Re: If all the ice melted...

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 06:47:42 MDT wrote:
> In a message dated 7/2/01 2:00:39 PM, writes:
> > I have not looked at the depression in the
> >central Sahara that Robert is speaking of, so I don't know its volume
> >below sea level.
> It's big, but the Caspian is still much bigger.
> >Ah, depends not just on the equipment for the cars, but infrastructure
> >changes too. Going to a hydrogen fuel economy would cost a minimum of $5
> >trillion.
> The question of whether you're financially better off flooding the Caspian
> basin
> or converting to a non-fossil-fuel economy is an empirical question. $5
> trillion
> sounds reasonable to me - on very weak information - for the cost of the
> basin.
> What are the refs on the conversion cost? And how does it change if you do
> it incrementally ( ie new equipment is hydrogen economy; old equipment is
> retained for its economic lifespan).

Lemme re-search. Its been a while since I delved into the economic
reports. The problem with incremental is that you wind up with very poor
market penetration until the infrastructure is nearly complete, since
people already have gas stations everywhere, the hydrogen distribution
system can't compete until it has similar coverage because the
difference in coverage is a disincentive against individuals purchasing
new hydrogen cars, and until there are enough hydrogen cars, hydrogen
sales volume is very low, so overhead costs are distributed among fewer
gallons so its per gallon cost is higher, which is another disincentive
against buying hydrogen cars. You'd have to heavily tax gasoline to pay
for the hydrogen infrastructure, and until it is built you have a severe
drag on the economy that wastes and pollutes more than a fit economy.
Hydrogen can't use conventional gas lines or tanks because it's so
corrosive, power plants need to be built to produce hydrogen gas from
nuclear energy (a 10-20 year process in itself), every gas station needs
to be outfitted with hydrogen tanks and pumps (which are also much
larger and less safe than gasoline tanks and pumps due to the
pressure/cryogenic details), all new tanks on fuel tankers (ships, train
cars, and trucks) need to be built.

Conversely, digging a channel from the Black Sea to the Caspian is
simply a matter of operating several large tunnel boring machines boring
on a level, building the penstock behind them, installing turbines and
gates. I'd say each Caspian channel would equal the cost of the Chunnel.
Those would work fine for the first stage of filling: up to sea level.
Then you'd need a similar set at, say, 50 or 100 meter intervals of
altitude, and sealed off and filled with concrete when they are too low
to be efficiently used for pumping. I'd estimate that the Caspian
project could be built for less than $100 billion. As for land sales,
buying the new waterfront property ahead of time and selling it to the
displaced persons would help out immeasurably, not to mention that there
should be at least 10 years in which to move as much valuable indutrial
or other property as possible.

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