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”

  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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  51. 51
    Green4Clean420 Says:

    YOU SHOULD SHUT THE HELL UP BECAUSE YOU DONT GET IT. IF YOU BUILD MORE POWER LINES AND THAT SAVES ENERGY FINE, YOU HAVE TAKEN ONE STEP FORWARD AND ABOUT 800 STEPS BACKWARD. YOU SAVE ENERGY NOW BUT YOU JUST REENFORCE THE SAME PROBLEM WITH CENTRALIZED POWER GENERATION AND ENERGY GLUTTENS. YOU NEED TO STOP FIGURING OUT HOW TO DELIVER DIRTY POWER BETTER. YOU MIGHT MAKE LESS POLUTION NOW BUT NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE THE CHANGES WE NEED: ENERGY FROM SMALLER CLEANER SYSTEMS THAT THE COMMUNITY CAN KEEP AND MOVE TO A LOCAL SYSTEM THAT IS MORE SUSTAINABLE.

    YOU KNOW HOW YOU MAKE PEOPLE USE LESS ENERGY! TURN OFF THE BIG DIRTY CENTRAL POWER PLANTS AND PEOPLE WILL HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO USE LESS POWER AND BE BETTER FOR IT IN THE END AS SOON AS THEY REALIZE THAT LIFE IS ACTUALLY BETTER THAT WAY. YOU SAY WIND DOESN”T MAKE ENOUGH> IF YOU WOULD HAVE A LESS GREEDY SYSTEM WHERE YOU ARE BEING A BIG FAT GLUTTEN SITTING ON YOUR ASS YOU WOULD NOT NEED IT AND WIND WILL BE FINE


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  52. 52
    Green4Clean420 Says:

    I HOPE PEOPLE LIKE YOU DIE FOR THE GOOD OF THE FUTURE


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  53. 53
    Green4Clean420 Says:

    HA YOU HAVE PICTURES FROM INDIA! YOU SAY ECONOMIC GROWTH IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT? LOOK AT INDIA AND CHINA YOU BASTARD AND LOOK AT HOW MUCH MORE POLLUTION!

    Yea yea, we’ll have less polution with more consumerism just like it worked in India. They’re making money like crazy AND LOOK WHAT THE F*** HAPPENED.

    YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND SO STUPID AND WRONG ON EVERUYTHING YOU SHOULD SHUT THE F***UP AND EAT S*** AND DIE SO THINGS CAN BE BETTER FOR EVERYONE ELSE YOU ARE THE PROBLEM AND DONT BLAME ME IF EVERYONE HATES YOU YOU F*****G IDIOT I HATE YOUR KIND SO MUCH


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  54. 54
    drbuzz0 Says:

    India and China were dirt poor to begin with. The fact that their amount of pollution has risen is a symptom of the fact that they are expanding but continue to lack the funds for ecologically friendly energy sources and vehicles.

    It’s a general rule that human needs are put before environmentalism. Hence “Environmentalism is a luxury” The overall standard of living in those countries is still very poor and as such the environment is not a big concern. They have a long way to go. They are still very much in poverty for the average person even if industry is expanding. That’s the problem. But in reality, this trend is the only way that one can reasonably expect standards to eventually improve. It’s an issue of scale versus effeciency. The effeciency was always horrible. The scale has increased. When will the effeciency? Well it already is beginning to but not enough to compensate for growth. It will begin to more as they develop further.

    (By the way: I’m taking your words as generally bad wishes and not a direct threat of any action. If this is a misunderstanding, please clarify so that I can take the necessary actions)


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  55. 55
    DV82XL Says:

    Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield
    Against stupidity the very gods Themselves contend in vain.
    Exalted reason,
    Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
    Wise foundress of the system of the world,
    Guide of the stars, who are thou then, if thou,
    Bound to the tail of folly’s uncurb’d steed,
    Must, vainly shrieking, with the drunken crowd,
    Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.

    - Johann Christian Friedrich von Schiller


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  56. 56
    Chelsea Says:

    The nuclear people and the rich guys have been lying for years. This is all the same bull****. It’s not about economics but about people and the earth. You want to improve both you stop caring about money and start caring about what is right.

    And I think green4clean is right even if he shouldn’t get so angry and threaten people. India and China both make more pollution then every be4. There’s your proof that this is all lies.

    If you make more electricity people use it (duh!) and if you put in more power lines it makes things worse, that is why no environmentalist would ever call it a good idea. We have to live within our means. That is the important thing. If people won’t do it then they’ll have a rude awakening when they have to. If we were more modest and didn’t all care so much about travel and big cars and stuff that is not really necessary we’d be able to power the world on wind with no problem.

    We should not build power lines or dams or power plants because we have too many as is!


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  57. 57
    Blitz3601 Says:

    I am told that there is a saying among trial lawyers that goes something like this:
    “If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts.
    If you have the law on your side, pound the law.
    If you got nothing, pound the table.
    Green4Clean420, you are clearly pounding the table. It makes you sound mean and ignorant and will not win you any allies or converts.
    I don’t think anyone here is trying to say that using less is a bad thing. We should, indeed all do so. Especially those of us who are well off enough to afford it. We are simply saying that as a global or national policy to solve the energy problems, it has never worked.
    Never.
    Not even once.

    Every person who has responded here wants to help solve this energy problem. We are simply asking the very hard question of “How can we formulate an answer that will work in the reality of our global situation?” The “mainline” or “hardcore” environmentalists seem to have a huge amount of energy to pour into solving this problem. We are only asking you to think a little harder. What is the harm in focusing on solutions that might actually have an impact on the global energy situation. Isn’t that significantly more appealing than jumping up and down and ranting irrational nonsence at a higher volume?


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  58. 58
    DV82XL Says:

    Keep up the moronic posting please! Every time one of you Green apologists puts your thoughts down you are illustrating just what sort of people you are: impractical, delusional, and irrational.

    We have yet to hear from one sane mature Green supporter using numbers or logic or in fact or with any knowledge of even the fundamentals of the topic at hand. You’re perfect illustrations of the sort that are attracted to the B.S. that’s served up by Greenpeace and the rest. No wonder they don’t want to see a solution: they have a herd of cash-cows they can milk for donations without really making any effort other than serve up some fabricated lies.

    Your a perfect illustration of why and how you got to be so wrong. Keep it up.


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  59. 59
    KLA Says:

    And talking about green hydropower. Very green. Look at this:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7046

    And as to some other comments here, especially from the green religous fanatics: Einstein once said that there are only 2 things he knows to be infinite. One is the universe and the other human stupidity. And he’s not sure about the universe.

    As to some of the posts about moving to distributed generation. Almost any technical or other installation that CAN be scaled (many can’t, like hydro), follows the cube/square law in cost. You increase the size by 8 times, the cost only doubles. The reverse is also true. So distributed small generation, as many dream of, are just not an economical reality of feasible. Not only from the initial cost, but from energy use of production and/or transport of fuels or maintenance.


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  60. 60
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well I totally agree hydropower can be totally anti-environment. It is a case-by-case thing. Hydro can be very good if it is part of a well planned water management strategy and where dams are already needed or beneficial for flood control and irrigation then adding hydroelectric makes sense.

    If hydro has large areas that need to be flooded where vegetation will be killed and therefore decay and especially if there are going to be periods of draw down which end up accelerating decay and release then that is not good either. So I certainly do favor hydro *where avaliable with minimal consequences* and I do favor upgrading existing facilities if the current setup leads to wasted energy.

    At best, however, hydro can only provide a small portion of total energy needs in most places. Far more than other “renewable” but still it will be less than 50% in most areas.


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  61. 61
    Chelsea Says:

    India and China have been making way more CO2 and other pollution and both of them are growing and getting richer all the time. There’s your numbers. There is your proof that this is 100% wrong.


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  62. 62
    Blitz3601 Says:

    Chelsea, which of the ten rules do you think is incorrect? (And, thank-you for staying rational, calm and constructive! One of the hardest things about trying to talk facts and useful solutions with most people who brand themselves “environmentalists” is that it is simply frustrating to have people get rude and yell and spit when they find they haven’t done enough research or thinking to hold up their end of the conversation. Very tiresome at best…)

    You say that the “nuclear people and rich guys have been lying for years”. I would be interested to know what you think they have been lying about.

    Why do you think India and China are producing more polution than ever? My thoughts are that billions of people who have been living in abject poverty are each seeing small ways to make life better for themselves and their children. This is, in my view, the only reason we produce energy. We want to make our life better. I don’t believe there is any malice in the heart of any of these billions of people when they choose to install a lightbulb in their home. Nor do I think there was any malice in your heart when you purchased your computer (which cost more energy to produce than most of those billions of people have used in the last decade.) Each person will make decisions to improve their own life. There ARE rare groups, like the Amish, who strive to think long and hard about the longterm consequences of changes in their lifestyle. One of the underlying points of the 10 rules presented here is simply that these people are exceedingly rare and it is bad public policy to assume that next year the remaining 99.9999% of the world will join up.

    The other underlying idea is that it may not be good for the world if they do. there are more than six and a half billion people on the planet. If we all suddenly switch to riding horses and burning wood stoves to cook and stay warm, the methane and CO2 production will be much greater than it is now. There are simply too many people on the planet to live that inefficiently – unless we all go much further than the Amish and choose to live in abject poverty where we have neither a horse or a way to heat our home (this is where the peoples of India and China were a decade ago. how can we ask them to go back? How can we ask ourselves to join them? Who will choose to do so? I think we need to look for a different solution. will you join in the struggle?)


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  63. 63
    Journey 1984 Says:

    Yes I have a computer but I don’t see why that is a problem because I use it for then greater good just like Greenpeace is right for burning oil because they have to to stop a big oil tanker from coming in and doing worse by having more oil burned.

    That’s okay and also Greenpeace would not use oil and I would be able to use my computer all I want if we had a clean source of energy. Greenpeace wants something to power their boat on that is not oil and I want to have something to power my computer on that is not nuclear but we can’t because of the scientists who will not invent ways or who have but won’t let them out. You should see there is a youtube video if you can find it. There was a man a long time ago who made a car which could run on water and produced no polution at all but the big oil companies stopped him and he died mysteriously and it’s known that it was big oil but they can’t prosecute them because they have too many friends in the government. I want to have my computer powered by solar and my car powered with water and the only reason I can’t is that nuclear and oil and coal companies and the politicians make too much money to ever let that happen!


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  64. 64
    Journey 1984 Says:

    OK THIS GUY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ3juM6vHwg

    Sorry the video is old but he died a long time ago and the oil companies try to keep this from being broadcast but somebody had a video of it from before. Nobody will make a car like that anymore they are too sacared


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  65. 65
    DV82XL Says:

    “Greenpeace wants something to power their boat on that is not oil”

    There called sails – we’ve been using them steady for the last 10,000 years (minimum)


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  66. 66
    DV82XL Says:

    Journey 1984, The Mythbusters used this notion to prove yet again that the Second Law of thermodynamics has not been repealed.


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  67. 67
    drbuzz0 Says:

    They could use sails, DV82XL, but do you know how hard it is to control a boat with just sail power versus motors? You are at the mercy of the wind and can only go as fast as the avaliable winds. If you want to sail in the opposite direction of the wind you can’t do that! All you can do is do a sort of zig-zag in the overall direction you want to go in by deflecting the wind and it’s not easy or fast or toally controlable.

    Considering you have to compensate for wind direction, especially if you’re not sailing with the wind, you need secondary sails and rigging and it’s a big pain and requires a good sized crew and if you’re caught in the dulldroms you can not move for a long time. A stalled front will cause you to be stuck in an area until it moves and if the weather is really bad sailing ships can be dangerous!

    Of course… this is true for all forms of wind power in general but you wouldn’t think so if you listened to them!


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  68. 68
    KLA Says:

    Yeah, I have one of these carburators that makes my car run on water. Works real well. It’s just that my car doesn’t want to start. :-)

    Seriously. Some of these green people remind me of the alleged state senator in the 30′s that wanted by law to make pi equal to 3. To make it easier for calculations.
    The green party in germany also has tried to repeal the 2nd law of thermodynamics. They were after all LAWmakers. Results were and are predictable.


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  69. 69
    Blitz3601 Says:

    Journey, the other available form of power for the green peace ship is oars. If you get enough rowers, you can move a fairly large boat that way when the wind is not blowing in your direction.

    The reason Greenpeace will never do this is because it is not convenient. I think you will find that the 10 rules that started this conversation apply pretty well to the Greenpeace organization. Just like the people in South America cut down the rain forest so that they can have a small piece of land to feed their family, Greenpeace will choose to do what is possible, expedient and efficient over what is hard, inconvenient, and unreliable. They may not choose it every time, but they will choose the expedient and efficient path over the hard and unreliable, environmentally friendly path often enough that it is important to make solutions which assume they, like the rest of us, will do so. They will act in their own short term best interest.

    And remember, in addition to the power it takes to run your computer, it took a large chunk of power to turn the dirt and crude oil found in nature into that technological marvel. Most of what you pay for in the price you pay is not the few dollars worth of raw materials required – it is the energy required to change those raw materials into something useful and then transport it to you.


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  70. 70
    EcoFriend Says:

    Hello,

    I would like to say that I cannot disagree with everything here. The idea that we need to work on the largest sources is correct and also that it is important to fit into the infrastructure. It’s also true that human technology can be a good thing in helping. On many of the points however, you do not understand how important the environment is or you are overextending your reach and speaking of what you do not fully understand and giving wrong information and discouraging important activities.

    I am going to ask you to take this down. It is not going to do any good and as someone who cares very much about the earth, I will say right now that this is not true. Please trust the real honest and caring people. This will discourage people and send them to the wrong things. Every little bit does help when it is all added up. You should leave the environment up to those who work to make it better.

    If you do not support environmentalism or you think that the earth is not in trouble or is not worth saving then that is your right and much as we disagree you are free to do the harmful activities you champion. But I ask that this be removed because these pages are not the right thing to do. Do not make an argument but just go on your hateful way. Just take this down as soon as you can please. That is the one important thing you can do.

    Thank you,
    Vincent


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  71. 71
    Sovietologist Says:

    Paraphrase: “We agree with your right to disagree- now please censor yourself.”

    Wow, you must be incredibly threatened by this.


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  72. 72
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Ecofriend, I find it very ironic that you are from a website which starts off with the first story on cloned meat (something I addressed in a recent post) and the second thing is about aircraft CO2 emissions – it states right here in one of the things which you actually agree with that aircraft are an example of a compartatively small contributer with a huge cost of fixing so it’s best not to focus on.

    Jesus, if this is so wrong, please go ahead and make your argument. You are encouraged to provide scientifically valid facts, historical refrences and draw logical conclusions based on established principals which have been tested and shown to be true. If you can do this then I’d like to see you prove this wrong.

    Please, this does not need to be taken down if it is wrong I am sure commenters will not have a problem showing that and I promise I won’t remove any comments. Okay, I guess that you’ll have to trust me on that but hell, you have your own website or at least are a member of it, right?


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  73. 73
    EcoFriend Says:

    If I may clarify, I am not representing Friends Of the Earth entirely, but I am a very active member in the group and can tell you it is a very good group to be a part of. It may require too much of a commitment from some who are starting off to become a full time member in some activities but they can still provide good information to be active in your community. People who want to make a difference can also donate to them and know it has done something good for earth.

    The debate on whether or not it is helpful to work for the environment is not useful. People who do not care about the environment will always be part of the world and we just work to try to convince them otherwise. I believe you are beyond convincing of the importance of this, but you still should not bring this up for others because it is no harm to you. I see nothing but bitterness and hatefulness. This hurts those who want to do a good thing, even if you do not.

    You should look in your heart and you will find the answer. Remove this promptly. It is the right thing to do. I am not here to talk about science or history. Only right and wrong. This is wrong. Please be a good person.

    Thank you,
    Vincent


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  74. 74
    EcoFriend Says:

    A message to environmentalists: If you have found this website on the internet I recommend that you do not consider it a good source of information. This starts out sounding honest. This is not a good place for environmental information. Please visit a better website for information on how you can help.


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  75. 75
    Sovietologist Says:

    EcoFriend, drbuzz0′s point is not that the environment does not need protecting, it’s that mainstream environmentalism has eschewed science and logic in favor of dogma and sentiment. The result of this is ineffective environmental protection. It’s extremely painful for longstanding members of the Green movement to admit this, but the fate of the earth ultimately depends on their coming around.

    We need environmental policy that actually works instead of measures that “feel right.”


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  76. 76
    DV82XL Says:

    ” I am not here to talk about science or history. Only right and wrong. “

    What breathtaking arrogance! What conceit!

    How dare you presume to lecture us on right and wrong?

    Argue with fact. The fact is we care very much for the environment, a great deal more that you or your fellow-travelers.

    Science proves us right and history will record the we are right, you and your ilk will be seen in the same light as those who supported slavery, fought woman rights.

    It’s time that you started being part of the solution, look at the ten points. If you have legitimate concerns, bring them, I want to hear them maybe you do see something that was missed. But don’t lay on that ‘look into your heart’ crap on.

    It only makes you look like a fool


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  77. 77
    DR1980 Says:

    The energy issue is certainly an interesting debate. I have enjoyed reading the submissions made. Many exceptional points have been raised and some irrational drivel has also polluted the page. I’m going to throw my hat in the ring and say immediately that nuclear fission is not THE solution. Yes, it is one solution and perhaps when speaking of large-scale, base-load power generation, it is the most feasible solution for future power generation put on the table thus far (until fusion can be contained), but, it is not THE solution. I have noticed one underlying theme throughout the discussion. We seem to be focusing on the ‘grand-scale’. Searching for the technology that will solve the GLOBAL energy crisis. Why is this so? Power generation should always be site-appropriate and should not necessarily on the grand-scale.

    I won’t talk too much about nuclear as it has been discussed extensively already. I will reiterate that nuclear is potentially a clean, cheap, base-load power supply that can be established in the absence of viable alternatives and it can potentially utilise existing infrastructure. What hasn’t been mentioned is the waste from nuclear power generation. Yes, there are safe measures for storing nuclear waste. The most widely utilised is the storage of waste in a geologically stable environment. Not all countries are blessed with geologically stable regions. This creates the issue that I think is most pertinent. Transport of nuclear waste. I think we would all agree that a minimal distance travelled is preferential. Despite Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, nuclear power generation is safe. Nuclear reactors must meet a 1 in 10,000 yr core damage frequency and most far exceed this. Rail, road and ocean transport do not meet the same safety standards unfortunately. Just as we wouldn’t shoot nuclear waste into space via a rocket, we should not transport nuclear waste long distances via public transport routes. Ideally, waste repositories should be established within close proximity to the power plant and transport should be via private transport routes only. Nuclear is not site-appropriate for all regions.

    Alternatives… generally considered a dirty word… can be vaible for site-appropriate power generation, especially on smaller scales. Communities should look to use what they have at their disposal. Hydro was mentioned. Clean, efficient but not always appropriate on a large-scale, especially in dry continents like Australia. Micro-scale units in fast flowing rivers can provide energy for smaller communites to suppliment grid electricity. A number of other viable alternatives exist. Geothermal is already used in a number of countries including Japan and NZ in the form of geyser utilisation. Geothermal hot-rocks are another viable source that has the potential to yield large reserves of base-load power. Tidal power in areas such as northwestern Australia where tidal ranges exceed 10m. There are even potential sources of energy within cities if people want to utilise them. Arrays of small wind turbines installed between buildings to take advantage of the wind-tunnel effects may help reduce the reliance of high-rise buildings on grid power. None of these alternatives will solve the global energy crisis but they will help alleviate it to some degree. We should not be entirely dependant on single, large-scale technologies. We should diversify and utilise the resources we have at our immediate disposal. We should suppliment our base-load power supply with smaller alternatives. There is such a dog versus cat mentality. Who cares which one you prefer. They both have their merits and both have a role to play.

    What I wish to say next is about individuals having the power to make a difference. I have heard this pessimistic drivel about people being selfish in their endeavours and therefore there is no hope for significant change. Change does not have to be on the grand-scale. Small changes by individuals can have a significant cumulative effect even if it starts out as a token gesture. Someone mentioned living a subsistence life-style. Their response was met by the following…

    “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?”

    What an offensive, narrow minded response. The problem is, that it is the excepted argument provided by ignoramuses. You can say the same about people who are against drugs but still use medicinal drugs, consume caffine and alcohol etc. It is just a rediculous argument. Sure, ideally someone wishing to live a subsistence life-style should be completely self-sufficient but isn’t it noble of them to at least make some effort rather than none at all? People who are making an effort should be commended for living in accordance with their beliefs even if their beliefs are not alligned with your own.

    There are many ways that people can make a difference around their own home. It doesn’t matter if it won’t save the world from the supposed destruction of climate change. It doesn’t matter if it starts as a token gesture. Changes in attitudes start with grass-roots education. A rampaging, rolling boulder was stationary at one time. Why can’t people make those small changes? You don’t have to employ all of them. Just the ones that you think would be of benefit. Plant deciduous trees to shade your house during summer months and allow sunlight through during winter. Rubber-backed curtains, solar hot water, construct your house with eaves or verandahs and use a large mass to build upon. Use insulation. Shorter showers. Cheaper cars. Grow your own vegetables or if you don’t have space then why not establish community gardens? These are not huge gestures but they can have significant cumulative effects if people choose to emply them.

    There is no one solution. Power generation should not always be considered on a grand-scale. Yes, we need a base-load power supply but viable alternatives to tradition fossil fuel combustion can in some instances, such as geothermal, be used as a base-load supply. Alternatives can also be used to suppliment the grid power or they can be used by individual households, highrise buildings or smaller communities as a predominant power source. We can reduce our impact by living a subsistence life-style if that is your thing or by at least living more efficiently. A change in attitudes must start from grass-roots education. Of course attitudes will never be universal but even a minority can still have an impact. Change should not be just to stave off potential world destruction. Change should be made because it is the right thing to do. We are guests of mother nature. She supports us. We should respect her.

