mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)
This rant brought to you by a lazy Saturday in pajamas and random blog reading..

It shouldn't be called "climate change": as climate change is a secondary effect, and is very wussy sounding. "Global  Warming" is better but still makes it sound mild and nothing worth worrying about. What we should be talking about is that the Maximum Safe Planetary Temperature for human life will soon be exceeded.

These days even most "climate change deniers" don't try to contradict the evidence of global warming, as the evidence is far too strong. Instead they merely try to claim that it's not humanity's fault, that global warming is happening regardless of what humans do. I have some sympathy for this, not much, but some. It is true that we are approaching a naturally warmer part of the Malenkov cycle, for instance.

But what these more modern deniers miss is that it doesn't really matter what the cause of the warming is, we need a global response to it. What we pump out in terms of pollutants may not be the primary cause of the underlying increase, but it's certainly not making it any better and it's something we should control for a whole pile of other, equally dire, reasons.

The thing that most people on the denier side, and even many on the pro side, don't realize is that emission control is not the point. Sure, high C02 levels can trap more energy by reducing our planet's ability to radiate it, but it's actually the output of pure heat into our atmosphere from what we do that's the real problem. Let me side-track into spaceship engineering for a moment.

Earth is a space-ship. A big, complex space ship with no obvious means of attitude control or propulsion, but still a spaceship. As any space-ship designer can tell you, there are a few main issues with making spaceships functional for their inhabitants. One is a source of energy, another is life support, and the major one, if you solve the previous two, is heat dissipation.

Our spaceship has solved the first two problems reasonably well, the first by orbiting an unshielded fusion reactor at a relatively safe distance, the second by evolving a complex biosphere that can process our waste and produce the necessary chemicals to keep us alive. The final problem, heat dissipation, is dealt with by rotating the ship, with the planet being positioned at a distance from the energy source such that excess heat can be effectively radiated during the night cycle.

Now let us talk about heat dissipation. Within our biosphere, our primary cooling mechanisms work by convection, in which the heat is transferred away from the environment you wish to cool. The heat isn't eliminated, it is merely transferred from one place to another, causing greater heat in another location. A classic example you can feel yourself is your refrigerator, it's cool inside, the heat drawn out of the inside by the convection of the coolant fluid, but the heat exchange panel on the back can get quite warm. Here, the heat is lost into the environment by radiation but the fridge still relies on convection, as the atmosphere passes over the heat exchange panel, warms up and rises. If you have no airflow around your refrigerator the environment around it will get hot, and  it will stop working effectively.

Convection requires a substance, be it water, coolant fluid, or atmosphere, to carry the heat away. Unfortunately, space is close to a vacuum, there is nothing to carry heat away from the planet, so we only loose heat from the planet via radiation. Radiation is dependent almost entirely on surface area.

Another way to deal with incoming energy causing over-heating in a space-ship is to reflect it. That's why there was so much gold reflective foil in the Apollo series landers, to reflect as much of the incoming energy as possible, as on the moon, convection is  rather limited due to the almost non-existent atmosphere. The "reflectivity" of a planet is known as it's "albedo". Earth's albedo is taken as the standard value, and is thus "1". This value means a certain percentage of incoming energy is reflected. The Earth reflects an awful lot of the energy that hits it's upper atmosphere, so we don't have to worry about it warming us up too much. We've been damaging our planet's albedo in the UV wavelengths for some time, resulting in decreased sun-burn times for those of us living near the antarctic ozone hole.

So, we have a spaceship that largely has the right albedo, is at the right distance from the sun, and the right size, to be able to effectively radiate enough heat from the surface of the planet (and when I say surface here, I mean the outer troposphere where it contacts space) such that there is a balance between the energy impinging on the planet from the sun and the energy we're losing by radiation over night, keeping the planet largely within a livable temperature range.

Of course, the above is not the whole story, some of the energy isn't radiated, it's stored for the use of organisms on the planet, to allow them to construct complex molecular chains which effectively take the heat / energy out of circulation.

Then along comes technological man that starts releasing huge quantities of the energy that has built up in complex molecular chains over millennia, over a time period of little more than a century by burning fossil fuels. Even worse, they start reducing the ability of the planet to radiate that energy during the night cycle, and they also come up with ways of releasing energy that has been stored in atoms since shortly after the big bang, and they start releasing all this energy into their previously balanced biosphere. The original balance is destroyed, because more energy / heat is being released on the planet than it is able to radiate and still be able to maintain that life-support temperature range.

