Rising greenhouse gases are causing roughly 380 Terawatts less heat to escape from the atmosphere. Result: the planet is warming. The warming due to the 16 Terawatts from waste heat produced by humans is tiny in comparison. If the demand for power grew to 5000 Terawatts, it would warm the planet by 3 °C.
If 9 billion people all became affluent at about $430,000 $100 million per person, then the energy utilization would reach the level of 5000 terawatts. The physics of energy production means that there will be waste heat.
NOTE – I made an error on my calculation of energy growth.
I was looking at 5000 trillion dollars and not 5000 terawatts. Assuming that GDP and energy stay mostly connected and that energy intensity improves at 1-2%, then at 1000 quadrillion economy and per capita $100 million each is where the 5000 terawatts would hit. The Al Gore / Romney examples would then hold where they have 7 big houses, cars and planes. Using 20 to 300 times the energy. Getting everyone to western per capita usage and wealth is say at 8 billion and $50K each or 400 trillion economy. 80 terawatts.
Everyone living in 4500 square foot homes. Say each person nine times richer and three times the energy usage and 300 terawatts (up to say 10 billion people).
Going to 15 to 20 times more. People driving around high performance mobile homes, living with ten 20,000 sf mansions, having yachts, going up to orbit and hypersonic travel around the world. That would be the level that it would take to get to 5000 terawatts with 10 billion people. Perhaps less per person if population went up to 30 billion people and they each were using tons of utility fog and 100 robots each.
It would be a significant restructuring of the world economy to strongly decouple power consumption from GDP. Energy intensity goes up with economic activity. The trend and correlation of energy intensity and wealth has been maintained for hundreds of years. There is a video below which shows the statistics over time.
China, India and Southeast Asia have been growing GDP by about 8% per year and increasing energy usage by about 6% per year. The level of wealth where even with clean energy civilization effects temperature will arrive sooner than many expect. This is another reason to aggressively pursue space colonization and / or to implement the Hall weather machine.
The Hall Weather Machine is a thin global cloud consisting of small transparent balloons that can be thought of as a programmable and reversible greenhouse gas because it shades or reflects the amount of sunlight that hits the upper stratosphere. These balloons are each between a millimeter and a centimeter in diameter, made of a few-nanometer thick diamondoid membrane. Each balloon is filled with hydrogen to enable it to float at an altitude of 60,000 to 100,000 feet, high above the clouds. It is bisected by an adjustable sheet, and also includes solar cells, a small computer, a GPS receiver to keep track of its location, and an actuator to occasionally (and relatively slowly) move the bisecting membrane between vertical and horizontal orientations. Just like with a regular high-altitude balloon, the heavier control and energy storage systems would be on the bottom of the balloon to automatically set the vertical axis without requiring any energy. The balloon would also have a water vapor/hydrogen generator system for altitude control, giving it the same directional navigation properties that an ordinary hot-air balloon has when it changes altitudes to take advantage of different wind directions at different altitudes.
By controlling a tenth of one percent of solar radiation is enough to force global climate in any direction we want. One percent is enough to change regional climate, and ten percent is enough for serious weather control.
Nearly all energy used for human purposes is dissipated as heat within Earth’s land–atmosphere system. Thermal energy released from non-renewable sources is therefore a climate forcing term. Averaged globally, this forcing is only +0.028 W m−2, but over the continental United States and western Europe, it is +0.39 and +0.68 W m−2, respectively. Here, present and future global inventories of anthropogenic heat flux (AHF) are developed, and parameterizations derived for seasonal and diurnal flux cycles. Equilibrium climate experiments show statistically-significant continental-scale surface warming (0.4–0.9°C) produced by one 2100 AHF scenario, but not by current or 2040 estimates. However, significant increases in annual-mean temperature and planetary boundary layer (PBL) height occur over gridcells where present-day AHF exceeds 3.0 W m−2. PBL expansion leads to a slight, but significant increase in atmospheric residence time of aerosols emitted from large-AHF regions. Hence, AHF may influence regional climate projections and contemporary chemistry-climate studies.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.