Thongchai Thailand

SPACE TRAVEL AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Posted on: October 17, 2021

Space Tourism Is Getting Closer. Here's How Much It Will Cost. | Barron's

THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF A SPACE.COM ARTICLE ON HOW SPACE TRAVEL AFFECTS GLOBAL WARMING AND OZONE DEPLETION.

LINK TO SOURCE: https://www.space.com/environmental-impact-space-tourism-flights

MEDIA HYPE:

THE JAW DROPINGLY HIGH, OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD CARBON FOOTPRINT OF SPACE TOURISM (NBC NEWS)

PART-1: WHAT THE SPACE.COM ARTICLE SAYS

The rise of space tourism could affect Earth’s climate in unforeseen ways. Are the effects of rocket launches on the atmosphere really negligible? Hybrid rocket motors such as those used in Virgin Galactic’s rocket planes emit a lot of soot. Scientists worry that growing numbers of rocket flights and the rise of space tourism could harm Earth’s atmosphere and contribute to climate change. When Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos soared into space in suborbital tourism vehicles, much of the world clapped in awe but for some scientists, these milestones represented something other than technical accomplishment. The flights marked the potential beginning of a long-awaited era that might see rockets fly through the so-far rather pristine upper layers of the atmosphere far more often than they do today. These flights are powered by a hybrid engine that burns rubber and leaves behind a cloud of soot. Hybrid engines can use different types of fuels, but they always generate a lot of soot, These engines work like a candle, and their burning process creates conditions that are favorable for soot generation. A single Virgin Galactic suborbital space tourism flight, lasting about an hour and a half, can generate as much pollution as a 10-hour trans-Atlantic flight. Even if the suborbital tourism market is launching at a fraction of the number of launches compared to the rest of the tourism industry, each of their flights has a much higher contribution, and that could be a problem. Galactic’s rockets are not the only culprits. All rocket motors burning hydrocarbon fuels generate soot. Solid rocket engines, such as those used in the past burn metallic compounds and emit aluminum oxide particles together with hydrochloric acid, both of which have a damaging effect on the atmosphere. The engine that powers Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle combines liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to create thrust and is not a big polluter compared to other rocket engines. Rockets pollute the otherwise pristine upper layers of the atmosphere. but too little is known about this issue. The problem is that rockets pollute the higher layers of the atmosphere, the stratosphere, which starts at an altitude of about 6.2 miles and the mesosphere, which goes upward from 31 miles. We are emitting pollutants in places where we don’t normally emit it. We need to understand if we increase these things, what is the potential damage? So far, the impact of rocket launches on the atmosphere has been negligible. but that’s simply because there have not been that many launches. The amount of fuel currently burned by the space industry is less than 1% of the fuel burned by aviation so there has not been a lot of research but things are changing in a way that suggests that we should learn about this in more detail. It is anticipated that space tourism flights will skyrocket over the next decade, from around10 a year to maybe 360 a year. Demand for suborbital tourism is extremely high, these companies have customers waiting in a line, and so they want to scale up. Ultimately, they would want to fly multiple times a day. The problem is that the scientific community has no idea and not enough data to tell at what point rocket launches will start having a measurable effect on the planet’s climate. At the same time, the stratosphere is already changing as the number of rocket launches sneakily grows. The impacts of these [rocket-generated] particles are not well understood even to an order of magnitude, the factor of 10.The uncertainty is large, and we need to narrow that down and predict how space might be impacting the atmosphere. NASA’s space shuttle generates ozone-damaging substances and created the space shuttle’s ozone holes. So far, the only direct measurements of the effects of rocket launches on atmospheric chemistry come from the space shuttle era. In the 1990s the U.S. Air Force looked at the effects of the emissions from the space shuttle’s solid fuel boosters on ozone in the stratosphere with significant concerns about chlorine from solid rocket motors. Chlorine is the bad guy to ozone in the stratosphere, and there were some models which suggested that ozone depletion from solid rocket motors would be very significant. One of the fundamental questions was how much chlorine is being made in these solid rocket motors and in what form. They measured it and then analyzed the results. At that time, there were not enough space shuttle launches to make a difference globally, but locally one could deplete the ozone layer due to this diffuse plume. The space shuttle retired 10 years ago, but rockets generating ozone-damaging substances continue launching humans and satellites to space today. In 2018, in its latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion, the WMO included rockets as a potential future concern and called for more research. Rocket planes inject pollutants into very high altitudes. The effects of human-made substances in the higher layers of the atmosphere contains large uncertainties. The work is akin to predicting the proverbial butterfly effect, the influence of minuscule changes in the chemistry of the air tens of miles above Earth on climate and weather patterns on the ground. But black carbon, or soot, emitted by rockets burning hydrocarbon fuels, is of particular concern. “The problem with soot is that it absorbs ultraviolet light, and that means that it could heat the stratosphere. and that could actually affect what is happening on the ground. Many of the particles generated by rockets have been of interest to scientists due to the possible effects they could have on the global climate in a different context — that of geoengineering, the deliberate tampering with the atmosphere with the aim of stopping or mitigating global warming. The team was interested in the climate effects of dispersing sulfur dioxide particles, which are known to reflect light away from Earth, in combination with soot in the lower stratosphere. Soot absorbs energy from sunlight and pushes the sulfur dioxide aerosol particles to a higher altitude by warming up the surrounding air. At that higher altitude, the sulfur dioxide can start its climate-cooling work. The experiment modeled what would happen when 1.1 million tons of sunlight-reflecting sulfur dioxide mixed with 11,000 tons of black carbon were released in the upper troposphere by aircraft over a 10-day period. The study didn’t find any significant negative effects on weather on Earth. The soot particles generated by hybrid rocket engines are extremely small and light-weight. In fact, when he and his colleagues tried to measure the soot output of hybrid rocket engines in a laboratory, they couldn’t reliably do it with precision because of the particles’ minuscule size. We were able to measure the particle output from solid rocket motors. These are about a micron in size. Because they are large, they fall to the ground more quickly. In hybrid rocket engines, we were not able to collect the soot from the plume because it’s extremely fine, a few nanometres in size.These particles could stay in the stratosphere forever. They have the same size as the carbon emitted by aircraft and we know that there is a layer of carbon in the atmosphere at the flight level of aircrafts which is staying there. Particles coming from rocket motors may do the same.The accumulation of these particles over years and decades is what worries the scientists. Just as the current climate crisis started relatively slowly as the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere grew, the pollution in the stratosphere may only start causing harm some years down the road. In the long term, injecting pollutants into the stratosphere could alter the polar jet stream, change winter storm patterns or affect average rainfall. BUT THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO BE DONE IN THIS AREA OF RESEARCH. Therefore it is critical that we start now to evaluate the future risks. THERE IS THIS FUNDAMENTAL GAP WHERE WE DON’T HAVE THE NUMBERS. THE SCIENCE IS LIMITED BY LACK OF INFORMATION. YET IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TO ASSESS TO ASSESS THE IMPACT OF HUMAN ACTIVITY ON THE STRATOSPHERE. We need a bigger research program that would analyze the emissions and impacts of individual types of rocket engines and fuels on the stratosphere. The U.S. Congress seems to be aware of the problem and things might soon start to move.We need a national program run to develop a database with emission data for modern rocket propulsion systems.

