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Winding Roads


Conversations with Walter

Stefan Schwarzer

geographer, permaculture-designer, regenerative agriculture activist, author


Yes, I stumbled over this article - from 2008 - quite a while ago. Upon my understanding it, it underlines the “classical” thinking: more CO2 leads to more warming leads to more water vapour in the atmosphere which amplifies the warming effect.


As far as I know, they have a point here. As water vapour is the dominant greenhouse gas, more of it in the atmosphere means more heat keeping/trapping. This is a point, where, in discussions that I have with others, am not so sure what to answer. Simply spoken “You want more vegetation so that there is more water vapour? But more water vapour leads to more heat trapping!”


Clearly, this is more complex than that: More humidity can mean more clouds (with loss of condensation energy into space, with albedo, with rain, …). And if water vapour would be such a problem, I wonder how mother earth came well along with it when (almost) all of the land was covered with trees/vegetation.


But nevertheless, I haven’t really found a good (single) argument for/against that “more humidity in the atmosphere through more vegetation”. What do you say?

Walter Jehne


Yes nature had the same problem on Venus with ever more water vapour driving greenhouse warming so that it has turned into a toxic sulphuric acid sauna. Fortunately she was able to solve it on Earth as we can too by generating hygroscopic microbial precipitation nuclei that coalesce the water vapour and haze microdroplets first into dense high albedo clouds and then raindrops removing that water and it’s heating effects from the air. In doing so she also reopens the night time re radiation windows allowing heat to re-radiate directly back out to space despite the minor greenhouse gas CO2 (11% of the GH gas effect relative to 80% for WV) still being in the air. Some 60% of our abnormal GH warming has been due to higher night time temperatures due to the heat absorption by the WV not removed by the late afternoon rain due to the impairment of the microbial ptte nuclei not CO2 levels which are still in the air.


This confirms that it is the increased persistence of the WV levels that is the key problem and cause of our GH warming not primarily the CO2 presence or increase. It also confirms that our key basis of agency in safely and naturally cooling the climate in time is in restoring these microbial ptte nuclei effects to generate high albedo cooling clouds and then reopen these re-radiation windows. We know how to do this practically and profitably. In turn their cooling effects contribute to the formation of more ice nuclei at high latitudes and altitudes intensifying this cooling. 


We have however intensified a serious negative warming factor that is pushing the Earth’s climate more to a runaway Venus like hothouse. This is driven by our massive increase in dust and pollutant aerosols that like the sulphuric acid aerosols on Venus have and are increasing humid haze levels. These are evidenced and documented scientifically as the up to 20% increase in global dimming over vast regions due to the increase in persistent humid haze microdroplets. These warm the air both by directly absorbing solar radiation while in the liquid phase that converts them into water vapour which then functions as and accentuates the WV GH gas effect. 


Nature evolved highly effective ways to remove them and their aridification and warming effects from the air over the past 100 m years via its microbial ptte nuclei. This has enabled the more recent induction of the Earth’s ice ages despite the suns ever increasing solar intensity (which we dogmatically call the solar ‘constant’). 


It again reinforces the criticality of these precipitation nuclei as nature’s and our key agent in having created and in cooling the Earth’s stable climate. Similarly our lack of wisdom in compromising their production. Pasteur was correct in alerting us to their importance 150 years ago in his work on aero-biology. 


As proposed it would be valuable to review the substantial scientific evidence on their formation role and ecology in safely governing and cooling our climate hydrologically.    

Stefan Schwarzer


in a recent article in the Science magazine "Current global efforts are insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C”, the authors show this graph of correlation:

ResearchGate_Graph of correlation

We know well that correlation doesn´t mean causality. I have seen a graph with a positive correlation of storks and birth of babies… But nevertheless, the CO2 = global temperature rise is important and well established.


I wonder if someone in the “water” community knows of a graph which shows a correlation with land use change, resp. loss of vegetation (resp. evapotranspiration). 


In principal, one could correlate any of the Great Acceleration graphs with temperature rise… 

But I think that would be very useful to have.

Water vapor is known to be Earth’s most abundant greenhouse gas, but the extent of its contribution to global warming has been debated. Using recent NASA satellite data, researchers have estimated more precisely than ever the heat-trapping effect of water in the air, validating the role of the gas as a critical component of climate change.   


Paper icon.JPG

Speaker and paper presentation at the conference at Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts, USA. Sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment

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