NOT ALL THAT GLISTENS IS GOLD

PREFACE

 “..Imagine all the people living life in peace …..”  John Lennon’s dream can be reached – we have the ability, know-how, manpower and resources.   However, to move ahead with confidence there is one major issue that we (the human race) must not wait to fix.

Acid rain affected trees, source: click here , and a worn-down marble statue at Laurel Cemetery in Philadelphia.

Remember acid rain and the sulphur dioxide?  See addendum 1: Let’s put the issue into perspective.

And now everyone is banging on about CO2 and global warming and trying to do something about it.

Well, I want to put in front of you two items, water and heat, that are each 528 times as big a problem the SO2 issue. Addendum1 This is based on the relative mass of each that is injected into the atmosphere annually. Acknowledging, of course, that CO2 is a part of the global warming issue which is even bigger still.  i.e. CO2 being one of the radiation barrier gasses.

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DEFINING THE ISSUE

Much has been said and studied about CO2 and global warming.  But that is not the whole picture – it is much worse.  Few people seem to discuss the mass of water and amount of heat that are also by-products of fossil fuel combustion and that the earth and atmosphere struggles to absorb and which inescapably create change.  You could argue that this heat quantity effects the globe to a lesser degree than the CO2 issue so is of little consequence.  But this is like saying that, throwing a can of petrol onto an existing fire is of little consequence.

The facts below show that the world is in a very tenuous situation.  The situation is human-caused, it is worsening, and most importantly is, in the case of CO2 and water, cumulative.

Combusting fossil fuels at our current rate adds CO2 (already recognised), water vapour and heat to the planet in such magnitudes that there will be a change in the planet’s equilibrium state.  Performing nuclear reactions (nuclear power plants) adds even more heat to this effect.  This is not a guess, or emotion.  It is physics – no question, no argument – face it.  So, yes, the Irma and Maria hurricanes are characteristic of the changes we have made to the planet’s natural balance.

Storm data

Named Storms = Tropical Storms, Hurricanes and Subtropical Storms.  Hurricanes = Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 1 to 5.  Major Hurricanes = Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale 3, 4, or 5. Ref: 17

Let me state my biases: I relate to green thinking, world peace and equality.  However, all these dreams are for naught if the world is left to wander down its existing pathway.  There WILL be catastrophic weather occurrences, with millions of people made homeless and destitute.  Already the world is struggling to cope with a few refugees/economic migrants and ‘natural’ disasters.  There will be anarchy.

I can hear a few readers saying something like “Oh no not another raver, it is all a storm in a teacup.  Hasn’t he heard of the natural cycles the world undergoes?”

I beg of you – please at least read on and consider the facts that I am about to put to you before you hit the ‘delete’ button.  I would like to bring attention to the ‘invisible’ variables of water vapour and heat that are also leading inexorably to change.

The planet no longer seems like a large entity.  At 7.5 billion we cover most of the globe, including sea and air with shipping29 and aircraft30 dotted over the seas and atmosphere (9,728 planes — carrying 1.3 million people).  So, the environmental changes we make are on a global scale.  It is no longer possible for the globe to absorb into its natural average steady state (allowing for the cyclic nature of temperatures, weather etc.) the ‘repetitive, cumulative, polluting’ actions that we indulge in.  One-off events can be and are accommodated by the earth—for example, volcanic eruptions and wildfires.  Volcanic activity contributes about 1% of the total CO2 generated.  A bit like animals, us included, lop a finger off and we can adapt and survive relatively successfully, but a finger off every year (extending up the arms as the fingers run out) is just not sustainable – there will be a deadly situation to face sooner or later.

WTH-Pop Density

We indulge in combusting hydrocarbon fuels (solid, liquid and gaseous) and nuclear power generation at such a level that the earth can no longer accept the polluting factors associated with these activities.  The most significant feature of these is that both the CO2 and water are accumulative compounds.  Heat is too, to a certain extent, but is discussed below.  And we perform these activities year after year after year.

All fossil fuels are made from hydrogen, carbon and minor amounts of a few other elements.  There are exceptions (of course). For example:  You could argue that charcoal is only carbon. But it is made from wood with the volatiles driven off by heating, thus leaving only the carbon.  So, charcoal is also a member of this group generating the by-products listed below.  And the burning of fossil fuels is not confined to just the coal fired power stations and industry but includes every litre of petrol and diesel you use in that reliable car you have parked in your driveway.

Fossil fuels produce the following principal by-products:
    – CO2 (Carbon dioxide)
    – H2O (Water vapour)
    – Heat

Generating electricity by way of a nuclear reaction has the following by-products:
    – Heat
    – Nuclear waste

Each of these three factors, CO2, H2O and heat has an effect on the planet. And the effect of each is additive.  That is, each adds another dimension or magnitude to the problem, it is not either/or it is and, and, and.  The heat energy effect is in addition to any global warming due to the greenhouse effect of CO2 and the other greenhouse gasses.  And it is in addition to the water vapour issue.

Both the CO2 and the H2O are being generated at a much greater mass per year than the SO2 ever was (and remember how much damage the SO2 did to our forests), so “Houston we have a problem…”

CO2 is said to be a greenhouse gas, in that it allows more of the sun’s incident rays (heat) to be trapped on the earth, thus warming it up.  This is a complex setup and many people are much more qualified to discuss and consider it than I.  Sadly, I believe that the ‘doomsayers’ are correct.  Their numbers and scenarios may vary from person to person but overall, we cannot pump that much CO2 into the atmosphere YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR without there being some effect on the earth’s delicate natural balance.  The need to increase the planet’s total plant life in order to trap more CO2 is generally recognised, yet we continue to deforest the globe which has the effect of making the CO2 that we produce more of a headache.  We are losing ground not making it up.

