Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Science

Global Warming Mostly Confirmed - On Mars 325

Posted by Hemos
from the balmy-times-by-the-mons dept.
dinotrac writes "A just-completed 23 month study, carried out over the course of a Martian year, found that the Martian polar ice caps are rapidly eroding, sending large amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the Martian atmosphere. If this pattern continues over time, Mars could go from a planet whose winters are cold enough for dry-ice snow to having a shirt sleeve atmosphere. Humans would still have to provide for oxygen, but plants could go naked. I wonder if this means tougher emission controls on the next Martian rover?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Global Warming Mostly Confirmed - On Mars

Comments Filter:
  • by onion2k (203094) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:25AM (#2670277) Homepage
    ..tougher emission controls on the next Martian rover..

    They have dogs there? So, emission controls like 'Don't crap of the Martian face' are needed?

  • Well, considering that those of us in the Boston area just had record-breaking 70 degree temps in the first week of December, we should make plans to colonize Mars before the weather there gets any worse.
    But hey, don't worry, global warming (be it a natural cycle in the global ecosystem, a condition caused by man's encroachment on the carbon sinks of the planet, depletion of the ozone layer, of just plain bad luck) isn't anything to worry about. Just think of it as an extra reason to work on your tan.
    • Well, global warming might be kicking in in Boston, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like it in Saskatoon (it was -27 C last night). But that's what I get for living in Canada...On the upside, getting up at the crack of dawn isn't so hard when dawn comes at 9am.
  • by taliver (174409) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:28AM (#2670284)
    We must stop polluting the martian atmosphere! It's all man's fault! Damn those fossil fuels!

    Oh wait, it's not man's fault.

    Hmm. I wonder if we would pause to look at man's contribution to our own "global warming." Maybe we aren't as significant as we think.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:54AM (#2670367)
      Everyone warned the President what would happen if the US didn't sign on to the Kyoto Protocols.

      And it's happening as we speak.

      On Mars.

      Damn you Bush! Damn you!
    • <stupidity>
      You're right, maybe we aren't!!!!
      Let's quickly burn all fossile fuels and find out!!
      </stupidity>

      It can't hurt to cut down on CO2 emission, even if it's not the 100% cause of global warming.
      But if it turns out that it was the influence of man, there won't be an 'undo' button!
      • by roystgnr (4015) <roystgnr@t[ ]m.utexas.edu ['ica' in gap]> on Friday December 07, 2001 @11:42AM (#2670825) Homepage
        It can't hurt to cut down on CO2 emission, even if it's not the 100% cause of global warming.

        Yes it can. It can remove cheap energy and transportation sources for billions of people, maintaining or increasing rates of poverty and starvation around the globe.

        But if it turns out that it was the influence of man, there won't be an 'undo' button!

        Yes, there will. The "undo" button will be to reduce CO2 emissions after we've proven that they are a problem, and watch them fall back to equilibrium. We haven't passed some invisible "point of no return"; the Earth isn't currently the hottest it's been this millenium, much less the hottest ever.
        • by pgpckt (312866) on Friday December 07, 2001 @12:12PM (#2671017) Homepage Journal
          the Earth isn't currently the hottest it's been this millenium, much less the hottest ever.

          Hate to disagree, but it is the year 2001, making this millenium currently in its first year. Therefore, the temperatures being recorded now for this year are by definition the hottest of the millenium (and coldest too).
        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2001 @12:25PM (#2671093)
          >Yes it can. It can remove cheap energy and transportation sources for billions of people, maintaining or increasing rates of poverty and starvation around the globe.

          I am always amazed at the short-sightedness of ppl. These ppl are already starving and inputing more energy will NOT imporve the situatation. Energy will NEVER be cheap again except for short durations. It will be in russia's interest to raise the price again and they will do so. OTH,had we passed Kyoto, then ppl (ecpecially USA) would have started working on increasing our efficiencient useage of energy as well as a conversion to something else. Segway is certainly interesting as would be the Highspeedmonorail.com. Personally, I think that as a society, that we are very short sighted. Oil has better uses than as energy. Think about all the plastics and pharmaceuticals that we use.

          >Yes, there will. The "undo" button will be to reduce CO2 emissions after...

          This is also an unknown. Somebody mentioned useing iron in the oceans. This may have the side affect of introducing red-bloom killing all life. Any number of actions that we take may actually introduce a number of side-effects that cuase more problems than they solve. Saying that we can do something on a QUICK global scale is truley the unknown and the ultimate in hubris.

          Back on Topic, is Mars undergoing global warming? almost certainly it is. Just as earth is. The difference is that earth is suppose to be heading for ice age, if billions of years can be beleived. Mars will almost certainly head back as well unless we step in and perhaps cuase more sublimation of co2. Once we get there (most certainly not with the idiot that is in office) and look over the planet, I hope that we use some mirrors over the poles to keep the process going.
          • Back on Topic, is Mars undergoing global warming? almost certainly it is. Just as earth is. The difference is that earth is suppose to be heading for ice age, if billions of years can be beleived.

            Let me start by saying that I tend to agree with the rest of your post (maybe a few nit-picking details, but we seem to think more or less the same). But this point...

            From what I understand, we are still coming out of the last ice age, not heading into another. Now, I may be wrong, but I'd appreciate being corrected on this one (as, I'm sure, would many of my past college professors who told me this).

            Is the earth getting warmer? undoubtedly. But, if the earth is still coming out of the last ice age, shouldn't it be getting warmer? Just a thought.


          • >Energy will NEVER be cheap again except for short durations

            Predicitions of "never" are made to be broken. What intrinsic property does this energy-thingy have that there can't be a larger supply versus demand? Your statement is simply silly.

            C//
          • >Yes, there will. The "undo" button will be to reduce CO2 emissions after...

            This is also an unknown. Somebody mentioned useing iron in the oceans. This may have the side affect of introducing red-bloom killing all life. Any number of actions that we take may actually introduce a number of side-effects that cuase more problems than they solve. Saying that we can do something on a QUICK global scale is truley the unknown and the ultimate in hubris.


            Have you heard of plant life? Photosynthesis consumes CO2 and releases oxygen. And plant life, being far older than animal life, can survive any temperature change that's occured in the last many many millions of years, which far exceeds green house effects.

            Left to itself, life will move toward equilibrium. Fears about the ecosystem being fragile make no sense. If it were fragile, would it even be here?
          • Energy will NEVER be cheap again except for short duration

            Maybe not as cheap as some greenpeace slut but damn close. If you fucking hippies hadn't derailed significant fission/fusion research by the fearmongering you did in the 60's, 70's and 80's (toked out of your gourds, I might add) we would never of had the sort of "perpetual" energy crisis whenever some fat cat wants to milk more money out of the populace. Congratfuckulations on giving the coal power plants the current lead in producing most of the electricity in the US, 40%

            Also, stop destroying [infoshop.org] research that could actually feed the starving peoples of the world, because millenia of organic food certainly has not. The only fucks that can afford to stuff their faces with organic food are you and other people in industrilized nations. I feel a lot better giving a people a genitically engineered crop that does not need pesticides than some hippy tuber that will rot in the ground unless you dump tons of biotoxins on it.

