March 2, 2006

"You either give up your cheap trips to Majorca, or you give up astronomy."

Astronomer freaks out about contrails.


john(classic) said...

An answer to global warming?

Wouldn't contrails increase the earth's albedo?

Ought we be promoting jets for hollywood stars?

MadisonMan said...

They do increase the albedo, but they also intercept outgoing radiation. There was a study done on the 3 days after 9/11 -- when air traffic was halted [looks around via google] -- ah.

it is.

It's not clear which effect would dominate.

Ricardo said...

Since PMI (Palma de Mallorca) is my favorite destination in the whole world, it's going to have to be astronomy. Anyway, what has astronomy done for us, lately?

Sigivald said...

Maybe our Astronomer pal should push for orbital or lunar observatories instead of whining about "exhaust trails and [unspecified, speculative] climate change".

After all, orbital or lunar astronomy is better than anything ground-based anyway.

(And "The timescale is based on extrapolating air traffic growth figures" ... and since the methodology and the details are not public, I'm just going to pre-emptively call it bullshit.

Further it seems pretty clear from the pictures and context that they're talking about ground astronomy... in Europe, not in, say, the Andes. Trips to Majorca don't leave contrails over the Andes, after all. Or the Canadian Rockies, say.

Shenaningans, I say.)

Anonymous said...

What is your definition of "freaks out"?

Seemed pretty reasonably stated to me. He doesn't seem to be ranting, nor having a temper tantrum, nor making threats, nor saying that you must give up your cheap trips to majorca. He apparently is leaving it as a choice for society.

So are you rebuting him, smearing him, just pointing out the problem, saying he is a bit over the top, or what?

J. Cricket said...

So are you rebuting him, smearing him, just pointing out the problem, saying he is a bit over the top, or what?

Being smarmy, dude. It's all about the smarminess.

Ann thinks that's cool!

Palladian said...

Well, Joseph W, I mean Jacques Cousteau, I mean Jack Straw (there are probably countless other names you use on here), you think Ann is fawning over this astronomer? That's what "smarmy" means, by the way. It seems to me she's just linking to an interesting article in her style. Contrary to quxxo (gee, that's an not a difficult position to occupy) I don't think Ann was making any kind of a judgment of this astronomer's statement.

I happen to think he's got a legitimate complaint. Even though projects like Hubble have proven the profound value of space-based astronomy, ground based astronomy is still highly important. It's a difficult problem of balance between science and the need for fast, cheap travel. I don't think they're mutually exclusive, but if so i'll side with the astronomer. But being someone who would take a train across the country to avoid the countless indignities and terrors involved in flying, perhaps I'm slightly biased.

Fatmouse said...

"cheap trips"

It's always "cheap" stuff that terrifies the holy environmental types, isn't it?

Cheap gas, cheap cars, cheap GM food, cheap land in the suburbs, cheap travel...

Darn it, if only we could raise taxes so things were more expensive, then only an elite few could jet around the world or have a big yard, while the rest of could all live in planned, efficient, soviet-style housing blocs and leave blessed mother earth untouched.

Gordon Freece said...

From the BBC article: upcoming observatory project called the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).

Ever since the Frightfully Big Telescope and the Really Rather Enormous Atom Smasher were axed due to budget constraints, I've been in a bit of a blue funk. But things are looking up!

Anonymous said...

Let's all give up technology and revert to living in caves. (Don't forget the mid-30's life expectancy.)

By the way, isn't Mallorca the den of iniquity these days? Or is it Ibiza?

Anonymous said...

I still think they're losing their touch. Or was Smashing Great Telescope already taken?

Gaius Arbo said...

Ah, the elitist luddite lament.....

pst314 said...


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. /Inego Montoya

Seriously, I don't know what Ann meant by "freaks out." Perhaps she was just having fun and didn't really mean anything by it. Perhaps we should ask her.

For myself, I remember how 50 years ago I could lie on the grass in our backyard in the middle of Milwaukee and pick out constellations while satellites crossed overhead. Now, sadly, this is virtually impossible due to increased light pollution, and I am very sorry to hear that ground-based astronomy may be lost for another reason.

Anonymous said...

Ann: Astronomer freaks out about contrails

Illudium-Q36: I don't think Ann was making any kind of a judgment of this astronomer's statement... I happen to think he's got a legitimate complaint.

Ha Ha! It's not for nothing that everyone calls you Illudium!

Chris O'Brien said...

I have enough to worry about as it about running out of resources, overpopulation and a new ice age.

Studies say we are supposed to see all those things by the 1990's. I hope I don't live to see it.