The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn

January 29th, 2008
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This came out a lot longer than I expected. However, this is also what is becoming an increasingly large portion of this website. Maintaining the environment is a critical issue especially as evidence of accelerated global warming mounts and as energy becomes more of an issue than it has in recent past. Unfortunately, many of those who claim to be working for enviornmental improvements lack an understanding of a few basic concepts which are absolutely critical to accomplishing anything.

I often find myself in arguments over economics versus environmentalism. This becomes a very difficult situation because the immediate accusation is that I care only about money and need to realize that sacrifices must be made for the good of the planet. I am also told that wind or solar is the answer and the costs and reduction of energy output is acceptable. These ideas that it is okay or honorable to make such sacrifices are overly simplistic and lack a true understanding of the forces at work. To use a phrase I have come to like, they are “Not even wrong.”

Thus, the top ten list…

 

10. Go after pollution sources with the highest benefit/cost ratio, not those which are most noticeable – If you are attempting to make a difference in the world, you should start with the largest problems with the simplest solutions and the least cost in remedying.

For example, underground coal fires produce as much CO2 as all the light cars and trucks in North America and most of those in Europe. The cost of developing a method of fighting such fires and implementing it is likely very low compared to the benefit especially in the context of the amount of effort which has gone into reducing the pollution from cars and trucks.

Similarly, aviation accounts only a small portion of CO2 emissions and there are no apparent alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels for aircraft which do not result in huge tradeoffs. The funds spent on attempting to develop and deploy hydrogen fueled aircraft or some other alternative are very high and there would be tradeoffs in the capabilities and economics of operation. Therefore, it is not wise to invest much effort or funds in such a pursuit.

9. It is always best and often vital to utilize existing infrastructure and capabilities when implementing new methods or technologies. – Any concept for producing more environmentally friendly systems must deal with the realities of the currently deployed infrastructure and the existing manufacturing and maintenance capabilities in place. Those which utilize these assets to the fullest will be the most successful and any which require retooling or major upgrades MUST be capable of doing so in an incremental manner which uses established capabilities wherever possible.

This is important in the context of things like transportation. It is entirely unreasonable to expect that there will be widely deployed hydrogen filling stations or other support facilities in the foreseeable future. Even if the ultimate goal is to establish such facilities, it is necessary that any technologies being implemented must be capable of compatibility with what currently exists in the midterm. For example, plug in hybrids which may be a stepping stone toward future electric-based vehicles but work well with existing technology.

Similarly, it is better to work with manufacturing, refining and distribution technologies that are already available as well as the existing skills of workers. It is better to deploy clean synthetic hydrocarbons, for example, than ethanol on a wide scale because ethanol cannot be pumped through existing petroleum pipelines due to it’s tendency to bind with water.

8. “Natural� “Organic� and “Bio� do not mean “good.� - Some of the most toxic substances known are natural. Furthermore there are times when using an artificial or engineered solution to a problem is far better than using a traditional low-tech or natural approach. Using synthetic substances, engineered approaches and technology can often improve the efficiency of an activity and therefore reduce the need for resources and the overall impact.

For example: a farm which utilizes insecticides and artificial fertilizers to grow a given amount of crops on ten acres may be far better for the local ecosystem than a farm which uses organic methods but requires twice the land be cleared. A common organic farming method for pest control is to import predator insects like lady bugs, however, importing large numbers of these insects may be considerably more disturbing to the local food chain and ecosystem than using a measured amount of an artificial pesticide.

�Nature� was not designed to provide mankind with food, energy and other needs in the most efficient, reliable and sustainable manner. Therefore, engineered or artificial approaches may have better overall outcomes.

7. Plans for the future should not be made on the most optimistic predictions and should consider the most pessimistic reasonable predictions – If you are formulating a plan for providing energy you cannot base it on the assumption that there will be an overall decrease in energy usage. Rather, one must assume that energy needs will continue to grow as they always have, if not faster.

Similarly, no plans for the future should ever be based on the assumption that it will be possible to do something better/faster/cheaper than it can now based on future technologies. One cannot, for example, create say “We’ll just have to develop a more efficient solar cell that is ten times cheaper than what we have now.� There is no guarantee that such research and development in such an area will be fruitful.

�Hope for the best but prepare for the worst� is generally the best policy. Any statement like “Well we won’t need to plan for that because in ten years we’ll be at the point where we’ll only need half as much oil� should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

6. Simply attacking an environmentally damaging activity is not effective unless a better alternative of similar or better economics and usefulness is presented – Protesting a coal fired power plant is, in and of itself, useless, because the plant is necessary to provide electricity. It is even worse to oppose coal, oil and hydroelectric because those are all major sources of electricity. If one wants to phase out something like coal there must be an alternative presented. It is always more effective to promote the alternative than to oppose what exists. If the alternative is accepted, the existing activity being opposed will go away on its own.

It is important that the alternative be reasonable, not speculative and capable of replacing what exists with minimal sacrifice in general. Any alternative which provides additional non-environmental benefits, such as cheaper energy, improved capabilities or better performance (in the case of a vehicle) will aid greatly in promoting the alternative. If such benefits can be presented the likelihood of success is extremely high.

5. Taxation, price increases and caps on energy are inherently regressive and cause great damage. – Regressive means that it has a greater impact on the lower classes than the upper classes and also affect upward mobility and general quality of life. Increasing the price of energy does not mean simply mandating a price or taxing it directly. Any measures which limit energy production will cause an increase in price due to market forces. This includes carbon taxation and carbon capping without providing a variable alternative. Mandating the use of energy technologies which are limited in output or are expensive will likewise increase prices.

High priced energy is a huge burden on the lower classes to a degree much higher than the upper class. Energy is a fundamental expense to living, both directly in the form of heating, transportation and electricity and also indirectly in how it affects production of all goods and services. The price makes up a much larger proportion of the spending of those with less. Thus, an increase in the price of energy DOES NOT make all people conserve energy in an equal manner nor does it prevent frivolous use of energy.

Joe billionaire still fuels up his yatch and barely notices that he spent five dollars a gallon on marine diesel instead of two, but poor families go cold because they cannot afford heating oil at twice the price. In the end, those with the money to adopt cleaner and more efficient technology and with the excesses which can be cut are the least likely to do so. The more likely outcome of higher energy prices is a move to alternative energy sources which offer a lower cost, even if doing so results in more pollution instead of less. An example would be the wood burning stove boom during the 1970′s oil crisis or waste oil burners.

This increases the class divide, as any shortage of such an important commodity will. It causes more poverty and limits upward mobility. The overall reduction in quality of life affects nearly all sectors including health and any burden on the economic system will only make government social programs more burdened.

