Website for David Bolton, software developer in London, England

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Averting Global Warming (2006)

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According to Wikipedia we breathe out around 450 litres (liters for non Brits) of co2 every day which weighs about 0.9 Kg. I've seen other figures which say it's 1.1 x 10-5 Kg/s which is very slightly lower (actually 1.2 for men 1.0 for women so 1.1 is a reasonable average). So each year, each and everyone of us breathes out about a third of a ton of carbon dioxide.

Now the population of the world is about 6.5 billion, or 6.5x10^9 or 6500,000,000. So of the estimated 2.97x10^12 tonnes of co2 in the atmosphere, we contribute roughly 2x10^9 tonnes of it just by breathing. It sounds a lot but it's only 2 out of 2970. Wiping out lots of people would have a miniscule effect (from them not breathing) and a bit more from not driving, flying etc.

No, to reduce the global temperature rise (which is attributed to but not proved to be caused by increased co2) we need to be more bold. Here is an idea. The temperature rise is because of sunlight that isn't being bounced back into space. What if we could block some of this sunlight? Shielding us completely would be a very bad move. It would drop temperatures a lot, cause massive pressure differences and make things very unpleasantly cold (remember that film "The Day After"?- That would be a picnic compared to us- also we'd need lots more energy to survive, and it would finish all agriculture.

Earth and Sun Picture

What if we could reduce sunlight by (a) either filtering it down a bit or (b) blocking it off for a say one hour every day. That would certainly cool things. Technically I'm sure it could be done but there are a few problems to solve- like the Earth moves about 20 miles each and very second as it orbits the sun at about 67,000 mph. (Between 107,000 and 109,000 kilometers per hour!). Also we are rotating and do one complete revolution about every 24 hours. We don't need to block off all sunlight perhaps 2%-5% of it. If you bring a finger (which is not very big) towards an eye you can see it blocks off a large part of your vision from that eye. Likewise a very large object placed in geostationery orbit (at about 22,000 miles high) over a desert would cool it down, perhaps making it cool enough to allow it to be transformed.

If the object was some kind of solar panel then it could even generate electricity and perhaps could beam it down via microwave radiation to a ground station- where it might generate electricity and pay for some of the running costs.

It wouldn't be cheap to put very large orbiting solar panels into space - it would need spray on technology so it can be built in space.


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