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On Can Humanity Coexist With Rising CO2 Levels?

Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, emissions growth is expected to persist driven by growth in global population and economic activities. Baseline scenarios, those without additional mitigation, result in global mean surface temperature increases in 2100 from 3.7 °C to 4.8 °C compared to pre-industrial levels (median values; the range is 2.5 °C to 7.8 °C when including climate uncertainty, see Table SPM.1)11 (high confidence). The emission scenarios collected for this assessment represent full radiative forcing including GHGs, tropospheric ozone, aerosols and albedo change. Baseline scenarios (scenarios without explicit additional efforts to constrain emissions) exceed 450 parts per million (ppm) CO2eq by 2030 and reach CO2eq concentration levels between 750 and more than 1300 ppm CO2eq by 2100. This is similar to the range in atmospheric concentration levels between the RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5 pathways in 2100.12 For comparison, the CO2eq concentration in 2011 is estimated to be 430 ppm (uncertainty range 340 – 520 ppm)13. [6.3, Box TS.6; WGI Figure SPM.5, WGI 8.5, WGI 12.3]

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November 14, 2015    View Comment    

On Can Humanity Coexist With Rising CO2 Levels?

In all honesty Mark I took the SPM statement at face value. My interest is in the production of energy that can zero out atmospheric temperature rise an mitigate the two greatest risks of climate change - sea level rise and storm surge. To my mind speculation as to the what might be does little to solve the problem.


November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Differentiation, Financial Support, and the Paris Climate Talks

The key to unraveling this conundrum is a realistic energy substitute that prevents most of the loss and damage from climate change, which forecloses the need for restitution, and  fulfills the energy needs of the developed and emerging nations alike. Both the developing and industrialized world need to grow their economies using energy that mitigates the cause and effect of climate change.

Ocean thermal energy conversion saps the energy of the storms that damages vulnerable countries and diminishes sea level rise - the other great threat - in three ways:

  • surface ocean heat moved to 1000 meters expands ocean water half as much as it does at the surface,
  • tropical heat moved to the ocean abyss no longer is available to move to the poles where it melts icecaps, and
  • the production of hydrogen as an energy carrier for ocean derived power can transfer as much as 15 cubic kilometers of ocean volume to land annually.

Electrolysis of sea water with the technique developed by Lawrence Livermore Laboratories also has the potential to sequester as much as 79 billion metric tons of atmospheric CO2 annually with result climate change is tackled at its root as well as with respect to its major consequences.

It will be far more productive for the developed nations to provide emerging nations with energy that mitigates the climate problem than to pay them reparations that will have limited remedial impact on the environment or the threats they face.


November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Desalination Gets a Graphene Boost


November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Desalination Gets a Graphene Boost

Hydrogen is as much a water carrier as an energy carrier. To get the 14 terawatts of power the oceans are capable of producing with OTEC to shore requires the conversion of the electricity to an energy/water carrier.  This 14 TW would convert 16 trillion kg of ocean water (15 cubic kilometers) to gas and when that 1.8 trillion kgs/year of hydrogen was converted back to energy on land it is the equivalent of 600 gallons annually for every individual on the planet.

If that conversion was done with the supergreen hydrogen technique devleoped by Lawrence Livermore, 79 billion metric tons of CO2 would also be removed from the atmosphere annually.


November 13, 2015    View Comment    

On Sharing the Road to Zero Emissions, Part 1: More ZEVs Provide Customer Choice

Morry, as I pointed out here, converting the heat accumulating due to global warming - principally in the ocean - to power and moving the balance to the deep may be the only way we can meet commitments to keeping to a less than a 2C temperature increase. To get this ocean generated energy to market however requires the conversion of electricity to an energy carrier. There are strong arguments that this carrier should be ammonia but like you I favor hydrogen because it is as much a water carrier as and energy carrier and there is a more concerted effort in the automobile industry for its use.

There is a real climate case to be made for hydrogen but as Bob points out that is undercut by steam reforming of methane. Electrolysis of sea water using OTEC power on the other hand may well be a do or die situation. 

The most efficient way to produce compressed hydrogen is to perform electrolysis in deep water. When performed at a depth of 1000 meters, as would be the case in an OTEC situation, the gas arrives at the surface pressurized to 100 bar. 

Full capacity OTEC -14 terawatts – using the “supergreen” electrolysis technique developed by a team from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories would also sequester about 79 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.  

That amount of power would produce 1.8 trillion kilograms of hydrogen through the electrolysis of 16 trillion kilograms of water and this hydrogen, when reconstituted on land through the production of energy in a fuel cell or by burning in a combustion engine, would provide every person living on the planet 600 gallons of water annually.

A widely-used model estimates the social cost of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions at $326 trillion by 2200.

One example of the driver for these these cost was Hurricane Patricia, the strongest Pacific Hurricane ever to reach land.

The heat that powered that and like storms when driven to a depth of 1000 meters would no longer be available to cause havoc and the coefficient of expansion of sea water at that depth is half that of the surface so sea level rise would also be reduced.  

