Forbes’s Gibbs on Cold Fusion Unintended Consequences

A new commentary by Forbes columnist Mark Gibbs looks at possible unintended consequences should cold fusion actually prove to be able to provide cheap and abundant energy.

He considers the consequence of vast amounts of waste heat created by cold fusion generators, and how that would lead to more pronounced urban heat islands which could lead to ecological instablility (e.g. more rats and mosquitos) and contribute to greater global climate change. Along with waste heat, would also come more light pollution, which can have harmful effects on ecosystems and human and animal health.

He also mentions that CF-driven desalination which would allow for potable water in arid places would also lead to the creation of millions of waste salt and mineral sites throughout the globe.

As with any new technology that appears on the scene, there’s no doubt that widespread cold fusion technology would present all kinds of new challenges to deal with. Gibbs mentions a few, and will certainly be others. Once the technology is widely accepted as being capable of changing the world energy picture, there will surely be much more public debate on the topics, and we will see how people in power will try to manage what could be a time of great upheaval.


  • Dan gitlin

    By far away the biggest impact would be on Russia, Venezuela, Middle East oil producing countries etc. The government and the money that fuels society would be shut off. I can imagine uprisings, turmoil, and wars. These countries have nothing but oil money keeping societies together.

    Coal exporting countries would be hammered first but oil wouldn’t be far behind once CF catches on enough for transport.

  • GreenWin

    “There is no likelihood that man can ever tap the power of the atom. The glib supposition of utilizing atomic energy when our coal has run out is a completely unscientific Utopian dream, a childish bug-a-boo.” Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize physicist, 1928

    “There will never be a mass market for motor cars – about 1,000 in Europe – because that is the limit on the number of chauffeurs available!” Spokesman for Daimler Benz

    “Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” Dr. Lee De Forest (inventor of the vacuum tube), 1957

    • Rockyspoon

      You could add the estimation about computers: Around 1946 it was estimated that the world would only need about 6 of them. I personally own 6 of them.

      But where Forbes’s Gibbs really falls down is in his evaluation of desalination with cold fusion. Typical desalination requires boiling the water followed by condensation of pure water. The remaining salts wouldn’t be stockpiled–they’d just be dumped back into the ocean where they belong to maintain the original balance as the distilled water eventually reaches the oceans again, typically through runoff.

      However, desalination with cold fusion wouldn’t boil the seawater–instead, it would irradiate the water and transform the salt minerals into other elemental species that would simply bubble off. This is a far more cost effective means of desalination than traditional methods.

      This novel idea was presented in a paper a few years back on the application of cold fusion to desalination.

      The fact that Gibbs doesn’t mention it indicates he hasn’t done much research into the subject.

  • tim walshaw

    What is the motive of an author from Forbes? Paid to slow things down? Worried about oil and coal investments?

    Those concerns are infinitesimally small compared to the consequences of global warming. It is now predicted by the World Bank that the global temperature will rise 4 degrees by the end of the century. We MUST reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Or ALL, rich or poor, will suffer, and big time.

    I ask, do the rich readers of Forbes want the lives of their children and grand-children to be put at risk, just because you are concrned about your financial losses?

    • Roger Bird

      Bull excrement. Since when is a bank an expert on climate change? As CO2 goes up, plant growth goes up, which brings CO2 down. Whatever happened to the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period; how come those inconvenient facts aren’t part of the hockey stick chart. And that graph that goes back 500,000 years showing the close relationship between CO2 and sea temperatures; it is impossible to tell if the rise in CO2 comes before or after the rise in sea temperatures; and warmer waters hold less CO2. So please take your group hysteria that you liberals love to wallow in and shove it.

      And when it has been warmer, the world was a better place. A little warming might do us some good. It is all about sun cycles. The climate never has been steady. It ALWAYS changes.

    • Rockyspoon

      That 4-degree estimate by the World Bank is based on erroneous data from the UN, which is pushing the “Global Warming” meme of control through Agenda 21, which means they tell you where to live, what to do, where to travel, and so forth.

      Tim, the earth’s temperature hasn’t warmed up for 16 years now, and scientists devoid of that disease I call “Global Warming Ideology” predict a cooling trend for the next 30 years or more. CO2 is beneficial to the biosphere (if an “environmentalist” tells you it isn’t he’s not a true environmentalist–he’s someone brainwashed with CAGW ideology).

      You really need to start reading outside of the box the UN and their media acolytes have put you in. You’ll find just about everything they’ve been telling you about global warming is a bunch of malarky (Exaggerated or foolish talk, usually intended to deceive).

      Me? I’m a geologist–one of those guys that studies the earth, including its atmosphere and temperature history. Climate scientists hate most geologists because we don’t buy their alarmism, as nobody should.

  • Roger Bird

    I notice that I am much more creative and productive when I am not sweating blood about the mortgage. I see the same thing in other people. All of these problems that Gibbs mentions will be easily handled when we free billions of people from having to scratch for the fulfillment of their needs.

  • http://www.replication-meyer.be.ma/ Stanislas Bauer

    Forbes…. we see from where comes the attack. He doesn’t dare to say the inconvenients for petrol majors… . let first the e-cat become available !

