No, @CNN, an Opinion Piece about ‘Dangerous Climate Feedback Loops’ Doesn’t Qualify as Science

An article in CNN claims feedback responses to rising temperatures driven by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations may result in deadly, permanent changes to the Earth’s climate. The article provides no evidence to support this alarming claim, because there is no real-world data to back it up. The only climate tipping points that we can be certain exist are in the climate models themselves. While cosmic and natural cyclical patterns have made dramatic changes on occasion throughout history, there is no evidence carbon dioxide levels have served as a tipping point for such occurrences.

In the CNN article: “Nearly 30 dangerous feedback loops could permanently shift the Earth’s climate, scientists say,” the writer Laura Paddison says, “Dangerous climate feedback loops are increasing global warming and risk causing a permanent shift away from the Earth’s current climate, according to a new study.”

The problem for CNN’s report begins in the title. The source for CNN’s claims is not a “study,” but rather a “commentary,” titled “Many risky feedback loops amplify the need for climate action,” that published in the online-only journal called One-Earth, seen in the screencap below (yellow highlight by the author):

First, “commentary” is just another word for an opinion piece. Opinions are not science. Second, as is confirmed by the publisher in the screencap below, the article didn’t actually do any new science; it produced no new data, no formulas, no methods:

The “commentary” is nothing more than a compilation of what the authors claim is a list of 27 climate feedback loops that will supposedly cause dangerous permanent changes to the Earth’s climate, listed in table 1 of the publication.

In reading the article it becomes clear that it is not a scientific piece, but rather is an advocacy piece. The title itself betrays this fact; “Many risky feedback loops amplify the need for climate action.

Here are some other examples of advocacy cloaked in science:

A targeted expansion of research and an accelerated reduction of emissions are needed to minimize risks.

As we increasingly understand climate change as a series of disasters in the short term and a major threat in the longer term, many governmental jurisdictions and world scientists have declared a climate emergency.

Based on our compilation of numerous and potentially risky climate warming feedback loops, we call for immediate concurrent changes to both (1) climate research and (2) climate policy, which should strategically inform and guide each other.

Transformative and socially just changes in global energy and transportation, short-lived air pollution, food production, nature preservation, and the international economy, together with population policies based on education and equality, are required to address this immense problem in both the short and the long term.

The entire article is peppered with such call-to-action and “equity” styled language. It is long on action proposals but short on any scientific discussion or defense of the problematic “feedback loops,” the authors claim merit political action. In the place of evidence, the authors commit the logical fallacy of appeals to authority. There are no data, procedures, calculations, and formulas presented to justify claims that dangerous feedback loops exist and that tipping points are pending. Instead, what we have here is an op-ed by some climate advocates.

Concerning the list of “risky feedback loops,” nothing the commentary mentions is new by itself, as these have all been examined by scientists for years, even decades. The list of claimed climate feedback loops include many which have been shown to be non-problems, such ocean circulation, which science can’t even decide whether it is increasing or decreasing in any given decade. Another is sea level rise, which despite wild claims of acceleration, is actually unchanged and steady since 1850. Acceleration is disproved by actual data, and nothing more than an artifact of measurements from different satellite data being combined. The authors also ignore existing data on wildfires to claim that climate change is causing them to be more frequent or severe. The available data clearly refutes this claim. The list goes on and on, as seen in Figure 1 from the One-Earth article.

Figure 1. Map of feedback loops

Finally, the One-Earth “commentary” mentions climate “tipping points” or some variation no less than seventeen times. In the closing summary the authors say, “…if the worst-case risks posed by feedback loops and tipping points have been underestimated, the future of a hospitable planet Earth may be at stake.”

Clearly, the authors think doomsday is on the near horizon. Perhaps they never got the memo that the worst-case climate models, like RCP8.5, have recently been proven to run too hot and are producing “implausibly hot forecasts of future warming.” Many of the worst-case feedback scenarios are based on simulations that only exist in climate models, being impossible to obtain in the real world.

Apparently, CNN missed all of that, thinking that some real, actual science was being done here. CNN promoted the clearly labeled “commentary” as if it were a scientific study. Further, CNN embellished the headline, perhaps to make it more alarming, referencing “nearly 30” dangerous feedback loops, rather than the 27 identified in the One Earth commentary.

This is a shamelessly incompetent piece of so-called journalism on the part of CNN, but sadly, incompetence in journalism today, especially when it comes to climate science, seems to be a feature, rather than a bug.

