Dumping light into space

Actually, I’ve been thinking a bit more about the 200% efficient LED I described last time. Maybe it can be a  solution to global warming after all.

The LED converts heat to light. Now, if one were to direct the light upwards, through the atmosphere and into space, it would escape the earth. Sure, it would eventually be absorbed somewhere, and warm the universe (and thus not break the second law of thermodynamics) but that makes it someone (or some-alien) else’s problem, not ours. (Dump the waste someplace else –  A very human way of looking at things).

Recall that the greenhouse effect works because the visible light from the sun passes through the atmosphere more easily than the infra-red light radiated by the earth. The more carbon dioxide, water vapour and methane in the atmosphere, the less easily infra-red energy is lost. Thus the earth captures the energy that is incident on it, but minimizes the energy that it loses. The earth wears, in effect, a one-way blanket. Energy can come in, but not out.

If we convert this infra-red energy back into visible light, through one or more of these LED devices, we can send it back through the atmosphere and into space, thus circumventing the problem caused by the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It doesn’t get rid of the carbon dioxide, it just makes for a heat loss mechanism that is immune to the carbon dioxide.

So, imagine half the world’s land area covered in little LEDs, beaming light into space (but only on cloud-free days). Interspersed are a plethora of power stations providing a power source for the LEDs. Now that we’ve got round the greenhouse problem we can do that with coal-fired power stations.  Yay. The way of the future. Use all the energy we like, carbon dioxide doesn’t matter any more.

It might, of course, be simpler, cheaper and more sustainable to greatly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we chuck into the atmosphere, but that would be too obvious a solution, wouldn’t it?


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