    • Mannstein

      Not to mention the speculators. In 2007-08 oil supply went up demand went down yet the price of a barrel increased to $150. In one remarkable day the price increased $25. It was a repeat of ENRON manipulating the price of electricity for California consumers. We are being ripped of by big bank speculators like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.

  • RichyRoo

    Greenies will be the biggest enemy of PFE; their high priests want control of energy.
    This is just the beginning.

    • Ben

      This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. It just doesn’t make any kind of basic sense. As a person who cares about the health of the environment, cold fusion would be a wonderful thing. No green house gases, no polution, so the “greenies” would be against it?

      • Roger Bird

        Ben, RickyRoo is insulting greenies as though they were just like him, wanting nothing but control and power. He can’t imagine that someone actually cares about the environment and has a lot of fun finding ways to save energy.

        • Rockyspoon

          “Greenies” are actually better described as “watermelons”–green on the outside, red on the inside. The “green” movement from the UN is not interested in actual environmental issues the layperson is concerned with; no, the UN with their Agenda 21 is interested in control and taxation.

          Look it up: Agenda 21.

          • Roger Bird

            But there are millions of greenies who are green because they are inspired to be green from the inside. I complained to my mother at the age of 5 that such-n-such was not natural (that was 62 years ago). I remember because she said that I sounded like that French philosopher Rousseau. To say that the green movement came from some jerk-wad in the UN is beyond absurd. I was a greenie 47 years ago; I bet that that UN jerk-wad wasn’t even born then. Just because you can find one guy who said one thing does not a movement make. You just can’t imagine that some people think that the Earth is beautiful and essential and want to preserve it.

            • Ivan Mohorovicic

              I don’t know in the US, but in EU most green parties/movements are clearly of leftist/socialist origin. This association is often quite blatant.

              While there surely are many people who do actually care for the environment among them, a great lot of their voters are people (“converted” from other political parties) who oppose wealth and the rich, and generally have an anti-west sentiment due to some widespread concern (misconception) that the West, or actually consumerism and capitalism, is the root cause of most world problems.

              Trying to lower the standards of living of wealthier others through taxation, disincentives and expensive/impractical, “green” measures is their essence of “being green”.

              • Roger Bird

                I agree 100%. But it is not a conspiracy. It is a way of thinking, what one might call right brain thinking, collective or group oriented, with a big influence from academia.

      • PersonFromPorlock

        There is a certain mindset where if a thing is bad, it needs government to control it; and if a thing is good, it needs government to apply it for the greatest benefit. Oddly enough, this mindset is often found among government workers and those who make money from government contracts.

        You may have noticed that Big Green (wind farms and so on) has its hand firmly stuck in the government pocket: I’m sure that soon it’ll be working to save us from the threat posed by uncontrolled LENR (if LENR is for real).

  • Omega Z

    Here’s a Possible Consequence to think about. C02 levels drop to low.

    We’ll have to pay a Carbon Tax in the Future. That’s to pay for the Drilling for Natural Gas to be burned in Flare Pipes to Raise the C02 Levels so Plants can Grow.

    • Roger Bird

      This could happen.

    • Rockyspoon

      Actually, what you describe happens during any of the 30 or more 100,000-year-long Ice Ages we’ve had in the past 5 million years. The CO2 level drops to about 185 ppmv in the atmostphere, which is baseline for most plants. The flora of the earth takes a big hit at that level of CO2 and pretty much stays there until it warms up and the ice melts, which takes us into an interglacial, the period we now live in.

      CO2 has increased from about 285 ppm to 395 ppm in the last hundred years or so, and plants are growing faster now than ever (trees are growing about 30% faster than they were 50 years ago). Additional CO2 makes it easier for plants to “breathe”, and in doing so their stomata don’t need to be so wide, so they lose less water; plants are doing better with less water everywhere now.

      For example, the Sahil, which is that strip of land just south of the Sahara in Africa, has been greening up over the past 40 years, and satellite photos from the ’70s show the drastic expansion of plants there.

      I suggest that someday as LENR is implemented on a mass scale, because our enlarged biosphere will start to consume the additional CO2 we’ve added through combustion of fossil fuels, governments may sponsor programs to extract more fossil fuels and burn them just to augment the CO2 in the atmosphere. That’s something those stuck on Global Warming dread, but by then it will be understood by everybody that Mann’s Hockey Stick was bogus; that the UN pushed CAGW to control and tax the industrialized West, and science will have refuted the political chains that those who believe in CAGW have imposed on the earth’s population.

      Oh wait–it’s happening already!

      • Roger Bird

        RickyRoo, I was with you exactly right on until we got to the UN conspiracy part. I find science types don’t understand human beings very well. It is most certainly true that those in the UN who wish to control (or even roll back) population growth would jump on AGW. That does not mean that they started the greenie movement or have a significant influence in the AGW movement. The biggest push came from liberals who love to wallow in group hysteria. And us clear thinking people never hold them to it. Please, with December 21st coming up, everyone, let us remind our liberal friends that the end of the world didn’t happen.

        I presume that CAGW means carbon based anthropogenic global warming.