A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

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Hot times in the Solar System

There is an interesting and entertaining column by Oliver Morton on Nature's news website about the continuing use by climate science contrarians of climate change on other bodies in the solar system. I have a couple of "Talk to a Sceptic" guide entries on that (see here for the newest version of the Mars and Pluto canard) as well as some artwork that takes its inspiration from on of the more obscure versions of this talking point.

Oliver Morton's article is full of great lines and clear rebuttals and methodically goes planetoid by planetoid showing the lack of substance "skeptics" so readily embrace. For example:
  • Pluto is still warming from its ~80 year summer
  • Triton's warming southern hemisphere is just in its hottest orbital position
  • Mars is experiencing changing albedo, probably due to dust storms

He also make the very good point that given "climate is always changing", in any random look around our solar system you should expect to find a handful of warming climates.

For his conclusion he writes:

What's saddening is that people should miss what these various phenomena really have in common — their explicability. They show that our ideas of atmospheric physics are applicable and useful on bodies that range from the tiny (Pluto, the atmosphere of which is hardly worth mentioning) to the gigantic (Jupiter, the atmosphere of which outweighs a hundred solid Earths).

And computer models based on the ones used to study the climate on Earth provide results even when applied to the hugely different conditions on Mars. That is truly impressive.

So what these disparate observations actually tell us is that the scientific community — the scientific community that enjoys a firm consensus on the causes of Earthly climatic change — has a fairly impressive grasp of the fundamentals of how weather works elsewhere, as well. It's a rather inspiring insight. But it is not the lesson that climate sceptics want their readers to learn.


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  • At April 06, 2007 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This whole "global warming on Mars" song and dance has been going for some time. Where did it start?

  • At April 06, 2007 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just don't get it. So, these SUV belch there gases into the air and somehow they drift up until they leave the atmosphere and form a cloud of ghg around the solar system, slowly warming all the planets... I see. It all sounds rather desperate to me. Once the argument is "but, but, Pluto is warming as well!" you know the proper discussion is a few stations in the past.

  • At April 06, 2007 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    eli rabbet is putting a smack on Roger pielke jr. for his usual nonsense.

  • At April 06, 2007 6:35 PM, Blogger coby said…

    "Global warming on Mars" started around 2000 with the release by NASA of a series of high resolution photographs of ice features in the S. hemisphere. These photos revealed the ice had melted over 3 or 5 years or something like that.

    I find it very rich that we have had tons of more compelling observations here on earth yet "we mustn't jump to conclusions!" and a handful of years observing one ice escarpment on Mars and we have solar system wide warming!

    Though I am aware this appeals easily to people who are casual observers of the debate and don't really put any personal thought into it, this argument used seriously by anyone taking the time to say, publish an op ed or speak to a senate hearing, is incontravertible proof that they are insincere in their efforts to comprehend the real issues. IMO.

  • At October 18, 2007 1:09 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Actually there is more to this than the series of images showing CO2 ice loss, with NASA Scientists saying there has been overall global warming on Mars. The scientists involved attribute it to shifting dust changing the planet's albedo, but yes there has been global warming on Mars. See National Geographic for details.
    I hope this doesn't cause the denialists to get too excited.


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