Global Warming, Future of Mankind, Energy, Innovation, Scarcity, Plenty

I don’t mean to be disrespectful to those who think they are environmentalists and trying to save the planet, but I do at times have difficulty controlling my anger because they know not what they are doing.

First, let’s consider the history of the Earth. It started with hardly any atmosphere, and then at the crust formed and volcanoes vented CO2, SO2, and H20 an atmosphere formed, a rather hellish atmosphere similar to that of Venus. During that early time of the Earth, the Sun’s output was about 15% less the current, or about 1350 watts / square meter verses 1500 of today (by contrast Venus receives around 2350 watts / meter). Because of that lower output, even though the Earth had a CO2 atmosphere with a lot of water and sulfer dioxide (and as a result sulfurous and sulfuric acid) the temperatures were still low enough that liquid water could form.

Over time the weathering of rock thinned the largely CO2 atmosphere, nitrogen gradually became a larger share of the atmosphere largely owing to it’s much lower reactivity with the surface minerals, and as the atmosphere thinned, the heating caused by CO2 declined, but the solar output increased, still not as fast as the atmosphere thinned so there was a period of at least 100 million years, perhaps several hundred million where the Earth was entirely frozen pole to pole, not great for life.

Eventually this thawed, and scientists still today do not totally understand why, but at some point enough water accumulated and enough crust thickness accumulated that we began to have plate tectonics. This was crucial, because now CO2 taken out of the atmosphere was taken back into the Earth as the plates subducted under one another and the rate of decline in the atmospheric pressure increased.

Around 500 million years maybe sooner some ancient forms of bacteria emerged but they did not use oxygen in their metabolism, in fact oxygen was highly toxic to them, instead they mostly received their energy by reacting sulfur with hydrogen. If humans could have survived, the atmosphere would have smelt like a giant fart because it would be full of hydrogen sulfide, one of the primary stinky components of farts.

Around two billion years ago some bacteria developed a primitive form of photosynthesis, this gave it essentially an infinite food source, solar energy, and so it thrived. Over time it released oxygen into the atmosphere and aided in the removal of carbon dioxide. By this time the solar output had increased maybe 7-8% and somewhat compensated for the reduction in the thickness of the atmosphere and in it’s carbon dioxide content.

By around 300 million years ago, the CO2 levels had dropped to somewhere around 1000-3000 ppm, depending upon which model you use, there are at least a dozen with a fairly wide error bar, and with this CO2 rich atmosphere relative to today there was really an ideal atmosphere for life. There was enough oxygen in the atmosphere for a robust ozone layer and at the same time enough CO2 for robust plant growth, perfect conditions for dinosaurs to thrive. But as the time of the asteroid impact that finished most of the non-avian dinosaurs off, the CO2 levels had fallen to levels approximating those of today. Plant growth had become much less robust and already dinosaurs where dying off, especially the larger species.

One of the things that began to contribute to further reductions in CO2 were not just the weathering of rocks, but now marine organisms that incorporated calcium carbonate into their shells. These organisms then died and were swept under the crust at subduction zones. The asteroid was really just the final blow, the dinosaurs would have starved to death soon anyway.

By 20,000 years ago, the Earth reached it’s minimal CO2 level of about 200ppm, this level only C4 plants could really do well and these are the minority of species today. C4 plants can tolerate levels down to about 150ppm though their growth at that rate is greatly reduced, C3 plants require more CO2 because they lack the cellular CO2 concentration mechanism of C4 plants. Reducing our atmospheric CO2 concentration back to 180PPM would leave us basically with two food crops, sugarcane and corn and neither would be abundant enough to feed today’s population.

None the less, without human intervention, CO2 would in a relatively short time frame, fall below those levels and life on Earth would cease to exist, save for some hydrogen-sulfur reacting bacteria near hydrothermal vents in the ocean.

Crop production has increased significantly as CO2 levels have risen from around 240 ppm to todays 420 ppm. Given the population today this is NOT a bad thing. Further, plants use water more efficiently when higher CO2 levels exist because they do not have to open their stomata, tiny poors through which they acquire CO2 from the atmosphere, as far, their opening also looses water through evaporation. This is why increased CO2 levels have caused extensive greening of the Earth.

