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Archive for the ‘climate change’ Category

Using more than 10% of our brain: more thoughts on mitigating global warming

Posted by Charles II on August 24, 2015

OK, so suppose that we were to do as I suggested and bring ocean water inland to mitigate sea level rises, then evaporating it to generate power and create fresh water. This would serve the purpose of cooling the continental interior, bringing water inland to substitute for the degradation of the natural conveyor, and generate power without burning carbon.

We understand the technology, and it is not without its problems

Laurene Veale, MIT Technology Review:

[The basic issue is that there is very little freshwater]

The two main desalination processes are Multistage Flash (MSF) distillation and Reverse Osmosis (RO)

A more radical solution [than reverse osmosis] is solar-powered desalination, now being deployed in Tunisia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with Jordan and Morocco announcing their intention to desalinate water with renewable energy.

However solar or wind power will not resolve a major environmental challenge posed by desalination: brine, the highly saline slush created from the desalination process. For every litre of freshwater, a litre of brine is produced. “When desalination is done inland, far from the coastline, dealing with the brine is a problem. You cannot dump it in the sea, and the only solution it to dump in the ground, but this contributes to increasing the salinity of the groundwater, which is destructive for the environment” explains Arafat.

Discharging the brine back into the sea is harshly criticised by marine biologists, who deplore its destructive impact on the marine environment. The high salinity and the high temperature of the brine can destroy marine flora and micro-organisms which in turn affects the entire marine food chain in the area.

One of the solutions proposed by Arafat is to crystallise the brine to make salt…

Now, this isn’t the last word.

1. Reverse osmosis also can cause damage to marine systems. One solution is to distribute the high-salinity effluent over a large area.
2. It’s not impossible, as the article implies for desalination to be done far from the sea. There’s just an associated energy cost.
3. The problem for marine systems is not just with output. It’s with input as well. One doesn’t want to sweep up plants and small animals with the intake feed. And then there’s the point that effluent can alter the temperature of the effluent and damage marine systems that way.
4. The problem of contaminating groundwater is real, and has to be dealt with.

But these are not impossibilities. They are simply technical problems to be overcome. For example, one could consider using the high brine effluent to grow brine tolerant plants. Here’s an ARAMCO document by Luis Lujan Rodriguez on desalination:

Desalination discharges have been shown to represent detectable environmental effects in seagrass habitats, phytoplankton, invertebrate and fish communities in areas near the discharge sites. Some species show that an increase in salinity of only 1-2 parts per thousand (ppt) can affect highly sensitive seagrasses. Salinities of 40-45 ppt increase the mortality in exposed plants, and epifaunal mysids and echinoderms. Other marine animal species may also be affected as some species of worms have been observed to become more dominant whereas others decreased in diversity up to a distance of 400 m from a discharge point. Reductions in the abundance of plankton, sessile invertebrates, and echinoderms can also be related to the discharge of brines especially when the copper concentration was high.

In addition to diluting the salt with other wastewater, this document suggests extracting valuable (e.g. precious metal) and toxic (e.g. copper)salts from the effluent, and converting the salt using CO2 into sodium bicarbonate (which additionally sequesters carbon).

But this is far from exhaustive. One could, for example, use brine tolerant plankton (or other aquatic life) to concentrate the salt, then release the organisms back into the environment. One simple example: grow algae or seaweed, then use them as human or animal food. In the case of plankton, one could release them into the sea to help restore the damage we have already caused to the ocean.

The point is that we haven’t even really thought about the issue. When we do, we will think of solutions. But our immediate problem is that global warming will radically damage our productive industrial plant, trigger conflicts, and reduce agricultural productivity due to interior continental warming. We do need to cut carbon emissions. But that’s not going to happen overnight. We need to use all our brainpower as a species.

Added, from Phoenix Woman’s link (Tina Casey, Clean Technica), on the recovery of valuable minerals from saline water:

Here’s how it works on the agricultural drainage water of Central Valley, which is typically discarded as an unsuable byproduct of irrigation. The salinity level for drainage water in that region can range higher than the content of seawater.

Phase 2 is where the rubber will hit the road in terms of resource recovery. Due for completion this fall, phase 2 is expected to demonstrate that resource recovery can from the brine can be managed with minimal environmental impacts, if any.

The recoverable products include gypsum and calcium compounds that are widely used in the building industry for drywall, plaster, and cement.