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INTRODUCING THE UNNOTICED POLLUTANTS

What I want to focus on is water vapour and heat because I have some figures that may surprise, and even shock, you.

It is easy to believe that these 2 additional factors (water vapour and heat) are insignificant in comparison to the CO2/global warming issue.  Whilst the basic concept of one being bigger than the other is correct we cannot now ignore the fact that the mass of water vapour and the quantity of heat being generated is significant relative to the size of our atmosphere.  Please do not get side tracked by all the side issues which, I acknowledge, are significant in their own right but which tend to deflect the focus from the big picture and the basic principles, none of which can be denied. There is no debate; it is not either/or it is AND.  There is the basic global warming issue and the effect of adding more heat from the fossil fuels and the effect of adding water vapour.

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WATER

 Water vapour is another by-product of fossil fuel combustion.

The world’s total production of water vapour per year is:
    – 1.05E13 kg i.e. 10,500,000,000,000 kg.28 A

Try saying that number out loud. Not millions, not billions but trillions of kilos of water vapour every year.

Or, consider a building filled with water 1.68 kms high, 1.68 kms wide, 1.68 kms deep (1.04 miles) per year being added to the earth’s water cycle.  Now do you get the picture I am trying to paint?  Do you think it might rain a bit more than it used to?

Do you get the feeling that I am trying to impress on you that this is a BIG number?

The earth’s atmosphere is:
    – 5.15E18 kg. i.e. 5,150,000,000,000,000,000 kg 28 B 31

The mass of water vapour in the atmosphere is:
    – 2.83E16 kg i.e. 28,300,000,000,000,000 kg27 28

Consequently, we are increasing the atmosphere’s water vapour content every year by 0.37% A.  Seems to be not so much BUT after 100 years this amounts to more than 37%.  And the industrial revolution started in say 1800, so we have been adding this magnitude of water vapour into the atmosphere for at least 217 years.

Water diagram

Water vapour is an issue like CO2.  It is invisible, has a complex cycle and is one of the three factors disturbing the earth’s delicate equilibrium.  I have used the word ‘cumulative’ because the water that is generated from the combustion of fossil fuels is additional water, being created as a by-product; it is water which does not already exist and is not part of the current earth to air to earth water cycle.  It is being added to that cycle.

WTH FOR STEAM PIC

There can only be an increase in the water vapour content in the atmosphere if the atmospheric temperature rises.  Refer to stoichiometric charts for this.  If the planet’s atmospheric temperature rise is not adequate to accommodate this added water vapour then some or all of this water we add will condense and fall out of the atmosphere: rain – more than normal. Starting to sound familiar?

In reality, the case will be somewhere in the middle (no additional rain but an increase in temperature or same temperature but full increase in rainfall) as the planet continues to try to adapt to the changing environs.   Do not forget that this additional water is generated every year so this ‘somewhere in the middle’ point will rise year after year.

So, now we have; a slightly warmer atmosphere (already measured and being reported on by earth scientists), more than normal water vapour in the atmosphere, more than normal rain fall and more than normal water added to the oceans and land.  BUT we don’t lose any of that newly generated water vapour – it all went somewhere:  matter cannot just disappear (unless it’s in the movies), it has to reside somewhere – so I use the word ‘cumulative’ – it is now added to our atmosphere, oceans and land masses and… next year we are going to add yet more ‘new’ water, and the year after …

In generating this additional water vapour year upon year, we are playing with the planetary water cycle – we are injecting more into it.  Be prepared for the dire consequences unless we stop destroying our currently habitable planet earth. See ref 24.

So, for me, I don’t much care how we argue about the exact numbers or details of the mechanics of the resultant effect.  Suffice it to say that you cannot add that much water vapour into the atmosphere without changing the weather patterns. It is not even a question – it is a fact. 

There is no intent to be absolutely definitive with the numbers – we are adding straws to the camel’s back.  I don’t wish to argue whether we are adding 3 straws or a whole bale or what the stress levels are in the bones of the camel’s back – we just cannot keep adding straw!!  What this article is intended to make known is that the straw we are adding is significant relative to the total load capacity of the camel and that we keep on adding more and more.

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THE BATH TUB ANALOGY

Think of the world’s balanced system as a bath brimming with water. One tap is fully open.  The plug leaks so that the water leaving via the leak is equal to the volume supplied by the tap.

The full bath is equivalent to the planet with its state of equilibrium.

Now let’s toss in 1.48 litres of water (0.37% of a 400-litre bath, using the % figure established above) every minute to represent every year.  After 11 days (years) you have a whole bathtub’s worth of water overflowed onto the floor!!!!

We can picture that…..  just as people could see the bare and dying trees killed by the SO2 in the atmosphere.  But people cannot ‘see’ the additional water vapour in the atmosphere.  Yet those coping with 100-year floods that are now occurring on a regular basis flooding their homes, factories or farms are busy trying to mop some of it up.

WTH - WATER ON FLOOR

The second, also less recognised, by-product the earth is being asked to deal with, is heat.

