flux of this excess energy in the global weather
system circles the earth's mid latitudes in high
altitude winds miles above the earth. The greatest
store of this energy is in the tropical oceans. The
greatest reservoir of potential carbon fuel is the
The knobs have
It's now to time
to tweak the dials.
pre-cautionary principle is that even though the
danger may not be as bad as feared it is still wise
not to push things too far. Even after Peak
Oil atmospheric pollution could get pushed to far
worse from the indiscriminate exploitation of known
It makes sense
then to consider removing as much as the surplus
energy as possible from the planetary system, along with improving
the Earth's air
Fortunately there are three
technologies that exist now that can re-capture some of that
excess energy in the global weather system for human use, and on a scale that could replace
fossil fuel entirely by harvesting that extra energy, and scrub
the skies of the carbon dioxide that increased it:
high altitude wind power
sea solar power
carbon negative fuels
"Ocean Thermal Energy
for an abundance
of Food and Energy, and Practical Carbon
Dioxide Sequestration, from Farming the
Ocean @ Equatorial Latitudes 20
degrees North and South
essentially a reverse refrigeration
process that generates electricity from the
difference in temperature between surface and
The sky wind
power and ocean thermal energy systems could produce 4X the power now supplied by
all sources as electricity for the production of Hydrogen
and direct supply to the
national power grid, and to a global power grid. This
electrical power is required to re-tool industryand provide for transportation needs. This is
a significant change from the "business-as-usual" of
removing ancient carbon from the ground and burning it.
That is is not going to stop anytime soon, nor should it
stop abruptly.* What must take place that is in order to
master the carbon cycle we must reverse the direction of
carbon in the global system and take it out of the sky
and put it back into the ground.
"The inspiration I had
was to use offshore membrane enclosures to grow algae. We're
going to deploy a large plastic bag in the ocean, and fill
it with sewage. The algae use sewage to grow, and in the
process of growing they clean up the sewage," said Jonathan
Trent, the lead research scientist on the Spaceship Earth
project at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field,
Gyre is the North Pacific Gyre. At its heart slowly
spins the the Pacific Trash Vortex where marine
plastic litter collects in the Great Pacific Garbage
Patch. It covers about half a million square miles.
OMEGA farms in
just 5% of this area will be able to produce 10
times as much fuel for all US transportation needs
as is required. There are four other
gyres, and millions of miles of coastal waters.
NASA scientist Jonathan
Trent is developing a smarter way to turn algae into
oil. He's created plastic osmotic containers that will
float below the surface of the ocean, grow algae, and
then help it bloom into oil. He says the new method is
more beneficial because algae can grow in a larger area
and doesn't compete with agricultural land.
Managing the Carbon in the System:
to produce Agrichar and
Carbon Negative fuels
are the backbone of industry and transportation. The
existing infrastructure would be very expensive to replace.
Preserving the utility of the liquid fuel infrastructure in
a post-petroleum world requires alternative liquid fuels.
post-petroleum fuels are going to come from biomass.
Of these there are two broad categories: terrestrial biomass
and marine biomass.
On land the the key
is to make biochar, with biofuel and electricity as
byproducts, fertilize the soil and sequester carbon in
On the open
ocean the key is to grow algae in floating bioreactors
fertilized with sewage.
Biomass: The key
is to exploit biomass for economic efficiency in
agriculture and that means, paradoxically, exploiting
"biomass energy" at less than 50% economic efficiency
worldwide. In a world used to thinking of maximizing
profits "bio-fuel", particularly ethanol and bio-desiel
in most cases, is a scheme for disaster for billions of
people. It is a raw power grab by hunger.
news is that billions of people, the farmers, are needed to do
something about the carbon, by drawing it down out the
sky with good old fashioned photo-synthesis to sequester
that carbon in the soil and improve crop yields with agrichar.
easy, rather than burn a bunch of biomass down to the
dottle of a little ash and extract as much of the energy
out of it as you can, instead to get the job done right is to burn it
only halfway and put the rest of that energy stock away
as unburnt carbon into the soil.
Locally, within a radius of 20
miles, for rural communities worldwide, the process of pyrolysis of
biomass energy crops such as hemp, kenaf, switchgrass,
wood trimmings, and also crop residues to produce electricity
and biochar, and some methanol rather than a lot of
technology is open source: Producer's Gas: Just don't run
the system at full tilt for profit at the pump rather
than enriching the soil as is due, if you want it to keep running.
caveat: the production of liquid fuels from biomass can not
totally replace liquid fossil fuels. It is important to
produce at least 150 to 200 kilos of charcoal from every ton of
biomass, and to sequester that charcoal as "agrichar" and "biochar" to the soil
to restore its
fertility and improve its moisture and mineral retention
too, to ensure that the process is better than
"carbon neutral". To be carbon negative best practices
demand that the energy yield be secondary to putting down
carbon to soil beds that grow better food crops, not more
Take a look
at this diagram:
the left vs. Fossil Fuels on the right
Practices mandates that the production of transportation
fuel from biomass does not exceed Carbon Negative values.
No more than 30% at best of liquid fuels can be replaced by
and remembering the caveat that you have to put down
carbon from the process in best practices the actual
ratio of replacement can't be more than 15% of current
rate of use in 2003.
Civilization as it is energized now consumes rather than
produces energy: the human species has developed a
detrivorous civilization gobbling up the natural stores of energy
gradually pooling in rock for countless millennia. To
survive humanity must find its ecological niche and thereby earn its survival
by becoming a civilization that produces the energy it uses.
energy schemes listed above can actually quadruple the
amount of energy available for human use, and then in time
as the oil, gas, and coal near exhaustion, humanity can
still have an energy budget fully 3 times what it uses
There is one last part
to the equations for mastering the carbon cycle: people.
In the rush to embrace these solutions, to provide energy
and food and lots of productive good useful employment, you
can get too much of a good thing. The exponential growth of
human population could not be sustained. Whether it is
popular or not
some form of population control must come into existence,
and to some extent has already come into being: Better it be by education, prosperity and political will of
the nations working together rather than the law of conquest
or, ultimately, the hard and merciless limits imposed by the
laws of thermodynamics.
Anthropogenic global warming from "greenhouse gases" is
about 1/4th of the current global warming. The rest is driven by an increase in
solar radiance. Cloud cover from jet exhaust actually has a
profound cooling effect, call it "Global dimming", that
suppresses global warming, and a sudden cessation of air
travel would result in a rapid increase of warming, as for
example in the days following 9/11. The exact figures
are subject to debate, but it is a mistake to think
that abruptly ending "business-as-usual" jet
travel would be a good idea. Keep on flying.