Monthly Archives: February 2013
Recently I was reading Andrew Revkin’s “DOT EARTH BLOG” on the NYT web site dated 18 February 2013 and came across a link to a remarkable lecture by the late Dr. Richard Smalley, physicist, chemist, and winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Smalley’s talk, titled “Our Energy Challenge,” was presented by him at Columbia University in 2003, apparently having been delivered on multiple occasions around that time, as Smalley struggled with the cancer that ended his life in 2005.
His thesis was very interesting. He began by showing a slide on “Humanity’s Top Ten Problems for the next 50 years” and explained that during the Q & A at his previous Lectures, he had asked his audiences to contribute their suggestions for the list and wrote them down.
On this day of the big climate change demonstration in Washington, organized by Sierra Club and 350.org and supported by Friends of the Earth, Oil Change International, and others, I’d like to offer some useful tidbits on the subject, plus a call to the President for leadership on the issue.
Dr. Cameron Wake, a climate researcher at the University of New Hampshire, points out that the complex nature of climate change makes it much easier to sell the lie than it is to sell the truth, of which climate change skeptics take full advantage.
My first global warming tidbit comes courtesy of Mike Bellamente, the Director of Climate Counts,who has offered some tips for responding to climate skeptics. One tip is to “Know Your Stuff,” meaning have some fundamental facts to counter the mis-information coming from the climate change skeptics.
Astronomy has reached the point of being able to state conclusively that the known universe contains a greater number of stars than the number of grains of sand on all the Earth’s beaches and in all of its deserts.
The age of the universe has been definitively set at 13.7 billion years ago. The age of the Earth is around 4.5 billion years. Life first formed about half a billion years later and the human species is about 3 million years old. Agriculture began about 10,000 years ago. The human population size exploded from about 1 billion to just over 7 billion in a little over two hundred years. That rapid expansion coincided with the industrial revolution and the rapid exploitation of cheap, high energy density, fossil fuel resources.
Astronomy has discovered planets circling other stars and has even reached the point where it can estimate their sizes and distances from their mother stars.
It is logical to conclude that planets circling stars must be a very common occurrence around the vast universe. Based on knowledge of our solar system, planets too close to the star are too hot to support life and those too far away are very cold and receive substantially less radiation from their star, so probably cannot support more than the most primitive life forms, if any at all. There is a “sweet spot” at just the right distance, a habitable zone around all stars, where planets of just the right mineral composition can develop atmospheres and life can form.