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Notwithstanding that the Sun might be entering a quiet phase with fewer sunspots, it seems that (so far) this year 2016 has been one of record warmth globally. June was the hottest June on record globally with a mean temperature of 15.7C and the Arctic ice has been tracking at seasonally record-low extents beating that of 2012. The level of CO2 in the atmosphere now exceeds 400 ppm by volume of air and in pre-Industrial times it was just 270 ppm- a 50% increase. The consensus is that a doubling of CO2 leads to a global warming of 3C yet just 2C mean annual global warming from pre-Industrial times is considered by scientists to be Dangerous Global Warming when the rapid disintegration of the Greenland Ice-cap would commence along with the release of massive amounts of methane from clathrates on the sea-bed of the Arctic combined with the melting of permafrost in Alaska, Canada and northern Russia would occur. The disintegration of the Greenland Icecap would cause a sea-level rise of several metres and the flooding of many coastal cities around the World, whilst an outpouring of billions of tonnes of methane into the atmosphere would magnify the originally CO2-induced global warming so that global temperatures rise several degrees. Should mean global temperatures rise 6C or more large parts of the Antarctic ice-sheets would disintegrate and thermal expansion would affect the oceans adding a further 40 or metres to sea-level rises- with catastrophic results worldwide. Large areas of the tropics and sub-tropics would become too torrid to live in and there could be catastrophic loss of life. With all this in mind, bearing in mind the fact that CO2 levels are not now far off the level whereby the equilibrium global annual mean temperature is 2C warmer than pre-Industrial times, what is actually to be done to prevent Dangerous Global Warming?? It is my contention that too much debate has been about "How To Get The World To Stop Producing CO2"; when the only way that can possibly be achieved on any relevant time-scale is by imposing massive tariffs on companies and individuals who pollute which would halve global GDP output overnight: Billions would starve to death due to the extreme poverty that would result and governments around the World would lose their tax-bases and have to make massive cuts to health, education, policing, social-security, infrastructure and defence budgets- with disastrous results. How can any sane (let alone compassionate) group of individuals even propose measures that would do that to the global economy?? Which brings us afresh to serious discussion about how to curtail global warming (particularly with a view to preventing Dangerous Global Warming) without destroying the living standards of billions of people. I believe that, in 2016, mankind has either got the technology to achieve this or, with some ££ billions spent on appropriate Research and Development, the means are within the grasp of humankind to arrest a dangerous climatic change caused by the Industrial Revolution and aftermath. There are a number of measures that could be investigated, bearing in mind that the danger areas seem to be high-latitudes with the ice-sheets and huge underground reserves of methane most vulnerable. Here are some that are worthy of some serious research and Crowd-funding initiatives (along with trying to get big business and government funds) to implement them within the next ten years: 1) Big Hollow-Steel Floating-Wall in the North Atlantic. A large wall comprised of hollowed out steel blocks floating on the far North Atlantic would extend from Tromso in Arctic Norway across the Norwegian Sea to the Jan Mayen Islands thence on to the east Greenland Coast at about 70N. It would be built such that it would penetrate to 100 metres depth with just two or three small "entry points" for ships to sail through en-route to the Arctic (at the entry-points) there would be steel planks that would be over 90 metres below the surface of the ocean on their top parts. The whole aim of this wall would be to prevent the warm waters of the Gulf Stream penetrating into the Arctic Ocean so allowing it to cool. This would help preserve the methane clathrates on the sea bed and it would also encourage the Arctic pack-ice to persist to a much greater extent through the summer. The extra sea-ice would reflect more of the 24-hour summer sunshine back to space and would help keep the Earth cooler. The more extensive pack-ice extending to the Arctic Russian and Canadian Coasts would also keep those regions colder in summer, so helping to preserve the permafrost. Deeper depressions forming along the stronger temperature gradient between the Arctic and Norwegian Sea would encourage heavier snowfall over Greenland and the mountains of northernmost Norway and this will help to preserve the Arctic ice-caps so preventing any sizeable rises in sea level. The floating steel wall would be far enough north so that warm Gulf Stream waters would not be stopped from reaching most of Norway, Iceland or the rest of NW Europe. The pitfall of such a project would be Russia, Mr Putin might object to thicker Arctic pack-ice and colder conditions in the far north of his country because that would interfere with Russia's oil industry and its prospecting for oil in the Arctic Ocean!. This objection could be got around with Russia persuaded on-board by the compensation of its Arctic Oil Industry with a few £ billions. There is, of course, also the logistical problem of building the hollow steel blocks and transporting them to where they are needed but this need not be an insurmountable problem. 