Platonic Christianity

Platonic Christianity
The text below is from an essay I wrote on The Precessional Structure of Time. PDF with diagrams is at Platonic Christianity.

Platonic Origins of The Christ Precession Story
The precessional model indicates that orthodox Christianity evolved from philosophical ideas about Jesus that have only survived in coded fugitive traces in the Bible. These ideas most plausibly arose from Gnostic Platonic schools. The Christ Precession hypothesis sees Christian origins in Gnostic philosophy and cosmology, syncretising Greek philosophy with Judaism. This syncretic vision defined Jesus Christ as the turning point of time, the beginning and end of successive zodiac ages, in a messianic theory to explain a terrestrial reflection of the observed heavenly movement of the equinox point from Aries to Pisces. This zodiac interpretation is not compatible with literal Christian orthodoxy about Jesus of Nazareth as a real historical person, and instead sees these stories as symbolic parables of hidden wisdom.
Given how astrology is despised and rejected, any effort to discuss such a framework remains a highly controversial and misunderstood reading among both religious and secular scholars. Esoteric Christian traditions were suppressed as heresy due to their incompatibility with literal myths about Jesus. Throne and altar entered a longstanding alliance under Christendom, requiring compliance, control and conformity, as part of the security apparatus of western empires, integrating church and state as a single power system with a single dogma. Such uniformity of belief had no place for the heterodox mystery traditions involved in seeing astronomical messages embedded in the Gospels.
It can be shocking to encounter advocacy for such a perspective that is so different from traditional interpretations, so I seek the reader’s patience in working through the claim that a Platonic Gnostic cosmology based on observation of precession had primary responsibility for the origins of Christianity. The broad problems of Christendom theology with its simplistic myths of salvation through belief have been analysed from a range of angles. Modern scholars have discovered a range of contradictions and factual errors in the literal text of the Bible, a process of criticism that has expanded to a broad public suspicion of the church and of theology as an intellectual field. It is a hard question how Christianity could recover credibility given its broad disrepute for placing political stability and institutional loyalty above the human liberation and solidarity advocated by Christ in the Gospels. This recognition that Jesus Christ was fictional provides a simple and elegant way to resolve the numerous factual anomalies that surround the old paradigm of literal faith.
As we move now into a new age, the Age of Aquarius, the dogmatic limits of the former age need no longer apply. The story of precession enables us to analyse Christian myths in a new light. The core Gnostic observation is that the imaginative placement of Jesus Christ at the dawn of the Age of Pisces reflected his avatar role for the earliest Gnostic Christian Platonists, defining the turning point of time from BC to AD, the alpha and omega or first and last. This messianic myth of salvation reflected ancient knowledge of precession as the structure of time, as something that astronomer-priests could see and predict for centuries beforehand in a purely scientific way, and use as a basis for the idea that events on earth reflect events in heaven. The placement of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the dawn of the Age of Aquarius is equally something that could readily have been imagined by the authors of the Gospels, with the idea that the world of their day was not ready to engage with the ideas of Christ, which would take a full age to become accessible. The Gospel authors could see that the spirit of truth had to percolate through the world for the whole Age of Pisces before it could be understood, as reflected in Matthew 24:14 “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
An excellent piece of evidence for how the precession hypothesis shows natural cosmology was used and then suppressed in the origins of Christianity is the major Christian symbol the Chi Rho Cross. There is a clear correlation between the Chi Rho Cross and the precessional hypothesis of the original Christ story, explaining the use of astronomical observation of the slow shift of the heavens as the foundational structure of Christian myth. The arms of the Greek letter Chi (X : χ) match exactly to the observable heavenly circles formed by the path of the sun and the equator. The Rho (P : ρ) matches the line of stars in the first fish of Pisces, the symbolic point of the new Zodiac Age started by Christ.
A Chi Rho Cross formed in the sky in 21 AD as these calculated celestial circles moved into Pisces is shown in this star map. Ancient astronomer-priests could have predicted this precession timing for centuries beforehand to within a decade, giving reason to suggest the prophecy of the advent of Christ in Daniel 9 could have reflected a combination of Jewish messianism with Babylonian and Greek astronomy. The location of the imaginary cross in the sky between the constellations of Aries and Pisces is at the triple intersection point ‘anointed by the lamb’ as depicted with the traditional zodiac figures, indicated by the pointing hoof of the Aries ram. The location, timing, purpose and method are entirely possible, simple and explanatory for the ancient astronomer-priests and philosophers who invented the original framework that became Christianity.
This star myth at the origin of Christianity, matching directly to the primary chi-rho symbol, is compelling and simple as an explanation of how Jesus was imagined as connecting time to eternity, humanity to divinity, and earth to the heavens. This hypothesis sets Christ in the heavens in a comparable way to how other constellations are associated with mythological figures, like Hercules and Andromeda, suggesting this source code was suppressed for the political reason of its clash with literal faith. This placement of Christ in the stars differs from the conventional constellations in that it reflects a dynamic moving analysis, placing the shape at a specific moment in time using complex astronomical calculations of precession, rather than a static depiction based on a star group alone.
Despite the complexity, this knowledge of precession was fully available to ancient astronomers. This star story explains this core symbol of the chi rho cross, based on Plato’s cosmology, as the basis for Christianity placing Christ on earth as in heaven. It is an example of the widespread ancient practice of telling stories about the stars, in this case using the motion of the point where the sun begins the natural year, a physical location in the sky that also relates to Jesus Christ through solar metaphors like Jesus as the light of the world (John 8:12) and the sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2).
Big questions for this chi-rho star correlation as a symbol for precession include why nobody in modern times has noticed or discussed it, and what it could mean for us today. The ancient suppression of this Gnostic symbol accords with the overall precession hypothesis I have presented here. A simple literal surface reading of the Bible won out over any allegorical interpretation that would cast doubt on the true existence of Jesus of Nazareth. The apparent centrality of the cosmology of precession as defining the timing and nature of the advent of Christ made this entire type of discussion a heretical taboo and capital crime, to be expunged from all records by imperial edict.
To reconstruct the most plausible account of how Christianity actually evolved requires a reverse engineering of the surviving texts using the stars as a blueprint. The consistency of the precession hypothesis with Platonic philosophy, in method, motive and opportunity, provides strong supportive evidence. Early Hellenistic Platonism was involved in creating Serapism in Egypt, Christianity in Israel and Mithraism in Babylon. Of these three competing memes, Christianity won the evolutionary struggle, and incorporated features of Serapism and Mithraism in the Constantinian settlement defining literal faith for Christendom half a millennium later. The original Christianity was a Platonic Gnostic mystery secret wisdom cosmic philosophy for initiates, constructing Jesus Christ as imaginative fiction, but this enlightened vision was taken over and corrupted by the literalist church. Therefore, recognition that Christ was a precessional myth represents a return to the original high pure form of Christianity.