 

4. It is unreasonable to expect the general public will accept major reductions in living standards or comfort and convenience. Simply put, it won’t happen – There is no point in debating the ethics of driving a big car and taking vacations versus making sacrifices to sustain the environment, because history shows that the public has a very limited tolerance for any measures which directly affect their comfort, convenience and other wants. Therefore, if you want people to drive a car which is environmentally friendly, it must not be a glorified golfcart. It cannot lack air conditioning and be small, slow and lacking in capacity. People will not accept that kind of sacrifice in general.

Because they will not move to environmentally friendly options voluntarily, the next thing which generally is proposed is to mandate very strict limitations on the use of anything from incandescent light bulbs to air conditioners to big engines. The problem is that this will not generally be accepted if there is not an equally viable alternative. People will either skirt the regulations or they will put pressure on politicians to change them. In a democracy, the politicians will always be forced to bow to the will of the people on any matter which is universally disliked.

(They want their damn bread and circus and you’d be a fool to try to talk them into living without them.)

3. Depending on continuous heavy subsidies is not sustainable. – Subsidies exist for a reason and are not always a completely bad thing. They are designed to do things like maintain a strategic capability which is not normally profitable or to stimulate a sector which is important to a country and might now develop on it’s own.

However, when it comes to energy and development, a subsidy cannot be a tow-line, but only a jump start. In other words, it must be for the purpose of establishing a capability which will have value and returns on the initial expenditure. Paying to keep something going for years when it has shown disappointing results is a complete waste. It is not economically sustainable and has low benefit.

It also should be pointed out that “creating jobs� is not an economic benefit if those jobs are entirely based on expenditures which do not result in a tangible payback and rely on direct funding to exist. “Creating 1000 jobs� is not a good thing if the way they were created is by paying 1000 people to do something useless. The sustainability and overall effect must be considered.

2. Every little bit does not help. – There is absolutely no point in perusing technologies or methods which do not have the potential for actually making an ecological difference, especially if doing so will expend funds, energy or other resources without any significant return. Even in cases where there is little overall investment, simply harping on the most insignificant overall issues will at least draw attention away from what credible solutions exist.

In the end, it is not really going to matter if there is .00001% les Co2 in the air in a century. Those technologies which have limited potential are best abandoned to cut losses as soon as it becomes apparent how limited they are. Campaigns against things like iPhones are idiotic, considering the massive discharges of waste by other parts of the electronics industry and other industries in general. Putting a solar panel on your roof might make you feel good but that’s about all it does. Saying “someone has to start� or “if everyone would do it� or “every bit helps� does not count for much when you know that everyone *will not* do it and “every little bit� helps a very very little bit.

1. Sacrificing the needs of an economy for the environment will destroy both. - This is overall and far and away one thing which environmentalists seem to entirely lack any understanding of. There are a lot of claims that sacrifices must be made economically or that “the price of damaging the environment cannot be measured in dollars. We need to consider that cheap power has hidden costs to earth.�

The major problem with this is that the economic health of a society affects nearly all aspects of the society. For example, during times of recession, crime rates tend to rise, health generally deteriorates, general public moral is far less. The effects are far reaching both broadly and individually. When the economy does well, more people have good paying jobs with benefits. More people have healthcare coverage and those who do not are generally more able to pay for healthcare. More people go to college and education in general improves. There are more funds for donation to charities and the government has far more of a taxbase from which to spend.

The impact on the environment is also effected by this for several reasons. It has been said that “environmentalism is a luxury� and this is actually true in many circumstances. In a poor country cars blow out more exhaust because owners are not as prone to good upkeep of the engine and exhaust system. Recycling does not exist in such countries because the funds are not available and the demand for more raw materials is lacking, thus making it less financially motivating to recover materials.

In general, people become far less concerned with the environment when they see that their own lives and the lives of those close to them are not very good. A person does not buy highly efficient lightbulbs or a hybrid car in such circumstances. If they cannot afford oil to keep warm, they will not insulate their home but rather are more likely to start cutting down trees for fuel. They may even buy a simple stove and start to burn garbage for fuel.

An economy is not healthy when it is stagnant. It must not only be growing to be healthy, but to be prosperous it should have the highest possible growth rate while maintaining sustainable funds and keeping inflation in relative check. Only under such circumstances will the government and private organizations have the funds and the ability to tackle environmental issues. The flip side of this is that it means an increase in consumption and in consumerism in general. This equates to more potential for environmental impact.

The key, in the end, is to find ways to keep a robust and healthy economy while promoting good environmental policy. Doing so will increase standards of living, decrease poverty, increase environmentally positive projects and benefit all aspects of life and ecology.

Added (2/5/08):
Having gotten a lot of attention on this article I’ve added a couple of follow-up posts which related to this and which I might suggest checking out. You may also want to check other parts of this blog filed under “environment”.

Agree or disagree your comments are welcome and will not be removed – at least as long as the discussion is factual and substantive. Railings, flaming and profanity are not desired, however. However, although descent is welcome, don’t expect not to be refuted, taken to task or otherwise countered. Feel free to do the same. This is obviously a contentious issue. Any discussion, even if heated, is positive if it stimulates thought and education.

Sources of Greenhouse Gas and a Quick Math Lesson
Stuff “Environmentalists” Should be (more) Concerned About
Does Every Little Bit Really help?
“Green Groups” Give Me Deja Vu

Also, since there has been a lot of discussion of nuclear energy resulting from this, here are some previous posts with relevant information:

Ten Myths About Nuclear Energy
Greenpeace On Nuclear Science
A Graphic Illustration of Nuclear Energy Potential

What is Spent Fuel? – I’m most proud of this one as it addresses an issue most people know very little about. The issue of nuclear “waste” and methods for dealing with it.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 11:32 am and is filed under Bad Science, Education, Enviornment, Good Science, History, Not Even Wrong. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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530 Responses to “The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn”

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  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    Everyone that claims to be an environmentalist should be schooled in these points, if necessary with the help of a stick.


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  2. 2
    Markus Says:

    This is absolutely correct. There’s some redundancy here. I can see how some of these points could be blended together or are at least related, but that might be a good thing because there are a lot of people who won’t get it on the first go.

    You make a compelling case for the economic argument. It’s the reality of things. If you damage the welfare of human society it will only come back to bite you because people won’t stand for it and they’ll start stop caring about pollution as much as their own ass. Economics is missing part of almost all enviornmental groups message. It’s the whole idea that we should sacrifice to make the environment better. As you point out, it doesn’t work that way.