So for the sake of ALL higher life forms on Earth, it actually behooves us not to allow nature to take the CO2 level down to pre-industrial levels. Also, as the Sun continues to increase it’s output, the Earth will get warmer and it’s natural response would be to reduce CO2 but that WILL extinguish all life if allowed to happen. If we do not allow it to happen, then in about half a billion years, the Earth will boil away the oceans and life will become impossible anyway.

Given that global warming is inevitable for the next half billion years (and beyond for that matter because the Sun will continue to expand until it eventually envelopes the orbit of the Earth), we best find ways to deal with it in the short term and develop the ability to travel to distant solar systems in the meantime because that is the only hope for long term survival of man.

Now that said, at some point hydrocarbons, be they of fossil or mineralogical origin, those that we can economically recover will exhaust, and besides, our need for denser energy sources for a robust and prosperous future require greater (not lesser as the greenies would have it) energy sources.

Right now we have two possibilities for much more robust energy sources, nuclear fission and fusion. Conventional boiling or pressurized water reactors have several substantial problems. First, at best they use only about half a percentage of natural Uraniums energy potential in one pass. Two they create very long term radioactive waste. Third, because fission products aren’t continuously removed during their operation, a shutdown does not stop heat production immediately, that continues for a long time as fission products decay to more stable isoptopes. So they require active cooling. Further, operating at pressures of several hundred atmospheres, they are prone to failures in which these fission products are spread over large areas.

But there is another type of reactor called a molten salt reactor, and a close cousin, liquid metal cooled reactors in which the coolant is either sodium or lead, that are much safer because they do not operate under significant pressure, thus if a plumbing problem occurs pressure isn’t instantly released resulting in a huge steam explosion dispersing highly radioactive fission products.

Of these two I favor molten salt reactors because the salts are not reactive in air and thus do not start fires if you have a plumbing leak, unfortunately this IS a problem with sodium cooled reactors. The reason some designs favor sodium is that it is easier to find container materials that are corrosion resistant to sodium verses salt, but corrosion with the wrong choice of materials can be a problem in either case. Still, the Soviets have been operating a 800 mw sodium cooled breeder reactor for many years successfully and an experimental liquid metal fast flux reactor ran successfully for ten years at Oak Ridge and was even run 24 hours control rods out and cooling systems shut off to demonstrate the self-regulating inherent safety of these reactors. These reactors have the fuel dissolved in the liquid metal or salt coolant, and as a result, as the temperature increases the medium expands reducing reaction rates, thus causing them to be self-controlled and limited.

Because these reactors can “burn” the actinides (the products that result when a uranium or plutonium atom capture a neutron rather than fissioning become a yet heavier nucleus) these reactors produce no long term nuclear waste. The fission products decay back to radioactivity levels equal or less than the ores that were mined within 300 years. This can transform a million year storage issue into a much more manageable 300 year problem and even many of these fission products have uses like medical isotopes for cancer treatment or imaging.

So for the short term (and estimates of how long the Earth’s Uranium and Thorium plus existing actinide nuclear waste could provide our energy needs vary from 10,000 to a million years depending upon our rate of energy use growth), this is a viable option for electrical and process heat energy needs.

In the longer term fusion is our next go to, this has seemed like an impossibility for years but two recent developments have changed this immensely, first is the invention of RebCO, Rare-Earth Barium Copper-Oxide ribbon super conductors. Superconductor magnets are necessary for sustained controlled nuclear fusion because the currents required to produce the necessary magnetic fields would melt conventional conductors after anywhere from 15-300 seconds of operation. But superconductors don’t have resistance and thus do not heat up. However, superconductors lose their superconductivity above some magnetic threshold, the old style ceramic superconductors lost their superconductivity at around 8-10 Tesla, but these new RebCO superconductive ribbons can produce fields up to 40 Tesla, and in addition lend themselves to being wound into complex shaped coils much better than the old ceramics. Because confinement of hot plasmas scales with the cube of the magnetic field strength, 40 tesla can confine plasma 64 times better than 10 tesla can. So right there is a 64x improvement. Then add to that the way a plasma wiggles makes it prone to escape but recent advancements in computer neural network AI has allowed the magnetic fields to be adjusted in real time to counter this wiggling tendency. Between these two things I think we will see fusion as a power source sooner than later.

