Redistributing Thermal Mass: Harvesting Cold vs. Refelcting Heat

There are few ways to better illustrate the folly of ignoring thermal factors over atmospheric factors when prescribing global climate mitigations than this: There are alternative energy technologies that will exploit cold conditions to offload heat. Put another way, it is now cost effective to extract cold thermal mass from the deep waters of lakes and ocean coastlines with heat exchangers, pumps and pipelines, use that cool thermal mass for air conditioning in urban areas, then release the heated water back into the lakes and oceans. But if we do this, how much faster do we heat the deep waters, otherwise so slow to warm? Take the thermal mass of Los Angeles, pour it into the deep cool California current year after year, and see what happens.

How funny we worry about CO2 when millions of square miles of tropical rainforest tree canopy are giving way to agriculture – the thermal impact of this affects the global climate. So if the earth is warming, and it will be irreversible when the ocean warms, do we really want to dump our heat into the depths of the ocean to cool our cities in an ‘emissions free’ manner? Read this from the report “Tapping Thermal Gradient Cold, Free Energy or Planetary Suicide?”:

“We must not wear rose-colored glasses. Expecting the great lakes and oceans to stay cold indefinitely while we pump heat into them flies into the teeth of logic. Just because deep-ocean warming may take a couple of decades, that delay doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It takes a while to boil water after you put the pot on the stove too. As long as we thoughtlessly continue to build cities full of heat-absorbing pavement and black tarred flat roofs that heat up to fifty or sixty degrees Celsius, we are passively raising the temperature of significant areas of the planet. To transfer this passive heat buildup into large bodies of water would be slow suicide for the human race and all other creatures.

The better solution is to prevent the passive heat buildup in the first place, by redesigning our cities and by retrofitting as many black roofs, paved and bricked areas as possible with living green roofs, shade trees, and arbors which, in giving back the oxygen from the carbon dioxide, utilize the sun’s energy for photosynthesis instead of merely absorbing it. Studies show that living green surfaces of leaves do not build up heat.”

It is hard to find something out there that expresses our core beliefs better than this. Green our cities – this is where high-rise farms will replace corporate agriculture, and we will be able to develop low density affordable housing without any mandates whatsoever. The green cars and green busses on green roads where suburb meets exurb will mature our cities and create a metropolitan landscape that defies easy charactarization, where ranchettes and riparian corridors freely intermingle, and deer are culled to prevent the spread of lime disease. Trees will be ubiquitous.

Ultra high density housing destroys trees. Mega-condominiums with underground parking and fields growing on the rooftops would work just fine – although turf rooftops aren’t cheap. But when the only urban trees left are either on traffic medians or fiercely budgeted allocations of urban park square footage, while people live in “cluster homes” packed 10 or even 20 to the acre, there is nothing but heat island. So we knew this version of smart growth was causing global warming, and we didn’t speak out?

Trees moderate the climate. Trees transpirate moisture, catalysing and spreading cloud formations and precipitation, trees generate reflective clouds and absorb and store rain (read “Trees, Water & Climate”) and move the streams of moderating weather across all the planet. Question not only the data used in climate models, question the direction of causality. Then refill the Aral Sea with water from the Volga. Refill Lake Chad with water from the Ubangi. Pump Mississippi floods into the Oglalla Aquifer. Plant trees everywhere, especially in the tropics. And paint the cities white, and renounce the prison of the urban service boundary, to allow affordable low density suburbs again, so trees can grow and cool the world.

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