    Everything I hear from them ignores the realities of how people think and act and assumes the idea of a perfect world where everyone works to keep things sustainable. Wrong answer. It’s naiveness and stupidity.

    Basically you have the same damn thing as communism. It looks good on the surface, but totally opposes the way the world really works. Every time anyone has tried to build a country on the concept it ends up doing the exact opposite of what the set out to do. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens, there are always those who say “Oh but they didn’t really use true marxism there. It was corrupted by Lenin/Stalin/Castro/Mao/Ho Chi Mein/Kim Jong Il” No crap. It’s corrupted every single damn time they give it a shot because it don’t work out as nice as they make it out to be.


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  3. 3
    Dave G Says:

    I showed this to a friend of mine who’s all over this crap and he immediately said “Well enviornmental policy doesn’t need to hurt the economy. Using less oil helps the economy if it lowers fuel prices and the only sector hurt is the oil companies.”

    “And how do you plan to do that, get people to use less gas? RULE 6″

    “Well we could try to phase it out by increasing car effeciency and mandating that we import less oil”

    “But do you think people will really get behind cars with much smaller engines? RULE 4. Don’t you also think that it would be a problem limiting it in availability? RULE 5. Also RULE 4 and RULE 1″

    “Well I think people would be willing to…”

    “RULE 4″

    “Okay well we can offer other ways of transitioning to clean energy like biofuels which we’re working on and also going to things like hydrogen or even electric cars.”

    “Biofuels: RULE 3 and RULE 9 (they’re not really all that much better)”
    “Hydrogen: RULE 9 and also rule 4 (that it can be deployed and systems for delivery and production as well)”
    “Electric Cars: Rule 7. How do we know we’ll have better batteries? If we don’t have better ones then we are stuck at rule 4″

    It got him so frustrated :-D


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  4. 4
    Giant Pulsating Brain Says:

    For those of you left who are left thinking “Ok so this means that the environment must suffer or that it is impossible to help the environment because that would hurt the economy so we should give up,” I offer you the following answer:

    Mass deployment of nuclear energy and phasing out of coal and fossil fuel generation

    A well established and managed reprocessing and fuel cycle management plan

    Replace fossil fuel use with nuclear generated electricity where possible – plug-in hybrids, electric commuter trains, electric or steam heat, electric manufacturing

    Where electricity won’t cut it, like for aviation, use synthetic fuel of the cleanest burning variety possible. You make the synthetic fuel with the energy from the nuclear reactors

    Get rid of toxic chemical waste and other problem materials with thermal treatment, plasma arc, hydrogenation. And you can use this as the feedstock for your synthetic fuel!

    BONUS:

    WORKS BY OFFERING AN ALTERNATIVE NOT JUST ATTACKING THE ESTABLISHMENT

    Works within current infrastructure (although some electrical upgrades)
    Staged deployment
    Has other benefits (cheap plentiful energy) and possibly better performing and smoother car rides
    Economical (large investment overall, but can be done in stages and you get economic benifits in the meantime)
    Tackles the largest issues and doesn’t focus on small portions with a bad CBA
    Everything is totally based on proven technology that we have now and know we can do!

    Ok… I fess up. This was not all my idea or at least I’m not the only one to think of this. DRB has a nice poster here: http://depletedcranium.com/?p=314


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  5. 5
    DV82XL Says:

    Congratulations Giant Pulsating Brain, you got it in one.


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  6. 6
    Giant Pulsating Brain Says:

    Truely, I would be a visionary of energy if not for the fact that the idea of nuclear energy as the basis for a clean and plentiful energy supply did not predate me by a couple of decades. DAMN YOU SEABORG! DAMN YOU FERMI! If only they had not seen it’s potential and it only nobody else had… And if I had… Well then I’d look pretty damn smart, wouldn’t I?


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  7. 7
    Giggles Says:

    Brilliant. This sums up so many things I’ve seen. You do realize it will not be well received, right?

    The argument “Well we could have a good economy and everybody would do fine and be happy if they just tried to save fuel and if they would stop doing things like running air conditioners when they don’t need to and…”

    Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda! then it comes to “Well people should be willing to…” Yeah, maybe. You’re making a big mistake when you go up against human nature because you will always loose.

    Every stupid plan I have seen for windmills to power the world assumes that we will be able to produce ten times as many and that we will have a 100% effecient battery in 10 years and that energy demand will drop and everyone in the world will stop driving big cars and accept living in a mud hut. It ain’t in the cards. Makes a nice fantasy.

    The only option would be to mandate conservation, and that has problems too!


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  8. 8
    DV82XL Says:

    The bald fact of the matter is that environmentalist have been swimming in a sea of wishful thinking and ill informed opinion.

    Dan M from Scientific American Community Blogs points out that many people have the “the Captain Picard syndrome.” Which is the belief that all they needed is someone to determine a desirable goal, provide leadership and funding, tell the geeks “make it so” and it should happen. If it doesn’t, its an indication of incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the technical community.


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  9. 9
    NVGurl1979 Says:

    Considering your feelings toward environmentalists it would seem more like you are less interested in the economy than in destroying the earth, which is just crazy. I think you should realize that environmentalism is about sustainability. Look at the price of oil and tell me that does not effect the economy. If we used less then it would be cheaper for the poor people and it would be better for the welfare of all sectors of the nation.

    So that’s as simple as it is: You use less fossil fuel and the economics improve. The environment too. That’s the point is sustainable policy with green energy sources that are going to be better for everyone in the long run. Why would yoiu oppose that? Joe billionaire should not be allowed to use as much oil as he wants just because he can afford it. We should all use less. We should all move to better ways of doing things poor, rich and in between.

    That’s how you make it sustainable. You don’t end up hurting anyone. You get rid of that dirty steam engine and you give the poor people a better train to ride on in the process. You have to have everyone share it and at the same time improve the environment. We all do our part it will not be as hard as you think.


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  10. 10
    DV82XL Says:

    If we used less then it would be cheaper for the poor people and it would be better for the welfare of all sectors of the nation.

    No

    Jevons Paradox states that conservation of fuel leads (paradoxically) to increased consumption of fuel. The idea is simple: if large numbers of people begin conserving fuel, this will lower the price of that fuel, and that will stimulate increased consumption.

    This is not new, William Stanley Jevons in his 1865 book The Coal Question observed that England’s consumption of coal soared after James Watt introduced his coal-fired steam engine, which greatly improved the efficiency of Thomas Newcomen’s earlier design. Watt’s innovations made coal a more cost effective power source, leading to increased use of his steam engine in a wide range of industries. This in turn made total coal consumption rise, even as the amount of coal required for any particular application fell.

    You can’t solve a problem with an imaginary solution just because it sounds fair.