Plato‘s dialogue The Timaeus describes the creation of the World Soul in a way that aligns with the hypothesis that Christian Gnostic theology was grounded in observation of precession and evolved from Platonist philosophy. Plato describes observable planetary reality on the model of the letter chi, in a camouflaged explanation of the precession of the equinox, with the structure of reality presented as two circles joined together. This is traditionally read as an accurate coded description of the celestial equator and the path of the sun. Plato called these two great celestial circles ‘the same’ and ‘the different’, appearing to reflect how the stars are always the same but they shift around the seasons by precession. The equinox points are the locations of the two opposite intersections between the path of the sun and the celestial equator. Attribution of hidden knowledge of precession to Plato is why the Great Year is called the Platonic Year, and the Zodiac Age is called the Platonic Month.
The power of this celestial cross image in Western culture is shown by Dante’s references in The Divine Comedy to the ‘love that moves the sun and stars’ as represented by ‘four circles with three crosses’. This cryptic coded description of an X in the sky is like the heavenly X that Emperor Constantine allegedly invoked to establish Christendom in the Fourth Century AD, with the famous phrase ‘in this sign you will conquer’.
The Biblical blind beggar ‘Son of Timaeus’ whose sight Jesus miraculously restores serves by this interpretation as a parable for how the world had become blind to the deep truths of astronomy explained by Plato in Timaeus, and how initiation into the secret wisdom of Christ could restore this vision under the guidance of Gnostic philosopher kings. The blindness includes inability to see the real meaning of the chi-rho cross, which extends Plato’s visual cosmology of the world soul to describe the incarnation of Jesus Christ, presenting a coded map of the equinox stars at the alpha and omega moment when the spring point crossed into Pisces.
My calculation, using the astronomy software SkyGazer 4.5, is that the equinox crossed the line connecting the stars of Pisces in 21 AD. This ‘alpha-omega moment’, in Christian terms the union of first and last, illustrates why the alpha and omega letters appear in the Chi-Rho Cross symbol as shown in the star map above, and why Christianity said the advent of Jesus Christ occurred under Pilate, at the exact time the equinox crossed into the new constellation marking the new age. This hidden celestial meaning was that Jesus as the ‘ρ’ or rho of the chi-rho symbolises the first fish of Pisces, while the chi or χ symbolises the slowly precessing intersection of the path of the sun and the celestial equator.
The concealment of ancient teachings on precession is understandable, given the repressive context of the Roman Empire. Any such discussion, presenting Jesus Christ as a necessary product of visual astronomical reasoning, would have been initially concealed by its Platonic advocates as a secret mystery, in line with their objective of growing the Christian movement by presenting the general public with highly simplified teachings and reserving more complex ideas for initiates. Then, as the literal Gospel story became more popular, the original Gnostic ideas were suppressed as heresy by the fallen world of Christendom. The Roman Empire, once it made Christianity the state religion, made any questioning of dogma or possession of heretical literature a capital crime as part of its incorporation of the literal gospels into its security and stability doctrine from the settlement of Constantine in the fourth century. This intimidating literal approach to faith remained the dominant social paradigm of western Christendom for over a thousand years, systematically suppressing and destroying alternative visions, and only starting to break down with the modern scientific enlightenment.
Based on these observations, the most plausible theory of Christian origins is that Jesus Christ was an entirely fictional invention produced by syncretism between Judaism, Platonic philosophy and other older religions. The core idea from Plato was that good philosophers should rule the world. As Hellenistic culture emerged to rule Israel and Egypt after Alexander’s conquests in the fourth century BC, the Greeks first invented Serapis, a Greco-Egyptian proto-Christ figure designed to enable cultural interaction between Greeks and Egyptians, pictured here in an ancient image surrounded by the signs of the zodiac.
Greek philosophy also co-invented the religion of Mithraism, a Hellenised version of Persian Sun God worship. In the iconic Mithras image of the Tauroctony, slaying the bull, Mithras is accompanied by the constellations of the celestial equator and surrounded by the signs of the zodiac, the sun and moon and the symbols of the rising and falling equinoxes, as shown in this reconstruction.
Mithraism appears to have focussed specifically on precession with its Time God, Aion, depicted with the head of a lion, body of a man and wings of an eagle, surrounded by six coils of a snake. The globe that Aion is standing on is often depicted with the X of the chi cross to show the precession of the equinox. The placement of the snake’s head at the lion’s forehead matches the point of the end of six ages at the dawn of the Aquarius/Leo Age. Unfortunately, almost all Mithraic writing is lost, so direct ancient explanation of these symbols is not possible. Carl Jung’s book Aion recognises this Mithraic heritage in exploring the link between Christ and the Age of Pisces.
My hypothesis of how these cosmic ideas found their way into Christianity is that the Jewish Old Testament prophetic tradition of hope for an Anointed Saviour (a ‘Christ Jesus’ in Greek) was combined with the Serapis and Mithras inventions to produce Jesus Christ, the anointed saviour of the world. Based on the calculation of precession by the renowned ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus and possibly other earlier writers, the timing of the incarnation of Christ under Pilate was a necessary product of the astronomical vision of the turning of the ages of the zodiac.
The Gospels can be understood as a product of the Platonic doctrine of the Noble Lie. Plato said in The Republic that philosopher kings could rule the world by presenting the masses with fictional stories dressed up as fact. His example of the Noble Lie specifically drew from the old myth of the descent from a Golden Age into an Iron Age. Platonic philosophers after Alexander’s conquests could have first helped to construct the myth of Serapis, the Greco-Egyptian synthesis of Zeus and Osiris, and then added Jewish prophecy and Babylonian cosmology into the Serapis myth to invent Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of Mark, together with themes from Homer’s Odyssey, timed to match the zodiac age.
This process could only have occurred in secret, within Gnostic mystery societies, in keeping with Plato’s Noble Lie agenda, aiming to use the Gospels to initiate newcomers into a secret mystery philosophy religion, in line with the traditional secrecy of such groups. However, the political context was that the Roman Empire was unwilling to allow secret philosopher kings. The church and state completely suppressed and distorted the actual Gnostic origins of Christianity, condemning all such discussion as heresy. Working with the empire in a successful alliance of altar and throne, the church replaced its original Gnostic Christian philosophy with the literal orthodox dogmas that achieved such enduring support throughout Christendom. So, we have an origin of Christianity in high philosophy, as a new paradigm of history completely at odds with received opinion.
Extensive similarities between the Gospels and the works of Homer support this Platonic Gnostic hypothesis. Studies by Dennis R. MacDonald, including The Gospels and Homer (2014), show how the Gospels drew on Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. This demonstration of Greek sourcing helps also to place the Gospels in the old secret oral tradition of knowledge as the source of power described in The Memory Code, a tradition that was overwhelmed by the structures of civilization.
