Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanks, JA

James (is it Jim?)

I like most all people, but most particluarly those with whom I agree, or vice versa.

Question:

If non-greenhouse gas nuclear power were used to use to de-salinate sea water and make the deserts bloom, would that put more whatever into the the atmosphere, creating a virtuous circle?

Ben

JA's post:

I think you're correct on the huge influence AC has had on the south. And access to inexpensive electricity will change the landscape anywhere. I suspect the "inexpensive" requirement is one of the things that holds its development back in other countries.

Fun fact: Air-conditioning is also the bane of power grid designers, as it typically accounts for the "peaks" in power use that must be accounted for when deciding how much power to have. If the East Coast uses 1000 units of electricity on average, but has 20 very hot days a year where it needs 1500 units, there have to be power plants available to provide those 1500 units. This is because, unlike most other commodities, electricity is very difficult to store effectively. If you need it now, you have to make it now.

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Posted by James Aach to Wattenblog at 11/03/2006 10:25:19 AM

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If non-greenhouse gas nuclear power were used to use to de-salinate sea water and make the deserts bloom, would that put more whatever into the the atmosphere, creating a virtuous circle?"

What are you asking? Question is confusing.

November 13, 2006  
Blogger James Aach said...

Jim is fine. James just looks better on paper.

I'm not quite sure what you're asking, but I'll take a guess you might be referring to climate changes brought on by redistribution of water in the atmosphere (perhaps coupled with a reduction in CO2). I'm an engineer and not a climatologist, so the best I can do is guess.on that. If you're changing desert to cropland near an ocean, I wouldn't think the net increase in airborne water vapor would be very substantial, since it's evaporating off the sea surface anyway. As you move further inland, the introduction of a large quantity of water causing more greenery could effect humidity levels and temperatures, but given wind patterns I'm not sure if this would lead to more rain in the area, which might be the virtuous circle you're talking about. Clearly, any changes humans make to the atmosphere need to be vast to really effect climate.

From my history reading I know they experienced some climate changes in the southwest US in the late 1800's that some scientists blame (at least in part) on vast overgrazing that changed the conditions of the land surface. On the other hand, the Dakotas were settled by immigrant farmers in the late 1800's based on a popular scientific theory that "rain follows the plow" - that widespread agriculture somehow changes rain patterns. That didn't work out at all. (See the book 'Bad Land'.) Leaning back the other way, planting trees in cities does lessen the heat island effect both due to shade and plant respiration, so if you covered the desert with trees, you might get something.

Or perhaps I've misunderstood your question entirely. In any case, I'm way outside my area of expertise. Perhaps a deeper thinker on the topic will weigh in.

November 14, 2006  

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