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Present Energy Policy is a House of Cards

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Jim Baird's picture
Owner, Thermodynamic Geoengineering

inventor,Method and apparatus for load balancing trapped solar energy Ocean thermal energy conversion counter-current heat transfer system Global warming mitigation method Nuclear Assisted...

  • Member since 2018
  • 379 items added with 483,503 views
  • Oct 10, 2022

It is predicated on the public’s acceptance of energy that is 5 times more costly than is necessary,  is underwritten by $5.9 trillion in annual fossil fuel subsidies, is contemplating the superfluous disbursement of as much as $100 trillion for atmospheric carbon dioxide removal, and envisages the mobilization of  US $100 billion per year  by the developed countries for climate action for the developing countries that is more reparation than prophylactic, and is more epidemic than pandemic.

The proxy for this policy was the 2014 RealClimate  article  Ocean heat storage: a particularly lousy policy target + Update by Sefan Rahmstorf which in summary said:

  1. Ocean heat content is extremely unresponsive to policy.
  2. Ocean heat content has no direct relation to any impacts.
  3. Ocean heat content is difficult to measure.

And then offers two basic ocean physics facts in support of its conclusion:

  1. heat content is an integral quantity, and
  2. the response time of the ocean.

In reverse order of the above.

“The ocean is on average 3700 meters deep (thus has a huge heat capacity) and is heated at a low power input of the order of ~1 Watt per square meter of surface area. Also, it is heated from above and not well mixed but highly stratified. Warm water floats on top, which hinders the penetration of heat into the ocean,” the article says.

The ocean is heated from above, but in the tropics, it is heated at a rate of ~70 Watts per square meters per the following graphic.

The oceans are highly stratified, which lends itself to the conversion of the heat of warming to useful work with the aid of heat pipes that are highly effective thermal conductors that can transfer heat 250 more effectively than copper and can mix surface heat into deeper water.

Heat pipes are the same devices used to direct heat away from the sensitive central processors of contemporary servers.

“It will take the ocean thousands of years to fully 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,” the article says.

Although we can’t limit overall ocean heat content but for about 31 terawatts that can be converted to work undertaken on the land, we can redistribute surface heat into deeper water with heat pipes and in that process mitigate every consequence of global warming.

The heat moved into deep water will return at a rate of ~4 meters/year back to surface where it can be recirculated – 13 times – to produce more work, which will delay the surface implication of global warming for about 3,000 years by which time all the waste of heat of those conversions will have been dissipated into space.  

Instead of the ocean heat content not responding on a policy-relevant time scale, the implications of global warming can be condensed to 226 years with heat pipes. Which in turn is the time it will take for the surface temperature to return to the pre-industrial level and the consequences of global warming will be rectified.

Ocean heat content is difficult to measure.

Not so, it was measured by Resplandy et al. in a paper Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition. Which showed that between 1991 and 2016 the ocean heat content increased by 1.29 ± 0.79 × 1022 Joules (409 terawatts) each year. The equivalent of a planetary energy imbalance of 0.80 ± 0.49 W watts per square meter of the Earth’s surface.

And a joint NASA, NOAA Study has determined that the Earth’s energy imbalance approximately doubled during the 14-year period from 2005 to 2019, and is likely to continue at a similar pace going forward.

Ocean heat content has no direct relation to any impacts.

Again, not so! The 2019 Resplandy paper measured ocean heat uptake on the basis of changes in atmospheric composition of O2 and CO2 as the ocean warmed.

A 2022 study showed that rising temperatures have lead to warmer waters that can hold less dissolved oxygen, which creates less circulation between the ocean’s layers. With the result many fisheries worldwide are losing oxygen at “unnatural rate” that passed a critical threshold of oxygen loss in 2021.

Resplandy’s “atmospheric potential oxygen trend” is O2 + 1.05 × CO2

As the oceans are losing oxygen, they are losing carbon dioxide at about the same  rate.

The ocean’s loss is the atmosphere’s gain and any increase in atmospheric CO2, becomes climate feedback.

According to the IPCC, the increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past few centuries has been driving CO2 from the atmosphere into the oceans. But this is far too simplistic. It is an averaging of the most interesting and important changes of the ocean/atmosphere flux, where the tropics are gas emitters, and higher latitudes are gas absorbers.

But the IPCC’s take becomes irrelevant when surface heat, gases and nutrients are properly mixed in the tropics with heat pipes

As Rahmstorf acknowledges, If the heat that has accumulated since 1970 was evenly distributed over the entire global ocean, the water temperatures would have warmed on average by less than 0.05 °C. And this tiny warming would have essentially zero impact. The only reason why ocean heat uptake has an impact is the fact that it is highly concentrated at the surface.

But this concentration can be easily attenuated with heat pipes.

Ocean heat content is extremely unresponsive to policy. While the increase in global temperature could indeed be stopped within decades by reducing emissions, ocean heat content will continue to increase for at least a thousand years after we have reached zero emissions. Ocean heat content is one of the most inert components of the climate system, second only to the huge ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica.

Again, this is irrational. As the following graphic from the paper Drivers and distribution of global ocean heat uptake over the last half century shows, the Arctic is warming 4 times faster that the rest of the planet that is nevertheless losing heat.  While the bulk of the heat of warming is being sequestered in the Southern Ocean

But both of these circumstances can be short circuited by modifying the ocean physics with heat pipes per the following.

With the result:

  1. The surface of the ocean can be cooled to the preindustrial level in about 226 Years.
  2. Every consequence of global warming can be mitigated at the same rate.
  3. The heat of global warming can be converted to 2.1 times more energy than we are currently obtaining from fossil fuels.
  4. The total cost of this energy will be half the 2019 cost of fossil fuels, which has inflated subsequently by about 33%.
    1. If global fossil fuel subsidies, which the IMF have estimated at $5.9 trillion/year, are added to fossil fuel costs, they would be 5 times the cost of energy produced by Thermodynamic Geoengineering.
  5. The unconverted heat of warming sent into the deep will return in about 226 at which time it can be converted to more work - 13 times in total - and,
  6. Energy produced with the aid of heat pipes overcomes the 3 obstacles the GESAMP listed as the impediments to large scale implementation of conventional OTEC which are:
    1. Heterogenous cooling of the surface
    2. Temporary cooling of the surface and,
    3. Termination risk.

BNNBloomberg reports, “A group of the most-vulnerable nations to global warming plan to step up demands for compensation at the international climate summit scheduled for November.”

“The Climate Vulnerable Forum, which represents 55 countries including island-nations threatened by rising sea levels such as the Maldives and poor African states struggling with droughts and floods, made compensation for damage from events tied to global warming their key demand,” the article notes.

In a rationale world, this group wouldn’t be seeking compensation. They would be seeking equity to become partners in the solution. The profits of which would be their ultimate retribution to those who would just as soon see them under water.

And low elevation  like in the Maldives, are ideal for the drydocks that will be needed to build the solution. They would be a built on solid ground, as opposed to the house of cards upon which current climate policy has been erected.


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