Comments on climate changes

 

 

 

 

 

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Le "eresie" di Dyson Freeman - postato da Luisa Spairani 

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Ma il problema ambientale esiste - di Alberto Cavallo

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To design poverty out of the Solar System - by Kim Peart

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Space Technologies can solve the problem - by Daniel Christlein

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Solar activity and cosmic rays cannot be taxed... - by Michael Martin-Smith

Le "eresie" di Dyson Freeman

postato da Luisa Spairani 

Dyson l'eretico: «Esagerazioni sull'effetto serra» - il fisico oggi al festival della scienza - Di Laura Guglielmi

"Genova. Piccolo e minuto, capelli bianchi, completo elegante e camicia a righe, Freeman Dyson, 84 anni il 15 dicembre, sorride ad ogni domanda, si diverte a rispondere e a raccontare, in fondo ha giocato tutta la vita con i numeri, giochi che sono serviti a fare tante scoperte, alcune importanti, altre che non hanno portato da nessuna parte. Tant'è che un fisico, e matematico, non è obbligato ad avere scopi precisi.

«Poche volte mi è capitato di inventare qualche cose di utile - spiega - Io faccio soprattutto calcoli matematici e spesso non approdo a niente. Questo è il gioco che mi piace giocare. Gli scienziati devono prima di tutto divertirsi nel duro lavoro che li porta a scoprire le cose».

Fisico e matematico, impegnato attivamente in campagne di disarmo nucleare - lui che si è allontanato dalla bomba atomica in tempo - Freeman Dyson è un ex professore di fisica di Princeton, ormai in pensione, che non rinuncia mai a presentare le proprie teorie di scenario, spesso al limite della fantascienza. Così ha fatto ieri a Genova, in occasione della conferenza Pensieri eretici su scienza e società. Dyson - ha ammesso lui stesso - non ha fede nelle previsioni, perché gli esperimenti sono salti nel buio e se qualcosa è prevedibile, allora non è scienza. Eppure, è lui per primo a proporre visioni di un futuro. Ecco, quindi, perché i suoi pensieri sul futuro sono a tutti gli effetti eretici, rispetto alla scienza.

Tra le sei eresie di Dyson le più interessanti, perché toccano timori radicati anche nel pubblico di profani, sono quelle che riguardano il riscaldamento globale, che per Dyson è frutto di un'esagerazione.

Sul clima: "Il riscaldamento si fa sentire molto di più nei posti freddi del pianeta che in quelli caldi. C'è una ragione fisica per questo: l'anidride carbonica nell'aria è poco importante quando c'è molto vapore acqueo, il vapore è un un gas serra assai più forte. Quindi è solo nei posti con clima molto secco che la presenza di anidride carbonica fa la differenza. I posti con clima più secco sono anche i più freddi. E' anche vero che gli effetti del riscaldamento si fanno sentire maggiormente d'inverno che d'estate, e di notte più che di giorno. Perciò su tutti e tre i fronti, (latitudine, stagione e orario), si può dire che le temperature stanno diventando più omogenee. Non è tanto una questione di riscaldamento globale quanto di mitigazione degli estremi".

Ma il problema ambientale esiste 

di Alberto Cavallo 

Condivido la preoccupazione per come oggi le forze politiche ed economiche interferiscono con la ricerca allo scopo di piegarne i risultati ai loro interessi. A proposito del riscaldamento globale, comunque, ritengo positivo che si tenti di ridurre l'uso dei combustibili fossili a favore di altre sorgenti di energia, che c'entri il riscaldamento o no. Peraltro, siccome il mio lavoro riguarda al 90% la produzione e l'uso dell'energia elettrica, vi posso assicurare che la maggior parte del mondo se ne sta infischiando della CO2 e si sta rapidamente riconvertendo al carbone come principale fonte primaria per la produzione di energia elettrica. I maggiori gruppi industriali (compresa l'azienda per cui lavoro io) sono impegnati su tutti i versanti, sia quello delle fonti tradizionali sia quello delle rinnovabili, ma sicuramente per ora fanno la maggior parte dei profitti con gas, carbone e (non noi italiani ma tutti gli altri) nucleare. La fonte energetica rinnovabile più importante, dopo il tradizionale idroelettrico, è ora l'eolico, su cui stanno puntando tutti i grandi gruppi industriali dell'energia. Detto questo, la preoccupazione per gli effetti ambientali dell'uso dei combustibili fossili non è certo sostenuta dall'industria dell'energia.

Personalmente ritengo che per molti motivi si debba uscire al più presto dall'economia del petrolio ed in generale dei combustibili fossili, riscaldamento globale o no. Se il timore del riscaldamento globale induce ad accelerare il processo, tanto meglio. D'altra parte il peccato originale degli ambientalisti è l'opposizione al nucleare, che risolverebbe molti problemi.