            Stay the fuck clear out of things you do not understand, hippy. Good day.

        • Yes, there will. The "undo" button will be to reduce CO2 emissions after we've proven that they are a problem, and watch them fall back to equilibrium.

          No, there will not. Look at venus, you know how it looks like? Well not much life there, but actually it's really that not much nearer to the sun than earth. Venus is in reality the sister planet of earth, nearly same weight, nearly same concentration of raw materials.

          In the early astronomie people believed atmosphere on the venus would be actually 40-50 hotter than on earth. And calculated naive from the additional amount of sun hitting it this would be correct.

          Now how it comes that it is so different to earth? Having Tousends of degrees on surface?

          Well fact is today we believe that venus and earth were once really nearly the same. Both had water, and good conditions for life to be created. However venus was somewhat closer to sun, so a the atmosphere was really quite some bit hotter. say 40 degrees. Now from this temprature the oceans evaporate a bit more. Note that CO2 is not the only hothouse gas we know of. H2O is also one, normally just clearing itself fast through rain, but having a hotter base temprature you have more H20 in the atmosphere, which in turn is a hothouse gas, incresaing atmosphere tempreature, which in turn will result into more H2o to volatilize. Which in turn will increase tempreature. Until slowly after some time (maybe years) you hit 100 the death point. At this point the ocean will boil and making suddendly a perfect hothouse. Temprature will rocket upwards. Until some other materials begin to vaporize, until you reach a point where metals will start to enter gas form, again adding hothouse effects to the atmosphere, but I guess no life will worry then about this. Then you've venus.

          Earth atmosphere is not self stabiliziting after it crosses a certain point, it is self destructiong. (with tempreature the negative (stabilizing) feedback gets weaker and weaker and a some point turns into a positive, thats the point of no return. Now the problem is we don't know our atmosphere/ocean system in detail, and we cannot really predict where this point will be.

          the Earth isn't currently the hottest it's been this millenium, much less the hottest ever.

          That is partly true if you consider the last millenium :) But it is prooven from ice atmospheric bubbles in ice enclosions (from south pole) that since the whole existence of mankind there was never as much CO2 in the atmosphere than we've currently, and we're still blowing more into it at a rate that has never been there before.

          The earth system is nothing to play with, and look what will happen. We should have learned in the last 200 years that ecologic systems can be very delicate, and relatively easily been tipped off / brought to struggle.
          • But it is prooven from ice atmospheric bubbles in ice enclosions (from south pole) that since the whole existence of mankind there was never as much CO2 in the atmosphere than we've currently, and we're still blowing more into it at a rate that has never been there before.

            This statement is misleading. Since the existence of man, yes. In the history of the planet, No! C02 levels have been at least 10 TIMES current levels since the advent of life. IIRC, this is the value reported at the time of the Paleozoic/Mesozoic boundary. On the down side it also correlates well with one of the greatest mass extinctions in the history of the Earth.

            Would doing that over again be a bad thing? Yes, I'm sure it would, but you'll also notice that it didn't cause runaway greenhouse and produce a planet like Venus.

            While I agree with your post in general, I doubt we are anywhere near bringing on the end of the Earth. However, we probably could muck up our ecosystem pretty badly with global warming and that is probably worth avoiding.
        • Wow. A whole slew of fallacies all in one sentence.

          It can remove cheap energy and transportation sources for billions of people, maintaining or increasing rates of poverty and starvation around the globe.


          Burning fossil fuels isn't cheap. At best, you'll notice that the price of gasoline is pretty high per unit of energy obtained. Also, burning gasoline is hardly the most efficient method of extracting the energy from it. And burning it is also not the most efficient method of changing the energy into something useful. Most of the energy contained in gasoline is wasted as heat. As an added bonus, the mining, extraction, and refining of gasoline from petroleum is a complicated and expensive process.

          The machines that allow us to exploit the energy released by burning gasoline are also not cheap. In fact, they are horribly expensive. When you bought your last car, did you already have the money you needed in the bank, or did you have to borrow that money? And when you take into consideration that you belong to the wealthiest 10% of the world's population, where does that leave the other 90%? If you didn't have the cash to buy this piece of machinery, what does that mean for everyone else?

          I have news for you. We've had fossil fuels for a "cheap" source of energy for the past 150 years, and it hasn't done the world's poor a good goddamn bit of good. If anything, it's perpetuated empires that have stomped the world's poor into the dust.
          • Burning fossil fuels isn't cheap.

            I'm going to be traveling ~600 miles back home in a few weeks using $30 of jet fuel. My last trip of that length sucked up $20 of gasoline. If you can think of a way for me to pull off $10 with solar power, I'd like to hear it.

            We've had fossil fuels for a "cheap" source of energy for the past 150 years, and it hasn't done the world's poor a good goddamn bit of good.

            Actually, it's increased the standard of living exponentially everywhere the industrial revolution hit, even in the face of a world population that has increased 10-fold in that time. Pretty sweet deal, huh?
      • Can't hurt? No undo? Bulls**t.

        Cutting down on CO2 the way GreenPeace wants to do it (i.e. by limiting emmissions and thereby limiting economic activity) will kill our already weak economy. It's a typical socialist non-solution by people who hate our modern world anyway. Besides, it is still very arguable that CO2 levels (or changes thereof) have nothing with human activity (or are drowned out by natural carbon-cycle processes, which is saying the same thing).

        Besides, there are ways to deal with excess carbon dioxide that don't involve economic sucide, including the excellent idea of putting iron into the ocean [whoi.edu]. Sounds like an "undo" to me. If we ever need it. (Actually we may do it anyway for fish-farming reasons - in which case the chicken-little's of the world will start screaming about the coming ice age, like they used to before they got on the "global warming" band wagon. Always gotta have a crisis...)

    • Maybe we aren't as significant as we think.

      Maybe not, but maybe the two planets are too different to meaningfully compare in this situation.

      Or maybe the same thing has happened on Earth already, and we're causing it to happen again, with potentially disastrous effects.

      Or maybe, the same thing is happening on Earth, and life as it currently exists is doomed with or without us, but we've cut the timeframe down from millenia to decades.

      Whatever, in the case of Mars, it's actually pretty cool if it helps to get the planet terraformed.

