James Hansen’ view of the earth and Venus – some light-hearted thoughts


By the Rev Philip Foster

Dr James Hansen of NASA, a climate alarmist, has claimed that if we continue to burn fossil fuel we will end up like Venus. I gather he is recently retired. Maybe just as well.

Four billion years ago this planet did indeed have an atmosphere like Venus: >95% CO2 at 100 atmospheres pressure and no oxygen. But since then the trend for CO2 has been rapidly downward as CO2 was sequestered into limestones, organic life where the carbon was extracted and laid down to make fossil fuels: coal, oil, gas).

2.4 billion years ago the atmosphere was still very high in CO2. We know that because of very ancient barytes (Barium Sulphate) deposits contain additional CO2 which must have been forced in by pressures in excess of 60 atmospheres.

Around one billion years ago atmospheric CO2 was at 35% yet the earth plunged into ‘snowball earth’ where ice extended to the equator. This incidentally makes the claim that CO2 causes warming look rather absurd. After the Cambrian Explosion, life flourished drawing more and more CO2 down into the biosphere, sequestering much of it in the coal deposits. The removal of CO2 caused the atmospheric pressure to also drop, so that by the time of the dinosaurs atmospheric pressure was nearer three modern atmospheres: this enabled the pterosaurs to fly – something they could not do today. Now CO2 levels stand at 0.04%. This is nearly the lowest it has ever been and is potentially dangerously low – plants are beginning to ‘struggle for breath’. If plants die off – we die. The more CO2 that goes into the atmosphere the better for the planet’s ecology, including ourselves.

The current tiny rise over the last couple of centuries is trivial (humans being responsible for perhaps 4% of it) and probably caused by deep ocean warming during the Medieval Warm Period – it takes oceans several hundred years to respond by outgasing CO2.

So just how could the earth become like Venus again and bring on the fate Dr Hansen so fears?

First, all the limestone and other carbonates and all the fossil fuels on and in the crust and mantle must be burnt, turning limestone into lime and CO2 and fossil fuels into water and CO2. This would take many millions of years working round the clock and doing nothing else!

Second, all the water on the planet must be removed, and I mean all of it, including that currently sequestered in minerals as water of crystallization.

Third, having achieved all this (and somehow survived), we must move the planet from its current orbit of some 90 million miles from the sun to a mere 66 million miles. Oh, and stop the earth rotating as it does and put it into reverse to rotate very slowly backwards.

Then, and only then, could we conceivably end up like Venus.

I am reminded of a very old Danny Kaye* joke, where he and his side kick were admiring the Venus de Milo. His side kick was biting his nails. “Stop doing that”, says Danny, “Or you’ll end up like her!”

*It may not have been Danny Kaye.

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5 responses to “James Hansen’ view of the earth and Venus – some light-hearted thoughts

  1. 100 atmospheres? That almost 1500 psi. Is CO2 that much heavier than nitrogen? (I’m not saying it isn’t – I just don’t know).
    Danny Kaye was another of those remarkable Russian Jews – everybody who reaches the top of their profession, be it the arts, sciences or entertainment, seems to be of Russian Jewish extraction, which I find fascinating in view of their small numbers. Daniel Kaminski I think he was.

  2. There are one or two small errors in this scemario, but not very important ones compared with the lies and leais and lies about “AGW”.

  3. “100 atmospheres pressure” means that instead of 15 lbs per sq inch (or 101,320 Newtons per square metre), you feel about 70% of a ton per squ inch. You and I would simply vanish under that. I think Philip Foster has got some numbers wrong somewhere. That is of course NOT To say that CO2 concentration in the earth’s early atmosphere was low: it was very very very high. About 90-96% of the earth’s proto-atmosphere was CO2, and yes, there was a lot, and yes the pressure would have been several times today’s atm pressure.

    That is why most of it – about 30,000++ times the amount of ALL CARBON in today’s biosphere – has gone into “geological carbon burial”, mostly in limestones.

    The nature of igneous rocks is that they are basic or alkaline largely, being melted metal oxides, principally Iron/Potassium/Sodium/Magnesium/Calcium/Barium/Strontium/Nickel/Cobalt/Lead/Tin/Titanium (very common metal that!) and so on. Aluminium is a bit funny, not really knowing if it is a true metal or not, and so its oxide behaves uncharacteristically, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still extract it, as we do, Being The Lords Of Creation as we are.

    CO2, being an acidic gas, reacts rapidly with basic/alkaline metal oxides exposed on the surface, such as in basalts and lavas. It then becomes “buried carbonates” such as limestones.

    The “geological carbon cycle” which is what I am trying to describe, is at least 30,000-50,000 times as massive as the biological carbon cycle, ad takes thousands of times longer to make itself felt.

    Carbon is not a rare element in the universe – it is indeed one of those that are more common than not. It also forms at least 0.12% of the earth’s crust by mass. This compares with things like sodium and potassium at 2% each, and aluminium at 8% and Iron at 6% but falling – and that’s not due to Man!

    The winds and snows and lakes of Titan are bursting at the banks and seams with liquid methane, ethane and propane. Now who would say those are of biological origin? And Titan is big, almost the size of Mars.

  4. The 100 atmospheres refers to Venus, not Earth. I thank the Reverend for writing this. I have learned things I didn’t know.

  5. I understand he was referring to Venus – my point is that I infer from this that CO2 is 100 times heavier than Nitrogen/Oxygen. This struck me as a lot.