Also present in the brine from this particular drainage area are magnesium salts, which are used in the medical industry, selenium (a health supplement), nitrates (fertilizer), and boron, best known for its use in bleach and pyrotechnics among many other uses.

Boron is also coming into its own in high-efficiency electronics and cutting edge solar technology, and for the record, selenium is also used in electronics as well as glass making, so altogether the region could be looking at a new high-value, job-creating industry in tandem with its agriculture base.

Posted in climate change, environment, global warming | 7 Comments »

Scientists haven’t reached any definite conclusions

Posted by Charles II on August 21, 2015



Posted in climate change, global warming | Comments Off on Scientists haven’t reached any definite conclusions

Would pumping sea water inland to create lakes be a possible solution to sealevel rise due to global warming?

Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015

Would pumping sea water inland to create lakes be a possible solution to sealevel rise due to global warming?

This is a question I asked Bill McKibben three years ago. He said he’d look into it. I never got an answer.

I think it would serve three purposes:

  1. it would lower the sea level. Each inch of rise will produce roughly 1 million refugees. Sea level rise could wipe out ports, reducing our manufacturing capacity. Railroads would also be impacted.
  2. it will cool continental interiors by evaporation, and increase rainfall. These are important because warming and drying in the continental interior reduces agricultural productivity, increases forest fires, and otherwise worsens our problems.
  3. it could help to recharge aquifers, and perhaps accelerate the cleansing of fracking pollution.
  4. it could be used to generate electricity.
  5. if the salt were returned to the ocean, it would prevent a drop in ocean salinity, which is itself a concern in sea level rise.

Now, it’s geo-engineering on a massive scale. Geo-engineering is inherently dangerous. Could aquifers be contaminated by salt water?

How much land area would it require?

Wouldn’t the energy costs of pumping water uphill be hugely expensive? Indeed, wouldn’t the whole thing be simply too expensive?

These aren’t easy questions. Certainly the right way to deal with global warming is to reduce carbon and methane emissions, reduce wasteful consumption, etc. But the death grip that the oil industry has on this country’s politics is so total, and the ideas of the corporate geoengineers are so crazy, that we have to be prepared with our own answers.

We simply can’t be told that things are too expensive. The annual costs of global warming are estimated to be 250B in 2025– and rising. We can afford anything we can imagine, if it will solve the problem.

We can’t be told that it would take too much energy. Global warming = having too much energy.  All that’s left is the technical problem of harnessing it.

We can’t be told that the lakes have to be below sea level as the Director of the Purdue Climate Change Center suggested. The Great Salt Lake is almost a mile high. Salt lakes can be above sea level. They just have to be contained. Not easy to do, but a technical problem.

Oh, and by the way–the underground water around the Great Salt Lake is just fine.

We can’t be told that it’s impossible to move that much water. Nature did it when it created the Totten Glacier. It’s merely a technical problem for us to copy her.

So, could such lakes be built?  The surface area of the earth is 200 million square miles. Oceans are roughly 70% of the earth. So, a 10 foot rise in sea level is 265,000 square miles of water. That represents a land area roughly 500 miles on a side. That’s about twice the size of the Gobi desert. So, we could build one lake half a mile deep.

If even that seems impractical, suppose we built the lake just 500 feet deep. That would be 2 feet of the 10 feet of sea level rise. And every inch is a million or more refugees and billions in damage. To stop that one inch would be a lake only about 5 feet deep.

Ironically, the Chinese are already doing it. An American atmospheric scientist envisions the rise of oceans as a potential goldmine in farming salicornia bigelovii. Or shrimp. Or other crops that love the ocean.

And yet when one raises the thought, in America, it’s shouted down, as it was on Eschaton, where I broached it. Or it vanishes into Bill McKibben’s e-mail folder.

It’s getting embarrassing to be an American, where “big ideas” means coming up with new ways to laugh at Donald Trump.

Posted in climate change, global warming | 4 Comments »

So… let’s hear your real plan

Posted by Charles II on July 30, 2015

Caty Enders, The Guardian:

Environmentalist Bill McKibben said that while Clinton’s support for solar was necessary, it was far from a comprehensive energy policy. “Much of the impact of her climate plan was undercut the next day by her unwillingness to talk about the supply side of the equation,” he said. “Ducking questions about the Canadian tar sands or drilling in the Arctic makes everyone worry we’re going to see eight more years of an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, which is what we do not need to hear in the hottest year ever measured on our planet.”