      Cheers,

      Tim
      • Or maybe, we're experiencing the cyclical changes on temperature / weather that we know has occurred on earth since the beginning of time. I'm sure that if we were around during the beginning of an ice age, we would've freaked out then too. Probably would've been told by our global governments to go start fires etc... to try to warm things up since we must've obviously done something to cause this extreme cold to happen. Who knows? We've always had a need to explain *why* things happen, and more recently to try to affect change to keep them from happening. The difference as I see it, is that we now have sensitive equipment to monitor even small climatological changes. Makes it much easier for us to all suffer from "Chicken Little Syndrome". Or, maybe I'm just stoned :)

    • Yet, common sense in handling the environment
      seems as much a best practice as common sense in software design.
      The goal is to avoid the extremes of the Luddites and these SUV twits
      who will not be satisfied until their chariot is the size of that Sand Crawler thing in Star Wars.
    • by RevAaron (125240) <revaaron@h o t m a il.com> on Friday December 07, 2001 @12:37PM (#2671149) Homepage
      Yay! Another uninformed know-it-all!

      There is no scientific debate about whether or not global warming (on earth) is occuring. We have global average temperatures for a 150 years. This data shows a clear warming trend over the last 12 years or so. No amount of wishful ignorance can make these numbers go away.

      The debate is whether or not we are causing it. However, the ignorant often group them, which parallels the debate around evolution. People say that they don't "believe" evolution happens, when scientists have observed it happening. The scientific debate is over natural selection, and to what extent it is the main mechanism for evolution.

      As long as people perpetuate inane talking-heads style opinion over scientific fact, our populus will remain ignorant. Which is to say, will always be the case.
  • This would be ideal. When temperatures get into the correct range, we could likely start placing algae or some other similar plant onto the surface to terraform it.
    • I see alot of problems.

      Not only the lack of oxygen, but also the amount of CO2 required to keep mars warm might be rather higher than that on earth.

      This could lead to alot of problems - high CO2 levels are quite toxic. For the uninitiated, I suggest you see Apollo 13 from your local video store. Just having oxygen alone won't keep you alive.

      Michael
      • Re:Perfect! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BLAMM! (301082)
        I see another problem.
        The article mentioned that this changing is happening rapidly. Well, its had the past few eons to make this change. Why now? And what makes anyone think this will be permanant? The only thing that doesn't change is change itself. I find it highly unlikely that this will give Earthlings the chance to start setting up trailerparks around Olympus Mons. I find much more likely that any change will just give us another obstacle to colonizing rather than giving us an advantage.
        I'd give this argument more thought, but I've got work to do. :)
  • The first step for terraforming mars is to increase the greenhouse effect. So if it's already occuring, it will help us go a little faster in the very slow process of terraforming mars. Just don't expect to breath the martian atmosphere in your lifetime ;)
    • I always thought that the gravity on Mars was low enought that the atmosphere just leaked away. So the erosion of the Ice Caps might not do enough to do the job.

      Isn't water vapor a Green House Gas(tm)? Recent reports are that Mars once had very large oceans. I see that Mars is a frigid, very dry desert these days. So the gas leakage problem may be a very big problem in planetary engineering.

      The only possible fix would be a constant inflow of water and other resources to replace those that are being lost. Terraformiong wouod have to include a rain of very smal icy comets to allow for more water in the atmosphere, etc.

      In a Way, I would be kinda cool to be there for the first rainfall on Mars in millions of years.

      • I always thought that the gravity on Mars was low enought that the atmosphere just leaked away. So the erosion of the Ice Caps might not do enough to do the job.

        See, that's my intuition as well. I wonder if there has been some obscure work done in this area explaining why this did not happen. Anyhow, here's a cool paper I dug up with a google search.

        http://www.sfwa.org/members/Nordley/Gravity.pdf

        -l

      • by Spamalamadingdong (323207) on Friday December 07, 2001 @11:43AM (#2670827) Homepage Journal
        Photodissociation of water may have released a lot of Martian hydrogen to leak away (the very high proportion of deuterium in Martian water compared to Earth's strongly argues for this), but the oxygen and whatnot are too heavy for much to escape that way. The only place for them to have gone is down.

        This means that the oxygen, nitrogen and carbon are probably in the soil. This would explain why Mars is so red (all that oxidized iron) and why the atmosphere is so rarefied (most of the gases are tied up as permafrost, adsorbed gas or chemical compounds like nitrates). It also means that the right kind of change can release them and make them into a thick atmosphere again.

        Bob Zubrin of the Mars Society has written that we could start what would probably be a substantial greenhouse effect on Mars with only a few million tons of greenhouse gases (such as sulfur hexafluoride and methane) per year. This is the output of one large-scale industrial plant. Once you start heating the soil the adsorbed gases come out and the permafrost melts, leading to more warming and more gas release. Once you've got 200 millibars of atmosphere you can walk around outside with nothing fancier than a heavy parka and an oxygen mask. That's not bad for a planet that's currently an iceball with 7 millibars of fire-extinguisher contents for "air".

      • by dragons_flight (515217) on Friday December 07, 2001 @03:27PM (#2672114) Homepage
        I always thought that the gravity on Mars was low enought that the atmosphere just leaked away.

        The escape velocity at the surface of Mars is only a little less than 1/2 of what it is at the surface of the earth. The thermal velocity of a particle scales with the square root of temperature. Hence a gas particle on Mars would only have to be a fourth as hot as it's Earth bound cousin in order to escape.

        Now the particle has to not only be hot, but also have enough room to move that it can get away into space without hitting other gases and cooling off. This isn't really a problem since light molecules naturally drift to the higher levels, and in the case of Mars, it's pretty rarified air to begin with. Atmospheres (in the inner planets) drop off dramatically in the scale of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, whereas the planet is several 100,000s of kilometers in radius, so being high in the atmosphere only cuts a few percent off of escape velocity.

        Now the real problem here is when you look at the numbers. On Earth, H2 and He won't escape at room temperature. In fact, they have to be heated to between 10 and 100 times room temperature (Kelvin Scale) in order to escape. We assume that cosmic rays, solar wind, and other atmospheric phenomena can give this much energy to an appreciable percentage of H2 and He so that non-neglible amounts bleed away into space. In any case it's not a very fast process at current.

        N2 and O2, being 7 and 8 times the mass of He would have to be heated to 7 and 8 times as hot as He to escape. Given the historic composition of the atmosphere on Earth we can assume that this degree of heating is rare enough to have a pretty neglible impact on atmospheric composition.
        However, if you have a considerable incidence of unshielded ionizing radiation then single atoms of N and O might be present in significant quanities and would need only 3.5 and 4 times the temperature of He's escape.

        As I said, in the beggining, on Mars you can escape while being only 1/4 the escape temperature on Earth. So, yes, it is possible that ionizing radiation produces enough atomic N and O that an appreciable portion of it can escape into space. Temperatures may even be high enough to bleed of non-trivial quantities of N2 and O2 from Mars, but remember it's still a rare event since the temperatures needed are well about the surface temperature and little of the air will ever get hot enough. Could this alone account for the thin martian atmosphere? Probably not. More likely the dominant phenonema involves gases being absorbed into rocks and mineral deposits.