2) An array of floating mirrors- adding up to an area of three million square kilometres- covering the Equatorial Pacific Ocean: These would reflect enough of the Sun's heat (from where it is strongest and most absorbed) to reduce the equilibrium temperature of the Earth's surface by 1C. Then as CO2 levels continue to rise more mirrors could be added to prevent Dangerous Global Warming. The mirrors would be relatively easy to transport and could be fitted together on-site. On and near the Equator violent tropical storms cannot occur and with this region being the doldrums there would be few strong winds to break apart the array of mirrors. The only problem would be thunderstorms along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) but with the mirrors in place reflecting heat from the Sun there would be neither the surface heat or moisture available to power convection currents needed for thunderstorms. These mirrors in the Equatorial Pacific would be far enough from major population centres so that impacts of rainfall for farmers, etc should be minimal. The only big objection is likely to be ecological and it may well be necessary to transport some tropical fish a few hundred miles to thrive elsewhere in the tropical Pacific before building the massive floating mirror array in order to satisfy environmentalists. Another downside would be maintenance costs because the mirrors would get dirty and need cleaning and resurfacing. But what is £ 10 billion per annum when preventing a global catastrophe that could well cost a thousand times as much? 3) Artificial Trees and Atmospheric CO2-Removal: Research has (so far) centred around using lime and chemical reactions on a large scale to remove CO2 from the atmosphere- to put it precisely where? A much better idea would be the cooling of large amounts of air (under pressure) on a massive industrial scale to remove carbon dioxide permanently. It is known that some businesses use heat-exchangers to heat their home by taking warmth out of the ground- result being the ground is frozen (yes, this has been known to happen in Britain). Now then, there are parts of East Antarctica, high atop the East Antarctica Ice-sheet where mean annual temperatures are around -60C and large areas atop the Greenland Icecap (whilst we still have it) where the mean annual temperature is -40C. The upper parts of the local ice-sheets at the centre move very little and have a mean temperature similar to the mean annual temperature. So as regards freezing CO2 into dry-ice (this happens with 100% CO2 at normal pressure at -78C but at the concentrations it is in the atmosphere atop the Greenland and East Antarctica ice-sheet you would need to cool the air to -145C). However under great pressure CO2 exists in liquid form at room temperature so a massive mechanism of freezing CO2 out of the air and storing it under great pressure in the high-level ice sheets is to be envisaged. It ought, therefore to be entirely possible to extract heat from the coldest parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets to power the putting of air under great pressure so that CO2 is extracted and stored in solid/liquid form under pressure in heat-exchange cooled areas of these coldest of ice-sheet. Research should be conducted into using the Mother of All Heat-Exchangers to convert CO2 into liquid form (or dry ice) on a truly massive massive scale to be stored-permanently- under pressure in the heat-exchange cooled parts of the high Greenland and East Antarctic Ice-sheets that could be cooled below -100C. It is imperative research can be done into doing something like this and I believe man already has the technology to ensure billions of tonnes of CO2 can be locked away safely in solid form in the coldest parts of the Greenland and Antarctic Icesheets: Lets face it, liquid nitrogen (which is much harder to produce because it requires cooling to -196C) can be produced on an industrial scale in parts of the World that are hot, surely CO2 which freezes at a much higher temperature can be frozen out of the air and stored under pressure on a truly gigantic scale in the very coldest parts of the World. Indeed, there is this high-up valley in a ridge in the Trans-Antarctic Mountains where satellites have recorded temperatures of -93C in winter and where in summer it averages about -50C. If this high valley is dammed up (with blocks of ice) so the ponding cold air has even less chance of escaping it is conceivable to get an average surface temperature below -70C. If one can do that a large 1 km cubed hole can be dug out of the ice (the workers would have to wear moon suits because it would be so dangerous in that cold and handling vast amounts of CO2!) and a massive thick 1km cubed steel box placed in the hole. Into this is dumped CO2 frozen out of the air, pressed down under a little pressure with all of this huge hole filled with CO2 and sealed over so no CO2 can escape- and under such temperatures and little pressure the CO2 will remain- forever! Then dig out and create the next big hole to store CO2 under pressure- using a heat exchanger to take heat from the already ultra-cold ice to help preserve the CO2 and using the energy from the ice to drill out subsequent holes to put the next steel container. This will cost ££ billions but nothing like the ££ trillions of damage caused by Dangerous Global Warming. (CONTINUED)..
Dear All Thought that, in the light of COP21 in Paris that produced lots of hot air and an absence of commitment to specific measures to steer the World towards carbon neutral within 50 years I would kick off the New Year of 2016 with discussion about what happens in 50 years' time if CO2 levels are still rising past 550 ppm and global temperatures reach dangerous levels above pre-industrial levels: To Geoengineer or not to Geoengineer, that is the question. And if we do Geoengineer and cannot get measures past the United Nations do we form a Coalition of The Willing- say the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and France- to commit to specific measures to reduce global temperatures (like H-bombs over remote Pacific islands, securing and bringing to Earth asteroids then firing at the south-side of Arctic mountains at noon in June to reduce the tilt of the Earth and keep high latitudes cool enough to preserve ice-fields)?? Are the risks of doing nothing and allowing mean global temperatures to rise high enough to cause massive methane outpourings from the Siberian Tundra, to cause the Greenland and West Antarctica Ice-sheets to disintegrate raising sea-levels by over 10 metres worse than risking some [unintended] consequences of carefully planned operation to halt global temperature rise?? I am assuming that we in the West do all we can to reduce CO2 emissions and to lean on emerging markets as much as possible to do the same in the interim and we still fail (in fifty years' time- by which time things will start getting serious) to get global CO2 emissions to half what they are now. If that's the case do we just continue trying to get the global community to respond and do nothing else except continue to have summits (Brasilia in 2030, Chennai in 2045, the Harare Cool Earth Summit in 2064, perhaps!) in which the world's Government continue their hand-wringing saying "Something Must Be Done To Save Earth!" without any collective willingness to commit to specific measures? Lets get all the brains together to see what if, this comes to pass, we should do. You might think that we should not to anything but adapt to a much warmer Earth with most of England getting a climate more akin to the hills of NW Portugal today. Plans for evacuating London, Newcastle, Liverpool; getting all British homes equipped with air-conditioning to cope with long periods in July and August with a humid 35C and to take in refugees from much of Africa that will simply become too torrid for human civilizations anyone?? I do not think that this situation arising is far-fetched because the specific measures that Western and fast-developing economies would require to get them carbon-neutral in fifty years will be totally unacceptable to large percentages of their respective electorates and such policies would plunge the economies concerned into recession: In other words their governments will cave in and refuse to implement the necessary policies unless of course they are dictatorships like Mao tse Tung or Robert Mugabe, or the governing parties want to be voted out of office for good! On the other hand we do, in my view, have a little more time than most models suggest because natural variations in the Sun's output predicted to occur over the next 30 years (a number of solar physicists believe the Sun is about to enter a quiet Maunder-Minimum type phase during which its output drops by up to 0.5%). Other factors such as worldwide man-made aerosol pollution from fast-developing countries like China, Brazil and South Africa will slow down the rate that rising CO2 levels leads to higher global temperatures. But developing countries will learn to clean up their smoke-stacks in time and the Sun will increase in strength to current levels (or more) after 2060 so complacency will be costly.