Now both of these sources are good for generating electricity or process heat, but not so much for liquid fuels like gasoline or aviation fuel, however, recently the US Navy has invented a process where by they can take carbonic acid from ocean water (dissolved CO2) and water and combine them with the use of electricity and some catalysts to produce O2 and hydrocarbons of any desired length, they invented this technology to allow aircraft carriers to have a supply of jet fuel without having to put tankers at risk in a war zone. But with adequate supplies of energy from nuclear fission or fusion, we can produce these fuels in abundance and they are carbon neutral because they are taking carbon from the air.

I am concerned that the direction that Bill Gates, Klaus Schwab, and other psychopathic globalists are taking us is in the wrong direction. It’s going to lead to the death of already impoverished people, impoverishment of the middle class, and a great reduction in exactly the innovation we need to succeed as a species long term. This is why I get angry at the greenies who believe we can subsist on solar and wind. It is not a viable path long or short term, but especially long term.

As a people, as a species, we need to innovate as much and as fast as we can to allow us to meet our energy needs and adapt to a naturally changing environment over the long term, and eventually to migrate on interstellar terms in the long term because that is the only viable path for our long term survival as a species.

The Future I’d Like to See and Getting There

I find myself a bit of an outlier as I don’t believe either the green agenda or the oil is an unlimited resource crowd. I believe the appropriate action is a SANE move towards renewables or at least for any reasonable human civilization life span, inexhaustible, resources.

We can’t get there by choking off existing supplies. Here is why, in order to invest in new infrastructure, we need enough energy to sustain our lives and then some surplus to manufacture that infrastructure. What the WEF and company are actually doing is SLOWING the adoption of new cleaner and sustainable technologies by choking off our energy to the point where we can’t even sustain ourselves let alone invest in new technology.

It is my believe that global warming isn’t the main driver for adopting new energy sources, the main driver is that any extractive technology gets increasingly more expensive over time because first we go after easy to get at deposits, and then progressively more difficult to get at resources.

If we do not get other infrastructure in place, we will reach a point where it is simply too expensive to extract oil from the Earth, there may will be, and our neighboring planet Venus would suggest there is, vast stores of carbon buried within the Earth, but like Gold and other heavy precious metals, most of it is buried more than 20 miles deep where the technology to get at it is very difficult to impossible.

Since we can not produce food without energy for our farm equipment, it behooves us to create alternative methods to sustain that equipment that are not dependent upon extractive technology, at least on those extractive technologies that rely exclusively on Earth bound resources.

The WEF folks, if they have their way and kill off 95% of the worlds population only delay the time before the remaining people run out of fuel and at the same time guarantee no replacement will be found, because when there is no excess productivity everything goes to survival, and when you kill off 95% of the population, you destroy 95% of new ideas, 95% of geniuses and innovators that may solve these problems. The WEF does not create a sustainable world population, it creates a sealed doom not only to our future but also to theirs.

Here is how I think we can solve the energy problem. First, molten salt breeder reactors. These reactors are inherently safe unlike light water reactors. They can not melt down because they already run with their fuel in a molten state. In the event of a leak they don’t explode and spread radioactivity over hundreds of square kilometers because they do not operate under any pressure. They do not create long term nuclear waste because they burn all the actinides (the trans-uranic elements that form in nuclear reactors that take hundreds of thousands to millions of years to break down), they get approximately 200 times as much energy from the same raw Uranium ore as do light water reactors and they can also use Thorium, which is 3x more plentiful in the Earth’s crust, as a source.

These reactors can also burn the actinides in existing nuclear waste produced by existing light water reactors thereby solving the nuclear waste long term storage issues. We still have to store waste for about 300 years, but these are all fission products that are short lived as opposed to long term actinides.

There are several companies in the US that have already engineered commercial prototypes but they are not getting approval from the nuclear regulatory commission. Why? Because they burn the plutonium they produce as they produce it so there is no bomb material, also they produce other isotopes of plutonium that decay too rapidly and would cause a bomb to fizzle rather than to explode.