        On one final note, thermal differentiation of atmospheric composition was probably most important early in the life of the solar system when the sun was significantly hotter. What is around today isn't likely to change much by virtue of bleeding gases into space.
  • If we can find plants that can survive in the Martian atmosphere then we may be able to make Mars livable for humans. The plants would produce oxygen for us humans to breathe. I don't know how much time it would take (that would depend on the photosynthisis rate of the plants) but eventually they should produce enough oxygen to make Mars habitable. Now we just need to lobby NASA to increase the frequency of missions. Terraforming takes a long time, the sooner we start the sooner the planet will be habitable.
    • I am not so sure about this. Plants need more than just some oxygen. First of all I don't know about the soil on mars. You will also need Nitrates in the ground and I am not sure about them. So you would need Nitrogen in the atmosphere and again, that will not increase just by melting the ice on Mars.
    • Well, if the earth was full and our growth rate was still like 3-4%, we would fill up mars in about 20 years. Go bacteria!
    • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:57AM (#2670372) Homepage Journal
      Um, yeah, well....

      Plants are great, but they don't generate new oxygen, they just recycle the old stuff. If you start with 10^100 moles of CO2 and 10^100 moles of H2O, that works out to, 2*10^100 moles of C, 2*10^100 moles of H and 3*10^100 moles of O (1.5*10^100 moles of O2), right? So, all you need to do is:

      a) find a massive source of CO2 (in the gigaton range, to start with) that will give you something close to earth atmospheric pressure
      b) find a massive source of water (in the petaton range, to start with) to help with the atmospherics and the temperature stabilization
      c) increase a and b to account for losses due to soil mineralization of the O
      d) find a lichen that will grow (and reproduce) on Mars

      oh yeah,

      e) find some way to stimulate some plate tectonics to recycle the minerals and crack the O off the Fe in the crust (this is a long term goal, though)
      • For a), b), and c) I like the idea of using asteroids. You might need to use the ones out beyond Jupiter, though, to get the right mix of atoms. Then d) should be no problem, though I'm not sure that one shouldn't start with straight algae (cyanobacteria). I wonder if the asteroid crashes might not warm things up enough to also solve e).

        Of course, this is probably a quite inefficient approach. Space Habitats are probably a better solution. Mars is already small enough for a skyhook, so it could just be disassembled into orbit, and extruded as a long tube, perhaps a mile through. I don't know how thick the walls would need to be, but I envision it as being wrapped into a helix, with quite cables and springs to maintain it's organization. This would be assembled at the Lagrange point between the sun and Mars, and extend sideways in both directions. It could even rotate to supply gravity (I wonder what the radius of the helix should be if the tube it was composed of was a mile in radiux?

        This process would take a lot of solar power (mirrors, not solar cells) for things like melting rock, etc. But the first results would appear a lot sooner. One could even start with Diemos and Phobos, unless one of those would make a better anchor for the upper end of the skyhook. (A problem... the skyhook would need to emit a cable from it's upperend that extended upwards. Could it be made to stretch as far the the Lagrange point without breaking things? Could it be chopped off at that point, and still allow for unlimited uploads of mass (given the power)?

        The idea would be that disassembling Mars was not the goal of the process, but merely that the intention was to use the entire mass of Mars as materials for building the environment. Eventually it might be possible to extend a tube all the way back to earth.

        N.B.: Rapid transit in this system is via ballistic elevators (probably) within the tube system. Electro-magnetic catapults would start, accelerate, decellerate, trim, and halt the elevator capsule. Etc. Heating is with solar mirrors, cooling is with sun shades, power is with solar cells, etc. Lots of work to build, but quite an impressive amount of living space, and with a potentially quite nice environment. It depends on the design of the tube. Remember, since the tube is coiled into a helix, and it's the helix that's rotating, only one side of the tube will be "down", and it will always be the same side. Part of the upper half would be used for air conditioning, power, communications, plumbing, etc. (Presumably sewage would be handled beneath one's feet.) This would give one a sky that was, perhaps, half a mile up or more. And skyscrapers could go from bottom to top, as they would be supported at the top as well as at the bottom. I'm not sure what the gravity should be. That would need to be decided by experiment (and, of course, but the strength of materials), but probably about 75% of normal would be good. And one would need sufficient margins of safety. ...

        So I'm not sure that terraforming Mars is the right choice.
        .
    • Isn't atmospheric pressure also an issue, though? Even if Mars could sustain plant live and eventually produce enough oxygen to make the atmosphere technically 'breathable', what else would you have to (could you) do to make things hospitable enough so humans don't need a pressure suit*?

      Aside from converting CO2 to oxygen, don't you have to increase the overall 'amount' of atmospheric gasses in order to get something close to an Earth-like atmospheric pressure?

      *although, I'm basing this question from assumptions taken from 'Total Recall' :-)
  • We must stop the destruction of the martian environment....the Ice caps are melting and soon the planet will be flooded.........the atmosphere is going to become warm.....we must maintain this bastion of solar system history!!!!

    :-)
  • global warming (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mirko (198274)
    So, scientists have discovered that this does not only occur on Earth but also elsewhere.

    Which impact will this discovery have on the recently overhyped global warming debate?

    This may for example help relativize this eternal flame war which have been going on for years between pro and anti-ozone layer militants...
    • Re:global warming (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squaretorus (459130) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:50AM (#2670356) Homepage Journal
      recently overhyped global warming debate ?

      I must say I find the accussation that Global Warming is over discussed, hyped, etc... bemusing. To me FOOTBALL is overhyped, CELEBRITY is overhyped, the WEATHER is overhyped- each of these are covered in every news bulletin in the world, every day.

      Until people generally have the scientific background to understand these issues there should be more not less discussion in the media. Atmospheric effects of mans activities are poorly understood, so two main points of view are adopted - 'how can little old us effect something so big???' and 'don't piss in the bath'.

      The greenhouse effect (the ability for certain atmospheric gases to trap more heat than others - leading to an overall warmer planet) is a scientific fact. Whether the effect is increasing or not is currently being debated - with the vast majority saying yes, it is.

      The Mars results are interesting because they demonstrate that even without life, let alone industrial level life, the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can change year on year.

      What it does not, cannot, tell us is wether this is a cyclical or progressive change. Thats the same as here on earth. The earth is warmer now than it was 100 years ago.

      I'm a 'don't piss in the bath' person myself.
      • Re:global warming (Score:2, Insightful)

        by RickHunter (103108)

        What it does not, cannot, tell us is wether this is a cyclical or progressive change. Thats the same as here on earth. The earth is warmer now than it was 100 years ago.

        I don't think anyone's debating that fact. It would do well to remember that we are coming out of a mini-ice-age, and that there are warmer temperatures in recorded history. Remember that the Vikings did mange to settle both Iceland and Greenland (over 500 years ago, IIRC), and things were warm enough there for them to actually live off what they could grow there.

