Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Why Does Lead Melt on Venus?

The surface temperature of Venus is 850 F.

The melting point of lead is 622 F.

Lead is a liquid on Venus.

The atmosphere of Venus is 96 percent carbon dioxide.

Why is Venus so hot that lead is a liquid on its surface?

USA president and USA Congress do not know the answer.

But they know any scientist who claims to know is a liar.

Do you know?

Around 250 B.C. the scientist Eratosthenes calculated the Earth's circumference to within 5 percent accuracy with nothing more than a stick, a well and the geometric principle of similar triangles. Eratosthenes was aware that at noon on the summer solstice in Syene, Libya one could see the reflection of the sun in a very deep desert well. Yet, on the same day, a straight stick in Alexandria, Egypt cast a measurable shadow. Obviously, the sun was more "directly" overhead at Syene than at Alexandria at noon on the solstice. Using nothing but the difference in the length and angle of the shadows observed in Alexandria and Syene and the distance from Alexandria to Syene, Eratosthenes very accurately estimated the circumference of the Earth. The key to his method was the principle of similar triangles. The genius of Eratosthenes' technique was that in order to prove him wrong one had to prove his measurements wrong, deny the entire concept of similar triangles, or be a willful liar.

Does any of this sound vaguely reminiscent or remotely familiar?

It is fair to ask now, given the bile and invective hurled at thousands of scientists diligently researching human-induced climate change, if American society in 2006 has become several orders of magnitude dumber than the ancient society which produced and educated Eratosthenes in 250 B.C.

The quick answer is no -- given that a third grade girl in 1999 correctly warned that expoxied bolts might not be able to support 2,800 pound concrete slabs suspended from the roofs of the Big Dig tunnel project in Boston, Mass. [see post immediately below].

The quick answer is yes -- given that the world's largest engineering firm, Bechtel, approved the same epoxied bolts questioned by the third grade girl.

On July 10, 2006 nine of the epoxied bolts failed and dropped 45,000 pounds of concrete onto a Boston motorist, killing her instantly. The little girl was right. Bechtel was wrong. This essay deals with the critical question of why a third grade girl has been proven smarter than the largest engineering firm on Earth.

The methods and philosophy used by scientists to study Earth's climate today are identical to those employed by Eratosthenes to successfully compute the Earth's circumference. Based on their own statements, claims made by purveyors of the shrillest outrage about climate change exhibit one of two characteristics: (a) They have no understanding of the scientific method, or; (b) They are willful liars.

Concerns about human-induced climate change are founded upon the same scientific laws taught in high school chemistry and physic classes. To question the entire concept of human-induced climate change requires one to declare fraudulent the chemistry and physics curricula taught in every American high school during the entire 20th century. To summarize.

Fire is an exothermic chemical reaction. Rapidly oxidized hydrocarbons produce water vapor, carbon dioxide and heat energy. In the Earth's atmosphere, carbon dioxide has the physical property of trapping and storing heat energy. Atmospheric temperature is a measurement of the heat energy present in Earth's atmosphere. If the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere increases, the ability of the atmosphere to store heat energy increases. That's it.

People who claim human-induced climate change is a "lie" force themselves into the position of explaining why the surface atmosphere of the planet Venus is hot enough to melt lead. The very thick atmosphere of Venus is 96 percent carbon dioxide. Not only do the laws of physics and chemistry predict the surface temperature of Venus based on the carbon dioxide content of its atmosphere, these laws provide the only plausible explanation for the observed temperature on the surface of Venus.

The scientific method is built upon establishing the maximum number of independent lines of evidence which support a hypothesis, the idea being that a stool with ten legs is more stable than a stool with one leg. This was the genius of Eratosthenes and ancient Greek science. Because the geometric principle of similar triangles could be shown in so many different and independent ways, Eratosthenes could use this principle to calculate the Earth's circumference in a manner which was essentially unrefutable. To deny Eratosthenes' findings, one had to deny hundreds and thousands of other independent lines of evidence which support the principle of similar triangles. In order to remove even one leg of the 1,000 legged stool which supported Eratosthene's conclusions, one had to remove all 1,000 of them.

People today who call climate change a "lie" face the same challenge. They have to prove that humans do not produce fires, that fires do not produce carbon dioxide, that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas, that the atmosphere of Venus is not made of carbon dioxide and the surface temperature of Venus is not hot enough to melt lead. Given these hurdles, it would be easier to argue that NASA never put men on the moon.

From a scientific standpoint, to say "I just don't buy the concept of greenhouse gasses and climate change" is identical to saying "I just don't buy the concept that fire produces carbon dioxide" or "I just don't buy the concept of similar triangles." Eratosthenes certainly was aware some of his contemporaries might not "buy" the concept that Earth is round. Through the ingenious nature of his experiment, Eratosthenes forced any skeptics into a position where if they did not buy his conclusion that the Earth was round they were forced to reject hundreds and thousands of independent and unrelated findings -- none of which had anything to do with the shape or size of the Earth.

So when our USA president says he doesn't "buy" the concept that human carbon dioxide emissions can alter the Earth's atmosphere and climate, he is saying that he doesn't "buy" the concept that fires are hot. This means the USA president is either a drooling moron or a willful liar.

People who say they don't "buy" the concept of human-induced climate change are unable to square their position with independent lines of scientific knowledge that have nothing to do with the topic, ie. the measured surface temperature of Venus. To deny the entire concept of greenhouse gasses one must propose an alternative explanation for the measured surface temperature of Venus. If people say "that has nothing to do with the subject" they are either drooling morons or willful liars [saying Venus is closer to the Sun would put a person in the drooling moron category. Venus is hotter than Mercury.]

