Oceanic Hubris – ?

Guest Put up by Willis Eschenbach

My buddy Matt was sort sufficient to ahead me some hyperlinks to a brand new scheme for sequestering carbon within the areas of the ocean which have little or no chlorophyll, which implies areas with little of the oceanic inexperienced plants known as “phytoplankton”. Phytoplankton are the tiny chlorophyll-producing vegetation which might be the muse of all sea life—every little thing that lives within the open ocean both eats phytoplankton, or eats one thing that eats phytoplankton, or eats one thing that eats one thing that eats phytoplankton, advert infinitum. With out phytoplankton, the ocean is obvious blue and lacks life.

The scheme entails the work that an organization known as MyOcean Sources is doing to unravel what they name the “World Warming and Ocean Acidification issues” in a single go. They plan on constructing one thing known as “ECOPIA”, which stands for “Earth Local weather Optimisation Productiveness Island Array”. ECOPIA is meant to extend oceanic carbon sequestration. Details about ECOPIA is offered as a PDF from the hyperlink above.

(A brief digression. These acronyms like “ECOPIA” make me chortle. I’ve labored a couple of occasions as a guide to the US Authorities. Once you write a authorities report, they need a glossary of the acronyms on the finish. So I invented an acronym, “SPREVELUA”, and put it into my glossary, claiming it meant the “Society for the PREservation of VEry Lengthy Ineffective Acronyms” … after all, not one of the bureaucrats who learn my report ever observed. However as I mentioned, I digress, let’s set sail once more on the marvelous ocean …)

Matt despatched the knowledge to me as a result of he is aware of I’m an information man, in addition to an erstwhile industrial fisherman and bluewater sailor. I’ve sailed throughout a few of the very areas of low chlorophyll that their scheme covers. So I got down to see if I might replicate their discovering that the low-chlorophyll areas of the ocean are increasing.

The knowledge he despatched me included two research which have been most fascinating, right here and right here. Each research claimed that the areas of the low-chlorophyll elements of the ocean are getting larger. So I made a decision to see if I might replicate their findings. I used a distinct dataset, the AQUA satellite tv for pc chlorophyll dataset out there right here, as a result of it’s the longest one out there. Listed here are the typical chlorophyll ranges from the primary of the 2 research, for the interval 1998 – 2013.

And listed here are my outcomes, for 2002 to 2021:

I’ve used a log scale, as did the paper above, to embody the vary of the info. As you possibly can see, I get outcomes which might be just about equivalent to the outcomes from their research, regardless of the completely different time durations and knowledge sources. In order that discovering is completely replicated. The world-weighted common chlorophyll degree globally is 0.38 mg/liter.

Nonetheless, I used to be completely unable to copy their outcomes relating to their declare that the least productive areas are increasing. Listed here are my outcomes displaying the decadal developments within the chlorophyll degree.

There are a number of issues of be aware right here.

• Some areas are certainly dropping chlorophyll, and a few are gaining. Nonetheless, they’re solely loosely associated to the areas of least productiveness proven above, significantly within the southern hemisphere.

• Total the oceanic chlorophyll is growing, not lowering. The worldwide common enhance is about 0.012 mg/liter per decade.

• The developments are typically small in comparison with the typical chlorophyll degree of .38 mg/liter.

• The most important good points are within the extratropics, significantly the sub-polar areas, and the tropics on common is mainly impartial.

Having replicated one however not the opposite of these claims, I took a have a look at the ECOPIA idea. Their plan is to sequester 9 gigatonnes of carbon per 12 months. Their declare is {that a} glass lens 1m in diameter plus a couple of hundred meters of fiber optic cable will sequester 50 kg of carbon per 12 months. They usually airily say they simply must “scale up constructing of buildings”. Yeah, like that’s really easy to do. Right here’s their graphic of the lens plus the fiber optic cable.

Their plan is to pipe gentle down deep into the ocean, to extend phytoplankton development. Let me be aware that if gentle was all that was wanted to extend phytoplankton development, we’d discover phytoplankton on the floor … however we don’t, as a result of the required vitamins (largely iron) aren’t out there. Their declare is that the decrease finish of the meeting will probably be down under the “thermocline”, which is the dividing line between the wind and wave blended floor waters and the following deeper layer. They are saying there are vitamins aplenty in that deeper water.

As an apart, it’s removed from clear that hanging one thing like this down under the thermocline will work. The issue is that the currents within the blended layer are sometimes stepping into a distinct route from the currents under the thermocline … and when that occurs, the fan arrays will probably be dragged in a distinct route, and will effectively get pulled at an angle to the purpose the place they’re not under the thermocline …

As well as, it’s additionally a lot colder down under the thermocline, so it’s not clear the place these cold-adapted phytoplankton will come from, since none reside there naturally

Nonetheless, I discover no indication wherever that they’ve really tried this idea to see if it really works … which is curious, as a result of it might be “proof-of-concept” examined for a couple of ten-thousands of {dollars} or so. Makes a person marvel.

In any case, assuming that fifty kg/12 months of carbon sequestered per meeting is the case (they don’t current any precise experimental figures), this oh-so-simple “scaling up” to sequester 9 gigatonnes of carbon would require the manufacturing of at least 180 billion 1-meter glass lens plus fiber optic cable assemblies.

(By comparability, about 90 million automobiles and 135 million toasters roll off the meeting line annually. So if we might construct these lens/fiber assemblies on the charge of say 500 million per 12 months, it will solely take 360 years for the buildout … however I digress.)

Then they are saying these assemblies will probably be enclosed by “Ring Donut formed synthetic islands with a diameter of 50KM with an inside moon pool of 46KM diameter” … right here’s their graphic of the idea.

