Sunday, November 21, 2010

How we can save our world and have fun in the process.

Dear reader, if you run into Sir Richard Branson please ask him to take a look at this. He might find it very interesting.

It would be really good if everybody was interested in fixing up the environmental damage that has been caused by human activities. If that were the case I wouldn't have to write this because dozens of other people, most of them smarter than me no doubt, would have already written this and vast numbers of people would already be beavering away to make it happen.

In my understanding the really big challenge coming our way is acidification of the ocean. The effects to be expected as the PH of the ocean decreases due to the ever increasing amounts of carbon dioxide being dissolved are that corrals will no longer grow, many kinds of shellfish will die out, and many kinds of bony and cartilaginous fish will die out also. We will all have to learn to eat jelly fish, and squid maybe.

I propose a way to reverse the increase of carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean. The method is to sequester the carbon in seaweed, such as kelp.
This can be done as follows.
  • Kelp can be grown by means of attachment to cables or large nets suspended horizontally beneath the waves and parallel to the surface
  • It may be possible to grow corral in the same way
  • The best place to do this is out in the open ocean around the equator because that is where there is most sunlight to provide energy for the algae to grow and near the equator tropical cyclones [hurricanes] do not occur because there is no strong Coriolis wind effect
  • Nutrients for the kelp can be provided by raising ocean bottom water to the surface. This can be pumped upwards by the same kind of simple and robust technology used for extracting oil from the ground
  • The ocean bottom water is very cold and therefore can easily be mixed with surface waters to achieve optimum seawater temperatures for the kelp and corrals
  • The pumps for raising the ocean bottom water will be housed on very large ice rafts which will also provide a potentially vast area for people to establish permanent settlements, and factories for processing kelp, etc, into useful artifacts or chemical feed-stocks for plastic manufacturing
  • The ice will need to be insulated of course, above, below, and around the sides. This is all doable with current technology. Insulation in many places on the upper surface of the ice will be provided by soil and mulch.
  • The inhabitants of the ice rafts could grow their own food crops. Oil palms, genetically engineered to be very short in the stem and growing in the soil and mulch for example, could provide another source for income.
  • The energy for powering the bottom water lift pumps, the refrigeration compressors, and all the other needs will be taken from solar thermal concentration during the day, and at night from the temperature difference between surface water and ocean bottom water.
  • The motive force will be generated by means of Stirling engines wherein the cold ocean bottom water will provide the heat sink while concentrated solar energy will provide the heat source by day
  • Ice rafts of this sort could provide living space for many millions of people around the equator
  • Ice rafts of this sort could also provide a destination for eco-tourism; the possibilities are endless
  • For example, the equatorial location could also provide a place for certain types of launch facility for shooting small prefabricated steel parts into orbit
Mark Peaty