The hypothesis of a Platonic Gnostic precessional origin for the Gospels coheres with the Christian idea of cosmic reason or ‘logos’ incarnating in the world as Jesus Christ. The theme of logos as embodied reason in Christ is a focus of Christian theology, and draws from the Greek Pre-Socratic philosophy tradition of logos as the eternal unifying word of the cosmos. The Old Testament prophet Amos says at 4:13 that Christ is the mind of God causing the cycle of day into night. In the New Testament, John 1 describes logos as the word made flesh, and the Pauline Letter to the Colossians says through Christ all things hold together. Rev 15:3 calls Christ the King of Ages. Such ideas present God as cosmic order, manifest on earth in the person of Christ.
This Christology of Christ as pre-existent Cosmic Reason coheres directly with ancient knowledge of precession of the equinoxes in a highly consistent and explanatory way, premised on Christ as allegory for the sun and seeing precession as an eternal astronomical logic. The ancient unity of astronomy and religion was organised by the hermetic principle of the Lord’s Prayer ‘on earth as in heaven’. This vision of history as reflecting the stars explains the motive for seeing the slow movement of the solar equinox point against the stars as the basis for mythological prediction. This hypothesis provides a simple and elegant explanation of Christian origins, and a sufficient basis for a scientific approach to Christian faith. The Gospel of Mark set the incarnation of Christ in the time of Pilate in order to accord with the visual observation of the stellar precession of the position of the sun at the start of the solar year into Pisces.
Cosmic reason appears as a key theme in Plato’s Republic in his allegory of the sun as the symbol of logic. Socrates calls the sun the “child of goodness”, proposing that just as the sun illuminates, bestowing the ability to see and be seen, so the idea of goodness illumines the intelligible with truth. There are many points at which Jesus Christ serves as a similar logical analogy for the sun, for example in John’s ideas that Jesus is the source of light and life, and in the passion story of dying and rising as metaphor for the solar cycles of the day and the year. There are therefore strong grounds to see Mark’s Gospel as a practical product of the agenda presented by Plato in The Republic, constructing a new coherent myth of the world-soul based on precession, aiming to gain mass appeal in order to enable philosophers to rule the world.
If Christianity originated in Platonism in this secret solar symbolism, then the entire traditional framework of the growth of the early church from a man called Jesus of Nazareth is revealed as symbolic fiction, as an imaginative answer to the question of what the messiah would have done if he had actually lived, and of how messianic images can be presented in human terms. The Gospels indicate this hidden symbolic agenda when they state that everything Jesus says to the public is a parable while ‘the secrets of the kingdom’ are reserved for initiates.
A principal anomaly in the paradigm of literal Christianity is that the town of Nazareth did not exist until well after the time of Pilate, as far as reliable archaeology can show, as documented by Rene Salm. Drawing from the hypothesis that Jesus was invented, the most plausible reason for Mark to say Jesus came from Nazareth is as political cover for the Nazarene and Nazirite Gnostic sects in Israel who were under pressure from Rome for sedition. Saying Nazarene meant “from Nazareth” rather than “member of the Nazarenes” could have provided an effective deflection when persecutors sought to suppress the early secret society that later became the Christian church.
Mark’s descriptions of Jesus as the Nazarene make no sense if they mean one from Nazareth. For example at Mark 14:67 a servant girl says Peter was with the Nazarene, but such language was completely unknown at that time as meaning a person from Nazareth, which was not mentioned as a town in any lists from Galilee until centuries later. Similarly, the angel in the tomb at Mark 16:6 calls Jesus the Nazarene, implying a far broader meaning than a person from an unknown hamlet. The description at Luke 4:16 of a synagogue at Nazareth is completely impossible.
The fictional origin of Jesus means that Gnostic imagination preceded orthodox literal faith as the basis of the story, reversing the popular assumption that the orthodox gospel ideas came before any Gnostic movement. The original Christian ideas were Gnostic, grounded in the integration of Greek philosophy and astronomy with Jewish prophecy and other traditions. The orthodox belief in the literal truth of the Gospels therefore only emerged as a corrupted political degeneration of a high Gnostic philosophy that was suppressed, forgotten, ignored and denied. The Gnostic origin of Christianity is what the Gospels and Psalms call the stone the builder rejected that will become the cornerstone, and what Isaiah 53 called the despised and rejected man of sorrows.
An implication of this hidden Platonic Gnostic origin for the Gospels is that writings now seen as representing Gnostic thought are only a shadow of the original high tradition that produced the Gospels and was then destroyed. The Platonic secret mystery philosophy was transmitted only from mouth to ear, with the written text serving as prompter and camouflage for the oral instruction. This traditional secret method of transmission of sacred knowledge is abundantly documented in other initiatory traditions. The secrecy proved almost completely vulnerable when attacked by a suppressing state religion armed with pen and sword.
The existence and nature of such an ancient precessional cosmology at the centre of Christian origins can be extracted from the surviving documents of the New Testament, explaining the most plausible way these texts could have come into existence. The Platonic theme of God as the orderly nature of the cosmos revealed in precession is the best explanation of the traces of the introductory ideas in the Gospels. We can only begin to understand how knowledge of precession influenced ancient culture by recognising the coherence of the argument that Jesus Christ was invented as a symbolic anointed messiah and avatar of the Age of Pisces.
If Jesus was in fact a fictional invention, then the general belief that he was a real person is a primary example of the susceptibility of human psychology to persuasive suggestion on a mass scale. This precessional interpretation is a way to help reform Christianity to be more honest and evidence-based, aiming for a coherent account of what the founders meant by seeing Jesus as representing God in the world. Part of the problem of cultural change described as the fall from grace into corruption includes how popular thought can be swayed by comforting delusional memes, with the pervasive willingness to believe myths such as the historical existence of Jesus Christ.
The precession code behind the Gospels and the Apocalypse appears to have been almost entirely lost from view, apart from concealed knowledge among artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, as discussed below. The principle that the Bible encodes a deeper truth of cosmic order was also glimpsed by adherents of literal Christianity, but acceptance of dogmatic faith diverted writers such as Sir Isaac Newton from seeing the symbolic intent and meaning. The scale of paradigm shift in recognising that the Gospels are fiction while seeing their original high message is immense.
The explicit evolution of Christianity to meet contemporary needs now requires open discussion about the possibility that the Gospels are entirely fictional, as a basis for a new reformation of Christian faith to cohere with reason. This hypothesis that Jesus was invented as a precessional myth labours under heavy social taboos, especially regarding the core role of ancient astrology in defining the identity of Christ as an idealised human reflection of the movement of the stars. Such ideas are shocking and unbelievable to those who have grown up into Christian belief. These ideas have few avenues for open discussion. Yet this recognition of the primacy of symbolic meaning provides the most compelling and elegant scientific hypothesis of the truth of Christian origins, part of the transformative new paradigm built around precession of the equinox.
Robert Tulip

