Thursday, March 01, 2007

Captain Planet's alter ego-- Al Gore

As I procrastinate tonight and put off studying Latin (did you know that the word procrastinate comes from the Latin word "cras" which means tomorrow?), I want to offer some deep thoughts:

1) You may think you're studying while listening to John Coltrane, but you aren't. You are lost in the Coltrane.


2) Captain Planet was an agenda driven, green mulleted, Al Gore superhero. For some reason it just hit me today that I could recall an episode in which Captain Planet stopped a group of "evil scientists" from conducting experiments on sheep in which they tested the ability of sheep to adjust to rising temperatures and more intense UV rays. Why were they doing these "dastardly" experiments? Because as we all know the ozone layer has a hole which evil people started and will continue to increase and because our global warming crisis is caused by evil people who don't care about anything other than burning fossil fuels just for the hell of it.

As it turns out, the hole that would give us all cancer wasn't possible:

"Well, what about that Antarctic "ozone hole?" First of all, it isn't a "hole." The "ozone hole" is a temporary, chlorine- enhanced thinning of the O3 layer over Antarctica during our (northern) autumn months. It requires the following meteorological ingredients: (a) a lengthy polar "night" -- i. e., a prolonged absence of UV radiation. This allows (b) the buildup of chlorinated compounds, unmolested by UV, in the (c) "polar vortex" -- a vast, self-contained whirlpool of air over the Antarctic region. The vortex largely isolates polar air from mixing with air outside the region, thus diluting the chlorine concentrations.

Now add (d) super-cold, high-altitude temperatures, which causes ice clouds to form in the stratosphere. The ice crystals provide surfaces upon which chemical reactions between chlorine and ozone can take place much more rapidly and efficiently than by mere mixing in the air. Finally, add (e) the sudden appearance of the sun after the long polar night. This adds high levels of UV to the chemical soup, which breaks down chlorine compounds into their constituent elements -- such as highly reactive chlorine monoxide. The chlorine monoxide -- not the CFCs themselves -- then reacts on the surfaces of the ice crystals with ozone molecules, breaking them down.

A few weeks later, as the polar weather changes, the vortex breaks up, allowing the infusion of outside air into this chemical "soup" -- and soon, all the reactions stop. Ozone is then rapidly and naturally replenished by solar UV action on oxygen, and the "ozone hole" quickly refills.

If ANY of these ingredients are absent, you won't have ozone depletion. And the ONLY place that has them all is Antarctica. Even the Arctic region does not have as well-defined and isolated a vortex, because mountains there break it up. Nor do the stratospheric temperatures there get as cold...which means you don't get an abundance of ice crystals to act as a catalyst for accelerating the chemical reactions."

And as for the global warming issue, well I guess we'll see how long that will stay on the agenda I suppose. I'll let it go with this statement from an NAS scientist after the release of their 2001 report on climate change:

"One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing; change is the norm. Two centuries ago, much of the Northern Hemisphere was emerging from a little ice age. A millennium ago, during the Middle Ages, the same region was in a warm period. Thirty years ago, we were concerned with global cooling."


3) " Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind."

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