        That the effect is increasing, or could be, doesn't mean that humans are responsible. We have no proof either way, though you're unlikely to see any meaningful discussion in the mainstream media. They've pretty much decided that its a convenient "fact" to be trotted out whenever they want to beat down industrial concerns, and something they can ignore the rest of the time.

        Oh, and saying that the earth is warmer now than a century ago means nothing when one considers the scale of the processes involved. As many scientists have been trying in vain to point out, we don't have nearly enough valid data.

      • Re:global warming (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Debillitatus (532722)
        recently overhyped global warming debate ?

        I must say I find the accussation that Global Warming is over discussed, hyped, etc... bemusing. To me FOOTBALL is overhyped, CELEBRITY is overhyped, the WEATHER is overhyped- each of these are covered in every news bulletin in the world, every day. Until people generally have the scientific background to understand these issues there should be more not less discussion in the media. Atmospheric effects of mans activities are poorly understood, so two main points of view are adopted - 'how can little old us effect something so big???' and 'don't piss in the bath'.

        Hear, here! Meterologists don't have the slightest idea of what is going on is our atmosphere these days. IANAM, but I am a mathematician who does some fluids, so I'm hearing from these atmosphere guys all of the time. No serious scientist claims to understand these mechanisms.

        What we do know is that the tempature of the planet has risen, pretty dramatically, over the last century, and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has risen steadily over the last 300 years. This is not necessarily a causal relationship, but we do have a mechanism by which they would be related (i.e. more CO2 -> more greenhouse effect -> more temperatures). Of course, we don't know that we are causing any of it. For example, maybe the sun got brighter, or whatever, and so the earth heated up, and this caused many plants to die, leading to an increase in CO2. There is (speculative) evidence that we are causing it, however, to some degree.

        I think you're right about the two major points. The first position people take is specious. There are many examples of humans causing drastic biological and environmental changes. We have certainly caused changes big enough to end up affecting us. Can we raise the temperature of the earth? Who knows. We can, however, release enough junk into the air to wreck our own worlds, we have proved this time and again. I guess I'm more in the "don't piss in the bath" camp, because once we mess it up, it may very well be permanent. It is worth our while to be cautious.

        Another thing which the anti-global-warming politicians and pundits need to be worried about: if the earth is warming up independent of us, this is not a victory for them! For example, let's say that we have some very small affect on global warming, and most of the warming is some natural process. We will then need to curb our emissions even more, because then we have less room for error. For example, if you're on a fixed income, and inflation goes up, you have to spend less. It's not your fault inflation went up, but you have to spend less anyway. Not fair, but c'est la vie.

      • hype (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Loundry (4143)
        I must say I find the accussation that Global Warming is over discussed, hyped, etc... bemusing. To me FOOTBALL is overhyped, CELEBRITY is overhyped, the WEATHER is overhyped- each of these are covered in every news bulletin in the world, every day.

        This is not a fair statement. The consequence of talking too much about football or celebreties is nothing more than an uninformed populace (which government officials love). The consequence of the "global warming" debate involves (if the leftists get their way) the removal of individual rights. The two are drastically different.

        The greenhouse effect (the ability for certain atmospheric gases to trap more heat than others - leading to an overall warmer planet) is a scientific fact. Whether the effect is increasing or not is currently being debated - with the vast
        majority saying yes, it is.


        Vast majority of whom? Experts? You are trying to roll an ad numeram argument into your ad verecundiam argument, while ignoring the simple fact that destroys the validity of what you claim. The fact is that experts disagree on the subject of global warming. And as long as experts continue to disagree, I'm not going to be convinced. I wonder how you can be so sure of your position.

        It's also interesting that the whole global warming argument seems to be brewing within the political sphere. It should not be a political argument, it should be a scientific one. When Al Gore states that the Worst Thing Ever (tm) was the internal combusion engine, it lends credence to the notion that "global warming" is a convenient tool to use to keep individuals from driving cars, riding 4-wheelers, buying Evil Horrible SUVs (like the one Tom Daschle owns), playing with jet skis, and all sorts of other individual activities that leftists just plain hate.

        The earth is warmer now than it was 100 years ago.

        You can say this all you want, but until I see all the data to draw my own conclusion, it's just words. And even if what you say is true, that does not imply that all of the ramifications tied up into the nebulous political beast named "global warming" are true.

        I'm a 'don't piss in the bath' person myself.

        Neither do I, but it doesn't matter since you're assuming the point in dispute.
        • Re:hype (Score:2, Insightful)

          by RayBender (525745)
          The consequence of the "global warming" debate involves (if the leftists get their way) the removal of individual rights. The two are drastically different.


          Individual rights to piss in everyones bath, as it were? The individual right to pollute, the individual right to dump crap in the air that makes life harder for everyone else? The individual right to help destroy Micronesia through sea-level rise? Where in the Constitution does it say you have the individual right to pay less than a buck for a gallon of gas?

          How about realizing that by polluting you are taking away the individual right to breathe clean air? How about realizing that by burning every drop of oil on the planet you are taking away the "individual rights" of future generations ?

          Why is it so hard for some people to grasp that burning nonrenewable resources like petroleum is like driving through the desert in a car with half a tank of gas and NO gas stations ahead. Wouldn't it be wise to start thinking about alternatives?

          • Why is it so hard for some people to grasp that burning nonrenewable resources like petroleum is like driving through the desert in a car with half a tank of gas and NO gas stations ahead. Wouldn't it be wise to start thinking about alternatives?


            You've got a very good point. However, the prudent thing to do would not be pulling the car over right fscking now because the fuel in the tank is going to run out eventually. Sometimes the enviromentalists forget this.


            You might as well say the gauge is busted rather than giving us the benefit of the doubt -- we don't know if we're on a full tank or a half tank.


            Now, the other thing to consider is that there might be a shop up the road that can retrofit our gasoline burning car to run on something else completely. The problem is, we don't know the road ahead, we don't know how much is in the tank, and stopping the car or slowing it down could actually do more harm than good.

        • You can say this all you want, but until I see all the data to draw my own conclusion, it's just words

          People keep telling me that the earth is round. I haven't actually taken a trip around this supposed "sphere" myself, so I remain skeptical.

          Until it is proven to me that the earth is not in fact an infinite plane, I will exercise my individual "right" to expend as much of its potentially infinite resources as possible.

      • In discovery channel they showed how some scientists were doing research in greenland that would allow them to calculate(via layers in glacier ice) the average temperature for any given year for the past several hundred thousand years. There results were interesting. In all the temperature history they found, the ONLY time that average temperatures stayed stable for a significant amount of time is during the lifetime of man; the past few thousand years. Before that, there were constant, rapid changes up and down in average temp.

        In other words, evidence that such changes can occur without the intervention of humans already exists.
      • The earth is warmer now than it was 100 years ago.

        And significantly cooler than it was 900 years ago which was warmer than 100 years before that. etc. etc. ad nauseum.

        What it does not, cannot, tell us is wether this is a cyclical or progressive change.

