Is there a le Chatilier principle within Earth - Earth heats up causes global warming resulting in polar ice melt resulting in higher sea levels which takes up the extra earth temp and the over correction will result in heat drop to ice age and forming of polar caps and so on... Is global warming normal for Earth and the anthropogenic effect of CO2 pollution overstated?

  • $\begingroup$ surely the answer is incomplete 0 if there is a fire you put water on it to cool it if the sea level rises there is so much extra cooling from water that global warming wil be overcome $\endgroup$
    – rhett
    Nov 4, 2021 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ Since the end of the Eocene, Earth's ice and warm periods are largely cyclical. $\endgroup$
    – LazyReader
    Nov 4, 2021 at 5:21

1 Answer 1


Seems a valid enough question. But what stand out to me is that the area of Earth covered by water doesn't appear to change by a notable percentage in a rough estimate of a world without ice:

enter image description here (found on Reddit without much detail, seems reasonable and similar to other videos, other than the flawed expansion of inland seas)

And so the energy diverted into oceans from lost land is reasonably small already. And then there's the emergence of Antarctica and the fact so much high albedo (highly reflective) ice is eliminated over water... so it would seem pretty clear there wouldn't be a massive new energy tie up that could reverse things. And of course the energy going into the oceans isn't lost, it's just often slower to be shared with the globe, so even that aspect is a heat gain in the long run (water has one of the lowest average albedos). Unless the initial melting expanded ocean size greatly before the larger landmasses cleared of ice, it would seem impossible there could be any potential for a reversal along the methods you suggest.

Another feedback avenue, changes in cloud coverage, looks like a more nuanced topic that I believe has been debated a bit more over the years in the field, but you'd have to ask about it separately and hopefully get response from people with more expertise on that topic.

As far as I remember it, Le Chatilier's Principle doesn't indicate a system tends to overcorrect, just that the new equilibrium will in some way remove some of the input... a warmer Earth would emit more energy indeed... but that isn't initiating a cooling process, just setting it up to reach a new stable temperature value eventually.
And there are plenty of systems where small changes unlock additional factors that accelerate the change, until they are accounted for and the equilibrium includes those altered shifts.

So, while I can be a skeptic at times in the topic as a whole, and do very much think it's good to consider things fairly and honestly, nothing I see in the idea that expanded oceans would absorb more energy, or from Le Chatelier's Principle, or from the general idea that "global warming is normal" (because warming and cooling have happened before?) would offer viable support at least that the Earth would overcome such changes. And so I don't see your topics giving any support at all to allow for such a sweeping claim as "man's effect of CO2 pollution [is] overstated".


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.