Global Warming Feedback Confirmed!

Fat equationsJust 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.


  1. Rich

    and engaging in vigorous exercise to pump excess CO2 out of the bloodstream. And here’s me thinking that vigorous exercise produced more CO2. What do I know?

  2. mushroom

    Yes, Rich, but this is liberated CO2 which will clearly not conspire with fat-cat CO2 molecules — the one-percenters.

    In other news, African witchdoctors and astrologers are lawyering-up to sue climate researchers for defaming pseudo-science.

  3. max

    Forget about the bio-ethicists, call in the real ethicists. There is a bright line standard for human experimentation that states it is not ethical for researchers to deliberately subject young men (or any humans) to conditions which they suspect cause deterioration in the health of those young men. Mengele Hersoug may have produced some interesting results there (although with only 6 subjects …) but he did it through crossing the line into unethical experimentation on human beings.

  4. DAV

    I think the fallacy here is that the amount of CO2 incurred by food production is independent of the distribution of the food. It would be the same even if the food is not eaten. An SUV produces more CO2 by burning the extra fuel it consumes. Was the CO2 produced by eating measured? It seems not.

  5. Speed

    It makes sense. People (and by extension all mammals) eat more in a CO2 rich environment. Plants grow more in a CO2 rich environment. et Voila!

    For our next grant proposal, we will throw methane into the mix. Legumes only.

  6. Ray

    “He also suggests that CO2 in beer may be to blame for beer bellies and recommends spending more time outdoors,”

    I thought the CO2 gave beer a head, not a belly, however, from now on I will drink beer outdoors on the porch.

  7. Katie

    For starters, global warming should induce more outdoor activity, hence a fitter populance.

  8. It’s not about who burns what, its about who sequesters the most carbon, thus keeping it out of the atmosphere. Hersoug needs to study the carbon cycle.

    Fat people are also jollier. And slower and thus easier to catch than skinny vegetarians, for instance. Something to think about in case (when, not if) we have to revert to cannibalism because Thermageddon or Mass Stupidity (take your choice) causes civilization to collapse into chaos. Another good reason lay off the pie.

  9. This so-called science is pure bunkum.

    The fact is, we’re smart enough to know, even if subliminally, that our Alien Overlords (yes, even those with short-form birth certificates) lie to us routinely. Therefore, our minds translate the scare stories about CAGW directly into alarm that the opposite might be true, and that we’re likely in for a long, dangerously cold bit of climate.

    And, in a very cold climate, people require what? A dense layer of body fat, that’s what…

    Ergo, ipso, defacto, Iditarod!

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