Engineering Earth — Solving Climate Change Forever, Today

Hope.

It’s a funny thing. A matter of perspective.

Powerful and fragile at once. The wisdom of naivete, and the strength of defiance. Hope drives us forward when resignation seems the most rational course; pointlessly without proof or evidence of success. A mad, senseless beast; blind in faith and deaf in protest; Hope and Reason lay forever estranged, with Despair its eternal mistress.

And we have plenty of reason to despair today.

Our house is on fire. From Australia to the Amazon, from Arctic snow forests and cities devastated by super-storms; from anywhere on this great big planet, the smoke of imminent destruction pervades our homes and thoughts. No more so than among younger generations, now certain of this complete betrayal by the elders they trusted.

We must act today to save our children from the sins of our parents. We find ourselves not mere repair-men of this machine called Earth; but firefighters, desperately seeking to extinguish the blaze so the work of true repair may proceed. And how do we do that? How do we halt the conflagration of an entire planet?

Logically, we should just give up. That’s the rational course of action. Give no thought to the future, burn it all down and dance in the firelight of humanity’s failure. That is the logical course of action now.

Which makes this the time for hope. The perfect time. Because mad, irrational, even pointless…there is hope.

We just need to change our perspectives.

To take a step back. See the whole picture, and start thinking bigger. A lot bigger. Not to laws and carbon taxes, to politics and protests. No. That’s not enough, and never will be. It’s already too late for any of those. Our house is on fire, and we need to start thinking on a scale to match the problem.

planetary scale.

In other words: Geo-Engineering.

.

Yes, that’s right. It’s not sci-fi anymore. And it doesn’t take trillion-dollar atmospheric processors. Humanity posses the power, technology and resources — right now — to do far more than just slow down the rate of damage and survive its aftermath. We have the power to actively take control of our planet, our climate and its future. True global climate controls. Not in some distant future. Today. Right now, in this moment.

This mad, mad hope.

In this series of articles, we’ll be talking about what we can do today to put out our burning house, and build a better one for countless generations to come. If the test of a species’ worthiness to survive is survival itself, this is where we prove humanity’s worth. By doing what humans do best: adapting and building to survive. But first, let’s start by taking a step back, and gaining some perspective on the nature of the problem, where we stand and what we can do to repair and re-engineer the broken machinery of Planet Earth.

.


I. Introduction

Section 1. The Engine of Life; What We Broke, and Why we Can Fix it
Section 2. Albedo; How Earth Regulates Temperature
Section 3. Breaking the Cycle — Three Options, and What we Can’t do


II. Basic Reforms

Section 4. Shifting the Subsidies

Section 5. EPIC (Phase 1) — Our Path to an All-Electric Future
Section 6. The Heavy Metal Project


III. Geo-Engineering

Section 7. VAPR: Variable Arctic Protection Response
Section 8. The PolarStar Initiative; Actively Rebuilding Our Polar Ice Caps on the Cheap
Section 9. GRTAA; aka “Project SilverDome”
Section 10. SeaStar; Restoring Our Oceans While Creating Unlimited Supplies of Fuel and Energy


SUMMARY — Holding to Hope


.

Section 1. The Engine of Life; What We Broke, and Why we Can Fix it

Before getting into anything else, we should probably get a few basics out of the way.

  1. The Earth is a machine. It isn’t magical, and it isn’t sentient. Which is a damned good thing for us, because if Mother Nature were sentient, she’d be a psychopath with a penchant for mass murdering her own children.

    Our planet and biosphere contains parts and mechanisms that act and react to each other in predictable ways; yes, it’s “alive” in the same sense that a bacterial colony is. And the actions of individual bacteria can create gestalt patterns of life. Can, in some sense, act as a single organism. But it isn’t. The combined result of individual actions within any given species is just another mechanism in our biosphere.
  2. The Earth is a machine. Like any other. It can be built, maintained, broken and repaired. We broke the machine. It’s up to us to fix it. Or die.
  3. We don’t have fifteen years to solve climate change. It’s already too late.

And this is the part of the discussion that matters.

According to climate scientists, that’s how long we’ve got to get to carbon neutral before the Earth reaches the event horizon of thermal runaway. But, they’re wrong. For two reasons.

First, because over the last 50 years or so, the date of thermal runaway keeps getting nearer and nearer. In the 1980s, they said it would happen in the year 2200. By the ’90s, it was 2100. In 2010 it was 2060, now it’s 2035. The fact is, scientists have never accurately accounted for all of the factors contributing to global warming; and every time they get closer, the picture looks worse and worse.

As of today, they say we’ve got 15 years to reach carbon neutral before the point of no return: thermal runaway.

But, given the trend, we can probably assume that by 2035, they’ll say it happened 20 years ago.

