Thursday, 31 May 2007
Among those scientists dabbling in the global warming field, at least one was interested in the heating effect of those vapor trails made by airplanes high up. The big problem was that those trails were there every day, thus it was impossible to make a comparison between a sky with them and a sky without them.
Then happened September 11, 2001. During three days all commercial air traffic was shut down as the consequence of Al Qaida's attack on the Twin Towers in New York.
Three days without those contrails in the sky and our scientist went busy checking the daily temperature all over the USA and comparing them with normal days.
The result was truly appalling. No vapor trails for three days and the average diurnal temp went up 1°C. For a meteorologist that is a huge difference.
As always in science and elsewhere: you find something new and all those other ones who "know" told him that he had a bee in his bonnet. But the finding was made and confirmed by observations measuring the sun light hitting the earth's surface. Yes, there was a clear drop between the sixties and now.
A new word was coined: global dimming.
The meaning of all this is only too clear. Global warming due to pollution would be much higher down here if we hadn't had the good idea to increase at the same time, by other pollutants, the clouds sailing overhead. In other words: clear skies, less global dimming, and whamm, our temp down here goes up.
If we don't do something radical, and do it fast, to decrease global warming, our good old planet might be doomed. Not for the insects and for the deep sea fish, but most certainly for us. We have to decrease first the warming effect and then, a little later, the global dimming. Otherwise, it appears, we might reach temperatures here on earth we did not have for some billion years.
Let's hope our dear leaders do something about it NOW and not only when the first refugees from the flooded coastal areas stream inland to find a dry spot.
Interesting times ahead.
Monday, 14 May 2007
Yesterday, heavy sunshine and a moderate north-easterly wind. The ideal conditions to go for a little flight in Monceaux, just above the river Dordogne.
Those of you who never had a flight in a paraglider do ignore one of the greatest pleasures live can give you. And so I was gliding at moderate speed just three or four meters above the treetops. Seen from above, those treetops look sometimes like broccoli. Then comes a sudden gust of wind and up you go. It's like stepping into a high speed lift but stout hearts hearts are needed here. Because you step into that lift without any forewarning. So up you go, the launching pad you left just five minutes ago becomes small and smaller, same for the broccoli trees under your feet.
To my left, I see a hanglider, that is Bernard, an experienced pilot. He knows what he is doing, anytime. But a little bit under him I see another paraglider circling around to go up in the warm air. I have to keep an eye on him, all the time. Because the idea is to hid the same thermal without being too near.
Meanwhile, we are five pilots in the air. Going up and down, circling up, gliding down. A kind of air ballet dance, in complete silence, only the slight whine of the kevlar ropes linking the canopy to the glider seat.
However, all good things have an end. Here it is the wind dying out and a big cloud masking the sun thus stopping the hot air going up. So I go down, prepare for landing on the other side of the Dordogne. Circling over the river, I see two canoes. I yell at them and they answer joyfully by giving a sign with their hands.
Near the landing pad is a big oak tree and there I see leaving that damned buzzard, my personal enemy. He is already gaining height yelling or screeching while approaching from above. Now he is above my canopy, I still hear him but cannot see the bird anymore. I imagine him diving on the paraglider, yelling, claws ready. Or is it his beak? What can I do? I yell, too, as loud as I can, making little moves with the glider.
Stupid buzzard leaves me and I imagine he returns to his nest in the oak tree. There he tells his wife and birdies how he is protecting them against those predating colored plastic birds.
Back on the ground I inspect the works of Mr. Buzzard. Three holes this time. Knowing him, I have some patches ready. Last time he made fives holes. And my previous glider had fifteen at all. Mister B suffers certainly from slight attacks of paranoia, especially at spring time. A visit to Doctor Freud should do him a world of good.
Friday, 4 May 2007
Have a look at this photo. It shows the winged goddess of victory, Nike of Samothrace. The original stands in the Louvre museum in Paris. This splendid stature of 2 1/2 meter high was created to celebrate a naval victory in the Mediterranean, about 2200 years ago.
There is however something amiss. Today, nobody knows for sure who was fighting whom and for what reason.
Imagine a time when the Waterloo battle of 1815 that ended Napoleon's rule in Europe is more or less forgotten. Or the battle of Stalingrad 1942/43 that marked the turning point of the Second World War. Could this be? Could this happen?
Those old civilizations two thousand years ago had the good idea to carve some messages on stone. But we, what do we do? Our contemporary paper and print is of so low quality that it disappears in about hundred years. The first movies, turned about a century ago, are chemically so instable that they rot away, or just burn. Let's not talk about the magnetic tapes: even today, we cannot read them if they are older than 15 years. And those DVD's, CD-ROM's, their life is estimated at 50 years but in reality, nobody knows for sure how long they are able to keep the data.
Quite possible that in 2000 years from now, our big, loud civilization is utterly forgotten. Maybe, the archaeologists will go through our junk heaps - armed with a tooth brush of old - and unearth some broken coca-cola-bottle or a frying pen made of stainless steel. I wonder what that will tell them about us. Certainly nothing about Waterloo or the Abba-Group of Sweden.
Interesting times ahead.