    The last thing I wish to say is in regards to China, Indian and other tiger economies. Yes, their escalating levels of pollution are alarming but who are we to say that they do not have the right to develop? We, in developed nations have already gone through that stage of rapid expansion. We do not have the right to deny it of developing countries. We can try to change their attitudes through education or share technologies etc but we can’t deny them the right to develop.


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  78. 78
    Blitz3601 Says:

    EcoFriend, I want to chime in as well. Thank-you for staying civil. Please point out flaws in the 10 points. I personally agree that if each person makes changes in their lifestyle, it helps. My feeling is that these ten points are written to help us focus our energy where it counts. Turning off your light when you walk out of a room is important. Turning off your LED light is even better. But when you turn that light on in order to compose a letter to your congressional representatives, make it count for as much as you can. Pick the issues that actually impact the globe. Do the research. Think about how the general population really reacts – rather than how we might wish it would react. Make your time and energy count for as much as you can. That is what the ten points are about! If you have issues with the facts presented – make them plain and change this corner of the world too!


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  79. 79
    Charles Barton Says:

    Environmentalist never cease to amaze me. In the 1960′s and 1970′s Environmentalist foght tooth and nail to prevent any more rivers from being damed. The told us what a terrible rape of mother nature daming any more rivers was. Now they are gladly willing to sacrifice every river in the country to the fight against nuclear power. Whell what do you greens want to do. Destroy mother nature or protect it? Greens are simply neo-ludites.


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  80. 80
    Blitz3601 Says:

    I’d also like to add a few thoughts about nuclear waste. One of the things that drives me nuts is the fact that no one ever talks about scale with respect to neclear waste. Just north of the town where I live is a nuclear power plant that has been in operation for a little over 20 years. It is an 1100 net MW power station. So, it generates over a million kW-hrs per hour. It is big. In spite of this, all of the fuel (and when I say all, I mean every single pellet.) fits neatly in a pool of water at the top of the reactor building. I am going to repeat that because it is simply astounding to me! ALL of the fuel that has been used by that power plant in 20 years of continuous operation fits neatly in a pool at the top of the reactor building.

    Think about the waste products of other base load power generation and try to imagine what a volume of waste is generated by coal, or oil, or incinerators. We dump the CO2 to the atmosphere because the quantities are huge.

    About transport of spent fuel, two things: One the transport containers are incredibly tough they have been physically tested against drops from airplanes, direct strikes from speeding locomotives, they have been slammed by rocket powered sleds into concrete barriers, suspended over pools of fuel and burned for many hours. The containers for transporting spent fuel are astoundingly tough! The second thing is that one of the nice attributes of nuclear waste is the same property everyone worries about. Namely, radioactivity. In large doses it is, indeed, bad stuff. However, it also makes it extremely easy to detect. Should the pelets actually manage to escape a transport container. It is very easy to know that you have found them all. You don’t have to worry about some lingering spill danger.

    Lets also be rational about the longevity. We need to put the waste out of harms way for a lot of years. But look at mercury. It is highly toxic in minute quatities. Do you know how long it is highly toxic? It is not measured in thousands of years, that’s for sure. The lifetime of the planet is a better measure, and yet we spread mercury all over the land in nice little packages like batteries and ecofriendly flourescent bulbs.

    Point three is that the waste problem can be made even smaller if we start reprossessing the fuel as is done in Europe. Even though all of the spent fuel from that reactor north of town fits in a pool at the top of the reactor building – with reprocessing, much, much more energy could be extracted from it before it needed to be treated as waste. In addition, the eventual waste products are less toxic and not as long lived.


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  81. 81
    DV82XL Says:

    I’ll give you points for recognizing the nuclear waste issue is not the problem it’s made out to be and I note you do support nuclear power in general – however I do have a bone or two to pick with you.

    I believe you are talking about my criticism when I ask if green supporters still enjoy the fruits of Western technology while still condemning it. To me this is bald-faced hypocrisy, and it bears pointing out. There are minimum energy communities,the Amish were mentioned, but there are others, of a less religious bent out there, yet very, very few of the vocal greens are living in them, or starting them. It would seem to me that this would be a perfect position to lecture the rest of us on how WE should live. Until I see them making examples of themselves, they are just full of hot air.

    No I am not polite about it anymore, I’ve watched these people dominate the debate since the late Sixties, and their leaders resort to any number of unfair tactics to undermine any rational debate about environmental issues. In the beginning when we (and yes I was one of them) were fighting wholesale industrial dumping in the watershed and the air we were up against reactionary forces that threated jobs, the existence of towns, and the specter of another Great Depression (to an audience that had lived through it) and we had to fight dirty.

    Well we did make gains, but not without the help of Love Canal and a few other examples that drove home the point to the general public that something had to be done. True the job wasn’t finished. but by enlarge that first group started to suffer battle fatigue, and many of us had to get on with our lives. In retrospect that was a mistake.

    The Movement fell into the hands of those who saw it as way to make a living. To do so they had to keep the donations flowing and thus the message started to get more shrill. The push against nuclear power is a perfect example of this. with nothing more than ‘The China Syndrome’ and the ragtag ends of the Ban-the Bomb movement that had lost its way after SALT I they staged an attack on nuclear energy that wasn’t warranted.

    Much of the problems we are suffering now is a direct result of this group of people frightening the general public over nuclear energy, and even now when it has become crystal-clear that this technology is the only one that can save our collective asses, they persist. Their plan of low energy living is just simply unworkable. It’s unworkable technically, it’s unworkable economically, and it’s unworkable politicaly (or socially, if you prefer) yet they still beat this drum.

    Power generation MUST be considered on a grand-scale. There is really no other choice. What little other small local sources can contribute mean very little given it is not cost effective to integrate them into the grid. Scaling things like geothermal bring up other problems, as does wind and solar; these things do not have a zero impact ether.

    Frankly I find your suggestions for energy conservation naive and unworkable for most of the population of this continent, many of which are struggling to keep a roof over their head and food on the table. Talk of retrofitting every building is just as unworkable as attempting to rely on wind and solar for all of our energy needs.

    At any rate, anything that individuals do is a spit in the ocean and only provides the illusion that something is being done, and that’s not what we need.


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  82. 82
    Blitz3601 Says:

    I agree whole heartedly with you about the hypocrisy of living the lush western lifestyle while saying it is evil. My point is simply that hypocrisy is a wide spread disease and we are all a bit infected by it.

    I also very much appreciate all you said about still dealing with the aftermath of early scare tactics with respect to nuclear energy, and the wrong-headedness of not changing course.

    I will continue to disagree with you on the point of individual actions not adding up to big impacts. The whole reason we are in the situation we are in is simply because when six and a half billion individuals increase their standard of living even a little bit, the cost is enormous. The almost magic transportability of electricity allows us to centralize power production into very efficient large scale production facilities. We should take advantage of that and look at power production on a grand scale just as you say. However, all that centralized power is made for the sole purpose of enhancing the lives of millions and millions of individuals making small choices. For example, if each of the approximately 300 million individuals in the United States burns one of the 100 watt light bulbs in their bedroom for one hour less per day, that is 30 million kWhrs per day saved. 30 million kWhrs is the entire output of a 1250 MW base load power plant. If instead they changed that light bulb to an LED bulb with the same light output and left it on for the same few hours the burn the light now, that would mean several 1250 MW base load plants that do not have to be built.

    It is all part of the gradual change that needs to occur to wean ourselves from fossil power and greenhouse gas production. It is all part of the equation to stop the escallation and turn it around. I am not saying this is where the focus of our efforts should be. I am simply saying it is easy and it is part of the impact each of us can have.

    I also think as we look to the future, we have to keep dumping resources into research for solar power and alternative distributed energy production. There have been several breakthroughs in the last few years that can make solar panels much more cost effective, and environmentally benign. In many third world countries, the infrastructure we have in the west is missing. In Kenya and South Africa, for instance, They are unable to install power lines because as fast as they put them up during the day, the poles are cut down for fire wood or scrap metal and the copper wire is stolen and sold on the black market at night. Just a bunch of individuals trying to feed their families one more day…

    In spite of the fact that Solar technology as it currently exists is prohibitively expensive, and far from environmentally benign (due to the manufacturing process that have to be used to build our current solar cells), solar power is what is being installed in rural Kenya and South Africa. It can go in without infrastructure and it immediately changes the standard of living for those in that dwelling. This is what rule 9 looks like when the grid has not been installed. Another way of saying this is that the lack of infrastructure has the same kind of inertia that existing infrastructure has, and for the same reasons – putting in a new infrastructure is costly difficult and time consuming. Because there are several billion people in the world that fall into the “no existing infrastructure” category, research into distributed energy technologies still merits consideration.

    While I agree with rule two as stated, I do not believe that solar power falls under that rule. The reason is simply that the potential of solar power is astoundingly large. Unlike wind or waves or adding to hydro power installations, solar has the potential to be THE major player. It is worthwhile to continue seeking the breakthroughs required to make solar power a major player. We can not ptu too many eggs in this basket because the breakthroughs have not been made and we don’t know for sure that they can be (rule 7). But the payoff is so big that we would be foolish not to keep a few eggs rolling that direction.


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  83. 83
    Blitz3601 Says:

    When 6.5 billion people spit, the resulting pool is not negligible!


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  84. 84
    DR1980 Says:

    Nuclear waste is certainly a problem. Over the last ~50 yrs, The U.S. alone has accumulated over 30,000 tonnes of spend fuel rods and over 380,000 cubic metres of high-level nuclear waste. Where is this stored? The majority of nuclear waste is not stored in a permanent repository but in water basins and dry casks. The Yucca Mountain repository isn’t expected to be completed until 2021 at the earliest and then is far too small to house the waste that has already been created. Reprocessing would certainly help alleviate some issues pertaining to the amount of waste but how cost effective is reprocessing? Reprocessing also has significant political obstacles to overcome. I know, they are mostly unwarranted and as a result of the ignorant association between nuclear power and nuclear weapons but they still exist whether we like them or not.

    Transport of nuclear waste has been done so safely for decades yes. Storage canisters are designed to be corrosion resistent and accident resistent but they are not failsafe. No engineering solution is failsafe. Transport, especially acorss international borders or open water is, I would agree, more of a political issue then a technological issue but it is an issue none the less. Transport is still done so with caution for a reason.

    I’m sorry Blitz, did I write that nuclear power was worse than coal, oil or gas? No. I said that nuclear is very necessary but it is not the only technology that can be utilised and it shouldn’t be the only technology we use. This is to you too DV8, I said that power generation should be selected on a site-appropriate basis. Where a viable alternative is available then use it. Most alternative power is not viable. That is certainly the case in photovoltaic cells (which are actually good for producing hydrogen btw) and to a lesser degree wind power. Solar especially is very costly not only economically but environmentally. I would not advocate large-scale solar farms. I personally wouldn’t use photovolataic cells for individual households neither unless absolutely necessary but more so because of the use of batteries to store the power. I also made mention that such alternative power sources can not be used as a base-load power supply due to inefficiencies. I only elaborated on the ones that could and I specifically said that their scale would prevent them from being used in some instances. In the case of remote communities, wouldn’t it be far more rational to utilise clean, cheap sources such as tidal power instead of grid electricity that is transmitted vast distances?

    Geothermal hot rocks do have the potential to be used for a large-scale base-load power supply. Granitoid bodies can potentially provide vast amounts of clean energy at a cost lower than that of nuclear. Outlay costs generally are high but this is offset by negligible maintenance, fuel and decomissioning costs. Yes, there are environmental issues with geothermal hot rocks also. The potential for water, enriched with uranium to be released into the groundwater system. This is unlikely however as the system is kept under a state of vacuum due to constant pumping.

    Power generation does not need to be considered on a grand scale. Yes, when you are dealing with large communities you need to think large-scale but in the case of Australia, you are dealing with smaller communities spread over vast spaces. Supply a base-load power supply using nuclear, coal, hydro, geothermal yes but when possible, suppliment the grid power with alternatives.

    Niave and unworkable conservation meesures? They are common sense. No, not everyone will be able to utilise them but some of them don’t need be expensive. What is niave about planting a deciduous tree in your front yard to prevent the full strength of the summer sun hitting your house? How hard is it to put rubber backed curtains in your house? How hard is it to open your house in the early morning to to stimulate cross ventilation and then close it up during the peak of the summer sun? Even an imbecile would be able to understand that such measures are common sense. I am not talkiing about retrofitting. I am talking about fore-sight in future planning. Building your house so that it has eaves to reduce the exposure to the full force of the summer sun. Slab construction. Insulation. If you can afford it then double glazed windows. High ceilings. If you can’t afford it then do what you can. They are certainly not niave or unworkable. They are common sense, practical measures that anyone can employ.

    I agree with you about the hypocracy of many who call themselves dark green. It is something that irks me as well. Like I said, live by your beliefs. Those people still deserve some respect for trying to reduce their impact on the environment. I have friends who are dark green and they put alot of effort into their beliefs, more than I would be prepared to. Some of their actions are a bit hypocritical but they try and they are making some difference even if minor. Yes, anything that an individual does is just a spit in the ocean but it is a s*** load better then doing nothing at all. If nothing else, it shows a hell of a lot more character then those who think we are powerless to do anything at all. Those people spitting in the ocean are the ones who are enacting some change in attitudes of others towards the environment. I work as a research scientist in climate variability. I started research with grand ideas that I would make a difference in the world. I soon became disillusioned because I realised that I couldn’t change the world by myself. But, that doesn’t stop me from at least trying to make a difference. If I can add to the pool of scientific knowledge and change people’s perceptions then I have at least achieved something.


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  85. 85
    DR1980 Says:

    Scare tactics are a powerful tool!! I find it unbearable when people talk about nuclear power in the same light as nuclear weapons. It is rediculous but it works. Anyone doing research will tell you the same. When you write a grant application, you have to make your research appear as though it is vitally important for the furtherment of humankind. This is especially evident in climate change currently. The Australian of the year for last year was an out-spoken climate change activist. Anyone working the field cringes at his published work but we can’t deny that he hasn’t been successful. He is awarded large grants consistently and was given the honour of Australian of the year all because he scares the s*** out of people. I do the same when I write grant applications. I have a good laugh at what I write but it is necessary because the money goes to the projects that have the highest level of national significance. What is more significant than saving the world from iminent destruction? ha ha


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  86. 86
    Blitz3601 Says:

    Dr1980, I am not going to deal with the 380,000 cubic meters of high-level waste since most of that is due to weapons production and belongs in a different discussion. It is the 30,000 tons of spent fuel I was speaking of. Do the calculation. That is less than 0.2 lbs per person in the USA. My only point was that compared to other base load technologies, it is a very small amount of waste. Small enough we can do something about it. What is keeping us from doing soemthing about it is mostly irrational fear.

    You can ask France about the economics of reprocessing fuel. Since they do it routinely, they must find it economically beneficial.

    I also want to stand in agreement with your stance on conservation measures and living smarter. It is easy and virtually painless to do the things you wrote. Why not do them? And, why not tell your friends? It really is all part of the solution. And, I hope that you continue to add to our pool of scientific knowlege! for what it is worth I, for one, do think you have achieved something good, and that it matters.


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  87. 87
    DR1980 Says:

    Thanks Blitz. I agree with you entirely that the amount of waste produced from nuclear power production is minescule comparative to that of other base-load technologies. I didn’t touch upon combustion processes at all. I don’t think that they should be immediately ceased however. They still have a role in our society although their role should be down-scaled through time. The amount of waste can be dealt with yes but it isn’t being dealt with. Yes, the 380,000 cubic metres of high-level waste is largely attributed to weapons testing but that waste is still going to take up space in waste repositories that have yet to be built. Each year we produce upwards of 10,000 tonnes of spent fuel rods world wide. We aren’t dealing with that waste yet. We are producing more and more waste and still don’t have anywhere to put it. What happens when we double, triple… the number of reactors world-wide? How long were geological investigations conducted on Yucca Mountain? 30 years? How long is it going to take for repositories to be built? In the mean time the waste is being housed in temporary facilities, which I think everyone would agree is not ideal.

    Reprocessing costs ~15% more than disposal alone. Out of 40 countries, only Britain, Japan and France reprocess nuclear waste.

    Capital outlay for nuclear fission is relatively high. Does anyone know if fission technology can be utilised for fusion when it hopefully becomes available? Is it cost effective to invest heavily in nuclear fission now when the technology could become obsolete in the not too distant future?


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  88. 88
    Johan Says:

    Well there are solutions to the waste problem. Finland is building a final repository, sweden is about to, america already has one for military TRU waste, the WIPP, and there is no reason(except offcourse politicalt) it couldnt be expanded for civilian waste aswell. We have all the knoweledge and technology needed to build incredibly safe repositories. If just the greens would stop opposing them. As usual politics stands in the way for solid and reliable engineering solutions.

    I dont se a problem with letting the waste stay in the pools however, not when we can beging to utilize 97% of the waste to make more energy within the coming 20 years. Burrying the current spent fuel is a horrible waste of a precious resource.

    I cant imagine fusion making fission obsolete in this century.


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  89. 89
    Blitz3601 Says:

    At present all of the ideas for fusion have a markedly different reactor design than fission facilities. I don’t think we would see anyone try to use an existing fission power plant to retrofit a fusion reactor. There are dozens of partially completed fission power plants that got halted when the rapid rise in power consumption abruptly leveled off in the late 70s and early 80s. In every case that I know of, studies showed that it was cheaper to start from scratch building a new fission power plant than to complete the units started 20 years ago. And, that is going from fission to fission with the same manufacturer. Much of the reason for that is regulatory. But, the point is, as smart as retrofitting seems on the face of things, it rarely pans out economically.

    I agree with the assessment that the current storage of spent nuclear fuel is not the best way to go. Even if, we can not find the political will to build a permanent repository. We would be much better off storing the fuel in a monitored, retrievable (easily guardable) underground facility(ies) than to leave it in target shaped dry casks exposed and open to the world of suicide minded terrorists we currently live with. We could put a reasonable lifetime on such repositories – something our current technology can easily handle. Say 100 or 200 years. In that time, the political climate will cool even more than it has in the last 30.

    Also, I think when we compare the cost of reprossessing spent nuclear fuel to the cost of managing it as waste, we are making the wrong comparison. At the end of reprossessing you have a new bundle of fuel which would otherwise have had to be mined and processed from scratch. This is quite a valuable and useful commodity! At the end of waste disposal you got nothing but a hot hole in the ground.


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  90. 90
    Ecofriend Says:

    I appreciate the discussion this has spawned and that there is a need to understand the disagreements that some people have. There are different perspectives and everyone is allowed to have them. Environmental groups welcome those who would like to point out other solutions which may not have been thought of and to offer constructive criticism.

    I think your posting of this article has served this purpose but it is now best if it is removed such that it does not cause confusion to those who really care. Thank you for bringing up this discussion. Now the best thing you can do is remove this and we can continue to consider all sides. Please do so.

    Thank you,
    Vincent


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  91. 91
    Malph Says:

    I think I agree with about 95% of what you wrote. For something on the internet this makes far too much sense. Nice work.

    However, I think it is important to point out that 1. can be reversed:

    Sacrificing the needs of an environment for the economy will destroy both.

    And I think that both “economists” and “environmentalists” miss that it is a two way street. Fortunately, there are some that see the big picture; sadly though, I suspect that the amount of people that do see this and can influence people are too few to avoid some highly non-trivial problems in the near future.


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  92. 92
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Malph, I agree that environmentalism and economics do not need to be completely opposed to eachother. However, there are some political groups which seem to think that it’s desirable to have an enviornmental policy which involves economic sacrifices which are extreme to the point where they can impact the overall society and general growth. These will always fail. As too will those which are based on a wholesale reduction in consumption.

    Economics do not need to prevent good enviornmental policy, but the idea that the best way to help the environment is reduction in production or consumerism or generally shifting to a society which does not promote economic growth is a very flawed plan. The “Green Party” in both Germany and New Zealand seems to miss this. As too do some of the most fundamentalist groups.


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  93. 93
    Finrod Says:

    “I think your posting of this article has served this purpose but it is now best if it is removed such that it does not cause confusion to those who really care. Thank you for bringing up this discussion. Now the best thing you can do is remove this and we can continue to consider all sides. Please do so.”

    Confusion? Are you sure that was the word you were looking for? Perhaps the word you’re looking for is ‘clarity’.

    If you want to consider all sides, surely the post should stay. Unless, of course, you find it so fundamentally threatening that you just want it to go away.

    drbuzz0, given the occasional polite request here to take the article down, I reckon it’s hitting its mark with great effect. I encourage you to spread it far and wide, and bring it to the attention of as many environmentalists as possible.


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  94. 94
    ellindsey Says:

    Ecofriend-

    Why do you get to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t allowed to be posted on the internet? Why should you be the one to tell any site that it should be taken down? Don’t you think it’s a bit arrogant of you to claim to be the sole dictator of truth? You’re going to have to come to accept that people disagree with you and that this article isn’t going to be taken down.

    The more I read from the environmentalist movement, the more I’m realizing that it’s a religion for a lot of them. A religion whose which teaches that technology and progress are inherently sinful – it’s really not so much a pro-environment movement as a puritan, anti-human movement. I think we’re already starting to see a split between the more rational environmentalists who realize that technology can help mankind and the environment both, and the doctrinal anti-humanist environmentalists.


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  95. 95
    DV82XL Says:

    First Ecofriend its clear this list is a threat to you and your fellow-travelers as this is the third time you have asked it to be taken down. Consequently I promise you that I will make it a project to see that it get disseminated as widely as possible on the internet, and I will be talking to Doc privately later today about how this can be done.

    Nuclear waste is not a technical issue. There are several paths that exist right now to deal with it, from vitrification to combined fuel cycles using heavy water reactors to reprocessing. All of these are proven; all of these are in use. Nuclear waste is a political issue in the United States not the rest of the world. On top of that there are reactor designs that make the problem moot, like Molten Salt Reactors, which have had running examples as far back as the early 1950′s. The issue is a red-herring used by antinuclear supporters and nothing else.

    “When 6.5 billion people spit, the resulting pool is not negligible” No, the problem is getting everyone to spit. Look we haven’t been able to get population growth under control even when the economic, environmental, AND social benefits are something everybody agrees on. On top of which it IS something all 6.5 billion CAN do something about. How can you possibly think that individual conservation efforts are going to work?