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Robert Tulip Comments on New York Times Article ‘Losing Earth’ Nathaniel Rich

Losing Earth by Nathaniel Rich is an elegy for the inability of the emission reduction movement to slow global warming. The article is an interesting political history of climate activism, but in my view it fails in the core task of policy guidance, failing to address the potential of carbon removal, the security dimension of climate change or the inherent difficulties of emission reduction. These problems illustrate that the barriers to climate action are primarily political, not technical, due to the pervasive assumption that emission reduction is the only means to achieve the goal of climate stability.

The ideology at play in this major New York Times report is that emission reduction is the only real solution to climate change. Any alternative is presented in a negative light, even though information about alternatives is available. Rich relies on James Hansen’s argument that carbon removal would cost trillions of dollars, without any indication that focussed research might cut that bill by orders of magnitude.

Climate change is the primary security problem facing our planet, posing threats of creating many millions of climate refugees and destroying crop yields, with potential to cause famine, war and extinction by tipping earth into a new hothouse stability. Unfortunately, emission reduction cannot stop or even markedly slow climate change, and has manifestly failed as a solution. The inability of emission reduction to solve climate change is shown by the fact that the Paris Accord will at best only slow CO2 growth by 10%. That result is like slowing the speed of an invading army by 10%, only briefly delaying the inevitable path to defeat.

Rich writes that “at the start of the 1980s… if the world had adopted … a freezing of carbon emissions, with a reduction of 20 percent by 2005 — warming could have been held to less than 1.5 degrees.” Here we get the first hints of the intractability of carbon emissions, and how Rich seems to represent a widespread political denial about this intractability. There is no way that countries like India and China will deny energy to the poor to address warming, but Rich appears to slight the aspiration of billions of poor people for access to affordable and reliable grid energy, suggesting a light bulb in every village would drastically increase emissions. The unfortunate political reality is that even an emission freeze is unenforceable, let alone cuts of the speed and scale that would be needed to impact climate. The general public sympathise with emission reduction until they see the costs, leaving such transformative visions incompatible with democratic governance.

Rich maintains the illusion that “a broad international consensus had settled on a solution: a global treaty to curb carbon emissions.” This alleged consensus confuses elite negotiations with popular support. The syndrome at play here is to ignore how the Paris treaty engages in spin and lies. The failure of the global treaty path is vividly displayed by Rich’s conversation with George Bush’s Chief of Staff John Sununu, who bluntly explained why the ‘global treaty emperor’ has no clothes: a global treaty “couldn’t have happened because the leaders in the world… were all looking how to seem like they were supporting the policy without having to make hard commitments that would cost their nations serious resources.”

This observation of political duplicity is a central point whose implications seem lost on some climate activists. Climate treaties are all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas. When governments enter negotiations only for appearances, UN talks are a waste of time. Signing agreements based on electoral calculations, with no intention to honour their pledges, makes the Paris Accord a Big Lie. The big lie is that Paris committed to the two degree limit, even though the actual pledges lead to four degrees. The so-called ratchet mechanism to ramp up decarbonisation will only prove a political noose.

Climate science failed to gain political traction for reasons explained by the author of a major US climate report in 1983. Paraphrasing, Rich says the official view from the report ‘Changing Climate’ was “better to bet on American ingenuity to save the day. Major interventions in national energy policy, taken immediately, might end up being more expensive, and less effective, than actions taken decades in the future, after more was understood about the economic and social consequences of a warmer planet.”

Rich invites the reader to share his contempt for this policy line, but I am not so sure. Climate scientists have done a great job in explaining the causes of warming, but have not proven up to the task of explaining what to do about it. The rush to focus on emission reduction as the sole climate response has crowded out more considered strategic reflection on how to fix the climate using technological ingenuity.

Fixing pollution can work either by limiting the source or by cleaning up the results, like in sanitation. Global warming is settled science, but the science is far from settled about effective responses, leaving the world highly insecure in the face of major perils. My view is the key strategy will be large scale industrial carbon mining aiming to convert carbon waste into productive assets, including methods that employ the scale, energy and resources of the world oceans. Unfortunately the dominance of emission reduction in the climate debate leaves little oxygen or resources for such innovative discussion.

Advocacy of emission reduction has the perverse effect of making climate an issue of political polarisation. People who are against radical social and economic transformation are hardened in their resistance, seeing climate action as part of a suite of progressive policies, together with other left wing causes like population control, gay marriage, abortion, wealth redistribution, etc. Conservatives who deplore these reforms, whatever their merits, see emission reduction mainly as a way to increase the intrusion of the state into private life, and are therefore highly suspicious of the motives and agenda of the scientific community and its allies. This toxic mistrust makes effective progress almost impossible.

Scientific debate about what will work to stop global warming is as much a question of political science as of physical science. If the political science indicates that a suggested physical strategy will face insurmountable cultural obstacles to implementation, the scientific requirement should be to investigate alternatives. The depth of political opposition to effective emission reduction is illustrated by Sununu’s statement quoted above about the duplicity of political commitment. Opponents have restricted decarbonisation to a token level, while ignorant anti-science denial of climate change grows louder by the day. Against this pessimistic context, the alternative strategy of carbon removal holds out the prospect of helping to depoliticise global warming. Through a strategy of climate restoration, carbon removal stands a good chance of gaining investment from economic and political partners who will not actively support emission reduction, working in concert with dominant prevailing incentives.

Scientific consensus on the greenhouse effect is not matched by consensus on what to do about warming. Instead there is scientific arrogance in the assertion that a global treaty is the best way to fix the climate. The science of politics suggests that political agreements on emission reduction are a dead-end street, assigning too central a role to government intervention in the economy. Instead of decarbonising the economy, a better approach is a long-term focus on removing carbon from the air combined with a short-term focus on reflecting more sunlight. These climate restoration strategies may prove the only way to prevent dangerous tipping points, in view of the strong likelihood of generating accelerating feedback processes.

Emission reduction is needed for pollution control and economic efficiency, but Rich’s assumption that cutting emissions must be central to climate security is debatable. With the total expected emission reduction under the Paris Accord about 5 GT CO2e/y, no emission reduction at all would be needed if carbon removal can develop methods that remove ten times as much carbon as Paris. His article reflects how the debatable focus on decarbonisation has hardened into a political mythology. In accepting secular climate myths, Rich ignores some basic mathematics of climate change. First there is the 10% problem of Paris, that it only addresses 10% of the expected emission growth, a problem which cannot possibly be addressed by doubling down on emission reduction. Second, the key climate security equation is that the only way to put the world on a path back to climate stability is to remove more carbon from air and sea than total emissions. That implication may seem horrifying for the Paris crowd to contemplate, but the global security problems are too serious to allow the unworkable strategies of decarbonisation to dominate the debate on climate change.

