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Thanks, Dave, I'd never heard of the electron capture detector - sounds interesting. I'd agree that by the narrow standards of IQ tests Hansen probably is intelligent, but to judge by some Mensa members that's not saying much.
Hansen's Venus hypothesis is obvious junk for the simple reason that Venus' atmosphere is opaque to IR and visible light and there is no liquid water to remove the heat from the surface. On Earth, incoming radiation heats the surface, evaporating water which then convects to release its latent heat near the tropopause whence it is radiated to space. This doesn't happen on Venus, so Earth can never get like it as long as there is liquid water on the surface.
On the electron capture detector, here is a description of its importance to the Green agenda by Lovelock himself (from http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/lovedeten.htm ):
"When devising a series of ionisation detectors for gas chromatography in the mid 1950's I had no notion that one of them, the electron capture detector, would significantly affect the development of environmental thinking. It was invented in 1957, and is still among the most sensitive of chemical analytical methods in existence; moreover it is specifically sensitive to those chemicals that are a threat to the environment. Its use led to the discovery of the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues in the natural environment, and to Rachel Carson's book, The Silent Spring, which can be said to have started the environmental movement. It was later used to discover and measure the abundance of PCBs, chlorofluorcarbons and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Most recently, the detector has made possible a system of atmospheric and oceanic tracer technology. Perfluorocarbons, which are othervise inert and harmless, are easily detected tracers by electron capture. This system has enabled meteorologists to follow the movement of air masses across continents and is now finding use in ocean research."
If you regard modern-day environmentalism as a religion, Lovelock would be one of its saints. Modern day environmentalism (as opposed to the older version of environmentalism that was concerned about things like dirty rivers, London smogs and litter) is all about detecting vanishingly small amounts of some man-made chemical and creating a scare around it. So the people who invent the sensitive detectors like Lovelock are critical to the whole malarkey.
The electron capture detector played a big role in the DDT scare, and later on it detected the CFCs which eventually led to the ozone hole scare.