This means, if we want to continue to live comfortably on this spaceship,  we have to deal with the  problem. There are only a few things we can actually do to deal with the problem of excess heat / energy. One is to increase our planet's ability to radiate heat during the night cycle. Or at the very least, stop spoiling it's natural ability to radiate heat. That's what emissions control is all about. We could also look at ways of actually increasing our spaceship's ability to radiate, but the first step is to let it do it's job properly instead of hindering it with unneccessary emissons.

Another is to reduce the amount of long-stored energy we release, in other word stop burning fossil fuels, stop making nuclear power plants, stop releasing energy that has been bound up and use only energy that is already free in the system, such as wind, wave, solar etc.

The final one, which is more sci-fi, but still perfectly workable, is to work on our planet's albedo so that it reflects more of the energy that falls on it. At the very least, we could try to reduce the damage we've been doing in the U/V wavelengths, by trying to repair, or at least prevent any increases in, the ozone hole. There are other good reasons to do this, such as preventing skin cancer, and reducing mutations to crops. Actually trying to artificially boost our albedo does have some significant potential problems, which is why it doesn't have such a high profile as other solutions, but there are people working on this one too.

What doesn't help with all this is that our biosphere has a hysteresis effect. The mass of our biosphere and it's organic parts has a sort of inertia to temperature change. This is a good thing, as it helps damp small changes, such as those caused by the Malenkov cycles and our non-circular orbit, but unfortunately tends to hide large changes to begin with. In other words if the temperature increases by a dangerous amount right now, it will take some years for the full effects of that change to become manifest. Equally, if we start doing things to control the temperature, it will take similar amounts of time to bring the temperature back within the safe range. This is what drives the urgency of those who are pushing for temperature control, by the time the change is such that no-one can deny it, and millions are dying, it will take even longer to reverse the process.

The points I'm trying to make here are that firstly  humanity's effect on the temperature of the planet is not _just_ via carbon emissions. The well-documented ozone holes growing over our poles reduce our albedo in the U/V range and add to the problem, as does our releasing of the energy contained in atoms or long molecule chains, via the use of nuclear power and burning fossil fuels. Each of those three sources of warming, and potentially a number of others, such as catalysing certain uncommon chemical reactions, are adding to the problem of excess heat in our biosphere, and this may also be being compounded by certain natural effects, such as the Malenkov cycles.

The second, and main, point is that regardless of the underlying cause of global warming, for our species to survive comfortably on the planet we need to ensure a rather narrow surface temperature range is maintained.  We would be in just as much trouble if we were experiencing a three degree overall temperature decrease, (such as that which people believe might occur in the event of a "nuclear winter." It's insulation of our spaceship's temperature from large deviations either way that is important, and not being planetary engineers on the scale of ring-world builders, we have limited tools to work with.  

It is completely irrelevant which of those mechanisms listed above are the primary cause of the build-up of excess energy in our biosphere, or even if other mechanisms I haven't mentioned here, or which we as a species don't know about yet, are primarily responsible; we still have to do something about it if we wish to continue to live comfortably on this planet's surface.
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (M.U.N.D.E.N.S)
My divestiture plans have run into a slight hitch. It seems that TradeMe now only allows a maximum of 50 items to be listed for free. Annoying. Oh well, this may take a bit longer than originaly planned.

With some of the crap I'm listing the TradeMe fees are already a significant percentage of the price, so the aditional 25c makes it hardly worthwhile listing. Which is probably the point of the policy, but given the huge profits the company is making, you'd think they could invest in a little extra storage space and allow people to list more than a measly fifty auctions.

I've finally got around to uploading the last of the photos of my trip to India to my Flickr account. These were all taken on the flight home. It's amazing how much detail one can pick out in the originals, even given an amateur with a standard digital camera taking photos through the plexiglass of a plane's portholes.

There's one shot of supertankers off Singapore in there for [ profile] lossenkemen, unfortunately there was cloud cover at the time so the other shots I tok of shipping were pretty murky. I wanted to capture some shots of the centre of Australia, just because it is so big, and the geographical features are interesting.

I've also uploaded a couple of pictures of my magnolia tree in full bloom from last Sunday, seeing as [ profile] evie_fae remarked on it Saturday night. Unfortunately the magnolia is past it's 'best by' date now, but I think the pics capture it nicely.

What will we be playing in Erik's game this evening I wonder?
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Jet Black)
Last night... )

.... and this morning )
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Jet Black)
Well, there were two things that annoyed me over the weekend, so I'm going to vent on one of them here, maybe the other later, but I'll cut it so you don't have to read unless you feel like it.

The cartoons )
mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Morpheus)
Armageddon is in the Middle East. Always has been.

ranting toward Bethlehem... )


mundens: Picture of Brad Pitt playing Tyler  Durden from Fight Club. My Hero (Default)

February 2016

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