Monthly Archives: February 2008

Global Warming – Is it natural or manmade? Yes.

There is still a debate with respect to what is causing global warming. Is it the result of man-made carbon dioxide being dumped into the atmosphere, or is it natural variations? The answer is yes. It is both.

Because it is both, the problem is far more pressing than if it were either one. Most of the publicity surrounding this issue takes one side or the other and then conveniently presents only evidence supporting their position. This only muddles the situation and leaves people with the feeling that real information isn’t available or that the problem is too complex to understand and therefore too complex to act on.

There are factors I am unaware of and some that I don’t fully understand, but I do understand more than what is generally being conveyed to the public, and I am completely convinced that there are both man-made and natural sources and that both are substantial.

On the natural side, people keep saying that the sun’s luminosity hasn’t changed significantly. This unfortunately is not accurate. If you look at only the light output in the visible spectrum, roughly 700nm red to 450 nm (violet), the output in this narrow spectral range is reasonably constant. However, if you look in the ultraviolet, the variably is considerable, and farther up the spectrum you look, the more significant is the variability.

During solar maximums, UV output is up considerably from times of solar minimums. This does impact our weather significantly. The sun has a 22 year magnetic cycle consisting of two cycles of build up of magnetic field, decline, reversal, buildup, and decline, so every 11 years there is a solar peak, and a solar minimum with the magnetic field being opposite of what it was previously.

But this cycle is itself irregular, there are longer term regular cycles upon which this cycle is superimposed that make some cycles more powerful than others, but there are also unexplained periods of exceptionally low and high activity.

During periods of high activity, Earth’s temperature increases, and during low activity, it decreases. Over the last 100 years, the overall trend has been an increase in solar activity temperature.

Contrary to popular belief and contrary to what we are told; solar flux and radio active decay within the Earth are not the only source of energy input. The Earth is also bathed in a constant bombardment of subatomic particles that we collectively refer to as cosmic rays. These rays consist of particles such as protons traveling at extremely high velocities, very close to the speed of light.

Distant cosmic events, matter being sucked into black holes, neutron stars colliding, ordinary stars being cannibalized by by a neutron star or black hole, these sorts of things generate cosmic rays. Cosmic rays affect our planets atmosphere in two ways, they can dump significant quantities of energy into our atmosphere and magnetosphere in short time frames, and they can affect cloud formation and precipitation which in turn affects the planets reflectivity as well as heat dissipation. We do not know why, but cosmic rays have been on the rise in recent years.

The heating of our planet by cosmic rays can be direct, as when particles collide with molecules in the atmosphere, and it can be indirect, increasing the natural flow of both ionospheric and telluric currents which then creates heat due to currents flowing through electrical resistance.

Most cosmic rays are intercepted by our planets magnetic field and then enter near the poles. However, our planets magnetic field has been declining over the past century (this is also part of a natural cycle) and as it declines, the point at which cosmic rays enter moves to lower latitudes. This affects the heat distribution as well as the weather. Where cosmic rays enter, those particles leaves ionized paths in their wake that serve as condensation points thus enhancing cloud formation at high altitudes.

Also on the rise is volcanic activity, particular under water volcanic activity. The volume of activity that exists is only recently being appreciated. The last global ocean survey counted more than 2 million undersea volcanoes. Granted, these aren’t all active, but it’s a number about 100x larger than what was previously believed to exist. The truth is that nobody really has an accurate assessment of just how much carbon dioxide volcanoes are contributing, but we know for sure it’s on the increase.

So, we’ve got solar activity that, although presently we’re in a solar minimum, is on the longer term on an increase. We have an unexplained increase in cosmic ray bombardment. We have a weakening of the Earth’s magnetic field. And we have an increase in volcanic activity. These all contribute to global warming and they are all completely out of our control.

Then we have the man-made side which is always oversimplified by the media as being solely a function of carbon dioxide production. Actually, it’s far more complex than that. Methane is several hundred times more potent than carbon dioxide gas, and until very recently it was on the rise. In the last few years, methane levels have leveled off and the thought is that methane has reached an equilibrium state where it is being broken down and oxidized into water and carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere at a rate that matches the rate that it’s being generated. So that may suggest that greenhouse gases effect will not be rising as fast as it has been because methane is no longer rising. Water vapor is another potent greenhouse gas but it’s really a mixed bag, because while it prevents the escape of heat from the Earth, when it forms clouds, it also reflects heat and reduces heat input. Scientist do not have a firm understanding of whether the net effect is heating or cooling.

