Sunday, April 01, 2007

An Idea I Had

During a rather bizarre argument about foreign policy I had a brainwave. One of the major harms that could result from global warming is rising sea levels. This means our problem is too much water where we don't want it. We can either try to reduce the total amount of water so that levels don't rise, i.e. stop warming and ice-cap melting, or we can channel it somewhere else.

I.e. if we were to dig a really big hole at the bottom of the ocean all the water would drain there.

Can anyone give me a good reason why that wouldn't work?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

1. How will you dig this hole, given the fact that our oceanic crust is about 20 km thick?

2. What type of machinery were you planning on using? The machines we have today can actually only penetrate up to a mile deep.

3. Check out the Moho Experiment. Nice brainwave - too bad someone else had already tried this and failed miserably.

4. The amount of water kept in glaciers and ice caps would probably raise sea levels by about 30 ft WORLDWIDE. You better have a pretty big hole to drain all of that water.

5. It would take more than a massive hole in the middle of the ocean to save this planet.

Matthew Sinclair said...

1. I'm not planning on digging below the crust... just digging chunks out of it I guess.

2. I'm not an engineer.

3. Wikipedia doesn't have an entry for this and Google turns up a load of links that don't seem relevant. Can you provide a link?

4. That 30ft figure seems a bit extravagant.

This from the BBC story on a report suggesting a higher rise than the IPCC expects.

"The team from Germany and the US found that for the timescale relevant to human-induced climate change, the observed rate of sea level rise through the 20th Century held a strong correlation with the rate of warming.

When applied to the possible scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the researchers found that in 2100 sea levels would be 0.5-1.4m above 1990 levels.

This projection is much greater than the 9-88cm forecast made by the IPCC itself in its Third Assessment Report, published in 2001."

30ft?

5. Why?

You've been fisked matey :)

arthur said...

Wouldn't change a thing. The water will hit the magma, vaporise, and rain down on the oceans again. It's not going to make the water go away.

michelle said...

Mr Sinclair:
The whole ocean area is about 361 000 000 km^2, let's assume 2 cases of sea level rise: (a) 0.5m and b) 1.4m. For (a), the volume of water needed is 180 500 km^3 and (b) 505 400 km^3. Let's say we dig a hole, not so much focusing on the depth, but rather the area, like as big as UK (244 820 km^2), we need to dig 737m deep (a) or 2064m for case (b) with the area size as big as UK. As much as the hole can hold so much water, but it will also dig out the soil as big as UK. Where to put them? I would say it is a massive engineering work.

Tim Worstall said...

You could dig a canal from the Med to the Quattara Depression. Collect the hydro power as it fills up too.
It's been seriously suggested before now, too.

michelle said...

Qattara Depression
Area covered: 18,000 km^2, depth: 133m below sea level.
For Qattara depression to hold the amount of water of 180 500 km^3, the level of water is about 10 000m high.

Mr Eugenides said...

OK, then, Michelle: we find a spare 505,400 square km of wasted land, build a 1km high retaining wall, and pump it full of water.

How about France?

michelle said...

Haha, eugenides, glad you found the candidate! Now you just have to worry about how to build the 1km tall wall with the length of 2889km (actually shorter than Great Wall of China!)
CIA Factbook France

El Dave. said...

Where would you put the dirt you excavated from the hole?

Matthew Sinclair said...

Use it to improve coastal defences :)

I love that this has started a debate.

Ruthie said...

I would just wonder about where the displaced earth would go... it would have to be an amount of displaced earth equal to the amount of water you want to "drain." That would be a lot.

Also, pretty quickly you'd need heavy-duty, waterproof machinery to drill through the solid rock. It could get extremely expensive....

El Dave. said...

We could hollow out a mountain range, forming a huge bowl, and pump the water in there. Not only would it solve the problem of rising water levels, we could then pump it to where droughts are created by global warming and it would create a tourism industry for somewhere. Brilliant!

Of course, we could try to stop global warming instead. You have come up with a brilliantly Keynesian solution (as this could only be achieved with public sector financing). As Keynes would have it:

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of the repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth also, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is. It would, indeed, be more sensible to build houses and the like; but if there are political and practical difficulties in the way of this, the above would be better than nothing.

james higham said...

Only one reason, Matthew, dear sir - sanity.

Anonymous said...

Uh, where would you pile the dirt from the whole you dug? The volume of dirt displaced to create your "hole" would be equal to the volume of water stored in the hole.

Seriously, are you being serious or is this a joke? Yikes.

Matthew Sinclair said...

It's largely a joke.

Jackart said...

Any Scheme like this will do vastly more damage than anything it is meant to solve. Sort of like using a shotgun to clear a blocked nose. Just like the Quattara depression idea.

Roll on Global warming and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts

Matt Sinclair said...

Where would all the dirt you dug up go?

Benjamin Partridge said...

Why don't we use Bounty? It is, after all, the strongest soaker upper.