Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Liberal Plot to Destroy the Climate

It looks like Connie M. Meskimen, a divorce lawyer from Little Rock, AR has figured out the evil liberal plot to heat the world.

According to her letter to the editor, she posits that March was so warm because of the daylight savings time change. It adds an extra hour of daylight which of course is going to make things warmer.

And who's to blame? That damned liberal congress. Except, the time change was part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In other words, a time when congress was still under republican control. Sad thing is that it didn't have jack shit of an effect of energy usage.

Similarly, it doesn't have jack shit of an effect on the climate. Why? Because the length of the day didn't really change. It's fixed. Let's explain.

Hokay. So here's the Earth.That is a sweet Earth. The blue line sticking out, is the line that's perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. The red line is the actual axis of rotation. They're off by 23.5ยบ. As we're looking at it in this picture, we're essentially looking at the Earth from the point of view of the Sun given that we can see the whole Earth lit. You can tell this is also atumnal equniox as I've drawn it since, if the Earth would contintue on in it's counter clockwise orbit, the southern hemisphere would soon be pointing towards the Sun.

But instead of looking at this from the equinox, let's take a look from a different location and switch to the summer solstice (left). I've also drawn in some lines of constant latitude in green to help in explaining things.

First, let's look at the lower line. As the earth spins, a point along that line will come around the left edge of the Earth, as we're seeing it, at noon their time, swing around, cross into darkness, and at midnight, disappear over the right edge.

Yeah, that's nice. But what does it have to do with the length of the day? Well, since the Earth spins at a constant rate (once every 24 hours), the amount of time it's in the daylight is proportional to the length of that line. In the summer, days are longer because that line is longer. Don't believe me? Look what happens if I chop those lines off and compare their lengths:
Here we can clearly see why the day is going to be considerably longer during the summer. In fact, the higher you go in latitude, the longer your day will be. If you go all the way up to the upper circle I have drawn, it never goes into the shadow. So spin all it wants, it's never going to be dark. At least until the Earth orbits to a position that has the other half lit.

Alternatively, at the winter solstice, the other half of the Earth will be lit, reversing the lengh of those two lines. Half way in between (the equinoxes), the lines will be the same length. All of this is due to the angle of Earth's axis with the perpendicular to the plane of orbit.

In other words, it doesn't change based on what time system we use! So what's the big fuss with changing our clocks twice a year?

The idea behind this is that we can arbitarily pick what we define to be "noon". In the most general sense, it's when the sun crosses the meridian (an imaginary line runing along the sky between north and south). But who says it has to be that way? What would happen if we decided to define noon as, say an hour before then?

Well, that would mean that morning would last less time, but then there'd be more afternoon. That's great for businesses and sports that rely on there still being light after people get off of work. Sucks for farmers.

The idea behind the switch this year was that, if we adjusted our system so we'd be up more during the light hours, we'd conserve more energy since we wouldn't have to be using artificial lighting. Sadly, this failed.

But going back to the original letter, arbitrary definitions of our time keeping system have absolutely no effect on the realistic matter of the length of a day.

If God doesn't even get to mess with Earth's rotation Congress sure as hell can't.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

It boggles the mind that someone is that stupid. I couldn't believe what I was reading in that newspaper article. I was thinking that its a little late for an April fools joke. Lol. You did a suprerb job explaining the seasonal changes. Maybe Connie will read this article and realize how wrong he/she was and make another article apolizing and refuting what he/she said to his/her readers. Somehow I don't think he/she is going to do that.

Jay Solis said...

I don't think Connie will get it even if she reads this article. While I couldn't have explained it as eloquently as did Jon, I knew from a very basic understanding of the Earth's rotation and a little common sense, that a very small subset of humans playing with their man made clocks couldn't physically change the length of day. But that's just me.

Shnakepup said...

Hey, I saw a link to this on snopes, but they're pretty sure she actually wrote it as a joke. Supposedly she's written letters before that were very tongue-in-cheek type humor, and this doesn't look any different to me. This is a satire, people: http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/daylight.asp

Jon Voisey said...

I did a search for this on Snopes before I started writing up anything about it and it wasn't there at the time.

While I can appreciate a sense of humor, it's the sad truth that I've seen remarkably similar inane statements from people who were entirely serious.

mollishka said...

Uhm, seriously Jon, did this level of lunacy-tainted idiocy actually deserve this detailed of an explanation? The one sentence explanation is that man-made clocks don't affect the way heavenly bodies move, end of story. *sigh*

Jon Voisey said...

For many people, I suspect that saying just that would be a sufficient explanation. However, one of my goals is to lay a very solid foundation so that, even if people may intuitively know that such letters are astoundingly incorrect, they'll be equipped with a very detailed explanation that they can take with them incase they ever meet such stupidity again.

It may seem stupid, but if science did this long ago with evolution, I think they might find themselves will less of a struggle today.

Stephen said...

It was published April 16th. Could it have been written on April 1st?

jb said...

its absolutely unbelievable that someone of such a small mind and large ignorance would begin to conjecture such an abomination. i think conservatives are just prejudice against people with a tiny inkling of intelligence, because theyre jealous. anything that involves a small amount of thought is an evil liberal conspiracy to them...

jb said...

its absolutely unbelievable that someone of such a small mind and large ignorance would begin to conjecture such an abomination. i think conservatives are just prejudice against people with a tiny inkling of intelligence, because theyre jealous. anything that involves a small amount of thought is an evil liberal conspiracy to them...