got us into Climate Change's hot water.
Why we manufactured and are running as many as 2 billion heat engines.
energy from horses, windmills, and waterwheels simply are not sufficient
engines provide as
mechanical energy, i.e.,
it is needed, for
as it is needed.
Mechanical energy made from heat first began to replace wind, waterwheels, draft
animal energy, and human slave energy over 300 years ago. Thomas Newcomen
invented and built the first steam engine in 1712.
While it delivered the power, in many respects that first steam engine was
(Newcomen steam engine animation at right from Wikipedia.)
About 70 years later,
in 1781, James Watt patented a far more efficient steam engine that produced
continuous rotative motion. This machine could replace water wheels, windmills,
etc., and soon led to the invention of railroad locomotives which brought the
age of steam to every corner of the world. Later, horses were replaced by the
mobile internal combustion engine. All this new energy from coal, oil, and
heating gas ultimately enabled the building and powering of the industrial and
economic world as we know it today
Machines amplify greatly the work a single
man can do. The steam engine made horses and slaves obsolete. The song "John
Henry" was about machines outperforming horses and humans. The steam engine
made the Bible's paradigm of slavery obsolete.
Combustion of fossil fuels - mostly coal - has been the only way to power
industrial heat engines until the relatively recent advent of obtaining heat
from nuclear fission.
Like that first steam engine, while it
delivers the power, in many respects today's nuclear reactor is grossly
Today, after about 70 years, that first
generation of commercial nuclear reactors - the massive water cooled reactor -
has entered the dawn of its obsolescence, soon to be replaced by oil and non
water-cooled nuclear power.
What Heat Engines Did To
The Human Race
The dramatic increase in the world's
population came largely as a result of having heat engines rather than horses,
wind, sails, and waterwheels do much of life's labors. (Left)
5 billion people use heat engines to feed, comfortably shelter, and transport
food and themselves. This has resulted in increased life expectancies.
(Example: Japan, 84.6 years.)
2 billion people are not able to take advantage of heat engines. Their average
life span is short. (Example: Central African Republic, 48.5 years.)
It has been speculated that there is a
heat engine or a fire for every two humans on earth. That would mean perhaps as
many as 4 billion fires. It is understandable that this number of fires,
burning more or less continuously, would add a substantial amount of fire's
major combustion product, carbon dioxide gas (CO2), to the
Some industrial fires such as power plants
- can be massive and burn several 100-car coal trains every day for many years.
The fires in the heat engines of
electricity power plants can be thousands of times larger than the fires found
in residential heating furnaces.
It so happens fire's carbon dioxide
emissions are also one of Planet Earth's major thermostat gasses, controlling
how much heat the planet obtains from the sun.
The graph at right shows how the large
numbers of fire powered heat engines have changed the air over the last 200
years. If the CO2 is not removed from the air with air
scrubbers, these changes will persist for thousands of years.
Even small changes in temperature pose a
big threat to our food supply.
make most of Climate Change.
So, what can we do to end those millions
of climate changing fires?
Adding carbon capturing devices to
existing fossil fuel fire systems is a quick and effective solution.
Oil is an ample source of concentrated
energy that can be refined clean enough for easy carbon capture in stationary
The only ample source of enough cheap CO2-free
heat to power all our heat engines forever is
nuclear fission. Unfortunately, like the first steam engine (the Newcomen
atmospheric steam engine, above) our grandfather's nuclear reactors use water as
their coolant. That makes them unsafe and inefficient.
And, as with the vastly improved 1781 Watt
steam engine, today, 70 years after the first commercial nuclear reactor, there
are several improved types of reactors emerging from research laboratories.
The author of this web site sees great
promise in two of them - the
TRISO High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) and the
Thorium-fueled Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR) - and features them, along with
fossil fuel carbon capture, in his suggestions of technologies for stopping
For now, the quickest and cheapest
solution to end Climate Change is to do as we have already done with our
automobile and truck engines, modify all the existing industrial fireplaces (in
power plants, etc.) and the fuels for mobile and heating fires (engines and
heating gas) in such a way that they no longer contribute to Climate Change.