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By Charles Rhodes, P. Eng., Ph.D.

This web page provides a simple metaphorical story to illustrate the major energy problem facing mankind. The major energy problems are thermal runaway and warm state trapping caused by combustion of fossil fuels.

The Holy Bible contains the story of Noah and his ark. According to the story Noah's belief in God gave him the knowledge that in his near future there would be a great flood which would cause a mass extinction. According to the story Noah acted on that knowledge and, in spite of ridicule by others, built an ark. In the subsequent flood there was a mass extinction but the ark saved Noah's family and a mating pairs of every animal species.

Today physics tells us that due to combustion of fossil fuels the Earth is approaching a condition of thermal runaway which will cause a 9.27 K step increase in the Earth's atmospheric emission temperature, will melt the polar ice caps causing an 80 m rise in sea level and will cause a thermal extinction of many life forms. However, today there are still numerous politicians, including many Repubicans in the USA and many Conservatives in Canada, who deny the physics of global warming, who deny the physics of thermal runaway and who ridicule those who advocate appropriate preventive action.

The essence of science is that the laws of nature are universal, independent of position and independent of time. Denial of the laws of nature, including the law of conservation of energy, is denial of reality and the price of that denial may be human extinction.

1. The do nothing option eventually leads to everyone dying.
2. The available amount of solar power is only sufficient to sustain about 1/4 of the present world population. Simple elimination of fossil fuels leads to about 3/4 of the world population dying by starvation and related conflict.
3. A large investment in Liquid Sodium Cooled Fast Neutron breeder reactors in combination with elimination of fossil fuels could potentially sustain the existing world population. However, this choice requires a major commitment to public science education.

Every day of delay in widespread implementation of nuclear energy makes the accumulation of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere and oceans worse. The time frame for natural decrease of the atmospheric CO2 concentration via photosynthesis and natural formation of fossil fuels is hundreds of thousands of years.

This web page last updated October 6, 2014

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