McKibben is not alone in criticizing Clinton’s energy policy for sounding like too little too late.

“It’s just plain silly,” said James Hansen, a climate change researcher who headed Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for over 30 years. “No, you cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest. Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.”

Posted in climate change, Democrats, global warming | 5 Comments »

Climate denier Inhofe draws a Democratic challenger

Posted by Charles II on July 23, 2013

Not that there’s much hope in crimson red Oklahoma, but:

Tulsa insurance executive Matt Silverstein has filed notice with the Federal Election Commission of his intention to challenge Republican incumbent Jim Inhofe for the U.S. Senate next year as a Democrat.

Among those backing Silverstein is former state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, who sent out a fundraising letter on his behalf last week.

A political novice, Silverstein will be taking on one of the most durable political figures in the state’s history.

James Inhofe is one of the most destructive members of the Senate.

Posted in climate change, Senate | 1 Comment »

Diageo does a very good thing. Will Microsoft follow?

Posted by Charles II on May 6, 2012

Leo Hickman, The Guardian:

Diageo, one of the world’s largest drinks companies, has announced it will no longer fund the Heartland Institute, a rightwing US thinktank which briefly ran a billboard campaign this week comparing people concerned about climate change to mass murderers and terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Charles Manson and Ted Kaczynski.

On Thursday, a billboard appeared over the Eisenhower Expressway in Illinois showing a picture of Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who in 1996 was convicted of a 17-year mail bombing campaign that killed three people and injured dozens. The caption read: “I still believe in global warming. Do you?” A day later it was withdrawn.

Its website is still hosting the original press release, which includes the claim that the “most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” Microsoft, which has a policy of supplying free software to all non-profit organisations in the US, posted a blog on its website on Saturday distancing itself from Heartland.

Posted in climate change, global warming, rightwing moral cripples | 3 Comments »

Heartland stabbed anew

Posted by Charles II on February 17, 2012

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian:

The Heartland Institute, the libertarian thinktank whose project to undermine science lessons for schoolchildren was exposed this week, faces new scrutiny of its finances – including its donors and tax status.

The Guardian has learned of a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service about Heartland’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

Mashey said in a telephone interview that the complaint looked at the activities of Heartland and two other organisations that have been prominent in misinforming the public about climate change, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, run by Fred Singer, and the Centre for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, run by Craig Idso. Both men were funded by Heartland, with Idso receiving $11,600 per month and Singer $5,500 a month, according to the 2012 budget.

Heartland is also funding contrarians in Canada and other countries, the documents show.

This business of pretending to be involved in education to get the tax break while actually being involved in disinformation for partisan purposes has to end.

Posted in climate change, global warming, Republicans acting badly | Comments Off on Heartland stabbed anew

A spear through the Heartland

Posted by Charles II on February 14, 2012

Thanks to Quentin Compson on Eschaton, in comments.

Documents from the Heartland Institute reveal its donors. Its “policy positions, strategies and budget distinguish it clear[ly] as a lobby firm that is misrepresenting itself as a ‘think tank’

Based on these documents, Joe Romm names names of paid denialists, including David Wojick of Carnegie Mellon/US Office of Naval Research/Naval Research Lab and currently a consultant with DoE.

And who else is on the gravy train? “At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals

Not to mention useful tools, like Andrew Revkin, who used the NY Times to spread confusion and doubt.

This is a very big deal. The denialist network and who pays for it is now public knowledge. And nothing is more lethal to professional liars than the truth.

Posted in climate change, evil, global warming | 5 Comments »

Turn on Al Gore! (7 PM Central)

Posted by Charles II on September 14, 2011

He’s broadcasting 24 hours of Climate Reality here.

Posted in climate change, global warming | 2 Comments »

Big Al takes on Big Oil

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2011

Says Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian:

It should almost be called Inconvenient Truth 2.0. Five years after Al Gore launched his original documentary project, the former vice-president returned on Tuesday with a new campaign aimed at exposing the full scale of the climate crisis.

Gore’s Climate Reality project announced it would kick off with a 24-hour live streamed event on 14 September. The day’s events will include a new multimedia presentation by Gore that will “connect the dots” between extreme weather events and climate change, a statement said.

Right here.

Posted in Al Gore, climate change, environment, global warming | Comments Off on Big Al takes on Big Oil

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