        You are right - observing such a change on Mars tells us very little about whether the current global warming on earth is part of a cyclical or progressive change. Fortunately we have much more data on temperatures on earth and KNOW that there are cyclical changes and that over the most recent centuries the cycle has gone from temperatures significantly higher than today (the medieval warm) to temperatures significantly cooler than today (the little ice age).

        I would agree it is worthwile studying the most recent upswing in temperatures because it is possible that human activity *could* be contributing to the most recent cycle of global warming. It seems though looking at the cycle of global climate change over the past millenium that our contribution is insignificant if it is present at all. We are neither at historically high temperatures nor experiencing changes that are particularly rapid.

        I'm a 'don't piss in the bath' person myself.

        Funny, that is how I think of those that would 'piss in the bath' of the global economy, wetting themselves in fear over what all the data suggests is a natural and cyclical change.
        • The earth is warmer now than it was 100 years ago.
          And significantly cooler than it was 900 years ago which was warmer than 100 years before that. etc. etc. ad nauseum.
          Yep... In fact the earth lost quite a few species and a number of human cultures died out between 300 and 800AD (not sure of exact dates, I'd have to look that up) because of a nasty period of global warming. Of course, that was because of all the CFCs and greenhouse gasses the early Christians were emitting from their land rovers ;-)
    • Re:global warming (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sam_handelman (519767) <skh2003 AT columbia DOT edu> on Friday December 07, 2001 @10:11AM (#2670417) Homepage Journal
      Which impact will this discovery have on the recently overhyped global warming debate ?

      It will give ammunition to people who, having an interest in not cutting back in CO2 emissions, want to argue that the global warming we've observed recently on earth is a "natural" phenomenon.

      Firstly, this isn't an observation of increased temperature on mars. This is an observation of polar CO2 erosion. No temperature increase (which has been observed on earth) has been observed on Mars.

      Secondly, we allready knew that climate change occurs periodically and naturally. The fact that Mars may be in the process of exiting a "dry ice age" at the moment indicates nothing about the earth.

      Furthermore, I'm going to take common-sense issue with the scientists announcement that this (which they have observed over only 1 yr. martian) is "definitely not a seasonal trend." They can't know that. As an example, the ice sheets could melt in summers and reform every third or fourth winter which hapened to be extra cold. Point is there would be no long term change. I don't see any data on the actual rate at which these ice sheets are eroding, either.

      The Earth, on the other hand, is allready warm by recent-meteorological standards (personally, I'm a great fan of the theory that the himalayas caused the ice ages by stripping CO2 out of the atmosphere - Nova [pbs.org] did an episode about it.) The rate at which CO2 is going back into the earth's atmosphere is highly unusual given our knowledge of the climatic history of the earth so I don't see how our much-more-limited knowledge of the climate on Mars reveals much.

      Speaking of flame wars, I have to resist the impulse to insult the previous poster. This has nothing to do with the ozone layer!
    • Re:global warming (Score:3, Informative)

      by Icy (7612)
      The Ozone layer and global warming are NOT related. So many people see these as the same thing, and they are not. The hole in the ozone layer simply allows for more UVB to reach the ground. The UVB has been linked to skin cancer, cataracts, damage to materials like plastics, and harm to certain crops and marine organisms and that is it. The green house effect is where a blanket of gases is formed around the earth that traps radiation and is natural and we need it. It stabalizes our temperature. But too much of this effect is what is believed to cause global warming.
  • by autopr0n (534291) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:47AM (#2670345) Homepage Journal
    This really shouldn't affect local global warming theories. After all, it's only been 23 months, and its the only data we have. We have no real historical record the way we do with earths temperature. (both with ice-cores and with recorded history).

    And, earth and mars, obviously, have vastly different atmospheres.

    The fact the temperature on mars increased slightly over the past 23 months doesn't actually change anything with regards to mans affect on the earths atmosphere. We already know that earth can change without us, it has in the past.

    What we need to find out is how much (if any) effect on our climate we actually cause.
    • True.

      But one idea put forth about Global Warming on Earth is that there is an effect from solar flares. The CO2 posse has flatly rejected that, because of course you can't bitch about the sun.

      Perhaps the warming on Mars's polar caps is evidence of an effect from the solar flares.

      Or perhaps it's evidence that climates will undergo changes without American SUVs.
    • > And, earth and mars, obviously, have vastly
      > different atmospheres.

      That's right. But the fun thing is that our earth athmosphere is a very complicated one. Slightly different temperatures can have a large impact on the biology in the air or in the water. Those are things we can not easily predict. Some weird bacteria may like two degrees (celsius, I am european...) more that much, that it will grow rapidly, first killing its food and thereby killing itself as well.

      On Mars, there is no such thing as widespread biological activity, we've proven that by now. This does not mean radical chances can't take place, but when they take place, it's easier to point a finger at something.
    • Sorry, but it does prove one thing. The climates of planets is many times beyond our pale ability to understand or have an effect on.

      Are we so egotistical to believe we can readily affect the Earths climate? We would seriously have to try very hard to make a noticable effect. A single volcano outdid us in 3 days... reducing sunlight striking the earth!

      Yes we have pollution issues, but the fact remains that that 23 months of Mars data is very similar in one way to the earth, both are attempting to extrapolate what the resulting climates will become with limited data.

      We simply don't have enough data to prove one way or another for the Earth
      • So if you think that you know better than the vast majority of climatologists, perhaps you can give us your scientific evidence? For a start, perhaps you could tell us how much CO2 we would need to significantly affect the world temperature compare d to what we produce now.

        Hell, even Bush accepts that global warming is a fact.

        Yes, I do realise you're just trolling, but some half-asleep moderator is going to give you a +1 Insightful any minute now.
  • Michael A. Caplinger, a scientist with Malin Space Science Systems, said that if the rate of carbon dioxide erosion from the Mars poles continues for thousands of years, ``then it could profoundly amend the climate of Mars.''
    Since it's going to take thousands of years, perhaps we could do something to help the process along a bit? Maybe send a few SUVs over or something? I suppose it is a bit ambitious however...
    • I don't see why we couldn't speed it up... and do it fairly cleanly as well. You could for example...

      Deploy a massive solar powered heating elements which raised the ambient temperature near the CO^2 glaciers. This might have the effect of accelerating the rate of melt, or sustaining a rate of melt if the change is seasonal.

      I don't know what kind of heating system you'd want... the idea of monsterous hair dryers with heating elements blowing "hot air" over the martian glaciers is an amagingly funny image to conjure, but you could also bore pipes through the glacier and run hot liquid through the pipes... and I'm sure someone with a better science background than mine could come up with more.

      Honestly though, this is something that's been talked about for years. Sci-fi authors have speculated about any number of ways in which we could terra-form mars. And many of them are scientifically sound. The problem is this:

      Going to mars costs money. Terra-forming mars will cost alot of money. No individual, no matter how long lived, will ever see a teraforming project through from beginning to end... and few people are willing to start such a massively expensive endeavor when there is no payoff in thier own lifetime (nor the lifetimes of the next three or four generations).

