NASA scientists are reporting that the climate on Mars appears to presently be warmer than it has been for at least several decades, possibly even centuries. This is based on pictures of Mars dating back to 1999. These images document substantial changes in the polar ice caps that Michael Malin, the principal investigator for the Mars Orbiter Camera describes as shrinking at “a prodigious rate”.
This is not new news. Back in 2003, scientists were theorizing that Mars was in the process of emerging from an ice age, based on studies of its surface from data collected by the Mars Odyssey orbiter. According to William Feldman, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Lab, there is too much frozen water present at the lower latitudes, away from the poles, given Mars current climate.
"One explanation could be that Mars is just coming out of an ice age," Feldman told Space.com. "In some low-latitude areas, the ice has already dissipated. In others, that process is slower and hasn't reached equilibrium yet. Those areas are like the patches of snow you sometimes see persisting in protected spots long after the last snowfall of the winter."
As early as 2001, articles appeared, based on photographic studies, indicating that the Martian poles were melting; estimates then were that if they continued doing so at their present rate, in 1000 years they would be gone. Exactly how long this apparent warming trend has been going on is currently unknown.
For the most part, the scientific community has collectively yawned and said “that’s nice”.
Then in 2006, it was revealed that Jupiter, too, may be undergoing a global warming trend. Photography from the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that a major storm, similar to the “Great Red Spot”, a storm that has been underway for at least 300 years, is gaining altitude indicating an increase in heat in that area. Scientists now believe that Jupiter is in the midst of some type of global event which is modifying temperatures by as much as ten degrees Fahrenheit on different parts of the planet.
Ten degrees may not seem like much, particularly on a planet where the average temperature is around 250 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. However, imagine if certain parts of our planet warmed up by an average of ten degrees – that would certainly make climatologists sit up and take notice. And it would certainly have an effect on our planet!
As with Mars, scientists are not really sure exactly what is causing the increase in temperatures. Unlike Mars, no one really knows what is under Jupiter’s cloud cover; is it some sort of volcanic activity; a hit by a large meteor like the ones we observed several years ago; perhaps it is some thermodynamic process occurring between various layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere that we cannot observe and do not understand.
It appears that Pluto, too, is experiencing a warming trend. Pluto is a strange bird. In fact, the scientific community in August 2006 stripped it of its “planetary” status; it is now known as a “dwarf planet”. Still, photographic evidence from 2002-2003 suggests that it is “significantly” warmer than it was in 1988, with atmospheric pressure twice what it was when last observed; this despite the fact that in 1989 it reached it’s closest approach to the sun and for the last 16 years it has been moving further away. Of course, “significantly” is a relative term when discussing a planet where the atmospheric temperature ranges from -274 degrees F to -391 degrees F, depending on the altitude.
Recent observations in 2006 seem to indicate further atmospheric thickening.
Scientists are currently chalking this one up to “thermal lag”. Of course, scientists really know very little about Pluto, although that may change in the next decade. In January 2006, NASA launched its “New Horizons” probe, which will fly by Pluto in July 2015 on its way to the Kuiper belt. So maybe in another eight years or so, we will be able to get more data, including our first-ever pictures of its surface.
I have read articles that reference global warming events observed on Saturn’s moon Titan as well, however I have not been able to substantiate them with actual scientific press releases, so for now I will just chalk them up as unsubstantiated rumors. Besides, we really haven’t been closely observing Titan long enough (less than a year) to make such a judgment.
Oh yes, we mustn’t forget; as we have been reminded oh so many times by Al Gore and his army of clones, Earth too, is undergoing global warming.
So what do all these heavenly bodies have in common? I suppose it could be mere coincidence that scientists believe global warming to be occurring on each of them. After all, one would expect that each planet (or moon in the case of Titan, or “dwarf planet” in the case of Pluto) is either warming, cooling, or staying the same. Independent forces could be at work on each of them, driving planetary cycles that we understand even less than we understand our own.
Undoubtedly, independent forces are at work on each. Independent forces are at work on Earth as well; volcanic activity, storms, and of course, that pernicious life-form known as Man, the bane of all that exists in Nature.
But one thing is certain, of all the forces that may be involved in global warming on other bodies in our solar system, SUVs, coal-fired power plants, and gassy cows can definitely be ruled out as culprits. Unless you believe that by merely sending a space probe to observe, we have somehow triggered a man-made global warming event.
But there is one other body in the solar system that also appears to be experiencing “global warming”. And it is one that uniquely affects all other bodies as well. A new study of the Sun shows that solar radiation has increased by 0.05 percent each decade since the late 1970s.
So what, you might ask. It is a tiny increase. It would take a hundred years or more for this to make a significant impact on Earth’s climate, and you just said it has only been since the late 1970s.
Not exactly. In actuality, the ability to make precise measurements of solar activity has only existed since satellite technology made it possible to gather the necessary observations. Such technology was not in place until the late ‘70s. In other words, the trend could go back further – we simply do not know, because we didn’t have the ability to directly measure it any further back.
Like everyone else, scientists are human too. And as is the case with most humans, it can be very difficult to change their minds on something once those minds have been made up. Of late, it has become fashionable to blame everything that happens with our climate (or anything else), on human activity. Thus, we hear from the liberals that scientists have established beyond a shadow of doubt that the Earth is experiencing global warming (despite dissent from some in the scientific community), that such warming is entirely caused by human activity (despite dissent from some in the scientific community), and that the principal culprit in such activity is the United States of America, who should, in the main, bear the responsibility for fixing the mess they created. Any who disagree, especially any who might be in the scientific community, are labeled as knuckle-dragging right-wing whackos, nut-jobs, and religious zealots with sub-room-temperature IQs.