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The Harsh Arithmetic of the Paris Accord

This chart comparing business as usual to climate goals from the New York Times shows that all Paris pledges by 2030 will only cut annual world emissions by less than 10%. As such, Paris emission reduction pledges should be seen as no more than ‘icing on the cake’, with the body requiring carbon removal.
BAU/Paris/2 degree CO2 projections
The key numbers are roughly as follows.
• By 2100, humans will have added about 6000 gigatons of carbon dioxide to the air.
• By 2030, the Paris Accord if fully implemented will have reduced the total addition by 60 gigatons of CO2, about five gigatons per year.
• This Paris goal removes about 1% of the total carbon addition, and if continued at the same rate to 2100 would avoid addition of about 5% of the total added carbon.
• A result of 5% is marginal to the scale of the problem, creating high risks of dangerous tipping points.
• The difficult politics and precedents and trajectories around the Paris Accord indicate that even this marginal result could only be achieved with great difficulty.
• By contrast, Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies such as Iron Salt Aerosol or large scale ocean based algae production offer potential to remove 100% of the added carbon, at far lower unit cost and faster speed than any emission reduction methods.

The 60 GT total reduction under the Paris Accord (about 1% of the 6000 GT projected cumulative emissions by 2100) is supported by an article in Scientific American, which states: “The planet’s current policies put it on a trajectory to emit carbon dioxide at a rate between 58 and 62 gigatons in 2030. Pledges under the Paris Agreement would bring that down [by about five GT per year] to a range between 52 and 57 gigatons of carbon dioxide.”

trillionthtonne.org at Oxford University that says with 3 degrees of warming there will be 5500 GT of CO2 (=1.5 GT carbon) by 2050. 6000 GT by 2100 is well within business as usual. Global CO2 emissions forecast to 2100 Figure 4 shows cumulative emissions reaching 6000 GT this century under all population scenarios.

In assessing climate restoration, an important starting point is to be guided more by science than politics. Accepting current political opinions as binding constraints is a recipe for climate failure. This is particularly so in regard to the balance between emission reduction and carbon removal. This balance should first be assessed on a scientific basis, in order to work out if the prevailing assumption of the primacy of emission reduction is well grounded in evidence.

If the unit cost through carbon dioxide removal technologies is orders of magnitude less than through emissions reduction, as appears the case, it is crazy and self-defeating to insist on emission reduction for purely political reasons.

Gaining acceptance for climate restoration will only work with a viable scientific and political case. Climate restoration requires analysis of constraints and opportunities. The entire concept of climate restoration faces political and cultural blockages, both from defenders of the old economy and from proponents of emission reduction as the sole climate strategy. Sometimes the barriers are hidden, or activities which seem beneficial may prove unhelpful. The ability of the Paris Accord to realise its warming targets is impossible while it focuses on the marginal factor of emissions.

A big question is the balance between carbon removal and emission reduction for achieving a healthy climate. The mathematics shows emission reduction is marginal, even though at present it is central to climate politics. Addressing constraints to implementation requires discussion about the political economy of climate restoration, identifying which groups are possible allies or opponents, how strong and influential are their views, resources, incentives and alliances, and what the implications of working with them might be for achieving the restoration goal.

My analysis of the debate suggests the Paris Agreement is mired in confusion about how to reach the 1.5 target, or even the two degree target.
UNEP November 2017 Emissions Gap Report says “current state pledges cover no more than a third of the emission reductions needed, creating a dangerous gap, which even growing momentum from non-state actors cannot close. This report highlights the dangers of that gap, the issues behind it and the means at our disposal to close it.” My reading is that this UNEP report fails in this objective of showing how to close the gap, largely ignoring the central need for a shift of policy to focus on R&D for oceanic carbon removal. The problem is that we cannot ‘close the gap’ by speeding up emission reduction, since neither the politics, the economics or the physics make that a feasible strategy.

The UNFCCC meeting in Bonn in May 2017 appears to have failed to address any practical measures to reach the 1.5 target, with no sessions discussing carbon removal.

There is no convincing rebuttal of the US government observations that all Paris commitments would have only marginal impact on temperature. In fact, the only thing that will cut temperature rise is taking out the excess carbon already in the air, but that is barely on the IPCC agenda.

The statement that emission reduction could be marginal is an incentive for effective large-scale action in cooperation with industry. The key argument is about the moral hazard of carbon dioxide removal. The perceived hazard is that CDR on a scale comparable to total emissions would remove all political pressure and much ecological/climate need for emission reduction and would thereby serve fossil fuel interests.

But why is that necessarily bad? The moral hazard opposition to carbon removal can be questioned for confusing means with ends. Emission reduction is not an end in itself, but only a means to achieve climate restoration.

The goal of climate policy is a safe and stable climate, but the focus just on emission reduction can only achieve results that are too small to achieve that goal. By making the attack on the fossil fuel industry central, the climate lobby generates political opposition, as seen in Mr Trump, and also prevents focus on carbon removal.

If fossil fuel industries could cooperate with carbon removal at scale, recognising that they are likely (BP Energy Outlook) to provide most energy for the next decades, we could get on a realistic path to solve the global warming problem.

The contrasting reasoning, against the moral hazard arguments, is that cooperating with affected industries to identify practical ways to remove carbon at large scale could achieve far more than the 5GT per year of CO2 reduction planned under the Paris Accord.

It is not easy to calculate the economics of CO2 removal. Apollo/Manhattan scale research to develop new innovative Carbon Dioxide Removal technology may even find that CDR can be profitable, with high economic return.

My view is that the best methods of CO2 removal will prove to be around large scale ocean based algae production, building upon both NASA’s OMEGA project and the new refinement of Ocean Iron Fertilization using Iron Salt Aerosol to distribute iron at very low concentration via the troposphere, mimicking the principal ice age cooling agent of dust feedback.

These methods could become profitable due to the potential for algae to provide commercial products such as food, feed, fish, fuel, fabric and fertilizer, and the benefits of a cooler ocean, including direct benefits for industries including insurance, shipping, tourism, fishing, finance and mining, who should all have a solid business investment case for safe and efficient carbon removal. The profit would then fund rapid expansion and refinement.

The stumbling block, however, is the moral hazard argument mounted by the climate lobby, that such industry partnerships undermine emission reduction. Unfortunately, exclusive focus on emission reduction advocacy now looks like a ‘dog in the manger’, preventing innovative research and development of safe and profitable methods of climate restoration.

The benefits of renewable energy for economic efficiency and a clean environment are massive and should be celebrated and expanded. However, these superb results have been oversold as a climate solution. If the Paris Accord results only in the removal of about 5GT of CO2 per year as projected by 2030, or even double that projection, clean energy will remain marginal to climate restoration, which requires a higher order of magnitude of carbon removal.