Originally published on ClimateRealism

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Tom Halla
February 24, 2023 6:13 pm

I seem to recall that James Hansen never apologized for his claims in the 1980’s of a tipping point for climate. Michael Mann has precedent for never admitting error.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Halla
February 24, 2023 10:32 pm

Dear @CNN,
IF the climate could tip into a permanent HOTHOUSE or ICEHOUSE we would currently be either TOASTED or FROZEN and wouldn’t exist to have this conversation. CO2 has been much higher and much lower in the past.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Bryan A
February 25, 2023 3:45 am

Permanent doesn’t exist, only persistent or long-duration. But a quarter billion year temporary ice age is pretty “permanent” from a practical perspective.

The evidence of glaciations and interstadials proves that there are natural tipping points but the many examples of CO2 and temperature trends not being correlated should falsify the propaganda concept of CO2 as the “master control knob”.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Rich Davis
February 25, 2023 11:51 am

What you need to correlate is the AGW narrative with the dumbing down of the 21st Century Minds. Yes it is true, the Corporatocracy controlling the industrialized west is purposely under-educating and over-indoctrinating the minds of past, current and coming school aged generations so they will not question but dutifully fall in line with central authoritarian controls out of fear and guilt. DEI/ESG/LBGT is all an alphabet soup of indoctrination demanding adherence to the Collective with hyperventilated climate change and racism the primary drivers.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rich Davis
February 26, 2023 5:25 pm

And, “tipping point” implies something permanent, in contrast to a long-duration event.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 26, 2023 6:21 pm

I think that what is meant by a tipping point is when a system jumps between two quasi-stable states in a fairly rapid manner, like the change from a stadial to an interstadial.

Dave Burton
Reply to  Rich Davis
March 3, 2023 12:17 am

“Fairly rapid,” in this case, means about 5000 years, for the great northern ice sheets to recede to just the current remnant on Greenland. That’s probably an order of magnitude longer than the anthropogenic surge in atmospheric CO2 will last.

As a rule of thumb, anytime someone uses a term like “tipping point” or “runaway” in a sentence about contemporary climate change, without pooh-poohing it, it means they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Last edited 17 days ago by Dave Burton
February 24, 2023 6:45 pm

Feedbacks “loops” for loopy climate warriors. This one has been making the rounds of the science reporting sites. For example, this headline

Feedback loops are overlooked engines of climate change, says study

Apparently the blogger doesn’t realize that the whole premise of the theory of catastrophic human-caused climate change rests solely on the claim of positive feedback “loops” supposedly triggered by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. I guess they think they’ve found some more “overlooked” feedback to worry about despite the overwhelming evidence from paleoclimate studies that the dominant climate feedback mechanisms mitigate warming rather than amplifying it. Atmospheric CO2 was 14 times higher during the Late Triassic and early Jurassic period 200 million years ago and guess what? No “runaway warming”. The oceans didn’t boil. Earth didn’t become Venus. Dinosaurs thrived, CO2 levels dropped, and all was well.

Last edited 24 days ago by stinkerp
Chris Hanley
February 24, 2023 7:15 pm

The lead author of the paper referred to in the CNN propaganda piece William Ripple is “professor of ecology at Oregon State University in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society … Ripple is the director of the Alliance of World Scientists, an ‘independent organization with more than 25,000 scientist members that acts as a collective international voice of many scientists regarding global climate and environmental trends'” (Wiki).
I supposed Prof Ripple can be accurately described as an activist scientist.

February 24, 2023 7:26 pm

For a moment in deep joy, I though they found the Lower Tropospheric “Hot Spot” signature that would support their Positive Feedback Loop Delusions…….. but alas another false alarm…. should have known better.

Last edited 24 days ago by Sunsettommy
Richard Greene
Reply to  Sunsettommy
February 25, 2023 12:58 am

The Hot Spot can not be found because it got lost in New Jersy on the way to the tropics. Just wait, someday it will arrive at its destination..

This comment is serious, not satire.
I’ve been lost in New Jersey a few times myself.

Bryan A
Reply to  Richard Greene
February 25, 2023 1:09 pm

Likely as not it’s stuck on a toll road waiting for it’s IPCC Climate Conundrum payment to be able to proceed

John in Oz
February 24, 2023 8:01 pm

The title of the piece also uses ‘Earth’s climate’ as if there is only one.

I’m pretty sure (but am no climate scientist) that there are several different climates around the Earth.

John Hultquist
Reply to  John in Oz
February 24, 2023 9:24 pm

There are many dozens of climates.
They mean atmospheric temperature.
If mine rises by 1.5° maybe I can grow tomatoes.
I’ll still have the same climate.  BSk = Cold semi-arid climate

Richard Greene
Reply to  John in Oz
February 25, 2023 12:59 am

There are many different climates,
and they are all getting worse,
and don’t you forget it, unless
more windmills and solar panels are built.
This comment is serious, not satire.

February 24, 2023 10:34 pm

Climate catastrophism generates a truly awesome amount of money. Expect the flow of rubbish like this to increase till the bubble finally bursts.

Reply to  Keitho
February 25, 2023 2:34 am

When the bubble finally bursts, will the people wake up, or will they just be taken seamlessly into the next scam?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 26, 2023 5:28 pm

P. T. Barnum has already weighed in with his opinion.

Tim Crome
February 25, 2023 1:18 am

There is one clear and indisputable feedback loop that is well proven in climate science.

It is the finance loop from researchers to media to politicians and back to the researchers again.

The EU has a research fund of €95,500,000,000, 35% of this is earmarked to climate related work to achieve the Green Transition….

This should lead to exponential growth in climate scientists, at least until the bubble bursts!

Reply to  Tim Crome
February 25, 2023 10:02 am

You could even call is sponsored by Big Wind

February 25, 2023 3:43 am

whaddya expect from cn n n n….;-) like gruniad theyre all into that collective to print scare stories that started a few yrs ago, calling it science..

February 25, 2023 4:49 am

If an article title includes “scientists say” or “experts say”, you can bet that the article is propaganda with a very weak premise. Leading with an argument by authority logical fallacy is not a great way to start. Sadly they are not trying to convince other experts in the field, they are looking to whip up a frenzy in the uneducated, poorly informed, and already brainwashed individuals that are just looking to add fuel to their existing confirmation bias.

Reply to  Mantis
February 25, 2023 7:37 am

Exactly. Their content is evidence-free because they neither believe the alarmism themselves not expect real scientists to believe it. They’re trying only to influence the ignorant, the unwary, and the already-converted. Their goal is to advance a totalitarian collectivist agenda, not to save the bees.

February 25, 2023 6:49 am

As we increasingly understand climate change as a series of disasters in the short term and a major threat in the longer term, many governmental jurisdictions and world scientists have declared a climate emergency.

Worth remembering the tale of the new Indian Chief.
The great and wise chief of the tribe sadly passed away and the mantle of leadership fell on his most respected grandson – a good man.
Unfortunately, though he was a good man who had studied hard to earn a living and represent his people in many courts of law, he knew sod all about living in the wild.
He’d gone to Harvard through his own hard work. But he couldn’t make fire
without a box of matches.
And then the tribe came to him and asked, “Should we gather firewood for the
winter?” He asked if this was the time they would start collecting normally and was told that about this time of year was good, so he said, “Yes. Collect firewood for the winter”.
But though a learned and good man, the new chief was also humble.  He knew that he knew nothing of the weather and was concerned that the tribe would not collect enough firewood.  So, he called the weather service and asked if now was a good time to collect firewood. 
They said it was.  About now is when the Indians start to collect the firewood.
The tribe came back to him and asked should they collect more firewood this year in case the winter was bitterly cold. He asked, “what happens if we don’t have enough firewood and the winter is bitterly cold?” Many will die or need to leave.  “Is there enough extra firewood to collect?” There is. Thus, “Collect more firewood” commanded the new chief.
But the humble chief called the weather service to check, “Will it be a bitterly cold winter this year”. The weather forecastere said it was to early to be sure but they though it would be cold. Bitterly cold.
Again the tribe came back and said that firewood is harder to find but should they still keep collecting more in case the winter is bitterly, bitterly cold. Knowing what the experts said the new chief commanded “Gather more firewood”.
And they did. 
Then they returned saying that firewood is now scarce, should they strive the more in case the winter is very, very bitterly, bitterly cold? And the new chief paused and said, “Let me ponder the matter a while”.
So, the humble chief called the weather service once more and asked if the winter will be cold? Very cold he is told, but it’s too soon to be sure. “Then how do you know?” Asked the wise, young chief.
The weather forecasters replied,” It’s the Indians, isn’t it.  They’re collecting firewood like crazy this year. They know it’s going to be a cold winter. A very cold winter”.