A new University of Cambridge study shows that melting permafrost will release sufficient carbon dioxide and methane to increase that cost by an additional $43 trillion.

Tropical heat moved to the deep also can no longer move to the poles to melt icecaps or permafrost.

Technology that slows or reverses global warming can not only prevent these losses it is the strongest incentive for the development of a hydrogen economy.

November 10, 2015    View Comment    

On Canadian Climate Policy and Your Vote

Mark, it will be interesting to see if a new government has any interest in keeping to Canada' s commitment to maintaining global temperature increases below 2C. There is a real opportunity to expand the Canadian economy through the implementation of homegrown technology that allows Canada and 113 co-signatories to the Copenhagen Accord to keep to those commitments. It takes more than just the government however to move on the opportunity.

October 19, 2015    View Comment    

On After the INDCs, is 2°C Possible?

< 2°C IS Possible with the right energy technology.
October 19, 2015    View Comment    

On What the Congressional Hearing on Volkswagen Missed

Jesse, my experience with big operations like the nuclear power industry and the oil sands producers is they pay no heed to outsiders who offer solutions to their problems including toxic waste, proliferation, carbon, emissions and fuel costs. These do however ultimately spell their demise, which is a loss for both ends of the transaction.

I think your emissions credit idea is brilliant and probably should be extended to all sorts of situations in order that both the problem creators and problem solvers have an incentive to come together and prosper.


October 12, 2015    View Comment    

On Green Manufacturing Needs To Go Global

The Copenhagen Accord commits 115 nations to "limiting the maximum global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, subject to a review in 2015."

It also included a reference to consider limiting the temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees - a demand made by vulneraable developing countries.

The 1998–2012 hiatus shows a decadal average temperature rise of 0.05C compared to the 0.12C increase per decade rise over the period of 1951-2012.  

The main reason for the slowdown is assumed to be a greater uptake of heat in deeper ocean waters.

By the end of this year it is likely the global average temperature increase will have reached 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

IMHO, the path to a 1.5 degree future or less, is pretty clear.

Most climate scientists call for elimininating carbon emissions but there is little evidence we can get an equivalent amount of energy to what the world is currently consuming from any other energy source than by moving surface ocean heat to deep water through a heat engine soon enough to keep the world to 2C let alone 1.5C. 

This would be manufactured energy that reproduces the natural phenomena that brought about the hiatus.

October 5, 2015    View Comment    

On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes

The higher the heat gradient the more waste heat is added to an already overheating planet as power is produced with a Carnot cycle. OTEC is a case where low themodynamic efficiency works to the benefit of the global environment because the enormous amount of heat in the ocean is mostly at the surface - heat rises and at the surface it can transfer to the atmosphere. The low heat gradient means about 20 times more heat than energy produced has to be moved into the cold sink with the OTEC heat engine. The ocean depths are a big enough sink and the heat capacity of the water high enough that this addition will do little to increase the temperature at depth and the cooling of the surface means the atmosphere is cooled as is required to maintain a liveable biosphere. It also is not that costly to capture and move that heat with a low boiling point working fluid operating in a heat pipe (IMHO).

You don''t find it too costly to air condition your vehicle or your home. Why do engineers turn up their noses at using the same principle to move heat out of harms way in the ocean and deriving as much zero emissions energy as we now get from fossil fuels in the same process?

October 3, 2015    View Comment    

On How Shale Reduced U.S. Energy Risks from Hurricanes

Actually Geoff, the so called hiatus was believed to be the result of ocean surface heat being transfered to a depth of about 300 meters. The decadal average temperature increase over the span between 1998 and 2012 was .04 degrees Celisius. Extended to the end of the century that would keep us well within the 2 degree limit to which we have committed. In fact no other energy source will do this.

The potential for OTEC has been estimated at 14 terawatts which is a direct conversion of that much of the approxiamtely 300 terawatts the oceans are accumulating annually to productive work. Another 280 terawatts, or virtually all of the rest, is moved to the deep. With the heat pipe design the relocation is to a depth of 1000 meters where it would take 250 years to return.

August was the warmest month ever recorded. This summer and the last 8 months have been the same. What we are seeing is heat that was sequestered in deeper water between 1998 and 2013 now returning. That heat in reality was only piled up warm water driven by the trade winds into the western Pacific. Once those winds decreased the water simply sloshed back to the east where much of the heat has and is being released.

Heat pipe OTEC would drive this heat below the thermocline where it would no longer be availbable to drive storms, melt ice or permafrost and where the coefficient of expansion is half that of the tropical surface.

A widely-used model estimates the social cost of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 2200 will be $326 trillion.

A new University of Cambridge study shows that melting permafrost will release sufficient carbon dioxide and methane to increase that cost by an additional $43 trillion.

OTEC can reverses global warming to prevent these losses and generate trillions of dollars in annual revenue. Consequence which to my mind we should be aspiring.

The regrets will arise from omitting to take effective action.


October 2, 2015    View Comment