The KISS Principle and Climate Change

It is helpful to apply the KISS principle (an acronym for “keep it simple stupid”) to climate change. The complexity of the climate change problem can be overwhelming with half a dozen peer-reviewed articles being published on a daily basis in creditable journals around the world. This complexity enables those vested interests to easily confuse, or at least placate, the ‘man in the street’. The general public also commonly confuses weather and climate and often uses the occasional record cold extreme weather event as an argument that climate change is not occurring. This confusion extends to large sections of the mainstream media and the social media where graphs and statistics are used to create doubt and confusion.

But the KISS principle is applicable here. Basic physics plus a small amount of logic, is all you need. The physics is, of course, the greenhouse effect where trace gases in our atmosphere – identified in 1857 as carbon dioxide and methane – help keep the earth warm. It may come as a surprise to many but without the greenhouse effect the earth would be a ball of ice. Knowledge of the greenhouse effect has been around for nearly two centuries and is as established as anything in science can be. The next part is simple logic. If we increase these gases in our atmosphere then the earth will get warmer and if they are reduced it will get cooler. This cause and effect has been verified by numerous studies of ice cores.

That human activity has been increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is also fairly evident with the burning fossil fuels – coal and petroleum – since the industrial revolution. The combustion process where coal (carbon) combines with the air (oxygen) to produce the gas (carbon dioxide) and energy (heat) is the only other science required. To verify this stations at Mauna Loa and Cape Grim have measured the steady increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over the last 70 years.

The science and the observations can be summarised in a few words. By burning fossil fuels we are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere which in turn is warming the planet. That is all you need to know. It does not matter if a News Corps journo denies climate change, or someone with lots of letters after their name trots out an essay to prove the earth is getting colder, because what they are saying conflicts with basic physics and is therefore wrong. The brief article above on global warming conforms to the KISS principle. It was published in a country New Zealand newspaper in 1912.