These plants have on-site fuel reprocessing so they never have to transport nuclear waste containing potential bomb materials, actinides, away from the plants. They are inherently safe because of first, operating at atmospheric pressure, as opposed to several hundred atmospheres of a conventional plant that are required to raise the boiling point of water sufficiently. It is the sudden release of this pressure that results in explosions from the instant flashing of water into steam. Second, they are self limiting because the fuel is dissolved in molten salt that has a high expansion coefficient. If the temperature rises, the salts expand separating the fissile atoms from each other reducing the reaction rate. Oak Ridge ran one of these for a year and they pulled all the control rods out and active cooling disabled and let it ran full tilt 24 hours, nothing happened. It self limited. Further, IF SOMEHOW these did overheat there is a melt plug that drains the reaction tank into a much larger tank where the fuel is spread out over such a large area the reaction stops.

In a conventional light water reactor, when you shut down the reaction with the control rods, the fuel still produces huge amounts of heat because the fission products continue to decay and produce heat. This is actually what causes melt-downs. In a liquid salt reactor this does not happen because fission products are continuously removed from the liquid fuel so there isn’t a significant amount to decay and produce heat once the reaction is stopped.

It is said that these reactors could produce all the energy the Earth needs for the next 10,000 years on existing nuclear waste and waste U-238 (the isotope that is not fissionable in a light water moderated reactor but is breedable in a molten salt reactor and becomes fissionable). And with the Earth’s Uranium and Thorium resources, could power the planet for the next million years.

This is plenty of time to bring fusion on line. And fusion will provide all the energy we need for the duration the Universe exists since hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe.

Now what about the environment? Well first the real scientific data from satellites, which is about the only real reliable data, shows the Earth is warming by about .1C/decade. At that rate it will take 250 years for a 2.5C rise, not the 30 years that the UN/WEF conglomerate of psychopaths claim. If we can ramp up energy production rapidly with molten salt reactors we can not only reduce our dependence upon fossil fuels, but we can capture carbon from the atmosphere and use it to produce liquid fuels which can then run our farm equipment and for those of us who prefer internal combustion engines because of their range or easy refueling, those, in a sustainable manner in which the CO2 they produce is taken out and re-used to make more fuel. In other words, carbon becomes an energy CARRIER instead of source and is recycled. So this problem is not as urgent as the WEF claims.

Another problem we face is with our food production, plants require nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon (which they get from air) and hydrogen (which they get from water). We have right now horrible farming practices where we grow one crop which uses one nutrient up preferentially leaving soils depleted in that nutrient and most often that is nitrogen but also to some degree phosphorous, then we add nitrogen and phosphorus, the nitrogen being turned into a compound with hydrogen such as ammonium nitrate, the hydrogen usually being derived from natural gas.

There are two problems with this. First the depletion of natural resources and the dependency on natural gas to replace them. But a larger problem is that we also over water our crops and do so in a way that is very inefficient. This leaches all the nutrients from the soil, including the fixed nitrogen and phosphor, and it turns the run off water into salt water. This causes algae blooms in rivers and streams and lakes and takes oxygen out of the deeper water as the algae dies. Then fish can’t survive. Further, ocean currents depend in part upon differences in salinity between river water entering the oceans and the water that is there. So this also salinates the rivers and reduces the velocity of ocean currents. This causes shifts in the climates that are much more in line than what we see with CO2, because instead of just increasing heat, it causes a large redistribution of heat around the planet which is what we are actually observing.

There are three immediate things we can do to greatly reduce this problem rather than killing off all our livestock and starving humans. First, we can go back to the old method of crop rotation. With one of the rotated crops being legumes of some sort. These fix nitrogen naturally from the atmosphere, actually it is bacteria the grow on their roots that do the fixing, but the point is this eliminates the need to use natural gas to produce fertilizers. Second we can recycle animal and human waste as fertilizers, both contain large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus.