And, in effect, that’s probably true. Because these are just scientific models. They don’t take into account the single most destructive force on the face of the planet today: human greed. Corruption. Corporate domination of our media, politics and legislation. In America, and globally. Compared to moving that behemoth, geo-engineering of the type we’re talking about is a walk in the park.

Given this reality, the reality of the society we live in right now…it’s already too late. The “Green Dream” is exactly that. The killer’s in the house, and we need to start considering ourselves already past the point of thermal runaway.

But first, what is runaway heating, anyway? What causes it? What exact mechanism did we disrupt to cause this runaway heating effect? It’s called “albedo.”


Section 2. Albedo; How Earth Regulates Temperature

Albedo is a measure of reflectivity; how much lights energy a thing reflects back to the source instead of absorbing. In practical terms, we can think of albedo as a spectrum from “black hole” to “perfect mirror.” The darker an object is, the more energy it absorbs. The shinier or lighter, the less energy. Everything has a net albedo, including the Earth. Just taking a step back, it’s pretty clear which parts reflect and which absorb. Oceans (being the darkest part) absorb the majority of solar energy.

Polar ice caps, on the other hand, act as mirrors. They reflect solar energy back out into space.

So do clouds, water vapor, to a lesser extent. Vapor in the atmosphere acts as both reflector, and blanket.

Note for reference.

This reflectivity balance works pretty well to regulate the Earth’s temperature. Or rather, it would, if not for one glaring design flaw: Earth’s mirrors tend to melt when temperature goes up, exposing the dark ocean water beneath. Water which, as it happens, serves as a fantastic heat sink.

This is why the Earth tends to go through runaway heating and cooling cycles. Temperature goes up, melting sea ice. Earth’s reflectivity drops, energy gets stored in ocean water. This melts more ice, causing more energy to go into the ocean, causing further heating and faster ice melt and higher temperatures, which melts more ice and increases temperatures, which melts more ice which…you get the idea.

Thermal runaway.

This exponential decrease in albedo is the primary culprit of runaway warming. But there are a few others. One is extra carbon released as a result of wildfires, happening as a result of global warming. Another is the release of methane trapped in ice. And there are others. One of which seems a little odd; but anyone living in Florida can tell you how much it matters.

Water vapor is, by far, the most powerful greenhouse gas on Earth. Because, unlike carbon, the effects of water vapor (humidity increase) is non-linear. Water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas in two ways both acting as a blanket to trap heat in and working as an energy storage device and magnifying glass.

While water vapor alone is a pretty short-lived gas, it amplifies the effects of other greenhouse gases by about two to one. And it’s well capable of going into the same feedback loop as albedo. Higher temperatures vaporize more water, and warmer air holds more. This amplifies the effects of other greenhouse gases, which causes more heat, which puts more vapor into the air.

Between albedo and water vapor alone, we have a doubly exponential situation, where climate can run away very quickly with even minor changes.

That’s where we are right now.

I say “right now,” because that is effectively the case. The moment we started to lose sea ice cover, and failed to reduce carbon, the killer was already in the house. The feedback loop had already begun.

But that doesn’t mean we’re without hope. It just means a change of approach.

From preventing this thermal loop, to breaking it.


Section 3. Breaking the Cycle — Three Options, and What we Can’t do

There are three primary ways of breaking the thermal feedback loop:

  1. Reduce greenhouse gases, which create a blanket around the Earth and trap solar energy
  2. Increase albedo, to reflect this energy beck out into space.
  3. Absorb and re-emit solar energy before it reaches the Earth.

Modern environmentalists have been focusing on Option 1 for a long time. Too long, in my estimation; at least as far as carbon is concerned. Trying to put out the match while our house is burning. A good idea 50 years ago, not so much today. Cutting emissions is, at this point, the slowest and least effective of all. Especially considering the fact that increased heat increases concentrations of the greatest greenhouse gas of all…water vapor.

Which gets us to Option 2, increasing albedo on the planet surface. Essentially, this means increasing either cloud cover or polar surface ice coverage. Either one acts as a mirror, bouncing energy back out into space from the surface. Less effective than Option 3, but probably a cheaper and more feasible in the short term. We’ve got a few ideas along those lines.

Option 3, extraterrestrial or atmospheric interdiction, might seem like the most ridiculous and sci-fi of them all. But, actually, it could end up being (long term) the cheapest, simplest and most effective solution.

Those are our three basic options, and we’ve got solutions to all of them. Some build on pre–existing geo-engineering concepts, while others are wholly unique. What follows is a partial and ever-growing list of our ideas for securing the future of humanity on Earth. Some focus on temperature control (by different means), others on correcting a few of humanity’s other, many screwups.