Lee Riffee
February 25, 2023 7:04 am

It’s unfortunate that the geological history of this planet isn’t taught in schools these days (unless one goes into higher education seeking a degree in the earth sciences). If it was, most people would recognize this CNN steaming pile for what it is. The earth didn’t bake and boil during the Jurassic, and it didn’t happen during the early Eocene (when our mammal ancestors were coming into their own) either! CO2 was way, way higher (O2 levels were also higher in the time of the dinosaurs as well, so the whole atmosphere was different from now) as was temperature. There were millions upon millions of years with no ice at either pole – and yet dinosaurs (and likely early mammals after they were gone) happily thrived at very high and low latitudes year round! So why didn’t the earth die back then….if there even is such a thing as a “tipping point” history shows we’ve got a long, long way to go to get to it.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Lee Riffee
February 26, 2023 5:43 pm

(unless one goes into higher education seeking a degree in the earth sciences)

One might argue that higher education isn’t what it once was. Stanford, apparently, no longer has a geology department. What was formerly geology and geophysics is now the “The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.” And, I understand that they had a public sale a few years ago, clearing out a lot of stored material directly related to geology and mineralogy.

Luke B
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 28, 2023 6:30 pm

I think they technically still do (, but I think we can safely assume
a ‘slight bias’ in the presentation of the topics.

“There’s only one Earth: We should know how it worksGeophysicists study Earth and planetary processes through laboratory experiments, computational and theoretical modeling, remote imaging, and direct observation. At Stanford, our teaching and research focus on understanding systems critical to the future of civilization. Students apply expertise to fundamental research sustaining life on Earth, combining underlying science with studies of Earth’s environment and resource needs. Such breadth of exposure is highly sought after and leads to careers in academia, industry, and government.”

February 25, 2023 8:07 am

What pisses me off about CNN and other online ‘journals’ is that they do not allow comments! Are they afraid to hear the truth’s? And those few that do allow comments do so only if you subscribe to their lies and pay to do so. I’ll tear my arm off before I pay for their junk stories!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  michaelrath250
February 25, 2023 10:31 am

“Are they afraid to hear the truth’s?”

Yes. The truth doesn’t fit their narrative. And they don’t want anyone else to know it. So they don’t allow comments that don’t fit the narrative.

Joseph Zorzin
February 25, 2023 11:02 am

At the rate they’re raising the alarm, I predict in 5 years we’ll see something like the following:

“An article in CNN claims feedback responses to rising temperatures driven by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations may result in deadly, permanent changes to the Earth’s climate.. the Earth falling out of its orbit direct into the sun.”

Paul Hurley
February 25, 2023 4:15 pm

Elon Musk should buy CNN. 😉

February 25, 2023 4:37 pm

Completely Nutty News

February 25, 2023 9:30 pm

The assertion of dangerous or runaway feedback is the first claim that made me reject the climate narrative, which I used to believe as “mainstream”, “consensual” and “established” science. (Not science by consensus, but simply as: I believed there was no serious counterclaim on the basis of the greenhouse stuff.)

Clyde Spencer
February 26, 2023 4:56 pm

From SciTechDaily, [ ]
the claim is made that

An example would be warming in the Arctic, leading to melting sea ice, which results in further warming because sea water absorbs rather than reflects solar radiation.

I have previously addressed this uninformed misinformation here:

Last edited 22 days ago by Clyde Spencer
February 27, 2023 6:57 pm

They do not know what they are talking about. Despite the hype there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on global climate. To understand the real science they need to read: “The Rational Climate e-Book” by Patrice Poyet. Mankind does not even know what the optimum global climate actually is let alone how to achieve it.

Dave Burton
Reply to  willhaas
March 4, 2023 12:15 pm

willhaas wrote, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on global climate

I disagree. There’s no question that Precious Air Fertilizer (CO2) has a profound influence on climate. The proof is the big green notch in this measured emission spectrum, from a satellite looking down at the Earth:

comment image

CO2 is only 0.042% of the atmosphere by volume, but that does not mean it has negligible effect. It acts as a dye, which “colors” the atmosphere in the far infrared Since most of the energy emissions FROM the Earth are far IR, but most of the INCOMING energy is at shorter wavelengths, tinting the air in the far IR has a differential effect: it absorbs more outgoing radiation than incoming radiation. That causes warming.

There’s more than enough CO2 in the air to have a large effect on climate. Even 1/10 as much CO2 would have a large effect.

But maybe you meant “additional CO2,” rather than “CO2.” If so, I still disagree with you, but less vehemently.

