This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.

10,243 Members

Post

Canada and the US: Sea-Level Rise vs. Keystone XL

sea-level riseRecently glaciologist Jason Box of Ohio State University explained how humans have set in motion 69 feet of sea level rise; one of the most damaging consequences of climate change.

The “good” news is, it may take a 1000 years or longer to produce this much increase but the insurance company Allianz  has identified as much as $28 trillion in coastal infrastructure at risk by 2050.

A report released by the Province of British Columbia in December noted the cost to Metro Vancouver alone to protect against this threat could be as high as $9.5 billion.  

A study lead by Yadu Pohkrel determined “The drawing of water from deep wells has caused the sea to rise by an average of  .77 millimetres every year since 1961,” which is about 42 percent of the total.

A recent BC study confirmed Dr Pohkrel’s finding and notes low lying crop lands in B.C. are at risk as a consequence. It further notes, “about half of British Columbia’s food supply is imported, much of it from California, which has suffered from drought and is projected to become even more reliant on groundwater as precipitation declines due to climate change.”

As The Frontier Centre for Public Policy pointed out in a paper Water, Water Everywhere But Canada Won’t Sell It, “the average annual rainfall of 33 feet at Link Lake sends enough water into the Pacific Ocean to meet all of California’s water needs for the next 20 years”.

There are numerous other sites around the province nearly as well endowed.

Wikipedia has a section on Water exports from Canada to the US at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_export. I suspect the existing prohibitions against these schemes would evaporate if they were approached as sea level proposals because:

  1. the outflows contribute to sea level rise,
  2. pumping aquifers to counter drought compounds the sea level problem,
  3. Canadian food supplies are at risk due to the miss match,
  4. the damage from sea level rise will be costly, and
  5. water sales would be a lucrative enterprise.

It makes little sense to be drowning in excess while the source of much of your food supply dessicates.

Perhaps this is the quid pro quo Prime Minister Harper needs to offer President Obama as political cover for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Perhaps two pipelines are better than one with the irrigation from the one offsetting the emissions of the other. As the Kansas State University Soil Carbon Center demonstrates, land based photosynthesis extracts close to a net 50 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere each year.

Perhaps we have to duplicate the rectification of the Canadian/US mismatch globally.

Jim Baird's picture

Thank Jim for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Discussions

Steven Scannell's picture
Steven Scannell on Feb 17, 2013 4:13 pm GMT

Perhaps two pipelines are better than one.  I agree, but we're not on the same track.  My pipeline system call for some real R&D into things beyond our comfort zones.  Storage of energy, and shipment of energy in a pipe, (even if one is in love with the electric grid; in love with all the old styles of infrastructure), has to demand by it's weight a place at the table. We need the tar sands oil, and I think we can get it our cleanly.  We also need a green grid corridor from Texas up into Canada, for the wind. All these needs confluence, and lead us to a proper comprehensive energy plumbing system design, for the public trust. Water, oil, natural gas, compressed air fuel(wind), hydrogen (wind) at low pressure, bio-products of waste in all forms both human and animal, granulated you name it, farm use, industrial and residential.  Let's live better, and have our needs served, by systems that make sense. Perhaps these systems are two pipes, one for oil, the other for water, but I hope we can do better than this.   

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Feb 18, 2013 3:49 am GMT

I agree with your concern about lack of water policy. Perhaps some ancient water physics will suggest ideas in energy systems as well.

There is a reason the search for life on Mars begins with a search for water. H2O, sunlight and CO2 are a unique chemistry.

First, the Hydrogen atom has one electron with one proton. This unpaired duo thus possess unpaired "spin," or net magnetic moment. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance was mostly Proton Magnetic Resonance, and has evolved into the medical imaging MRI. The proton magnetic moment can be aligned in a strong magnetic field, and a RadioFrequency signal can determine various hydrogen properties in soft tissue. Anyway, Hydrogen is magnetic.

Hydrogen is also electric. Various bonds are polarized, and some can add to huge dipoles. "Ferroelectric" hydrogen materials with permanent electric fields are well known, and behave like permanent magnets.

Hydrogen is also ionic. It can separate as protons as acid and base salt chemistry. Thus, a "conductivity" is created in water. Chemical reactions become easier.

Hydrogen is also optical. The very light proton, plus the very tight chemical bond create a very high "spring constant," and so a very high vibrational frequency. Warm blooded animals "glow in the dark" in the near infrared.

But I think that was from a different era. Quantum physics has given way to the thermodynamics of expanding hot air, and soon bronze age wind monuments. We are in scientific free fall. Sounds like we will burn the last drop of crud we get by digging like crazy because of popular will.

Science and policy was once very different. Us old timers are just nostalgic. I don't think we can fix this mess, Jim.

Steven Scannell's picture
Steven Scannell on Feb 18, 2013 4:59 am GMT

Philip Kithil is doing some great work.  Most of my wave gen system designs are far offshore and also  hybridized into my Georges Bank Megamill offshore windmills.  

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.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »