Patents Hurricane Mitigation Devices For Gulf Of Mexico

By John Laumer, Philadelphia
07.11.09; Business & Politics (news)



Schematic drawing of hurricane mitigation concept. Image credit: patent filing

Hurricanes are fed most of their energy from sun-heated ocean waters. When upper atmospheric air-flows are not too turbulent, hurricanes are able to add enough energy to send storm surges over breakwaters and levees of coastal cities. Could some entrepreneur figure out a way to make money off preventing this? Seattle-based TechFlash reports that Bill Gates is recently listed as co-inventor "on a new batch of patent applications that propose using large fleets of vessels to suppress hurricanes through various methods of mixing warm water from the surface of the ocean with colder water at greater depths." TechFlash writer, Todd Bishop, contacted an expert who nailed the generic problem with this, and similar ideas.

Some of them are more plausible than others, but they all face an enormous problem of scale. … You would have to cover an incredible area with this effect to reduce the temperature of the ocean by a significant amount.

Got to hand it to Todd. He asked the right people for reactions.

Patent watcher "theodp," who tipped us off to the filings, says he was reminded of "The Simpsons" as he read through them. "The richest man in the world hatches a plan to alter weather and ecology in return for insurance premiums and fees from governments and individuals," he writes. "It’s got kind of a Mr. Burns feel to it, no?"

Besides the matter of scale, and consumption of climate-influencing electrical power by the patented devices (see the "Power Source" indicated on Figure 1.), there is also this.

Much of the hurricane energy ‘pick-up zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico, coincides with what is known as the "Dead Zone," where marine life is extirpated for part or all of the year. These "dead zone" waters are anoxic, and therefore exclude marine life, because of excessive organic matter, stemming from poor agricultural practices and inadequately treated sewerage and animal waste in the Mississippi River watershed.

Recirculating cooler, anoxic "dead zone" water back to the surface, as called for in these patents, is likely to cause massive fish kills and promote run-away algae blooms, expanding the dead zone in depth and possibly in breadth.

Should we call it "Burns-headed" instead of bone-headed?

If these genius’ have any energy left, their time might be better spent on figuring out how we are going to cope with the Carbon Bomb that has already been detonated. See "Carbon Bomb" Detonating Megatons Per Day, Acidifying The World’s Oceans, for details.