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Historical Carbon Emissions From Dragons In Middle Earth

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the dragons-less-bad-for-environment-than-americans dept.

Lord of the Rings 69

An anonymous reader writes "The climate of Middle Earth has recently been under the spotlight, with the current and future climate of Middle Earth simulated using the HadCM3L General Circulation Model. However, to the best of our knowledge, there has been little work investigating the historical carbon emissions of Middle Earth. Specifically, what impact has the demise of dragons had on carbon emissions? To shed some light on this question, we start by considering the carbon footprint of the antagonist, Smaug." Smaug is surprisingly environmentally friendly.

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Why not, I guess. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102049)

This type of study has about the same veracity as the ones the bow tie crowd is using to finance their retirements on the taxpayer dime, crying chicken little and claiming we need study after study to learn more about that mysterious phenomenon: the weather changes . If you're going to write fiction, might as well make it interesting.

-- Ethanol Fueled

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102849)

This type of comment has about the same veracity as the ones made by conservative and libertarian think tanks on society's dime, crying chicken little and claiming we need study after study to learn more about that mysterious phenomenon; government screws up sometimes, but not having it is worse. If you're going to write fiction, might as well make it not complete crap like Atlas Shrugged.

Stating the Obvious (5, Funny)

dmomo (256005) | about 8 months ago | (#46102051)

Of course the dying off of dragons will result in a reduction of Smaug.

Re:Stating the Obvious (1)

v1 (525388) | about 8 months ago | (#46102179)

that might have been just shire of a good pun

Re:Stating the Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102187)

offset by the rise of the son of Smaug... Smug.

Re:Stating the Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102241)

...who drives a Prius, naturally.

Re:Stating the Obvious (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 months ago | (#46104729)

So we can really just choose between smog and smug?

We're doomed.

Re:Stating the Obvious (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 8 months ago | (#46102373)

That was a Glaurng-ly awesome pun.

Re:Stating the Obvious (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 8 months ago | (#46103489)

Congratulations! You win the Internet!

seriously?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102079)

Is this really /. quality

Re:seriously?? (3, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#46102361)

Even nerds and geeks need a little laugh now an then. Don't worry your little head - we'll all be back to the task of designing the next quantum computer as soon as we've had a chuckle, and another Mountain Dew.

Re:seriously?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46104249)

Better than most articles, at least.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102089)

I would like to point out that this is completely pointless for many reasons, but you already knew that, didn't you?

Next, let's investigate the lasting effects of the environmental damage brought about by the great flood.

Carbon footprints (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102191)

Of course, the eruption of Mount Doom should offset most or all of the reduced carbon emissions from dragons.

Re:Carbon footprints (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about 8 months ago | (#46102259)

There's also that thing about massive deforestation, and the amount of methane coming of giant beasts, both alive and decomposing.

What's the carbon footprint of that massive wedding anyway? Kings are really a climate nuisance!

Re:Carbon footprints (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 8 months ago | (#46104053)

Don't dragons turn to stone when they die, or is that only trolls? If so, they shouldn't yield much methane when they die. And the internal temperature makes the emission of methane while they are alive unlikely. They are, of course, responsible for massive deforestation.

As from a massive wedding, that is really minor. All the animals (including people) that were contributing to it's carbon footprint would have been alive anyway. Of course there's the travel mileage on horseback, but that's less than a single passenger jet would offer.

Methane (4, Funny)

nherm (889807) | about 8 months ago | (#46102217)

I'm far more concerned about the emission of methane gas by dragons

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl... [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Methane (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 8 months ago | (#46102401)

I don't believe that meat eaters are as flatulent as herbivores. Not to mention that the saurians spend a lot of time sleeping, conserving energy, instead of running frantically about 365 days out of each year, searching for another meal.

Re:Methane (1)

nightsky30 (3348843) | about 8 months ago | (#46111169)

They'll erupt from both ends!!!!

what is next, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102229)

remember when in Star Trek the enterprise had fallen into some sort of time warp and they emerged in early earth? Well could we find some way to get funding to validate any and all affects that would have on our society today?? I claim that is a better way to utilize our meager funding options for these sort of things..
Imagine they individual whom pulls this one off, perhaps he'd get the highest "virtual" honor at any and potentially all "CON's"
Yes Yes, thats the ticket.. Lets use all of our serious money on this "worthwhile endeavor" Imaging the implications to all man kind that can be derrived from such a deep and intense study..
Definitely SlashDot material..

