is like driving around in a gas guzzler.”
This wasn’t just a cutesy quip. For everybody already knew that fat people eat more than thin people, and thus fat people are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions. What makes the research of Edwards and Roberts unique is that they are the first to figure the increased fuel it takes to cart all that blubber around. CO2 comes from fuel, folks. Hard to argue with the physics, here.
E & R wish everybody could be just like the Vietnamese, a race of slim, low-BMI people. There is a culture that is good for the planet, boy. The only real surprise in this research is that they did not directly ask that high-BMI populations be drugged to make them tinier, like academic philosophers at the Future of Humanity Institute boldly called for. To be fair, E & R’s work came before that famous bioethics paper.
It is true, though Edwards and Roberts don’t use the word, that gluttony is on the rise (or on the swell). We do not choose to label over-indulgence with this most “judgmental” word. We instead hint that the sin against the planet is worse than the sin against the self, and that by hurting the planet you are thus hurting others, albeit indirectly; sort of like second-hand gluttony. This strikes me as a poor line of attack.
But never mind. Feedback has been found. The science is settled.
Thanks to reader Bob Ludwick for suggesting this topic.