We need immediate investment in carbon removal technology to prevent dangerous climate tipping points, especially in sensitive location such as the Arctic and the Great Barrier Reef.

To make a banking analogy, carbon emissions have put the world heavily in debt, but the Paris Accord is not even paying back the interest, let alone the principal. We may pray that our debts should be forgiven, but the reality is that mortgagee repossession is looming quickly. And doubling down on emission reduction won’t work. A completely different strategy is needed, with carbon removal as the new paradigm for climate restoration.

I give no value to IPCC review processes because I have seen little evidence of sincere engagement by governments with the need for carbon removal for climate restoration. The main driver of ascendancy for renewables is unfortunately the mass delusion that emission reduction could be decisive for climate restoration.

Robert Tulip

_________________
http://rtulip.net

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The Precessional Structure of Time

In this essay, I seek to explain the connection between astronomy and mythology as the basis for a new paradigm.

Table of Contents
Overview 1
The Physics of Precession 2
Precession and Climate 3
Earth and the Solar System 6
Zodiac Ages 6
Precession, Gas Giant Planets and The Solar System Centre of Mass 7
Fourier Transform Decomposition of Solar System Barycentre Wave Function 11
The House of the Age 12
Thematic Principle of the New Age of Aquarius 13
Dynamic Structure of The Age of Pisces 14
Precession and Evolution 15
Precession in Myth and Culture 15
Precession and Man-Made Climate Change 17
Precession and Christianity 18
Indian Sources of Western Precession Myth 20
Platonic Origins of The Christ Precession Story 22
Precession Encoded in Art: Leonardo’s Last Supper 29
The Age of Aquarius 31

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why do we put negative emissions last in line for implementation?

This question should be the central question in climate politics. However, the failure to address negative emissions in public debate illustrates a failure of human psychology. The main problem is an inability to discuss the evidence that should inform public policy when the evidence conflicts with widely held assumptions. When people feel a crisis may be overwhelming they tend to only tinker at the edges, unable to engage strategically with the big picture.

To achieve the two degree target, let alone the 1.5° aspiration of the Paris Accord, the world must remove about 6000 GT of CO2e from the air this century. However, the emission reduction plans presented at Paris would remove less than 1% of this stability target, reducing total carbon level by only 60GT of CO2e over its implementation period to 2030.

That disparity between means and ends means that all the achievements of Paris are essentially useless for climate stability. We have a broken paradigm. But worse, the emission reduction achievements are harmful to the climate, because they deflect attention and investment from strategies aimed at the other 99% of the stability requirement, which can only be achieved by physical removal of carbon from the air in much larger quantity than total addition.

Why is the policy framework so fractured? To answer that difficult question requires analysis of climate politics. People tend to see scientific questions through a political prism. There is no question that climate science is settled, but that does not at all imply that the science is settled on climate response, the priorities of addressing global warming.

Attitudes about what to do reflect people’s values and commitments, and in these areas, people are tribal. Concern about environment and climate is primarily on the left side of the political spectrum, while support for fossil fuel extraction is mainly on the right side of the spectrum. The unfortunate results of this polarity include that people develop tribal attitudes about the moral worth of opposing political positions. We are all aware of the crazy denial of science from right wingers. The climate lobby has also formed a strong political ideology, centred on the false idea that emission reduction is the main climate agenda.

What is wrong with that? It confuses the means and the ends. Emission reduction is justified in political ideology by the fallacy that it is the only way to achieve the end of climate stability. However, as I explained above, the numbers show it won’t work. The real ‘terrifying new math’ of global warming is that everything we can do to reduce emissions will still leave the amount of carbon in the air remorselessly increasing. In paradigm terms, that is called an anomaly. But rather than explore this logic without emotion, the tendency is to double down and treat the supposed means as an end in itself.

Symptoms of this confusion include first, the belief that attacking fossil fuels is central to stopping climate change, even though many countries will continue to use emitting energy at high level regardless of climate agreements. The election of Trump shows the capacity of climate politics to mobilise reaction, illustrating that attacks on fossil fuels will encounter vigorous opposition.

Second, the IPCC, as the home of climate ideology, has apparently defined climate mitigation as only achieved through emission reduction, even though emission reduction does almost nothing to mitigate climate change. The real priority for mitigating climate change should be carbon removal.

Third, and worst, there is a widespread attitude among climate activists, whether overt or covert, that actions to insure against climate change by removing carbon from the air should be opposed because they undermine political pressure to achieve emission reduction. Questioning emission reduction is as politically deplorable as questioning gay marriage.

The sad fact is the means has completely displaced the end in climate politics. The result is that it seems the climate movement is more concerned about building a popular left wing political front against fossil fuels, based on the failed emission reduction paradigm, than actually stopping climate change. It is as though the old political battles of the last century between socialism and capitalism have subconsciously been used as the map for climate politics.

Unfortunately, this focus on political conflict is a recipe for disastrous ongoing warming. It is even possible the fossil fuel industries and their allies could install military governments in some countries if elected governments insisted on policies that would shut them down. Meanwhile the sixth extinction marches on, with the collapse of planetary biodiversity and extreme risks to economic and climate stability.

My view is that this conflict on climate policy can be overcome if carbon removal is accepted as a strategy for a unified approach, presenting ways for fossil fuel industries to work in cooperation with climate science by investing money, resources, skills and political support in carbon removal, with a main focus on marine biology.

If new technology can be developed that can remove more carbon from the air than total emissions, emissions can continue, and there is no need for emission reduction. That would even mean the stock price of coal could be sustained.

Negative Emission Technology is last in line because it undermines emission reduction and destroys the political strategy of a popular front against fossil fuels, both of which are considered more important by the climate lobby than actually doing anything about global warming.

