Cooling it

August 13, 2008

We don’t have the space to print letters to the editor from out of state (unless they’re commenting on something from our paper that the writers read online). Once in a while, I get one I’d like to run, however, such as this one from J. Andrew Smith of Bloomfield, N.J.:

Some ideas on global warming:
 1. Solve flooding issues too: create pipelines from rivers that flood all the time out to the deserts to irrigate them so we can grow plants for ethanol/oil: sugar cane, corn, and even industrial hemp — but keep some desert land for solar panels.
 2. Solve obesity and poverty issues too: create public gyms with treadmills hooked up to turbines, sell the electricity to utilities, and give people tax credits.
 3. Smoking is at an all-time low — replace half the tobacco crop with ethanol/oil plants.

Now that’s some creative thinking. The only thing he left out was gerbils on exercise wheels connected to windmills as a backup, but maybe he’s a member of PETA.


7 Responses to “Cooling it”

  1. Harl Delos Says:

    We don’t have the space to print letters to the editor from out of state

    I’ve been curious about the parochial attitude of the NS since at least the 1960s. The News-Sentinel circulation was stronger in Fort Wayne, while the Journal-Gazette was stronger in outlying areas. In fact, you could find the Journal-Gazette competing for readers over the entire area served by WKJG, WPTA, and WANE, both in circulation and news coverage.

    I suppose it was difficult to compete with the News-Sun in Kendallville, the Crescent-News in Hicksville, or the Herald-Press in Huntington, but in Hoagland, Huntertown, and Woodburn, the only daily newspaper was the Journal-Gazette.

    It was a little easier to get a copy of the News-Sentinel in New Haven, but you’d never know any news occurred there, except once in a while, there’d be a story about the fight between Fort Wayne and New Haven over International Harvester.

    Seems to me that by the 1960s, Helene Foellinger should have figured out if you had a store in Northcrest, and especially if you had a store in Glenbrook, that your customers were coming from 13 counties, not just Allen County, and especially not just the city of Fort Wayne, and the News-Sentinel wasn’t a particularly good place to advertise.

    What’s the story, Leo? Did she think that she was insulated by the JOA, and advertisers would go with a two-paper buy, even though the NS wasn’t delivering the readers that advertisers needed?

  2. Bob G. Says:

    Everyone worries about global warming, when all we need is some REALLY good volcanic activity to toss a few hundred tons of ASH into the atmosphere…and PRESTO, temperatures DROP 1-3 degrees.
    Where is Krakatoa when you NEED it?

    btw: ethanol – TOTAL waste of resources.
    Who wants LESS bang for every buck anyway?

    Plus, you’d better check those gerbils for STEROIDS…no sense enhancing those “backups” illegally, right?



  3. jasmith4 from Bloomfield, NJ Says:

    Yeah, you Hoosiers are real serious about global warming. Volcanic activity — can you spell p-o-l-l-u-t-i-o-n? Gerbils — can they really generate enough? Windmills — yes! The USA has some of the windiest places on Earth, some in or near Indiana!

    How about another idea: we know how to drill miles down, so put U-shaped pipes way down there, pump water into one end, and geothermal heat will pump steam out the other. It’s simple and clean, it will work anywhere on Earth, and if we do it in the deserts, the steam will lead to more rain, which will grow more plants and cool the planet a little.

  4. Harl Delos Says:

    How about another idea: we know how to drill miles down, so put U-shaped pipes way down there, pump water into one end, and geothermal heat will pump steam out the other.

    Actually, it’s even simpler than you realize. We can use heat pipes.

    Close a pipe with a suitable medium inside, and arrange it so that the lower end is in a hotter environment than the higher end. This is typically done with freon, when you’re trying to move heat from a hot room to a cold one, but depending on the temperature, you may need to use something else.

    The liquid medium boils at the hot end, and vapors rise to the top, where they cool off, condense, and drip back to the bottom by gravity. There’s no pump needed, no loop, just a straight pipe, and it’s incredibly good at moving heat, much better than any conductor.

    The problem with using water as the heat transfer medium is that it is incredibly corrosive, and at the temperatures involved, it’s even worse. There’s also a problem coming up with a pipe that will handle the kind of heat involved at the bottom of the pipe.

    What would be simpler would be to put a big bore pipe into the Carribean. Due to evaporation, the surface water is extremely briney, and consequently is a lot denser than the water at the bottom. Once you get the water flowing in a vertical pipe, you have an artesian well of sorts; you could even call it perpetual motion, although the motion is actually energized by the sun evaporating water.

    The water at the bottom is relatively rich with a lot of minerals. Now, you’re talking about a fairly slow flow of water, and whether you extract energy from the system with thermocouples or some sort of turbine, there’s no good way to transmit that energy to shore. However, the folks at Dow have been producing minerals from brine wells around Midland, Michigan for nearly a century, and you could use the energy produced to extract those minerals from the deep water. The waste minerals are likely to cause an algae bloom, and make for excellent fishing (or fish farming.)

    There’s a good demand for protein from the sea, and nobody seems to be talking about it yet, but we’re going to be hit with significant mineral shortages within the next ten years, including zinc, tin, and some of the rare earths used in electronics. It’s likely to be a LOT more profitable to drill a hole through water to get mineral nodules from the floor of the ocean, than to drill through the ocean floor to get petroleum.

    This caribbean “pseudo-artesian well” concept isn’t new. I think I first read about it in Coronet magazine back in the 1950s. However, protein has been so cheap, and minerals so cheap, that nobody wanted to risk the millions necessary to set up a full-scale operation like this in the past. I mean, it would have been profitable in the 1950s, but that’s a mammoth investment, and we don’t know what we’d run into. With today’s and tomorrow’s shortages, though, someone is going to try this in the next few years….

  5. jasmith4 from Bloomfield, NJ Says:

    Wow, you’re pretty knowledgeable, Harl — seriously. What then do you think of going out to garbage dumps, either on land or under the sea, and getting methane?

  6. Harl Delos Says:

    If we use up all the methane, what will the UFOs do?

  7. jasmith4 from Bloomfield, NJ Says:

    Good one. But seriously, with the tons of garbage we put out every day, I really don’t see us running out of methane…

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