    Malph Says: 1.(on the list) can be reversed. No Malp it can’t as Sovietologist has pointed out up thread the Communists tried to do that for 80 years and failed miserably. It didn’t work for them and it won’t work for us.

    The whole point of the list, of this thread is that we need to focus on practical solutions and those are inherently large-scale. Wanting to evangelize the world to change the laws of economics to something ‘better’ given the track-record of these initiatives is really showing a lack of foresight and an ignorance of history. It just won’t work


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  96. 96
    DV82XL Says:

    I am posting this for Rod Adams of Atomic Insights Blog

    I want to thank a friend for pointing to this well considered post and the generally civil and thought provoking discussion.

    There are a couple of aspects of the discussion that have not yet been introduced.

    It might surprise and seriously shake the belief structure of both Environmentalists and those who oppose the movement to know that at least some of the dogma in the Environmental religion were introduced or encouraged by people who LIKE to sell lots of fossil fuel at as high a price as possible. In other words, these dogma are selfish impositions by some rich and powerful people.

    As many who know the history of The Sierra Club know, one of its first really successful efforts was a campaign against hydroelectric dam construction. This was a natural for the organization, which had been started by some true conservationists who loved the beauty of the great outdoors, including the wild and undeveloped rivers and canyons in the Sierra Nevada. They were primed to work hard to protect those canyons from being turned into lakes. The money for the campaign, however came largely from well heeled Californians who just happened to work for or lead companies like Standard Oil, Gulf, and Chevron.

    You see, California had a tremendous resource of oil and as a byproduct of drilling for that oil it had a serious waste product called methane that needed to be flared away to protect the installations from explosions. Of course, being smart fellows, the oil company knew that this waste product contained useful heat that could produce electricity as long as someone invested the capital to collect it and pipe it to a steam plant. The economic case for that activity could not be made unless the price of the finished product was high enough to support the return necessary to attract the capital.

    That required price could not be supported in a state where you could produce most of the power that you needed by damning some rivers and depending on the hydroelectric cycle for fuel, especially if the damn construction was initially supported by the federal government. Of course, fighting damns for economic reasons is far more challenging than making it a “religious” activity supported by high minded “Environmentalists”. That is especially true since the customers for the cheap hydro power were also pretty smart and well connected and would have dismissed their friends at the local golf club.

    Suddenly, the rather small and poor Sierra Club found itself getting lots of very large donations to support its efforts to halt damn construction. At the same time, the oil companies made the necessary investments to collect the methane – they even got some subsidies for doing so since the flares were considered to be a nuisance – and began making a profit by selling the gas to the power companies. Of course, as the demand grew faster than the supply, the price of gas got better and better – from the seller’s point of view.

    In essence, that is how California came to depend on natural gas (a fine marketing term for methane) for its electricity with the help of Sierra Club.

    My references for this story are too numerous to list here, and most do not have links – they need to be found in dusty places fully of dead trees called libraries. One book that provides part of the story, however is titled In the Thick of It: My Life in the Sierra Club. It talks about how Sierra started taking large donations from people associated with “dirty” industries, but does not really connect the dots in the way that my interpretation above did. To fill in that piece you need to do a bit of analytical work on the Energy Information Agency web site plus dig through corporate annual reports.

    Anyway – do a bit of critical thinking. Who benefits when we have an energy supply situation where the balance between supply and demand forces the prices higher and where the suppliers can sell every bit of the product that they can possibly produce? Who wins when oil, gas and coal companies can paint themselves as heroic by talking about how hard they are working to find more product to sell? Who wins when windmills are subsidized? Who is supplying the “biofuel” market with heat, transporting the biofuels to market, and selling the diesel and fertilizer necessary to grow the crops?

    If you are also a strong anti-communist, think about the tight relationship between natural resources like oil and gas and the Soviet and Putin governments.

    Someday when I have more time, I will talk about how Nader is an Arab and how E. F. Schumacher made his living as a member of Britain’s National Coal Board with the duty of working to sustain the coal mining industry.


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  97. 97
    Blitz3601 Says:

    Turns out I spoke before i did the calculation. 6.5 billion people can spit and you will fill two olympic size swimming pools. If you dump those in the ocean it will not make a difference that we can measure with any current technology.

    Also, eliminating the need for one 1250 MW power plant does not make a dent in the problem. The point is that the cost for many of these ideas is nearly zero. So, by rule number 10 the benefit/cost ratio is very high (you may want to change rule 1 so that the numerator and denominator are in the right place – or change the wording to shoot for the lowest cost / benefit ratio). If we focus a lot of resources on these ideas, then the equation changes and we waste our resources. Thus, the statement, simply do it and tell your friends.

    At the same time lets use these rules to try to get people to focus combined national and global resourses where they count the most.

    EcoFriend, if you really have pull with organizations that have some clout – why would you not want use that clout where it counts the most? Why wouldn’t you want other similar organizations to do the same? I find it very strange that you want this discussion removed. (and, you do seem to be getting yourself confused with God… it is not your place to say what can and cannot be here.)


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  98. 98
    ellindsey Says:

    Trying to convince an old-school environmentalist that nuclear is good for the environment a bit like convincing a fundamentalist christian that abstinence-only education actually increases teen pregnancy and STD rates. Even when you show them the numbers, their minds reject it as being contrary to their core values, and decide
    that since you disagree with them you must actually be trying to lure teens into immoral ways, or destroy the environment, or whatever. You can’t argue people out of ideology.


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  99. 99
    Ecofriend Says:

    I do not claim to be the only voice on the internet or to be the only one who speaks for environmentalists or FOE. However, I am an active member of that organization which is a very good one and I am a committed person who cares a great deal about the environment. I cannot tell you what should and should not be posted with any authority other than being committed and caring for earth.

    I will state as someone who cares very much and who is very experienced that this is taking the discussion in the wrong direction. I do not think it is worthwhile for environmentalists to change their successful tactics and move toward things which are hateful and ethically wrong. It would be best if this were taken down, yes I can assure you that it would be for the greater good.

    You know this is a bad science blog and it has information on mad medicine and bad education and science studies which is a good thing. The blog’s author is involved in bad science but is not an enviornmental person. Please stick to what you understand and what you are good at. We will continue to fight our fight and you will fight yours.

    It would be best if you could remove this so that your website could focus on other issues important to you and avoid hurting efforts to aid the environment.

    Thank you,
    Vincent


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  100. 100
    ellindsey Says:

    How astonishingly arrogant to assume that you are the only ones who care about the environment, and that you are the only one who can speak for how to help protect it.

    I support the idea of reproducing this article widely. I’ve already linked to it from my blog and encourage others to do so.


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  101. 101
    Dave G Says:

    Let me point out why groups like FOE can’t understand math:

    Aviation makes less than 1% of co2 produced by humans. Aircraft are already very effecient because fuel is a huge part of the expense, so all reasonable efforts to reduce fuel usage and therefore CO2 are already being done. You cannot power an aircraft on electricity. You might be able to on hydrogen, but the tanks would be huge and the range reduced. There is no way you could tackle the aircraft problem that does not cost a lot and cause great sacrifices for a very minimal return. Thus, the best policy is to accept the emissions from aircraft as small and tolerable and go elsewhere.

    Coal fires are a huge source of co2 much more than aircraft. They serve no purpose and benifit nonone. The amount of money necessary to fix them is likely low and the only risk is that there will turn out to be more difficult to fight then many think (steam, slurry, paving and other means).

    Small risk, small cost huge benefit. versus huge cost for very little benefit.

    FOE has a campaign to bring notice for aircraft pollution and zero effort on coal fires. I have looked at their pages and I see NOTHING.

    There is no logical justification for such lopsided policy that I can think of, but feel free to defend it.


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  102. 102
    Finrod Says:

    Ecofiend, it is precisely because of your ignorant, head-in-the-sand, unscientific, dogmatic, counterproductive attitude that you and your fellow-travellers, and, more importantly, those you seek to influence, should be exposed to this article fully and at every available oportunity. For a start, it would be good for people to learn of the high-handed, dictatorial, thugish attitude of your kind to open debate and discussion.

    Any more of your Pontifical Decrees, and I shall be tempted to tell you what I really think of you.


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  103. 103
    marymary Says:

    THE EARTH SHOULD BE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE , “LIST OF CONCERNS”, FOR LIFE AND PEACE ON EARTH. IT’S ALL VERY WELL TO GIVE OPPINIONS AND DONATE WHAT WE CAN TO HELP THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM SO MANY DIFFERENT CONFLICTS, BUT THE ONE THING WE SHOULD ALL BE DEVOTING OUR TIME AND EFFORTS ON IS , THE EARTH”.
    FOR WITH OUT HER WE ARE NOTHING. AO THE NEXT TIME YOU FEEL GENEROUS AND DEVOTE YOUR, TIME, MONEY AND EFFORT TO THE , “LESS FORTUNATE”, STOP AND ASK YOUR SELF, AM I PUTTING THE EARTHS NEEDS FIRST? YOUR NOT!
    I HAVE TO KUDOS THOSE WHO ACTUALLY DO AND THERE ARE MORE AND MORE EVERYDAY, SO THANK YOU ALL, WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP?
    WHILE RICH CELEBS ADOPT CHILDREN FROM ORPHANGE’S OR RESCUE THEM FROM PERIL, (DON’T GET ME WRONG I THINK IT’S GREAT), BUT WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP THE EARTH? WITH NO EARTH WE’RE ALL IN PERIL. USE YOUR MONEYS TO BETTER THE EARTH BEFORE YOU TRY TO BETTER A LIFE, I’D GIVE MY LIFE TO HELP THIS EARTH WOULD YOU?
    INSTEAD OF SPENDING SOOO MUCH MONEY ON LUXURY LIVING AND TRAVEL USE IT TO BUILD 1 ECO FRIENDLY HOME. GRANTED NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD TO DO THIS RIGHT NOW, SO TO THOSE OF YOU WHO CAN, WHY IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU NOT? YOU WANT TO BE A HERO, HELP THE EARTH FIRST. WITH OUT HER THERE’S NO CHILD TO RESCUE.
    I’M NOT DISSING PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GIVE KIDS A BETTER LIFE, I MYSELF HAVE ADOPTED, BUT FOR ALL THE CELEBS OUT THERE,(DOBT YOUR READING THIS) JUST IN CASE, PLEASE YOU KNOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE MORE THAN US ,”AVERAGE jOES”. SO I ASK YOU TO CONSIDER THIS, START SOMETHING NEW IN HOLLYWOOD, PERHAPS, “HOLLYWOOD GOES GREEN”?
    PUT THE EARTH AT THE TOP OF ALL ISSUES ON HER! WITH OUT HER, THERE ARE NO ISSUES, NO LIFE.
    WE ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES TO LIVE ON THIS PLANET, YET WE ARE SOELY RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTROYING HER. HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF SOME ONE CAME TO YOUR HOME AND STARTED TO DESTROY IT? STARTED KILLING OFF YOUR FAMILY?
    WOULD YOU STAND BY? I THINK NOT!
    THERE’S LOTS OF IN-EXPENSIVE WAYS TO HELP, MOST FREE, DO SOME HOMEWORK, IF YOUR READING THIS YOU HAVE THE BEST TOOL RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, USE IT, SPREAD THE WORD AND DON’T LET IT GO. THINK OF IT AS IF YOU JUST FOUND OUT YOU HAVE A SERIOUS ILLNESS THAT WOULD KILL YOU IF YOU JUST LEFT IT.
    WOULD YOU JUST LEAVE IT OR WOULD YOU MAKE CHANGES THAT WILL SAVE YOU?
    INSTINCT WILL KICK IN AND YOU’LL FIGHT FOR YOUR SURVIVIAL, LET YOUR INSTINCT TAKE OVER, FIGHT, TEACH AND PROTECT.


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  104. 104
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Must I state again for the record that I really like it here on this planet and I also like good things like clean water and not choking on the art. Also I prefer to have an overall minimal impact on the environment, especially in regards to things which can cause serious damage to the overall global systems.

    Also, I should mention that when I see poor people living in poor countries that have a very low standard of living, nutrition that there is nothing more I want then to see more of the third world improve in living standard and see a general reduction of poverty and more education/health care/development/food/clean water.

    I swear, that’s really what I’m motivated by…


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  105. 105
    Fillivo Says:

    COAL CANT BURN UNDERGROUND IDIOT! YOUR SO STUPID HOW CAN EVERYONE THINK THIS IDIOT HAS ANYTHING TO SAY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO GO LEARN SOME SCIENCE F*****G DIPS**T MORON


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  106. 106
    ellindsey Says:

    Coal can’t burn underground? Tell that to the residents of Centralia, PA. That is, the handful who didn’t evacuate when the coal seam under the town ignited.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centralia,_Pennsylvania
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mine_fire

    It’s not just mines either. The coal seam in Burning Mountain in Australia has been burning for about 6000 years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_Mountain


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  107. 107
    Finrod Says:

    marymary and Fillivo: On the left hand of your keyboard you’ll find a button in the middle called Caps Lock. Yours appears to be on. I think this is a good idea. It makes you seem really forceful and committed, and gives people the ability to gauge the value of your posts at a glance. Please continue on in this vein to make a positive contribution to the debate.


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  108. 108
    DV82XL Says:

    Filivo Read Coal Mine Fires then apologize to everyone here,


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  109. 109
    Michael Ejercito Says:

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

    People who claim that conservation should be mandated seem to forget exactly who is going to mandate this conservation.


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  110. 110
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    COAL CANT BURN UNDERGROUND IDIOT!

    So where is the fire coming from?

    Did someone succeed in breaking out of Hell?


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  111. 111
    Michael Ejercito 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.

    And what exactly would get people to use less oil, except higher prices?

    People will waste what is cheap and conserve what is plentiful.


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  112. 112
    Michael Ejercito 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.

    You are going against human nature.

    Your arguments are like those of Rebecca Hagelin and Janice Shaw-Crouse advocating abstinence-until-marriage as a solution to teenage pregnancy.

    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!

    Just like young people will stop have sex for fear of pregnancy and disease?


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  113. 113
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Maybe we should consider that our schools shouldn’t just teach people not just knowledge but also to be good people too!

    The Roman Catholic Church, considered by some to be the one true church, has been teaching people to be good for almost one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight years now. Apparently some people have not learned their lesson.


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  114. 114
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Coal fires are very real and they occur in areas which have both natural and man made paths for oxygen to get into the coal seem. Porous ground combined with fissures and mine tunneling means that massive fires can burn for decades and burn millions of tons of coal. The CO2 released is very appreciable and the effect on local ecology is disastrous.

    China has more coal fires than any other country the coal fires in China alone account for more co2 than all the cars and light trucks in North America. Worldwide coal fires account for nearly as much CO2 as all passenger cars combined!

    The one majos successful effort to fight a large coal fire occurred in Liuhuanggou China. The massive fired had been burning for more than a century. It was extinguished by an effort to find and plug major sources of oxygen followed by a program to map the fire with infrared measurements and to drill into it and inject water. The effort took four years and cost the US equivalent of 12 million dollars. However, researchers in Europe and US have indicated that they believe new techniques using high pressure steam, CO2 or other means which have more penetrating power and volume than water could CUT THAT TIME DOWN TO A YEAR OR LESS.

    Do you know how much 12 million dollars is in terms of energy funding? The US Department of Energy has a 60 billion dollar anaul budget, most of which goes to research of new technologies.

    12m is SQUAT and EVERY enviornmental organization should be ALL over this and DEMANDING to have programs to put out coal fires. It would be a bargain at ten times the price!


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  115. 115
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    I HOPE PEOPLE LIKE YOU DIE FOR THE GOOD OF THE FUTURE

    Impotent coward.


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  116. 116
    Dave G Says:

    Agreed Drbuzz0, but why should greenpeace and FOE be demanding that the government put out those fires alone? They could get the ball rolling by doing it themselves. They certainly have enough volteneers. They certainly have the money.

    What do you think would happen if they announced “Tomorrow’s protest is canceled. Don’t bring signs, instead bring shovels and hoses. We’ll be meeting at the old mine where there’s a big fire instead. We need everyone who can come to help man the pumps and donate money for the infrared survey and the rental on the pumpes and piping and also the price of all the compressed gas and steam generators. Everyone will be divided and your job is to fill in the cracks and mineshafts with gravel and cement”

    Yeah… I bet all the members would show up, right? I mean it would make a big difference. (sorry did that sound sarcastic?)


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  117. 117
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    We have to live within our means.

    What do you define as our means?

    I have a bachelor’s degree in Finance, and living within one’s means is being able to fully finance one’s lifestyle without having to increase debt. Now many people borrow money just to cover expenses (as opposed to borrowing to purchase assets.)

    People who live outside their means become bankrupt and are reduced to poverty.


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  118. 118
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Seriously. Some of these green people remind me of the alleged state senator in the 30’s that wanted by law to make pi equal to 3. To make it easier for calculations.
    The green party in germany also has tried to repeal the 2nd law of thermodynamics. They were after all LAWmakers. Results were and are predictable.

    The arguments by some of these green people are very similar to arguments by people promoting abstinence-only sex education.

    In fact, I wonder if there is a significant overlap between the two groups.


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  119. 119
    Fillivo Says:

    FIRST I THINK YOU”RE LYING AND SECOND I DON”T SEE YOU ****S OUT PUTTING OUT COAL FIRES ALL I SEE IS YOU SITTING ON THIS PIECE OF S*** WEBSITE TALKING ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD DESTROY THE WORLD BECAUSE YOUR TOO STUPID F*****G IDIOTS AND I HOPE YOU LEARN OR JUST EAT YOUR OWN S*** AND DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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  120. 120
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Two things:

    1. Honestly, if i had anywhere near the means or following of most enviornmental organizations, I would most certainly tackle coal fires myself (in addition to trying to raise awareness of the problem and more importantly establish protocols for fighting them and bring in people from other areas or countries to learn how to fight them so they could return to their areas and put them out)

    2. I am going to have to edit some of the comments here. I assure all that no content or context will be changed, but I’m going to need to censor some of the expletives. They are not desired here because I want to have this site avaliable and not showing up on filters in schools or libraries. I think it’s fair to remove the obscenity and retain the message since it doesn’t really pertain.

    If you can’t all be mature I’m going to have to invoke a profanity filter and I do not want to have to do so.


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  121. 121
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Every choice people make has tradeoffs.

    Each choice has its own benefits and costs; some choices have no benefits.

    Regarding government intervention, some choices should always be punished because they clearly violate individual rights (running a murder-for-hire business, dumping industrial waste into someone’s backyard.)

    But it is not so clear when no individual’s right is being violated, but the costs are borne by society. No specific inidividual has a claim to the ocean or other public waterway. Governments, as proprietors of oceans up to twelve miles off the shoreline, as well as public waterways, have the right to regulate activities in those areas such as fishing or dumping waste. But what if a fishing business provides tax revenue, which also benefits society. A business that generate industrial waste also generates tax revenue, which may offset the costs of disposing waste into an approved site.

    These questions do not have one-size-fit-all answers.


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  122. 122
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Indeed, Michael Ejercito, there is no easy answer to things, however that is the point of the “ten things” it helps evaluate if a solution is viable at all or just unworkable.

    But then I’d also like to add I have always favored a policy which works by providing clean plentiful energy to encourage people to use it. If you make it inticing to do so people will have no problem leaving other forms of energy.


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  123. 123
    marymary Says:

    “Caps off”, There’s alot of talk of ,”reality and Economy” when it comes to the earth’s welfare and there valid points, not that you need me to say so. However when your faced with the reality of , no home, no food, no electricity or water with a Family to provide for and protect, your idea of reality changes and the economy is irrelavent. At least for this moment and who knows how long that will be. I believe that this is inevidable the way we’re going. A little extreme, for many perhaps but I’d rather teach my children and my Community that this is a possibility and we should not only try to avoid it, (obviously) but we should be prepared. For the people in public eyes, whom have a great deal of influence on our youth, You all should be helping to get the word out to our Youth every where on this planet. Make it a new ,”fad”, if you will.
    No matter who you are or what you believe in or how much money you have , we all require the same ,”basics”, of life.
    Nieve, perhaps but true.
    I think anyone who’s lived in a community that has lost power for a lenghty time would agree, to a point anyway. People who good afford it just left but that may not be an option for some in the future, (maybe that’s what ,”and the meak shall inherrit the earth”, really means.
    Pardon me for any spelling errors.


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  124. 124
    Finrod Says:

    “But it is not so clear when no individual’s right is being violated, but the costs are borne by society. No specific inidividual has a claim to the ocean or other public waterway.”

    It could be argued that lack of private ownership of these natural assets is the main factor for lack of concern polluting them. If they could be owned by individuals or corporations, the owners would have a huge interest in preserving and enhancing the value of their property.


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  125. 125
    DV82XL Says:

    You’re so right Finrod, but that bit of logic is way, way beyond most people to the point where we can’t waste time pushing it for now.


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  126. 126
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I just want to make note of something: I made a (small) edit to the list. Number ten said “Highest cost/benefit ratio” It struck me that was entirely mathematically incorrect. If it had been “most favorable” then it would be okay, but since the wording implied that it was the highest ratio of cost divided by benefit that would be the opposite of what you want..

    Thus I reversed them. I’m just a stickler for mathematics like that.


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  127. 127
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Clean energy has its benefits.

    Coal would be clean energy source if the emissions were trapped in an airtight container.

    It could be argued that lack of private ownership of these natural assets is the main factor for lack of concern polluting them. If they could be owned by individuals or corporations, the owners would have a huge interest in preserving and enhancing the value of their property.

    Which is why water and air pollution are big problems, as private ownership the ocean or the air is impractical.


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  128. 128
    Blitz3601 Says:

    Thanks for correcting rule 10 and for deleting the expletives. I’d like my son to read through this and appreciate your work. My opinion is that it does not change what they have contributed in any significant way.


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  129. 129
    drbuzz0 Says:

    ” “Caps off”, There’s alot of talk of ,”reality and Economy” when it comes to the earth’s welfare and there valid points, not that you need me to say so. However when your faced with the reality of , no home, no food, no electricity or water with a Family to provide for and protect, your idea of reality changes and the economy is irrelavent.”

