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Buying the Time Necessary to Save the Planet

The German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, who co-chaired the IPCC committee that wrote the most recent UN report, commented in the New York Times: “We cannot afford to lose another decade.” If we do it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.

The way we have been buying time to date and may be able to forestall the day of climate reckoning even longer was suggested by James Lovelock in a recent Nature interview when he pointed out, ‘The thing we’ve all forgotten is the heat storage of the ocean — it’s a thousand times greater than the atmosphere and the surface. You can’t change that very rapidly.”

A study lead by Yair Rosenthal of Rutgers University notes that for the past 60 years heat has been accumulating in the oceans, which has acted like a buffer against global warming. Now however the oceans are absorbing heat 15 times faster than they ever have over the previous 10,000 years and although this may give scientists and policymakers more time to deal with the issue of climate change, Rosenthal says the problem is real and must be addressed. 

“We may have underestimated the efficiency of the oceans as a storehouse for heat and energy,” he said. “It may buy us some time – how much time, I don’t really know – to come to terms with climate change. But it’s not going to stop climate change.”

A clue as to what has been happening since the turn of this century, when atmospheric warming appeared to level off, was revealed by the study lead by Professor Matthew England of the University of New South Wales (see video). It found that stronger than average trade winds, typically associated with La Nina events, was moving heat deeper into the western Pacific.

As can be seen from the following diagram, La Nina winds pile up warm surface water in the west where they mix the heat to deeper water.  


When these winds subside the level of the western Pacific also subsides and the heat, as evidenced by the thermocline,comes closer to the surface in the west while the warm layer thickens in the east.

These El Niño events are typically associated with some of the warmest years on record as evidenced by the following NOAA graph of Global Annual Temperature Anomalies from 1950–2012.


It is anticipated this year is shaping up to be another El Niño year and as England notes the heat absorption of the oceans that brought about the hiatus may also reverse causing the ocean to lose the heat they have absorbed back to the atmosphere. In his words, “we expect quite rapid warming to occur”.

As can be seen from the following representation of the ocean thermocline there is about 20 times more ocean than the 230 meters that takes up heat in La Nina years.


By moving more heat below the thermocline, it can be diluted, with less likelihood of its rapid return.

By moving it to 1000 meters, the thermal expansion of the oceans, which causes about a third of currently measured sea level rise would also be reduced.

The following is a diagram from British patent GB 2395754 issued to Dominic Michaelis of Energy Island Ltd. for an Ocean Thermal Energy Converter Condenser that would accomplish both of these things.


Massive deployment of this or similar type systems can buy us time as well as address the real problem of climate change. Such systems, which on a full cycle basis are one of the lowest producers of CO2/kwh of electricity, can provide us with as much energy as we currently derive from fossil fuels.


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Bas Gresnigt's picture
Bas Gresnigt on May 22, 2014

The problem is that climate change scientists to often produced warnings that showed to be wrong.

So my conclusion:
The science is still in its infancy, just like wind turbine and solar panel developments.

David Newell's picture
David Newell on May 30, 2014
It’s difficult not to say something to folks like Mr Gresnigt
which are disparaging of his capacities for observation,
but it will do no good.  
Education is available to all who have eyes to see.   
Jim, you know my perspectives,
which are against “selling the future”,
an example of which is the un natural effect of moving heat around.  
Also, the change in acidity of the ocean
is sufficient to kill off everything “we” hold dear,
and it does nothing in that regard. 
I, of course, am an advocate of the technique at WWW.EarthThrive.Net,
which has yet to be disproven.
I copy some from another letter…:
As more and more evidence accumulates in regard to the looming catastrophe,
more serious consideration may be given t
o ways to counter at least the rate of increase,
so that more time is available to employ other methods,
and educate “the masses”.
I propose a “new measurement” of alkalinity.
Maybe it’s NOT new, but it’s new to me, and facile for raising my point.
Total Alkalinity, volume, (vs. CO2) =
volume of pure CO2 adsorbed / volume of solid substrate
Abbreviated TA(sub)v or TAv, it can be in any dimensional system,
as long as they are “in common”. ( of course)
My laboratory measurements were in CC.
Ranges of TAv for surface alkali soils ranged between about 2 1/2 to over 3.
(there are speculative reasons to think that lower levels will be more reactive..)
I presently cannot find this (following) calculation, so anyone of interest can do so.
Given the elongated inverted pyramid approximation of (say)
the Black Lake Desert, which is about 25 miles long by 10 miles wide..
Assume that it is a rectangular box 1 mile deep.
Given a conservative TAv of 2.5,
what is the weight of CO2 in tonnes possible if all the material was reacted.???????
After that is derived,
then we can see if further consideration of the other objections may be warranted.
Lets see: 22.4 liters^ of CO2 = 1 mole wt of CO2, in grams, at STP.
formula wt = 44.grams/ mole
According to my trusty HP-55, which is still running after all these years,
under consideration is 25X10X1, which is 250 cu miles of “dirt”,
which can ultimately sequester (with a TAv of 2.5), 625 cu miles of CO2.
1 cubic mile =4.16818183 × 10^15 cubic centimeters
625 ” = 2.605113641 x 10 ^18 “
or 2.605113641 x 10 ^15 liters.
or (changing decimal pt) 26.05113641 x 10 ^17 liters,
which, when divided by 22.4 liters, = 1.2 X 10^17 moles of CO2,
or, multiplying by the mole weight of CO2, 44,
equals ~5 X 10 ^ 18 grams ,
or 5 X 10^12 tonnes.
Anyone who used an HP55 in college is old as the hills,
OVER the hill,
and probably missing a screw, as well..
Please point out my errors, other than those which are simple approximations.
All that is needed, urgently, is to employ a technique
which reduces the rate of increase in circulating CO2,
while “other measures” take effect. If we can take 5 billion tonnes
OUT of the air, per year, we “MIGHT” have a chance.
Pumping costs be damned!
AT the very LEAST civilization is “under threat” by our combined ignorance.
(This “rant” is more “refined” at, so I’l discontinue it,
For far less than Gov Moonbeam’s favorite projects of continuing stupidity,
ie the “twin tunnels” under the Delta, and/or the “Train to Nowhere”,
we could implement this plan,
(side issue)
produce a hell of a lot of clouds going dowwind.
It may be noted that many of the playas (the above is just an example,
although one of the larger playas, to be sure..) are “saline” in nature,
and are “wet” at some depth under the surface.
Maintaining conditions for bicarbonate stability (dampness) is not difficult.
Thank you for your time.
David Newell
Within the next several months, the great majority of people,
even those with “half their brain tied behind their back” will be “convinced”.  
Then there will be a great “It’s their fault” period,
and THEN we all will be wondering WTFooey is to be done?
Well, WWW.EarthThrive.Net. is THE BEST so far,
although it needs YOUR HELP to get the field tests done.
David Newell's picture
David Newell on Jun 1, 2014

Does it both reduce the amount of CO2 circulating in th Earth’s atmosphere, and reducd the acidity of the oceans?


Is the heat totally dissipated, or does it acelerate the thermal recycling whose period ( I may be wrong on this) is approximately 35 to 40 years?

David Newell's picture
David Newell on Jun 21, 2014


I presume as well that the growth on your arm is no problem, because you don’t know if it’s basal cell or squamous cell cancer, and thus, no action is indicated. 

Dude, you are dying. Which is no big deal, we all do..  But the future is dying…

Jim Baird's picture

Thank Jim for the Post!

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