We also need to consider the effect that man has on the planets albedo, when we pave over a significant percentage of the planet with asphalt, build houses with dark roofs, we are affecting the planets reflectivity and causing more energy to be absorbed and less to be reflected back into space.

Then there is thermal pollution, we use nuclear plants as one means of making power, they’ve got those huge cooling towers dissipating waste heat. Typical thermal conversion efficiency is less than 40%, which means if you have a nuclear plant that is generating 800MW of electricity, it’s actually making 2 GW of thermal heat energy, of which 800MW is being turned into electricity and the remaining 1.2 GW is dissipated as heat. This is a non-trivial amount of heat, enough to heat a river used for cooling by several degrees. Collectively, all of these sources have some effect.

What can we do? The truth is that we can’t eliminate our warming of the planet entirely, we can only minimize it by the efficient production, use, and distribution of energy in the most environmentally friendly means possible.

We lose approximately 17 percent of the power we produce in transmission. If we converted all of the AC transmission lines that are 300km or longer to DC transmission, we’d be able to approximately double the transmission capacity, eliminate electromagnetic radiation from the power lines, reduce transmission losses to low single digits, eliminate cascading failures, eliminate sensitivity to space weather, and without changing the transmission lines or insulators, only changing the terminal equipment would give us these gains.

A new type of fusion reactor, known as a polywell or Bussard reactor after it’s inventor, may soon provide an alternative energy source that can generate electricity directly using a reverse magnetoplasmadynamics method of generation rather than a thermal cycle, and this may make efficiencies as high as 80% possible but we shouldn’t count our eggs before they’re hatched. While this technology is looking very promising, seven generations of reactors have been built and the last research reactor before a commercial power reactor, is currently being tested. But until it’s online producing power we can’t know that it will pan out so in the meantime we should continue to invest on renewable sources of energy such as thermal, solar, geothermal, etc, which add neither heat nor carbon dioxide to the environment.

Redesign

Hope I don’t offend anyone with the redesign but I’ve had about enough snow for the year so decided to make a change since I was in here removing old java script stuff that had been taken over by marketing pukes.

Redirect To Advertisement Site

We had a “Green Toolbox” on the sidebar which was a list of resources maintained by another site. It was a java script item and apparently that site is no longer and an advertising site took over the domain and setup an automatic redirect so anyone with that in their sidebar got redirected.

I apologize for this but had no way to know in advance that they’d do something flaky like that. It has been removed from the side bar.

Global Warming – Sun

My Position Regarding Burning Hydrocarbons For Energy

I feel it necessary first to state my position regarding burning of hydrocarbon fuels to provide energy because, whenever I try to expound on the real problems facing us, people misinterpret what I write to suggest that we can remain dependent upon burning of hydrocarbons to meet our energy needs. In fact, the situation is more urgent than it would be if we were completely responsible for global warming and running out of oil immediately.

I have known for some time that carbon dioxide emissions is not all there is to global warming. Some of my readers assume that I am promoting the continued reliance on the combustion of hydrocarbons for our energy needs. What I know makes the need to transition to better energy sources far more urgent.

I’ve stated that oil is more abundant than the oil companies tell us. I have stated that the peak oil theory is not correct as commonly understood. There will be a peak to oil production, but it will occur because other energy technologies become cost competitive, not because we’ve used up half of the world supply. The peak in US production occurred not because we used up half of our reserves, but because oil was cheaper to produce in other parts of the world.

The largest reason we need to stop relying on oil for energy is that we can not ever break the global poverty cycle as long as we are dependent upon oil to provide for the energy needs of our economic engine. It is precisely for this reason that global banking interests and energy interest wish to keep us dependent upon oil for our energy needs. Oil is an energy resource that controlling interests can readily throttle thus limiting economic growth and prosperity for the entire planet, while allowing an elite handful to prosper and the expense of the global community.

Even that elite handful actually suffers because human potential would allow all of us to do and be so much more if we were not limited by this constraint. We could travel the universe, live in a virtual paradise, integrate with other galactic life forms and learn much about ourselves and our universe. Even the elite would benefit from this greater freedom, knowledge, and improved world environment.