    No! Your idea of the enviornment changes. The econemy becomes even more important. When you are cold you burn what you have to burn and care little how it pollutes. When you have no fresh water you demand it be provided even if doing so means daming up a major river or some other extremely enviornmentally damaging activity. If you have no electricity you will not object to a coal power plant being built!

    No now the economy becomes more relevant than it ever has before to you. You want food? You will need employment. The economy will not provide you with employment if it is in the hole. You want a higher standard of living with electricity and water and housing? HA! What chances do you think you have of that in an outright recession?

    The better the economic situation is the better the chances of upward mobility are and the more funds will be avaliable for social problems.

    Now you can make the argument that “protecting the environment is going to be better for the economy in the long run”

    There are several problems with this:

    1. Only a collective action can have an impact but since every individual can do as they choose and every decision is made by individuals they will tend not to. (This is why it’s hard to get people to vote, especially in electoral districts which have no reasonable possibility of being decisive)

    2. You get no tangible benefits from preventing future problems or from stopping things from getting worse. If you stop global warming you don’t improve the world. You only keep it from getting worse. Much less inspiring to the populous.

    3. There is no imidate benefit and it’s impossible to know when a noticable benefit is.

    You will have a hard time getting people behind things on the grounds that “If we had not instituted this policy there’s a 60% higher chance you’d be suffering from asthma right now”

    But that is besides the point.

    “I think anyone who’s lived in a community that has lost power for a lenghty time would agree, to a point anyway. People who good afford it just left but that may not be an option for some in the future, (maybe that’s what ,”and the meak shall inherrit the earth”, really means.
    Pardon me for any spelling errors.”

    No it’s really the opposit. That is actually the point. If your community has lost power for a lengthy time, who will have the power? Those who can afford to move out or to buy a generator. You now have a situation in which energy shortages dramatically effect the poor worse than the rich.

    Thus this only proves that energy rationing will cause such problems. Furthermore, the meak do not inherit the earth, because the atmosphere and water is shared. Those who end up surviving are those with the money to keep going even amongst shortages. Hence: You have regressive taxation and disproportional burden on the poorest


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  130. 130
    DR1980 Says:

    We had a coal-fire in the Southland colliery near my place a few years ago. They were able to extinguish the fire relatively quickly by pumping the mine with fire suppression gasses and sealing the mine. I’m not exactly sure how long it too to extinguish the fire but the mine was closed for a total of 3 years.

    I’ve been to the Burning Mountain also. It’s in the same region that I live in. It is an interesting place. You can distinctly see the margin of the burning coal seam as you walk up the mountain by the dieback of vegetation. It reminds me very much of an ecotone. The top of the mountain is desolate and sulfur encrusted. Apparently there are 2 other underground naturally burning coal seams in the world.

    Has anyone mentioned carbon capture or sequestration? Richard Branson is offering $US25 Million to anyone who can devise a way to remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere.


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  131. 131
    KLA Says:

    Just to put a few things into perspective. Imagine there were a law for oil companies or refiners that they are allowed to refine out only one gallon of gasoline out of every 149 gallons of oil (0.7%). The other 148 gallons they forced to treat as “waste” and pay for the disposal of it, but are not allowed to put it back into the ground. With oil at $100.- a barrel (42 gallons) that gallon of gasoline would cost more than $300.-. We would sink in a see of waste. Also, oil would have run out early in the 20th century.
    Sounds silly, right?
    But that is exactly the situation with nuclear power today.
    The vehement opposition to fuel reprocessing and against breeder reactors HAS MANDATED this situation. It also FORCES creation of that waste.
    In regards to CO2 sequestering from coal plants. Every ton of coal burned creates roughly 3 tons of CO2. 3 tons of CO2 is a VERY large volume. Multiply that with the thousands of tons of coal used every year. Where to put it? There are suggestions of underground caverns and such using high pressure storage. Doesn’t anybody remember the thousands of people that died when a volcano in Africa a few years ago released a relatively small CO2 cloud? Any rupture in one of those underground storage sites (they’re under very high pressure, remember) has the potential to release a suffocating CO2 cloud for many miles around. Killing anything that moves. The probabilities of such an accident are orders of magnitude higher and more deadly than even the worst possible nuclear accident in a western reactor.


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  132. 132
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I heard about that but as I understand it it applies to removing co2 that is in the atmosphere. Do you know if it would qualify in situations where one prevents it from entering the atmosphere?

    If it’s to take it OUT of the atmosphere then one is rather limited. Any idea how much lithium hydroxide $25M can buy? (not that it really does any good because it takes energy to make so..)


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  133. 133
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Actually it’s funny that Co2 capture should be mentioned. I actually was working on a graphic to illustrate how you can store CO2 from a single coal fired plant’s annual production. This based on one of the larger (1.5-2 gigawatt) US anthacite fired plants approximate annual co2.

    Three options presented:

    at maximum theoretical density as a highly compressed ultra-cold dry ice material
    (of course this would take more energy to actually do than is produced)

    As a highly compressed cryogenic liquid (would take about as much energy as is produced)

    As a solid chemical by binding it with a CO2 absorber

    Take your pick. BTW: Ever been to Cape Canaveral Florida? Damn that building is HUGE. It’s only like 60 stories or something, but HUGE

    http://www.depletedcranium.com/co2sync.jpg


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  134. 134
    DV82XL Says:

    What I’m worried about is schemes for carbon capture that involve massive adjustments to other systems like the iron dumping in south polar oceans. Too many unanswered questions.


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  135. 135
    KLA Says:

    In contrast to that, ALL the nuclear waste produced with the hughely forced inefficient method I mentiond of all US nuclear reactors since the first one started to operate 50 years ago still fits into a high-school gym.
    Put another way: With new thorium based reactor technology ALL the waste produced by the energy use of a typical 4 people american houshold for 70 years would fit into a coffe cup. And even that would decay to harmlessness in 300 years or so. THAT is what I would call environmentalism and protecting the earth.


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  136. 136
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yeah those ones seem to have more credibility although they also scare the bejesus out of me in terms of the overall effect on the ocean chemistry and biology. They get less attention probably because people realize pretty fast that dumping massive amounts of anything in the ocean could be dangerous


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  137. 137
    DR1980 Says:

    I agree. Sequestration scares me for a number of reasons. One highlighted is the potential release of CO2. I do alot of caving. The biggest danger in most caves are CO2 pockets. I have experienced what it was like to be in a CO2 pocket. I didn’t even realise I was in it. It isn’t just a killer. It is a silent killer.

    Methane is an interesting example. Frozen methane in the deep ocean indicates that storage may be possible but on the other hand, release of methane from those very reserves 55 million yrs ago are thought to be responsible for the extinction of a large proportion of species within the ocean and on earth not to mention climate change…

    It is good that you mentioned changes to ocean chemistry and biology drbuzz. CO2 has the potential to increase acidification significantly. My biggest concern however, hasn’t been mentioned. The CO2 that we have emmited into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution (~150 yrs) has been identified as the major driver of global warming and the changes to general circulation that have resulted. What happens to atmospheric circulation if you remove large quanitites of CO2 from the atmosphere at a rapid rate?


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  138. 138
    DV82XL Says:

    The worse thing is that iron-fertilization of the sea will only excuse more burning of coal and CO2 is not the only waste product from that sector.


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  139. 139
    drbuzz0 Says:

    There is that and there’s something else I was reminded of by your posting, although slightly off topic. Fossil fuel recovery releases MASSIVE amounts of methane. Coal mines, for example, they need to have large fans in the underground ones and even the above ground strip mines have danger of explosion if they have a high methane area. The methane from coal mining is too dilute to economically capture but the amounts are very significant. It is a considerably more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.


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  140. 140
    DR1980 Says:

    H2O is even more potent, which brings into question the appropriateness of hydrogen as a fuel source…


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  141. 141
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I don’t know that H2O (water vapor) is really a concern with hydrogen. Water vapor is already common in the atmosphere. Burning natural gas makes water as do most fossil fuels and if you made hyrdogen from water then one would assume it would be neutral.

    Yes, H2O can trap heat in some circumstances, but that doesn’t seem to be really effected much by humans


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  142. 142
    Rod Adams Says:

    I will try again to get a rise out of both “Environmentalists” and those who believe that environmentalism is all about trying to push people to a low energy, low economy existence.

    My theory is that many mainstream environmental groups fight nuclear energy because it is threatening to the profits of the oil, coal and gas industries. People that make a living off of those industries have huge incentives to try to limit the supply of competitive energy sources and make a tremendous amount of money when the balance between supply and demand is shifted in favor of the seller.

    Please think about this concept long and hard and then tell me what you think.


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  143. 143
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I think that may very well be a big part of it. There are a number of factors. Some are doubtless just following what is said blindly.


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  144. 144
    DV82XL Says:

    No doubt at all the leadership gets its marching orders from their real clients, the poor sheep in the trenches don’t know ant better.

    Ultimately we just have to ask Cui Bono?


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  145. 145
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    The worse thing is that iron-fertilization of the sea will only excuse more burning of coal and CO2 is not the only waste product from that sector.


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  146. 146
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Sulfur oxides are a waste product of burning coal. (Coal contains sulfur as an impurity.)


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  147. 147
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    The vehement opposition to fuel reprocessing and against breeder reactors HAS MANDATED this situation. It also FORCES creation of that waste.

    What were the reasons for opposition to fuel reprocessing and breeder reactors.


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  148. 148
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Well reprocessing could be used as part of a weapons program. With the fuel from most reactors that wouldn’t work too well, but you could in theory use it as a front for weapons grade plutonium recovery.

    (Why the hell this matters in countries like the US/Brittan/France which already has plenty of weapons grade plutonium or countries like Canada/Germany/Japan which could totally build a nuke if they really wanted it with or without a reprocessing program… ya got me)

    The same with breeders, although you’;d have to modify most of the non-weapons breeders with a faster throughput.

    Reprocessing can also be messy if you do it incorrectly and don’t have good controls.. Some of that happened at hanford.


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  149. 149
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Wow. This post has generated more coments and more traffic in a short time than any previous. Funny, I kinda thought it was too long and wrote it without much thought for it being a “major” posting. I mean sometimes I do four or five in a day but a lot of people have been attracted to this and it’s been posted on several other websites.

    NIFTY!


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  150. 150
    DV82XL Says:

    These “10 things” are a major contribution to the fight, my friend, and you should be justifiably proud.


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  151. 151
    DV82XL Says:

    As far as stopping reprocessing to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, recent history seems to indicate that countries that want to will make nuclear weapons whether we like it or not.


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  152. 152
    Phillip Says:

    Everything I see here is about the past “Oh in the 1970′s when the US was in a fuel crisis” “Oh well a long time ago in Germany” “Oh well they tried that in the 1950′s” “Oh well during the second world war they rationed…” “Oh through history they have tried many times to have people…”

    As someone who cares about the future I would rather not worry about how things were done in the past. The problem is that in the past they did things wrong and that’s why we are stuck with the pollution we have now. I don’t think we should listen to this because it’s just ancient history. Things are different now and we are learning to live differently with minimal impact and sustainable lives.


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  153. 153
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Phillip: The historical context is only there to demonstrate what some strategies will yield in the real world and show that it will do the same. These things have been tried many times before. Basic human nature and the way things work does not change. If oil rationing lead to burning motor oil in the 1970′s it will do so today. If people resisted rations in the second world war they will do so today.

    This is the same song and dance over and over.

    Those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.


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  154. 154
    Ray for Sustainable Life Says:

    Thank you very much for starting this fruitful discussion. I know that many organizations have this sort of thing in mind already and it’s appreciated that another voice has entered the mix. However, as an environmentalist and a fan of science I think that the best policy now would be to remove this. It’s becoming hateful and off track.

    I think most here can agree that this was useful and it’s now time to take it down so it can be digested and to help prevent any further confusion for anyone. This is getting off topic so I am sure you’ll realize that the best policy is to remove it.

    Thanks a lot. I look forward to other posts in the future on this topic. But this I think has made it’s point.


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  155. 155
    DV82XL Says:

    Boy this must be getting under their skins!


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  156. 156
    DV82XL Says:

    But more seriously, (and to get the thread back on track) it would be a great idea if we could get rid of subsidies, mandates, preferential pricing and all the other games that politicians play with energy supplies. Basically, direct & indirect energy subsidies are not sustainable over the long term as was pointed out in #3 and worse it distorts the market in such a way that more and more must be poured in to maintain the status quo creating a state of dependency.

    Unfortunately this has already happened and dismantling this structure is going to be a slow process, and \I suspect that we will have to live with it for some time to come. For the life of me I can’t think of any way this can be accomplished at this point.

    Anyone have a practical solution to this problem?


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  157. 157
    Finrod Says:

    I don’t think so, Ray. This is war. In the unlikely event that drbuzz0 does take the article down, I’ll put another one up just like it. This is a passionate battle for the future. You cannot be permitted to win. The results would be horrific.


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  158. 158
    Rod Adams Says:

    Michael Ejercito: (apologies to Phillip for the following history lesson)

    You asked:

    What were the reasons for opposition to fuel reprocessing and breeder reactors.

    The vocal arguments against recycling nuclear fuel focused on weapons and the concept of nuclear nonproliferation. It was a major topic in the mid 1970s with a large political impact. Part of the stimulus that brought the issue center stage was a test conducted in India. Using plutonium that had been recovered from the used fuel from a heavy water moderated research reactor, Indian scientists and engineers built a device that they called a peaceful nuclear explosive. Though some people cannot conceive of how such a device can be called peaceful, the use of explosives in construction and resource extraction industries is widespread enough that the US had a large program called Plowshares with the goal of using fission based explosives to dig canals, create harbors, and free up “tight” natural gas reservoirs.

    In 1974, the Indians tested their device. That upset a whole bunch of people, even though the device tested could never have been delivered by a plane or a missile – it was far too bulky. I spent some time discussing this topic a few days ago with Charles Ferguson a Fellow for Science and Technology for the Council on Foreign Relations. You can hear that conversation on Atomic Show number 80. (http://atomic.thepodcastnetwork.com)

    Though the nonproliferation movement already had some pretty strong legs, it seized on publicity that the event created and used that to scare people into action. Of course, since the movement was focused on gaining a particular action – halting nuclear fuel recycling – they emphasized the fact that the explosive used plutonium from recycled fuel and obscured the technical fact that there is a huge difference in the behavior of plutonium recovered from a heavy water moderated research reactor and the material that can be recovered from a normally operated power reactor.

    By 1976, the issue was so important that it was one of the major topics of discussion leading up to the US presidential election. You can tell how important it was by taking a glance through the Statement on Nuclear Policy issued by President Ford on October 28, 1976, about 2 weeks before the election. The statement is no simple political statement, but a lengthy, thoughtful policy statement that recognized the fact that there were legitimate reasons for taking a measured approach to using technology that had the ability to fundamentally change the world’s political balance. You can find a transcript of that statement on Atomic Insights at President Ford: Statement on Nuclear Policy October 28, 1976. If you can think about how busy a president and his staff can be in the run up to an election, you can tell from the depth of the statement that it was a major effort with a high priority.

    Encouraging recycling could lead to a large market in plutonium for power reactors and could encourage a rapidly growing industry based on using that material as the seed for breeder and converter reactors. With breeder reactors, you are no longer limited to using the 0.7% of uranium that is U-235, but you can use the 99.3% that is U-238 and you can use the four times greater resource represented by thorium 232. Both of these materials contain vast quantities of potential energy and they will readily fission if they are hit by two neutrons – one to convert them to a fissile material (Pu-239 or U-233 respectively).

    There are at least two interpretations to the fear of a plutonium based economy. One is the surface argument. Having more plutonium in the world somehow makes it more likely that someone somewhere will succeed in obtaining enough plutonium to put together a bomb. Anyone who has read Richard Rhodes’s excellent history The Making of the Atomic Bomb and has any understanding of science, engineering and industry will realize just how much more time and effort is required between obtaining the material and making a bomb, particularly one that can be delivered to a target.

    The interpretation that matches my understanding of human behavior – especially that of rich and powerful people – is more cynical. I think that facing the fact that used nuclear fuel is a resource that enables a growing use of fission and not a pure waste product that will constipate the industry scared the hell out of people who profit by feeding the world’s current addiction to coal, oil and natural gas.

    Pushers cannot let their customers off the hook so easily and will do everything they can to scare them into further dependence. Using a convenient, but largely false argument – a big lie – would not budge their moral compass.

    If you want to learn more, I suggest using Google Books and searching on the term “plutonium economy”. You might want to do it from a library computer so that you can go find the references and do some heavy political science and history reading. It really is a fascinating topic. (I swear.)


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  159. 159
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Dismantling subsidies? Oh geez that’s going to be hard. For the time being just not adding new ones would be a step in the right direction. As mentioned, subsidies are okay if they are needed in the short term to get things started or if you get a big return on the investment, but you can’t have them keeping things going so much as “jump starting” an industry that is not starting fast enough.

    That’s something some don’t get. They say “We still need solar subsidies” or something because “we’re still working on getting the price to come down on it’s own.” Right. They’ve been saying that since the 1970′s and it still has no end in sight.

    Right now, if the politicians could just keep them from growing for now it would be a start. Then some would start to expire and eventually maybe even repeal some. But god, it is a lot harder to get rid of them then it was to create them!


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  160. 160
    Roger that one Says:

    STFU especially you Finrod. Just STFU!


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  161. 161
    Finrod Says:

    I don’t understand why this sort of thing comes as a revelation to our Green friends. Haven’t they been keeping up with how the field of nuclear power, and indeed, nuclear power advocacy, has been developing in recent years? Can this really be the first time they’ve seen a coherent case of this sort put foreward?


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  162. 162
    Luke Says:

    “You should look in your heart and you will find the answer. Remove this promptly. It is the right thing to do. I am not here to talk about science or history. Only right and wrong. This is wrong. Please be a good person.”

    I have one simple quote to answer you with, friend:

    “If I’m serious about understanding the world, thinking with anything besides my brain, as tempting as that might be, is likely to get me into trouble.”
    — Carl Sagan

    “Put another way: With new thorium based reactor technology ALL the waste produced by the energy use of a typical 4 people american houshold for 70 years would fit into a coffe cup. And even that would decay to harmlessness in 300 years or so. THAT is what I would call environmentalism and protecting the earth.”

    That’s true – but it’s nothing unique and special about thorium. All modern reactors, especially Generation IV, using uranium or plutonium or whatever fuels you please, if they use that fuel efficienly, and we reprocess and recycle the fuel, and recycle all the actinides, meet those criteria.

    DrBuzz0:
    “Well reprocessing could be used as part of a weapons program. With the fuel from most reactors that wouldn’t work too well, but you could in theory use it as a front for weapons grade plutonium recovery.”

    That’s only true if you seperate plutonium from the fuel using PUREX extraction and reduce it into plutonium metal.
    No plutonium seperated, no bombs. At all.

    We can reprocess and recycle nuclear fuel without ever seperating plutonium, and therefore, without proliferation risk.


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  163. 163
    Johan Says:

    drbuzz0 with your permission can I copy and paste your ten points onto the website of the swedish environmentalists for nuclear power? I will offcourse give full credit to you, this list realy needs to be spread everywhere and for everyone to read!


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  164. 164
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Absolutely, and credit is appreciated. Thanks for helping out


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  165. 165
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Luke, you’re right as is Rod Addams. Simply sepperating the material does not give you a bomb and if you do not extract and concentrate the plutonium then it can’t. Even then, the plutonium from a power reactor is far too Pu-240 rich for a good weapon. In theory it *could* be done but it would be very hard to achieve a usable weapon without the significant danger of a fissile and generally diminished power.

    I suppose that the concern might amount to “They’re taking the spent fuel rods behind closed doors and doing some kind of reprocessing which they *say* is not sepperating uranium and plutonium, but how will we ever be 100% certain there is not some dirty business going on or that the fuel is not being separated and then taken somewhere off site for more separation and to make a bomb”

    It’s really a strawman though. A clandestine nuclear weapon program can be hidden without a public reprocessing program. There are always inspections and such as well but for some that won’t ever be enough…


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  166. 166
    Beckett222 Says:

    YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. Your idea is big energy. It’s stupid and it’s been the problem all along. YOU SHOULD SHUT UP YOUR AN IDIOT AND YOU SHOULD GET THE HELL OUT OF THINGS YOU HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF.

    SOCIETY IS CHANGING AND YOU CAN JUST TALK ABOUT THE PAST. I HOPE YOU ARE THE FIRST THEY BURN ALIVE WHEN THE REVOLUTION STARTS! THE SAME WITH EVERY OTHER IDIOT HERE! YOU ARE THE PROBLEM


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  167. 167
    DV82XL Says:

    Rod Addams correctly shows that this is a war on two fronts. It’s not just the Greens that oppose moving forward on nuclear, but also an entrenched hydrocarbon sector for who nuclear is more than a ideological threat. It’s also clear that the carbon sector has thoroughly insinuated itself into the leadership of the Green movement and are using them as a fifth column in the fight; a very useful one, as the public is more sympathetic to the Greens that to Big Petrocarbon. Thus by exposing the Greens as impractical, delusional, and irrational, we take away one of the latter’s bigger assets.

    The dismantling subsidies IS going to be hard (in fact damned near impossible) thus while it is a valid point and certainly must stay on the list, we must be careful of not letting our opponents turning it against us.

    I also want to toss in another point: those that want us to live a low energy lifestyle neglect to mention: they are also asking us to live a minimum water lifestyle as well. Water is the 800 pound gorilla waiting in the wings in any energy debate, and they are at pains not to address it, as ultimately it makes any talk of low energy living moot.

    “I don’t understand why this sort of thing comes as a revelation to our Green friends.”

    It’s not a revelation to them Finrod, most of them have known it all along, they’re just mad that someone laid in down all in a row. I’m not talking about the morons that we’ve heard from, but more the uber polite ones demanding that the post come down, they know alright, they’re known all along.