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  11. 11
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Indeed. But you could also force less use and overall conservation by strictly limiting the supply or imposing very strictly enforced quotas or standards for usage. You obviously cannot burn more oil than you have avaliable.

    Of course this presents even larger problems. Not only the economic consequences and the fact that people would quickly begin to strongly oppose such a decremental policy, but people will find other things to burn if they need to.

    Force conservation by heavy handed tactics and supply limitation… poor get poorer. People stop caring about the environment. People rise up in opposition of the policy. Spending decreases. The tax base goes down. Quality of life gets worse. The government has less money for enviornmental programs.

    Bad economy -> less consumerism -> people don’t buy new stuff -> push energy effecient stuff as much as you want nobody will buy it.

    I have used the example of Germany before for the ultimate in bad energy policy. The extreme expense of energy there and the fact that all fuels are taxed heavily as part of the plan to pay for “renewable” means that they have a glut of people using “alternative fuels” to heat their homes.

    Now they are trying to impose a wood burning stove emission law because so many damn people are cutting down trees to burn or burning their garbage: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/03/post_23.php

    You see that “multiburn” ad I posted up there. Is that what you want? People using their dirty motor oil as fuel?


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  12. 12
    DV82XL Says:

    True Jevons Paradox is only thought to hold in free economies, or at least where there is no problems on the supply side. Nevertheless if we had a situation where the price of fuel doubled, and end use efficiency improved by a factor of four it would still mean the effective price of that energy would be halved, this would definitely encourage more use. That’s why the environmentalists should watch what they wish for: cheap simple 250mi/gal cars and the third world drives.

    It’s strange, but it has happened many times in history.

    I dismissed NVGurl1979′s implied rationing for the reasons you pointed out (not only that but her ‘rich guy’ will still get as much as he wants on the black market.)


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  13. 13
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well of course! The poor will sell their rations of gasoline and buy food instead! The price of food having increased so much that it will be a more important factor. They’ll give up the car and walk in the snow to the store because their survival is not more important. Without fuel though, they can alwasy take the tires and seats from the car and burn those to keep warm!


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  14. 14
    NVGurl1979 Says:

    DV82XL, your logic only works if we keep doing things like we have through history. That is what it is based on but history has been a past of not sustaining things and not caring about the world. Things are different and changing fast because everyone is going to have to realize the real price of things. As soon as everyone starts working for sustainable and clean lives then we will all be able to shoulder the burden.

    Joe billionaire won’t be using his money to buy gasoline because he knows that only makes things worse and no matter how much money he has he has to live here too. So he uses less fuel and there is more fuel for the poor. They use it because they need to keep warm and that’s okay, as long as it’s only used when needed. We all shoulder the sacrifices and our history is different.

    We have to stop having unnecessary luxuries that hurt the world no matter how much money we have. You might be a billionair but you still have to live on the earth and you still breathe the air. We are equal there. And so what if a one person won’t stop it? We need all people to stop with luxuries. One is a small number but it doesn’t have to be one. People stop fueling their ships and limos and private planes as soon as they realize that it’s for the greater good and their good too!


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  15. 15
    Dave G Says:

    And we have gone in a circle without learning anything, haven’t we, NVGurl?


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  16. 16
    Sovietologist Says:

    As a sovietologist I feel more qualified than most to say that a “revolution in human consciousness” is the ultimate unobtainium. Both Communist and green ideology are based on the premise that human nature can be changed, and that this is necessary and predictable. But if history has demonstrated anything, it’s that humanity’s baser qualities are pretty darn immutable. People are selfish and short-sighted and are going to stay that way. Any policy or worldview that denies this fact is going to ultimately run ashore on the hard rocks of reality.

    At the same time, I believe that the environmentalist movement is finally experiencing a paradigm shift away from this kind of thinking. I think the best evidence is the ongoing panic from the elders of the movement who came to prominence in the 1970s at the fact that younger people who identify as environmentalists are often open to nuclear power. There was a great article written by these old-timers in the Earth Island Journal last year that outlined this “problem.” Read it here: http://www.earthisland.org/eijournal/new_articles.cfm?articleID=1174&journalID=95

    “The argument over nuclear power reveals a long-standing tension in the environmental movement between those who say there are technical fixes to the greenhouse gas challenge, and others who believe that we need a wholesale restructuring of society if we are to avoid global meltdown. To embrace a new round of nuclear reactor construction is to say that we can have our climate and eat all the energy we want, too; it is, in some ways, a maintenance of the status quo. To oppose nuclear power is to suggest that we need to reform the ways in which we live. For if we can find a way to create lifestyles that don’t demand as much electricity, then the nuclear question is moot.”

    So I don’t think we should antagonize “environmentalists” per se; just the unreasonable dogmatic ones. It sounds like there are many great allies to be had waiting in the woodwork.


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  17. 17
    Dave G Says:

    Well, if you’re an “enviornmentalist” you should know some things like these ten. I think that’s the message is to those who are on the side of all holding hands and enjoying the trees in our loin cloths. Also there are those who just haven’t put much thought into it or who don’t know the full story.

    The first thing people who want to help the environment need to learn is the reality of the world we live in and what works versus what does not. Without the basics of technology, history, sociology and economics you will not be able to do a thing for the environment. They all are part of any workable plan.


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  18. 18
    DV82XL Says:

    Those of us that support nuclear power are environmentalists. The appeal of nuclear energy is that it is the lowest impact source of energy that we can practically scale, and I have yet to meet a nuclear supporter that is so in love with fission technology that they wouldn’t give it up in a flash if something better was available. The problem is that there isn’t and there isn’t likely to be a better option in the foreseeable future. We have come to this conclusion after a critical examination of the alternatives. It’s just that simple.

    Sovietologist is correct when he points out that there have been some conversions, however I think it’s rather obvious that the lead article is addressed to those that are still backing the green agenda that in short calls for the deindustrialization of the First World, returning to an agrarian economy typical of the 17th and eary 18th centuries.

    Unfortunately they still command a significant number of followers, most of whom have bought in to a romantic dream of living in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Shire and haven’t given the implications a great deal of thought, and those who hold to the green position without having thought of what sort of living conditions would follow at all.

    These are the folks that need to be made aware of Doc’s top ten list.


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  19. 19
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well I am not all about the fission. I’m generally in favor of nuclear as the guiding force in energy development because of the fact that it is then most fundamental and high density energy source. Yes, fission is the best option for large scale self-sustaining reactors. However, I see a lot of reasons for excitement over the concept of a hybrid spallation reactor where an accelerator drives neutron generation for fast neutrons which induce fission and activation. It produces practically no waste and is so safe and easy to shut down that I honestly think it has potential to be in “everyone’s basement to heat the house and melt snow” in the future with some more development.