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HEAT

Heat is another by-product of fossil fuel combustion and also of nuclear power stations.

Regardless of what the original fossil fuel combustion is used for, space and product heating, endothermic reactions in product manufacture, mechanical movement such as vehicles, machines etc., ALL that energy ends up being added to the earth in the form of heat.  Mostly in the atmosphere but some, e.g., the shaft energy of a drilling rig, will be put into the earth’s crust.

Endothermic reactions will transfer the energy into the manufactured product, some of which will be released once that product is burned in a furnace thus releasing that energy, or reconverted to another product and some will be dumped as trash (landfill or equal).

Also, all the energy generated from nuclear reactors will be added to the fossil fuel energy.  And it’s not just the heat equivalent of the electrical energy, it is also the heat energy of the condensers and coolers needed for the power generation cycle – i.e. it is the total heat equivalent energy of the nuclear reaction that ends up as heat dissipated into the atmosphere.

nuclear chartTypical nuclear power generation system.  Overall power generation efficiency is <40%.  That is, 40% of the energy from the nuclear reaction is converted into electricity and 60% is lost to friction inefficiencies and the cooling water.

Electrical energy is used to power motors, machinery, TVs, and many other devices and in the same way as the fossil fuel heat, almost all this energy reverts to heat (friction, movement, etc.) and is absorbed into the atmosphere with a small amount into the earth’s crust.

The magnitude of this heat energy is:
    – 7.54E13 kw.hr/yr. i.e. 75,400,000,000,000 B kw.hr/yr.

The earth’s atmosphere is:
    – 5.15E18 kg. i.e. 5,150,000,000,000,000,000 kg 9 28

So, using the value of 2.78E-04 kw.hr/kg32  for the average specific heat for the atmosphere the potential temperature rise of the earth’s atmosphere will be:
    – 0.053°C per year 28

Again, this doesn’t seem like a big amount but remember we are adding this heat energy year on year on year.

So, after 100 years (less than the motor vehicle has been a mode of transport and a consumer of fossil fuels in the world) the potential temperature rise would be:  5.3°C.

Now that is plainly significant and I think everyone agrees that it is neither sustainable nor acceptable.  I won’t get further into the various arguments about how this potential temperature rise displays itself because many more well qualified persons can do this and it is a very complex study.

An actual measurable temperature rise of 5.3°C may not occur as other factors come into play, but the measurable value will be higher than the normal equilibrium average value, as the planet struggles to keep its status quo as mentioned above.   However, like the global warming from Greenhouse gasses and the rainfall scenarios above, the figure is so significant that there WILL be an effect manifesting itself.

To all those experts dealing and currently studying in this field: I appreciate it is a work in progress and that the ‘steady state condition’ is enormously complex.  So, to add an increasing variable into the situation just makes it more difficult.  Suffice it to say that there will be a consequence of our continued addition of all this heat energy into the world.  Some of what we generate can be radiated to the cosmos. See addendum 5 “The earth’s thermal balance”.  It is important to know that this seemingly ‘righting effect’ of the planet’s radiation to the cosmos cannot occur unless the planet’s temperature rises thus becoming the new steady state normal. And we already know that there are negative consequences of a temperature rise!

When we cannot currently fully explain/understand and predict weather patterns, how do we believe that we can understand and predict the effects of tampering with the natural balance of the earth’s atmosphere when we continue to make this addition to it?

Remember that the heat energy effect discussed above is in addition to any global warming due to the greenhouse effect of CO2 and the other greenhouse gasses.  And it is in addition to the water vapour issue.

WTH - HEAT HAZE AND STEAM

Remember the bath analogy? The continuous addition of water finally overcomes the bath’s ability to maintain its level.

This analogy can be applied to the added heat also.

  • The bath is the planet again, the water in the bath is the heat content of the planet.
  • The tap which is open is the radiation received from the sun and the leaky plug is the radiant energy leaving the earth into space during night time hours. The net effect of this is the balance again, the earth’s natural equilibrium.
  • The continuous buckets of water are the heat constantly being added by human activity to the otherwise steady state system.

In the case of heat energy, by taking stored potential energy from fossil fuels and nuclear fuel and injecting these into the earth’s atmosphere we are forcing the earth to raise its temperature so that it can radiate more heat at night time.

If this increased radiation did not occur, this heat energy would be accumulated and the earth’s temperature would be even higher.  So, balance is achieved but only at the expense of raising the earth’s temperature!!!  As mentioned above, this is in addition to the effects of water vapour and CO2.

We just CANNOT keep doing this. I don’t profess to be able to, or even need to, calculate what they will be specifically –THERE WILL BE CHANGES.

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ROCKET FUELS AND MILITARY ORDINANCE

I have not considered either of these in the above figures.  Suffice it to say that there will be an increase in the numbers in all three categories, CO2, water and heat, and hence the situation will be made worse as a result of some rocket fuels and from the ordinances.

Rockets need a huge amount of fuel.  There have been about 5,000 13 rockets fired into space.  The fuel load varies a lot of course but the total will be of considerable magnitude.  For example, one launch of the USA space shuttle uses 1,735,000 Kg 14 of fuel – some liquid and some solid.

