Sunday, March 18, 2007

Global Warming On Mars?

The thing with global warming is not that it is happening, but what is the root cause for it. We know that the Earth has both heated and cooled on a cyclic basis for billions of years. We know that about 100,000 years ago it was cold and the Neanderthal roamed southern Europe. We know that the Neanderthal was adapted to a cold environment and that global warming, in part, is responsible for his extinction.

The question for us today is if human activity is responsible for this latest round of global warming. Is there any sort of evidence to suggest that we, as humans are adversely affecting our environment, and if so, can we do anything about it?

I have heard, a couple of times though it has yet to make a real splash, that our climate changes might have less to do with the Earth and more to do with the Sun. Habibullo Abdussamatov, the Chief of Space Research at St. Petersburg’s (Russia) Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory has suggested that there is a long term increase in solar radiation that is heating both the Earth and Mars...

Wait a minute, is he suggesting that Mars is undergoing global warming?

Yes. According to data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and Odyssey missions, the ice caps on Mars (seen at the left) have been diminishing for three years in a row.

And, there is evidence that Pluto (you remember Pluto, used to be a planet but is now something called a dwarf planet) is also heating up. Of course, on Pluto, that won’t make much of a difference, considering how cold it is there and how far from the Sun it is.

So, Abdussamatov said that the warming we see on both Earth and Mars (and now, possibly Pluto), is the result of the increase in solar radiation. Yes, he concedes that human contributions to greenhouse gases certainly contributes to the warming, but the real villain here (if villain is the right word) is the Sun.

To be fair, there are many scientists who dismiss this idea. Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at Oxford (England) University disagrees, first pointing out that Abdussamatov’s theory is at odds with mainstream scientific opinion (When has that ever bothered those of us inside the UFO community... Galileo’s theories were at odds with science in his time) and that a wobble in the Martian axis would account for the observations about the Martian ice cap.

Abdussamatov said that this increased solar output began to drop in the 1990s and expects it to bottom out around 2040. That will cause a steep cooling of the climate on Earth in about 15 to 20 years.

As I say, this is interesting, mostly because no one in the mainstream media has bothered to mention it much. The National Geographic website had a article about it, but, of course, you had to go in search of it. FOX News mentioned it for a day on the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen. I saw nothing else about this and freely admit that I could have easily missed it if any of the broadcast networks reported on it.

I did see a CNN program on which the anchor said that on his program they were operating under the assumption that global warming was real and that humans were the primary culprit in that warming. I’m not sure, journalistically, how he could state that, but it was his program and he could operate under any assumption he wanted.

But it did set me thinking about the recommendations to reduce human contributions to global warming and how we could change that. None of the recommendations were really life altering. Just little things we each could do and I thought, why not? If it improves the environment and reduces waste, why not?

So now you often will see me in the slow lane on the Interstate, driving about five miles under the posted speed limit. My car has a little computer that gives me the gas mileage and I see a real difference (of course the best difference I saw was about a seven-mile a gallon increase when there was a very strong tailwind). I try to do other things that would be helpful, not because I believe that we can alter the course of global warming but because they seem to be sound ideas that reduce waste.

What this means is that I believe that the cause of global warming is still unknown for certain. Maybe Abdussamatov is right and the real culprit is the Sun. Maybe he’s wrong and humans are responsible. Or maybe both camps are wrong and there is something else that causes it. Whatever the causes, it really doesn’t hurt for each of us to do our part and if we can’t affect global warming, at least we’re not doing anything to contribute to it.



Your blog tops results for the keyword 'NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC' ... at informative post

Mongooser said...

damn you get some advertising shmucks through here. You can set security that makes your posters enter a code b4 posting.

I was told 20 years ago by a meteorologist that global warming was gonna be the next big 'greeny stick' we were gonna be beaten up over. He stated that ozone needs UV light to be created. It is integral to the process - you cant have ozone without UV.

As a former student of prehistory i note that, as you point out, the planet goes through periodic cycles of heating and cooling.

Oceanic rise has been happening for thousands of years - there are many many archaeological sites now underwater which were previously on dry land.

starman said...

If Martian polar caps are shrinking, Martian atmospheric pressure should have increased somewhat--to perhaps 8mb on average instead of 5-6 or so. Has this been verified? Not AFAIK.