Robert Tulip

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Geostorm Movie Review

Geostorm
In watching an action fantasy world apocalypse movie like Geostorm, a temptation for the cynical can be to just see the surface appearance. First a village mysteriously freezes solid in an instant in Afghanistan, then the streets of Hong Kong erupt in flaming explosions sending skyscrapers collapsing like dominoes while a driver miraculously escapes through the rippling volcanic chasms opening around him. And next the bikini babes on Copacabana turn to blocks of ice as a super cold front somehow pushes a tsunami onto the Rio beachfront.
The cause of the disasters is problems with geoengineering satellites deployed in 2019. But is this just a programming malfunction? If not, who are the baddies who have sabotaged the world weather management system run by the USA? Why and how did they do it, and how can they be stopped? Who is the rogue on board the geoengineering space station? Will the clock that he started tick down to zero, causing a geostorm, a fiery end to life on earth? Will the US President die in the robot car chase through massive lightning bolts hitting every second? Will the hero return from exile, and will he survive on the space station? Will his brother get the girl? Which city is next?
Such plot details are classic Hollywood formula. This movie combines amazing disaster scenes, excellent visuals and production, a strong simple plot, a vivid range of characters and great acting into a gripping thriller. Geostorm is full of tension and drama and surprise and new ideas down to the wire. It is a worthy popular successor to Independence Day and Godzilla, which were both also produced by the Geostorm producer/director Dean Devlin.
Geostorm deserves to be a smash hit for a serious reason though. This movie makes an important and well considered contribution to advancing policy debate on response to climate change. The question raised at the start is how to address the threat that global warming could destroy the world economy. This explicitly raises the need for urgent concerted technological response to avert catastrophe, since previous methods focused on emission reduction have failed.
The movie deliberately chooses an impossible geoengineering technology, aiming to blend the topical ideas of weather management and space travel to create a science fiction fantasy. But the parable is equally applicable to realistic geoengineering proposals, ranging from solar radiation management to large scale ocean based algae production for carbon mining. Any large scale climate intervention needs proper risk management if it is to help forestall the impending climate impacts.
In a nod to human corruption, the plot raises the risk of weaponizing a peaceful technology, evoking the failed military Star Wars Initiative idea of death from the skies. And recognising human fallibility, Geostorm asks if this magical system installed by technological geniuses at the last minute will become like Goethe’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, producing uncontrollable and unforeseen damage.
The movie explores the real risk of whether a technological fix to mitigate extreme weather could be built too quickly under political imperatives. The need to respond to weather events that destroy whole cities could mean decisions will be made by politicians who will not take on board the best information. The rapid deployment then opens the unsettling policy risks of how such a system could be corrupted and misused for political motives, how it could sideline the high ideals of global scientific cooperation in favour of national or commercial interests. And then, with the process already compromised, could the resulting security gaps, political appointments and weak governance systems risk manipulation by criminals who don’t have a clue about the science of what they are doing, and who lack concern about the scale of damage they might cause?
The need for geoengineering means these issues should already be big questions in world politics today. Unfortunately they are not, because the dominant attitude is that if we ignore or deny climate change or only accept unworkable responses the problem will go away. With CO2 level continuing to grow apace, the risk is that far from going away, the problems will go awry.
Emission reduction alone cannot hold temperature rise this century below four degrees Celsius, so technological fixes are essential. Putting on an alarmist hat, it seems possible that failure to deploy geoengineering could even make the current sixth world extinction event rival the mass death that ended the Permian Age 252 million years ago. That seems to be the partly unconscious apocalyptic worry driving popular interest in movies like Geostorm.
Geoengineering is absolutely necessary and urgent for climate stability. We need world leaders to take up the ideas implied by this movie, through large scale funding of lab and field trials looking to select and deploy systems that will stabilise and repair the climate as a primary global security concern.
A bunch of reviews are at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/geostorm/, but as you might expect from the usual foolish cynics writing in popular media, they have no eye for the meaning of this movie. They wrongly see it only through a surface movie industry lens without caring about its meaning and purpose for core ethical problems facing humanity. Geostorm raises major existential concerns of our age in an accessible popular way. It should be celebrated and debated as a major event. Geostorm could help achieve the political tipping point we need to deploy geoengineering systems with sound governance, reversing the current path towards mass extinction and economic and social displacement and collapse in favour of practical methods to stabilise the global climate.
Robert Tulip

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Book Review: The Case Against Sugar

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes
https://www.amazon.com/Case-Against-Sugar-Gary-Taubes/dp/0307701646

Here is my review, posted at Amazon. (link)

This book tells the tale of the scientific paradigm shift from blaming fat to blaming sugar as the main cause of disease. The noncommunicable lifestyle illnesses of modern sedentary society include diabetes, cancer, heart attack, hypertension, tooth decay, obesity, gout and senility. Sugar is the main culprit for the epidemic explosion of these conditions in recent years. The science behind this discovery, and the social failure to see and address it, is laid out by Gary Taubes in forensic detail. It is a story of grand corruption and stupidity, both moral and political. The sugar industry, hand in glove with its close partner the tobacco industry, has systematically deceived and suborned public health in its pursuit of filthy lucre, at massive avoidable cost in health expenditure and quality of life.

Starting with the key role of sugar in slavery, Taubes explains how the depravity continued with the key role of sugar in making cigarettes so pleasant and addictive by enabling easy inhalation of their smoke. Gross conflict of interest was then allowed by government, allowing so-called scientists paid by the sugar industry to systematically deny and conceal the ghastly and obvious criminal role of sugar in driving avoidable suffering. Like drug pushers, the sugar industry has tried to hook its addicts when young, for example with the lying portrayal of breakfast cereals as health foods, while concealing the scale and effect and coordination of its assault on our health.

The toxic cocktail of Coca-Cola and cigarettes given to American servicemen in World War Two was one example of Big Sugar’s cynical marketing exercise that destroyed health while repaying the advertising investment many times. The marketing of high sugar foods as “healthy” should be a criminal offence. Its continued occurrence shows how badly our politics are corrupted by money and stupidity.

For decades, sugar pushers promoted the baseless false claim that dietary fat is the main cause of bad health, a message enabled by direct conflict of interest for sugar industry employees making decisions on public policy. Without the sugar industry corrupting the research, the false theory that eating saturated fat is bad would have been destroyed long ago. Like the astoundingly impudent attack by the sugar industry on artificial sweeteners, Big Sugar’s war on fat has been a Big Lie. They have successfully displaced sugar’s own cancerous effects, seen in how insulin causes metabolic syndrome, onto innocent products such as saccharine and cyclamate.

As Taubes well explains, sugar and fat are digested very differently, meaning sugar causes diabetes and other noncommunicable conditions while dietary fat does not. The sugar industry has exploited the comfort food factor of its sweet poison, keying into our instinctive desires, while purveying the false but seductive psychological message that eating fat makes you fat. This whole dietary nutrition paradigm of fat restriction is wrong, and has been completely overturned in recent years.

As with other scientific paradigm shifts, those who have vested interests in the old false theory will not give up without a fight, and will remain in denial. [i]The Case Against Sugar[/i] is a brilliant summation of the urgent need for dietary change, in the face of the concerted industrial assault that Big Sugar has waged on human health, and the great difficulty of removing its damage.

We can only hope that the information here leads to immediate policy changes of the same type that have been applied to tobacco. Governments should ban companies from advertising sugar products as healthy. They should increase tax on sugar, place health warnings on poisonous sugar drinks, and stop so-called health bodies from promoting sugar. More generally, the public must be informed that the fleeting pleasure of sweetness, especially in sugary drinks, comes at immense price to our health, happiness and prosperity.