Re:what is next, (1)

Langalf (557561) | about 8 months ago | (#46105175)

No, I don't remember any such episode, and apparently neither do you. A check of Memory Alpha [memory-alpha.org] reveals no such episode.

Surprisingly environmentally friendly (3, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 8 months ago | (#46102237)

Of course. He keeps the dwarf population in check, whose excessive mining wreaks havoc on the environment.

Re:Surprisingly environmentally friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102833)

They mine by hand, it's nothing more than rock bashing. The mines are underground, not open pits and quarries.

Your statement therefore is: false.

Re:Surprisingly environmentally friendly (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 8 months ago | (#46103419)

Nevertheless the smithies used to manufacture and maintain the mining equipment (not to mention all other other goods produced with the mined ore) burn lots of carbon, probably coal. That's as big an oversight as the fact that so much diesel is burned in the production of ethanol that it's still worse than just putting gasoline in your commuter car.

Your statement therefore is: myopic

I wish people would just stop... (-1, Troll)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46102333)

I wish people would just stop this bullshit about carbon dioxide induced climate change being something we have to rally against. CO2 is natural, it has existed at much higher quantities, and there's nothing we can do about it. Anyone who thinks that "carbon" is detrimental is a straight up ignorant fool. ALL ANIMALS EXHALE IT ALL DAY LONG. So, -you- are polluting the earth just by living? So is every other animal. Let's go kill every human and animal to save the planet from climate change...which has and will never be proven to be caused by carbon dioxide.

Oh, by the way, as we all learned in grade 4 environmental class: plants consume CO2 and then emit clean oxygen...and they need it to survive, by the way.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102523)

Is there some clever sarcasm I'm missing here?
The problem with CO2 is that we are releasing more and more of it that has been trapped underground for a while.
At the same time we are deforesting the entire planet at an amazing rate.
The CO2 is acidifying the oceans and killing off the plankton which account for something around a third of all oxygen production.
So yeah, if we weren't chopping down trees left and right it wouldn't be as much of a problem maybe.

In any case I don't think anyone is worried about the plants being able to survive.
What people are worried about is whether or not the planet will still be a comfortable place for humans to survive.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46104193)

You're not missing anything, the carbon we are releasing right now was liberated before it was sequestered...so...the earth was obviously a bad place then.

We'll survive, whatever happens.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (3, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#46102575)

For most of the time, Earth was a very hot humid place with an atmosphere you wouldn't want to breathe.

Dragons might like that.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46104143)

How do you know I'm not a dragon?! You insensitive clod!

Ok, well, don't believe everything you see on TV. The dinosaurs roamed when the earth was hospitable. I've never heard of proof that the period of which you speak was caused by liberated carbon dioxide...if I'm wrong, cite your source.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102597)

The problem is not that we, animals and plants take part in the global carbon cycle.
The problem is we are freeing carbon deposits (burning hydrocarbons) which were not part of this cycle for 60 million years or more. And no one knows the outcome of this experiment with our biosphere.
The really funny part is we have to get of oil/gas/coal anyway.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46104103)

Ok, so what were the carbon deposits before they were deposits? And how about before that?

Re:I wish people would just stop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46104827)

Ok, so what were the carbon deposits before they were deposits? And how about before that?

There's the short carbon cycle and the long carbon cycle.

The short cycle (simplified) is: atmosphere -> plants -> animals -> atmosphere.

The long carbon cycle (also simplified) is: minerals (limestone, coal, oil, etc) -> short cycle -> minerals.

What industrial society has been doing is taking carbon from the "mineral" phase of the long cycle, and putting it in the "atmosphere" phase of the short cycle. Given time (millions of years), it will go back into the mineral phase, but until then, we'll have to deal with the consequences.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46106729)

Indeed, we do have to deal with the consequences. Which, to date, has been nothing. I have not seen one -actual- piece of evidence that shows CO2 causes the earth to warm. It is -all- conjecture/opinion.

