Sunday, July 08, 2018

Did the astronauts cause global warming on the moon?

The version of that story which has appeared in the media says that they did -- perhaps hoping that it mught create the impression that global warming on earth could also be easily triggered.

Several physicists have however pointed out large holes in the story, with the basic point being that the warming effect was extremely local, not global.  Czech string theorist Lubos Motl has been most vocal in his critique of the story so I reproduce some excerpts from his critique below:

Some media, e.g. How Stuff Works brought an eye-catching story. A group of 12 Unistatians – the astronauts – has caused global warming... on the Moon! How did they do it?

The claim boils down to some NASA tapes that were lost 40 years ago. If you're the world's only superpower and if you invest 4.4% of your GDP to the space program (the peak year was 1966), don't forget to ask your dog to eat the multi-billion homework. At any rate, some folks have recently performed the autopsy of the dog, found the tapes, and... they show that right after the several years in which the Unistatians were shooting moonwalkers to the air (well, to the approximate vacuum, as I will discuss), the temperature readings went up by a whopping 2 °C.

On Earth, the hysterical global warming psychopaths "blame" the mankind for a "catastrophic" rise of the global mean temperature by 0.7 °C in a century – something that the whole evil capitalist and industrial civilization should be hated for. We're still occasionally told that evil billions of cars etc. have already ruined the planet by warming it by less than a degree Celsius and they will finish it by adding another degree in this century.

Meanwhile, on the Moon, 12 people – starting with Armstrong and Aldrin – were enough to achieve a greater warming – by 2 °C – and they didn't even need a single SUV. It was enough for them to walk. By slowly walking on the Moon for a while, they removed the lighter dust from the surface and they created darker paths in the terrain. Those have increased the absorption of the solar radiation. And that has quasi-permanently warmed the Moon by some 2 °C. Great.

The main problem with the "global warming on the Moon caused by astronauts" claim was nicely summarized by Tom Sheahen – and then Roy Spencer and Thomas Wysmuller – in an e-mail conference of ours. What's the problem with the claim? The problem is that the "warming" wasn't "global" at all. It was heavily or almost completely localized. The temperature sensors were located near the darker paths from the astronauts' shoes, and they got warmer for the same reason why asphalt gets (and nearby thermometers get) hot on a sunny day on Earth (the celestial body underneath most readers).

Can the asphalt cool down quickly?

Well, on Earth, the asphalt could be cooled by the wind. But there's really no wind on the Moon because, you know, there is almost no atmosphere on the Moon. The pressure over there is 14.5 orders of magnitude lower than it is on Earth! The gravitational field of the Moon is so weak that most of the atmosphere that could have been there has escaped. The negligible lunar atmosphere is dominated by argon.

There are no winds, no precipitation, no hurricanes, no meteorological effect on the Moon. The heat is transferred merely by radiation and conduction. The radiation is what guarantees that each place of the surface wants to have a temperature that is a decreasing function of the reflectivity (albedo). The astronauts have lowered the reflectivity of the nearby places which is why they increased the temperature expected from the equilibrium of the incoming solar and outgoing thermal radiation.

The only way how other places of the Moon – those unchanged by the astronauts' shoes – could help to cool the darker paths is conduction. I mean heat that is literally going through the solid. But that diffusion of heat is governed by the diffusion equation (ϕ∼aT+b)


which is, for readers who are as quantum mechanical as I am ;-), just a Schrödinger's non-relativistic equation (see below) without the i. What a nice way to teach classical physics. :-)


Now, if you create a localized bump in the initial conditions for the temperature, it's analogous to a localized wave packet in Schrödinger's equation. And regardless of the i, some scalings of the subsequent behaviors will be the same. I remember we were calculating this helpful exercise with Dr Pavel Čihák, our undergraduate instructor teaching complex analysis and differential equations.

First, he offered us some potatoes from his garden. Second, we calculated it and one of the results was that some significant heat only gets 10 meters to the depth after half a year. He wanted us to learn the important lesson: You can see why it's a good idea to bury yourself in the soil.