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  168. 168
    Finrod Says:

    SOCIETY IS CHANGING

    Yes, it is. The claims of the Greens are being examined by ordinary people with far greater skepticism than has been the case, especially with nuclear. The lies are being seen for what they are, and patience with green dinasuars is running out.

    I HOPE YOU ARE THE FIRST THEY BURN ALIVE WHEN THE REVOLUTION STARTS!

    Noted. Let it be forever recorded that when the global warming crisis emerged, the premier environmental organisations of the west stood united in their opposition to the technology which could alleviate it, and individuals in the environmental movement did not hesitate to express extremely violent wishes against those who were genuinely trying to solve the problem. Your memorial will be your perpetual shame.


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  169. 169
    drbuzz0 Says:

    You may want to see my latest post as I am being reminded of some similar rhetoric I heard a while back: http://depletedcranium.com/?p=377


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  170. 170
    EddyB7979 Says:

    You have no understanding of the enviornment or compassion. You say “Joe billionaire still gasses up…” and then say poor people should go cold. That’s exactly what environmentalists do not want. What you have to do is stop rich people from using fuel for unnecessary reasons and then you wiuld be fine.

    I think most would agree that burning a little oil to keep warm is okay but everything you say here is about how the poor should pay and not the rich. Make the rich pay! You should make yacht fuel expensive and not the fuel you sell to poor people. That’s what is so idiotic.

    Also a good economy just means that rich people get richer, at least according to you stupids. The rich don’d deserve to have money when others are suffering and there’s no heat and there’s lots of polution. Stop favoring the rich so much and give the fuel to those who need it and if it’s not needed leave it in the ground.


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  171. 171
    Sovietologist Says:

    EddyB7979-
    Once upon a time there was a country that declared war on the rich. Not only did the rich pay for their crimes with their property, but many of them did so with their lives. The founder of this state declared that his goal was “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” He foresaw a future in which everyone would be socially and economically equal, and was willing to use any instrument to create that future. Tyranny, conspiracy, and terror were all used in the name of utopia and equality.

    In time, the state’s war on the wealthy was an unqualified success. The old privileged class was liquidated, and a new society was built in which the state allocated resources and planned economic development. But in time, the state stagnated. Nations with “bourgeois” economic systems leapfrogged it in economic development, resulting in far higher standards of living for ordinary people. Meanwhile, state mismanagement resulted in the most severe ecological catastrophes ever caused by man. Ultimately, the people rejected the state and its “egalitarian” economics in order to revert to capitalism.

    This country was called the Soviet Union.


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  172. 172
    Finrod Says:

    “You have no understanding of the enviornment or compassion. You say “Joe billionaire still gasses up…” and then say poor people should go cold.”

    No EddyB7979, we’re not saying this is what should happen, we’re saying this is what WILL happen under Green policies. Impose the kind of austerity neccessary in the radical reduction of private energy use implied by ‘sustainable economics’, and the working and middle classes will be impoverished. Go to a nuclear powered economy, and this need never happen. My side wants wealth and achievement, yours aims for poverty and impotence.


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  173. 173
    John F. Opie Says:

    Hi -

    Goodness, the bile that the ecologists come up with: illuminating, to put it mildly.

    I’ve commented on what really drives the green movement on my blog here:

    http://21stcenturyschizoidman.blogspot.com/2008/02/global-warming-reduxand-watermelon.html

    which boils it down to one thing: control.

    As can be seen here as well: the comments calling for you to remove this list shows how greens desperately want to repress anyone and anything that deigns to call the emperor’s new clothes what they are.


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  174. 174
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Eddy, it’s a lot more than that. You can’t simply say yachts are illegal becasue you then have to ask who is entitled to a boat. Are fishermen? Are marine scientists? Look above. See how there is an example commented about air conditioners or big cars. When is a person sick enough to be entitled to an air conditioner for health reasons? When is it hot enough to justify air conditioning? How big must a family be to be entitled to a minivan? What occupations are allowed to have a pickup truck?

    You would have to decide this each time.

    Energy costs are not *regressive* because anyone wants it that way. They are a basic need and are a larger proportion of the lower classes expenses.

    Let me make an analogy:

    If you fly coach class on a no-frills discount airline and fuel price increases it will have a big impact on ticket price because it’s a large component of the expense of the ticket.

    But if Joe Billionaire flies five star executive first class, his ticket is more expensive to begin with, but he is not nearly as hurt by fuel costs increasing. Why? Because much of the price of his ticket is for service, wine, the lobster dinner, the extra-large chair and the inflight entertainment. Thus, a fuel increase may not even go noticed by him because he doesn’t pay nearly as much proportionately and he can afford it easier.

    Thus the increase in fuel cost has really not reduced the amount rich people travel to go on vacation. But what it has done is stopped a less fortunate person from being able to travel to see their dying aunt or to go to a family reunion, because the cost increase hits them much harder.

    Understand?


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  175. 175
    DV82XL Says:

    I took the liberty of posting a link to this over on Metafilter

    Generated a long thread both pro and con. Check it out


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  176. 176
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I appreciate that DV82XL, but geez I think a little part of me died looking at that. I thought *these* comments were bad. Somehow everyone seems to think this means “Don’t do anything” or “We should not even bother”

    That’s not the message intended


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  177. 177
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Wait you have to pay to join metafilter? Oh forget that!


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  178. 178
    drbuzz0 Says:

    “Every little bit does not help” seems to really get people. They go with “Well yeah but if everyone did” yet you cannot expect there to be a consistent motivation for everyone to do so especially outside the developing world. Nor can you expect there to be any kind of strategy if everybody is doing their own thing.

    Unless you can come to a consensus with all persons and some binding contract that does not work in a free society. Also people seem to think it’s really really damn important to get noticed with a solar panel as opposed to the fighting something like a coal fire. Of course the PR machine of Greenpeace could certainly get a coal fire noticed


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  179. 179
    Finrod Says:

    “Somehow everyone seems to think this means “Don’t do anything” or “We should not even bother””

    Some may have genuinely concluded that, others may simply have been told that by people who want them to think that’s what you’re saying. In a propaganda battle, you have to expect dirty tricks. You’ve done well so far. Now isn’t the time to lose your nerve.


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  180. 180
    DV82XL Says:

    Finrod’s right. There are a lot of people who have vested in the Green Dream® who will fight this tooth and claw. It’s a good indication of how dangerous they think this list is. Remember there will be others looking at this thread who will see right through this sort of attack – they’re the ones we need to reach.


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  181. 181
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I’m not sure how many of those who comment are really doing it from a vested interest. My thought is that most are probably just indoctrinated or every naive about how the world works. Otherwise they’re, to put it bluntly, just stupid.


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  182. 182
    Dissenter Says:

    Someone mentioned the idiotic statement that “the suns solar disk over earth is 175,000 Terawatts” and that heat generated by humans is insignificantly small compared.

    That’s like saying “well it’s sunny out so I guess it’s going to be warm” when it’s 0 degrees in the winter in Chicago on a clear day.

    There are far more factors in the heat on earth and in the atmosphere than raw energy input, in fact without C02 in the atmosphere this would be frozen barren planet. It is the greenhouse effect that keeps us warm, it traps heat in the infrared and it takes very very llittle C02 to do it (30-70 parts PER MILLION in the atmoshpere, it’s changed over time).

    You only need to change a very little bit of C02 to make a very large difference, ie 1/3,000,000th of the atmoshoperes entire volume in C02 is enough to make a 3% increase in the amount of total C02 and a monumental .5-3% increase in heating.

    Some of these rules are good, and some of them are really stupid and overgeneralizing things in an extremely ham fisted, ridiculous way. I have a degree in Env Studies and Economics from one of the greatest economics departments in the world, University of Chicago. Some of the things you list above are valuable and some of them need to be rethought.

    For example, the subsidy rule is so hypocritical I laughed out loud when i read it. No subsidies? You mean like the 8-10$/gallon subsidy the government provides for big oil companies with our tax dollars so they can get rich selling something at a deceptively low price? If half that money went to subsidize many contemporary “green” energy souces, note only would innovation thrive but you would see some very affordable and clean ways to power things.

    I don’t have a problem with Nuclear power per se, but I do have a problem with ill thought out potshot rules for environmentalists who you clearly show your disdain for. Nuclear power plants are EXTREMELY expensive to build run and maintain. It’s a good transition energy, it is not a renewable sustainable permanent replacement for anything.

    Typical conservative BS


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  183. 183
    Sovietologist Says:

    Hey, I’m all for ending our government’s ridiculous pro-fossil fuel subsidies- both explicit and de facto. I’m also for using government intervention to create market-based mechanisms for internalizing environmental externalities- like cap & trade. Then the market can shape an ecologically rational energy infrastructure. The problem with subsidies is that the government often subsidizes the wrong technology- a good example of this is the coal-to-liquid boondoggle of the Carter era. This was meant to free America from foreign oil, but in the end just wasted billions of taxpayer dollars for no useful payout. This is why it’s better to punish polluters than to try and pick “winning” technologies and subsidize them- it guarantees that the loser technologies will actually lose.


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  184. 184
    ellindsey Says:

    The way I see it, much of the disagreement is due to the fact that this list is aimed at protecting the environment while also keeping the current social and economic status quo in place. Drbuzz is writing from the point of view of someone who likes the world as it is, and wants to protect the environment while also keeping the form of human society unchanged. Many of those in the environmental movement want not just to protect the environment, but to overthrow modern capitalist power structures, transform the world into some kind of socialist/anarchist green utopia. These people don’t want to protect the economy and the environment both, because hurting the economy actually helps their goals. Of course those people see nuclear power as the enemy, because it’s a way of fighting for the environment while also keeping current socioeconomic power structures in place. Nuclear power is also dependent on a well-developed technological infrastructure to support it, which they want to see demolished.

    The fact that socialist revolutions have been tried, invariably involve massive bloodshed and suffering, and turn out to be horrible for the environment in the end (see the former USSR) doesn’t deter them from thinking that this time they can make it work out well somehow.


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  185. 185
    DV82XL Says:

    Dissenter I’m sure it meant no subsidy for oil ether, so I don’t see how this is hypocritical. It certainly doesn’t say oil subsidies should stay

    The statement about the suns energy input was in answer to some poor soul that thought global warming was caused by the heat let off by powerplants

    Apparently reading for comprehension wasn’t part of the syllabus for an Env Studies and Economics degree.


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  186. 186
    Finrod Says:

    “Someone mentioned the idiotic statement that “the suns solar disk over earth is 175,000 Terawatts” and that heat generated by humans is insignificantly small compared.”

    Here is what I said:

    “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.”

    It was in response to a previous post, particularly the following:

    “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.”

    As you can see, the poster thought that the heat put out by power plants was some kind of global warming factor. The poster probably thought nuclear plants were similar to coal plants in their potential to contribute to global warming. I tried to correct this.

    It’s the CO2 coal plants put out that makes them dangerous (as well as a few other things), not the heat from them. The change of atmospheric chemistry (more CO2) redirects more of the enrgy flow from sunlight into heating the atmosphere.

    So what’s the problem?


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  187. 187
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. Your idea is big energy. It’s stupid and it’s been the problem all along. YOU SHOULD SHUT UP YOUR AN IDIOT AND YOU SHOULD GET THE HELL OUT OF THINGS YOU HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF.

    And why do you claim that big energy is stupid?


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  188. 188
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Many of those in the environmental movement want not just to protect the environment, but to overthrow modern capitalist power structures, transform the world into some kind of socialist/anarchist green utopia.

    The Reds wrapped themselves in a mantle of green.


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  189. 189
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    What you have to do is stop rich people from using fuel for unnecessary reasons and then you wiuld be fine.

    And who is going to so it?

    And then what will stop them from using fuel for “unnecessary” reasons?


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  190. 190
    ellindsey Says:

    “And then what will stop them from using fuel for “unnecessary” reasons?”

    Lining them up against a wall and shooting them, if history is any indication.


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  191. 191
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Dissenter: In regards to the subsidies for fossil fuel, no you will never find me defending those. They’re amongst the worst. Not only do they end up just gushing govermnet funds into the pockets of big oil but they also have not done what they were supposed to: create an incentive for cheap domestic oil sources.

    As for “If half that money went to subsidize many contemporary “green” energy souces, note only would innovation thrive but you would see some very affordable and clean ways to power things. “

    No. Absolutely not. False. Bull****. Not true.

    You can pour all the money you want into wind and solar and you will NEVER increase the energy avaliable in a given area from a given luminous flux. You will likely not increase conversion effeciency by very much given the factors at play either. That is the biggest myth out there. You only have so much energy to wrok with and it fluxuates. Unless you can figure out a way of changing the distance from the earth to the sun you are STUCK with that.

    “I don’t have a problem with Nuclear power per se, but I do have a problem with ill thought out potshot rules for environmentalists who you clearly show your disdain for. Nuclear power plants are EXTREMELY expensive to build run and maintain. It’s a good transition energy, it is not a renewable sustainable permanent replacement for anything. “

    They cost of a nuclear plant is competitive with a large coal plant. It can be CHEAPER than combined cycle gas, especially if you need liquid methane transport and handling. The price of running a nuclear plant is relatively low. The fuel cost is tiny compared to other forms of energy. The price is cut by two thirds with advanced GIII+ reactors and the DUPIC cycle. That’s without reprocessing. Add reprocessing and you have a fuel cost of almost zero.

    Uranium is about as common as tin. Thorium is 3-5x more common. It’s questionable whether we could even burn all the fissile material between now and 5 billion years from now when the big concern is that the sun will start to expand and incinerate earth.


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  192. 192
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Uranium is about as common as tin. Thorium is 3-5x more common. It’s questionable whether we could even burn all the fissile material between now and 5 billion years from now when the big concern is that the sun will start to expand and incinerate earth.

    Which isotopes of thorium are fissile?


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  193. 193
    DV82XL Says:

    Although not fissile itself, thorium-232 (Th-232) will absorb slow neutrons to produce uranium-233 (U-233), which is fissile. Hence like uranium-238 (U-238) it is fertile. Practical cycles have it breed and burn at the same time.


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  194. 194
    Finrod Says:

    Thorium 232 is fertile, rather than fissile. It can be bred into uranium 233 which is fissile. I believe Th-232 is the only isotope, so all thorium can be transuted to fissile material.


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  195. 195
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Although not fissile itself, thorium-232 (Th-232) will absorb slow neutrons to produce uranium-233 (U-233), which is fissile. Hence like uranium-238 (U-238) it is fertile. Practical cycles have it breed and burn at the same time.

    What percentage of naturally-occurring thorium consists of Th-232?

    Michael


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  196. 196
    DV82XL Says:

    Damned near all of it


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  197. 197
    Finrod Says:

    Upon checking, it seems that there is only one isotope, so I guess you can breed the lot of it.


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  198. 198
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yep. It actually breeds considerably easier than U-238 in most reactor types and produces U-233 by decay which is an excellent fission fuel that is in many ways better than u-235


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  199. 199
    Vic Silverfish Says:

    jeez, what a giant anti-environmentalist circle jerk.

    For the most part, this article is spot on. Any broad-based solution to environmental problems should try to use the market forces to it’s advantage. Sometimes, this is possible and works well (SO2 cap and trade scheme to reduce acid rain), other times, not so much (CAFE standards for US auto fuel efficiency). Using this to conclude that there is nothing we can do or that all environmentalist are idiots is a nice, easy way of ignoring a massive problem we are facing:
    1) Global climate chage is happeining, and is going to cost us a fortune (up to 10% global GDP) to accomidate
    2) the money we’re spending on oil is financing some very nasty people

    We need to encourage research and a regulatory structure to encourage certain behaviors. For example, from my reasearch, biodiesel seems to be a potentially viable alternative to petrol (yes, there are problems, but they look manageable). So, how do we implement this?

    Wrong way – mandate everyone sell a certian % biodiesel in thier fuel pumps, subsidise producers, tax petrol vehicles extra

    Right way – tax biodeisel lower than petrolium diesel for a few (10-15 years), makeing it cheap enough that the public WANTS to switch over to it. The manufacturer that builds bio-capable motors (actually a simple conversion from existing ones) will outcompete those that don’t. The service station that sells cheap bio-diesel will sell a lot more than those that don’t, and anyone buying a new car will consider makeing the switch themselves, as it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to run. Let the “invisible hand” do it’s work!

    Same deal with other power sources. Thermal solar shows huge potential, wind is getting there, wave energy also looks promising. Gov. funded research? Great idea, maybe even build a pilot program. Once they can demonstrate they are economical, the market will run away with them.

    /vic


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  200. 200
    vic silverfish Says:

    dammit! I knew I’d spell “diesel” as “deisel” at least once in that. less dick sick.

    /vic


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  201. 201
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Generally agreed upon the principal you’re talking about I’m a bit dubious on some of the economics of biodiesel, solar thermal and wind. But in general yeah, harnessing market forces is the best way to go and make no mistake: There is MUCH we can do while maintaining the basic principals.

    Government research is good but you can’t bank on research to prove fruitful. If you’re talking about the “Invisible hand” then you’re absolutely right that the way to do it is to provide clean plentiful energy and people will willingly switch. That as opposed to dragging them kicking and screaming from energy sources by making them expensive.

    As far as biodiesel, I really doubt that will ever be able to replace petrolium. If it were my decision, I’d consider synthetic fuels from waste organic feedstock to be the best bet.

    But there’s another thing to this which is that in general, transportation is actually one of the more difficult parts to tackle. If you want to make huge cuts in the near term the best thing to go after is stuff like power generation because that is centralized and already heavily regulated by the government. Then there’s others like industrial processes, flaring of excess methane from petroleum production.

    From the standpoint of getting big cuts in Co2 this is the best place to put your initial efforts. No real research is needed. We know how to do it. We can implement it relatively cheaply and with other benefits. it gives you a HUGE cut in Co2 in one big chunk.

    So you go for that at least as strongly as you do cars and trucks.

    Now if you want people to switch to cleaner fuels I’d say the simplest way is to provide cheap electricity from a clean source. Again, this can be done without much need to change things because the government is heavily involved with power generation. Once you have this there is no need to make people switch. They will do so on their own.


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  202. 202
    J Crowley Says:

    One thing that irritates the hell out of me is the tendency of environmentalist groups — especially Greenpeace and other more radical organizations — to oppose nuclear power. Considering that current plants are basically incapable of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island types of meltdowns thanks to significant advances in the technology over the last couple decades, and that a day in the sun gives a greater dose of radiation than a year living near a nuclear power plant, it’s a pretty moronic attitude to have.

    I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I’m not sure why NVGurl has so much faith in the good will of the upper classes. The idea that a billionaire would willfully stop consuming so many resources for the good of the poor is laughably optimistic.

    Yes, yes, in a world where everyone is kind to each other and only has everyone else’s best interests at heart, maybe we could rely on these kinds of assumptions about self sacrifice and all that. But if we’re going to be honest with ourselves and actually base our assumptions on what we can actually observe, then making policy based on the idea that the upper classes will sacrifice the lifestyles to which they’ve grown accustomed so that the poor can better afford gasoline is like making policy based on the idea that we can power our vehicles with unicorn urine.


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  203. 203
    vic silverfish Says:

    DrBuzz0
    As far as biodiesel, I really doubt that will ever be able to replace petrolium. If it were my decision, I’d consider synthetic fuels from waste organic feedstock to be the best bet.

    What do you think biodiesel is? :)

    Here, don’t take my word for it, check these out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel
    http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html

    I’m telling you…this thing has huge potential! And you can keep your big car!

    I’m a firefighter, so I’m all about big-ass diesel engines!

    /vic


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  204. 204
    drbuzz0 Says:

    “Considering that current plants are basically incapable of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island types of meltdowns thanks to significant advances in the technology over the last couple decades, and that a day in the sun gives a greater dose of radiation than a year living near a nuclear power plant, it’s a pretty moronic attitude to have.”

    A little nitpick here. They are not “basically incapable” of a Chernobyl meltdown it is impossible to occur in a modern reactor that uses water as the moderator. Can’t happen. Not “we think it won’t” CAN’T it violates the laws of physics.

    Three Mile Island… could it happen again? I think it’s unlikely but it’s hard to guarantee there won’t be some kind of incident where a loss of coolant causes a partial loss of fuel element integrity. Three mile island the containment vessel was never breached. The containment sump was never compromised. The containment dome was never compromised. Zero deaths. Zero injuries. Zero land contaminated.

    That is a completely internal issue. Any manmade system there can be failures occasionally, but TMI proved that they could be effectively contained and controlled safely.


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  205. 205
    DV82XL Says:

    Basically this is the fallacy that the uberGreens are laboring under: their whole plan depends on altruism and that simply won’t work. It’s too bad people are like that perhaps, but it’s the simple truth.

    The more thoughtful ones seem to think that economic behavior can be changed without regard to human psychology, again this has not been successful at any time in history.


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  206. 206
    Dave G Says:

    I’m not sure that it’s “too bad” because the drive for self is what has lead to human expansion and great things. Also, lets mention that humans are not complete bastards who care only about themselves, but rather you just count on everyone to do it all the time consistantly. And lets not forget: Not all of it is based on altruism but also the idea that everyond can make sacrafices. As mentioned, this puts a huge burden on the poor. I don’t find it to be a sign of bad nature when someone is willing to burn old tires to keep their family warm. I know I would!


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  207. 207
    Dave G Says:

    One other thing: Not just altruism but that everyone buys into their idea of what is/isn’t good to have and such. Since many enviornmental problems are not directly exprienced by humans how can everyone know?

    They’re asking all members of a society to make their own decisions for the environment and somehow this equates to a strategy that works? Bad move! If you have everyone working on it in a different way it never works. You have chaos and nothing is accomplished.


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  208. 208
    jim Says:

    Nuclear is only “clean” when compared to coal or oil.
    That’s a pretty low bar to measure by.
    Also every bit as non-renewable.

    If you think nuclear is “clean” … go have a look at a mining site some time.
    Literal mountains of tailings – toxic soil which almost nothing can grow on, slowly leaching toxins into the groundwater.
    No solution for radioactive waste exists, other than using it as fuel.
    Does that app just create more waste?

    The reactor-weapons comparison is totally valid: reactors have been & will be used to develop weapons-grade material. More reactors = more nukes … & horizontal proliferation is a very parlous spinoff indeed.

