On Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 1:20 AM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:
"I'm an environmentalist and my solution is (a) efficiency"
I'm all for efficiency, only a fool would not be, but it's not a solution
to global warming or the energy shortage; its simple Economics 101, if
things become more efficient, if energy becomes cheaper to use then people
will use more of it.
"(b) liquid thorium reactors"
Excellent, I wish all environmentalist were like you.
> "(c) renewable energy"
Most "renewable energy" turns out to be moonshine and only exist because of
big government subsidies. And when you actually try to build something you
soon discover that environmentalist don't like them; wind farms are ugly
and noisy and kill little birdies, solar farms take so much land that they
endanger rare desert species, geothermal smells bad and causes earthquakes,
ethanol production hampers food production (they're right about that one),
and hydroelectric and nuclear fission most will refuse even to consider. As
I said the preferred solution of most environmentalist is to freeze in the
> "and (d) lower population."
Easier said than done; that decision is not made by government think tanks
but by sleepy people in the middle of the night.
"Do you see any non-environmentalist doing anything except mining coal
> and digging tar sand?"
Yes Nathan Myhrvold, he's a billionaire and the former chief technical
officer at Microsoft, he wants to build an artificial volcano.
Mt Pinatubo in 1991 became the best studied large volcanic eruption in
history, it put more sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere than any volcano
since Krakatoa in 1883. There is no longer any dispute that stratospheric
sulfur dioxide leads to more diffuse sunlight, a decrease in the ozone
layer, and a general cooling of the planet. What was astonishing was how
little stratospheric sulfur dioxide was needed. If you injected it in the
arctic where it would be about 4 times more effective, about 100,000 tons a
year would reverse global warming in the northern hemisphere. That works
out to 34 gallons per minute, a bit more than what a standard garden hose
could deliver but much less than a fire hose. We already spew out over
200,000,000 tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere each year, but all
of that is in the lower troposphere where it has little or no cooling
effect, the additional 100,000 tons is a drop in the bucket if you're
looking at the tonnage, but it's in the stratosphere where its vastly more
Myhrvold wasn't suggesting anything as ambitious as a space elevator, just
a light hose about 2 inches in diameter going up about 18 miles. In one
design he burns sulfur to make sulfur dioxide, he then liquefies it and
injects it into the stratosphere with a hose supported every 500 to 1000
feet with helium balloons. Myhrvold thinks this design would cost about 150
million dollars to build and about 100 million a year to operate. In
another design that would probably be even cheaper he just slips a sleeve
over the smokestack of any existing small to midsize coal power plant in
the higher latitudes and uses the hot exhaust to fill hot air balloons to
support the hose.
If Myhrvold's cost estimate is correct that means it would take 50 million
dollars less to cure global warming than it cost Al Gore to just advertise
the evils of climate change. But even if Myhrvold's estimate is ten times
or a hundred times too low it hardly matters, it's still chump change. In a
report to the British government economist Nicholas Stern said that to
reduce carbon emissions enough to stabilize global warming by the end of
this century we would need to spend 1.5% of global GDP each year, that
works out to 1.2 trillion (trillion with a t) dollars EACH YEAR.
One great thing about Myhrvold's idea is that you're not doing anything
irreparable, if for whatever reason you want to stop you just turn a valve
on a hose and in about a year all the sulfur dioxide you injected will
settle out of the atmosphere. And Myhrvold isn't the only fan of this idea,
Paul Crutzen won a Nobel prize for his work on ozone depletion, in 2006 he
said efforts to solve the problem by reducing greenhouse gases were doomed
to be “grossly unsuccessful” and that an injection of sulfur in the
stratosphere “is the only option available to rapidly reduce temperature
rises and counteract other climatic effects”. Crutzen acknowledged that it
would reduce the ozone layer but the change would be small and the the
benefit would be much greater than the harm.
And by the way, diffuse sunlight, another of the allegedly dreadful things
associated with sulfur dioxide high up in the atmosphere, well..., plant
photosynthesis is more efficient under diffuse light. Plants grow better in
air with lots of CO2 in it too, but that's another story.
> "Jim Hanson points out there is uncertainty on the order of 1000ppm
> regarding the ancient atmosphere. "
Even if that is true, and remember the uncertainty can go in either
direction, how do you explain the late Ordovician period? 450 million years
ago, there was 4400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere verses 380 today, and
yet the world was in the grip of a severe ice age.
"And it's not surprising that nobody who's comfortable wants to take
> seriously a problem that might upset their world."
No environmentalist has proposed a solution to global warming where the
cure was not worse than the disease. Environmentalist like to picture
themselves as always occupying the high ground but they have a lot to
answer for, their pressure to ban DDT has killed tens of millions of people
and if China had taken their advice and not used so much coal then 600
million people would still be in grinding poverty and not in the middle
John K Clark
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