If you take the Schrödinger's equation with the i, you may easily solve it in the momentum representation. The phase of ψ~(p) is being multiplied by some exp(iCp2t). This change of the phase becomes substantial for p∼1/Ct−−−−√ which, by the inverse "uncertainty" relationship, tells you that the width of the wave packet is Δx∼ℏCt−−√. That function grows sublinearly. The more you wait, the slower the propagation of the heat is, and it simply takes years for the heat to escape by dozens of meters (to make a statement like that, you need to know something about C and analyze the consequences).

Nothing changes about the square root behavior if you replace i by −1 in the phase exp(iCp2t) – if you switch from the Schrödinger's to diffusion equation.

The important qualitative lesson is that the conduction is so slow that you may assume that only regions whose size is comparable to ten meters exchange the heat effectively enough. Regions that are much further apart than 10 meters are segregated almost perfectly i.e. hermetically.

So what the thermometers have measured isn't any "global warming on the Moon". It's a completely localized effect around the footprints that is as mundane as the hot asphalt during a hot summer day (we had a hot morning which became a very rainy evening). One of the three men in our e-mail conference estimate that a change of the albedo by 3% was enough to account for the effect.

But most of the media will never tell the people about this punch line – that it's just a silly local effect. They don't really have any competent people (from physical sciences) who can debunk similar nonsense. And because millions of readers have happily devoured similar garbage for many years, the media arguably don't have any motivation to print the truth. Eye-catching garbage is just as good for them – if not better. So they're encouraging millions of people to believe literally medieval superstitions (or worse) about 12 men who can warm a celestial body by 2 °C by walking there.

Not even Jesus Christ could do such a thing in the Bible (walking on the water is trivial relatively to walking on the Moon and heating the whole Moon by two degrees), let alone His 12 down-to-Earth apostles. But 12 down-to-Moon astronauts can do it between 1969 and 1972, according to the faithful believers in 2018 who buy literally anything. Millions of people just believe garbage that would probably be recognized as unscientific nonsense by most folks in the church even in the Middle Ages. And this kind of stuff is being served all the time.

SOURCE.  Go, Lubos!

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt cited “unrelenting attacks” against himself and his family in his resignation letter that was delivered to President Donald Trump on Thursday

Pruitt thanked Trump for allowing him to serve at EPA, but says “the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and taken a sizeable toll on all of us,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Mr. President, it has been an honor to serve you in the Cabinet as administrator of the EPA. Truly, your confidence in me has blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your administration. Your courage, steadfastness and resolute commitment to get results for the American people, both with regard to improved environmental outcomes as well as historical regulatory reform, is in fact occurring at an unprecedented pace and I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and the American people in helping achieve those ends.

That is why it is hard for me to advise you I am stepping down as administrator of the EPA effective as of July 6. It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.

My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people. I believe you are serving as president today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service. I pray as I have served you that I have blessed you and enabled you to effectively lead the American people. Thank you again Mr. President for the honor of serving you and I wish you Godspeed in all that you put your hand to.

                          Your Faithful Friend,

                           Scott Pruitt

Calls for Pruitt’s resignation only increased in recent months as more reports came out detailing alleged ethical violations, including a new New York Times report claiming the former Oklahoma attorney general had staff delete entries from his official calendar.

Pruitt also came under fire for flying first class, beefing up his security detail and renting a room in a condo owned by the wife of a prominent D.C. lobbyist. Democrats and environmentalists were joined by some conservative pundits in calling for Pruitt to resign.

However, most Republicans and conservative leaders stuck with Pruitt. Even Trump had supported Pruitt publicly despite concerns over mounting allegations.


Polish environment minister: Too many species are protected

Poland’s environment minister angered environmentalists by saying he favors reducing the number of protected species including elk and bison because some of the animals damage crops — but he added it isn’t easy in an age of ‘‘excessive sensitivity to animal protection.’’

