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Adam I. Gerard
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Carbon and Sea Level Rise Numbers

Century-end effects of global warming will be nigh-apocalyptic (if they occur at all).

Sea Levels

  1. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/map-sea-level-rise-probably-wrong-its-too-optimistic/354766/
  2. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2013/09/rising-seas-ice-melt-new-shoreline-maps/
  3. https://www.amnh.org/explore/ology/earth/ask-a-scientist-about-our-environment/will-the-world-ever-be-all-under-water

A maximum sea level rise of 216-230 feet is projected if all ice caps fully melt. Even if the ice caps only partially melt, sea level rise is likely to be much closer to the nightmare 10+ foot scenario.

Most cities were only planning for 3-6 inches in the 90's and early 2000's. Now, 3-5 feet is increasingly accepted as the lower-bound:

  1. https://www.kqed.org/science/1939059/the-ocean-is-not-a-bathtub-so-sea-level-rise-will-be-more-damaging
  2. https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Sea-level-rise-map-San-Francisco-Bay-Area-14913722.php
  3. https://sfplanning.org/sea-level-rise-action-plan
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/02/13/climate/manila-san-francisco-sea-level-rise.html

If true, almost all major coastal cities and population centers will be underwater by end of century. And, those that aren't will be wracked by super-storms unlike anything yet experienced.

Trees

Sadly, planting trees will likely, by itself, by an ineffective solution (though it's almost certainly something that should be done on a more limited scale).

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions

An estimated 1.2 trillion trees would need to be planted (covering a full 11% of the landmass of the earth).

Planting trees is great for many reasons (growing locally sourced food, decreasing air pollution, strengthening biome diversity, and reducing air pollution).

The studies above didn't include covering urban spaces (think Alderaan versus Cyberpunk) like roofs or walls. If those were also used to support green reforestation/vegetation efforts, it might help reduce the overall landmass requirements to naturally reduce carbon buildup.

Additionally, the use of hydroponics (here, I mean oceanic systems like kelp) to organically capture carbon will likely be valuable given the new coastlines likely to emerge, to shore up failing food supplies, and provide alternative fuel sources.

I also think the use of advanced vertical structures (exhibiting novel geometric and topological features) might help. Might we build green skyscrapers exclusively used for tree or vegetation cultivation (as found in Singapore)?

Direct Carbon Capture

Carbon can now be extracted directly from the air through artificially-induced carbon filtering:

  1. https://youtu.be/XHX9pmQ6m_s
  2. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/531346/can-sucking-co2-out-of-the-atmosphere-really-work/
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652619307772

i. Direct Air Capture, Global Thermostat remove carbon from the air passively.

ii. 40 million trees equivalent - 30,000 installations required.

iii. Not constrained by height - can go massively vertical saving land area.

iv. Can use carbon nano-tubes to build super strong and super tall structures.

Concentrated Solar

Mirrors have been around since antiquity.

They've recently been combined with machine learning and promise to dramatically reduce carbon emissions for a range of industries.

Essentially, artificial intelligence is used to capture the optimal amount of sunlight so that thousands of giant mirrors of them are coordinated in focusing sunlight onto a fixed water source (generating an enormous amount of steam).

This steam moves giant turbines generating MW of power (with steams as the only byproduct - which returns to the earth as rain).

  1. https://www.seia.org/initiatives/concentrating-solar-power

i. Concentrated solar power has even less CO2 production than solar voltaic.

ii. Mirrors can be sustainably manufactured since they required directed heat on sand to produce liquified silicates.

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/19/business/heliogen-solar-energy-bill-gates/index.html

i. Directed concentrated solar power (mirrors) can be used for a wide variety of general manufacturing purposes too.

ii. Replacing traditional steel, cement, cooking, and other heat-based processes.

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/nov/26/mirrors-air-conditioning-heat-space

Mirrors can be sustainably made and used to transmit power (via light) in addition to wires and in addition to their capacity to focus light on a source.

Concentrated Solar Transmission

Therefore, using mirrors to capture and direct sunlight has some significant advantages:

  1. They can be made sustainably (using mirrors themselves in the process) from melted sand.
  2. They can be focused on a liquid (like water) to generate steam and move turbines (capturing energy and thermal work).
  3. They can be used to melt chemicals or compounds without major chemical inputs and waste (replacing the use of coal in making steel or concerete, for example).

There's another exciting use that just became a plausible reality. Perfect mirrors have recently been developed that have nearly 0% light absorption or loss.

As a consequence, mirrors can now be chained to (continuously) reflect from areas where sunlight is abundant (daytime, high-elevation, no obstructions, etc.) to areas where it's less so, and dynamically.

This suggests that a future where solar energy transmission is continuous (uninterrupted), sustainable, and nearly perfectly clean is already upon us (though the logistical hurdles to implement such a process are potentially staggering).

Some benefits:

  1. Arguably safer than laying power cables. For example, brush fires might be less common. While directed solar would be intense, mirrors can also be rotated so that light is reflected into the atmosphere and to turn-off an energy grid.
  2. Clean to make through a virtuous cycle - use mirrors to melt sand to make mirrors.
  3. Solves certain issues that solar panels can't.
  4. Can replace power cables both in certain scenarios where cables are dangerous or inefficient and in general.
  5. One surprising attribute of mirrors is that they can also significantly cool buildings (by removing heat generated by the sun's rays away from a building or structure). Not only can mirrors be used to transmit energy, they can also be used to passively cool an environment!

Some maluses:

  1. Would probably need to be installed in high-elevation places costing labor, time, and money.
  2. Would entail creating and transporting (via mirror to mirror light transmission) unobstructed, focused, beams of immense power and light.
  3. Would require eventually replacing nearly all the existing cable lines.

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