Distortion in the Cosmos

This entry is part 47 of 47 in the series Blog1

It’s been a long time since Carl Sagan hosted the original Cosmos series, but I do recall that I enjoyed listening to him explain various scientific principles and facts.  I do not recall him as having an agenda to convert viewers to an agenda and only presenting one side of the story. He just presented his data and the audience could take or leave it.

One controversial issue he covered were the theories of Immanuel Velikovsky.  A lot of scientists hated the guy and did their best to silence him and ban his books.  Sagan was against this approach and confident enough in his thinking to stress that both sides should be presented.

Even though Neil deGrasse Tyson was a number one fan of Sagan he is no Sagan for his approach in teaching is much different. He specifically calls out believers in a creator and global warming skeptics and attempts to humiliate them.  Now Carl Sagan had a fairly atheistic view and was willing to debate believers, (Tyson will not debate) but as I recall he didn’t come across on his show as having an agenda.

Tyson does a good job of presenting reliable facts until he comes to an agenda item.  Then he makes erroneous statements and leaves out important details.

On his recent show “A World Set Free” he took on the one-sided cause of global warming.

He started his presentation by presenting a distorted view of the history of Venus. He gave his viewers the idea that Venus and Earth started out places of paradise and then something went “horribly wrong” with Venus.  It had huge increases of CO2 which heated it up to over 800 degrees F and made it into “a kind of hell.”

His insinuation was this. Venus and Earth were like sister planets starting out but Venus had the bad luck of releasing CO2 which ruined things and this could also be our fate if we do not switch to wind and solar.

Then he makes this outstanding statement:

“The surface is hotter than a broiling oven, hot enough to melt lead.

“Why? You might think it’s because Venus is 30% closer to the Sun than the Earth is, but that’s not the reason.”

If he had said “that’s not the total reason” then he could have claimed accuracy, but instead he totally discounted the fact that receives more heat from the sun than the earth.  How much more?  About twice as much. Take a look at the sun on a hot day and just ask yourself this.  If the sun was twice as hot, would I feel warmer?  If I doubled the heat in my oven would food cook faster? Duh … silly questions when you think of it, but Tyson implies that Venus receiving twice the heat as the earth has no effect.  He insinuates that the only thing that makes Venus hot is CO2.

Mercury is even closer to the Sun than Venus and has a negligible atmosphere and its surface temperature is also around 800 degrees F. Tyson cannot blame the heat there on CO2 but would have to admit it is caused by the extra solar radiation.

Here is another interesting thought.  The atmosphere of Venus at its surface is ninety times as dense as the earth.  In other words, if you were on the surface of Venus the pressure surrounding you would be like being 3000 feet under water on Earth.

But if we go upward about 30 miles we would arrive at an atmospheric density similar to that of the Earth, and get this.  The temperature is no longer boiling hot but actually a lot like of our planet.

How can this be when the atmosphere is 96.5% CO2.  Looks like we have the opposite of a greenhouse  effect with CO2 there experiencing more earthlike conditions.

Some facts of the matter not mentioned by Tyson are these.

Venus and earth evolved much differently for one primary reason and that is it is 30% closer to the Sun and receives twice the heat as does the Earth.  It’s composition and impact history is also different.

Billions of years ago when the Sun was not as hot as it is now and Venus probably had some water but its closeness to the sun, not CO2, was the primary reason for it’s water evaporating into space and the massive release of CO2 from its surface.

If Venus started out in the same orbit as the earth it would have wound up being much more earthlike today.

Tyson’s next major point is that levels of CO2 are increasing and humans are the main cause of this increase. This seems to be a scientifically sound premise accepted by all who have studied the science, including skeptics.

Then he says, “if we could see all that carbon dioxide, then we would overcome the denial and grasp the magnitude of our impact on the atmosphere.”

Unfortunately, global warming alarmists cannot talk about the subject without injecting something about those ephemeral deniers out there, and always without foundation.

Skeptics as myself do not deny any proven science of about global warming or greenhouse gasses.  We do not deny there has been an increase of CO2 caused by humans and we do not deny it has a warming effect.

We just have the sense to admit that the amount of warming effect of human released CO2 has not been proven.  Scientists who have studied the subject have guessed that the warming effect is anywhere from less than 1% to 120%.

After all, when you ascend on Venus until you get to the same atmospheric pressure as the Earth’s surface, about 30 miles from the surface, the amount of CO2 is still 2400 times more in quantity than on the earth, yet the temperature is fairly cool like earth.  So we have an example of an area (Venus’ upper atmosphere) where CO2 (in an atmospheric pressure as on earth) is fairly cool, even though the concentration is 2400 times as much as exists here. You’d think that with the extra solar radiation and the high concentration of CO2 that it would be a lot warmer, but it’s not.  This indicates that scientists may be giving too much weight to the greenhouse effect of CO2.

It is also interesting that when we go higher in our atmosphere it becomes cooler to a point and then starts getting warmer.  The upper atmosphere, the Thermosphere, reaches temperatures of over 3600 degrees F. This is accomplished without the greenhouse effect of CO2.

Next, he says it has been getting warmer since 1880 and shows a graphic that makes it look like the earth has been exploding with heat since 1880. He left out the simple fact that since 1880 the earth has only warmed a mere .85 degrees C, according to the IPCC. Many would argue that this slight increase worldwide is a more desirable normal than what we had in 1880.

Not Tyson though.  He looks back at that time and says, “Once there was a world that was not too hot and not too cold. It was just right.”

“Just right”? Give me a break. Weather has always been composed of the good and the bad.  We’ve always had hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, dustbowls and all kinds of bad weather come and go. It is warmer where I live than when I was a kid and I like it much better. To me the weather we have now is just right.

Fast forward a bit and Tyson says, “Weather is hard to predict, like my friend here, but climate is predictable.”

This statement is just not true and not proven by history. Since 1983 95% of the warming predictions by climate scientists have been wrong.  Check out this chart.  LINK

That’s about as accurate as a stopped clock twice a day being right, and certainly not evidence that climate can be predicted with present programming.

Later he says, “We might be tipping the climate past a point of no return into an unpredictable slide.”

There is no evidence that this is a correct statement, but there is evidence to the contrary.  In the past we have had over eight times the concentration of CO2 as we have today and no tipping point was reached.  The earth didn’t turn into an unlivable hell as happened to Venus.

Now that Tyson has presented the problem we face with global warming, he also presents a solution. The solution he presents is wind and solar. This seems kind of odd, especially taking into consideration that he is a renowned scientist. One of the greatest technological advances that combats global warming has been nuclear energy. The latest generation of reactors are very safe so you’d think he would make a plug for them. Solar and wind cannot presently replace coal and natural gas generation because the wind doesn’t blow all the time and neither does the sun shine day and night. Wind and solar energy that is accumulated has to be backed up with some type of battery system and we don’t have the technology for that yet.

In addition to this, a lot of research being done on nuclear fusion which should be a lot less controversial and could power the world.  The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is being constructed at a cost of over $20 billion by the international community and is expected to be producing power by 2027. There should be virtually zero dangerous waste involved. If successful this could provide unlimited clean power for the world.


The thing that is overlooked by many who think the sky is falling with global warming is that skeptics such as myself support the idea of clean energy and when it becomes available at a reasonable cost we will be happy to buy it. There is a lot of innovation being done on new sources of energy and we’re going to see some tremendous advances made in the next 50 years. If the governments of the world will just stay out of the way of entrepreneurs we will naturally switch over to several types of renewable energy within a fairly short period of time. We don’t have to take drastic measures that have the potential of destroying the economy. Destroying the economy would be the worst thing that could happen for the environment for it could set back innovation of new energy systems for decades or even centuries. The best hope for low carbon emissions of the future is to merely trust and unleash the genius that lies in the human spirit.


Copyright 2014 by J J Dewey

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