The military is probably just as significant.  The fuel used by the military is, I believe, included in the world fuel consumption figures noted above albeit excluding atomic fuel for shipping.  For the military, all ordnance uses some form of propellant/explosive.  The majority of these are hydrocarbon in nature so they add to all three of the above categories – CO2, water vapour and heat energy.  I have not attempted an estimate on this field since I doubt that I could obtain reliable data.  Again, suffice it to say that it will only add to the above figures and make the planet’s plight even more precarious.

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SO, WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS SITUATION?

Much has been said and argued about global warming, CO2 emissions and greenhouse gasses.  As you can see, CO2 emissions and greenhouse gasses are only ONE part of the problem.  Water vapour and heat are produced from the same activity and they each have a cumulative, negative effect on the health of the planet.  So, there is a three-pronged attack on the planet – not just the temperature elevation caused by CO2 and greenhouse gasses.

So what do we do…….

We know that:
    – when there is the political will to act, as was the case with SO2 / Acid Rain when           stringent controls and monitoring were put in place, change can happen, and
    – when the problem is visible to all, as mountainsides of dead trees were, pressure to do something creates that political will.

We need to support those agents for change that continue to bring the visual evidence of shrinking ice caps etc to the population at large.  Seeing really is believing.  People are stirred to action by witnessing the human toll from ‘natural’ disasters such as floods and hurricanes.  And such movements have brought sufficient momentum to already achieve some legislative changes such as banning the use of fluorocarbons.

We need to support those who are prepared to stand up and be counted on this hugely important issue.  Allowing opinion makers and leaders, even some scientists, to say “we are not sure” whether climate change is implicated in the increased hurricane frequency and/or force is not acceptable when one considers the data for the increased water vapour and increased heat that our planet has been struggling to cope with, particularly since the advent of the industrial age.

Otherwise the solution for this is pretty much what has been discussed in public forums related to climate change.

Basically, what we MUST do is to extricate ourselves from burning fossil fuels and generating power from nuclear reactors.   We can no longer look at chimneys and be comforted that it is steam and heat, not other measurable pollutants that are being emitted.  A bit of a turnaround to consider something as seemingly benign as steam/water vapour as a destructive force.

WTH - BEST COOLING TOWERS copy

All forms of renewable energy sources are not part of the above problem.  This would include biofuels – these are part of a cycle absorbing CO2, H2O and heat during one part of the cycle and exhausting all three during the other part of the cycle – so they become part of the earth’s natural cyclic patterns.

So, as many endorse, replacing fossil fuelled processes with renewable options is a progressive move.  This puts all such consumers into the natural balanced cycles of the planet.

I am sure that some processes (I’m certain there are a few), will not be able to be done without fossil fuel combustion.  However, they need to be limited to as small a magnitude as possible so that the accumulation effect is minimised.  Hopefully that will give time for the supposedly smart human race to invent and put in place systems to balance these processes and thus stop the accumulation and allow the earth to continue with its never-ending struggle to keep its natural balance.

Reducing our overall fuel consumption is another progressive move.  Sadly, most moves to reduce consumption will be ‘swallowed up’ by the increase in the total demand for energy as the global population increases.  But that doesn’t make it any less important as a goal.

We can do this; for example,

  • Denmark has a long tradition of setting ambitious national energy targets, based on nation-wide Energy Agreements. In 2030, it aims for renewables to cover at least half of the country’s total energy … Ref: click here  ‘Denmark is moving convincingly on decarbonisation’
  • Albeit that the US is waxing and waning over the issues (“The Trump administration plans to try to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s main initiative to fight climate change by lowering emissions, according to news … “) they have made progress in some areas.  Refer to: click here  ‘Vintage Photos Reveal What America Looked Like Before Pollution Was Regulated’.

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WHAT CAN WE DO AS INDIVIDUALS?

  1. Be shocked at what water and heat are doing … and tell people. Spread the word.
  2. Circulate this information so that the general population and policy makers can understand what is happening and what is needed to be done.
  3. Lobby all politicians to make legislation to limit ALL new power stations to be NOT fossil or nuclear fueled. This is not so difficult. For example: the USA was drowning in pollution in the 70’s and with some political has turned the situation around by introducing legislation such as the Clean Air Act.  Refer to the article: “Vintage Photos reveal What America Looked Like Before Pollution Was Regulated”22; the notorious ‘London Fogs’ that are no more; China’s current policies in this regard.
  4. Confront those politicians & policy makers who call for delays, complacency and patience to ‘see if it is a natural cycle’. IT IS NOT. Climate change will (and is) happening. An example of this is South Australia’s decision to add an enormous backup battery pack to their power generation complex in order to take greater advantage of their wind turbine farm.  See: click here .  This is an example of a short sighted politician getting it wrong and giving the public misinformation. This situation also illustrates that the better solution (of battery packs) can be made to overcome the issues whilst at the same time reduce the dependence on fossil fuels.  See also: click here ….. which shows how the pack worked and avoided a power blackout.
  5. Reduce (or replace) anything that requires the burning of fossil fuels or consumes power from nuclear power plants. eg. drive a smaller (or more efficient) car, better still drive an electric car and charge it at home off your own solar panels, switch off the lights, shut the door (to keep the cold in/out), etc.  I know you’ve heard this all before but at this point, until we eliminate fossil and nuclear fuel dependence, every bit counts.
  6. Place your investments and purchases wisely. eg. support green energy installations, research and products.
  7. Help your workplace company in the conversion.
  8. Boycott material goods and services that refuse to accept the position and change.
  9. Do not fight the price rises in fossil fuels or electric power from fossil/nuclear power plants. Allowing the price rises to occur makes alternative power sources more attractive to investors and consumers – money talks.