I don’t know methods to even construct such an object in a fashion that may face up to a critical storm. Per their description, the floor of the unreal island will probably be 2 km vast and 160 km lengthy (1.25 by 100 miles), and will probably be product of … effectively, additional deponent sayeth not. What might it probably be product of? How will it’s made sturdy sufficient to face up to flexing from the occasional enormous ocean waves?

To offer an concept of the scale, the highest floor space of every synthetic island will probably be about 300 million sq. meters. The highest floor space of the world’s largest container ship is 24,000 sq. meters, so it will take 12,500 of the world’s greatest ships to cowl the world wanted.

And assuming the glass lenses are every floating independently, what’s going to maintain them from bashing one another to demise within the first storm?

Then they declare that these synthetic floating islands will probably be saved from drifting till they crash into the shore someplace by “magnetohydrodynamics or vertical wings” … critically? The forces on these buildings will probably be immense. Handwaving about MHD and wings gained’t lower it.

And the place and the way will they assemble even one among these gigantosaurs? It’s 50 km (30 miles) throughout … looks as if the one method can be to construct it in 12,500 big ship-sized sections, every weighing a pair hundred thousand tonnes, tow the sections 1000’s of miles out to sea, and bolt them collectively … nothing like that has ever been tried, and for superb motive. Tshe towing of simply one among these sections would require a small fleet of tugs … and the considered bolting two 200,000 tonne buildings collectively in mid-ocean whereas each is independently bouncing up and down within the waves makes my blood run chilly.

I’m getting the sense that a few of these people have by no means been by way of a extreme storm at sea … not one thing for the faint of coronary heart.

Subsequent, we have now the value. They declare that it may be accomplished for a mere $10 trillion {dollars}. To begin with, they need to elevate $20 million {dollars} for the preliminary funding …

Now, people typically don’t understand how large a trillion {dollars} is. So let’s assume that they by some means get their funding so fired up that they’re bringing in $20 megabucks every day of the 12 months … at that livid charge, how lengthy will it take to boost the $10 trillion {dollars}?

The reply is, if they’re bringing in $20 million {dollars} per day, it’ll take them 1,369 years to boost the complete $10 trillion.

And even these numbers appear wildly optimistic. They plan to construct 100 of those floating ring-shaped islands, every the equal of 12,500 gigantic container ships. These big ships price on the order of $200 million every … and the islands should be a lot stronger to take the strains. So the 100 floating islands will price on the order of $250 trillion … and even within the unlikely occasion that they may by some means be constructed for a tenth of that, it’s nonetheless $25 trillion for 100 of them, which is greater than double their estimate for the entire challenge.

Lastly, as a long-time fisherman and seaman, here’s what I can assure would be the largest drawback with this scheme, an issue which they don’t even point out …


Ship’s bottoms are painted with poisonous anti-fouling paint to maintain all types of small marine creatures from taking on residence on the underwater floor—barnacles, limpets, mussels, copepods, and a bunch of various sorts of zooplankton (tiny animals) and phytoplankton (tiny vegetation) all like to colonize something underwater. Some sorts of antifouling paints have needed to be made unlawful as a result of when there have been a lot of boats in an space, they have been poisoning complete bays and harbors … doesn’t bode effectively for the ECOPIA concept of accelerating sea life …

These underwater surfaces will probably be heaven for phytoplankton particularly as a result of phytoplankton are vegetation, and like all vegetation they want gentle. The phytoplankton will instantly take up residence on every of the fiber optic strands. And these few phytoplankton will choke off the entire gentle for the encompassing space that the ECOPIA individuals are relying on to create the midwater situations for giant plankton blooms … no bueno.

People have spent centuries making an attempt to stop fouling on the undersides of ships, with solely restricted success. Even the very best of antifouling paints wants renewing each few years, and never one of many varied sorts of antifouling paints is clear, as can be required for this utility.

And even when some magical clear antifouling is invented, it’s a close to certainty that they’ll nonetheless must reapply it to the 180 billion items say as soon as each three years (though possible way more continuously) … which implies you’d must take a ship as much as ten miles out into the “moon pool”, haul out, clear off the fouling, prep the floor, and repaint at least 164 million of those lens/fiber optic assemblies on daily basis, 24/7/365, perpetually.

Riiight … so setting the sensible impossibility of that apart, let’s assume that together with labor and supplies and transportation of the identical to midocean, it will price possibly $250 to resume the antifouling for a lens/fiber-optic meeting. It in all probability can be way more, getting a fender in your automobile fastened prices greater than that, however let’s be wildly optimistic.

That might be a price of $15 trillion per 12 months … and so they declare the entire challenge will solely price $10 trillion …

Math. Don’t go away residence with out it.

And shifting on, final 12 months we had a drought right here in California, and everybody was raving about the way it was the results of evil human-caused world warming. However this 12 months, right here on our beautiful California hillside with a tiny little bit of the ocean seen within the distance, we’ve already gotten extra rain than we received all of final 12 months (rainfall 12 months, Oct. 1 to Sept. 30). And it’s humorous … however no person is ascribing that the majority good news to world warming.

Go determine. It’s virtually like they’re rooting for catastrophe to allow them to blame it on folks … what a weird anti-human faith local weather alarmism has develop into.

My best possible needs to all, inlaws, outlaws, local weather alarmists and sane folks alike, and my because of Matt for sending me this fascinating koan,


PS: If the inventors of this scheme want to remark, they’re greater than welcome to clarify and defend their concepts, and to level out any errors I’ll have made.

MY USUAL: I can defend my phrases. I can not defend your interpretation of my phrases. So to keep away from misunderstandings, if you remark please quote the precise phrases you’re discussing.

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