Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Space Technology

Energy-Beaming Space Collector To Also Alter Weather? 274

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the don't-microwave-me-bro dept.
Recently we covered California utility company PG&E's ambitious deal with upstart Solaren to beam energy to earth from a space-based solar collector. What we didn't know is Solaren's patent also covers the alteration of weather elements with that very same system. "By heating up the upper and middle levels of an infant hurricane, they say they could disrupt the flows of air that power the enormous storms. Air warmed by tropical waters flows up through a hurricane and is vented through the eye into the upper atmosphere. Theoretically, you could heat up the top of the storm and lower the pressure differential between layers, resulting in a weaker storm. "
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Energy-Beaming Space Collector To Also Alter Weather?

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cmdr-Absurd (780125) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:08PM (#27649289)
    1. You attack the hurricane when the storm is small (less than hurricane force).
    2. You are capturing solar power (which is responsible for creating the hurricane in the first place.)
    3. There is that whole butterfly effect thing...
    4. What are the unintended consequences?
  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:09PM (#27649303) Homepage
    Even if the technology doesn't work out patenting the basic idea costs them comparatively little. Given how much money they are investing in this and the possible massive benefits filing the patent seems like the right move even if it is unlikely to work.
  • Re:So.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:10PM (#27649331) Journal

    If you've every read Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy, it's the same scenario.

    Except Clancy jumped the shark somewhere around the time that Jack Ryan ceased being the all-American hero and started spouting Clancy's own political beliefs. Sorry, this is totally offtopic and I expect to be modded as such but it needed to be said. Sad thing is that he used to write some REALLY cool novels.

  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:10PM (#27649345)

    1. You attack the hurricane when the storm is small (less than hurricane force).

    2. You are capturing solar power (which is responsible for creating the hurricane in the first place.)

    3. There is that whole butterfly effect thing...

    4. What are the unintended consequences?

    ...
    5. Profit!

  • Geoengineering (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@b[ ]rog ... m ['sgp' in gap]> on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:15PM (#27649427) Homepage Journal

    I recently read an article on "geoengineering"; apparently it's gaining traction and was discussed in one of Obama's cabinet meetings as global warming emergency brake. It appears that this is real: we really could mess with our atm. cheaply and quickly. What I find most interesting about the whole concept, besides whatcouldpossiblygowrong, is what people like Pete Geddes of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE) say against it:

    Let's say we came up with a way to scrub carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere that works and is cheap. That would mean we could go on emitting carbon. The environmentalists' reaction, I think, would be, 'No, that's unacceptable, because what we really have to be doing is reducing our fossil fuels and use of energy.' That's just ridiculous. People would lose all sorts of faith in environmentalism.

  • Re:Lots o' power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by postbigbang (761081) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:23PM (#27649585)

    I'm sure they've done experimenting with all of this. Nothing will happen. Don't worry about the GPS positioning in your cell phone. No weapon could reach you as you walk down the street.

    Seriously folks-- does the sound of someone beaming down terajoules from the sky make you just a little bit nervous? Imagine a solar sun spot causing a sudden atmospheric defraction that sends the beam to say, Tucson by mistake?

    I think this needs a lot of examination before it goes into pilot, let alone production.

  • Re:So.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheCycoONE (913189) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:27PM (#27649653)

    No no, this is private enterprise. It will be a hurricane prevention surcharge on the microwave power bill.

  • uhm yea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by papasui (567265) on Monday April 20, 2009 @01:58PM (#27650187) Homepage
    I'm not sure what worries more, the fact that its possible that we might have the technology to do this in the next decade or that we would consider using it..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:22PM (#27651769)

    Exactly, it's just like all the patents for time travel and cold fusion.

    Even if the idea is total bunk, you can still threaten people doing anything similar for the duration of the patent.

  • Re:So.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:44PM (#27652145)
    Wouldn't it be wiser to steer a storm with high pressure 'bumps' rather than weakening them? They do serve a purpose after all. I'd rather someone didn't much about with mother nature unnecessarily.
  • Re:So.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peragrin (659227) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:48PM (#27653115)

    hurricanes release a lot of energy. If that energy isn't released I would hate to see what happens.

  • Liability. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mal-2 (675116) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:13PM (#27653441) Homepage Journal

    Say they damp what would have been a Category 5 storm aimed at New Orleans. They succeed at damping it down to a Category 3, but it slams into Galveston instead because it no longer has the energy to make the northward turn. Who is liable for the damage done to Galveston and Houston?

    Barring new laws holding them harmless from such scenarios, I don't think this will get off the ground for this very reason. No matter where they divert a storm, someone gains and someone loses (though not in a zero-sum manner).

    Mal-2

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday April 20, 2009 @07:18PM (#27654569) Journal

    We might be giving a company the power to change our weather? Not sure how I feel about this..

    It would be really expensive for them to do it. They'd have to put a LOT of power into a beam that they could otherwise sell. Like enough to heat up a bunch of clouds - or power several cities for hours.

    (They'd also have to retune the beam from a band that passes through water - and birds, cows, people, etc. to one that is strongly absorbed. Or they'd have to have built TWO sets of transmitters - with one used only for weather modification.)

    So you know they're not going to do it just for fun, altruism, or world domination. Somebody has to pay the bill. And their infrastructure is gigantic and spindly, hanging there in the sky ready to be blasted into fragments by any government that thinks they're misbehaving.

    Also: "We might be giving ...?" Is that the same sort of doublespeak as a tax cut being a government subsidy? If they end up doing this it won't be a matter of some "We" "giving" them anything. They'll have to build it, at great expense in capital, time, materials, and rare peoples' careers spent working on it rather than something else useful, in the hope that somebody will pay them enough to use it to recover the cost and make a profit on it.

    For right now, of course, it's just a defensive patent. If they're going to be building a space solar power system that COULD be retweaked to kill hurricanes, they're bloody well going to make sure nobody ELSE patents doing that and locks them out of their own invention.

Physician: One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...