The Solar Climatron

Issue #3

Summer 1995


What better place to grow the great trees of the world than in a single fully integrated facility. If all of the great trees of the world could be propagated and nurtured well beyond the seedling stage in a single multi-chambered greenhouse, the knowledge of just how we can double the timber mass of the world by May 2045 would be greatly furthered in a most cost-effective manner.

The “climatron”, currently considered quaint, is going to make a roaring comeback. There is one working model in the world right now, in St. Louis, Missouri, in the Missouri Botanical Gardens. A climatron is a multi-chambered greenhouse that uses convection energy to manipulate the thermal mass of each chamber. A hot zone and a cold zone is created, as well as several intermediate zones.

By concentrating energy in an air mass that is being vented from one section of the climatron to another, certain areas of the climatron can be made hotter and other sections can be made cooler. Even when limited to solar energy as its sole source of power, a climatron is capable of containing within its confines various chambers whose permanent states mimic the climate of the boreal regions of the world, or the deepest hothouse climates of the tropics, and everything in between.

The center chamber of the climatron should contain the natural forest of the region. In the San Francisco Bay area, for example, the climatron could well be located somewhere within 20 miles of US 101, such as in the Alexander Valley, and in its center chamber there would be the great Coastal Redwoods, the Sequoia Sempervirons.

This is easier said than done, since the Sequoia Sempervirons are known to approach 400 feet in height. The topmost point of the main chamber of a Northern Californian climatron would have to be at least 400 feet above the floor. This is the equivalent of a 40 story building.

Just imagine, however, before dismissing the idea of such a gigantic undertaking, what it would be like inside such a device. Entire micro-climates would exist in this center chamber of what is essentially a giant greenhouse. Within 40-50 years Redwood trees approaching 200 feet in height would already have taken hold, with a host of young trees following them. They would release downpours of accumulated moisture every morning like the wildest monsoons of Kauai and just from the fog collected in their boughs and run off in the heat of each new day. Reservoirs of water and humus would create a habitat of surpassing clarity and vigor. New trees would be propagated from seed and clonal tissue in greenhouses inside the main chamber in clearings amidst the great trees.

The main chamber of the greenhouse would have at its center a single high point, off of which would come ridges spaced at eight equal angles. These eight ridges form the center ridges of the eight side chambers, each having a high point of 300 feet, the equivalent of a 30 story building. Each of the eight side chambers would have a climate that would emulate a major climate region of the world.

Three chambers would house the other three major rainforests of the world. The American Pacific Northwest rainforest would be in the main chamber, with its complement of Sequoia Sempervirons, Douglas Fir, and other Pacific Northwest species. There would then be a side chamber for the Asia/Pacific rainforest, one for the African Rainforest, and one for the American Tropical rainforest.

The other five chambers would be for the following forest climates of the world: Subtropical, Temperate, Cold Temperate, Mediterranean, Monsoon, and Boreal. In each chamber, the mixture of water and air would be precisely controlled, as would the temperature and humidity. The Mediterranean chamber would have the southern exposure, while the Boreal forest would have a northern exposure, and be placed behind thermal and light barriers strategically placed to passively contribute to creating the environment at an actual boreal latitude. The chambers would all be connected to a recirculating system of ducted airflows designed to be directed and redirected so as to constantly control and maintain the nine different climate zones. Occasionally thermal mass would be expelled into the outer atmosphere

In each climate zone there would be a greenhouse dedicated to propagating from seed or clonal tissue the great trees of that region. These seedlings would be planted inside the climatron, as well as exported as tissue stock for the reforestation efforts in the corresponding nations. The tropical rainforest chambers would have outreach programs to EcoWorld greenhouses and agro-forestry plantations in Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Celebes, Vanuatu, India, the Philippine Islands, and Myanmar – anywhere and everywhere such a tree can grow.

The Subtropical forest chamber would have constituent greenhouses in Florida, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and so on. The Temperate forest chamber would have tree partners in Oregon, Argentina, Germany, Utah… The Cold Temperate forest chamber would have counterpart enterprises in Japan, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Utah, Germany… Now stay with me here, there are three chambers left. Here we go.

The Mediterranean forest chamber will have correspondent EcoWorld lodges and greenhouses in California, Chile, South Africa, Australia (Adelaide), Australia (Perth), and Spain, and likely locations within those regions. The Monsoon forest chamber will have partner greenhouses located in Mexico, Thailand, Australia, India and elsewhere. The Boreal forest chamber will export its trees to Alaska, Canada, Finland, Russia – is there a bit of Patagonia as well?.

The power source of the climatron will be exclusively solar, and the climatron will become a source of abundant fresh water. The solar energy produced by the climatron will allow far more fresh water to be extracted from the atmosphere than will be consumed for the needs of the forest mass growing inside.

The climatron will be much more, however, than just a new mega tourist destination in California, right after the Cable Cars and the Golden Gate Bridge. The climatron will be a source of knowledge and expertise as to how biospheres are maintained, since the technologies are in many ways identical. This will have practical applications in areas as diverse as space travel and settlement, urban water and energy management, commercial horticulture, and ecosystems management. The idea is this: Put climatrons everywhere – use them as nurseries to regreen deserts and bring green to new mega-cities

It doesn’t even begin to end there. As if such a technological boon to the technology capital of the world, Northern California, isn’t enough, the climatron will also be a hugely successful tree exporter. Perhaps some of the ships of the mothball fleet docked for 40 years or more in the Carquinez Straits north-east of the Golden Gate can be acquired for their scrap value and converted to sail-power, and be used to carry loads of trees and greenhouse paraphernalia from the climatron off to the various re-forestation destinations around the world. Remember, we only have 49 years, eight months left to double the timber mass of the world from its May 1995 level.

What great trees will comprise the membership of each of these chambers? One step at a time.


Ed “Redwood” Ring

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