But we still have the problem of nitrogen and phosphorus entering rivers, streams, lakes, and ultimately the ocean. How do we solve this? Well this requires some investment, Israel has already heavily invested in the necessary technology, it is called drip irrigation. The idea is that you place sensors under the soil at the maximum depth of the crops roots, you use a drip hose, like some people use on their lawns, but it is controlled by these sensors. Once moisture gets to the bottom of the roots you turn the water off. This reduces water requirements by about 97%, which prevents any of the minerals from being leached out of the soil. This prevents the algae blooms in streams, rivers, lakes and ultimately the ocean, prevents making rivers saline and thus prevents interference to ocean currents and it greatly reduces fertilization requirements as most of these elements are leached out by over-watering as opposed to actually being used by crops.

Lastly, if we ramp up our energy production sufficiently we can then do things like vertical farming with totally closed systems so external environment is not impacted at all. With sufficiently cheap energy, other things become possible.

For example rare-earths, we don’t have enough of these to keep up with our demand for high tech devices but they aren’t rare so much as being difficult separate from each other and most methods we use to separate them produce a radioactive byproduct, thorium, and right now that’s a waste product that is difficult to safely dispose of. Especially since in addition to being mildly radioactive, it is also a highly toxic metal like lead or mercury. But if we had a large number of molten salt reactors it would become a fuel rather than a difficult to dispose of waste product.

Further, gold, platinum, other platinum series metals, and rare-earths are much more common in asteroids than on the Earth’s surface because in the Earth because these metals are heavy they are mostly near the core and only come up in volcanic plumes. But in asteroids, there is no gravitational separation, well mostly not, on vesta and ceres there is but these are the only two large enough for it to occur, so these elements are right at the surface for the taking. Cheap energy will mean cheap everything including rockets and rocket fuel, so these problems also have solutions.

On such a plentiful planet there would be plenty of resources to dedicate to nature and perhaps very little incentive for war so we could perhaps finally get rid of our self-annihilating capacity in the form of nuclear weapons. But first we need to get rid of psychopaths like Klaus Schwab, Henry Kissinger, George Soros, Bill Gates, etc, so that we can move forward.

A Way to a Better Future

There seem to be two groups at odds, one group says we need to kill seven billion people and relegate the remainder to living in economic squalor in order to prevent the entire destruction of our planets ecosphere. UN Agenda 21/2030 and the World Economic Forums plan falls into this category. The other group says drill baby drill, we need to bring the world out of poverty.

What we clearly need is a clean and essentially infinite source of energy, and I am convinced that eventually controlled hydrogen fusion will be developed IF and ONLY IF we don’t destroy our civilizations ability to progress through plans like UN Agenda 21 and 2030 and Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forums which are basically massive global genocide and posterity programs. If we do follow the paths of these “green” folks, we will never have the resources we need to develop a truly clean and sustainable future, we will only have a very scaled down limited dirty future that will eventually exhaust resources and then we’ll all go the way of the dinosaurs.

I believe there is a third alternative and that is to rapidly grown and use alternative energy sources that may not be sustainable forever but are sustainable much longer than fossil fuels are, while we develop and perfect controlled hydrogen fusion.

I believe a big part of that mix has to be fission reactions, but we haven’t enough Uranium to depend upon scaling up light water reactors, their safety issues and waste issues also make this solution untenable.

Enter the liquid fluoride molten breeder reactor. It can take fertile fuels such as Uranium-238 that is 99.3% of natural Uranium and Thorium-232 which is 3x more abundant in the Earth’s crust than is Uranium, and breed them into Plutonium-239 and Uranium-233 both of which are fissionable fuels that can then burn. Further, it can either breed otherwise not easily fissionable transuranics (the long lived waste products of conventional light water reactors or fission then directly) leaving only short term fission products as waste and living a much smaller waste volume, and most of those waste products have industrial uses.

Liquid Fluoride Molten Salt reactors use a salt of fluorine as the primary coolant and in which the fuel and fertile material to be breed are dissolved, fission products are continuously removed in an on-site reprocessing plant. This allows 100% burn-up of the fuel which is why you don’t have long term radioactive byproducts.

Because the fuel is liquid to start with, melt-downs are impossible. Overheating is also very difficult because the salt expands with temperature thereby reducing the reaction rate so it is thermally self-limiting, but there is a passive safety device which consists of a melt-plug, this is a plug of material which can be melted if fuel temperature rises too high that drains the reaction tank into a much larger tank that is sufficiently large to spread the fuel out enough to stop the chain reaction and to dissipate all the heat generated by the fission products (which is little because they are continuously removed from the liquid fuel during operation) without any active cooling.

