'The Equilibrium Sensitivity of the Earth's Temperature to Radiation Changes,' by Reto Knutti and Gabriele C. Hegerl, in Nature Geoscience, Vol. 1; November 2008
(Image by Penn State) Details DMCA
The IPCC estimates 2.4 degrees C is the equilibrium warming above preindustrial temperatures that the world will observe even if greenhouse concentrations are held fixed at their 2005 concentration levels, but without any other anthropogenic forcing such as the cooling effect of aerosols. The global mean concentration of CO2 in 2005 was 379 ppm whereas the April 2016 Monthly Average Mauna Loa Observatory reading was 407.42 ppm, about 7 percent higher. So at an accumulation rate of close to 3 ppm annually the equilibrium climate sensitivity mark of 560 ppm should be attained in about 50 years. Which leaves us precious little time to accumulate the massive stockpiles of political will that is not presently in evidence and to adopt off-the-shelf technologies.
As Bill Gates claims, we need an energy miracle. There is little point to massively deploying technology that does not get us to 3 to 4 degrees, let alone to 1.5, but Gates' miracle is at hand and what's more it isn't even new technology. It has been around for over a 100 years, and a team from the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University refreshed collective memories in the 1970's by pointing out if we build over 20000 OTEC plants (each about the size of the nearly 7000 oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico) deployed in the tropics, we could generate 5000 GWe of power and reduce surface water temperature by 1 C each decade, killing two birds with one stone: generating power and stopping global warming.
The current thinking is closer to 14,000 GWe can be produced with 250,000 100 megawatt plants.
By channeling the inertia of global warming through a turbine to deep water we can sequester heat for at least 250 years, at a returned rate of about 4 meters/year, and return it again at that time to produce additional energy.
In the 50 years it takes to wean the planet off fossils fuels and transition to ocean heat sequestering energy the atmosphere can be cooled 4 degrees rather than be warmed by the same amount with the best of the other alternatives.
The last thing we need is fossil fuel producers being enabled by politicians, who have obstructed the cause of global warming for decades now, being allowed to pivot to charm school offensives to grease the way for new pipelines and hydrocarbon projects in the name of false economy.
It is an act of self-preservation and economic sanity to produce energy that meets our environmental needs and this is the best way to put the polluters out of business.
The best environmental business currently available needs to prevail.