Simple Climate Experiment


From the safety of your own mind. And fear ye not global warming believers for we are truly in deep do-do.

While so many people are arguing and fighting about what’s happening or not happening to the Earth’s climate we can get a pretty good idea of what to expect from our current situation by looking at some rock solid examples. I refer to the four inner planets of our solar system. The “rocky” planets. The ones similar to Earth in type and proximity to the Sun. We’ve sent probes to all of them and the data is at least grossly accurate ( enough for our adventure) if not pretty dang accurate.

First let me point out a little something special that I hope any Scientists will pick up on ( I’m sure they know this): global warming  due to increased green house effect is really about heat retention.  Not about how hot it gets ( though that’s the ultimate problem) but about how cool it doesn’t get. Because varying solar heat output, geological cooling (more on that someday soon if you’re lucky), orbital variation and other varying climate influencing factors are all in play, temperature is not a good immediate indicator of change. If we want to know if global warming is happening, the good indicator is the difference between planetary daytime heat and nighttime heat. I’m sorry but I haven’t heard anybody mention it. (Somebody please let me know if there are any scientific studies or reports covering this.)

So on to our investigation. We can’t quickly change the Earth’s atmosphere to try different greenhouse scenarios in a well orchestrated  scientific experiment  but we can employ the kind of investigation used in such a situation: we compare things that are similar enough to get some kind of control of the comparison. (Jared Diamond employed this method in his great book “Guns, Germs, & Steel”   to analyze the impact of different environments on people by seeing what the impact was for one certain gene pool (Austronesian)  as they executed the most stupendous expansion in the history of the Earth over hundreds of years. From Easter Island to Madagascar.) Let’s go:

Mercury, closest to the sun, no atmosphere; daytime, 801°F /nighttime, -297°F

difference:     1,098°!

Venus, about twice as far from the sun, 93 times ( almost all CO2) the atmosphere of the Earth; daytime 860°F / nighttime…860°F!

difference:            0°

Earth, almost three times as far from the sun as Mercury; daytime 65°F / nighttime 50°F.

difference:           15°

Mars, just about four times as far from the sun as Mercury, 1% ( almost all CO2) the atmosphere of the Earth; daytime 1°F / nighttime -178°F.

difference:        179°

A bunch of things emerge from these comparisons. The most pertinent to our adventure is that: the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the less difference between daytime and nighttime. Even though Venus gets 1/4 the Sun’s intensity as Mercury does, it gets and stays hotter. Even though Mars gets only 1/16th the Solar intensity of Mercury (and has less than  3/100th s the CO2 of Earth), it doesn’t get as cold. Our beautiful Earth’s “just right” numbers are already close to the zero change range. At zero the heat will really start piling up and life will be “for it”. I mean to scare you. It’s kind of important. And I will continue to try to get you to realize how special our situation on Earth is.

But there is some value in studying deniers logic. My wife walked past as I was shaking salt into a pot of soup. “Don’t do that; you’ll make it too salty!” she said

I smiled and told her that there is no scientific study that I’m aware of that proves that salt makes soup salty unless it was by someone trying to get grant money for further study; that I’ve had soup that was too salty even though I’d not shaken salt into it; that there was no prior sampling that I knew of to show if the soup was getting saltier from my actions; and that finally, she had no right to tell me what to do with my own salt!

I made that up. She has enough of my stuff to put up with without logic like that.


About MrKettle

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2 Responses to Simple Climate Experiment

  1. creatureguts says:

    Very interesting. Apparently there is calorimetric data supporting the claims that we create the heat we retain as well. These pockets of heat on earth are being called Urban Heat Islands (UHI) kinda dumb name, but a totally relevant study. We are not only changing the climate atmospherically with emissions and whatnot, but also the materials we use daily retain more heat and waste-off heat.

    • MrKettle says:

      Thanks Dan. Years ago I read in THE ECONOMIST magazine (not exactly an eco rag-especially then) that if you put all the paved surface if the USA into one contiguous blob it would be the area of Ohio! . And we all know how blacktop holds the heat. Look on a US map and soak that in.

      By the way, mrkettle reminds you to please keep any “Ohio” jokes to a minimum here.

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