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CONCLUSION

Although there is a huge amount of fossil fuel available in the earth’s crust and we continue to develop ways to find more and extract bigger percentages, it is finite.  So, we have two threats:

  • if we do not curtail our fossil fuel consumption we will kill off future generations by doing nothing and suffering an as-yet unknown catastrophic global failure due to the continued addition of water, heat and CO2; or
  • future generations will find it impossible to survive without their continued supply of fossil fuels because they have been all consumed. It WILL run out but don’t worry the planet will be uninhabitable before that point.

Moving the planet away from its average steady state condition to another ‘steady but warmer’ state is not acceptable – it is just a stop along the path to disaster.  It will ultimately readjust and readjust until life becomes unsustainable in the new steady state condition when the planet becomes too hot and/or the weather conditions make it uninhabitable.  We know how hard it has been to eliminate SO2 production and we already know how hard it is to sequestrate CO2 so we need to deal with our ongoing generation/creation of water vapour and heat and we need to do it NOW.  I believe that it is far better to fix the source of the problem than to try to keep ahead of the symptoms.  Let conventional fossil and nuclear fuelled power stations die out and replace them with ecofriendly ones. It is not so difficult, people are doing this now – just let us not build any more conventional fossil and nuclear fuelled power stations.

I want to see achievable planned phasing out of fossil and nuclear fuel consumption because I don’t want to IMAGINE either of the above two scenariosThere are a myriad of other possibilities/processes that achieve this end goal – such as changing habits/materials/processes so that the energy demand is reduced and ultimately eliminated.

My traceable family, and most likely yours, has been around for hundreds of years, and I would like to ensure it continues for hundreds more …  

IMAGINE     ….    Come on – be a dreamer

Saturdays Pics 4

Saturdays Pics 3

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ADDENDUM

LET’S PUT THE ISSUE INTO PERSPECTIVE

You will remember I am sure (maybe not the younger ones) the huge global issue of acid rain.  This caused great concern and devastation.  It didn’t take much convincing as I recall and not too much time before people (countries, governments, big business) reacted by severely limiting the sulphur content of fossil fuels.

Acid rain is caused by the sulphur (S) content of fuels being burned, forming sulphur dioxide (SO2), emitted to the atmosphere, where it combines with water to form sulphurous acid and finally falls to earth with the rain water causing the devastation that is well known.

Fuels sulphur content pre- 1960 and currently:

SO2 content table

SO2 vs H2O table

This total of 2.0E+10kg/yr of SO2 in c.1960 caused a noticeable effect on the planet’s atmosphere namely acid rain and you will notice that the mass of SO2 is 528 (1960) times less than the mass of H2O currently being generated (as in this article above: 1.05E13kg/yr).  And it caused huge concern and a concerted call to action.

So, why is it seemingly so difficult for the world’s population to recognise that the 3 prongs (water vapour, heat and carbon dioxide) are prodding away at the planet year on year when, for example, water vapour alone is bigger by a factor of 528 than the SO2 issue ever was?

Burning so much fossil and atomic fuel is having an effect on the planet’s atmosphere – no question.   There was a will to resolve the SO2 issue because of the very obvious, visible problem.  Refer to the pictures on the first page. So ‘lets keep our perspective’ the compounds produced from fossil fuel combustion need more urgent attention than we expended on the SO2 issue.
SO2 emissions_

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THE PLANET’S EQUILIBRIUM

The planet as we knew it before the Industrial revolution (or thereabouts) was in a ‘cyclic equilibrium state’ that nicely supported all plant and animal life –including humans.
‘Cyclic equilibrium’ state as a term may be a new invention of mine – what I mean by that is that over thousands of years the planet’s condition is, on the average, constant.  There are cyclic changes up and down of most principal factors from this average but at the end they remain within a band of values that is acceptable to life.

From this we can conclude that planet earth is in a particular planetary orbital situation that allows it to develop and maintain a set of circumstances that permits vegetative and animal matter to thrive.  Drastic changes like volcanic eruptions and wild fires cause variations to the magnitude of some variables which has a knock-on effect to other factors yet, until we unlocked the industrial age, the earth managed to maintain an average equilibrium that has been acceptable.

So, if we are smart, we will accept this situation and stop injecting factors into this system which are either so significant in size (like adding a tanker of water into a bath tub) or so regular (adding a bucket of water every 10 minutes ad infinitum) that the planet can no longer cope and return to an acceptable average set of factors that can sustain life.

Moving the planet away from its average steady state condition to another steady state is not acceptable – it is a train stop along the rails to disaster.  First, we have to stop the train and we may have to reverse it if life becomes unsustainable in whatever new steady state condition arises – the planet is too hot and the weather conditions make it uninhabitable.  I repeat – we know how hard it has been to eliminate SO2 production and we already know how hard it is to sequestrate CO2 so the step needed to stop the train needs to happen NOW.  Let alone getting it into reverse, we can’t even agree to stop it!!!  Judging from the lack of public discourse discourse, it appears scant attention is being given to deciding what to even do about the heat and water we are adding.

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SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

There is no such thing as ‘something for nothing’ and all matter and energy persists to exist.  Matter may change its form for example: water to vapour, copper+zinc makes brass, many compounds reconfigure to form plant and animal matter.  But none of it actually disappears or appears.

