Archive for the ‘Geothermal energy’ Tag

Hurricanes and the Gulf Oil Slick

*Note about the illustration (above) at the end of this posting.

The effect of a hurricane (or hurricanes) upon the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has countless people concerned. Also, some have wondered how the oil might effect a hurricane. NOAA addresses both topics in the following recent publication (PDF format) answering the following questions:

What will the hurricane do to the oil slick in the Gulf?

What will happen to a hurricane that runs through this oil slick?

Here is a link to the PDF file from NOAA.

hurricane fact sheet_Layout 1

Initially, I had planned to write on the subject myself, sharing my “notions” about interrelationships between the spill and hurricanes. However, I recently read the splendid treatment on the subject by Dr. Jeff Masters and it was clear to me that I’d simply be repeating, in one way or another, much of what he had written – and doubtfully as comprehensively. Rather than walk that thin line between “being a bystander who conveys the ideas of another” and “plagarism”, I’ll simply link you to his recent work published in the WeatherUnderground website. It is in two parts:

What would a hurricane do to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill?

How oil might affect a hurricane .

More links:

*With apologies to Katsushika Hokusai and the gigantic number of people who admire his work – I took the liberty to be creative late this afternoon with his most famous work, The Great Wave off KanagawaThough this does not depict the Gulf of Mexico near whose shores Fuji would most certainly appear out of place, it seems fitting that such a strange and wild fantasy scenario is no less shocking than what has really happened in the Gulf of Mexico.  As I was painting the dark gray matter upon the modern water I was thinking “oil.”  But if you interpreted it to be floating pumice ash or something akin to that – it makes our present situation even more sad because at least a volcanic eruption is a natural event.

In my opinion this ongoing oil spill was triggered by mans’ stupidity, laziness, greed, incompetence, and failure to seriously address our need for clean and relatively safe sources of energy.  I feel strongly that we should have addressed the crisis years ago, at least by the mid-70’s, with as much vigor and determination as we addressed the attack upon Pearl Harbor.  I feel that we should focus upon geothermal energy as our principle source – utilizing heat beneath us to flash water into steam to turn turbines connected to generators making electricity.  We could then use much of that electricity to disassociate water into hydrogen and oxygen.  Hydrogen should be our fuel used to propel us from place to place.  It burns cleanly and it does not pollute.  Hot rock is everywhere beneath us – close in some places and deeper in others.  Our oil drillers would have plenty of work to keep them busy.  Try a search of “geothermal energy” and see what you find.


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Based upon my 41 years of college teaching experience (meteorology, geology, and environmental sciences) along with additional teaching (and learning) with senior citizens at our local community college, several people have implied that my opinion on the global warming issue interests them. I am no expert but I do have an opinion.  It’s been a “long time coming.”  Comments I’ve heard and read about our current cold waves has caused me to finally put forth some effort and explain myself to those who are curious.  I claim no special expertise but I do suspect I’m closer to the science than most people I know.

Last night I “gave up” in frustration on what was to have been my entry on this topic. It was four pages long, single spaced. After one reading I decided that it was boring, repetitive, and wandered. Furthermore, I realized that I needed another 6 pages at least to pull it all together. Had I posted it, I suspect that most readers would have quit before the end of the first page. So this is my second try.

I believe that the implied warming trend for the earth’s atmosphere and oceans is a reality and that whatever has caused it has been under way since at least the beginning of the industrial revolution.

I believe that the observed global warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution is at least partly due to human activity. I concede that there are surely some natural causes too that might have begun long before the onset of the industrial revolution. I also concede that data available varies in reliability.

I know about Climategate. I do not feel it shows that global warming is a huge conspiracy or a contrived and engineered lie. Dishonest scientists, in my opinion, are but a product of our unhealthy global society – although it’s nothing new. What is new is their degree of exposure in this information/communication age. The same is true for politicians, preachers, coaches, etc. It certainly appears that ethics have been taking a back seat for a very long time and that it has gotten worse.

I believe that the vast majority of us have an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. This occurs when our vehicular exhaust gases and particulates enter the air, when we flush the toilet, when we put our garbage out for collection, and in countless other routine actions (and inactions).

BUT WHAT IF IT WERE FOUND THAT EITHER GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT OCCURRING OR IF IT IS, WE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT? So what? As I see it, such a discovery doesn’t change things much. The bottom line is that we should not be polluting the air we breathe. Our atmosphere should not be a receptacle for our waste in the first place. We should not be fooling with Mother Nature to that degree!

The manner in which we have handled environmental issues and concerns though the years has convinced me that we are lazy, complacent, and almost always looking for the path of least resistance along with the all-mighty quick and easy dollar. Just look at what we continue using as fuel for our vehicles and look at the fuels we use in order to convert energy to the electrical form. Had we engaged in an all-out effort for the cleanest sources of energy back in the early 70’s when the “modern” environmental movement welled up, I believe we would be driving hydrogen powered vehicles today using hydrogen from water molecules that had been disassociated using very clean energy (e.g. geothermal, solar) and that we would be much further along in superconductivity research so that we might soon be transporting electrical energy with far less waste (waste in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics). I believe that we are short-minded fools, too stubborn and too self-centered to go to war against environmental degradation like we went to war against our enemies in World War II.  I use “we” in reference to those who seem to be in the majority and also our society in general.

I believe that we humans should do what we are reasonably able to do to reduce our role in polluting earth – even to the point of making sacrifices. Since we are bound to make mistakes, we should err on the side of caution.

If you are interested in an expansion of my views on this subject, go to the top of this page and click on the tab, “Reflections, Revelations, and Rants.”  You will find “Global Warming” amongst the entries.

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