The best evidence is that additional CO2 has a modest, benign effect on climate. It’s not zero, but it’s not worrisome, either. Here are some resources for learning about it:

Dave Burton
March 2, 2023 2:15 pm

Here’s the press release at EurekAlert!, which was presumably the basis for the CNN article:

You can see where CNN got the idea that it was a peer-reviewed study. That’s how the authors represented it, In their press release they called it a “peer-reviewed publication.”

Here’s the article on One Earth:

Here’s the 70-page Supplemental Information file:

Interestingly, they aren’t always consistent. For instance, one of the best known negative (stabilizing) climate feedback mechanisms is Lapse Rate Feedback. In the One Earth article the authors correctly classify it as negative, but in the Supplemental Information file they wrongly classify it as positive.

I phoned One Earth, and asked whether the article was peer-reviewed; I was told, yes, it was.

I also asked whether the Supplemental Information document was part of the peer-review; they were unsure. (I doubt it!)

Since One Earth is a “hybrid” journal, with both free paywalled and paid open access publication options, I asked whether the authors of this article had paid to make it open access; they said “probably.”

The two lead authors are William Ripple and Christopher Wolf. Ripple is a 70yo fringe environmentalist, who also calls himself “World Scientists.” Wolf is a young fellow, who appears to be Ripple’s protégé.

Here’s their new website on the topic:

In the past I’ve tried without success to constructively engage with Dr. Ripple. Here’s a screenshot of his error-riddled article entitled, “Blue Ocean Event.” My comment (which he quickly deleted) is at the end:

This is what I wrote, back in 2019, which so offended Dr. Ripple that he immediately deleted it:

You wrote, “It is thought that Arctic ice melt beyond a certain point will not regenerate.”


That’s wrong. Most Arctic ice melts every summer, and re-forms every winter, and always has. There is no “certain point” beyond which frigid Arctic winters won’t freeze water into ice.

 ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍


You also wrote, “If we allow all the ice to melt, there will be nothing to prevent the arctic waters from rising above freezing.”


That’s exactly backward. In the Arctic, eleven months of the year, ice coverage keeps the water warmer than it otherwise would be. Only for about one month of the year is the opposite barely true.


Reduced ice coverage increases the rate of heat transfer from the ocean to the air. That cools the water, and warms the air.


Many people see the correlation between warmer air temperatures and reduced Arctic Ocean ice coverage, and think the warm temperatures caused the reduced ice coverage. But it is actually mostly the other way around: reduced ice coverage drastically accelerates the transfer of heat and moisture from the relatively warmer water into the air. That warms the air while cooling the water.


It is a natural “thermostat” (negative feedback) mechanism, which curbs warming of the water in the Arctic Ocean and, more importantly, at the northern end of the AMOC. It is one of the reasons that the ocean depths are not warming up significantly, and one of the causes for “Arctic amplification” of air temperatures.

 ‍‍‍‍‍‍ ‍‍


You also wrote, “The main consequence of an ice-free arctic is that the blue open ocean is much less reflective than sea ice, which leads to significantly more solar radiation being absorbed.”


That’s also wrong. For about eleven months of the year, outgoing LW IR and microwave radiation from the Arctic exceed absorption of solar radiation. The main source of heat in the Arctic ocean is currents (water and air), which carry in heat from lower latitudes. That’s why the Arctic is so much warmer than Antarctica.


Ice coverage obviously does not reflect sunlight at night/winter, because there’s no sunlight to reflect. What it does do is insulate the water, reducing evaporation and heat loss to the atmosphere. Based on Nimbus-5 observations, Zwally, et al. 1983 reported that:

  “…the release of heat to the atmosphere from the open water is up to 100 times greater than the heat conducted through the ice.”



Here’s a graph, showing the Arctic radiative energy budget, at TOA:comment image

The heavy black line is the net radiation flow. As you can see, it is negative about eleven months of the year, which means that the Arctic is emitting more (longwave) radiation than it absorbs (from sunlight).


Source: L’Ecuyer, T. et al, 2015 (or here). The observed state of the energy budget in the early twenty-first century. J. Climate, 28, 8319-8346. Fig. 7 & 8.


An “Arctic Blue Ocean Event” would open the Northwest Passage to shipping, but would have few other consequences. Because more open water would increase ocean evaporation and thus “lake-ocean effect snowfall” on nearby land, it might decrease the rate of sea-level rise slightly, and add to Greenland’s ice sheet. But that effect would probably be slight.


You can read more about this topic here:


You can learn more about climate change in general from this list of excellent resources:

Last edited 18 days ago by Dave Burton
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