Similarly, with energy.  The potential energy from lake water falls through a hydropower station to spin a turbine which powers an electrical generator.  The water is spilled out at a lower level with less potential energy.  The reduction in potential energy has been converted to electrical energy (or most of it: frictional losses in the hydraulic and mechanical systems to achieve this are converted to heat generation which is dissipated to the water and the atmosphere).

This electrical power is transmitted to the users (losing some on the way as heat due to resistance losses in the power distribution network).

At the user end, more is converted to heat due to resistance heat but most is used for all manner of things: mostly mechanical work and heating.  All of the energy from these uses is ultimately converted to heat energy.  For example; an electrically powered people mover converts all its motive power to air, road, brake friction i.e. heat – all imparted to the atmosphere.  So, effectively we hijacked the potential energy from the lake water, used it and then put it back into the planet where we got it from.

All of these conversions are a one-way street.  That is, the conversion cannot be reversed, the value (entropy) of the energy form is lowered and cannot be raised again.  Another way to picture this is to consider heat.  Heat ‘travels’ from the hot body to the colder body – it cannot go the other way.  So, the energy associated with this transferred heat falls to a lower temperature and lower still at the next transfer, and so on.  But the total quantity of heat energy, albeit at a lower quality, is still present somewhere.

This brings us to another topic worth touching on that is associated with the above dissertation.

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CONSERVATION OF MATTER AND ENERGY

As mentioned, all matter and energy is conserved – nothing for nothing.  In the case of this dissertation, let’s consider fossil and nuclear fuels.  These are locked up in the earth’s mantle and one of their properties is that they have considerable potential energy.  Humans want to take advantage of this property so as to enjoy a higher standard of life through the use of energy.  But in doing so, we release heat energy and, in the case of fossil fuels, restructure the constituents so that water and CO2 gasses are formed.   See the ‘introduction‘ section for more information on our use of energy.

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THE EARTH’S THERMAL BALANCE

The earth has evolved over millennia to an equilibrium temperature which accommodates the current volcanic & bush fire activity which fortunately for us allows animal and plant life to survive in this climate.

Let’s concentrate on the heat release factor for a few minutes.

The planet that radiates its heat energy to space in the night-time constitutes the whole planet: the earth and the atmosphere (which is a very thin onion skin type layer around the earth. Earths diameter = 12,742km but the atmosphere = approx. 16km).  It is this whole body that radiates heat into space, not just the atmosphere.  In fact, the atmosphere forms a resistance layer through which the earth’s heat has to be radiated in order to flow into space.  And the main feature of global warming is that we are playing with the properties of this layer and not allowing so much heat to be radiated at night time.  Water vapour is one of these factors that effects the properties of this layer.  We add water from combustion, some of this falls to earth, the rest affects the ‘thermal blanket’ on the earth causing a temperature rise.  Then for the next lot of water we add, less falls to earth and more is added to the ‘thermal blanket’ mmmm global warming, positive feedback, runaway effect & ultimately a planet we cannot live on.

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MECHANICAL ENERGY NOT DISSIPATED INTO THE ATMOSPHERE

In this article, I have lumped all the mechanical energy of shipping vessels (pleasure, commercial and military) into that energy that is dissipated into the atmosphere as heat.  The mechanical propeller shaft energy is injected into the sea and waterways and appears as heat energy warming the seas and waterways which is in addition to the atmospheric warming effect of the oceans.  As others have stated, this ocean warming increases the evaporation of sea water into the atmosphere.  So, although I lumped this energy into warming the atmosphere it may be more accurate to lump it into the ‘Water Vapour’ section.  Although it may be small in relation to the magnitude of some other water warming factors, that is what happens to it – something we should not be doing.

To me this is of very little consequence – the globe suffers one way or the other.  Like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic, arguing this point is fruitless.

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SEEMINGLY INEXHAUSTIBLE SUPPLIES OF OIL AND COAL

In order to extricate ourselves from the problem of affecting the earth’s atmosphere, and hence everything associated with the atmosphere, we must stop all fossil and nuclear power production.  Like the SO2 discussion above and the fact that that disaster was managed, we must do a similar thing with power production.

There are a few issues which need to be addressed to assist in achieving the level of political will and commitment to change:
    – We seem to have plenty of it so why should we not use it?
    – What do we do with the huge infrastructures we have associated with fossil fuels and nuclear plants?
    – What will the workers do if we move away from fossil and nuclear?

It is possible; we have the technology, materials and manpower.  All we need is the will.

This is, undoubtedly, a big issue but it must be faced.  Because the issue is much bigger than you or I can fix, we (the world’s population) must act collectively.

This probably means that we must persuade and empower our politicians to get on board and make change happen and it is heartening to see some European countries and China showing political commitment to radical change.

There is a lot happening right now.  For example:34

  • Solar power plants
  • South Australia’s battery pack system
  • Electric cars and Chinese electric scooter policy
  • Power authorities moving away from coal plants
  • The Dutch solar walkways, cycle pathways and roadways
  • Denmark: c.29% of total gross energy consumption is from renewable
  • New Zealand: 80% of power generation from renewables 
  • Hydrogen generation/storage and use

However, there is a long way to go when we consider the source of these problems26.  Not least because of all the existing reserves.  To move away from using fossil fuels does mean that there will be a huge reserve of fuel remaining untapped.  This is a good thing in that it will allow mankind to proceed for a few more 00’s or 000’s of years before that reserve runs out.  As mentioned previously there will be some processes that just cannot be performed in any way other than consuming fossil or nuclear generated power.