      Without doubt, this announcement is good news. It gives more for Sci-fi authors (self included) to work with to write plausable fiction. Remember, the best of sci-fi authors have a good grasp of physics / biology / astronomy when writing. That's why Aasimov and Sagan and the other Grand Masters have been able to write their imortal works... because they understand science well enough, that years later we aren't laughing and saying "wow, shows how little they knew!"

      Okay, I'm done with my mini rant... back to work.

  • by archen (447353)
    I still don't think this is very significant. Mars still doesn't have a sufficent AMMOUNT of atmosphere, which is probably needed to help keep the heat. Besides which, mars has a very eliptical orbit. It might be nice during the summer, but who would look foreward to over a year (earth time) of a winter that is FAR colder than any we've ever had on earth?
  • So, in perperation for us eventaully going, there, and exluding tthe actual logistics and amounts, couldn't we lots and lots of plants there to help make O2 for us? what conditions do they have that would prevent plants from growing, and how can we get past that?
  • by d5w (513456) on Friday December 07, 2001 @10:10AM (#2670413)
    Given the "what if we..." comments following up here, I strongly recommend reading Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars", "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars". The books start with a near-future colonization of Mars and go through one very well developed "what if" path, covering not just the technology but also the social and political engineering that follows. The idea of deliberate greenhouse warming shows up, among others.

    Oh, yeah: they're also good reading, with an interesting set of characters.
    • Oh, yeah: they're also good reading, with an interesting set of characters.

      I can't decide whether I agree with this... I've been reading this trilogy since August, but I can seldom read more than a chapter or two before falling asleep. (I do my reading in bed.) But it's interesting enough to keep me coming back.
    • Well, obvioulsy it would be fucking cool to go to other planets and look for evidence of climate changes - and match those with the evidence we have on earth. I suspect it would be fairly simple then, to settle this "Global Warming Caused by Man" argument once and for all.

      On the other hand, it really does not matter if Global Warming (or Ice Ages) are caused by Man or not.
      What matters, is if either occurs, we're fucked, and we need to start thinking about what to do about it. (Time capsules, underground self-supporting cities powered by nuclear or geothermal - etc.)
  • by Random Walk (252043) on Friday December 07, 2001 @10:14AM (#2670429)
    Currently, atmospheric pressure on the surface of Mars is about 6 millibar, which on Earth corresponds to a height of 35 km above sea level (4 times higher than Mt. Everest).

    At such low pressure, some of the water in the soft tissues will vaporize and cause swelling of the human body (note that the blood will not vaporize, because it is always under sufficient pressure in the blood vessels). This can be prevented by "a properly fitted elastic garment", but such garments are only know to work at pressures of more than 20 millibars.

    Which means that a lot of carbon dioxide would be needed until you could walk around without a space suit.

  • Simple - Remember the film 'Total Recall' - What's happened is that's somone's managed to get that martion (sp?) underground generator going!!
  • That Mars is also undergoing global warming without input from humans? Perhaps the Suns energy output is on the upswing. Would think that would be easily detectable though.
    • Mars has its own cycle of precession of its rotational axis, and it's known that a long period of summer in a hemisphere tends to cut down on the amount of ice there. If the period of Mars' aphelion (where it is moving most slowly in it orbit, and thus spending the most time) now coincides with southern-hemisphere summer, you'd expect the CO2 icecap to be shrinking. Note that this would mean nothing whatsoever with respect to conditions on Earth.
  • Planned Mission (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lameland (23851)
    I've read about a possible mission to Mars that would speed up the Green House effect. Basically, it was a lander whose only purpose was to emit as many green house gases as possible into the Martian atmosphere. The thinking was that if we could get the polar ice caps to melt,we could begin terraforming within 20 years, and then areas would be ready for humans in another 50-60 years.
  • Mars' atmosphere will eventually deteriorate to the point where it will no longer support us. We must create bio-diversity and separate our eggs into multiple baskets. I propose we start a colony on another planet--how about the the third one from Sol? It's very hot and a depressing combination of blue and green, but it may be our only hope.

    --From a fragment found underneath a Martian pyramid

  • Guess that pretty nails down that "global warming" is due to the effects the Sun has on planets while going through its different cycles of energy release rather than a bunch of politicians that disagree with the pop culture environmental movement. I am just so shocked that the noted global warming scientists Sting, Drew Barrymore and Ted Danson completely missed this fact.
  • naked plants (Score:2, Informative)

    by oyenstikker (536040)
    Plants, like us, need oxygen for their respiration. They photosynthise to create a lot of what they need, and kick out more O2 to the atmosphere than they will use, but there still needs to be a high enough O2 concentration in the atmosphere for them to take some of it back in.
  • by mfarah (231411) <miguel@[ ]ah.cl ['far' in gap]> on Friday December 07, 2001 @10:43AM (#2670553) Homepage
    Just 23 months is pretty much nothing in terms of planetary cyclical events. Maybe this warming is just part of a very long cycle in Martian atmosphere, taking decades of even centuries, that we haven't observed yet. I'd hate to see the November 13, 2614 headlines of The Martian Times stating something like "Global cooling confirmed - atmosphere compromised".

    (BTW, will Greenpeace stablish a Martian Chapter called "Redpeace"?)
    • Maybe this warming is just part of a very long cycle in Martian atmosphere, taking decades of even centuries, that we haven't observed yet

      Well AFAIK, current theory is that Mars used to have a thicker atmosphere but it dissipated over the millenia due to (basically) lack of gravity. So yeah, if that CO2 stays in the atmosphere eventually it should reach escape velocity and leave the planet. I suppose then the planet would cool back down.. at least at night anyway :)

      Somebody refute this, I'm no climatologist..

      • Lack of gravity, lack of magnetic field, lack of geological or biological activity to create new gasses.. . .

        Even if we did terraform Mars, it wouldn't last very long, unless we can somehow drill down 1500 miles and light up the core with some plutonium or something to restore the geological activity, and get a magnetic field going again.
  • So, if all we need to do is speed up the melting of the ice caps on Mars, we just drop a few nuclear-powered heaters, let them wander around the caps for a few decades, and assuming the new atmosphere stays put we'll have a habitable environment? There has to be more to it than that, but if the issues could be worked out...

    By the time the atmosphere is properly cooked we should be able to transport people to Mars in significant numbers (hundreds, thousands). Give priority to people (the new pioneers!) who want to raise large families, and in a century or two Mars could have a fairly substantial human population.

    Possible side effect: Mars could wind up very Catholic ;-).