In fact, I am surprised that some of the more “progressive” European socialist governments haven’t started a social program to provide them all with bibs to keep such mentally retarded dissenters from drooling on themselves. (Note: it is ok to refer to dissenters from liberal dogma as “mentally retarded”. It is only those who actually have subnormal IQs who must be referred to as “mentally challenged”.)
So it is not surprising that you can find any number of articles in the scientific community that pooh-pooh any possible contribution to global temperature increases on Earth that might be caused by that great glowing hydrogen fusion reactor sitting 93 million miles away that we call the Sun, such as this one, filed in September 2006. The idea that the problem might be attributable to something other than human activity is something that we on the right might label “an inconvenient truth” to those on the left.
Nevertheless, a new study from late 2006 confirms that solar output has increased significantly during the 20th century. This research was based on traces of titanium 44, a radioactive isotope, in meteors that have fallen to Earth over the past 240 years. The presence of this isotope in meteors is not affected by conditions here, unlike similar research performed with radioactive isotopes in tree rings and ice sheets.
This increase in solar activity tracks the increases in global temperatures from the beginning of the last century through about the 1950s. It does not, based on this research, track with temperature changes from the 1970s to present, indicating that other processes may be at work as well, “greenhouse gases” being one possible culprit.
Of course, warming temperatures mean less ice, and more water vapor in the atmosphere. Please keep in mind that despite all the brouhaha over carbon dioxide, water vapor is a much more effective greenhouse gas. (Which is why I doubt hydrogen-powered cars will ultimately be the panacea that the environmentalists of today claim they will be, since the only output from them is, as they frequently tout, water vapor. Hydrogen-powered cars are popular with the green crowd primarily because of their scarcity. Were they as prevalent as SUVs, they would certainly be reviled as greenhouse gas producers of the first order.)
Increased solar activity would also go a long way toward explaining why each body we are currently observing for long periods of time seems to also be exhibiting global warming. It is certainly a better explanation than sheer coincidence.
Let me make myself clear. I am not saying that the concept of global warming is a fantasy, that it is not occurring, or that it can not occur. That would fly in the face of overwhelming evidence that global warming has occurred in the past. This is undeniable; it is certainly warmer now than it was during the last ice age. Something caused the climate to warm, and I doubt it was SUVs and lawnmowers. And that is not the only such example in Earth’s history. There has been a succession of cooling and warming periods. It is not impossible to believe that we are currently in a warming period.
Call me a knuckle-dragger.
I am not convinced that we actually are in a period of global warming. Thirty years ago, people were trying to convince me a new ice age was just on the horizon. My personal opinion is that we do not know enough about our planet and its incredibly complex environment, and have not been observing it long enough to make any sort of reliable long range predictions concerning weather conditions next week, let alone next century. And I certainly don’t trust computer models based on incomplete data, simplistic algorithms of incompletely understood complex interactions, and undoubtedly, pieces of the puzzle that have not yet even been discovered. (Please see my previous article, “Whither now, Ernesto? Global warming, anyone?” for a more complete treatment of this issue.)
I am not convinced that if we actually are in a period of global warming, the root cause of such warming is human activity. Human activity has not been the cause in the past. Yet, the Earth has experienced both global warming and cooling. This leads one to the conclusion that other influences besides Man can lead to one or the other. The global cooling scare of thirty years ago was blamed on human activity too. In that case, the culprit was – pollution! But instead of our emissions causing warming via greenhouse gas, the Pravda of the day was that they were causing the sun’s energy to be reflected from the surface, making it colder. Global warming, global cooling, it doesn’t seem to matter. Humanity is at fault, with the United States leading the pack.
I am not convinced that if we actually are in a period of global warming, that we can necessarily do anything about it anyway, no matter how much money we throw at it. If it really is happening, and if mankind is not the principal culprit, how do we fix this? If, for example, the largest component of warming turns out to be increased solar output, what can we possibly do about that? Science fiction movies aside, if a major component turns out to be increased underwater volcanic activity, how do we fix that one?
Perhaps that is why many on the global warming bandwagon refuse to even consider natural sources, particularly the sun, as being part of the problem. Why focus on something we can’t fix anyhow. It’s easy to blame the United States (and politically correct too). It’s difficult to blame the sun.
Let me be clear. I am not saying “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” when it comes to polluting our environment. Yes, we need to be good stewards of our planet. I enjoy nature, clean water, and fresh air as much as the next person. But where is it written (other than in the Kyoto accords) that the United States must impoverish itself while “emerging” nations, such as India and China with 3-4 times our population, get a free ride?
China in particular is a major polluter. While the United States is currently in the process of adding over 150 coal-fired power plants to meet increased energy demands, China is building around 550. And the Chinese plants produce way more pollution that those being built here. In fact the International Energy Agency in 2006 reported that China is expected to surpass the U.S. in 2009 as the biggest emitter of CO2 in the world. Please note this is not the first time it has been predicted that China would overtake U.S. CO2 emissions, however also note that it is now predicted to happen a decade in advance of previous estimates.
We have significantly cleaned up our act since the 1960’s. That isn’t to say that we can’t improve further. But how about getting others to clean up their acts as well? Must the U.S. always be the whipping boy?
And how about some real discussion on the topic instead of politically motivated agenda-driven spiel that allows no dissent from the politically correct party line? Or which seeks to discredit dissent not by hard, provable fact, but rather by name-calling and ridicule, or even down-right blackmail.
We really haven’t changed that much from the time of Galileo - new actors, new topic, same old stuff when it comes to dogma crushing dissent.