Our objective is to get this consumption down to a very small quantity so that the planet can take care of it with only a very small shift in its natural equilibrium.

All power plants have a useful life.  We have the opportunity to build ‘green’ plants as each of these existing plants retires and this is what legislation is needed for.

As a consequence to this we don’t have to ‘do anything’ with the existing infrastructures – they were going to become redundant anyway.  And many of them may be able to be reused with the new ecofriendly power generation system.

The manpower, machinery and industries that were required to build and operate the fossil plants can be redeployed to build/operate the ‘green’ plants.

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CARBON FOOTPRINT

All this is, is a means of putting a number on the CO2 generation.
Wind turbines, solar cells, hybrid cars etc. all have a carbon footprint.  i.e. they require consumption of energy in order to be made/produced.  This is an issue but it does not mean that we should avoid them. The challenge is to make them available by utilising energy from sources other than fossil and nuclear.  I’m not saying that this is easy – it is a challenge which we must meet or face the consequences.  There is enough incident solar energy from the sun to power everything that man needs or desires by orders of magnitude.

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GREEN ENERGY AND BIOMASS

As mentioned above, these are what I call natural cyclic energy forms i.e. solar energy and organic matter are combined to produce a medium that is useful to humans as a fuel to take place of the traditional fossil and nuclear fuels.

Once used, they revert back to their original forms so that these forms are available again for re-combination.  So the cycle can be repeated. Whatever CO2 and H2O is generated becomes available again for absorption, so there is no cumulative addition of these 2 into the atmosphere.  And the heat energy is finally dissipated into the atmosphere where it would have finished up had the plants not absorbed it in the first place.  i.e. there is no overall gain or loss to the atmosphere when using renewable resources.

Essentially it is a means of transporting the sun’s radiant energy into the devices that we humans find so necessary before it is dissipated into the atmosphere where it would have finished up had we not waylaid it for a while.

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FUELS

Fuels are in many forms – for simplicity’s sake not all are totalled up here since the total additional effect of all the peripheral forms will be quite small.  And indeed, they will counter the various small items/processes that are in the figures but which do not contribute to CO2, H2O and heat which this dissertation omits to delete.  So, the overall error will be very small.

Some more common Gaseous fuels:
    – Methane (natural gas): being used more and more, including power stations
    – Ethane exists in some natural gas and in LPG
    – Acetylene: used in Oxy/acetylene metal cutting torches
    – Hydrogen

Some more common Liquid fuels
    – Propane, Butane, Pentane etc: constituents of LPG
    – Kerosene
    – Biodiesel
    – Alcohols
    – Gasoline (petrol): used in vehicles
    – Diesel: used for transport and in some burners (Industry, space heating, some power stations)
    – Heavy fuel oils: used in power stations and shipping
    – Rocket fuel

Some more common Solid fuels
    – Coal: used in Industry and power stations
    – Wood
    – Rocket fuel

Methane Citrate

  • This compound exists in the deep sea (ref: click here).  My first reaction is to say that it should be treated in the same manner as other fossil fuels – i.e.it should be left in place and not burned.  For the same reason as fossil fuels should be left in place, burning it will add new CO2, water and heat to the atmosphere.However there is a possibility that it is part of one of the planet’s natural cycles. In which case it could be used as an eco-friendly fuel provided there is some means of ensuring that the water, CO2 and heat is introduced back into that cycle in similar quantities as is taken out.  Much more research needs to be done before this possibility is acceptable.  So this is one of the factors that can be studied and maybe implemented as part of the planet’s stabilisation plan.
  • Biofuels.  On the basis of the above comment on Methane Citrate some will say that we could do the same with fossil fuels – i.e. allow the CO2 & water (and heat from the sun) convert vegetation back into fossil fuels.  While this is basically feasible we know that this takes a very long time and high pressure to achieve the result.  We humans are too impatient to actually do this and if we were to take this approach we should have started the process a few hundred years back. We have developed methods to perform this action in a short time frame but the costs rule it out and we haven’t started planting the vegetation yet. That is to say that it shouldn’t be discarded, just that we have to start it now: planting the feed stock, studying the overall plan (area of cultivation land to be set aside etc). Ref: click here 

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CLIMATE CHANGE – ‘TRUE OR FALSE?’

If you want to wade through the argument about whether or not global warming is real or imaginary refer click here 

At the end of the day the simple basic chemistry and physics of what I outline in this article is indisputable and then sheer simple logic shows that change will occur if we persist in our generation of new CO2, water and heat.

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Sources.

These sources are those used in the above article and the below calculations; however, there are many more sources showing the same information.

