Climates are Complex Fluid Dynamic System

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Muscat, Oman – The vast majority of humankind does not understand scientific method. Humankind does not understand that science deals with evidence, not proof. There is a lot of virtually melt-down proof nuclear technology that is already in prototype stages. I think that we need to accept that we can’t wait until 2030 to start reducing our CO2 production. The urgency part of the message is still being lost on most people. That is why I think we will actually experience some pretty nasty consequences of climate change.

‘The ambitious solar proposals of Rajasthan, Gujarat far exceed India’s national target of 20,000MW of solar power by 2022. The new Indian government has promised to use solar to bring power to every home by 2019 ‘

‘HERE IS THE NIGHTMARE ‘ Most projects, no mater the province, are in eco-sensitive or wetland areas, even though they claim to be in barren land. Massive energy consumption and pollution would occur during their production and installation and the nightmare of disposing of the electronic waste of discarded solar panels is yet to emerge at a global scale to which humanity is certainly in no mood to think of tackling.

Solar may be the future. The problem is that said future is too far away to avert climate change. Without storage nobody has been able to shift to reliance on solar. Solar is a niche source at the moment. Without storage it will remain a niche source. Solar power is variable. Even if you hooked up a huge number of solar farms in deserts around the world such that the sun never set on your grid you would have lots of fluctuations in power generated. Grids can’t handle the fluctuations (caused by the occasional cloud for example). A solar only grid would be incredibly unstable.

Germany has the largest installed solar capacity in the world but Solar still isn’t ready to carry the load. It may well be ready someday. We need to replace coal. At this point in time we cannot replace coal with wind or solar. Germany is increasing its coal consumption because it does not want to increase its gas consumption. Its gas comes from Russia.

Germany’s experiment with solar power has largely failed. It has a huge installed capacity but gets only 6% of its annual power needs from solar. Right now Germany is getting more power from wind than it is from solar. Germany has also deemed wood to be a renewable resource so it is burning wood to generate electricity. It is harvesting wood from its own forests but it is also importing wood from the US.

Germany is not actually making much progress towards grid storage. About the pumped storage issue. Germany is banking on using Norway as a source of pumped storage. Right now that is the leading contender for converting Germany’s massive solar power generating capacity into useable power. Germany can’t use the solar power generated on bright sunny days. Without storage solar cannot be a major source of power entering a grid. Solar is very good at providing a boost to peak power production during hot sunny days when there is a peak in demand…..

If you want to disconnect from the grid you need a lot of battery storage capacity. That is one reason why Tesla is going into the big battery business.

I have faith that humankind will be foolish enough not to embrace nuclear technology. Lots of people are backing Thorium, especially India which has huge Thorium deposits. India is pouring money into Thorium because they have a lot of it. They do not have uranium. Right now Thorium is simply regarded as a useless toxic waste product so we rely on China for our rare earth. Thorium reactors would be a great way to get rid of that “useless” toxic waste.

There are some parts of the world where people with enough real estate can rely on solar. We need lots of space for our solar panels and lots of room for batteries. People with access to capital who live in low density neighbourhoods in arid regions can do it. We can’t live in the shadows of large buildings and you need a relatively large piece of land. The vast majority of the world’s population lives in regions that are too densely populated to exploit private solar power.

Household demand for electricity needs to be relatively low as well. We can’t power factories or apartment buildings. The former requires too much power and the latter doesn’t provide each person with enough space to accommodate a large enough solar panel.

Lead-acid technology is the best and it is nowhere near good enough to solve the electricity storage problem posed by renewable energy sources.

Inverter technology is improving and some of the best technology is based on high temperature superconductors which must be housed in liquid nitrogen to be cold enough to work. Some of this technology is being used by the utility that supplies electricity to New York City.

Hydrogen is a great way to store energy but you have to use tremendous amount of power to compress it so that it is energy dense enough to power an automobile.

My point is that people all over the world are working on solving the storage problem and progress has been slow. Electronics and semi-conductor technology is not limited to any great extend by materials.

The most important greenhouse gas is water. Climate models are looking at how rising ocean surface temperatures are affecting how much water is in the atmosphere. This also affects clouds. Different kinds of clouds at different altitudes have different effects on the amount of earth’s radiation that gets reflected back to the earth’s surface…..

If you want to challenge the theory that climate change will happen you have to demonstrate that the biosphere is, indeed, not experiencing a constant net input of energy. The sun’s radiation levels fluctuate so in any given year the total amount of energy generated by the sun that reaches our biosphere fluctuates but on average we have been experiencing a net influx of energy for quite some time.

Our biosphere is experiencing a net input of energy. We receive more energy from the sun than we radiate away. 90% of this net increase in energy is being absorbed by the oceans. In essence the oceans are buffering our climate. There are countless models trying to predict what will happen next but there is no credible evidence that estimates of our net radiative input are wrong.

It is a simple physics problem. The surface of the earth must get warmer in order to radiate more in order to achieve a new equilibrium. The earth like the sun is a black body radiator. The amount of energy radiated is proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature. A net input of energy will cause the surface of the earth to heat up.

I suspect that we will have to invest a great deal in desalination in order to compensate for drought in regions that currently support large human populations. While climate change is a controversial subject if we assume that it is occurring then the first manifestations of it will be more droughts in dry places and more rain in wet places. California, Syria, and Iraq will probably have to invest a lot in desalination. Israel and Saudi Arabia already do.

Irrigation is contributing more to the loss of water due to evaporation than was previously assumed, thus, irrigation is causing our aquifers to deplete faster than expected. The solution is probably to switch to genetically modified strains that are more drought resistant. Indeed the world may be forced to accept widespread consumption of genetically modified drought tolerant crops if we are to survive climate change with our large world population.

Israeli drip irrigation -Water is delivered to the roots underground so there is no evaporation. The crowns of the trees create shade which further reduces water stress. The Israeli system works best with trees. It is much harder to apply to vegetables or semi-arid crops like corn or wheat. Roots are shallow and the plants are very close together. I can’t imagine the cost of running hundreds of miles of plastic pipe up and down the rows of corn dripping water at the surface of the soil. In Israel you plunge a long tube deep into the soil next to the roots.

You might have two such water sources for each tree. Imagine trying to have similar injectors for every stalk of wheat or corn. The labour associated with sticking them in the ground, occasional cleaning, and removal prior to harvesting would be prohibitively expensive.

Climate change aside water is not priced at its replacement cost. Farmers do not pay enough for water and US aquifers are being depleted at a great rate. If the price of water was set so that demand equalled supply a lot of farms would be unprofitable. Corn is a species of grass. Grass is a semi-arid crop. The problem is that the rain is unreliable in semi-arid regions even if there is enough, on average, each year.

I do believe that crisis in Darfur, Sudan was caused by climate change. Syria and Iraq have been experiencing drought for 15 years. Iran is also experiencing a very long drought 10-20 years. Parts of California and the Colorado river basin have been experiencing drought for a very long time. Each of these regions has been drawing down their inventory of ground water for a long time.

My point is that climate change has already begun. The major crises will start to occur in regions that no longer have enough water to sustain their populations and their populations have nowhere to go. The people of California can move to Washington. The Sunni Arabs in Iraq don’t have the same options. Mass migration is the most likely consequence of climate change. That migration may be driven by thirst or by civil wars resulting from major groups trying to control dwindling water resources at the expense of other groups that reside in the same country. Civil wars are more likely to erupt in places where there are existing divisions even if those divisions were not very important prior to the climate crisis.

Mousumi Roy
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Mousumi Roy has a Masters (MA - Political Science) from Calcutta University and is a visiting professor of International Relations in Muscat, Oman

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