Click the links where available, or read the summaries if we don’t have those expanded articles up yet. It’s time to think on the biggest scale of all time, and engineer this Earth to humanity’s liking. Tomorrow is an age of true Global Climate Control. And tomorrow is here today. Because if we don’t take control now, there may not be too many days worth worrying about later.


II. Basic Reforms

Section 4. Shifting the Subsidies

When people tell you we “can’t afford to build clean energy,” give them this number:

Five. Trillion. Dollars.

Because that’s how much global fossil fuel subsidies came to last year alone. That’s a staggering 6.5% of all the money made on planet Earth, just given away to fossil fuel companies in the form of subsidies and tax breaks.

And what’s really stunning about that is the entire global fossil fuel industry only makes about $250 billion a year. Which means fossil fuels aren’t money makers; they’re money losers, being propped up by government subsidies as much as 20 times what those companies actually make.

That’s globally…but what about in the United States? Still true. The fossil fuel industry here profits about $20 billion a year, and receives as much a $50 billion in subsidies. So, even in the most oil-guzzling nation on Earth, fossil fuels are a financial loser. Free market types might call this the definition of crony capitalism. The rest of us just call it a massive waste of resources.

The solution here is pretty simple. Just take all those subsidies from the fossil fuel industry, and give them to clean energy outfits.

Obviously this wouldn’t happen overnight. It would have to be a slower phase-in to avoid crashing our oil-dependent economy. But when someone tell you we can’t afford to transition to clean energy, ask…

How can we afford to keep oil?


Section 5. The Heavy Metal Project

(Expanded article coming soon)

It comes from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sands where the hot springs flow. Metal isn’t just for hammers of the gods; it’s one of the only infinitely recyclable materials on Earth. All it takes is power, abundantly provided by our coming Green Energy Revolution.

The Heavy Metal Project aims to replace every bit of plastic garbage on the face of our planet with easily recyclable metals and metal-augmented materials. Not only by shifting government subsidies from oil companies (which supply plastics manufacture) to metal refineries and recyclers, but by establishing a whole new set of standards for Low Energy Antecedent Processing (LEAP) materials. Essentially, tax-subsidizing hybrid materials and alloys that require the lowest amount of energy to break down, refine and recycle to previously usable states.

It’s time for metal to stop hiding from the waiting world; we can show you what it’s like.


Section 6. EPIC (Phase 1) — Our Path to an All-Electric Future

There are many approaches to phasing out internal combustion, and lots of people with good ideas about it. New battery and charging technologies about, and all will certainly play a role in future electric vehicles. Unfortunately, they’re also going to fail utterly to replace fossil fuels.

Based on the Standardization and Modularity principles from Industrial Reform, we’ve come up with a strategy that will make internal combustion a thing of the past, all over the world, practically overnight. Not by relying on new and expensive battery technology. Not by forcing every podunk town from West Virginia to Bangalore to upgrade to million-volt electrical grids. We’re going to do it through cutting the price of electric vehicles by halfincreasing their value proposition and ensuring they’re just as practical as gas engines, anywhere on Earth.

Our Electric Phase-In Continuum (EPIC) protocol spreads electrification through existing infrastructure and market forces, instead of through overpriced technology and forced infrastructure upgrades. Follow this approach, and they won’t be able to build electric vehicles fast enough.

Get ready for a truly EPIC shift in power.


III. Geo-Engineering

Section 7. VAPR: Variable Arctic Protection Response

(Expanded article coming soon)

Beginning with the most interesting and least likely to work: VAPR.

While everyone else focuses on carbon, we’d like to propose tackling another human-made greenhouse emission. The most powerful by far: water vapor.

Assuming you read the above, you know why excess water vapor in the atmosphere contributes to the thermal runaway cycle of our planet. Far more so than carbon. But what most people don’t realize is that excess vapor is, in itself, an anthropogenic greenhouse gas. Produced not only by every internal combustion engine ever built, but by the majority of powerplants on Earth. Including coal, gas, nuclear and geothermal. All of these are effectively big steam engines, converting heat to kinetic energy by boiling water. Water which enters the atmosphere, and remains there far longer than it should because of surface heating.

Technically, there’s a pretty easy solution to this problem. All we need is a massive, globally distributed network of atmospheric vapor condensers. Preferably enough to not only offset or reverse the effects of this powerful greenhouse gas, but provide billions of gallons of pure, fresh drinking water all over the planet. Sounds like a big job.

Fortunately, humanity has already constructed exactly such a globally distributed network of atmospheric vapor condensers. Many, in the most humid places on Earth. We call it “air conditioning.”


Section 8. The PolarStar Initiative; Actively Rebuilding Our Polar Ice Caps on the Cheap

(Expanded article coming soon)

The idea of “repaving the arctic circle” with surface ice might seem ridiculous at first. But it’s not as far fetched, expensive or impractical as you might think. Mostly, it’s a matter of setting the right conditions, building frameworks of ice…and allowing nature to do the rest.

