The cognitive dissidence of climate policy
- Dec 2, 2021 6:48 pm GMT
Climate policy, such that it is, has been focused on surface temperature.
Climate is the average of weather over time and space so, surface temperature and emissions are superficial constructs neither of which encompass the big picture which include, ranked in order of their importance, are heat, nutrients, oxygen and carbon dioxide. Which in the latter case is minutia.
The big picture, the heat, is reflected in the following graphic which represents the 6 petawatts that migrate from the equator to the poles annually, in red, the 409 terawatts the oceans gained on average between 1991 and 2016 due to global warming in orange, and the 31 terawatts that can be extracted from the ocean in the form of work that can be consumed on the land in brown.
The minutia is the 416 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the black box below, inside the one cubic meter grey box of atmosphere, and the 2-ppm red box representing the current annual accumulation of carbon dioxide.
The October, 2014, RealClimate article, Ocean heat storage: a particularly lousy policy target + Update, claimed ocean heat content is extremely unresponsive to policy because it will continue to increase for at least a thousand years after we have reached zero emissions and that it is one of the most inert components of the climate system, second only to the huge ice sheets.
The heat has no direct relation to any climate impacts it was claimed, because it is highly concentrated at the surface. If this heat were evenly distributed over the entire global ocean, water temperatures would have warmed on average by less than 0.05 °C between 1970 and 2014 they point out. And such a “tiny” warming would have essentially zero impact.
As an aside they claim surface warming has no impact on sea-level rise due to thermal expansion, because the thermal expansion coefficient is several times larger for warm surface waters than for the cold deep waters.
It is better to measure surface temperatures rather than the whole ocean, they declared because of calibration issues. A 0.05 °C warming of the entire ocean between 1970 and 2014 is within the margin of error for the .7 °C surface warming that occurred between 1950 and 2014.
They cited two basic ocean physic facts:
- Heat content is an integral quantity. The ocean is on average 3700 meters deep, has a huge heat capacity and is heated from the top at an input power on the order of ~1 Watt per square meter of the surface. The heat is not well mixed and instead is highly stratified which hinders the penetration of heat into the ocean. Parts of the abyss have not been exposed to the surface for more than a millennium and it will take thousands of years to catch up with the surface warming we have already caused. That is why limiting ocean heat content to 1024 Joules is not possible even if we stop global warming right now – even though this amount is four times the amount of heating already caused since 1970. “Ocean heat content simply does not respond on policy-relevant time scales”, they maintained.
- The response time of the ocean. Immediately reducing the rate of heating – the wattage – would be “a suitable policy target” but the limited relationship between ocean heat content and impacts, the difficulty in measuring the total heat content and the claim oceans will not release any heat in the next thousand years, mitigate against an ocean heat policy, they argued.
But two other physics facts germane to the problem of ocean heat were simply ignored and if we can’t get the physics right, climate will never be tamed. Let alone be turned to our advantage.
The third physics fact is that of the heat pipe. Which is a thermal transfer device capable of transferring heat and energy several hundred times faster than conventional methods by using the phase changes of a low-boiling-point working fluid.
And the fourth is the closed Brayton cycle whereby a gas is compressed, heat is input from a hot energy source like the ocean surface to turn a turbine to produce work, and the exhaust heat is output to a cold region like the tropical abyss at a depth of 1,000 meters.
With the aid of these two devices, the unmixed heat, nutrients, oxygen, and carbon dioxide of the tropical surface can be mixed, and the impact of global warming will become essentially zero.
Although the average heat input at the ocean surface is about 1 Watt per square meter as the following graphic demonstrates, in the tropics, the surplus heat input is about 70 watts per square meter.
Ocean temperatures of at least 26.5 °C through a minimum depth of 50-meters are cyclone fuel so, a cubic meter of the tropical ocean surface contains at least 4900 watts of heat.
There are 7 seasonal, tropical cyclone basins per the following Wikipedia graphic.
About 20 of these become intense tropical cyclones, super typhoons, or major hurricanes that release around 600 terawatts of power compared to the 409 terawatts Resplandy et al estimated the oceans gained due to warming between 1991 and 2016.
It is wonder then that no less than Neil deGrasse Tyson: exerted scientists in a 2017 interview to figure out how to turn hurricane energy into electricity. Which this “inventor” has done but is confronted by the same science and academia bias that was exhibited by Mr. deGrasse Tyson in the interview daily.
To be able to effectively harvest this resource, which covers most of the tropical ocean surface and mitigate warming in the process, a system must be mobile, which Thermodynamic Geoengineering platforms are.
The outcome of this mitigation is represented in the following graphic where 6 petawatts, less the 409 terawatts of warming, are shifted towards the pole where it is dissipated to space, 31 terawatts are removed from the ocean and are relocated to the land, and 409 minus 31 terawatts are shifted into deep water from where it diffuses back to the surface and can be recycled.
The policy implications of these operations are:
- Warming stops immediately.
- Heat is removed from the ocean immediately – the velocity of heat in a heat pipe can approach that of sound.
- The impact on sea-level rise due to thermal expansion is reduced by a quarter by shifting surface heat to a median depth of 500 meters.
- The impact of sea-level rise due to melting is reduced by limiting the amount of heat that reaches the pole.
- Ocean heat content will be limited to 1024 Joules and after about 226 years will start to decline.
- The cost of energy and climate mitigation are both minimized.
All of which are more than suitable policy targets that can be attained within policy-relevant time scales and are not only affordable, but they will also be profitable.
Whereas the following table from the paper A Superstructure Model for Integrated Deployment of Negative Emissions Technologies under Resource Constraints shows that the Negative Emission Technologies (NET), BioEnergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), Afforestation and Reforestation (AR), Biochar, Soil Carbon Sequestration (SCS), Direct Air Capture (DAC), and Enhanced Weathering (EW) are anything but.
It is clear also from the following picture of Climeworks, Orca, CO2 direct air capture plant, their land use is significantly greater than zero.
Thirty-one thousand Thermodynamic Geoengineering plants would utilize 21 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide to sequester 4.4 Gt CO2/y, cost USD $3.9 trillion/y, produce $8.4 in revenue for a net profit of $4.5 trillion a year, produce 978 EJ of energy/yr and use only .71 million hectares of the ocean’s surface.
Climate policy focused on the minutiae of carbon and that punishes citizens with taxes is destined to fail.
A big picture climate policy that addresses ocean heat through the conversion of surface heat to work and moves the balance into work, provides jobs, livelihoods, taxes, profits, and global security.
It is a policymaker’s dream.
The oceans are the greatest global common whose lack of use is the greatest tragedy of the commons.
Until we get the physics right, sustainable energy, as well as effective climate policy, are an illusion.
No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.
Get Published - Build a Following
The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.
If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.