Ho segnalato la ricerca di Lockwood e Froehlich che sembra mostrare che le variazioni dell'irraggiamento solare e dei raggi cosmici non hanno a che fare con l'andamento climatico degli ultimi anni, anzi sono in controtendenza. Questo contraddice un assunto importante di Enzo. E' possibile che la tendenza naturale sia verso un raffreddamento del clima, e che il riscaldamento attuale (che non è apparente) sia effettivamente generato dall'uomo. Le maggiori precipitazioni in Antartide sono un segno di riscaldamento, perché l'innalzarsi della temperatura aumenta le precipitazioni nevose nelle zone fredde. Sulle Alpi si ritirano i ghiacciai a quota media e bassa, ma il Monte Bianco "cresce" per accumulo di ghiaccio in vetta, dove arriva più neve, sono usciti articoli di recente su questo fenomeno.

Riscaldamento a parte, il deterioramento dell'ambiente è reale e grave. Io sono contrario all'ambientalismo come ideologia, ma sono fortemente preoccupato in generale per la situazione dell'ambiente. Purtroppo nel mondo dei media l'unico modo per essere ascoltati è esagerare e fare i catastrofisti. Per questo ritengo che la battaglia di Al Gore sia giusta anche se focalizzata su un solo punto, mentre ce ne sono moltissimi altri più gravi. Fondamentalmente, non è possibile applicare a tutta la popolazione mondiale il modello consumistico, perché non ci sono sulla Terra le risorse per farlo. La nostra proposta come sostenitori della presenza umana nello spazio è quella di aprire il sistema uscendo dal pianeta.

To design poverty out of the Solar System 

by Kim Peart 

I have been wondering how we could achieve a mature social economy, where competition is balanced by cooperation and capitalism with compassion, that could decide to design poverty out of the Solar System. With a view to the society that we could achieve in our Solar System, I can see this as a reality that we could achieve, that would lead to a much more peaceful, prosperous and creative future.

One mechanism that may lead to a mature social economy could be some form of equity measure. This occurred to me when watching business leaders deliver their profit reports, which are all about how much wealth a company can cream from the society that is treated more like a gold mine. Current practice results in poverty and environmental damage, where the poor are scraped across the bottom of the pit of human society quite ruthlessly. Companies are now beginning to turn onto environmental measures, because of public pressure and because it is better for profit.

I am wondering if an "equity measure" of some kind would be an effective instrument to help deliver poverty out the door, by requiring companies to include with their profit reports how effective they have been at also driving wealth into society, locally and globally, toward achieving and maintaining the elimination of poverty. Companies could take great pride in how successful they have been in the "equity measure" and governments could ensure honesty, as they now do with profit reports.

Achieving universal equity would create a healthy and prosperous society, where there would be much more potential for productivity, profit and creativity. I look to Nature as a model, where ecology provides a cooperative foundation for competition that refines species and creates new species. For us there is even more, with an appreciation of beauty, love and happiness as qualities that make life worth living for.

Unfortunately our society is very much focused on competition at present but I understand this for reasons I explored in 'Creating A Solar Civilization' that can be put quite simply as: Nature has expanded to fill the Earth with life to the brim of the atmosphere and now seeks to expand into space and we, her children, are the means. Being the means for Nature's primal force to expand creates the World we see. The world we call man-made is also an expression of Nature that is necessary to get us to the edge of space. Now we are here we can also consider making the leap from being instruments of Nature as conscious beings, to asserting our responsibilities as members of the Human family with an awareness of higher values such as compassion and seek to ensure that all Nature's children can enjoy the higher qualities of life, including beauty, love and happiness.

In the light of this thought, I wonder if climate change driven by global warming is part of a larger equation, where we will either wake up and see that we need to run with Nature into space to ensure our survival, prosperity and creative options, or, we will sleep in and cling to the Earthly nest, messing the place up until it falls about and we fall out of the evolutionary tree and break our silly necks. If we miss this opportunity for space, we could end up like the Easter Islanders, stuck on an island in space with no lifeboats and sliding into an Earthly hell.

Becoming a compassionate space-faring civilization would result in a much more peaceful World, on Earth and in space and be the best way to diminish the spectre of terrorism, that could pose a terminal risk to space settlements and could even end the space adventure for one and all by making space too dangerous, too deadly, too terminal.

Our ticket to space could turn out to be effective practical compassion.

I would welcome comments on this thought of an "equity measure", that just may turn out to be as critical to our future in space as the spaceships to get there.