This project has been in quiet development for decades, and I believe we’ve gotten it down to a quick and cost-effective process that will not only protect the ice we have…but very quickly allow humanity to engineer vast quantities of new surface ice. Then protect it from melt and breakup so we don’t lose all our hard work when summer comes.

By using a combination of structural engineering, natural processes like temperature desalination and the creation of stagnant “freezepools,” humanity can fairly quickly begin to restore our polar caps and ice shelves. Without literally “repaving the Arctic.” Anchoring, air cooling and thermal sheathing with “Pykrete” (developed for ice ships in WWII) keeps our work from melting, breaking up and floating away.

PolarStar is a groundbreaking (and practical) approach to planetary restoration; here’s betting you find the idea as interesting as we do.


Section 9. GRTAA; aka “Project SilverDome”

Looking a bit higher than the planet’s surface we find an old idea brought back to light: our Global Reactive Thermal Albedo Augmentation system. You can call her GRTAA.

No, we’re not talking about chem-trailing titanium-dioxide into the atmosphere, creating some sort of dystopian Matrix Hellscape. And no, nobody’s proposing a solid, Spaceballs-spec snow globe around the planet either. Partly because President Donald Scroob would inevitably program the access port with an idiot’s luggage code. But mostly because if we actually managed to create such a sphere, a “snow globe” is exactly what Earth would become.

GTRAA uses a far more feasible and less destructive “infrared-selective” strategy, instead of the old “pure reflection” strategy proposed by generations before. A strategy which, while it would theoretically have worked, would also have succeeded in wiping out the base of Earth’s food chain by cutting UV along with infrared radiation.

In this article, we give a breakdown not only of the likely cost and timeframe, but of the best materials for such a strategy. Spoiler Alert: Planet saving for about a quarter of the yearly United States military budget, using literally the most abundant substance on the face of the Earth.


Section 10. SeaStar; Restoring Our Oceans While Creating Unlimited Supplies of Fuel and Energy

(Expanded article coming soon)

Saving this one for last, because it contains some of my personal patented and proprietary technology. Trust me, you’ll hear all about it when it’s ready. Along with the SkyMill medium-high altitude gigawatt wind generation system. Which is really exciting. For now, though, some teasers on what SeaStar is and what it’ll do.

  • SeaStar is a new type of offshore solar power installation, utilizing surface-parallel solar concentration, along with [proprietary] augmentation where necessary.
  • Takes advantage of waste heat already present in the ocean
  • Produces almost infinitely scalable quantities of shore power, hydrogen fuel and/or fresh water.
  • Scrubs carbon dioxide from the water, while increasing salinity
  • Waste water exits cold, salty and richly oxygenated

You can likely guess at some of how the system will work from that. But, we’re holding the best parts for the patent office. Not because I don’t want you to have it…but because China has a habit of stealing our stuff. This is American technology, and it’s going to benefit America first. While also fixing the planet we played a major role in destroying in the first place.


Summary — Holding to Hope

Fifteen years. Fifteen years is what they gave us to fix it. Only that long to change everything about our industry, politics and energy infrastructure. Not just in America, but worldwide. Only fifteen years before all hope is lost, and humanity is doomed.

But, they’re wrong.

They’re wrong about the timeframe, because humanity’s has already screwed itself to the maximum extent possible. The house is on fire, and there’s no point in chasing down lit matches now. The simple fact is, we are well beyond hope of saving this planet through prevention. The machine of the world is broken, and it’s up to us to fix it.

And they’re wrong about how we’ll fix it; not through carbon taxes and politics, but through an entirely new vision of how humans will live and interact with our environment.

But above all that, they’re wrong in giving up. In their cynical politics, their lost causes and broken promises. Offering us that which they can can deliver, and hoping to shift the blame before anyone notices. They’re wrong to take from us the true source of humanity’s hope: innovation.

Humans didn’t come out of the trees by doing what others did before. We didn’t come into this world, conquering weather and predators, naked and unarmed. We rose to the top of the food chain by doing what humans to best: building. Innovating. To invent. Engineering solutions to problems no one else has ever imagined, and having the audacity to see them through. The courage to hope for more than was given to us, more than the dreams of our forebears; to grasp futures un-imagined, Paradises lost…then found again.

For all the greed and corruption, cynicism and despair…there is hope.

All we need now is to choose it. This strength, this perspective.

This mad, mad hope.


Like us on FB at RoweForCongress, visit us on Twitter @ReforgeAmerica. or Google “Richard Rowe Reforge America” for a directory to dozens of articles, providing unique solutions to these and many other problems. Email RichardRoweForCongress@gmail.com

Facebook Comments