The Dec. 26 letter “Global warming 101” says that the cause of global warming is ridiculously obvious — the increase in population and consequent increase in emitted body heat. This statement is wrong.
Basically, you affect the Earth’s heating rate by changing the difference between incoming and outgoing radiation. Humans get their food energy from the sun through photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide, water and nutrients into plant mass that we (and animals) eat.
The heat that we generate through our metabolism — which “burns” the food we eat — would be the same as that which would have been released had the plant simply died and decayed or was burned by fire. The net energy change would be no different and thus would not affect the Earth’s energy balance and, hence, climate. Moreover, the heat emitted by humans is trivially small compared to incoming solar radiation.
The letter denigrates authorities with proven records and shows no understanding of fundamentals.
Joseph M. Prospero,