Space Technologies can solve the problem

by Daniel Christlein 

II am very pleased that TDF is addressing the issue of global warming. This is something that has only been touched a bit reluctantly even in parts of the space advocacy community, maybe because of its associations with the Limits-of-Growth ideology. But were we to ignore it, we would be just as unreasonable as Mr. Bush. In particular, the idea of a sun shade deserves more consideration than it has received. Of great interest to me is the plan suggested by Roger Angel at my old alma mater, the University of Arizona, of dispersing aluminum chaff to block off part of the solar irradiation.

Blocking a few percent of the sunlight should in principle be sufficient to balance the effects of increased greenhouse emission.

Of course, when you propose such a scheme, you will always be confronted with allegations that you are just treating the symptoms, and that it would have been better to have controlled greenhouse emissions in the first place. I actually heard it levelled against such a harmless technology as remote sensing from satellites in order to contain the effect of climatic disasters, such as hurricanes and floodings, on Earth.

Well, of course this is true, but beside the point: whatever we should have done better in the past, climatic change is now a fact, and we need to think about the most efficient ways to combat it. Ignoring what space development has to offer us in this regard would be akin to watching a loved one suffer a heart attack, but refusing the help of a doctor by pointing out that the victim had been leading an unhealthy lifestyle, and that the heart attack was just a symptom of that.

Regarding efficiency, the technical challenge, may be enormous, but I must admit that I find it easier to imagine the industrialized nations committing to a large-scale space program to construct such a solar shade, than their curbing and controlling their greenhouse emissions for all eternity. From this perspective, a planetary engineering program may actually be the more feasible and attainable course of action. 

What's more, while one strategy would forever place us under a glass-ceiling, never to be broken, the other one would maintain and even open all further roads for the development of space and Earth. This is not to say, of course, that not everything reasonable should be done to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on Earth, and in particular, to end this incredibly wasteful practice of burning such a precious resource as oil in our car engines - but the two approaches may and should complement each other, and life has always shaped and adapted its environment. If this is not always obvious, it is just because we are living in a world already shaped by life for billions of years.

Solar activity and cosmic rays cannot be taxed... 

by Michael Martin-Smith 

It is true that things are not as clear as Al Gore tells us.

Siberia is often mentioned as a "canary" for global warming, meaning that it shows changes earlier than other regions. This is interesting, because climatic records show that a warming process began there in the mid eighteenth century- at least a generation before the Industrial Revolution ,which has been recently blamed for climate change, took off.

The melting of ice at Antarctica has been shown to be part of a natural cycle,with new ice forming at one location while ice melts at another (rather like the constant formation and resorption of calcium deposits in healthy bone). Furthermore, the high Middle Ages, even in England, were notably warmer than later periods-allowing the cultivation of vines quite far to the North- the fact that many towns contain a "Vine Street" points to widespread viticulture.
At this time Greenland, with less glaciation, could support Norse agriculture without flooding London.

150,000 years ago we had warmer temperatures than at present without any help from Neanderthal industry.

It has also been suggested that, given the cycle of Ice Ages, we would now be well into a new Ice Age had it not been for 8,000 years or more of deforestation and agriculture.
Many people might think that with 6 billion mouths to feed, an Ice Age would be a far greater evil than some global warming. No-one doubts that the Climate has changed, and will change- that is the norm; what is unclear is how much still remains in the hands of Mother Nature (solar cycles, cosmic ray fluxes, volcanism,etc) and how much our own industries have to do with it. If the solar scientists are right, recent decades owe at least as much to the fact that solar maxima have been getting stronger over recent cycles. The problem has always been that solar activity needs a "multiplier" to affect the climate; recent work on the relationship with cosmic ray influx and the magnetosphere provide a mechanism for variation in our climate by a cloud formation's variability, Cloud chamber experiments show that cosmic rays (particles) can influence the seeding of clouds,and hence our reflection of solar radiation back into Space.

However, collapsing neutron stars and black holes (the sources of most cosmic radiation) are difficult for Governments to tax and regulate - hence there is no real interest! There is, of course, a real case for developing new technology to replace fossil fuels-they will run out, possibly quite soon,and, in any case, will lead to conflicts. Messrs Putin and Ahmadinejad are good enough reasons to move away from fossil fuels without invoking a climatic apocalypse.

The better approach would be not to tax and interfere with the lives of millions of citizens by Government bullying, but to research and develop alternatives and let the market work. Governments must be made to plough any money raised from "Green Taxes" into R&D, reward those who make changes, and above all introduce no new tax without a abolishing an old one - otherwise the public will, rightly, become cynics.

We can accept Red Taxes or Green ones- but not both!

[005.VARI.TDF.2007 - 07.12.2007]