Climate mitigating energy production

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The conditions that brought about the recent hiatus in atmospheric waming can be bettered with the right approach to ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC.


This is the essence of the global warming mitigation method.


The stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system is the ultimate objective of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


This stabilization should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.


As part of the 2009 Copenhagen negotiations related to this process most major emitters agreed that 2.0 °C above pre-industrial levels was to be avoided in order to meet this objective but there is pressure to drop this to below 1.5 °C at the upcoming Paris conference.


The most recent International Panel on Climate Change report estimates the likely range of temperature increase for the planet by the end of this century is between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, with a best estimate of 3 degrees.


A recent study by James Hansen and colleagues suggests any carbon path leading to a 2°C is foolhardy and in support of that proposition they provide evidence of sea level rise of between 5 and 9 meters and extreme storms when temperatures increased less than 1 degree 120,000 years ago. This assessment is supported by a 2008 study lead by Joel  Smith of Stanford that shows that the weather, environmental and social impacts of 2°C rise are much greater than the earlier science indicated, and that impacts for a 1°C rise are now expected to be as great as those previously assumed for a 2°C rise.


The only difference between the temperature estimate of the 2014 IPCC report and the prior one released in 2007 was a lowering of the range minimum by half a degree.   


The reason for this was the fact that between 1998 and 2012 temperatures increased on a decadal average of only .04 degrees whereas from 1984 to 1998 that average had been .26 degrees and at the time of the last report’s release there was little consensus as to why the so called ``hiatus`` had come about; let alone whether in fact it had. (See Figure 1 to right).


One group argued that temperatures simply weren’t being measured in the locations where the temperature was increasing the fastest, the Arctic and Africa.  


The hiatus, which has existed for most of this century, has been seized on by deniers as proof the atmosphere is not as sensitive to carbon concentrations, which continued to rise, as had been thought and it also has given cover to reluctant politicians for not acting as rapidly as many believed they should. 


What it should be seen as is an analogy for how the climate problem can best be addressed in full compliance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


If the decadal average of atmospheric warming could be kept to .04 degrees throughout this century the warming problem would be over. 


In the estimation of a former chief technologist with NASA even this small an increase can be bettered with the production of 5 terawatts of power with ocean thermal energy conversion that would reduce surface ocean temperature by 1C each decade.


The most recent NASA study confirms the hiatus was real and that the heat that went missing from the atmosphere was trapped in the waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans to a depth of about 300 meters instead. (See Figure 2 to right)


The Pacific Ocean was the primary repository of this heat as unusually strong trade winds piled up warm water in the west, pinning it against Asia and Australia but those waters became so warm some of the heat leaked into the Indian Ocean.


Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado says, “There’s a good chance the hiatus is over.” Last year was the hottest since records began and with an El Niño now under way the warm surface waters of the Pacific are releasing heat into the atmosphere with the result 2015 is likely to break last year’s record and the global average surface temperature could jump by as much as 0.1 degree this year alone bring global surface temperatures increases to the 1°C limit Hansen and Smith et al. suggest is dangerous.   


The west coast of North America has been hard hit by the end of the hiatus because much of the heat that was pinned against Asia and Australia has now sloshed back across the Pacific and up the coast forming what has come to be known as the blob. (see Figure 3 to right)


From the Baja Peninsula to the Gulf of Alaska coastal waters have been anywhere between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius warmer than average since the fall of 2013 and this in  turn is related to the devastating winter on the East Coast, California’s drought and serious wild fire and wild life consequences.




(Figure 1)



(Figure 2)



(Figure 3)