Because of the inherent safety of this type of reactor, they can be located near population centers where waste heat can be used for things like building heating and transmission losses are less. Because they generate 1/100th the volume of waste and that waste is not long term, they do not create the million year problem that conventional light water reactors create. Lastly because they can burn the actinides from existing waste, they can eliminate our existing long term nuclear waste storage problems, and lastly because all reprocessing is done on site, there is no danger of a transportation accident releasing radioactive isotopes into the environment.

These reactors are safe because 1) They rely solely on passive safety measures, no mechanical mechanism failures or electrical supply failures can result in accidents. 2) Because the salt used as a medium for the fuel and coolant has a very high vaporization temperature, they do not have to be pressurized like a light water reactor, this makes plumbing failures much less likely, 3) Because they do not use water as a coolant, the water is not split into hydrogen which can then explode like it did in Fukashima. It is said that we could produce 10,000 years of electricity on existing nuclear waste without mining another gram of Uranium, but when we’ve used that up it can use 100% of Uranium not just the .7% U-235 isotope, and it can use 100% of Thorium which is 3x as abundant in our planets crust so even if we increase our energy needs significantly, which bringing the remainder of humanity out of poverty requires, there is plenty of fuel to go many thousands of years and that is plenty of time to complete the development of hydrogen fusion, and no doubt future physics discoveries will give us new options during that time.

Do We Control Our Future

Can we control the future?     One belief is that time, the past, the future, everything in the universe already exists.  It is only our biological nature that forces our experience of the universe to be one of moving through time with the future gelling and then solidifying into the past.

Another is the more common believe that we exist in a point in time and create the future as we go along through our own decisions.

Even the Bible seems split on this topic, do we have free will or not?  I would suggest to you that free will is merely a frame of reference.  From a reference outside of time, in which you can see all of time, there is no free will, the universe is just fixed, all of past, all of future, and in every direction.  But from our biological perspective absolutely we do.  And so we must make decisions and take actions that create the future we desire.

Aliens and Transformer Fires

Aliens and Burning Transformers     The things in the upper right quadrant of this photo, I happened across a video of this on my television and these things were moving about and flashing on and off before the transformer went which leads me to wonder if they weren’t some sort of electromagnetic pulse weapon.

Future Nuclear Dream

     Last night I had a dream in which my job was to identify abandoned nuclear reactors, fuel rods, waste, for clean-up and reclamation.

     In the dream, I was particularly looking in Africa because many African governments had created reactors and because they were unstable they were abandoned when the government fell apart or was replaced.

     At this point in our history, we had developed a technique for removing waste from soil and most other things and packaging it in a shipping container for treatment.

     The treatment involved first extracting all the actinides from the fission products.  The actinides would be burned in a fast reactor leaving only relatively short-lived fission products.  The fission products would decay to safe materials in about 300 years versus a million years for waste containing actinides.

Fluoride Reactor

This is essentially the same as molten salt reactors.  It will not burn Thorium directly as Thorium 232 is NOT fissionable.  So it requires a fissionable isotope of Uranium or Plutonium to get things started.  Thorium 232 then absorbs a neutron to become Thorium 233, and then beta decays to Protactinium 233, which beta decays again to become Uranium 233 which is fissionable.  What is not stated in this video is that these reactors can fission most actinides because actinides are fissionable with fast neutrons generated in these reactors so the waste products that are left are only fission products and these all have half-lives that are short transforming a 500,000 year waste problem into a one or two hundred year waste problem and a waste volume less than 1/100th that of a conventional light water reactor.

US Power Grid

     Some time ago I wrote advocating tying together the three major US power grids with DC inter-ties. I am happy to see today that that has in fact been done.

     DC inter-ties are more efficient over distances greater than about 300 miles,immune to the effects of solar induced or nuclear induced magnetic interference, and do not require the networks be phase synchronized.

     This allows load peaks to be distributed over a wider geographical area, flattening the peak somewhat because of the varying time zones.