The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder (your federal tax dollars at work) is claiming that the latest threat from global warming is space junk. Not because the sky is falling on us, but because it *isn't* falling on us. That is, if we don't stop global warming, we run the risk of running into old satellites, rocket boosters, etc, that aren't burning up in the atmosphere. Global warming is going to make rocketing into space really, really dangerous. Something we're all very concerned about, cause of our busy interplanetary travel schedules. But don't get your space diapers in a bunch just yet. We're safe in the "near term". However, forward thinking people must consider future hazards:
"Solomon said that a less dense outer atmosphere should not affect launches inWhich isn't quite a correct use of the word "problematic", but you can see the imminent danger. Keep in mind, the density of "space litter" is not exactly like rush hour on Madison Avenue (for New Yorkers) or The 405 in LA. We're talking about a few thousand bits of brick-a-brack in this orbit or that, with a likelihood of about 1 in a million trillion of hitting one of them if you aren't looking where you're going. But this fellow Solomon is suggesting that space litter will grow to such threatening levels those odds could increase to maybe 1 in a half million trillion). If we don't do something to keep CO2 levels down. Cause too much CO2 is causing global warming which is causing the global *cooling*.
the near term, but that it could be problematic in the future with the increase
of space litter."
In the upper atmosphere. Yes, that's for real what they are saying. All our dozens of annual rocket launches are someday going to lead to a fender bender in space, and if you happen to be riding that rocket, your rocket insurance may go up -- in a "near term" that I would conservatively estimate as sometime in the next one million years. For this we must eviscerate the Western economies.
"Using a computer model, Solomon and his colleagues estimated that the airThere it is -- proof! A computer model. I guess I shouldn't have been so hasty in saying a million trillion years. There's other hazards. Imminent asphyxiation. As you'll note, the rate of disappearance in the atmosphere is high enough that in only 250 years (40 percent each century) global warming will have completely eliminated the atmosphere. We will cease breathing just as we reach total global cooling. So we must act. Now. Send those donations to....
density of the outer atmosphere declined about 5 percent over the past three
decades and could decrease 40 percent by the end of the century."
(The more refined scientists in this audience will object that the decline is not linear, but likely follows an exponential decay that halves atmospheric pressure every 184 years, which will lead to a 90% decline in the atmosphere in 423.7 years. I insist that this is still life threatening, and must be halted for the sake of future generations. In only 205 years the air pressure at sea level will be reduced to 4.8 psi, the pressure at the top of Mount Everest, which I think most reasonable people will agree is the lowest pressure any human should be expected to breathe. Though hypoxia sets in for some of us at a pressure of 9.6psi (at an altitude as low as 11,000 feet).
That pressure will be found a sea level in only 78 years. Thus, purely on the grounds that we must consider the atmospherically challenged among us, the threat is even more imminent. Of course, contrarians may argue that everyone at sea level will have long since drowned by then from the rise in sea levels caused by melted antarctic ice caps. I have no argument to refute this, except to say, the apparent absence of a threat does not mean a threat is absent, and more research money is needed to test the veracity of it.)
CO2 Could Extend Life of Space Junk
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 12, 2006
Filed at 10:50 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Carbon dioxide emissions from global warming are cooling and shrinking the outermost atmosphere, keeping orbiting spacecraft airborne longer but also increasing the threat that space junk poses to satellites, scientists reported Monday.
In a signal of the wide-ranging impacts of climate change, the thinning of the thermosphere, which begins about 60 miles above Earth and extends up to 400 miles, reduces the drag on orbiting spacecraft but also extends the lifespan of space junk -- leftovers from space missions, old satellites, items astronauts lose during spacewalks and the like.
''It's a bit of a two-edged sword,'' said Stanley Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who presented the new results at an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Using a computer model, Solomon and his colleagues estimated that the air density of the outer atmosphere declined about 5 percent over the past three decades and could decrease 40 percent by the end of the century.
Knowledge of how the outer atmosphere responds to carbon dioxide levels could help NASA and international space agencies time their spacecraft launches and calculate their fuel needs.
Solomon said that a less dense outer atmosphere should not affect launches in the near term, but that it could be problematic in the future with the increase of space litter.
''In the long haul, it means we have to be even more assiduous about not letting miscellaneous pieces of metal float around,'' Solomon said.
Researchers have long predicted that carbon dioxide, produced when fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas are burned, would cool the outer atmosphere. Solomon's conclusions mirror previous research that predicted similar effects, including recent observations that measured the drag of satellites over time.
Robert Dickinson, a pioneer in the field and a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the latest work is unique because it looks at the effects of solar activity on the atmosphere. An active solar cycle could spawn magnetic storms that will be more severe and disruptive to communication systems.
''We're getting a more detailed description,'' said Dickinson, who had no role in the new study.
On the Net:
American Geophysical Union: http://www.agu.org/