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Lecture on Aion by Carl Jung

Link to text R Tulip Lecture to the Canberra Jung Society on the book Aion by Carl Jung 5 May 2017

Opening Paragraphs

Aion – Toward a Gnostic Reformation
Robert Tulip
Canberra Jung Society, 5 May 2017
In his book Aion – Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self, Carl Jung analysed archetypes of the collective unconscious against the identity of Jesus Christ as a model of psychological wholeness, providing ideas about cultural transformation into a New Age. Building upon Christian traditions, Jung reinterpreted the Christ story through astronomy, examining how images of Jesus provide symbolic reflection of slow changes in the visible stars, with a focus on the archetype of the fish. Jung applied the old hermetic idea from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘on earth as in heaven’, to explore how Jesus symbolises eternal truths, aiming to develop a scientific psychology of religion rather than accepting any claims from traditional dogma. My reading of Aion is that Jung’s symbolic cosmology presents a pathway to a Gnostic Reformation of Christianity, pointing to a paradigm shift that uses knowledge to reconcile religion with logic and evidence. Aion investigates a radically different interpretation of Christian historical origins as primarily Gnostic and cosmological.
An archetype is a pattern with strong symbolic meaning in human life. Archetypes can include common patterns of character, action, situation and art. The universal symbols emerging in archetypes are not generally understood, and can exercise social power through popular resonance in concealed unconscious ways. In Aion, Jung applied methods of analytical psychology to uncover hidden meanings in powerful collective symbols of Christian religion, aiming to bring unconscious spiritual tendencies and energies out of the irrational realms of mythology and into conscious awareness. As an exercise in the philosophy of culture, Jung studied how widely shared experiences manifest in enduring rich archetypal forms of expression.
Aion explored “the myths that underlie Christianity and the whole of mythology as the expression of a universal disposition in humanity”. Jung saw symbolic archetypes of Christian faith, such as the Christian fish, the snake, the cross and the stone, as “complex thought-forms which [are] unconscious organizers of our ideas.” For Jung, archetypes and the collective unconscious come together in the person of Jesus Christ as “an ever-present archetype of wholeness”. As he explained in the Foreword, “the archetypal image of wholeness, which appears so frequently in the products of the unconscious, has forerunners identified very early with the figure of Christ.”

Discussion and further links https://www.booktalk.org/post162590.html

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Deep Ocean Water for Carbon Removal

Proposals to raise deep ocean water (DOW) to the surface as a climate mitigation technology have been criticised for producing warming. These problems may not arise if DOW is used for algae production with full recycling of nutrients.

Atmospheric consequences of disruption of the ocean thermocline, (Kwiatkowski et al 2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10 034016) found that artificial vertical mixing of ocean water for local cooling, such as in the proposed ‘Lovelock Pipes’, would actually produce wider warming, reversing the intended benefit. Any proposed applications of large scale ocean pumping to mitigate climate change would need to address the problems modelled by this and related studies.

In considering use of ocean pumping for large scale algae production, recycling of deep ocean nutrients may be a key method to address such problems. A recent scientific paper, Phosphorus and nitrogen recycle following algal bio-crude production via continuous hydrothermal liquefaction, ( Edmundson, S., Algal Research (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.algal.2017.07.016), explains how hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) to produce algae biocrude can separate and recycle the phosphorus and nitrogen in algae for ongoing reuse as fertilizer.

This finding could enable ocean based algae production to mitigate climate change by recycling oceanic phosphorus and nitrogen in combination with carbon dioxide mined from the air. Subject to modelling assessment, my hypothesis is that the climate benefit of efficient removal of carbon from the air in this way would outweigh any warming effects.

If nitrogen and phosphorus from deep ocean water are used to fertilize a contained algae pond at sea, and the algae is then converted to biocrude by HTL, then the finding that phosphorus and nitrogen in the algae can be separated from the biocrude enables continuous reuse of these nutrients. This changes the parameters for analysis of deep ocean water climate impact. Recycling of oceanic nutrients in algae farms presents a possible path to enable efficient mining of carbon from the air at scale.

If nutrients can be used in combination with atmospheric CO2 for ongoing repeat fertilization of the algae farm, this HTL nutrient separation process means DOW could potentially provide the nutrients required to grow algae on the scale needed to reverse global warming.

For algae factories at sea using HTL and recycling nutrients, my calculations of orders of magnitude are as follows.
· Ocean water below the thermocline has 3 micromoles of phosphate per litre, equal to 90 tonnes of phosphorus per cubic kilometre (per Sverdrup).
· The scale of carbon removal to reverse climate change requires removal of more than the ten gigatons of carbon in CO2 added to the air every year.
· To push back from the brink of possible climate tipping points, a reasonable goal is to remove twenty gigatons (petagrams) of carbon from the air every year (one gigaton of water has volume one cubic kilometre).
· Converting twenty gigatons of carbon from CO2 to hydrocarbons and other products for storage in stable useful form (plastic, soil, bricks, roads, etc) would require 172 million tonnes of phosphorus and 2.6 billion tonnes of nitrogen to grow algae at the Redfield Ratio (C:N:P=117:14:1).
· With complete retention of mined phosphorus and nitrogen via HTL, about two million cubic kilometres of water would need to be processed to obtain that amount of nutrient.

The attached diagram of a tidal pump may be one way to shift this volume of water. For the entire annual goal of 20gt of carbon, my estimate is that pumping arrays of 500,000 km2 located on continental shelves with twice daily tidal range 0.5 metres would take ten years to pump two million km3 of water to the surface, in order to mine the required amount of phosphorus and nitrogen from deep ocean water.

These nutrients would then be available for permanent recycling. This process would also deliver other useful dissolved minerals, and would continue indefinitely, enabling economic use of the vast dissolved mineral wealth of the seas. That scale of pumping operation is about 2% of the world continental shelf area as an eventual goal, and would depend on the availability of suitable locations, which in turn would depend on demonstrated environmental benefit. The algae farm area would be about six million km2, or 2% of the world ocean surface.

The use of hydrothermal liquefaction at such a scale would require innovative technology. HTL requires pressure equal to water pressure at two kilometres deep in the ocean, and temperature above 300°C, to make the algae cell wall break down to produce biocrude. The best way to subject algae slurry to such heat and pressure may be to pump it down to the deep ocean floor, and develop controlled automated sea floor systems for processing, as per the attached sketch. The feasibility of that method has not been assessed.

In summary, the demonstration that ‘Lovelock Pipes’ would have unforeseen warming effects does not mean raising DOW is unfeasible as a climate change response, and the ability to use HTL to recycle oceanic nutrients means that large scale ocean based algae production could be an effective method for carbon mining to deliver climate stability.

Robert Tulip

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River of Life

This sermon on the River of Life I delivered at Kippax Uniting Church on 24 September 2017, explaining how the River of Life in the Bible is a metaphor for the sun.

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