    NOTHING is as environmentally deadly as nukes, even before some dickhead decides to start setting them off. Once that party gets started, Chernobyl will look like kindergarten nap-time.

    Hybrid spallation sounds awesome.
    If we can do it economically.

    Yes, scale matters here.
    But a “little bit” helps a lot – once lots of people get their heads around the idea of actually doing it.

    The “human nature” argument was once used to justify slavery, too.
    Not to mention denying women the vote.
    No sale.

    Be VERY suspicious of vague phrases like “popular opinion” or “human nature” … they can be used to justify just about anything or shrug it off.

    No point in whimpering to yourself or others about rampant consumerism.
    Fight it.
    Tell the media their sponsors lose you as a customer when they try to brainwash you into being a gimme-gimme-robot with degrading ads or inane shows. THAT, they’ll notice.

    Coal fires seem to me like a major issue.
    Never mind Greenpeace or other zealots – why isn’t the NEWS MEDIA all over this like ugly on a duck’s ass?
    THAT is a MUCH more relevant target for your ire.
    Think maybe folks would care if they knew about this.

    Other than that, this list is excellent food for thought.
    Keep it up.


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  209. 209
    Brent Says:

    I say full speed ahead at our current pace of consumption and fossil fuel extraction! Any fool can see we are going off a cliff very quickly. We might as well get a good running start! With current population increases, fuel demand increases and food demand increases, none of which any reasonable person would expect to decline leads us to one inexorable truth. Our time is limited. :)


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  210. 210
    Lee A. Arnold Says:

    Your list is not without merit, but some further study is required to bring it up to current thinking in environmental economics. By the numbers:

    10) Benefit/cost analyses omit many important things, regularly. This is often because some benefits and costs often cannot be monetized, or easily quantified. Consequently, these analyses are much better used to evaluate specific business plans, as opposed to providing direction for large-scale social issues concerning the environment. For example, we don’t know what technological changes the future may bring, so benefit/cost analyses based on current technology can be very misleading. Conversely, a social decision to go on a different path can lead to novel outcomes and create benefits where none was foreseen.

    8) There is no doubt that technology can be very good. But it is misleading to suggest that nature does not often provide mankind with goods in an efficient, reliable and sustainable manner: any doctor will tell you. In fact, all biological organisms are highly co-evolved to do just that, and there were a couple million years of sustainable human survival before modern technology.

    7) There is every reason to be optimistic about the future — and plans based upon optimism can be a very good psychological strategy, in addition. Human population is likely to taper-off at about 11 billion, and production techniques continue to improve in energy efficiency, so it is likely that in the very long-term, energy use will level-off, at least on the surface of the planet. In the short-term, (a) solar electric cells are approaching the price-point of coal; (b) solar thermal generation is scalable from town up to region, it has no fuel cycle, and it can be transported by the grid; and (c) very soon genetic engineering is going to provide copious biofuels. That is to mention only three things out of many; we don’t need one killer app. A clean (and non-nuclear) energy future is starting to look like a no-brainer.

    6) Attacking an environmentally damaging activity can be highly effective. Historically, social opprobrium and anti-pollution laws preceded attempts to clean up many (if not most) instances of water and air pollution, and nothing incites the imagination like the prospect of a bad reputation, a stiff fine, or jail time.

    5) This is false. Taxation is not inherently regressive unless it is targeted that way. Gasoline taxes are universally admired by economists as the best plan for reducing general carbon consumption overall, while other tax credits can be provided at the same time, targeted to rebate the loss to the poorer folks. For example, Al Gore proposed using a tax on gasoline to fully fund Social Security while simultaneously lowering payroll taxes. In economics, these ideas are not controversial.

    4) Actually, glorified golf carts are going to do very well in some urban areas! The more general idea, that people don’t change their habits because human nature is written in stone, or that people aren’t also altruistic, is nonsense. All kinds of things have happened in history; especially in times of extremity such as war. Polls show that people are very concerned about the environment, and a big disaster or two could change sentiments rather quickly. There is no iron law of human nature about this.

    I also want to put in a word about nuclear energy, which some gung-ho advocates have brought up in these comments. I don’t think it will be necessary. And I think fission is absolutely stupid, on the surface of the planet. But I think we should throw lots more money at basic research in particle physics… I am also always surprised that so many nuclear advocates are free-marketeers. Do you think these things are price competitive? Nuclear power survives in the marketplace only because of the biggest government protection in history: the Price-Anderson Act. Look it up in Wikipedia. If one of these things blows, the taxpayers get stuck with the tab for any damages over $10 billion. Peanuts! Is this a great country, or what?


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  211. 211
    Hank Roberts Says:

    Just a few more:

    Understand bioaccumulation. It’s why tuna fish and whales are sources of mercury.
    It’s also why coal fly ash is loaded with mercury, and thorium, and uranium

    If something can stop, it will.
    If something can’t stop til it gets into your fat, it’ll get there.

    Understand ecologies exist, change, and aren’t understood

    Understand we can’t grow almost any bacteria in the lab. Just a very few. The rest we know only from DNA fragments from testing soil and water for unknowns.

    Viruses are more difficult than bacteria.

    DNA goes where the wind blows and can blow ’round the world and be eaten by the next bacterium that comes across it, and go back to work there. It goes laterally as well as by inheritance. It does something, depending on context.

    If you want to hear God laugh, tell Her your plans.


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  212. 212
    Sovietologist Says:

    “Nuclear power survives in the marketplace only because of the biggest government protection in history: the Price-Anderson Act. Look it up in Wikipedia. If one of these things blows, the taxpayers get stuck with the tab for any damages over $10 billion. Peanuts!”

    Estimated value of Price-Anderson “subsidy:” $2.3 million/reactor year.
    Source:
    http://siepr.stanford.edu/papers/briefs/policybrief_jan02.pdf
    Considering that a large nuclear plant can make well over half a billion dollars a year in revenue, I somehow doubt Price-Anderson is keeping the American nuclear industry afloat.


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  213. 213
    Rod Adams Says:

    The other day, I received an announcement inviting me to the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference to be held in Washington, D. C. March 4-6, 2008.

    Here is the link to the conference information site – http://www.wirec2008.gov/wps/portal/wirec2008

    Homework assignment – go look at the site, find out who is going to be exhibiting and speaking. Then do some critical thinking and decide again why you hear so much about wind, solar and biofuels and why there is so much political pressure to force them into the fuel mix.

    Figure out if “Green” energy groups are really working to reduce energy consumption or if they are working to make money off of energy sources that would never be chosen on an strict economic basis. If you are an Environmentalist who is working hard to promote alternative sources of energy because you think they will benefit small communities and distribute power away from the already rich and powerful, take a look at the kind of companies that you are actually working to promote.

    I say again – many environmental groups are either knowingly or unwittingly pressing an agenda that fits very nicely with improving the economic situation of people at the very top of the heap. They are raising the selling price of fuel and making it possible for Exxon-Mobil to have made more than $80 BILLION in PROFIT in just the past two years. They are filling the coffers of governments like Russia, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela, Chad, UAE, Kuwait, etc. They are helping ADM, GE, Siemens, Peabody, Ashland, BP, Chevron, and General Atomics.

    Mainstream environmental groups are not out to put us into an economic tailspin. They are heavily populated with people who want to do well by doing good. Their professional staff members generally make a good living and their parking lots are full of the same kinds of cars that you find in the lots of many other successful organizations. Their leaders do a lot of traveling and ****tail party attending in their fundraising efforts.

    In general, they fight nuclear power because they have been told to fight nuclear power. The most perceptive and honest among them might realize that the big reason for that choice is that nuclear power is truly a disruptive force in the market. It can do almost everything that fossil fuel can do, but do it better, cleaner and cheaper. The plants may be expensive, but the fuel is pretty cheap.

    Right now manufactured nuclear fuel costs about 1/15th as much as natural gas on a per unit heat basis. The plants do not emit CO2 and if you supplied enrichment plants and mines with reactor generated electricity, there would be almost no CO2 produced by the fuel cycle either.

    I will grant you that allowing atomic fission to prosper will result in a number of people getting very wealthy. Those people, however, will be different individuals than the ones at the top today in many cases. There will also be a whole new set of workers who prosper, and those workers will be people who have spent a whole lot of time in schools learning their trade. There is not much opportunity for get rich quick artists in the nuclear world.

    (Disclosure – I intend to be one of the people who benefits from a growing atomic industry. Visit Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. if you wish to learn more.)

    My conclusion – there needs to be a number 11 on the list. Environmental policies are being shaped by people who actually do understand items 1-10 pretty well. They often work directly or indirectly for large, powerful corporations to do what corporations do best – get richer. That has been true for at least the past 95 years, ever since the oil industry began using environmental arguments in its battle against King Coal. When you press the conventional environmental agenda, you are working for the man, whether you know it or not.


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  214. 214
    Jason Gehrman Says:

    I think the hypocrisy of a lot of these groups is what annoys me the most. Anti-globalisation groups complain about big business, yet I can guarantee most of the people in those crowds have ipods and home computers….and how do you think you get your nice “ethnic” clothing from Bangladesh, it came over on a containership owned and/or financed by a big business.

    As for the environmental movement, the biggest problem I have is……put your money where your mouth is. If you built your own house, make your own clothes, and grow your own food….more power to you. Otherwise your just as bad as the rest of us.

    If I remember correctly it was environmentalist and greens who were pushing and cheering bio-fuels not so long ago, and now they are condemning it. Most of what I see happening with these groups is a simple knee-jerk reaction. I see a few photos of something, feel guilty, protest about it without thinking long term.

    The other problem I have in general with the whole issue, is the idea of a single solution. I am not against alternative energy (if it works, has high efficiency, and does not mean a decrease in living standards for anybody), however I hate this idea that it is down to one type of energy. The biggest mistake humans have made is not reacting to the environments that we live in (read Jared Diamonds “Collapse”). What may work in one country (eg, geothermal energy in Iceland and Northern Europe), isnt really going to work in another country like Australia. Adaptability is more the issue.

    Its also a case of cost vs. benefit analysis. (the infrastructure argument). In theory we could all have hydrogen fuel cell cars, but whose going to pay for it, especially in Third World Nations.

    Speaking of Third World Nations. The biggest and most vile acts committed by “greens”, is not allowing these people to improve their living standards because of green guilt.

    I do agree though that these people have played a role in making the environment a more public issue and have put it into the consciousness of the average person. I just wish they would know when to turn off.

    I will drive an electric car, when it can go at highway speed, travel for about 250km on a charge, get to the top of a mountain, fit me, my wife, 2 kids and the dog, and take about 15 -20 minutes to recharge. I love the concept cars that come out, I think they are funky, and I think they have a market in places like Asia and Europe where people do not generally drive large distances and most driving is urban. As an Australian though, they just dont make sense. You would be forcing me to have 2 cars anyway. One for my city driving and one for the weekends for trips to the beach…..not so great if you want consumerism to decline.

    Sorry for being so random in the issues I talked about.

    P.S This is for anybody who thinks that Global Warming can be stopped. Have a look at Al Gores lovely graph. Its happened before without us, which means its fundamentally a natural occurance. Yes we are adding to it, but even if we miraculously stopped CO2 etc etc today, it would still happen. Lets focus on adaption and the inevitable problems that are going to happen, rather than worrying about soccer mums driving SUVs.


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  215. 215
    Dave G Says:

    Lee: On number 5. A fuel tax or increase in price is a regressively targeted tax. if it’s an increase in price it’s not a tax. You can’t go assuming that you’ll give the money back to the poor that’s ridiculous. Then you need a huge program to identify and give money back to them. Of course, if it’s just a price increase as in a shortage or with caps this won’t work at all. Payroll tax means you make more money you pay more taxes.

    Fuel prices hit the poor. They hit them very very hard. There is no debate on that. Gasoline taxes are one thing, but if you have 5 dollar a gallon gas or heating oil you impact the poor VERY VERY hard. There’s nothing you can do to change this. Perhaps try to implement a massive subsidy plan for the poor to buy fuel. But then it won’t even make them conserve.

    The policy is worse then worthless.


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  216. 216
    Johan Says:

    “Do you think these things are price competitive? Nuclear power survives in the marketplace only because of the biggest government protection in history: the Price-Anderson Act. Look it up in Wikipedia. If one of these things blows, the taxpayers get stuck with the tab for any damages over $10 billion. Peanuts! Is this a great country, or what?”

    I looked at wikipedia and found this.

    The main purpose of the Act is to partially indemnify the nuclear industry against liability claims arising from nuclear incidents while still ensuring compensation coverage for the general public. The Act establishes a no fault insurance-type system in which the first $10 billion is industry-funded as described in the Act (any claims above the $10 billion would be covered by the federal government).

    The cleanup after the TMI accident cost around 1 billion dollar. No accident can plausibly get much worse in a light water reactor. So I dont se how price anderson is a subsidy in anyway, those 10 billion that the industry puts in is more than enough to cover any accident.


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  217. 217
    drbuzz0 Says:

    One of the big things behind Price-Anderson was that it was supposed to address the whole idea that “we could have a horrible disaster and the insurance companies won’t have the money to pay for it or they’ll get out of paying for it. and we will be stuck.” Basically it’s a federally controlled and managed insurance fund. It’s supported nearly entirely by the industry and the government pays zero unless there is a catastrophe, which won’t happen.

    The other thing it addressed is that insurance companies were weary of something to which they could not assign risk to based on a limited history. The fear being that if the insurance companies pull out and decide they didn’t want to touch it you’d be in trouble.

    It’s actually kinda similar to federal flood insurance. The feds run a flood insurance program because in the past private companies either refused to insure certain areas or a major catastrophic flood could, in theory, bankrupt private insurance. Thus you have a federally administrated program.


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  218. 218
    DV82XL Says:

    What underscores the veracity of the ’10 Things’ list is that after several days of discussion I have yet to see much in the way of rational criticism.

    Here, and elsewhere the negative comments can be slotted into the following categories:

    They are wrong because they don’t require everybody to sacrifice

    They are wrong because they don’t require everybody to change their moral/ethical outlook.

    They are wrong because they don’t punish the rich for being rich.

    They are wrong because companies can still make money.

    They are wrong because they lead to the growth of nuclear energy.

    They are wrong because they dismiss ‘renewable energy as unworkable.

    They must be taken down as they turn people away from thinking the way I want them to.

    They are wrong because I want to believe individuals can make a difference.

    They are obviously dismissible out of hand and I can’t be bothered to say why.

    They are Right-wing in nature, thus evil.

    And lastly, incoherent flames and general ill wishes to anyone that agrees with the list.

    Some have asked for proof in the way of reference, and on the surface this is a legitimate request; except counter proof (backed up by reference) is never proffered, thus the request has the odor of a dialectical maneuver rather than a proper complaint.

    This lack of real critical debate is telling. If there was anything major that was wrong with any of the point we should have heard about it by now.


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  219. 219
    NelC Says:

    Ecofriend, you are the scariest person in this comments section. Your arrogance in assuming that you know what is right, and that all other incorrect thought should be suppressed is truly chilling.


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  220. 220
    Dave G Says:

    Anyone who wants to go with the “But people do care and they will…” I’d like to ask you why the voting numbers in the US have been so low in all recent elections. Last presidential election there was all the talk that this would be the one where the youth would mobilize. Lots of get out the vote drives. Lots of talk about the young demographic.

    The numbers were as dismal as ever. And all that was being asked to do was to sacrifice part of a Tuesday afternoon and to stand in line for a little while. The problem is that the election would not be decided by one vote and in most states it would not be decided by ten thousand votes. Only a few was it even in the thousands. And when you have millions of people knowing their vote alone won’t matter they won’t mobilize.

    You hvae to separate the individual from the collective. For the collective to act you must convince each and every individual even though they know their role is insignificant. It goes against human nature.

    Not to mention the poor or those who have a lot of other things to worry about. They will not act because they’re too busy with other concerns and legitimately so!


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  221. 221
    paul Says:

    I came over here from Charlie Stross’s place. I’m a bit disappointed. There’s a lot of strawman beating here and more than a few generalizations that weaken this position. This screed sounds no better informed than its imaginary audience. Let me see if I can conjure them up. I see a young couple, both very thin, clad in organic fibers (hemp, fair trade cotton) with leather-free sandals, hair in dreadlocks (maybe he’s got a shaved head — your call, it’s your fantasy), and their cupboards and pantry are stuffed full with expensive organic or unusual foods. They are bike messengers or baristas, they don’t watch TV, they never fly anywhere. In short, they are not mainstream at all: they’re a fiction, easily demonized. Do I see people like this? Sure. Are any of them over 30? No.

    If you actually want to make this argument, go back and proof-read it and make it look like you care. Someone who claims to have all the details in hand who can’t be bothered to do that loses a lot of credibility.

    And anyone who thinks this is going to be easy — to make a huge shift in how you power a modern economic system while ensuring it stays modern — is nuts. Strawmen are not required to make a cogent argument. If you want to point out the Greenpeace uses oil-powered ships, great. Are they calling for an end to oil use? I don’t think so. In the case you illustrate above, I read their message as “conserve oil so we don’t have to despoil valuable and sensitive lands.” Claiming that they are somehow hypocrites for using conventionally powered ships to get around is silly: if they are dumping bilge water or running poorly maintained equipment, that’s valid. I don’t see them blocking shipping lanes or interfering with essential uses of energy.


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  222. 222
    Lee A. Arnold Says:

    Just try buying an insurance policy to cover nuclear damage liability, without the Price-Anderson Act! No nuclear operator could afford it, and no geographic region would allow a plant to be to be situated. Nuclear power could never make it in the marketplace without this massive deferral of liability onto the taxpayers. You can assume that the accident may never happen, but that’s not the subject matter of economics.


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  223. 223
    Lee A. Arnold Says:

    Dave G: Yes, a carbon tax by itself is regressive. But it can be offset by other tax policies, to be made non-regressive, or even progressive. And yes, if you give the money back to the poor, they will turn around and spend it on fuel again, because they have to drive to work and heat the house. But the rest of society will use a little less, while the price point of other technologies becomes more favorable to be implemented and infrastructured (see #9,) and that is a good thing. Tax-offsetting is a regular government tool. It doesn’t even have to lead to a complicated tax code, although in the United States, of course, special interests are always in line ahead of you.


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  224. 224
    Lee A. Arnold Says:

    The problem with the theory that big oil is trying to defeat nukes is that these are all publicly traded companies, so big oil can buy an interest in nuclear power. Anybody can buy an interest in nearly anything.


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  225. 225
    Lee A. Arnold Says:

    Paul, it’s going to be very easy, because it is going to be done incrementally.


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  226. 226
    Finrod Says:

    “There’s a lot of strawman beating here and more than a few generalizations that weaken this position.”

    Can you provide an example?


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  227. 227
    Andreas Says:

    Very good points. I would ask you to learn the difference between “affect” and “effect” when used as a verb, though. (-:

    (Oh, and the word “utilize” is an atrocity.)


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  228. 228
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    With current population increases, fuel demand increases and food demand increases, none of which any reasonable person would expect to decline leads us to one inexorable truth. Our time is limited

    Ah, Malthusian philosophy.

    Malthus’s ideas were debunked decades ago.


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  229. 229
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    The problem with the theory that big oil is trying to defeat nukes is that these are all publicly traded companies, so big oil can buy an interest in nuclear power. Anybody can buy an interest in nearly anything.

    If it were that simple, why doesn’t Coke buy an interest in Pepsi instead of competing with them?


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  230. 230
    DV82XL Says:

    Lee A. Arnold, the Price-Anderson Act’s writ doesn’t run in Canada, France, the U.K. or Japan or anywhere else that has nuclear power, yet it seems to have developed without it’s help.

    No business buys into a new line while they can still milk the installed base of the old.


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  231. 231
    Finrod Says:

    I dont think many firms have as the major selling point of their business plan that “the government will guarentee our insurance payout if something goes wrong”. Excelon does not seem to have been daunted by the various anti-nuke bogeymen, and I doubt its executives have much to regret because of it.


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  232. 232
    drbuzz0 Says:

    The Price-Anderson act is the ultimate strawman in the attempt to discredit nuclear energy. It goes back to the cold war. The idea being that a stratigic asset like a nuclear plant needed to be insured incase of something like a soviet attack which blows all the spent fuel all over the place or something else.

    It’s tough to get insurance for anything that’s new and without known and verifiable risks. Thus the government administered program comes in. It assures that there will always be plenty of money set aside in case something happens which is almost certainly will not. The industry has paid billions, about as much as could be reasonably expected into a fund which will cover any conceivable problem.

    Is it cheaper than private insurance? Maybe. But in that case can you blame the industry for supporting it? Hell, if someone wants to give me a deal and then they propose stopping doing it I’m going to oppose that. Any industry would.

    So now we come to a big myth: without Price Anderson nobody would dare insure nuclear at any cost because they know it’s such a horrible risk

    Actually they do all over the world. And in the US there are companies which will insure nuclear assets beyond the Price-Anderson act and provide complete redundant coverage if needed.

    http://www.nuclearinsurance.com/Home.html

    Additionally, companies are required to carry 200 million dollars worth of liability insurance PRIVATELY and INDEPENDENTLY from subsidized insurance:

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/erd/nuclear.html

    Why only 200 million? Because that’s about the most you can get in any liability policy for any single installation of any kind with a full guarantee of comprehensive coverage.

    According to the NRC, the cost of private comprehensive liability and loss coverage from a forign insurer such as LLoyds of London is about $400,000 per year: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/funds-fs.html

    This is lower then the equivalent insurance on a large chemical plant, a major domestic oil refinery, airline insurance, cruise ships, railroads and many many many other things.