    Fusion is not something I’d ever oppose if we could do it reasonably. It simply presents some technical problems inherant to the concept which are very hard to tackle. I’m not confident we’ll ever be able to use it as a large scale energy source and if we do, I’m convinced it will be due to a radically new idea in containment that is not based on the tokomak system. (just too inherently expensive, complicated and inefficient)

    Of course, fusion is still great for neutron generation and other purposes. But if you want to know how man kind is going to ever break the bounds of relying on limited energy resources in the form of chemical fuels and environmental sources of limited usefulness and availability, it will be nuclear. 100% guaranteed.


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  20. 20
    Finrod Says:

    A quote from Sovietologist’s linked article:

    “That kind of vision makes nuclear power irrelevant. If we can reach a societal consensus that what we desire is a slower and smaller way of living, a re-conceived notion of success, then we can fundamentally reformulate our energy system. In any discussion involving a redefinition of “progress,” nuclear power is not simply dangerous or dirty – it’s pointless. That’s a conversation the nuclear industry is unlikely to win.”

    It’s going to be a long time before #4 sinks in with these people.

    I only heard of Jevon’s Paradox recently, but even before then I had grave doubts about the supposed virtues of conservation. Even if we did all suddenly become selfless Utopianites willing to use maximally efficient devices without increasing overall consumption (we wont), any reduction in emmissions thus achieved will be rendered irrelevant by the industrialisation of the third world. I personally think conservation is a dangerous illusion, the only effect of which will be to decrease the incentive for real solutions.

    Finrod.


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  21. 21
    Sovietologist Says:

    Finrod’s right that the authors don’t get #4. The reason I find the article so exciting is that its conclusion reframes the nuclear power debate in a way that ensures that nuclear power will ultimately win. And this reframing is coming from hardened anti-nuclear types. You see, it’s an outright admission that “To maintain current standards of living, we need nuclear power.” If this is the way that the debate is really developing within environmentalism, the future of nuclear power is assured. It’s absolutely true that the old-school “environmentalists” are anti-rationalists who don’t comprehend these ten points- but it seems to me that the younger set is finally rejecting the anti-scientific dogmatism of the 1970s and replacing it with a balanced understanding of environmental problems with the social and economic effects of policy choices. And the old-school environmentalists are starting to get flustered, even as they try and use wishful thinking to eliminate the problem.


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  22. 22
    DV82XL Says:

    What we have to drive home is that low energy lifestyle = poverty. Unfortunately crap like: ” reach a societal consensus that what we desire is a slower and smaller way of living, a re-conceived notion of success” appeals to some vestigial protestant ethic that still colors our ideas of ‘correctness’. Also a disturbing number of people that pay lip service to the green agenda still think that some technological fix other than nuclear is possible and is not coming to for because of some conspiracy of the ‘centralists’ or the obstreperousness of the technocrats that don’t want to lose power.

    As far as an admission by the green leadership that nuclear is the answer I have never doubted that select groups ability to think. They are terrified that should nuclear gain wide acceptance, the flow of money will dry up as they become irrelevant. This appeal to minimalism is just an attempt to reformulate their stand to avoid that fate.


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  23. 23
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Indeed point 4 will not go down easily but it also relates directly to other points especially point 1. Even if you could get the public to stomach wholesale sacrafices the economic effects of dramatic reduced consumerism (buying less things in general, driving a lot less, going out to eat less because it’s less effecient, making appliances last longer) would result in a general economic slowdown. Consumerism is ultimately the base of the economy. If you have national or worldwide decreases in consumerism you have a recession. If it’s extended and universal you have a severe recession to the point of being a depression or even a collapse. Thus you are back to point one.

    So you cannot get people to do anything like that by choice. Even if you say the standard of living will increase because of less pollution that does not matter because the actions of the individual make no tangible difference. The collective does not do it because it is made up of individuals. The effect is also not immediately apparent. It may have no apparent effect. People will not pat you on the back if you stop catastrophic global warming, for example, because you have not *improved* things in tangible terms. You have only prevented things from getting worse. That is less likely to inspire such sacrifice.

    Your only option is to mandate conservation or somehow try to cap the supply. This now is problem #1 #4 and #5.

    Try to mess with the equation more. No matter how you slice it you end up with it not working or causing more trouble than it is worth.


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  24. 24
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I am reminded now of a conversation I had with an “environmentalist” or “green” not long ago:

    “Why is it that Americans drive such big cars with big engines when others don’t?”

    “Because the roads are wide enough for it in America and big cars are comfortable. If you want a big car to go fast you need a big engine.”

    “That’s so wasteful why can’t they be like everyone else?”

    “Canadians do too. Latin Americans do if they can afford it. In Asia it varies but is usually too crowded to make it worthwhile. Those who can do.”

    “You really think it’s just that the Europeans have narrower roads and not that they care more about doing the right thing? Then we need to make regulations better in America. We need to make cars more effecient.”

    “They tried that. People who still wanted a big car bought something called a ‘sport utility vehicle’ instead and it was registered as a light truck.”

    “We should outlaw big cars and SUV’s because they are inefficient”

    “Okay, so we outlaw them for everyone. But doesn’t this cause a problem. Don’t some people get to have bigger vehicles? What about the handicapped? Can they have a bigger vehicle for their wheelchair to fit in? What about big families? If someone has five kids isn’t it more effecient to have them all in a minivan than have to have multiple cars for all seven?”

    “Well, yeah. You can have them but only for those who really need them. Big families and the handicapped or others who really need them yeah.”

    “Okay, what about those who might not totally need them but would benifit from them legitimately? Suppose, for example, I’m an electrician and I need a pickup or a van to carry my equipment? What if I often work at construction sites that are muddy and so I need a pickup with four wheel drive so I’m not always getting stuck.”

    “Well, okay. Yeah, if your job needs it then maybe then you could, but only if it’s really something you need.”

    “Well what about if I live far out in alaska and I need a vehicle I can depend on in the snow. What if I live in an area with bad weather and snow and I’m a paramedic or volunteer fire fighter so I need to be sure I can always get there fast even in really heavy snow..”

    “Yeah okay, but those aren’t most people.”

    “So who decides who is allowed a big heavy gas-guzzeler suv?”

    “Uh… uh… I don’t know. I guess maybe a special permit…”

    “Oh ok. Now what if I’m a volenteer fire fighter and I decide to stop doing that because of a health concern or I just retire. Do I need to buy a new car?”

    “Um… uh”

    “If I’m an electrician is it okay to drive my kid to soccer in the big pickup after I’m done with work?”

