Can I fry an egg on it? 08/27/2010 3 Comment(s) Yesterday, two engineers from NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center visited my company (Signatec) to conduct a system acceptance analysis on the 16-channel, 1.5 GHz per channel recording system we will supply in a few weeks. Signatec's system will form a part of their next-generation swath mapping laser altimetry system, which is a measurement tool for their LIdar Surface Topography (LIST) mission. (ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.../20100019569_2010020326.pdf)
As noted in the link above, key attributes of the LIST mission are: "(1) a medium cost mission to be launched by NASA between 2016-2020; (2) a single-instrument payload carrying an imaging lidar at low Earth orbit; (3) one-time global mapping of land, ice sheet and glacier topography and vegetation structure through the duration of the mission; (4) observe topography and vegetation structure change through time in selected areas; and (5) achieve 5 m horizontal resolution, 0.1 m vertical precision, and absolute vertical accuracy for ground surface topography including where covered by vegetation. LIST is recommended as a third tiered mission with launch date no earlier than 2018."
Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, National
Research Council of the National academies, The National Academies Pres, Washington D.C., (2007)
According to the NASA development team, "the instrument required to meet their objectives far exceed those
of existing space laser altimeter technologies. In simple terms, an instrument needs to be able to generate a swath
width of 5 km, image this swath onto a detector array and produce an image that describes the topography of the
sampled area, including through foliage if covered by vegetation, and the 3-D structure of the vegetation cover."
Now, you may be asking, "That's all well and good, Tom, but what the heck does this mean?" Truthfully, it beats me! I'm a writer, not a physicist or engineer! But it has something to do with measuring tree height and foliage density as a means to studying biomass burning and global climate change, which represents the heart of today's message.
Is our global climate changing? Of course. Is it changing as a result of human activity. Most probably, if you are to believe NASA's - Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology website regarding this topic . Certainly the majority of climatologists agree that humans are accelerating the rate of global warming, to one extent or another.
Let's look at some stats and facts:
- World sizzles to record for the year
- Danielle a Cat 4; Earl more organized; Northwest Passage opens for 4th year in a row
- East Coast Digs Out From Record Snow
- Record heat sweeps DC, nation, and world — Washington Post staff sleepwalks through the story
- Dang! This was the coldest summer in Southern California I've ever experienced!!!!!!
However, there are a growing group of climate change doubters out there, and ABC News/Nightline reports that a significant amount of them are network meteorologists. Which leads me to ask, who pays these meteorologists?
Let's just take a look at the Weather Channel, who's founder appears to be leading the charge. The Weather Channel is owned by NBC Universal, Blackstone Group and Bain Capital. Interestingly, NBC Universal is comprised of General Electric (owns 80%) and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, a French international media conglomerate (owns 20%). However, General Electric plays in a wide range of markets including the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity [e.g, nuclear, gas and solar], lighting, industrial automation, motors, railway locomotives and aircraft jet engines. GE--considered to be the second largest company in the world, according to Forbes--couldn't really be in favor of limiting any fossil fuel-based, human contributed CO2 emissions; the majority of its profitability is based on industries that contribute to the problem, if we are to believe the countless scientists around the world who have scientific data justifying their claims.
In summary, from my limited perspective, it appears the people with the most money and big business interests--who also typically constitute the most conservative, pro-big business, low tax on the rich, Drill, Baby, Drill political movements--are the ones who cast the largest shadow of doubt upon human contribution to global climate change. Don't even get me started on the issue that I just learned about, where high-level politics resulted in the censorship of a scientific report produced by NASA scientists (e.g. they were forced to tone it down to make it less alarming). Of course, I won't be surprised one bit if these same über-rich conservatives have an exit strategy in place, and by that I mean off this planet!
Causes Tom Wagner Supports
AMFA Foundation, Affordable Medicines For Africa-South Africa, World Vision