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  233. 233
    salva Says:

    I’m agree with some points, and disagree with others… critizing people that made ‘little bit’ (2) even if their help is very, very, very small, is non sense: they are at least made something right, even if their help is small (this is just like dislike an uncorrupt politician in a country when every politic is corrupt because the saved leak in economy is just very small!).
    I agree, with (4), coupled it with (9), both points made me think that we are doomed (I do no see any bit of change), people are not giving up having a 4×4 to road in a flat city, and the main core of our society is build around oil and coal… in the actual state of things it is impossible to rebuild our mobilization infrastructure, or there are few interest in doing so (with actual i-net developing, many of the office work can be made at home, but simple no boss allow their employees to work at home…).
    Point (5) can be solved, with taxation to richer, instead overall taxation, also it is necessarily to check consumption in un-taxed population (here, water is cheaper for the poor, but it is found that poor people waste water, now they are prices given by wealthy and consumed amount).
    Point (1) has a wrong conclusion, in poor countries people do not buy hybrids or efficient bulbs not because they do not care, but because they are usually more expensive. Actually are the countries with best live standards the ones that consume more fuel, and contamination and deforestation in poor countries, are nearly always to improve the life standards in richer ones.
    Point (8) is an strong point!


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  234. 234
    drbuzz0 Says:

    2.  The problem is not encouraging people to do a little bit.  The problem is that many enviornmental policies are based entirely on this notion and do not put nearly as much effort into big causes.   Buying CF light bulbs for your home is fine, but really it's more important to go after gas flaring then to mount a campaign to get people to buy better bulbs.

    4 coupled with 9 – absolutely does not mean we are doomed.

    5 – you can't solve consumption with taxation alone.   There are always going to be rich people unless you decided to tax wealth so heavily as to eliminate it.  Then you basically have an argument for communism.   It is not simple taxation but any policy which leads to expensive energy is also regressive.   Basically the argument for reduced consumption through taxation is not that it effects the rich but that it will tend to slow consumption in general.   BAD move.   That's going to hurt everyone.    You can do various things to help consumption but increasing energy prices is a bad idea in general.

    1.   Absolutely poor countries do not buy hybrids or effecient bulbs because they are more expensive.   That has everything to do with economics.   First, a poor country cannot afford such things.  A bad econemy means less people buy new cars because they cannot do so and thus introducing hybrids is not worthwhile.

    It's also not that people in india and china don't care about keeping their cars maintained as much as it is that they care more about feeding their families.   If you are freezing cold you are really going to care how your clean your heat is?   No.  It's all you can do to just have the heat not to see your family freeze to death.

    Thus, economically not only are you unable to upgrade to more enviornmental options but you are left with your primary incentive being survival.   People who don't have electricity don't oppose big coal plants opening up.  I can't blame them!


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  235. 235
    mitch99 Says:

    I agree with a lot of the others that the best thing to do now is to remove this post. It stimulated a discussion and that’s good but it has been poorly received in general. So you might want to think about taking it down and that way visitors will look at other parts of your page and you can rework these ideas and repost them in a way that’s easier for some to digest. This is a lot of info in a single post. I think that taking it down right now is definitely the best policy.


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  236. 236
    Finrod Says:

    “and you can rework these ideas and repost them in a way that’s easier for some to digest. This is a lot of info in a single post. I think that taking it down right now is definitely the best policy.”

    You’re just trying to be helpful, eh Mitch99?


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  237. 237
    jim Says:

    Don’t you DARE take this down.
    If only for the revelation about coal-fires alone, it’s worthy.

    I wonder which category my response falls into, here.
    Is bringing up taillings or the reactor-weapons link irrational, incoherent, or anti-capitalist?
    Or pointing out the rhetorical infallibility of arguing on the basis of human nature.
    Is that flaming?

    The absolute #1 best measure to protect the environment?
    Education, hands down.
    Educated people have fewer kids & use resources cleaner as well as (usually) in smaller amounts.
    At least once they understand the consequences of failing to do so.
    THAT should be our first priority, worldwide.
    Until it is, we’re royally boned – build all the reactors & hydro-dams you want.
    Put out every subterranean coal-fire for good measure.
    All it’ll do is stave off the deadly wave of biological paybacks for another 20 or so years extra.

    An exploding population in a fixed resource-pool only has one outcome.
    It’s not nice.
    I don’t think anyone wants us to go there … but there we are indeed going.
    Speeding up as we go to boot.

    Interesting times, dead ahead.


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  238. 238
    DV82XL Says:

    Jim – actually your comment was not overly critical of the leading post, which which is what I was categorizing.

    Actually it’s more than just education that encourages small families, but also a higher standard of living which at any rate is a requirement for education. People that have to work fourteen hours a day from the time they are six just to eat don’t have the luxury of going to school.

    You are ill informed about nuclear power if you still think that waste is an issue. Existing technology can deal with the waste from a nuclear powerplant now, we don’t have to wait for some untried system. Nuclear waste isn’t as dangerous as it has been made out to be and it can be stabilized and sequestered rather easily, again with proven off-the-shelf proven methods. This issue is a U.S. political concern only.

    This is not the place to give a course in nuclear energy. May I suggest you start here and follow the links at the end for more information.


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  239. 239
    DV82XL Says:

    Soryy link is dead Try this one


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  240. 240
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Take what down? That the article down or your response? I have no intention of taking down either.

    Trailings or reactor-weapons link? No. Absolutely legitimate and certainly always worth considering. There are ways of having nuclear energy which are proliferation resistant and it would vary country-to-country what the concerns would be about whether or not they can provide security, but the proliferation aspects of reactors are absolutely worth looking at.

    Trailings, I assume you mean from uranium mining? Yes, that is a concern as well. It’s one of the weaker parts of the protection because it’s not controled by the same agencies and it’s often lumped with other poorly regulated mining activities. Mining of uranium will vary in it’s impact depending on the nature of the area being mined. But it can include bringing up some nasty stuff as well in the mix. I’d say mining companies ought to be held responsible for this. I’m going to admit I’m a bit ignorant of worldwide mining regulations.

    On the final part, I’ll say this: I highly doubt that there will be a disaster population wise in 20 years. They’ve been saying that since the 1950′s at least and it has not happened. However famine and other problems will continue and probably get worse. South Asia and Africa have a real population problem.

    Education? Yes. A must. Actually, education goes beyond the environment. Education creates a public which can better manage the environment, their own lives, hold down better jobs take care of their health better. Education can positively impact all aspects of a society. It’s hard though… hard but worth it 200%


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  241. 241
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Jim: One thing on the concept of human nature. I can see your point on it. But whatever it’s damn hard to get people to change and give up that which is of aid to them. Take slavery: It seems hard to justify morally but in the US we fought our bloodiest war over it (yeah yeah I know… it was “states rights. but basically the cultural divide was caused by the fact that the north didn’t need or have slaves and was increasingly opposed) it was within this war that an executive order – technically justified as part of the war effort – was made which might not have been possible during less extraordinary times.

    The point: Yes, you can get people to give things up that impact their life if you make them. But it ain’t easy. You’re fighting what people like. It’s a loosing battle in general.

    So this is not to say you can’t get solutions floated where people give things up, but you should consider it: If you try to go for options which are more palatable you’ll generally have a lot more success. It might be better to compromise on some things if you can get a more realistic chance of having it adopted then to go for a more ideal sollution with less broad appeal.


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  242. 242
    Skateboardlord Says:

    Yes, I think too it would be a good thing to take this post down. It would be better if you took it down now before more people get confused. I think you will agree it should be taken down if you think about it. I think a lot of people have shown that it needs more work and you should take this down while you think about how to change them so they won’t make everybody angry.


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  243. 243
    A true scottsman Says:

    I was going to say I disagree with 4 because you can get people to accept sacrifices in quality of life if they realize the importance (and you would need to legislate it because too many cheaters otherwise). But having read your last comment I find it hard to disagree with the obvious common sense: If you can find solutions with minimize sacrafices by the general public then those are always supperior because they’re less of a hard sell and people will adopt them right away possibly without legislation.

    So I think I was reading it wrong. Yeah, you’d have to be an idiot to not realize that you’re better off with solutions that don’t involve hard sells. But what happens when you run out of those? They should come first because you’ve got the best chance, but they can only go so far. But yea, don’t spend a year trying to convince people to stop driving their car and ride a bike when you could convince them in five minutes to put more insulation in the attic. That makes perfect sense.


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  244. 244
    PositronicBrainStem Says:

    My first reaction is that this seems obvious, but it is also stuff that most seem to be lost on and is brilliantly blunt. No, nothing here can I really dispute. Nitpick, perhaps, but it’s all common sense which you can’t really escape.

    But I think I feel differently than most. On metafilter, at least, everyone seems to think “Well if you go with that post then you can’t do anything” or “this just means you should do nothing” or “then we’re better off doing nothing”

    Am I the only one who does NOT see it that way? I think this makes it apparent that there are many things which can have a huge impact and are totally workable. I think maybe it’s just that most assume that if you can’t get solar roofs or electric cars to take off then you’re left with nothing. That’s a sort of eco-puritanism. It goes for just what you see as obvious or hear the most about. Why can’t these 10 items been used to find things you can do?

    I don’t see this as meaning powerlessness. There is much which can be done. Much which can have a huge impact. Once we’ve run out of such options then you can move onto outlawind patio heaters and making people install solar panels.


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  245. 245
    Zander Says:

    Okay, I was willing to consider this as possibly more than a collection of excuses wrapped up in waffle and handwaving till I read the comment thread. Sorry, but I have this reflexive reaction to patronising, offensive, arrogant BS–I move to the other side.

    Some of your correspondents’ notions about “reality” are interestingly skewed. Stone is real. Trees are real. Air is real. Whales are real (at least for the moment). “Economy” is an abstraction we made out of our heads. If you can’t breathe, it’s too late to say “hey, the economy’s doing great.”

    You point out, rightly, that people do not always willingly do what’s best, and seem to think that this can’t be changed. The framers of laws, the builders of America, would tend to disagree with you. But in any case, there is a point coming, sooner or later, beyond which all your arguments simply won’t matter, because there will not be air to breathe, and there will not be water to drink, and the only sane response is to try, however we can, to avoid that.

    But mainly I disagree because I’ve seen the people who agree with you and I do not want to be with them. I’ll be over here, with my eco-warrior friends, feeling guilty that I don’t do as much as they do, but at least knowing I’m not an overbearing, bigoted, supercilious jackass.


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  246. 246
    DV82XL Says:

    Zander economies are just as natural as anything else you mentioned, and like the environment can be bent temporarily to Mans will, but sooner or later it reasserts control. Every attempt to work outside its limits has failed. What most people think are changes made to the economy by law are just changes to fiscal policy, and even then the piper often has to be payed down the line. It’s been pointed out many times in this thread that command economies have failed every single time they have been tried. They will fail if we try again.

    Also all of us, at least all of us that support nuclear power, are at the point of tears with the Green movement (or eco-warriors, if you wish) because you should be our natural allies. All of the technical objections to nuclear power have been worked out – we have had decades to improve this field – and still we have yet to convince you guys that it is part of the solution.

    Dreams of solar/wind are just that. Even if you get laws passed mandating these, governments cannot legislate the laws of the physics and that’s why these systems will fail.

    It’s like banging one’s head against a wall. It’s not that we don’t like your proposed solutions-they just don’t work.

    But sit with your friends because you don’t like us, and get marginalized by events; ultimately these issues will unfold as we are warning they will, because in the end the only real ‘green power’ in this world is the kind that comes from banks.


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  247. 247
    Will Says:

    Fascinating but wrong.

    The underlying assumption is that the human race has lost the ability to panic. I see no evidence of this, though as the threat is less obvious here it will obviously take longer for the penny to drop.

    In any case, it’s largely irrelevant as we passed the tipping point last year and WE ARE ALL DOOMED.

    Only half joking: we don’t really know, do we?


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  248. 248
    Op Says:

    Since we are talking about economics you should not fail to include one very important premise to all your

    arguments, ie, “who is paying for it?” or in other terms “who is responsible / liable / in the position to lose or

    profit”?

    Rule Number 10
    In an economic standpoint, if you want to make a difference then you work with existing infrastructure and

    industries. It may be cheaper to develop a method for controlling coal fires but which business in it’s right mind

    will take on this cost? Pollution in a broader sense is an efficiency problem ergo each business must have it in

    their development plan contingencies that will require research and development cost to tackle and improve their

    technologies. In the macrobusiness aspect this has highest benefit / cost ratio because it will benefit the

    business in the long run.

    Pollution sources are supply and demand driven. Regulate supply or in the case of what is happening now with

    the seeming shortage of supply – demand is high but lesser people are able to afford it.

    Rule Number 9
    This is one of the major stepping stones for businesses to move in the right direction. That’s probably why

    there is a radical move to try to change the mindset of consumers in terms of what they want and what they

    need.

    Rule Number 8
    What is disturbing about this rule is that when you mix it in with the economic reality wherein most countries

    who are able to afford these synthetic and engineered processes are actually suffering a surplus of their

    products (therefore producing more waste) while the other half of the developing countries who would benefit

    the most cannot afford this technology. Nature IS designed to provide mankind with food and energy BUT not to

    the extent that we are currently stretching and limiting it’s resources. What most environmentalists are

    questioning are the methods by w/c we have been using, modifying, synthesizing and / or in some cases

    abusing nature.

    Rule Number 7
    I agree with this rule. Although, this applies more to politicians and scientist who think that the climate change

    issue is a hoax and not to environmentalists.

    Rule Number 6
    Using political advocacy is an effective means of communicating an important message across to the masses.

    One way is by exercising your the democratic right to your own opinion. If public opinion is swayed then

    governments are swayed. Case in point, the recent Japanese whale fishing expeditions. I don’t think you can

    come up with any better alternative. Synthetic whale meat?

    Rule Number 5
    Taxation, price increases and caps on energy are governments ways of balancing their budget given the

    current and foreseenable economic supply and demand scenarios. Many countries are actually regulating the

    current costs of their peoples “standards of living” through subsidies and budget balancing thus many are

    incurring huge national deficits in their budgets. What some environmentalists are arguing is that the REAL cost

    of our existing energy needs is not taken into account given that no one has an idea as to the extent of our

    current supplies or what the true cost of industrial and commercial waste comes out to. Carbon taxation is a

    way by which those accountable are held that way. Whether the government trickles down this cost to it’s

    constituents is matter of debate. Increase in price is not a tool to promote conservation but a symptom of a lack

    of financial planning, a unstable future or a means of maintaining profitability.

    Rule Number 4
    History is replete with lost civilizations. Once a current system does not work, civilization either dies or moves

    on. Currently studies show that people who have children are more environmentally aware. Unless the

    mindset is changed from sacrific to survival then there can be no change. Given the current information out

    there is it unreasonable to assume that most of the developments that will occur in the next few decades will be

    pivotal in determining the survival of a number of economies and natural ecosystems? This goes back to

    number 5, if you want to have your cake then you better pay for it.

    Rule Number 3
    Most countries subsidize because they have little or no control of the supply. Therefore, there may be a need

    to come up with more radical sources.

    Rule Number 2
    Economically speaking every dollar saved on electricity bills count. People to contribute to pollution count.

    Everybody counts. I wouldn’t be reading this blog if this weren’t the case.

    Rule Number 1
    The health of an economy is inherently linked to the health of it’s environment. When the environment is maintained whereby sustainable industries are developed then the symptoms of economic problems like recession are easily managed. Environmentalism is a luxury in a sense that it serves to remind us that how we manage our resources is a matter of great deliberation. Just like time is a luxury, we have to spend it well.


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  249. 249
    gavin starks Says:

    Can you list the top ten actions that we, the people, should do for positive change?
    (and then a similar top ten for business, and then for government?)

    Many thanks in advance.


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  250. 250
    mlp Says:

    Found my way here through a link on LiveJournal. This post is exceptional, and the comments thread is illuminating in both uplifting and terrifying ways. I’ve learned quite a bit about modern nuclear reactor design, and I’m horrified at the “polite” demands that you take this post down, as if they’re trying to convince you that it’s really better for everyone. For the love of God, please, please, please leave it up, spread it far and wide, and keep writing about this!

    For context — I am 30 years old and I consider myself an environmentalist; I do my best to live as low-impact a life as I can, within reason. At the same time, I’m also a scientist, and I’m reasonably well versed in economics. Each one of your 10 points comes down to simple laws of supply and demand. Markets exist because they work, and where markets do not exist, people will create them. They cannot be legislated away, no matter what the radical greens think.

    As I read your post, I found myself thinking over and over again, “good point, but this wouldn’t be so big an issue if we were actually *using* nuclear.” Then I got into the comments and laughed aloud. When I was in high school, I was incredibly excited about the Integral Fast Reactor, a sodium-cooled design that recycles its waste and whose eventual nonfissile waste is only hazardous for about 200 years. I cried when the Clinton administration killed it. I am absolutely going to have to read up on spallation and learn more about the advances that have been made in the last 15 years — this post has me excited again. Thanks for writing it.


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  251. 251
    Sovietologist Says:

    mlp, you’re precisely the kind of person we need more of. You’re one of what I like to call the “new environmentalists”- people who use science to address our pressing environmental problems. I believe that it is your kind that will save the world- and if people like Sir David King are any indication, already is.

    It’s time to redefine “environmentalist” from “someone who says they’re protecting the environment” to “someone who actually is protecting the environment.” There’s a big difference there.


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  252. 252
    DV82XL Says:

    “Markets exist because they work, and where markets do not exist, people will create them. They cannot be legislated away, no matter what the radical greens think.”

    Meredith, you have hit the nail right on the head, and condensed much of what many of us here have been trying to point out in two very succinct sentiences. This is indeed the crux of the matter.


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  253. 253
    KLA Says:

    Hi,

    Just to illustrate how the best green intentions fall apart in the face of reality you only need to look at this study:
    http://www.ref.org.uk/images/pdfs/Whiteco2.pdf
    It is one of the first studies I have seen that assesses wind power, and its capability to reduce CO2, from real world experience. Basically the conclusion is that because wind power is unpredictable and changing over its full scale range, it needs “spinning reserve” backup plants of equal capacity to cover the time when the wind dies down. Also, it shows that on yearly average, wind farms supply only 15% of their “nameplate” capacity. As a wind farm costs about the same to build per “nameplate” MW as a coal, gas or nuclear plant, the invested capital per produced MW is 8 times more than more conventional generating methods.
    In addition, spinning reserve plants are basically fired up fossil fuel plants, ready to spring in action on a moments notice, but not producing anything useful. Only CO2. The conclusion of the study is that the CO2 savings of wind are therefore basically nil. Taking into account that the amount of concrete used per really produced MW is many times that of any other power source, it means that they actually increase atmospheric CO2. Cement production accounts for 7% of the annual CO2 release in the atmosphere.
    They make only economic sense if supported by massive subsidies. Which if course is paid for by the consumer and tax payer.
    No wonder Germany is building coal plants like crazy, as the former red/green government mandated an exit from nuclear power. Also they now have some of the highest costs for electricity in europe. Which means that many power intensive industries are leaving the country, as they no can longer compete.
    Of course the green politicians justify the emissions from the coal plants with the argument that their emissions are compensated by the wind farms (based on carbon trading). But the calculations are based on “nameplate” power output of the wind farms, not on how much CO2 they save.
    Solar basically suffers from the same fallacy if used on an industrial scale. It works for domestic power (somewhat) though, because it can be largely consumed at the point of production (air conditioning for example), but not for industrial use. For a large solar plant in the desert , it does not matter how cheap solar cells become. The low energy density means the interconnect infrastructure to connect all those cells together on a grid needs massive amounts of copper and inverters/transformers. And THAT price and cost does not fall with larger scale production. Refining copper to the purity to be usable for electrical wiring uses large amounts of energy. And then you STILL don’t have a generating system that can match supply and demand. No industrial scale storage method for electricity has been devised yet or tried, except for hydro pumping. And even that is very lossy and not applicable to the desert. I have not seen large hydro resources in any desert yet.


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  254. 254
    erutufon Says:

    i work in energy efficiency. high energy prices lead to more investment in energy efficiency, so less energy used, and less emissions (I base this on my direct experiences working in energy). this is good for the environment. t’s also good for business – lower costs. more investment in more energy efficient equipment, or more jobs, greater production – there are many benefits and these are just a few.
    high energy prices are (at the moment) mainly caused by high oil prices. Recent high oil prices are caused by 1. high and increasing demand (pretty much the world over), and 2. roughly stable production levels.
    so demand increases, supply remains stable (ish), prices rise.
    this presents 2 problems – increasing demand (how do we reduce the increase in demand, or cut demand?)
    and oil production – how do we increase it?
    the main problem is actually the second – oil production is widely believed to have peaked last year or thereabouts. so from now on, oil production will decline – and so prices will increase further (more info on this at theoildrum.net).
    this leaves us in the situation of having an increasing demand with a decreasing supply – and obviously that will have a fairly substantial impact on prices.
    but not just that – oil is in pretty much everything we use, eat, do, in one form or another. this is the real problem. whatever you think about the environmental arguments stated above, the decline of world oil supply is a geological fact (there is low grade oil out there – tar sands etc – but it takes more energy to get a barrel of oil from tar sands than that barrel of oil will produce. as well as about 3m3 of water – which comes out absolutely filthy).
    switching to alternatives and cutting consumption is required in order to keep on living in the type of society we do. I don’t want to live in interesting times – but in order to keep on living at a reasonable standard we *must* find alternatives to oil.


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  255. 255
    jim Says:

    Again: why the HELL are folks wanting this taken down?
    You’re welcome to dislike it or differ – but just saying STFU is wearing your idiocy on your forehead.

    Tailings (not trailings) are a serious issue, one I don’t see any plausible solution for. You can’t get uranium without mining pitchblende first (there’s no naturally occurring source of uranium itself), & despite Dr. Whitfield’s reassurance of its “ubiquitous & plentiful” nature, it’s a limited resource that requires VERY large-scale excavation to extract. Nor does his presumption that a doubling in price will somehow extend supply tenfold – given that BOTH price & demand might readily jump together. It’s not like coal or gold – their aren’t any big “pitchblende veins” or seams anywhere that I’ve ever heard of, let alone a motherlode waiting to be discovered. It has to be assayed & meticulously extracted from enormous amounts of earth, & the waste soil (tailings) is both radioactive & toxic. Tailings produce leachate – a very persistant & poisonous chemical soup. It’s hell on aquifers, & we’re going to be MUCH more concerned about maintaining supplies of clean water than having more power for our laptops & lava-lamps in a few years’ time, if I’m not mistaken.