    “Uh uh.. I don’t know the whole thing… there’d have to be a procedure to do it and have permits and figure out exactly how much each person needs. Yeah, I mean only people who have a real need they would have it. But um… you’d only be allowed to use it for a limited extent for non-essensial stuff”

    “Ah… welcome to the Soviet Union. Please take a number to apply for your SUV permit”

    I have the same discussion on occasion about air conditioners and how hot it needs to be before it’s legitimately okay for someone to own one. Also, if they’re okay for the sick and elderly who would have health problems in the heat, how sick and how elderly!


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  25. 25
    EarthIsMyHome2 Says:

    I hope you are wrong about this, but if you are right I still don’t see why that makes nuclear power the right thing. Considering it’s worse for the environment in every way and actually makes more global warming then it helps and is so dangerous and horrible then maybe you should rethink that. Did you know that nuclear power plants need a lot of water or air to take away the heat from them? That does not help global warming one bit because hot water means eventually hot air. Plus, when they build them and when they dig for the fuel they need tractors and trucks = more pollution. That’s why it is actually much worse then anything else.

    If you are right and we can’t conserve to save the earth and people won’t do the right thing then I think there’s only one outcome: we have bad global warming and fuel problems and smog. We just learn to live with it because there’s nothing else we can do. We keep it to a minimum but we also may need to forget about New York and London and move inland. Or we need to build sea walls. We need to move north and we will take lots of pictures of polar bears because we know that’s all we have.

    That’s a terrible idea for the future so I hope you are wrong. It’s not as terrible as a nuclear future though.


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  26. 26
    DV82XL Says:

    Have you bothered to read anything legitimate on the subject? Ever?

    - Nuclear power does NOT make more global warming. End-over-end full life-cycle it makes less than any other source per unit of energy produced.

    Does anyone making the “you gota burn fuel to mine it and refine it” argument think steel, aluminum and silicon are found in the woods in ingots? Or that coal falls out of the sky beside the power plant? Just think about the amounts we are considering here before making a statement like that.

    No, the whole point of most of this thread is that we won’t “forget about York and London” the people there will stay and power will be supplied to them, the only choice on the table is how: burn coal or fission uranium/thorium.

    Wake up and smell the coffee – you might want to live like a peasant, the rest of us don’t and we’re in the majority.


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  27. 27
    Finrod Says:

    “I still don’t see why that makes nuclear power the right thing. Considering it’s worse for the environment in every way and actually makes more global warming then it helps and is so dangerous and horrible then maybe you should rethink that. Did you know that nuclear power plants need a lot of water or air to take away the heat from them? That does not help global warming one bit because hot water means eventually hot air. Plus, when they build them and when they dig for the fuel they need tractors and trucks = more pollution. That’s why it is actually much worse then anything else.”

    No. You’re mistaken on these points. Currently, the amount of CO2 generated in construction of nuclear plants and mining the fuel is minimal compared to every other means of generating electricity except (I think) hydroelectric, which is about on par. This situation, already very good, will be improved further when the bulk of energy production comes from nuclear sources. The allegation that electricity generated by nuclear sources has a high CO2 footprint comes from a report commonly known as Stormsmith (after the authors). This report has been comprehensively debunked and the fallacies embodied therein exposed.

    Heat produced by power plants, nuclear or otherwise, is not a significant factor in global warming. The disk of the Earth is illuminated by 175,000 Terrawatts of sunlight. This is vastly in excess of our meager contribution. Current global industrial civilisation is simply too feeble to directly heat up the environment to any significant degree. the concerns for global warming spring from subtle alterations in atmospheric chemistry and their ability to rechannel some tiny fraction of the large-scale energy flows of the aforementioned 175,000 TW of sunlight into atmospheric heat.

    Finrod.


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  28. 28
    Johan Says:

    EarthIsMyHome2 you have been duped into beliving just about every myth there is about nuclear power. There is no point in trying to convince you otherwise I guess but just for your own amusement do these things.

    Compare the difference betwen the energy the earth gets from the sun with the totaly energy produced by all the worlds nuclear power plants, consider the magnitudes and then figure out how many power plants needs to be built to even come close to 0.1% of the heat the earth gets from the sun.

    Google for “life cycle assesment” comparing different energy sources, you might be suprised to se that the pollution from nuclear power, including mining, construction ect is less than from wind and solar. You need those trucks and tractors even more when you build renewable energy.


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  29. 29
    Sustainability Says:

    Well I’d just like to make a comment: I understand what you mean by “bread and circus” because I looked it up and so your analogy I take it means people want their needs and wants fufilled such as food and entertainment. Okay, that makes sense.

    Let me just ask though, what if you say to everyone: “We understand you have needs and wants. But you are going to have to have your food in a simpler way. You are asked to just eat what is needed and no exotic fruits especially out of season. You can’t have things like ice cream every day you want, but you can still have it on your birthday and you can’t drive a big car but you can still have a car as long as it is small and you drive it only when you really need to. You can still have things for fun, but you are only going to be able to have one television and it must be reasonably small. You can still travel but you can’t go on vacation over seas every single year. You just make these small sacrifices and the world will be better as a whole.”

    Let me ask has anyone ever thought of trying that? being reasonable and helping people understand they don’t need to loose everything? I think people will choose the right thing if you just work with everyone and stop being so forceful.

    Has anyone ever tried asking people to have “just the bread they need and less circus”?


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  30. 30
    DV82XL Says:

    Now why didn’t we think of that? While we are at it why don’t we get rid of all of the military and the police too and just ask people to be nice? How about getting rid of money – we’ll just ask people to share? Why don’t we get rid of all the governments as we will just ask everyone to do their bit

    Do I need to tell you why?

    People behave to maximize their own gain, that’s what every rational poster in this thread has been saying, and any attempt to go against that impetus has historically ended in a spectacular failure. The big problem is that in the end you have to use force in these plans because they don’t work unless everyone is on the same page, and because of human nature people are going to cheat.

    Christ, doesn’t anyone read Orwells Animal Farm in high school anymore?


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  31. 31
    Sovietologist Says:

    Has anyone ever tried asking people to have “just the bread they need and less circus”?

    You know those Communists I mentioned? They did that. Lenin even had a snappy phrase for it: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” In practice this was because resources were being diverted to the military or prestige projects, not to “save the Earth,” but the results were the same. And they were willing to go to almost any extreme to enforce this. The Soviet Union had a special police force whose activities largely consisted of fighting economic “crimes.” Being a “capitalist” could get you exiled to the GULAG, or worse. But after seventy years, they had to give up and admit that human nature just wasn’t going to change.