Dependence upon combustion of hydrocarbons to provide for our energy needs is in effect jailing us on this planet, for if we are to escape the confines of Earth and become a galactic civilization, energy abundance far beyond what oil can provide must power our economic engine.

Without abundant clean energy, we can not provide the clean and abundant water necessary grow the food necessary to bring impoverished regions of the world out of their impoverished state. Africa, parts of India and the Middle East, regions of China, Mexico, and the United States, are all limited by water availability. Water desalinization is a viable solution only with the availability of abundant clean energy.

The Earth is strained to support the existing human population. Human population growth occurs in only impoverished regions of the world or through immigration from these impoverished regions. In developed countries where there is a decent standard of living, and social infrastructure to take care of the elderly, people do not have large families, and population growth, with the exception of immigration from impoverished areas of the world, is negative, even in the presence of extended life expectancies.

If we solve the energy problem, we can solve the poverty problem. If we can solve the poverty problem, then we solve the problem of a population that is growing to where it exceeds the planets carrying capacity. Furthermore, by solving the energy problem, we also increase that carrying capacity by reducing environmental damage.

The majority of our environmental problems are directly related to energy production, or food production in an environment where insufficient energy is available to recycle wastes and minimize damage. In addition, while our political leaders use religion to insight us to fight each other, in truth most wars are economic and are fought over limited land which has sufficient water for robust food production, or over energy resources that make it possible to survive in less favorable conditions. War squanders resources and does further environmental damage. War is a source of needless suffering. War does nothing to increase the availability of scare resources.

In the past, we didn’t have the technological means to free ourselves from dependence upon the combustion of hydrocarbons as our primary source of energy. Today this is no longer true, we have not just one but multiple viable options, any one of which could free us from our reliance on hydrocarbon fuels.

Now that I’ve stated my position on dependence upon oil, I hope that you will not misinterpret what will follow to suggest that we should not be concerned about global warming. The exact opposite is true, because changes are coming which are entirely or largely beyond our control, and because surviving those changes as an intact civilization requires energy resources far more abundant and reliable than those currently in use, and because those energy requirements are far beyond what combustion of hydrocarbons can scale up to, the need to ween ourselves from hydrocarbons as an energy source is actually far more urgent than if global warming and the scarcity of petroleum were our only concern. In addition, changes we are making to atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial chemistry has dire biological consequences if we continue even in the complete absence of global warming.

Global Changes and Personal Biases

I apologize for what might appear as fluff before getting to the meat of this article. There is some meat coming, honestly, but I really believe a great deal of background is necessary for it’s proper interpretation.

I have no doubt that massive global changes are coming our way. I am gifted or cursed, depending upon your point of view, by dreams and visions depiction future events and conditions as well as out of body experiences that have allowed me to travel to other times and places. Because I know many people put little credence in such things, I have maintained a separate blog, “Dreams, Future Visions, and Out Of Body Experiences“, documenting what I have seen.

I say that I am gifted or cursed, because whether it is a gift or a curse depends entirely upon whether or not I can somehow find a way to use the information that has been made available to me to avert disaster.

The curse portion comes from the fact that my actions alone, if I can’t influence and motivate others to act also, will not and can not be sufficient to avoid catastrophe. The situations we are heading into can only be altered collectively. But that’s also the good news, they CAN be altered collectively.

I have tried to base material here on strictly scientific grounds and I have tried to keep my opinions and conjectures separate from scientific fact. I know that to some of my readers this may not be the case because I do not make extensive efforts to document my sources or provide a bibliography, and thus things I know to be true are often assumed to be conjecture.

However, I believe we are coming to a time when science and spirituality are beginning to examine the same fundamental truths and are beginning to come to some of the same fundamental conclusions about the nature of our existence. I make the distinction between science and scientific dogma, and distinction between spirituality and religion, because I believe that scientific and religious dogma are both in complete opposition to science and spirituality. I am neither with the fundamental religious groups that believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, nor the science crowd that believes in a static objective dead reality that started with a big bang 13 billion years ago and has only been winding down ever since, both are based upon dogma and inconsistent with observational data.