    (Sorry, I've been waiting weeks for a chance to use that line...)
  • Why oh why don't we send up a greenhouse gas generator? if we were to get the climate close to what earth has then we fling seeds all over the planet and see what happens. I'd bet that with current technology we'd have greenery on the surface within 100 years and a breathable atmosphere within 500 years, far earlier than we would see any mars base (given the current disregard for space and planetary exploration by the worlds governments.)

    maybe someone could start the "seeds for mars foundation" although having the anticipated huge influx of cannibus seeds would probably be a detriment to the project's standings.
  • by Masem (1171) on Friday December 07, 2001 @11:03AM (#2670590)
    Apparently Dennis Quaid finally reached the controls of the reactor.

    Expect blue skies on Mars in less than an hour!

    <joke>

  • by p4k (317034) on Friday December 07, 2001 @11:03AM (#2670592)
    This would seem to support the theory that variations in solar activity are very significant in determining climate. It is known that the output of the sun is slightly higher during periods of high solar activity [nasa.gov]. We are just about at the peak of a solar cycle at the present, and the last few cycles have been strong, and it would appear that this is affecting the climate on both planets.

    This graph [microtech.com.au] from this report [microtech.com.au] shows a striking correlation between the length of solar cycles and mean temperature over the last hundred years (interesting that the length of the cycle should give the best correlation - the authors suggest the shorter solar cycles correspond to higher solar output).

    Also, there is considerable historical evidence that the current change in climate is really pretty small beer compared to what has happened in the past:

    "The Norwegian farmer Folke Vilgerdson made the first attempt to settle in Iceland in about 865 AD... He lost his cattle in a severe winter and disappointed went back to Norway after having seen a fjord filled up by sea ice. Therefore he called the country Iceland. Only a few years later, in 874, Ingolf Arnason succeeded. He was followed by many others, and settlement was completed in 930 AD... In 982, Erik the Red discovered new land West of Iceland. He called it Greenland; according to the Greenlander Saga this was only to persuade people to follow him... But the O(18) curve suggests that the name described a reality... So the drastic climatic change [warming] late in the ninth century may be part of the reason why Iceland and Greenland did not get the opposite names." (Dansgaard: Palaeo-Climatic Studies on Ice Cores, in Oeschger, Messerli and Svilar, 1980).

    Here [skywebsite.com] is another account, also suggesting that Greenland had a suprisingly comfortable climate at the time.

  • by nomadicGeek (453231) on Friday December 07, 2001 @11:48AM (#2670867)
    All of these posts about sending up a machine to generate/liberate the CO2 and we can live on Mars in 20 years.

    If it is that easy, why don't we just build a big plant here on earth to suck up all of the greenhouse gases and CFC's? Surely it must be easy to counteract the effects of the worlds ENTIRE industrial production. Then I can go buy an SUV and blast the A/C without any guilt.

    It all sounds very simple in theory. Do you realize the volume of gas that you would have to generate? How about the amount of energy that you would have to produce to power the devices? Even the staunchest proponents of global warming say that it will take hundreds of years for the cumulative effects of our ENTIRE industrial system to spoil the Earth's atmosphere. What makes everyone thing that a couple of little plants that we put on Mars could do anything?
  • by Zigurd (3528) on Friday December 07, 2001 @12:09PM (#2670990) Homepage
    Peter Jennings: "Tax cuts proposed by President Bush could jeopardize funding for a NASA/EPA mission to restore ice caps on Mars."

    Dan Rather: "Most scientists we talked to agreed the ice caps melted after the Mars rover landed. Have we created an SUV problem on Mars?"

    Oprah: "On today's show we have Jane A. Token, NASA's Director of Space Ecology, to give us the women's perspective on the future of space exploration."

    Tom Daschle: "We need the Republicans to stop blocking funding for our new program to hire Mars ice watchers as federal employees to raise the level of professionalism..."
  • This is from NASA? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gerardrj (207690) on Friday December 07, 2001 @12:12PM (#2671013) Journal
    I'm shocked that a NASA scientist would make such sweeping statements and predictions based on what the article portrays as a few photographs over on year of Mars history.

    They don't seem to rule out that this ice is being shifted to another location. Perhaps the other pole? Could it be settling underground in solid form? Yes, they make some comments about ravines and such, but the comments are superficial.

    As I think I saw another poster mention, could it be a part of some longer event cycle? Could some other chemistry be at work, with the CO combining with something else instead of transforming to a gas?

    There are lots of questions that weren't answered about the WHY and WHERE. Not to mention that this throws more evididence at the global warming issue of Earth. If Mars is warming, perhaps the Earth warming is a part of some larger issue such as a warmer period in a solar cycle. Perhaps we are moving through a warmer part of the galaxy/universe and that's making everything hotter. Perhaps the higher gaseous CO2 levels on earth are due do higher temperatures on the planet, and not the other way around.
  • Okay, now that's interesting. Mars is warming up, and it's not like we can blame industrialization :). So perhaps the global warming we are experiencing is actually more tied to some change in the Sun. I wonder if there is any accurate information on historic temperatures on Venus? If it was a solar phenomenon, then we should be able to see a correspondingly higher temperature change on Venus.

    Of course this could be caused by some unknown geologic phenomena on Mars, but this does point out that there are things that can cause global warming besides dumb humans :)
  • by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Friday December 07, 2001 @01:13PM (#2671344) Homepage
    Here are some "cool" animations [msss.com] where you can see the ice caps melting. Also, here's a JPL press release [nasa.gov] which is a little more level headed than the news coverage.
  • I wonder... (Score:2, Funny)

    by sirgoran (221190)
    Can we then launch rockets of greenhouse gasses to Mars in order to speed up the process?

    If so, we could then begin to terraform the planet by sending probes with seeds or plants which can then begin growing once the temperature gets to a normal range.

    Then we could start a colony and clone really cute women that love geeks and then...

    whoops.

    Sorry.

    Got ahead of myself.

    Goran
  • by edunbar93 (141167) on Friday December 07, 2001 @04:14PM (#2672353)
    This should be glaringly obvious, but the author clearly didn't want the facts to get in the way of a good story.

    1) This happens every year anyway. The martian atmosphere gets thicker every year as a result of its less-than-circular orbit. Every year, there are times when Mars is closer to the sun than the rest of the year, which allows the planet to absorb more solar energy, melting more of the carbon dioxide in the ice caps and adding to the atmosphere. This might actually snowball if it weren't for the fact that there are other times of the year where the CO2 starts to freeze out, snowballing in the other direction.

    2) While it might be exciting and all that in a million years, you *might* not need a spacesuit to walk on the surface of mars, more than likely it's just a statistical anomaly because it was slightly warmer this year than last. As if we never see that sort of thing on earth or anything. The author saves this little tidbit of information for last, because otherwise there's not much of a story here at all. (and of course, there really isn't.)

    3) This is, if anything, simply proof that some years the sun is hotter than others, which might be a much easier explanation for an increase in the average surface temperature of the earth in recent years over the theory that the media likes to push that we're all to blame. The media likes this theory simply because scaring people is good for business. As in this article, it's not the actual facts that matter as much as an exciting story.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

Working...