Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Unintended Consequences

Let's assume, just for a moment, that global warming is a real, immediate threat, and that one of the symptoms is that the glaciers are melting (yes, yes, I know, "There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years", just pretend for a moment that there is).

Swiss wrap glacier to slow ice melt: "The fleece-like material, hard to distinguish with the naked eye from snow, will reflect the rays of the sun."

Presumably, it will reflect the rays of the sun more effectively than snow itself would. The goal, apparently, is to prevent the glacier from melting by reflecting away the heat from the sun.

That means that the latent heat energy that would otherwise have been absorbed by the process of melting the ice and snow of the glacier, transforming it from solid to liquid state while keeping its temperature constant, will instead be reflected into the air...

...where it will raise the temperature of the atmosphere, thereby exacerbating the problem of global warming.

Isn't it the environmentalists who keep going on and on about the precautionary principle? It's the First Law of Thermodynamics, folks: Just because that energy doesn't melt your precious glacier, doesn't mean it quietly ceases to exist.

No comments: