Azara Blog: Studying Venus being sold as a way of helping with climate change

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Date published: 2007/11/29

The BBC says:

Observations of the planet Venus might assist efforts to tackle the threat of climate change here on Earth.

Data from a European probe orbiting Venus paints a picture of a planet that may once have been like Earth, but later evolved in a very different way.

Venus has undergone runaway greenhouse warming, where trapped solar radiation has heated the surface to an average temperature of 467C (872F).

New results from the Venus Express mission appear in Nature journal.

In size, mass and composition, Earth and Venus are remarkably similar. Venus is closer to the Sun, but this alone does not explain the differences with Earth.

Venus lacks the Earth's magnetic shield, which means that its atmosphere feels the full onslaught of the solar wind - a stream of charged particles from our star - and cosmic radiation, and has done so for billions of years.

The absence of this shield means that hydrogen, helium and oxygen are blown away by the solar wind much faster than happens on Earth.

The scientists think that Venus may once have held copious amounts of water on its surface.

But the solar wind removed most of it during the first billion years or so after the formation of the Solar System.

Studying Venus is interesting. Studying Mars is interesting. Studying any planet is interesting. It might give us more clues about planet formation. It might help disprove ideas garnered from studying a single planet (i.e. the Earth). It might help us figure out how to colonise the planet. But it does not "assist efforts to tackle the threat of climate change". It is ridiculous that anyone is pretending that studying Venus has some relevance to sorting out climate change. Presumably this claim is being made as a way of justifying the (not insignificant) cost of planetary research.

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