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  32. 32
    Sustainability Says:

    Well then human nature is what we need to work on :-) It seems to me that’s the cause with all our major problems. Maybe we should consider that our schools shouldn’t just teach people not just knowledge but also to be good people too! I agree with the link above that we need to stop focusing on technology and start focusing on making the world a better place by working together to change our society. That will end up making everyone else happier when we can learn to care for earth and each other again!


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  33. 33
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yes many have asked people to have only the bread they need and less circus. It always fails and people won’t stomach it. People will at best, accept it for a limited time, if they are scared enough. The last time the US did forced rationing by policy was world war II. It was damn hard to get people to stomach it and a lot of people cheated. There was HUGE propiganda about how the germans and japanese were a just a tiny step from bombing the US to oblivion. The only way it was kept workable was by the perceived impending danger and only for a short time. If it had gone on longer, likely there would have been calls for peace talks.

    Yes, many many have tried the “less bread and circus” and it fails.

    And it’s not that people don’t care about each other. One of the most motivating factors in human desire for material can be to provide for one’s family wellbeing.


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  34. 34
    Finrod Says:

    Let me just ask though, what if you say to everyone: “We understand you have needs and wants. But you are going to have to have your food in a simpler way. You are asked to just eat what is needed and no exotic fruits especially out of season. You can’t have things like ice cream every day you want, but you can still have it on your birthday and you can’t drive a big car but you can still have a car as long as it is small and you drive it only when you really need to. You can still have things for fun, but you are only going to be able to have one television and it must be reasonably small. You can still travel but you can’t go on vacation over seas every single year. You just make these small sacrifices and the world will be better as a whole.”

    I’ll let someone else put this proposal to The Peepul. I’m a sensitive guy, and I get upset when sworn at.

    Finrod.


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  35. 35
    Finrod Says:

    “Well then human nature is what we need to work on It seems to me that’s the cause with all our major problems. “

    You and what army?

    Finrod.


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  36. 36
    Peter Says:

    Well I read it and all I can say is that this is the same mentality that destroyed the environment and will continue to. It seems what this blog is trying to say to environmentalists is “Stop being environmentalists” everything here basically says “protecting the environment is just going to hurt you in the end so don’t even try”

    I think this guy should shut the hell up. If he doesn’t want to be part of the solution fine. There are other people who do care and it’s just sad that people listen. “Yeah screw global warming. It would hurt the economy If we try to conserve well just use more and hurt everyone so burn away!”


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  37. 37
    Sovietologist Says:

    Tell me, Peter, what is your “solution”? My solution is to harness the power of nuclear fission to provide for the wants of mankind while protecting the environment. That’s very different from “protecting the environment is just going to hurt you in the end so don’t even try.” Is my solution unacceptable?


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  38. 38
    DV82XL Says:

    So what’s stopping you from living a subsistence existence? I see you have a computer, what powers it. Do you have a roof over your head? Did you build it yourself? Do you have cloths on your back? Did you make those textiles yourself? Did you eat today? Did you grow the food yourself? No? Then who the hell are you telling anyone how they must live?

    We can save the environment by getting off burning things to make power and use nuclear energy.

    Or haven’t read anything that’s been written here?


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  39. 39
    AussieInCali Says:

    Well I agree with basically what is here. Any plan has to work within the laws of how society works and how the economy and human behavior works. But I want to focus on the idea of “every little bit” and “go for the one with the biggest impact and lowest price”

    I do see nuclear as being an important part of energy but there are other forms of energy which are useful and avaliable and you never hear ANYTHING about. I’d like to point to two: hydroelectric first of all. Most of the hydroelectric reserves are taken in most of the developed world, but we can still increase the effeciency of existing systems by upgrading the generators. We can even add capacity. Some dams loose 50% of their power potential diverting water because they don’t have enough turbines to take advantage of it all. I have seen reports that upgrading we could increase hydro power by 20% which is very significant.

    The other one is landfill and sewer gas. You actually do better than carbon-neutral with this from a greenhouse perspective. Sewage treatment plants and landfills both spew out methane which is four times as potent a greenhouse gas as co2. It can be captured, especially at sewage plants. You can burn it or use it in the natural gas supply. Some of the vacuum-based methane harvesting plants at large landfills can do 50-100+ megawatts. Not a real lot, but it’s something and remember it actually burns methane so it’s very good at all levels.

    Where are the environmentalists on this? Do you hear this? No never. It’s always wind turbines. Fine but if you devoted half that talk to land fill gas you know how much more you’d do?

    Ok another thing I want to add: Where are they on grid upgrades? I have never seen a single pro-enviornmental page on upgrading the power system. Do they know that especially when demand is high that there can be a lot of line loss? Did they know that if they added more high voltage lines on runs they would in some cases signifficantly cut line loss of current?

    Did they also know if they spent half what they spent on wind farms on replacing the vintage 1950′s voltage regulators and phasers at substations with high effeciency modern ones they would save many many times more energy than a windfarm?

    I have never seen one enviornmental group for grid upgrades. Never one for hydroelectric upgrades. And only a very few for landfill gas recovery. Yes, nuclear is good too, but so many things are BIG and the cost is relatively small and they don’t give two craps about it.


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  40. 40
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Aussie: I don’t think many who understand things will disagree with you. No, the issue is not just nuclear. I support nuclear but I’d also support other forms of energy that can give good consistent results like hydro, which, as you mention, still has a reasonable amount of potential for some expansion. It has an excellent Cost-Benefit Analysis.

    I’ve been saying for a long time though that underground coal fires are the elephant in the room for CO2. Nobody has even made a reasonable effort to try to control them. Comparatively, they are enormous.


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  41. 41
    Samikins Says:

    I am not sure about what you are saying. Yes if there were a lot more energy to be saved in transmission lines upgraded and hydroelectric improved i think environmentalists would support that and I would say that then it would be stupid to focus so much on making people conserve and none at all at that. That sounds to me like it is probably not true or it’s not really possible to do that. I don’t know about gas from landfills but I think that’s probably not true too. And how can coal burn underground? It couldn’t get any air so that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard.

    I think groups like Greenpeace care a lot and if they aren’t out there trying to get more transmission lines or dam turbines then they have a good reason. I’m very unsure of the truth here. This sounds very far fetched. Please prove me wrong if not.


