Global Warming

Tilley's Track

by Prof Allen Tilley

Disclaimer: The material in this section is not necessarily the policy of the Sierra Club. The referenced materials are the responsibility of the publishers/writers and Mr. Tilley’s analysis is intended to provoke thought and action, but not necessarily endorsed.

Sent 1/23

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine this month published Community-Driven Relocation: Recommendations for the US Gulf Coast Region and Beyond.

The report (linked at the bottom of the news notice above) looks to be occasioned by a Community-Driven Relocation Subcommittee established by the Biden Administration in 2022 and co-chaired by representatives from FEMA and the Department of the Interior.

It is time for federal agencies such as FEMA, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US Department of Housing and Urban Development to  foster proactive planning for the relocation of communities under pressure from climate change.  “For successful relocation, community input should drive the planning process, and policies at the federal, state, and local levels should focus on prioritizing well-being and the establishment of equitable decision-making processes.” 

Relocation now is commonly undertaken reactively as disaster recovery. Pressures from wealthy interests will result only in piecemeal approaches, such as the current bill in the FL legislature to increase the general indebtedness for costly coastal property through expansion of Citizens Property Insurance. Just and equitable reestablishment of communities will result only from careful and deliberate planning. Determined planning now would allow us to establish sustainable communities in which we could look forward to living.

Sent 1/1

The Swiss company NanoFLOWcell is locating its production facility near Chicago. They intend to develop an auto as well as stationary applications for its flow cell power system, which uses processed salt water and a proprietary substance for a power source which is nonflammable, cheap, has high energy density, is almost entirely recyclable, and lasts for a remarkably long time.

Their planned two-seater, the QUANTiNO twenty-five, will have a range of 1200 miles before its two tanks need to be refilled. It will deliver enough power to take you to 60 in about 3 seconds, and is claimed to be constructed for safety. For a start, the cars they discuss will be built around a 25 or a 48 volt power system, not the hundreds of volts in today’s EVs.

The Clean Technica article makes the mistake of referring to the flow energy process as a battery, but it is refilled rather than recharged. Decentralized power of this sort may have the power to reshape our built environment, at least in my fantasies. Notice the humaN48 robot lurking at the bottom of the page, along with the hints about other applications. 

Sent 12/15

The rules of procedure for the annual COP meetings on climate have never been formally approved. By default, meetings are run by consensus (though COP presidents have been known to ignore votes in opposition their desired proposals). Effectively, consensus gives fossil fuel interests control over COP decisions through their creatures, the petrostates. (Not just those in the Mideast--the US is now the world’s largest exporter of oil and gas and is therefore suspected of being at times under the influence.)

If we could vote in new rules of procedure the majority of nations at a COP would have the power, for example, to decide to phase out the development, processing, and use of fossil fuels, and to proceed with serious efforts to draw down and sequester carbon. Unfortunately, since the default rules require a consensus for such changes, we will not get that approved at a COP.

Al Gore was present at the UN discussions which founded the COPs. If we could change the rules of constitution, we could change the operating procedures with less than a consensus. Apparently a 75% vote would do it. At least two nations are now proposing that the UN make that change in the operating procedures of a COP. Since the common wisdom is that we must act decisively by 2025 to have any chance of limiting heating to 1.5C, the 2024 COP might well be our final chance to achieve the prime aspiration of the Paris Accords. 26 inspirational minutes of Al Gore being interviewed. 

Sent 11/27

1. As the sea level rise overwhelms coastal areas, people may choose to remain in their homes even when partly or intermittently inundated, as many people currently are in the Florida Keys. Eventually, though, the only option left will be relocation. What is happening in the Keys is not far ahead of conditions along our coasts generally.

2. South Florida is already subject to flooding during rainstorms.

3. Drainage in suburban areas of South Florida is routinely managed by canals, which empty into the ocean by gravity. As the ocean rises the water head diminishes and will eventually become negative, so that the canals become flood conduits. Sea valves which allow water out to the ocean but not into the canals can manage that until the sea level rise becomes too great, and pumps can augment weak gravity flow control. Recently those patches on the system appear to have failed as the canals flooded neighborhoods during a relatively weak storm.

4. We have room for substantial new populations in many areas of the country.

Given the great numbers of people who will need to be settled away from low coastal areas, though, the current slack will quickly disappear and we will need to develop new housing. Where will all those new communities be located?

5. If we are to deal with the climate crisis successfully, we must cut emissions by greatly reducing our meat consumption. Land will be freed from current use to pasture and feed our livestock. Some of that land will be rewilded, some will grow beans and other vegetables, and some will be repurposed to housing.

“Half of all habitable land is used for agriculture.” “If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock accounts for 77% of global farming land. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein”, easily supplied by our new beans and peas. (Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the leading section Breakdown of global land use today.)

6.  Modest modular homes are already being developed which are appropriate for sustainable communities.

7. The new communities will need to be sustainable; that will mean providing much of their own energy, though existing grid supplies should be able to provide current to supplement and stabilize the new demand. A new kind of energy supply is already being installed commercially: the microgrid, or neighborhood, or community grid. Sunrun is one company which is dedicated to developing such grids. Sunrun is already furnishing communities with solar power from rooftop arrays, supplemented by batteries and controlled by a central computer network.

8. Block Energy in Tampa has installed microgrids in two communities. One is 93% power independent.

Let's welcome Prof. Tilley Back!

1. A supercritical carbon dioxide turbine the size of a refrigerator can generate enough power to supply 10,000 homes with greater efficiency than a standard steam turbine and ten minutes of start-up time. Whatever process which uses heat to drive a turbine now will convert from steam easily; concentrating solar just got much more attractive. A 10MW pilot project is underway in Texas.

CleanTechnica supplies more info.

2. Bill McKibben reports that leakage from supply ships renders liquified natural gas at least 24% worse than coal. We have no business producing or exporting it. The link to the OilChange International study Planet Wreckers which is McKibben’s source is in the article.