I do believe in God, in the sense of a universal sentience, love, and intent, driving the evolution and unfolding of all that is. I do believe in Jesus as described in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, and the message of love and forgiveness conveyed in those books. I believe there many fundamental truths to be found elsewhere in the Bible, but I believe that many people try to take things that were meant metaphorically literally and that great harm has resulted from doing so. I also believe that much that is described in the Bible in a way that was intended to be literal is hard to comprehend because the people at the time did have language to describe what they saw or experienced, and that still today we suffer from this problem.

The reason I am going to such great lengths to elaborate on my beliefs is that no human being is or can be truly objective. The observer is always part of the observed phenomena; we can not isolate ourselves from our environment; we are part of any experiment we conduct, we are part of any system we observe. Therefore, we can not hope to eliminate all of our biases, the best we can do is to understand our biases and what affect they may have both directly on our observations and on the systems which we observe.

In order for you to understand my own observations, it is necessary for you to understand my own biases. Because I believe that I have critical information about our future, and because I believe our survival and state of being, is inherently and critically dependent upon our understanding of how the future is unfolding, I feel that it is critical that I communicate what I know as effectively and concisely as possible. I apologize for boring you if I have done so.

The Meat

I told you there was some meat to this post, and now with all of that background here it is. I have observed for some time changes in the way radio signals propagate. I have observed changes in climate, I have observed changes in solar behavior, and I have observed changes in Auroral activity, and I have suspected correlations between these phenomena.

The Maunder minimum left little doubt that there is some correlation between solar activity and Earth temperatures. There is also little doubt that in the last one hundred years the Earth’s temperature has been trending upwards, although that trend is superimposed upon the 11-year sunspot cycle. The portion of the cycle where activity is declining results in enough decline in Earth’s temperatures to offset increases in temperature due to human or other causes. The portions where activity is increasing we see increases in Earth’s temperatures. So overall we see a kind of staircase increase.

But interpreting how much warming is the result of solar activity and how much is the result of human activity or other natural activity is extremely complex for a variety of reasons. Not the least of these reasons is the fact that that solar cycle isn’t strictly cyclic. There has been a general trend towards increasing intensity of each solar cycle over the last hundred years which unfortunately neatly overlaps increasing releases of carbon dioxide and other pollutants due to human activity making it difficult to clearly distinguish the thermal effects of these two processes. Furthermore, over the last century there has been a decline in the Earth’s geomagnetic field. This, along with increase in solar activity, both impact how the solar wind interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere, and this has non-trivial effects on energy input and global climate.

I’ve run across a variety of interesting bits of information over the last few nights, one of which tonight was this paper, entitled, “Modulation of Cosmic Ray Precipitation Related to Climate”, authored by J. Feynman and A. Ruzmaikin, which details how the changing solar activity impacts cosmic ray deposition into the Earth’s atmosphere and the effects which it has on climate. This is in PDF format so you will need Adobe Acroread or other PDF reader to read it. It enlightened me as to how cosmic rays play into the unfolding of our future and further increased my appreciation for the complexity of the factors affecting our climate.

In my Dreams and Visions blog, I’ve posted about dreams in which I have seen something resembling a cross between an extreme auroral display and a kind of false sunrise. I’ve posted an image of what it looks like which I created in Paintshop Pro. Now tonight I learn that there has been a systematic widening of the Aurora oval and one of the mechanisms behind that widening (although not the only mechanism that I am aware of) and I can arrive and what I’ve seen through the extrapolation of current trends into the future.

Another phenomena I’ve seen in dreams, a lifting of the apparent horizon (not an actual physical lift but an optical phenomena relating to refraction) is currently observed to a limited degree primarily in polar regions, often referred to as Fatma Morgana mirages except that the existing mirages tend to be highly distorted and limited due to limited regions of temperature inversion. But what I see in the dreams is smoother and more widespread.

Well, just the other night I read that in 2004 and 2005, there were several instances of intense cosmic ray bombardments in polar regions, which in the context of the above referenced article respecting cosmic ray precipitation, and intense solar activity, makes sense. But what was interesting about this article is that observers in the polar region saw distant horizons suddenly lifted up (as if by the hand of God) during these events.

I believe things are destined to continue to get more interesting, and for those of you interested, take some time to read my blog, but for those of you who are only interested in hard facts, at least take the time to research the scientific evidence, trends, and extrapolate those into the future. I believe the same conclusions are reached either way, and that those conclusions are that we’re in for massive changes, and it will take ample, reliable, and robust energy sources for us to survive them.