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  42. 42
    Randal Leavitt Says:

    The top ten list presented above is necessary knowledge, but not sufficient. Humans writhe through history using many thought patterns that are not addressed by the list. Ideology and criminality come to mind. If someone can force you to use coal, and force you to pay them for this privilege, then they will not be open to changing that arrangement. They may even prefer death (both theirs and yours) to change. This is the world we find ourselves in – one filled with people having vested interests that conflict with our long term well being. I particularly like the situations where the criminal and the victim are the same person as happens when the government get royalties from oil and uses this money to provide improved health care for everyone. In such a country new nuclear would mean no hospitals for an interval long enough to hurt. There are loops like this everywhere in our society.

    I suggest that we try to muddle through all this, being as nice as we can to each other as we sort out the problems with less than optimal solutions. Life is messy.


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  43. 43
    DV82XL Says:

    It may come as surprise to some that there is still a significant amount of undeveloped traditional hydro potential left in North America.

    The National Hydropower Association (U.S.) river basin studies show a potential of 73GW of additional U.S. hydroelectric capacity in 5,677 undeveloped sites.

    The situation is better for Canada, at 118GW, including the Far North where eight major rivers draining into the Artic Ocean are considered ripe for exploitation. Of course this is emphasizing engineering feasibility and some economic analysis, but no environmental considerations.

    Despite the widespread belief that hydro is the ideal clean source of renewable energy the bald fact is that it is hugely destructive to local environments and can and does create disruptions to the hydrology of an area several orders of magnitude greater.

    Plus these will not be easy sites to work- the low hanging fruit has already been picked- the cost of these projects will be so high and lead time so great that nuclear again becomes competitive.

    But upgrades on existing installations and the grid is going to happen. Standard and Poor’s energy report released this week said that that will be the major thrust of investments in the power sector this year.

    I also know how you feel on the subject of landfill methane, a major dump in an exhausted quarry flared the stuff off for eight years, and I had to look at it every time i came back from work after sunset. Pissed me off something critical.


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  44. 44
    Finrod Says:

    I think groups like Greenpeace care a lot and if they aren’t out there trying to get more transmission lines or dam turbines then they have a good reason. I’m very unsure of the truth here. This sounds very far fetched. Please prove me wrong if not.

    Yes, they have a good reason… these proposals would actually help alleviate the situation, and are therefore useless diversions from the anti-industrial program.

    Finrod.


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  45. 45
    Danny Smith Says:

    Why are fossil fuels astronomically popular, not nuclear and renewables? BOTH nuclear and renewables have been shunned, not just EITHER nuclear OR renewables has been shunned. Why “both”? The power utility loves fossil fuels so much as SUV drivers do, so the power utility is part of the “SUV bandwagon”. So, the power utility hates nuclear and as well as renewables. Businesses, homeowner prefer gas appliances, so they are in the SUV bandwagon. There is FIVE energy sectors called: residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and power generation. So, ALL of them are using fossil fuels at very significant amount. Power generation is the ONLY sector can be complied for Kyoto Climate Pact & Smog Ozone Rules without sacrificing economy too far. Nuclear is the only option to do that. Then, transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial sector has to depend on the power generation sector to take advantage of zero emission. Eco-Cute CO2 refrigerant heat pump is the only known technology that can function in cold climate, which CFC, HCFC, or HFC cannot.


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  46. 46
    AussieInCali Says:

    DV82XL, you are right about hydro in certain circumstances being very disruptive, but in existing installations or in places where there are high returns in flood control and water management, I still think it can be very positive.

    My question is not why the enviornmental side does not support all things that are helpful. Here is my question: If hydro upgrades can create more renewable energy in a way that is faster and provides more energy than wind and if landfill gas recovery can also provide energy with a net negative effect on greenhouse gasses and if transmission upgrades can have a huge effect on energy waste, then does it not follow that this should be a HUGE issue? Shouldn’t they be all over this? Shoudln’t lobbiests be yelling and demonstrations be held?

    You see zero and the CBA on that is ridiculous. This is idiotic. Start telling people to switch to better light bulbs is find but you should be telling utilities to swap out the 70 year old voltage regulators with twice the time and energy. You should be all over landfill gas and that kind of thing because it has a great CBA and its totally doable NOW.

    Do they simply not care about solutions which work because they are not part of the “change your lifestyle” mentality? I’m beginning to strongly suspect so.


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  47. 47
    DV82XL Says:

    Well Aussie it’s been my contention all along that these groups are nothing but self-serving frauds interested only in donations and very little else. To that end fearmongering among the ignorant and the uninformed is much more profitable than lobbying utilities.

    In all fairness however we do have to take note that those parts of the electric power system that will benefit from upgrading are in progress or scheduled to begin in the next few years. These are not tasks that can take place over night or with wholesale disruptions to service. We should take note that seismic upgrades to older dams are also part of this as well – important, true – but these are not going to increase output.

    Not that I’m letting Greenpeace et.al. off the hook for their obstreperous resistance to nuclear energy, and their stated objective of turning back the clock on the Industrial Revolution or their hypocrisy in general.


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  48. 48
    Nord Says:

    Think about it this way. Lets say, for example, a bill is introduced which would encourage faster expansion of the electrical grid and increase effeciency of transmission with things like faster zoning for power transmission lines, land grants if needed, money for upgrading publicly owned utility systems.

    Would Greenpeace support this? You might think so because there would be a savings of energy that they would lobby hard for that kind of law. It’s effective and it would benefit the consumer too. FALSE

    even if it causes a net reduction in many megawatts of power because the system was now more effecient and energy could be transmitted to where needed through longhaul hv lines and not go through overloaded lower voltage mazes they would see this as a problem not an improvement. The problem is that to them it’s not an issue of energy being wasted by that but it’s that using energy is sinful. They would say that it was a step in the wrong direction because it doesn’t reduce people’s use of energy and (heaven forbid) might actually lower prices and allow them to use more or somehow benifit the evil utilities or some other profit making entity.

    If a power plant generates 1000 megawatts of power and looses 200 in transmission you might think that cutting that in half would be great but greenpeacen would rather that the 800 megawatts remaining is cut by 40 then see the line loss cut by 100 because that does not address the sinfulness and evil of usage.

    The best thing for them would be rolling blackouts. That would force the people to use less. But what if that actually causes more polution because it destabalizes the grid and means more generating power is lost? Doesn’t matter. That’s not the sinful part.


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  49. 49
    AussieInCali Says:

    They are in schedule to be upgraded and will benefit, but I don’t see greenpeace having any thing to do with being responsible for encouraging that. I never saw them waving the banner of “We need to get these upgrades done and we should do them as soon as possible.” The plans for upgrades on hydro and transmission may be happening but it had nothing to do with the groups which claim that they support the environment. I NEVER saw them calling these plans a good idea or telling people to support them. NEVER


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  50. 50
    AussieInCali Says:

    Nord, I think you’re right.


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