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The Self-Sustaining Climate Remedy

An ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) resource map like the one above, where the palate ranges from red to yellow to indicate ocean surface temperatures ranging from 28oC or above down to 22oC is essentially a map of the impact of global warming.

Recognition of the problem is the first step towards its solution and from there you can ascertain where to allocate the resources necessary to realise your solution.

The 2005 paper of Carl Wunsch Total Meridional Heat Flux and Its Oceanic and Atmospheric Partition, shows that between 3 and 5 petawatts of heat in the Northern Hemisphere moves from the tropics towards the North Pole where it ultimately vanishes.

Lyman, et al., in their paper, Robust warming of the global upper ocean suggest however,  between 1993–2008, instead of vanishing, about 335 terawatts of this heat is being trapped in the oceans.

These 335 terawatts are the heat of global warming and the question then is what to do with it?

Keller, et al., in their paper, Potential climate engineering effectiveness and side effects during a high carbon dioxide-emission scenario tender artificial ocean upwelling as a potential climate engineering strategy.

The following graphic from that paper shows how the average surface of the ocean is cooled by about 1.08oC by this strategy.

The similarity of the contours of the Keller graphic and the OTEC map are striking.

The problem with the upwelling strategy is evident from the following illustration from the Keller paper, where the blue line is for the temperature change above the pre-industrial baseline with artificial upwelling, the red line is for no climate engineering, the green for afforestration, the brown is ocean iron fertilization, yellow is solar radiation management and the orange is for ocean alkanization.

                                  2020  2030   2040  2050   2060   2070   2080  2090

The vertical dashed line at the year 2020 indicates where each of these strategies would be implemented and the blue line shows that upwelling would have an immediate impact for about 10 years but 40 years out, by 2060, the surface temperature would be back to where it started from and by the end of the century it would be well above the 2oC mark, which is considered the climate tipping point.

Upwelling was simulated in the Keller paper by the placement of a pipe 1000-meter-long in the ocean and then pumping water up at a rate of 1 cm/day or about 4 meters/year.

On these pages it has been shown that instead of the upwelling of cold water, the downwelling of latent heat in a working fluid can forestall the effect of global warming for at least 250 years, rather than 40 years with upwelling, and further the downwelling strategy produces 3.5 times more energy and can recycle the heat of warming 13 times, thus 13 times longer than the entire fossil fuel era, while producing 80% more energy than is currently being extracted from fossil fuels.

So why aren’t we doing this?

Ostensibly it as matter of cost.

Here however it has been demonstrated that this solution can be more than self-sustaining, it can be highly lucrative, with the proviso that it will take about 10 billion dollars to prove its effectiveness.

One single hurricane, Katrina, caused $81 billion in property damage and one typhoon, Haiyan, killed about 5,000 people.

Talk about false economy.

And to put this $10 billion into further perspective the 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year of climate financing by 2020?

For 1/10th of this sum we can start to resolve all of the top ten concerns of the individuals these funds are supposed to benefit.

According to Business Insider $50 trillion in cash is simply on the global sidelines.

Surely to God there are enough astute investors, smart technologist and simply motivated citizens to drive the solution to global warming and to profit monetarily and spiritually from that exercise?

Jim Baird's picture

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Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on August 15, 2017

To stop global warming in its tracks, we have to move heat counter to the flow of the thermohaline circulation in the tropics. Artificial upwelling simply speeds up the thermohaline circulation and in effect moves heat that much more rapidly towards the poles.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on August 16, 2017

Jim, any way you slice it – $10 billion is a lot of money to devote to proving the effectiveness of any hypothetical source of energy, much less a solution to climate change with no immediate financial reward.

There’s no way to finance a pilot project for less?

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on August 16, 2017

Bob, I believe Lockheed Martin and a Chinese firm are working on a prototype estimated in the range of $1 billion. I think this is the wrong design so to put together a team that can do justice to the problem and that can come up with the right answer I suspect it will take 10 times as much. I have a schedule that shows how OTEC might be scaled and the kind of return that could be garnered from the investment but I can’t seem to insert it into this format?.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on August 16, 2017

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