 

A Calculation: The world’s total production of water vapour per year

Total water calc table

B Calculation: The magnitude of heat energy

Total heat added table

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REFERENCES

(3)  https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/ieo/nat_gas.php

(4)  http://www.bpf.co.uk/Press/Oil_Consumption.aspx

(5) https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.COMM.FO.ZS

(6)  https://www.researchgate.net/file.PostFilieLoader.html

(7)  https://www.wile.cm/legacy/wileychi/morvayindustrial/supp/toolbox5

(8) https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_sum_sndw_dcus_nus_w.htm

(9)  ‘Handbook of Chemistry and Physics”. Boca Raton, FL: CRC, 1996: 14-7

(10) https://engineering toolbox.com/heating-values-fuel-gasses-d_823

(11)  https://www.google.co.th/search?rlz=1C1JZAP_enTH692TH752&q=convert+mj%2Fkg+to+kw.hr%2Fkg&oq=convert+mj%2Fkg+to+kw.hr%2Fkg&gs_l=psy-ab.3…1659283.1661930.0.1663297.5.5.0.0.0.0.138.634.0j5.5.0….0…1.1.64.psy-ab..0.0.0.p3Sa02Y1VeE

(12)  https://engineering toolbox.com/coal-heating-values-d_1675_823

(13)  www.thespacereview.com/article/1598/1

(14)   https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/2491/how-much-fuel-was-used-for-a-space-shuttle-launch

(15)  http://www.transportpolicy.net/standard/us-fuels-diesel-and-gasoline/

(16)  https://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/11/1101/2011/acp-11-1101-2011.pdf

(17)  www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/E11.html

(19)  http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32016L0802&rid=1, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32016L0802

(20)  http://www.transportpolicy.net/standard/us-fuels-diesel-and-gasoline

(21)  https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=MYDAL2_M_SKY_WV

(22)  https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/faq/greenhouse-gases.php?section=watervapor

(23)  http://www.sciencealert.com/vintage-photos-reveal-what-america-looked-like-before-pollution-was-regulated

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/climatesciencenarratives/its-water-vapor-not-the-co2.html?_ga=2.35946656.1662273230.1518250139-631029635.1505007252https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/climatesciencenarratives/its-water-not-the co2.html

(24)  Reading.  Water vapour in the atmosphere.  There I told you it was complex.  Suffice it to say that it is all bad news and we must stop doing it.

(25)  https://www.emgineeringtoolbox.com/classification -coal-d_164.html

(26)  http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id-2670

(27)  https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Water/

(28)  These number entries have been corrected since the original posting.  The conversion (MSword) to this site deleted the first digit and the full stop.

(29)   http://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/number-of-planes-in-air

(30)   https://shippingresearch.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/how-many-ships-are-there-in-the-world/

(31)  https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Water/

(32)  https://www.ohio.edu/mechanical/thermo/property_tables/air/air_Cp_Cv.html   This average value could well be between  and 2.78E-04 and 3.33E-04.  Whatever the value used the arguement is still valid – the magnitude of heat energy that we are adding to the thermal eco-system is significant in relation to the total energy capacity of the atmosphere.

(34) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earthtalks-volcanoes-or-humans/ CO2 from volcanic activity.

(35)  https://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/which-emits-more-carbon-dioxide-volcanoes-or-human-activities) CO2 from volcanic activity.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2016/06/08/world-sets-record-for-fossil-fuel-consumption/#5828d90f365f  Reading

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/EG.USE.COMM.FO.ZS   Reading

https://www.e-education.psu.edu/egee102/node/1951  Products of combustion

https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/pdf/energy-economics/statistical-review-2016/bp-statistical-review-of-world-energy-2016-full-report.pdf  All energy types, production, reserves & consumption.

https://phys.org/news/2014-07-vapor-global-amplifier.html  Reading – water vapour in the atmosphere. A raised atmospheric temperature rise allows more water vapour in the atmosphere which increases the greenhouse gas effect.  So we don’t want to add more water every year!!

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/climatesciencenarratives/its-water-vapor-not-the-co2.html
Reading: Water vapour in the atmosphere – I told you it was complicated.

https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy/coal/coal-consumption.html

https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-and-changing-energy-sources/ reading.  The issue is recognised but only in relation to CO2.  Adding water and heat makes it all the more untenable and urgent.  In particular see the chart “long term energy transitions”.  This shows how far we must go to save ourselves from chaos.  All the fossil and nuclear fuels have to be replaced by the ‘primary electricity’ (excluding nuclear).

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1c85/8f9fe1392c6761af6f8604030dca60ea1b56.pdf   HEAT CAPACITY, TIME CONSTANT, AND SENSITIVITY OF EARTH’S CLIMATE SYSTEM

Hydrogen fuel distribution network

https://www.google.co.th/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwio-uu5yu3XAhURTY8KHa51DkYQFghVMAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.shell.com%2Fenergy-and-innovation%2Fthe-energy-future%2Ffuture-transport%2Fhydrogen.html&usg=AOvVaw3sUHOm1-ZxJMPfyYUAIXbI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_station#Asia

https://www.netinform.net/H2/H2Stations/H2Stations.aspx  a world map

Eco-friendly cars

2016 Toyota Prius c
2016 Nissan Versa Note
2016 Nissan Versa Note
2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2016 Lexus CT 200h
2016 Mazda CX-5
2016 Mazda Mazda3
2016 Toyota Avalon Hybrid

H2 powered cars

2017 Honda Clarity
2017 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell
2017 Toyota Mirai

Electric cars

Tesla Model 3
Nissan Leaf
Chevrolet Bolt

Electric trucks

Telsa

Electric motor cycles

Italian Lacama
BMW C Evolution electric scooter
Harley-Davidson prototype electric motorcycle
Bultaco entered the electric motorcycle
To name a few  (34)
Issue: 03 (04 Dec 2017)

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Dated: November 2017

Author:  W. T. Hird