PART-2: CRITICAL COMMENTARY

#1: The issue proposed here is that rocketry pollutes the stratosphere with both gases and particulates and that this pollution raises environmental issues with respect to anthropogenic global warming and ozone depletion and these issues imply that the proposed space tourism services of the rocketry industry imply significant impacts on the climate change and ozone depletion crises of our time.

#2: This assesment is made with the admission by the scientists that they don’t really have the data to make such assessments but that the possible dangers posed by rocketry that have been identified by the scientists make it imperative that there should be a well funded government program for these scientists to study this issue.

#3: The scientists have determined that the real danger in these rocketry emissions into the stratisphere is how little the scientists actually know and that the less the scientists know the more dangerous it gets because the more imaginative the climate change and ozone depletion impacts become.

#4: Here we present a related post on the ozone issue: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/12/27/the-hole-in-the-sky/ where we find a long and failed history of scientists speculating that air and space travel in the stratosphere will cause ozone depletion and climate change. This list is reproduced below.

However, a more significant issue in the theory of human caused ozone depletion is detailed in the related post linked above. It is that (1) no evidence is found in the data of long term decline in global mean total column ozone and (2) the periodic, short term, and localized changes in ozone concentration above the south pole that is called an ozone hole is neither a hole nor evidence that supports the theory of anthropogenic ozone depletion by way of the Rowland Molina theory of ozone depletion.

The science checklist applied: CFCs and the destruction of the ozone layer
ROWLAND AND MOLINA