Oh, and you're so afraid of pollution, why aren't you railing against the 4 -very- unclean (due to no regulation) power plants being built in China/Inda every week [thegwpf.org] ? No, -WE- have to make our lives turn upside down (bullshit cars, bullshit products, bullshit taxes, bullshit prices) to have a very minimal effect when China/India get to sponsor our carbon neutrality, multiplied by god knows how much.

Do you even know where the money you spend on carbon neutrality goes? I bet you don't even care. I bet you don't even care that "our" industrial society has moved to China.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46111251)

If CO2 and water vapor did not cause the Earth to warm then liquid water would not exist on the Earth's surface. Any child can verify that CO2 absorbs radiation in a certain band with nothing more than a thermometer and glass container. A spectroscope would prove this to anyone's satisfaction. Any difference between incoming radiation and outgoing radiation must necessarily be measured as heat. If you increase the partial pressure (with regard to nitrogen and h20) of CO2 in any closed system then it will absorb more radiation in certain spectra that, again, your spectroscope can tell you.

Liquid water covers 70% of the globe, and with little provocation it will undergo a phase change to a gaseous state. The atmosphere can be considered to be saturated with water vapor, more or less beyond our ability to control. However, we can and have released gigatonnes of another substance, which happens to selectively absorb outgoing long-wave radiation. We have already increased the partial pressure of this gas in the atmosphere considerably and show no signs of stopping. Further information on radiative transfer in the atmosphere may be found here [aip.org] , including a history of discoveries related to the matter. Assuming that you're not fool enough to argue a physical phenomenon that again, can be detected by anyone, and measured with the simplest of laboratory equipment, one can ask what method of heat transfer you imagine would suffice to remove this excess heat?

The degree of warming, of course, is a complicated matter, and well beyond your ability to describe. However, you could probably, as also detailed on the aforementioned website, use a single-layer model to get an order-of-magnitude of the change. For more accurate calculations, you may consult the model and data from Mann et al [psu.edu] , or read the IPCC summary. Or you could listen to your betters instead of people who are trying to confuse the scientific matter with political shit. The science is descriptive, not prescriptive -- argue about taxes and international policy all you like, but it has nothing to do with observations of the global carbon cycle and human effects on the latter.

For instance, it is observed that the Arctic, where I happen to live, is melting like gangbusters. We are losing on the order of a hundred cubic kilometers of glacial ice annually just in Alaska. Maybe you haven't noticed the warming where you live, but here's a big fuck you from someone whose life has been directly affected. You want your industry back? I want my glaciers back, and they were here first. More to the point, permafrost temperatures have been rising steadily, and perhaps you don't know what that is, or what it looks like when it melts, but I can assure you we will not be worrying about the emissions of the third world at that point.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (3, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 8 months ago | (#46102655)

The problem isn't all CO2. Of course, if we somehow magically removed all CO2 from our atmosphere we'd have horrible consequences. The problem is that there are vast stores of carbon that have been sequestered out of the atmosphere in the form of coal and oil. We're taking that carbon and putting it back into the atmosphere (as CO2) in massive amounts. The plants can't consume the CO2 as quickly as we burn it and even if they did, that's not taking the CO2 out of the system. You don't introduce a massive amount of something into the climate without having repercussions.

Nobody's saying that we should remove ALL CO2 from the atmosphere. Just that we shouldn't be pushing so much of it into the atmosphere from underground (*not* in the atmosphere for millions of years) sources. Just because it's natural for some to be there doesn't mean a ton more will have no consequences.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102975)

Trolls are heavy CO2 producers. And methane producers too.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (-1, Flamebait)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46104087)

Ok, so 'they' said that an increase in CO2 would equal an increase in global temperature, called global warming (Al Gore's famous and patently false hockey stick diagram). Now that we haven't observed an increase in global temperature (we've seen a cooling), 'they' can't now call it 'global cooling' because that would be painfully obvious that they are a bunch of ass-hats. Instead, they call it climate change. So which is it, does CO2 warm or cool? It's agendized propaganda, plain and simple.

