Monday, July 10, 2006

Good Ideas



So the Earth is getting a little warmer, probably, and the global warming warriors want us to cripple the world economy to avert some theoretical impending disaster. Before I present some better ideas, let’s look at a few of the predictions a bit closer.

If we do nothing, no Kyoto or any other CO2 emission control program, the IPCC climate models predict a 2.1 deg. C temperature rise and a 50 cm (20 inch) sea level rise by 2100. If we spend a Trillion dollars a year, 400 Billion dollars from the US, then we could reduce the increases to 1.4 deg. C and 44 cm sea level rise. Rather expensive, don’t you think?

How about that sea level rise? Well it turns out that the sea level has been rising for most of the current interglacial period, on the average of 1.8 mm (0.07 inch) per year for at least 8,000 years. That means the sea level rises about 18 cm (7 inches) per century and the total increase has been 1,440 cm (560 inches) in the 8000 years. And what about the scary 20th century, you ask? Well the sea level rose approximately 7.5 inches, and the IPCC reported that no significant acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise during the 20th century has been detected. Ah, the understated elegance.

So the sea level has been rising 7 inches per century for 80 centuries, but now, suddenly, it’s going to rise 20 inches this century. Maybe! And could we really do anything about it? The climate models say not much, and the Artic Climate Impact Assessment says it would take over a thousand years to stop rising, even if we put the brakes on Carbon emission.

But so what if it does continue rising? Some places where people have no business living are going to lose some beachfront property. The 27 atolls of the Maldives in the South Pacific where the maximum elevation is 7.5 feet above sea level are going to become smaller and some of the 300,000 Maldivites will likely have to move. Rebuild parts of New Orleans on higher ground. This is not rocket science.

The more dire prediction is that perhaps 250 million more people will become at risk for contracting malaria according to the House of Lords report. Of course, over a million people a year, mostly African children, have been dying of malaria since the ban on DDT has been in effect. Perhaps the liberal environmental groups will see fit to remove their objections to DDT if millions more are at risk.

So what should be done?


First, realize that carbon emissions are not going to decrease, or even slow down the increase, during the 21st century. China is building coal burning power plants at a furious rate, bringing one on line every week, and will continue doing so for at least the next ten years. Together India and China will outstrip US emissions in the next decade. Africa is next. The major industrialized nations are backing away from Kyoto and the US won’t touch it with a long pole.

Next, adopt a scientifically sound and fiscally responsible program for switching from fossil fuels to new technology. The end game is President Bush’s Hydrogen economy -- based on Hydrogen-Oxygen powered cars with the Hydrogen produced by electrolysis using electricity supplied by nuclear power plants. In fifty years cars could be emitting water vapor while the power plants generate zero emissions.


The key is the nuclear power industry which needs to be encouraged to build a few hundred power plants. France already produces 76% of its electrical power from 56 nuclear plants. (I just hate trailing the French!) Tax breaks and a substantial reduction of red tape will be needed, as well as research to drive down the cost of nuclear from its roughly 50%-75% premium over natural gas power.

In the near term there are several sensible steps; here are some suggested by Gregory Benford in the 7/06 issue of NewsMax magazine. Reforestation is the simplest way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Trees love the stuff. Next, Geritol the oceans which already absorb 40% of the fossil fuel emissions due to plankton growth. What is needed to stimulate much more plankton growth is a supply of iron dust. Scientist John Martin who thought of this solution said: Give me a tanker of iron dust and I’ll give you another ice age. Another idea is to change the fuel mixture of commercial jet planes to produce a stream of water vapor that, when diffused, will reflect sunlight back into space. Or we could seed the stratosphere with submicron metal or silicate dust to the same end. Physicists at Stanford and Livermore Lab are already working on this last idea.


There are so many good technological ideas that will help without bankrupting the world’s economies.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Bill!

8:13 PM  
Blogger fetching jen said...

Maybe you should send your extensive research to Al Gore... he seems to be all wet on this subject.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with Jen. I don't care what the libs say, this global warming this all a hoax! Thanks prof!

11:38 AM  
Blogger gary daily said...

Will someone out there tell me if these stated facts are true or not?

"Bush has allocated a meager $1.2 billion to hydrogen fuel cell research and development over a period of 4 years. However, according to Fox News, the current war efforts to secure oil in Iraq alone are exceeding $1 billion /per week. . . ."

If they are true, then Bill's hopes? dreams? for a Bush "end game" based on hydrogen appear to be grossly misplaced when he writes: "The end game is President Bush’s Hydrogen economy -- based on Hydrogen-Oxygen powered cars with the Hydrogen produced by electrolysis using electricity supplied by nuclear power plants."

If they are not true, then perhaps Bill or one of his less gullible, less fawning fans, can tell us how much Bush should spend on the "end game" piece of the cheap solution to what even Bill now appears to agree is a problem. And we all remember when Bill and many others on the right loudly proclaimed global warming was just a conspiracy of pointed headed scientists drumming up grant money. Bill has given a lot of thought and gone to a lot of trouble solving (in his fashion) a problem that doesn't exist.

Come clean, Bill. Did you sneak out to a matinee of "An Inconvenient Truth"?

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary, you need to realize that most Americans understand what Bill is saying. This whole global warming thing is a hoax perpetrated by extreme left wing who want us to waste our hard earned money on some bogus theories. Bill knows his stuff. Bush is just doing the hydrogen thing to get the enviroterrorists off his back...most of us REAL Americans understand that. We just had a global warming seminar at my church and it's obvious that you left-wing godless nutcases could care less about the environment. You need to get back to reality my friend!

2:34 PM  

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