The Nature Institute

The Nature Institute 
20 May Hill Road, Ghent, New York 12075  Tel: (518) 672 0116

Home | Our Education Programs | Our Publications | Content Areas | Writings Ordered by Author | Resources and Links | Contact Us | Search

Water, Energy, and Global Warming

Michael D'Aleo and Stephen Edelglass

We have all learned, during this scientific era, to speak of causes and effects. While this language may prove useful, it can also mislead, as when the public is brought to focus upon El Niño as the "cause" of altered weather patterns around the world. Yet El Niño is itself a seamless part of the global weather picture, and is as much the result of ongoing changes as their cause. By itself it explains nothing. An undue focus on causes and effects encourages us to fragment the earth's natural cycles and lose sight of their integral unity.

We suspect that this affinity for well-defined (and preferably villainous!) causes throws light on the current debates about global climate change. The fixation upon a single atmospheric constituent -- carbon dioxide, which has the advantage of now being widely viewed as a dangerous pollutant -- may have encouraged us to ignore elements of the larger picture. Our intention here is to fill out another part of that picture in a way that may prove startling: it appears that perfectly "harmless" water vapor and the actual quantity of energy produced with it may be at least as much the villains as carbon dioxide.

Some Questions

Perhaps nothing evokes fear of humanity's destructive im