How about before the coal and oil was coal and oil? Where was the carbon then? And how about just before then? Keep in mind, there's no proof that oil is dinosaurs.

Liberated CO2 is not a pollutant, or detrimental to our planet. The god damned SUN is the driver of weather on this planet, not CO2.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

Yakasha (42321) | about 8 months ago | (#46104859)

Ok, so 'they' said that an increase in CO2 would equal an increase in global temperature, called global warming (Al Gore's famous and patently false hockey stick diagram). Now that we haven't observed an increase in global temperature (we've seen a cooling), 'they' can't now call it 'global cooling' because that would be painfully obvious that they are a bunch of ass-hats. Instead, they call it climate change. So which is it, does CO2 warm or cool? It's agendized propaganda, plain and simple. How about before the coal and oil was coal and oil? Where was the carbon then? And how about just before then? Keep in mind, there's no proof that oil is dinosaurs. Liberated CO2 is not a pollutant, or detrimental to our planet. The god damned SUN is the driver of weather on this planet, not CO2.

If assholes like you weren't ruining science [slashdot.org] , your comment would be laughable.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46106761)

Hah. It's assholes like me that make it so government "scientists" get laughed out of their office when they publish asshole findings. Look up "climategate" and the "scientists" at East Anglia who wrote Email messages back and fourth about "how the hell" they were "going to convince people" that global warming is real [dailymail.co.uk] .

Re:I wish people would just stop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46103027)

Its a good thing we're not destroying of 80,000 acres of CO2 consuming Oxygen producing tropical rainforest each day.

Oh, wait....

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46103961)

Anonymous Coward, cite your source. Let us vet it.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#46104331)

Good catch, that figure is actually the _gross_ deforestation per year.

Net deforestation is actually 34,000 acres per day, accounting for afforestation and natural expansion. [fao.org]

Of course that figure comes from a fly by night Liberal mouthpiece called the Food and Agriculture Of the United Nations [fao.org] , and I'm sure that they're backed by some sort of militant panda bear extremists so you shouldn't trust anything they say.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46106211)

Complete and utter bullshit. There is no record of how many acres of trees Saruman cut down to fuel his furnaces, and there were no tropics OR rainforests anywhere near Isengard.

Re:I wish people would just stop... (1)

inject_hotmail.com (843637) | about 8 months ago | (#46106691)

Pretty much my understanding is that any major study is biased by whomever funds it. Seriously, who is going to fund a multi-hundred thousand dollar study that hurts one's own cause? Who is going to fund a study where there is no (financial/political) interest? Automatic conflict of interest before anyone does anything!

It's hard for me to take statistics seriously when one side of the equation is a dollar sign.

Carbon Emission Sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102359)

"Smaug is surprisingly environmentally friendly"

I think its more the inderect carbon emissions of Desolated villages and smouldering corpses of Dwarfs that would be putting all the carbon into the environment.

how about the impact from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102381)

How about study the impact from the wasted energy used to render this and other worthless crap on the web, by various individuals?? :)

I could envision the benefit of such a study comparatively. How it could benefit all of man kind, how it seriously could affect how we perceive the evolution of things.

If we rotate it 32.56831 deg, will it still produce the same result??
If I take the time to fold it, roll it and consume it, how would this "valuable" research affect me from that perspective?
I am taken back to a show by Neimoy, "in search of"

Eh I pontificate profusely..

Smaug is environmentally wonderful (3, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about 8 months ago | (#46102509)

Replace the denizens of an entire city with a single creature - check. Single creature spends most of it's time lounging about and doing nothing - check. Single creature reuses the work product of others instead of making their own emissions - check. Single creature eats far less than an entire city - check.

It's a no brainier - Smaug is good for the environment.

Re:Smaug is environmentally wonderful (2)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 8 months ago | (#46103083)

Single creature eats far less than an entire city - check.

I thought that the whole problem with dragons is that they do tend to eat an entire city...

Depends on the dragon (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 8 months ago | (#46102557)

Some dragons are herbivores, so they eat lower parts of the food chain.

It's really the dragon burps from those that we should be worried about.

Re:Depends on the dragon (1)

Megane (129182) | about 8 months ago | (#46103691)

How do you think dragons breathe fire? They light their belches on fire.

We just have to hope that there aren't any herbivorous dragons that eat beans.

Excuse me but (3, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | about 8 months ago | (#46102609)

Middle Earth runs by Magic not science

Re:Excuse me but (2)

Reapy (688651) | about 8 months ago | (#46103097)

Magic is science we don't understand yet.

Re:Excuse me but (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46103215)

Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!

Re:Excuse me but (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 8 months ago | (#46103465)

--Agatha Heterodyne [girlgeniusonline.com]

I don't know if she was the first source for this, but it's a fun series to follow, for those who don't know :-)

Re:Excuse me but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46104277)

I think it was Arthur C. Clark who first said "Any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic"

Re:Excuse me but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46104279)

I think it was Arthur C Clarke who was first credited to that saying.

Re:Excuse me but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46103509)

Middle Earth runs by Magic not science

OH! Just like the Republican party.

Re:Excuse me but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46104035)

Both parties run on magic; the constituents just seem to be blind to their brand.

Re:Excuse me but (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46103565)

In a world with magic, magic just becomes another thing to be studied by science.

Re:Excuse me but (1)

Megane (129182) | about 8 months ago | (#46103681)

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from science.

Re:Excuse me but (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 8 months ago | (#46106845)

Middle Earth runs by Magic not science

Magic has a carbon footprint. Why do you think Gandalf, Bilbo, Frodo, and later Sam had to leave on the elven ships bound for the undying lands?

If not for Magic's carbon footprint, the eruption of the Supervolcano at mount doom, should have brought nuclear winter upon the shire and all of middle earth, for sure.

Volcanic Winter (2)

TVDinner (1067340) | about 8 months ago | (#46102645)

I'm surprised Middle Earth isn't in a constant Ice Age with Mt. Doom erupting all the time.

Volcanic Winter [wikipedia.org]

Re:Volcanic Winter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102725)

There are volcanoes on earth that erupt continuously.
Those aren't actually much of a problem.
It's mostly the volcanoes that erupt explosively that cause volcanic winter.
That's because when a volcano explodes, rather than just bubbling out lava day after day, large amounts of rock and ash are distributed into the atmosphere.

Re:Volcanic Winter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46102785)

There is always a volcano exploding somewhere in the world and we don't have a volcanic winter. Also, Mt. Doom doesn't seem especially violent. Maybe a few Hawaiian volcanoes put together, nothing crazy.

Only 3 proper dragons (4, Informative)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 8 months ago | (#46102779)

Glaurung
Anacalgon
Smaug

It's interesting that all were slain by Men, while the only ones who killed Balrogs were Elves or Maiar. In the original Gondolin myth the dragons were actually mechanical and basically giant troop transports, again highlighting the pastoral and anti-industrial themes in a lot of JRRTs work. Dragons were noisy, mechanical, destructive things, part of the mortal world of Men, while Balrogs were basically demons, part of the immortal world (Heaven/Hell).

slashdotted of course. two cases (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 8 months ago | (#46102871)

if dragons only eat other creatures and plants, they are carbon neutral

if dragons insult Santa Claus to obtain and eat coal, like the ones in Johnny Hart's Wizard of ID, then yes they are a carbon source

dragons emit CO2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46103037)

Dragons have a small impact on global warming if you think about it.
Dragon fire is powered by methane from digesting their food (either that, or magic).
Instead of farting they blow it out and light it, turning it into CO2.
So, because methane is a far worse greenhouse gas than CO2, dragons are actually better for the environment if we disregard all the houses burning down.
This combined with what others have posted (dragons result in population control) would probably result in a small positive impact on the environment.

"Carbon" "Carbon", "Climate" "Climate"... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46103341)

repeat ad nauseam...

Are you sick of this 'catastrophic man-made global warming' bullshit yet? Sorry, 'climate change' bullshit. Sorry, 'climate' bullshit.

After all, the alarmists call anybody who questions their LIES 'climate deniers', - that would mean people who deny there is a CLIMATE. Nice try.

www.climatedepot.com

There is no such thing as catastrophic man-made global warming.

We have our top men working on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46107099)

Which men? TOP men.

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