Henryk Kowalczyk told residents in the northern town of Mlawa that his ministry had suggested to regional environmental authorities that they might grant more permits to hunt elk, bison, and beavers. These are all protected species under European law.

‘‘We live in times of excessive sensitivity to animal protection, to put it mildly,’’ Kowalczyk said Sunday. His remarks were widely reported in Polish media Thursday.

“It is unthinkable that the environment minister publicly says that he gave instructions to bypass the law that he is supposed to be the guardian of,’’ said Agata Szafraniuk, a lawyer for the ClientEarth environmental group.


The ‘Balance of Nature’ Myth.  Nature is always changing

SPOTLIGHT: There’s no such thing as a ‘balance of nature.’ Nature is not static

BIG PICTURE: A prominent theme of ecologist Daniel Botkin’s latest book, 25 Myths That Are Destroying the Environment, is that the natural world is more sophisticated than we imagine.

Everything is fluid. Numerous interactions are taking place at any given time. On multiple levels and in multiple directions. Between species and within species.

The belief that whales and other animals would be peachy keen if only humans weren’t around informs many conservation measures. We’re the skunk at the picnic. We disturb. We perturb. We upset a natural, intrinsic balance.

The irony of such ‘environmental’ thinking, says Botkin, is that it ignores the environment:

There is no change in the weather – no storms, hurricanes, or volcanic eruptions. The population has no diseases and no predators. Its food can’t vary in abundance because the amount of food just isn’t represented in the equation…

This school of thought is bankrupt. In Botkin’s words:

Scientists have tried very hard to see if the [balance of nature] logistic could work for real populations out in the wild; after searching the scientific literature at great length, I’ve found that they have always failed…it has never worked in the real world outside of a laboratory.

In physics, when an equation completely fails to make accurate forecasts of real events, it is abandoned…ecologists have done just the opposite of physicists: They have continued to use an equation that has never matched real-world observations.

Why do the WWF, the Sierra Club, and the Canadian Wildlife Federation continue to talk about the ‘balance of nature’? Perhaps because it inflates humanity’s importance. It places us at the center of the drama. It casts us as directors of the play and stars of the show.

How bizarre that professional environmentalists are in the business of dismissing and diminishing highly potent, natural forces.

TOP TAKEAWAY:  The ‘balance of nature’ idea is folklore – a persuasive idea for which there is no evidence.


Banning plastic bags 'will drive up greenhouse gas emissions and HARM the environment': The Australian government report that exposes supermarkets

Banning plastics bags could harm the environment by increasing greenhouse gases and causing more waste, a government report has revealed.

The little-known federal government report from 12 years ago warned of the unintended consequences of forcing consumers to reuse canvas bags if the supermarket giants banned single-use plastic sacks.

The Productivity Commission sounded an alarm bell about this environmental policy, more than a decade before Coles and Woolworths this month prohibited plastic bags from the checkout.

The 500-page Waste Management report, published in October 2006, argued reusable shopping bags took up more space in landfill than single-use plastic bags.

It also quoted a report which said banning plastic bags would increase greenhouse gas emissions because it took more energy to produce paper and canvas bags.

'The greenhouse emissions in producing a paper bag have been estimated to be around five times greater than those producing a plastic bag,' it said.

The Queensland and West Australian governments have banned single-use plastic bags since July 1, bringing these states into line with South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

The New South Wales government is letting the supermarkets decide on a plastic ban policy while Victoria is phasing in a ban from next year.

The Productivity Commission also raised concern about the inconvenience the policy would cause consumers and the extra costs it would impose on grocers.

'Banning certain types of waste and recyclables from collection and disposal could inconvenience householders and impose additional costs on them by requiring a trip to a transfer station or a chemicals disposal facility,' the report stated.

'Collection requirements could also raise collection costs. For example, systems with more than one bin require additional collection trucks and labour requirements.'

City of Canterbury, Bankstown Council and Randwick Council in New South Wales have banned drinking straws, cups, bottles from their events from July 1.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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