Posted by: Green Knight | March 19, 2012

Tempest in a Tucson Teapot

One of my areas of interest and expertise is environmental law. It’s a fascinating subject, one I used to write a monthly column on in the local law newspaper back in the early ’90s. The thing to remember is that a law is passed by our elected representatives to express the intent or will of the people. It identifies a problem and a goal to be reached to solve said problem. Then it’s handed to an agency, which must write regulations to make it happen. I used to enforce said regs. I even helped rewrite the Illinois lead-paint abatement regulations several years ago. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve had to correct agencies on interpreting their own stuff, and I’ve also done expert witness research and testimony for law firms. I may not be a rock star, or get fan mail from some flounder, but when the bigwigs have to scratch their heads and say “damn, he’s RIGHT,” it gives me a warm fuzzy glow.

This past week I was checking out the website for the Environmental Law Institute, and saw a couple of books they’ve put out that I asked my library system to order. I can’t afford to buy books for myself anymore, lacking clients. For the past couple of years I’ve been focusing on how reporting on eco-issues could be improved, and they have a book out on climate issues for journalists that looked interesting. When I Googled it, I encountered a book review by somebody with an Arizona paper, and I always read those. I also trade e-mails with authors who impress me. We ink-stained wretches need to stick together, and fellow scribblers like some feedback.

At first, I liked the review, as the person noted that low-pressure cells rotate counter-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern, and apparently the ELI got it backwards. I haven’t seen the book myself yet, but that’s kind of like me correcting FEMA on getting the wavelengths backwards on the electromagnetic spectrum on one of their online courses. But as I read further, I saw that the reviewer was a climate-change denier, with an agenda. Nit-picking about a graph that showed watts per square meter instead of temperature is something that I probably would have pointed out too, but I wouldn’t have been as pissy about it.

But what really got me was the statement that there’s no greenhouse effect on Venus, because sunlight can’t penetrate the clouds. What the doofus doesn’t understand is that ultraviolet can easily penetrate those clouds of sulfuric acid, and that regular insolation is absorbed by the atmosphere and radiates heat up AND down, etc. Some light certainly does get through, and then through scattering, radiates infrared in all directions. Also, there’s no ozone layer on Venus to block UV, because there’s almost no free oxygen. I wish Carl Sagan were still alive, just to kick that reviewer’s ass. I won’t dignify the idiot by mentioning details. Not worth checking out.

I wanted to submit a comment, but it’s one of those pages where you have to subscribe with an RSS feed or some such crap, and the review was already locked up after only receiving three comments. No more allowed, I guess. But I get to say whatever I want! Huzzah!

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