Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paul In Houston On Global Warming

In a comment to a post below, Paul in Houston made some intersting observations that I reports here:

Let’s try for some perspective, time-wise.

For those comfortable with the metric (S.I.) system, imagine a line about 4.6 kilometers long (a bit under 3 miles). That would represent the 4.6 billion year age of the Earth at 1,000,000 years/meter; 1 mm (about the thickness of a paper clip) would represent a THOUSAND years.

That line would span the downtown area of quite a few large cities, with some to spare. Here in Houston, the downtown streets are 16 to the mile, making their spacing about 100 meters. Thus, that line would be about 46 blocks.

The dinosaur’s reign ended around 65 million years ago (65 meters, about 2/3 of a city block down that line from today).

The first of our ancestors verging on intelligence may have emerged from 2 to 4 million years ago (2 to 4 meters, say 6.5 to 13 feet; your living room could be around 4 meters in one of its’ dimensions).

What we call “modern” man may go back 40,000 years or so (40 mm, TWO finger-widths on that line).

Written history goes back 6000 years (six millimeters, 1/4 inch on that line).

Fahrenheit’s thermometer is around 300 years old ( 0.3 mm, you’re approaching the thickness of a business card now).

The portion of that time-line during which precise temperature measurements were recorded would be literally microscopic.

And with that pitifully small database, we dare to make really long range climate predictions, and mandate actions based on them?

Well said.

1 comment:

Paul_In_Houston said...

I live about three miles west of some of Houston's major downtown buildings, so I could easily visualize that line.

Looking at that time-line of Earth's history (the universe's may be four times that), and the flyspeck of our own existence upon it, the idea of asserting that ANY science has "been settled" strikes me as arrogance beyond comprehension (as in "only a politician could possibly believe that").

Thank's, for elevating my comment. Like many, I have an ego, and occasionally it can stand a boost. :-)