The World! The World! The World is on Fire!

So let the (bleep)-(bleep) burn!

It’s the middle of winter, and it’s warm here. No snow on the ground. Only one real snowfall. So these mild late-Fall conditions make people start to think the world is indeed warming up. So let’s do a round-up of stories and then you get to hear me ranting about End-of-the-World Extremism and Wholesale Denial, depending upon which camp you talk to. First…. THE NEWS!

Global Warming prolongs the life of space debris. Interesting stuff. What’s interesting is in the middle of the article:

Solomon is the co-author of a study presented on Monday that found man’s burning of fossil fuels and increase of carbon dioxide emissions will make the Earth’s outer atmosphere above 62 miles (100 kms) 3 percent less dense by 2017. The study found a decrease of about 5 percent between 1970 and 2000. Although scientists say that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming closer to Earth’s surface, in the thinner outer atmosphere where space craft orbit, a cooling effect takes place. Solar activity also impacts the outer atmosphere.

Wait a minute. Somebody’s trying to pull a fast one. If you decrease the temperature of any gas, you experience a decrease in volume but mass stays the same. Therefore colder air masses are more dense. It’s why cold fronts hover close to the surface of the planet whereas warm fronts are more lofty. So how can someone who works at NCAR get something fundamental like that so wrong?

I don’t know. My guess is they didn’t, and they had to dumb things down for Adam Tanner. Or Adam Tanner didn’t understand what they were talking about at the conference. Either way, I’m screwed, because it’s a talk, so it’s not reported in a journal. Next!

Over at Grist.com, they smoke much marijuana. They also post about Global Warming. Fortunately for us, they also feel that people making a profit selling fuel are very bad indeed. Next!

Mongabay.com is reporting that folks from NCAR have been playing around with computers, and those computers are saying that the arctic will be ice-free in 20 to 40 years! My dream of swimming in all four oceans will be realized! Of course, this means that the computer models will have to be right. Which they won’t be. Which means I’m going to have to find another way to go skinny dipping at the pole.

At CBS, they’re blogging about how the media needs to be very careful in how it presents news on global warming. In fact, the story makes it sound like they have to be especially careful to not cover the flaws in the anthropological global warming theory.

And global warming is making Indian farmers kill themselves.

But the most interesting of the stories is about a limited exchange nuclear war, and how it would cool the earth. CNet has run a story about nuclear war and how 50 low yield (15 kt) weapons would cause worldwide global cooling. Hey, it was even picked up by Yahoo! Maybe they’ll even pick me up debunking the subject.

From the CNet story:

An exchange of 100 15-kiloton weapons between India and Pakistan would kill approximately 20 million people, said Richard Turco, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University California, Los Angeles.

Ok. No problem. I agree that a limited nuclear exchange between India/Pakistan or Israel/Iran would kill millions. But the size of air-burst low yield (<100 kt) nuclear weapons is too small to produce a fireball which can bring debris into the stratosphere, especially in tropical or sub-tropical climates.

There is an excellent treatise on the subject by Ken Parish. He really explores the matter of global warming/cooling and the impact made by the nuclear testing in the 50s, 60s and 70s. The important bits of information you want to know:

1) Weapons of the near-megaton or greater range will send debris from a nuclear detonation into the stratosphere. In the polar regions, where the stratosphere is lower in altitude, the pollution from nuclear tests is greater. Soviet tests, like the Tsar Bomba, were conducted on Novaya Zemlya up near the pole, and each shot would shoot great amounts of debris into the stratosphere. Once the debris is in the stratosphere, it stays there, and by nature of its aerosol-like properties, it cools the planet.

2) Weapons shot above water do not produce much in the way of stratospheric debris, as most of what goes into that cloud is water.

3) Low-yield weapons cannot reach the stratosphere, regardless of where they are detonated.

I will take issue with one thing in Parish’s analysis. He compares the nuclear shots to Mt. Pinatubo, the eruption in 1991 that significantly lowered global temperatures. I find this comparison a bit erroneous as there is a major distinction ignored. Nuclear test shots, or nuclear weapon shots, detonate above a target and form an airburst. Most of the force is projected downwards and it creates an overpressure wave that causes massive damage from the center of the bomb radiating to the outside. During the explosion, convection currents shoot ground-based debris skyward in the “mushroom cloud”. Parish compares such debris to that of Pinatubo, but Pinatubo was not an airburst. Pinatubo was a ground-burst, and, to be more specific, a subterranean groundburst of enormous magnitude. Debris had no choice but to be launched into the stratosphere. While their force was the same, the vector forcing of the debris was wholly different.

Comparing Pinatubo and comparable size air-burst nuclear detonation over ground and you’ll discover far more debris from Pinatubo than the air-burst because the initial force vectors are different. Pinatubo shot everything up. The bomb would first shoot everything down, then up. The concentration of particulate matter from a volcanic eruption would be far more serious than that of Yemen testing their very first 100 MT bomb.

That’s not to say Parish is full of it. His research is valuable and I agree with almost everything he said. I wouldn’t recommend it as reading if it didn’t have value, so please, check it out. It’s a good read. I just feel the global-cooling effect from nukes is not going to be anything worthwhile, and I’m sure it will be the last thing on our mind if India and Pakistan start tossing around the bomb.

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About Me

My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).



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