The drooling moron/willful liar camp states that any observed changes in Earth's climate are "natural" and have no connection to human activities. This claim is identical to saying that because people often die of natural causes it cannot be proven that murder exists.

If one claims that Earth's climate can change due to natural causes one is obliged to explain those causes in detail. What are they? How do they operate? What are the fundamental physical and chemical forces which cause them? Then one must show how it is impossible for human activities to trigger the same physical and chemical forces as volcanoes.

Willful liars love volcanoes. Volcanoes are 100 percent natural and spew great amounts of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere when they erupt. Why does it matter if volcanoes spew CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere? Because this spewage is a "natural" source of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. How could this fact have any relevance to a person who states they "just don't buy the concept" that carbon dioxide emissions can alter Earth's climate? It can't be relevant -- unless they are Willful Liars.

To cite examples of natural climate change in Earth's history requires one to admit that Earth's climate can change. To claim that carbon dioxide from volcanoes can change Earth's climate requires one to admit that carbon dioxide emissions can alter Earth's climate. Coal and oil burned by humans generate carbon dioxide. It goes into the air.This is the same air that carbon dioxide from volcanoes goes into. The volume of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions are well within the range of carbon dioxide emissions from volcanoes. So if carbon dioxide from volcanoes can alter Earth's climate, then carbon dioxide from people burning coal and oil can alter Earth's climate.

Climate change Willful Liars walk into the same LaBrea tarpit inhabited by their creationist friends who claim the Earth was made 6,000 years ago. These drooling morons attempt to discredit evolution by toting around fuzzy photos of human footprints allegedly superimposed on dinosaur footprints. Yet they cannot explain why their entire Bible lacks a single mention of these enormous land lizards, which based upon their own "irrefutable evidence" walked all over the Earth right alongside humans.

This raises the basic question of insanity. The most ardent climate change deniers are also creationists who claim the Earth was created about 6,000 years ago. These people log onto Creationist Bulletin Board A to provide reams of "evidence" which proves the Earth did not exist until 6,000 years ago. The next evening they log on to the Climate Change Hoax Bulletin Board and argue that "evidence" from 100,000 years ago clearly shows that the Earth's climate was changing well before human beings had discovered fire.

The Medieval European Church could not accommodate the empirical and mathematical findings of Copernicus which strongly suggested the Earth revolves around the Sun and the apparent movement of the Sun around the Earth is because the Earth rotates on its own axis. The Church should have had no problem accepting this new information had it not declared the Sun revolves around the Earth and Everything the Church Says is Infallible. This mistake forced the Medieval Church to declare that human knowledge itself was the Enemy unless it Conformed to the Infallible Position of the Church. This idiotic position kept Europe in the Dark Ages for almost 1,000 years while the new religion of Islam preserved and advanced the body of mathematical and scientific knowledge assembled by the ancient Greeks.

It does not matter whether climate change skeptics of today are drooling morons or willful liars. What matters is that they now have occupied the position of the European Medieval Church. Like the Medieval Church, they have staked out a position which, if proven true, requires all of the most basic scientific laws to be false. Like the Medieval Church, these folks have no interest in promoting research into the deeper mechanisms of climate change because they just don't want to know.

If compelling scientific evidence indicated that recent climate trends are in fact due to natural causes, scientists would be the first to want to know. Those scientists who have expressed the deepest concern about the human impacts of recent climate trends would be relieved if irrefutable data show the Earth is going through a climate change which has absolutely nothing to do with human activities. Such data would allow these scientists to shift their entire effort to devising ways to help people and nations prepare survive this natural change.

Even if one accepts the Willful Liars' premise that climate changes now occurring are solely due to natural causes, there is no question these changes are measurable, real and could be extremely damaging to humans and human societies. Accepting the Willful Liars' premise, the Willful Liars should be arguing for increased -- not decreased -- research effort into the root causes of these climate changes if only to discern how severe impacts may be, where they will occur and how humans can best prepare for them. But the Willful Liars do not encourage scientific research on the root causes of climate change -- they actively oppose it. Why?

The Willful Liars are identical to the Medieval Church. They would rather halt scientific inquiry than alter their stated doctrines in response to scientific information. If a Copernicus arises they would rather put him down than listen. If an Eratosthenes arrives, they would prefer to take his wooden stick away before he has a chance to measure the Earth's circumference and interfere with Infallible Church Doctrine. The Willful Liars, like the Medieval Church, are fundamentally hostile to science because it is not under their direct control. Young children are the most curious organisms on Earth. Curiosity is innate in humans. Curiosity causes children to ask questions and seek out answers. Like the Medieval Church, the Willful Liars view questions with hostility, since according to them all conceivable questions have long ago been answered. This is why the Willful Liars stand in opposition to the most fundamental attributes and aspirations of human beings: the desire to know.

Little children with the minds of Copernicus, Eratosthenes, Newton and Pythagoras are being born on Earth like weeds every day. The human genome appears designed to produce them. Many have of these children have been killed by bombs in Lebanon and Iraq during the past weeks. We'll never know how many Galileo's have just been killed because they are dead.

The Willful Liar has a parasitic relationship with the Drooling Moron. Without a steady supply of Drooling Morons, the Willful Liars are the Duke and Dauphin of Huckleberry Finn -- tarred, feathered and run out of town as soon as they run out of fools to fleece.

The power of the scientific method -- as exemplified by Eratosthenes -- is that we humans can discern extremely powerful insights about our lives, our planet and the Universe we live in with nothing more than our minds. Eratosthenes accurately computed the circumference of the Earth in 250 B.C. with nothing a wooden stick, a deep well and the principle of similar triangles. Our USA president and Congress, with full access to the largest scientific arsenal the world has ever known, cannot figure out why the surface of Venus is hot enough to melt lead, even though the answer is given in every science book assigned to USA eighth grade students.

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