Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse…..

6 11 2013

When Dr Helen Caldicott says “If there’s another earthquake and building four collapses which contains the cooling pools with fresh fuel, I’m going to evacuate my family from Boston”, you know it’s getting serious……

But wait, it gets worse……..  and I really don’t know what to make of this one, because my expertise is limited; but I feel the need to report this.  If anyone can refute the below, I would be eternally grateful…

On ‘The Conversation’, from where I occasionally glean some of their more interesting articles, someone called Alex Cannara who declares himself knowledgeable about nuclear power and Thorium declared:

We’ve burned >500 billion tons of fossil carbon in the last 150+ years, making >1.5 trillion tons of CO2. About 30% of that has dissolved in seas.

Even if we “stopped using energy” today, that remaining CO2 in air will continue to dissolve in seas. Ocean pH has already dropped 0.1 in the last 150+ years, and even more in the N. Atlantic. Another 0.1 drop and the sea life forms that are the base of most food chains begin to fail, as some already are in the N. Atlantic.

There’s more CO2 in air that can still dissolve in seas to reduce pH below the survival point for all the species that form the natural carbon cycle’s end game (limestone) and the base of ocean food chains that supply ~20% of all human food protein.

Crossing that pH point means extinctions. Even if we were able to correct pH later, “extinction” has a kind of permanence to it, eh?

So, in order to protect oceanic chemistry (pH) from the inevitable further dissolution of our CO2, we must actively make benign alkali to add to seas at the rate of billions of tons. A marine biologists & chemist can explain suitable chemicals.

But, these chemicals require processing at higher temperatures than available from present ‘green’ power, including nuclear. They need this because we must effectively reverse much of the combustion that produced the CO2 by removing CO2 from, say dolomite, and adding the result to seas, while splitting the CO2 , releasing the O2 to where it was and then storing the C safely, forever.

This must effectively occur before about 2035, where the ocean pH begins to fall below 8,0.

This is not news, and was effectively explained by Arrhenius in 1896, 1905… And, the need for advanced nuclear heat has also long been known: http://tinyurl.com/6xgpkfa

We humans just love to be lazy and create unnecessary tragedies.

Long, is not the term I would use regarding that report at the above link……  it was written in 1962, when I was ten years old!  A lot of things have changed since then.

Regardless of Cannara’s enthusiasm for nuclear power, I don’t believe for one minute that we will ever build the nukes he desires in the numbers required, even if it was to ‘save ourselves’ from extinction.  Civilisation will be swamped with dealing with the retirement of those plants that already exist – if we even survive Fukushima.  We, it seems now, are doomed if we do, and doomed if we don’t.

If this acidification of the oceans is indeed irreversible (at least in short human terms), and its effects are as bad as Cannara says, and we experience the methane releases Guy Mc Pherson is discussing everywhere, then it is indeed all over.

What bloody idiots we are………


Our resident scientist Dave Kimble had a look at this, and this is what he thinks:

Making an alkali out of something that is neutral takes A LOT of energy and produces an equal amount of acid.

For example:
NaCl (common salt) + H2O (water) => NaOH (caustic soda) + HCl (hydrochloric acid)
delta-H: (-411) + (-285) + E = (-469) + (-167)
E = 60 kJ/mol
E = 60 kJ / 20 gm(NaOH)
E = 3,000,000,000 J / tonne(NaOH)
E = 833 KW.h / tonne(NaOH) – not counting inefficiencies

2NaOH + H2CO3 => 2NaHCO3 + 2H2O
2(11+8+1) tonnes(NaOH) neutralises (2+12+24) tonnes(H2CO3)
1 tonne(NaOH) neutralises 38/40 tonnes of H2CO3, which was 26/40 tonnes(CO2)
E = 541 KW.h / tonne(CO2)
E = 61 GW.year / billion tonnes(CO2)

So I don’t reckon nuclear power could do it.




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