Long and failed history of ozone depletion and climate change speculation

  1. 1969: A plan to develop high altitude supersonic airliners with the Boeing 2707 as a concept vehicle. The very high cruising altitude of the SST raised environmental alarms that included both climate change and ozone depletion. First an alarm is raised that chemicals and aerosols in the exhaust of the SST jet engines will cause climate change.
  2. 1970 the climate change theory is quietly shelved after critical reviews by skeptics and deniers and a new alarm is raised. Water vapor in the SST jet exhaust will cause a 4% depletion of ozone in the ozone layer causing 40,000 additional cases of skin cancer every year in the USA alone. The water vapor theory is quietly forgotten after critical reviews by skeptics and deniers with data showing that higher levels of water in the stratosphere is coincident with higher levels of ozone.
  3. 1970: A new ozone depletion theory emerges. Nitric oxide (NOx) in the SST jet exhaust will cause ozone depletion because NOx acts as a catalyst to destroy ozone without being consumed in the process.
  4. 1971: A computer model is developed to assess the impact of NOx in SST exhaust on the ozone layer. The model predicts that there will be a 50% ozone depletion and a worldwide epidemic of skin cancer. Animals that venture out during daylight will become blinded by UV radiation. It was an apocalyptic scenario.
  5. 1971: NOx in the fireball of open air nuclear tests provide a ready laboratory to test the ozone depletion properties of NOx. The computer model predicted 10% ozone depletion by NOx from nuclear testing. Measurements showed no ozone depletion; but the model won and the ozone depletion scare endured.
  6. 1972: Death of the SST: We were so frightened by the ozone depletion scare that the SST program was canceled although America’s skies soon became filled with supersonic fighters and bombers spewing NOx without any evidence of ozone depletion or of skin cancer or of blindness in animals.
  7. 1973: Space Shuttle: Unperturbed by the skeptics and emboldened by their SST success, fear mongering ozone depletion scientists turned their attention to the proposed Space Shuttle program. The shuttle design included two solid fuel rockets that emit hydrogen chloride (HCl). The scientists calculated that 50 flights per year would deposit 5000 tons of HCl per year in the stratosphere that could cause a 10% ozone depletion over Florida and 1% to 2% elsewhere. Although the scare was hyped it never got to the SST levels and the space shuttle miraculously survived the ozone scare.

Space Shuttle Program | National Geographic

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

THE COMMONLY PROPOSED LOGIC BY ENVIRONMENTAL AND CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENTISTS THAT THE LESS THEY KNOW THE SCARIER IT GETS IS NOT CREDIBLE AND AS DESCRIBED IN THE RELATED POST LINKED BELOW, IT VIOLATES FUNDAMENTAL STATISTICAL PRINCIPLES IN HYPOTHESIS TESTING. THESE ARE (1) A HYPOTHESIS DERIVED FROM THE DATA CANNOT BE TESTED WITH THE SAME DATA, AND (2) IN HYPOTHESIS TESTS, THE NULL HYPOTHESIS MUST BE THE NEGATION OF THE RESEARCHER’S HYPOTHESIS WITH THAT HYPOTHESIS PRESENTED AS THE ALTERNATE AND NOT THE NULL.

LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/05/01/the-fear-of-ignorance-derives-from-the-null-hypothesis-issue-in-climate-science/

IN YET ANOTHER RELATED POST WE PROVIDE A LIST OF STATISTICAL ERRORS SEEN IN ACTIVISM DRIVEN RESEARCH WHERE UNBIASED AND OBJECTIVE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IS CORRUPTED BY THE ACTIVISM NEEDS OF THE RESEARCHER.

LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/05/18/climate-science-vs-statistics/

WHAT THE SCIENTISTS ARE TELLING US IN THE ARTICLE ON THE DANGERS OF SPACE TRAVEL IS THAT THEY DON’T REALLY KNOW AND THEY DON’T HAVE THE DATA BUT THEIR SPECULATION IMPLIES SIGNIFICANT DANGERS OF SPACE TRAVEL IN TERMS OF BOTH CLIMATE CHANGE AND OZONE DEPLETION. HOWEVER, THE REAL INFORMATION HERE IS THAT THEY DON’T KNOW AND THAT THEIR SPECULATION IS JUST THAT – SPECULATION.

A FURTHER INTERPRETATON OF THE SPECULATIONS PRESENTED ABOVE IS THAT THE SCIENTISTS ARE SEEKING A SIGNIFICANT GOVERNMENT FUNDED RESEARCH PROGRAM IN WHICH THEY WOULD PRESUMABLY PARTICIPATE. THE SPECUALATIVE FEAR APPEAL ARGUMENTS MAY HAVE AN INTERPRETTION IN TERMS OF MOTIVATING AND MAXIMIZING SUCH TAXPAYER FUNDING.

POSTSCRIPT

ENVIRONMENTALISM IS THE NEW RELIGION *** GLOBAL IMPACT OF HUMAN ACTIVITY IS THE NEW ENVIRONMENTALISM *** THE OZONE DEPLETION AND CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUES ARE JUST THE BEGINNING OF THIS NEW PHASE OF THE ENVIRONMENTALISM RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT. ***

LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/10/11/anthropogenic-global-warming-in-a-post-modern-world/

Michael Hanlon quote: Global warming, indeed much of environmentalism, has  become a new...

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: