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On Buying the Time Necessary to Save the Planet

David OTEC operates 24/7 and would continuously drive surface heat to the deeper water.  Some of this will no doubt return, particularly in El Nino years.

June 21, 2014    View Comment    

On Beyond Paris, Part 1: Humans are Changing the Climate for the Worse

Average surface temperatures represent less than 2.5 percent of global warming. 

Unless you are prepared to deal with the bulk of the heat you aren't addressing the issue.

As to squid they are dependant on fish who in turn are dependent on phytoplankton, neither of which are doing well as a result of the warming of the ocean. For one thing, the heat means less oxygen in the water.  For another thermal straticifcation cuts the phytoplankton off from the nutrients they need to thrive. Utlimately this will all impact on the squid.

June 11, 2014    View Comment    

On Beyond Paris, Part 1: Humans are Changing the Climate for the Worse

Because of the mass of the oceans, they have warmed only .09°C to a depth of 2000 meters over the period 1955-2006, or about a quarter of the pace of the atmosphere. Their average depth is 4267 meters; therefore they have over twice the capacity to absorb the heat attributed to global warming as the 2000 meters measured in the 1955-2006 study by Levitus.

The Fifth Assessment report of the IPCC was confronted with the fact the atmospheric temperature trend of the past sixteen years has ground to a halt. Climate skeptics seized on this leveling of the temperature as evidence that global warming too has ground to a halt.

Levitus however shows that the heat that hasn’t been measured in the atmosphere – which accounts only for about 2.5 percent of the total global warming heat – has been found in deeper water.

Over ninety percent of warming heat has gone into the oceans; 85% above 750 meters and the rest deeper. This stratification presents the conditions essential to producing work with a heat engine. Ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC uses such a heat engine and would mitigate many of the problems presented by global warming, by converting heat that causes thermal expansion to work, diminishing the power of storms that move heat to the poles, moving heat to regions of diminished coefficient of expansion, and converting ocean volumes to the energy currency and gas hydrogen that is necessary to move offshore generated power to market.

A recent study published in Science points out that the storage capacity of the oceans is far greater than previously expected. Yair Rosenthal, a climate scientist at Rutgers University and the lead author of the study, says:

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

Converting ocean heat to the power the world needs however not only buys us time it will stop climate change.

This is one human endeavor that would change the climate for the better.

June 4, 2014    View Comment    

On Seeking Consensus on the Internalized Costs of Nuclear

The Chernobyl exclusions zone is 1,000 sq mi. The Fukushima no go zone is 12 miles.

What is the value of this land and the cost of the relocation of 133,000 people; 53,000 Chernobyl, 80,000 Fukushima?

Had these plants been any other power source struck by any manmade error, natural disaster or other massive failure these costs would not have been borne.

June 3, 2014    View Comment    

On Climate Change and the American Economy

"The whole point is to minimize government interference in the market."

In that case Roger British Columbia sets a poor example. The government is tilting the scales heavily in farvour of LNG for the Asian market.

I subscribe to the notion that this is a climate Bridge to Nowhere.

June 1, 2014    View Comment    

On Climate Change and the American Economy

Elias, what always gets me is American capitalists are inevitably also strong supporters of national security. 

There is no greater threat to U.S. sovereign territory than sea level rise. The last time CO2 levels were as high as they are today sea levels were 20 meters higher. At that level the state of Delaware, most of Southern Florida and a lot more is under water.


May 30, 2014    View Comment    

On Buying the Time Necessary to Save the Planet

David, phytoplankton are the largest converters of CO2 to Oxygen. They are under threat due to ocean warming and thermal stratification. I think cooling the ocean by converting surface heat to work and moving more to deeper water is the way to go. It is the most economical way to address the problem because it produces marketable energy in the process. As this post trys to point out it also buys time as we whittle away at the 200+ years of CO2 accumulation.


That said, I have no objection to any other form of sequrestation that works.

May 30, 2014    View Comment    

On Flying Without Fossil Fuels: The Need For High Energy Density

Nathan, Toyota, the largest manufacturer of automobiles, is now focusing its attention on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for the future as well.

And yes I would hope OTEC plays a large and environmentally significant roll in the production of this energy carrier. Hydrogen power ships are the way to go to bring that carrier to market.

May 30, 2014    View Comment    

On When Will Coastal Property Values Crash And Will Climate Science Deniers Be The Only Buyers?

"Sea level rise is now unstoppable"

John is that really the case.

The past 15 years atmospheric warming has decreased, it is believed, due to increased accumulation of heat in the deeper ocean as a result stronger than normal trade winds that have piled up surface heat in the Western Pacific; forcing it deeper.

We can replicate this natural phenomenon with an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) system that moves heat as deep as 1000 meters beneath the surface with what is commonly referred to as a heat pipe. These are the same devices that move heat away from the vital components of modern electrical devices and deposit that heat safely in the atmosphere.

The oceans are on average 4,267 meters deep. They are massive and absorb tremendous amounts of heat with limited temperature increases. To a depth of 2,000 meters they have warmed less than a tenth of one degree Celsius in the past 50 years in spite of the fact that they are accumulating heat a rate of about 2 Hiroshima bombs worth every second.    

This heat however is not with out consequences. It causes the oceans to expand, leading to sea level rise, it drives hurricanes and undermines the polar icecaps whose melting will be the driver of the large sea level increases that are expected by the end of the century.

By moving surface ocean heat through a heat engine, OTEC can produce as much energy as is currently derived from fossil fuels. Moving it away from the surface robs the power of hurricanes and when it is relocated to a depth of 1,000 meters it produces half the sea level rise as it does on the surface because the coefficient of expansion of sea water is half as great at that depth and ocean temperature as on the tropical surface.

Dr. Paul Curto, former Chief Technologist with NASA, has pointed out that when OTEC was first discussed in relation to global warming at a 1977 conference in Miami one of the concerns was that it might cause an Ice Age.

Although a kilometer of ice over New York to save Miami is not a saleable proposition, enough cooling to prevent further losses of Artic, Antarctic and Greenland ice mass would be beneficial to all.

May 27, 2014    View Comment    

On The Myth of Price

Can I like it more than once?

May 22, 2014    View Comment    

On Why We Need CCS, Part 2: Reactive Climate Change Mitigation

Nathan, the warmer the ocean gets the less CO2 or O2 for that matter it can hold. OTEC's capacity to cool the surface is it best recommendation in terms of CO2.

Most of the claims for CO2 capture are associated with OTEC are biological. Thermal stratification is believed to be depleting phytoplankton that produce half the oxygen in the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Proponents of the cold water pipe design claim upwelling will bring to the surface the nutrients the phytoplankton need to thrive in a similar way that iron seeding has been seen as a phytoplankton stimulant.

Too much nutrient can however have the reverse effect causing eutrophication of the water column.

To the extent OTEC reduces ocean thermal stratification it would enhance CO2 uptake through photosynthesis.

Another take on this was recently published in Climate Progress with regard to the threat to oysters in the northwest. "The problems started happening in 2006 when winds that cause upwelling off the West Coast didn’t subside as much as they usually do. Upwelling brings up water that was at the surface of the ocean 50 years ago, water that had spent the last five decades years deep in the ocean, accumulating carbon dioxide from the organic matter that sinks to the seafloor. According to Oregon State University, the water that rose to the surface off the coast of Washington in 2006 contained CO2 levels of 900 to 1,000 parts per million."

Normal ocean content is about 350 ppm.

This is one more reason for the deep water condenser design that leaves the cold water in place but would induce gentle convection that would bring nutrients to the surface.


May 20, 2014    View Comment    

On New Studies Suggest Many Coastal Cities Eventually To Be Abandoned With Antarctic Ice Collapse

We have all witnessed the response to the attacks on New York and Washington on 9/11.

Where is the comparable response to the potential loss of entire cities and perhaps even states such as Delaware. 

May 16, 2014    View Comment