    The weapon issue won’t go away: if you want to use reactors as a major global strategy for energy, you increase the very real risk of someone abusing them to produce a weapon. As the number of nations with nukes rises, so too do the odds of a nuclear war. Reactors & their associated technology are vital needs for any country aspiring to join the “Nuclear Club” … bombs & reactors also wind up justifying one another’s existence, once you have both (one to generate the other’s fissile material/one to defend the other).

    I find it quite ironic that the link you cite to show how “safe” nuclear power is, is one referencing none other than the justly infamous CANDU. If Canada has anything in modern history to be ashamed of, that’s a serious contender for top dog.

    Please note: in your link, Dr. Whitlock says categorically that the CANDU was NOT used by India to make nukes – then says in the very next section that their 1998 bombs “may” have been helped along via technology accompanying the CANDU as well as “CANDU-derivatives” … methinks that “may” is rather disingenuous at best … in fact, both the Government & nuclear industry already knew damn well (despite professions of ignorance & rationalizations that’d do Dr. Strangelove proud) that CANDUs were more or less IDEAL templates for such “derivatives” & as such were a dire risk for horizontal nuclear proliferation – as was the “package” of technologies on offer as essential support for the CANDU – & went ahead & sold them anyway. With results rather less than comforting to anybody paying attention.

    Conservation, of both energy & resources, needs to be the focus. Climate change is the result in part of our profligate introduction of excess energy into a biosphere that’s a relatively closed system. A churning phalanx of reactors might very well solve our fossil-fuel issue … but there’s no feasible way to offset the heat energy produced, & cheap nuclear energy will ALL wind up being converted to heat energy one way or another, via entropy. Country simple: the more excess energy we keep pumping into the air & water, the nastier the blowback we’re buying down the road. The cheaper we make it, the more we’ll produce (& waste). We’re used to thinking cheapest is best, but that rule doesn’t work with energy on a global scale, given our overpopulation & unreasonable level of burden on the environment.

    As for human nature: who wouldn’t've guffawed at the idea of environmentalism as SEXY, as late as 1985? Assuming you could find more than 1 in 10 who’d know what that word really meant, that is.

    From 1985 to now, in absolute historical terms, is not very long – & just look at how drastically OUR “nature” has changed!

    I’ve found that when people decide something’s essential they gobble it up – & get very uptight if it’s not available on demand – whether it really IS essential or not. People are in fact increasingly making that decision in regards to living greener, in the face of some VERY stiff ideological & cultural opposition. Business has been trying to have it both ways: pretending that the one can somehow magically offset the other while selling phosphate-free soaps alongside SUVs. Once, those “Three R’s” were actually FOUR, but the market didn’t like the sound of “Refuse” – & it was probably the best of the bunch … now we need it back, & fast.

    The marketplace also includes an intense & highly sophisticated campaign to create “needs” that aren’t needful in the least, & are in fact downright deadly – cigarettes are only the most blatant example. The meme of consumerism as patriotic, or as virtuous in & of itself, is vital to its current profit-margin. Until the society can mature beyond that particular paradigm (as is observably occurring, but oh-so-bloody-slowly), we’re truly rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic.

    Someone here expresses their doubts that there’ll be “a disaster population-wise in 20 years” – & well they should. It’s already here, with bells on. Take a good long look at Africa: if we don’t get our act together a LOT faster & better, that’s OUR future. We’re beyond any sane measure of carrying-capacity NOW & have been for some time. Nobody knows exactly when it’ll peak, but most of us can guess what will follow that maximum. The “correction” is going to be a long & gruesome business, & there’s now no way in hell we can dodge it. That crisis is no longer an if, it’s a when.

    To put it in perspective: if some swift & hellish cataclysm killed as many of us as perished in both World Wars, today, we’d still have the exact same problem to deal with tomorrow, at a MARGINALLY reduced magnitude. It wouldn’t buy us so much as one year more in which to solve the problem.

    Markets exist not “because they work” (I’m not sure what – if anything – that really means) but because we need & want things & services, for which markets are available to provide them to us. I’ve never heard of anyone, radical green or otherwise, proposing “legislating them away” … the trend in recent times has been to radically deregulate them, & the results are dubious at best. That same radical market deregulation, by the way, now makes the concept of solving our fossil-fuel issues via production of large numbers of nuclear reactors look a lot like technology-assisted-suicide.

    We can neither buy our way out of this mess, nor market our way out of it.
    But we might just be able to THINK our way to a viable future – or even one better than our present.
    Too bad we can’t stop the time-clock.


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  256. 256
    jim Says:

    The comment above my last is excellent.
    Even though I doubt the wisdom of prioritizing increased oil output.
    Tar-sands are a chimera, both too dirty & too cost- & energy-inefficient.

    We’re going to need to find oil-substitutes soon.
    Clean & economically viable – not simply for energy.
    For everything from insulation to packaging to medicine to product-casings.

    Nuclear power only solves one aspect of the oil issue.
    IF you think it can hold up to a serious rational risk-benefit analysis.
    Consult an insurance firm or actuary about that one, if you like.
    Or, come to think of it, even a reliable bookie.

    I strongly suspect you won’t enjoy what they tell you.

    You may think nuclear is THE answer: low volume waste, low CO2, high-tech spinoff benefits, & so on.
    But the fact remains: the public in the democratic industrial nations (responsible for the vast majority of global energy consumption) is excedingly unlikely to go with nuclear, period.
    Unless you intend to abolish democracy, I’m not sure how you can get your plan into play.
    This issue won’t go away – in fact, it’s going to keep getting harder to evade over time.


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  257. 257
    Perilous Says:

    So . . . . What’s the point? Now that you have convinced everyone that their individual actions are meaningless (every little bit does not help, etc) against the tide of big bad scary polluting selfish rich people (human nature) . . . Should we all slit our wrists now or next week? Cause, gee whiz, you sure haven’t left us any room to hope.


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  258. 258
    Johan Says:

    Jim in Canada their are uranium as high as 20%. I would call that pretty big veins. Anyway even though uranium mining is dirty buisness its no more dirty than copper mining, cleaner than gold mining and a heck of alot cleaner than coal. There are no overwhelming problems with modern uranium mining in australia and canda. When we start putting generation 4 reactors into serious use the mining issue will be mute because only 1/50 of the ammount of uranium will be needed.

    Remember also that renewables require alot more construction material than nuclear power per produced kWh and those materials do not magicaly appeard, they are mined. We wont get away from mining, closes thing to getting away from mining would be extracting uranium from seawater, something that is economicaly justifiable with breeder reactors.

    Regarding weapons, why would more nuclear power plants in the EU, America, India and China increase proliferation? Thats where they are needed the most and for that matter if the above metioned countries/regions shut down all nuclear power plants, how would that decrease proliferation.

    All that is needed to build a bomb is motivation, the rest is engineering problems that any dedicated nation can overcome regardless if civilian nuclear power exist or not. Combating nuclear weapons by targeting civilian nuclear power is doomed to fail since civilian nuclear power isnt the root of the problem.


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  259. 259
    drbuzz0 Says:

    there is lots of room for hope. Actually I think that deserves a post in and of itself which I am working on actually.

    I’d like to give some examples though of the “once people realize the severity of the problem they will start to change their ways on their own”

    ~ It’s not easy to get people to vote. The rates in most industrial countries are dismal. In the US it’s under 50%. And there are huge drives to do it. Why? Because people know their vote is unlikely to be deciding and all they have to do is wait in line for a bit. Forget about presidential elections, state elections and congressional ones are absolutely dismal.

    ~ Smoking is bad. Everyone knows it’s one of the single worst things you could do to effect your health. People who smoke commonly get lung cancer. It’s uncommon in non smokers. And yet people continue to take up smoking. People smoke for years (ever been to europe? I don’t think they have nonsmokers there). People know it will shorten their lives and has just about zero redeeming qualities. It can be difficult to quit, but it’s sure as hell not impossible. Most people I know who quit were not really bothered by it after a month or so. So why do people still smoke? Because it’s easy to put off. No single puff is likely to kill them and they don’t see the health effects right away.

    ~ Most western countries are seeing an increase in weight and weight related health problems. The US leads the way but plenty of other places see it too. Food is avaliable. Fattening food tastes good. Exercise requires consistent and decided effort. People do not take optimal care of their health for the same reason smoking is so common.

    How many people do not take the responsibility to always invest wisely for the future? How many get into debt knowing full well it’s going to come back to bite them?

    You rely on people’s sense of the future and their desire to do something individually which they know will only make a difference collectively. You loose when you bet on this.


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  260. 260
    Some Hippie Says:

    Anyone workin in the sustainability or green tech industry already undestands these things. As our host does, but he seems to have attracted a cadre of commenters gleefully tearing apart the green straw man with a zeal born of willful ignorance.

    For example, an oil & gas company gets ten times the subsidies that your little ole windfarm gets. So much for the magical free market.

    Sacrificing the needs of an economy for the environment will destroy both

    Is true on it’s surface but should really be re-written to say:

    Sacrificing the needs of the environment for the economy will destroy both.

    Because where does the wealth of our civilization come from?

    We pay for our cheap gas in other ways: healthcare for children with athsma, ozone damage to crops, cancer treatments, not to mention the geo-political implications. These are tangible costs we bear for the fuel we burn. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    We are trying to move forward. The “You are a hypocrite cause you emit carbon dioxide when you breathe so why shoud I believe anyting you tell me nyah nyah nayh argument is getting old.” Those of us who care do what we can to reduce our impact, and work to help others reduce theirs.

    You can have both an economy and an environment, but you have to work for it. And you have to make changes. It’s not going to be easey, but soon these changes will be mandatory to our civilization. So enjoy your strawman bashing for now, like your 20mpg car it won’t be around forever.


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  261. 261
    David Barrie Says:

    the other thing is to follow the equity markets, not just the farmers’ markets. environmentalists need to find ways to boost the price and value of virtue or sustainability may remain a composite, common sense, piecemeal phenomenon. I’ve blogged on this here: http://tinyurl.com/2k4tum


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  262. 262
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Alright. Since it seems that people can’t seem to understand that there are some very effective and very under-publicized things which you can go after. Stuff which requires virtually no sacrafice by people and minimal (if any economic impact) I made this post. Seriously this stuff ain’t hard:

    http://depletedcranium.com/?p=382

    Yeah it’s breif and has less than half of what I can think of but I’m rather busy today and I don’t enjoy holding people’s hands when they could just do their own damn research. I know I know… not my most thorough post. Like I said: busy at the moment.

    “Sacrificing the needs of the environment for the economy will destroy both.”

    Oh what bull. You can actually do a lot for the environment without impacting the economy. That’s what you call a “highly favorable cost-benefit analysis” and yeah hurting the environment has tangible costs but they’re not nearly as direct, measurable and immediate.

    Since when did this become “Oh you are bad and hate the environment and only want the economy so you can drive your 20mpg car. wa wa wah!” No. I happen to like the enviornment. I simply realize that the best way to help it is to seek out ways of doing so which are the most effective and have the lowest risk and cost.

    And why does everyone seem to focus on just one of these and then cast it in the most narrow area?

    Here you go: http://depletedcranium.com/?p=382

    Ps. I’ll enjoy my car because it will not bring the “end of civilization” any closer or any faster. You could have everyone drive 50mpg cars and it wouldn’t do squat compared to the damn flares in Nigeria and coal fires in China. THAT is a strawman if I’ve ever seen one.


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  263. 263
    DV82XL Says:

    Jim

    CANDU’s were not used to breed Indian weapons-grade material. That was done in the CIRUS reactor, a MAPLE-class open pool reactor of Canadian design. very different from a CANDU. These reactors are primarily supposed to be used for breeding medical isotopes. However the Indians obtained heavy-water from American sources (the the US in the name) and highly enriched uranium from European sources. So blaming Canada and CANDUs for India’s nuclear weapons is like blaming a knife manufacturer for a cut throat.

    Mine tailings are another problem that is not unique to uranium mining. Every heavy metal that is mined has to deal with this issue many of them leaching metallic complexes with much higher bioavalablity than uranium ones.

    Proliferation is going to happen anyway. So far every single country that has wanted to build a bomb has. Every nation that has wanted nuclear power has gotten it, The idea that the US or anyone else is the arbiter of this technology is hubris at the very least. And certainly not building nuclear powerplants in the US will not in any way lessen the capacity of anyone else to make a weapon.

    Some Hippie, please show us some quotes to backup your accusation that anyone here is for oil subsidies or that we are for burning hydrocarbons for fuel. All we are saying is that big problems need big solutions and small little hairshirt sacrifices won’t cut the mustard


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  264. 264
    Morganism Says:

    Sorry to see that you think small scale solutions are unworkable.
    I live out in the desert west, and drive by those old, closed up, mom and pop gas stations all the time.
    And those small towns that used to live off resource extraction, well, the ones that don’t have “enviornmental”
    and recreation opportunities, are looking mighty skeletal lately. If your little town isn’t near a national park or forest, you are probably just biding time.
    If you logged out your forest, or poisoned all the local dirt with crappy mining protocols, or have methane leaking out of the ground after natural gas extraction, you have lots of old locals sitting around with cancer, complaining the enviro’s have ruined your economy. Meanwhile all your toxics are floating back downstream to the urban centers, who are sending there car exhausts back to you.

    Now that they can get hydrogen out of saltwater by just using a sonic transducer, or by adding aluminum powder to water,(which may be able to be pulled out of mine waste) and cracking methane from sewer systems, I am dismayed to see you dismissing it.
    Here is something that can be done locally, by family’s, in place, and not take up valuble food growing land.

    To say that there is no distribution system in place is not amusing. There has to be a little stimulation to make it happen. That is why Las Vegas and California are building multi-million dollar refueling stations, just so folks can drive from LA to LV in there Hydro-cars. But you can do this small scale with farm manures and septic systems too. China and India are both doing this in small batches to run their tractors now.

    Yes, hydrogen is dangerous, but much less so than gasoline, or even propane. Leaks evaporate up, instead of pooling. And they go all the way through the atmosphere to space if they do leak.
    Yes, you have to pressurize to get high volumes in portable packages, but we had plenty of NatGas conversions here when it was subsidized (AZ) – where there is a market, even ripping off the govt., it will be taken advantage of quickly.

    Fuel cell tech works great on neighborhood scales, not individual.
    http://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=110648&org=NSF&from=news

    The new cascading solar panels work great, and up the use of individual photons into multiple electron streams. now if these guys can incorporate them into their thin films… http://www.nanosolar.com/technology.htm

    The old Wankell rotary engines run especially well on hydrogen, and if you have to use incinerators, the waste coming out after burning is much cleaner than any other disposal stream.

    Hate to see us burn up all the oil, when we are going to need it as a food source as we mine the asteroid belt.

    Don’t give up on the homesteaders, the hi-tech is their last hope.
    And don’t destroy the last of the soil by “growing” your energy. (And don’t get me started on the hops shortage, or farm subsidies.)


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  265. 265
    Michael Ejercito Says:

            erutufon said:

    i work in energy efficiency. high energy prices lead to more investment in energy efficiency, so less energy used, and less emissions (I base this on my direct experiences working in energy). this is good for the environment. t’s also good for business – lower costs. more investment in more energy efficient equipment, or more jobs, greater production – there are many benefits and these are just a few.
    high energy prices are (at the moment) mainly caused by high oil prices. Recent high oil prices are caused by 1. high and increasing demand (pretty much the world over), and 2. roughly stable production levels.
    so demand increases, supply remains stable (ish), prices rise.
    this presents 2 problems – increasing demand (how do we reduce the increase in demand, or cut demand?)
    and oil production – how do we increase it?
    the main problem is actually the second – oil production is widely believed to have peaked last year or thereabouts. so from now on, oil production will decline – and so prices will increase further (more info on this at theoildrum.net).
    this leaves us in the situation of having an increasing demand with a decreasing supply – and obviously that will have a fairly substantial impact on prices.
    but not just that – oil is in pretty much everything we use, eat, do, in one form or another. this is the real problem. whatever you think about the environmental arguments stated above, the decline of world oil supply is a geological fact (there is low grade oil out there – tar sands etc – but it takes more energy to get a barrel of oil from tar sands than that barrel of oil will produce. as well as about 3m3 of water – which comes out absolutely filthy).
    switching to alternatives and cutting consumption is required in order to keep on living in the type of society we do. I don’t want to live in interesting times – but in order to keep on living at a reasonable standard we *must* find alternatives to oil.

    So what have you done to find alternatives to oil?

    Or are you waiting for Jesus Christ to do it for you?


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  266. 266
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Morganism said:

    Sorry to see that you think small scale solutions are unworkable.
    I live out in the desert west, and drive by those old, closed up, mom and pop gas stations all the time.
    And those small towns that used to live off resource extraction, well, the ones that don’t have “enviornmental”
    and recreation opportunities, are looking mighty skeletal lately. If your little town isn’t near a national park or forest, you are probably just biding time.

    Yes, small solutions can create small differences for a small number of people. Yes, a few small changes could help save a single small town. Small changes will never save the world from global warming. If a multinational organization wants to say “lets make some small changes which will be useful to North Smithtown Montana” then that might be valid. But in the grand scheme of things putting solar cells on roofs doesn’t do squat for the big picture.

    I suppose the question is is the organization trying to help the earth or one itty bitty part of it. it’s honorable to make a change for a few people or a tiny village, but there are a LOT of tiny villages that would be helped if you looked at the big picture.

    If you logged out your forest, or poisoned all the local dirt with crappy mining protocols, or have methane leaking out of the ground after natural gas extraction, you have lots of old locals sitting around with cancer, complaining the enviro’s have ruined your economy. Meanwhile all your toxics are floating back downstream to the urban centers, who are sending there car exhausts back to you.

    Right… and you think that’s going to change by getting people in the cities to drive 35mpg cars and not 30 mpg cars or switch to compact florescent? Most of the envioro organizations won’t even go after a single mining town. They’d promote everyone doing something so small and dilute that in the whole of things noone benefits.

    Now that they can get hydrogen out of saltwater by just using a sonic transducer, or by adding aluminum powder to water,(which may be able to be pulled out of mine waste) and cracking methane from sewer systems, I am dismayed to see you dismissing it.

    I really hope this isn’t another refrence to that stupid saltwater to hydrogen scheme everyone got excited about a year ago and turned out to use more energy than traditional processes.

    Making hydrogen with an aluminum powder reaction is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. You might have aluminum in mining waste but it won’t be a metal, it never occurs as one. You will have bauxite which needs to be refined to aluminum. This is one of the most electricity intensive industrial processes ever created and it would be about the most inefficient way of making hydrogen I can think of.

    Actually I had mentioned sewer and landfill gas before, but you can’t crack methane. It’s CH4. You can’t get any smaller than that as a hydrocarbon. Thus it’s the end of the line for cracking.

    Here is something that can be done locally, by family’s, in place, and not take up valuble food growing land.

    Use megawatts of power to make a some aluminum which you then use to make hydrogen at a huge energy deficit?

    To say that there is no distribution system in place is not amusing. There has to be a little stimulation to make it happen. That is why Las Vegas and California are building multi-million dollar refueling stations, just so folks can drive from LA to LV in there Hydro-cars. But you can do this small scale with farm manures and septic systems too. China and India are both doing this in small batches to run their tractors now.

    Multi-million dollar refilling stations? just like the multi-million dollar charging station thing in the 80′s that lead to… nothing? It doesn’t matter. Do you really want a car that will only drive in that one area? And I hope you don’t end up in a part of town without a filling station.

    By the way, how is it being delivered to the cars? As a high pressure gas? as a cryonic liquid? How do they have the attachment connect? As far as I know nobody has come up with a standard for how you hook up a hydrogen car. Oh you have hydrogen under pressure? um… my car needs cryo hydrogen and it doesn’t have a fitting like that. Crap. Guess I’m walking home.

    Yes, hydrogen is dangerous, but much less so than gasoline, or even propane. Leaks evaporate up, instead of pooling. And they go all the way through the atmosphere to space if they do leak.
    Yes, you have to pressurize to get high volumes in portable packages, but we had plenty of NatGas conversions here when it was subsidized (AZ) – where there is a market, even ripping off the govt., it will be taken advantage of quickly.

    You obviously know very little about hydrogen. Gasoline won’t explode in liquid form. Actually it doesn’t even burn that well as a standing liquid. It’s not under pressure either. Hydrogen leak means either you have very very cold hydrogen coming out and evaporating (explosively) or you have it hissing out under pressure.

    Now here’s the thing about hydrogen: it ignites over the largest range of concentrations of any known gas. If you have hydrogen at only 6% all the way up to 90% it will ignite. That’s very rare. If you have gasoline vapors or methane and you light a match or create a spark, chances are it won’t ignite. Why? You need enough fuel or it’s “too lean” but too much fuel and it’s “too rich” either way no ignition. But hydrogen ignites VERY easily. It also burns with a flame with is invisible in sunlight. Also, it’s so small as a molecule it can seep out of leaks other things would not leak from.

    It will dissipate upward if it isn’t trapped under the hood or in the cab.. or if it just blows up first.

    Not to mention it’s a horribly inefficient carrier of energy.

    Fuel cell tech works great on neighborhood scales, not individual.
    http://nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=110648&org=NSF&from=news

    Right.. and they will use the hydrogen we make how? It takes energy to make hydrogen. Hydrogen is just an intermediary. The best fuel cells and hydrogen generators you get an effeciency of at best 1 to 8. So 8 kilowatt hours in one killowatt hour out. Sucky.

    The new cascading solar panels work great, and up the use of individual photons into multiple electron streams. now if these guys can incorporate them into their thin films… http://www.nanosolar.com/technology.htm

    If by “great” you mean “better then previous solar panels” then I’ll grant you that, but the bar is quite low.

    The old Wankell rotary engines run especially well on hydrogen, and if you have to use incinerators, the waste coming out after burning is much cleaner than any other disposal stream.

    Again, the question is where do you get the hydrogen from. Yeah you can make it from methane but you loose energy. Better to use the methane to begin with.

    Incinerators? Well yes there’s a lower volume of waste but at a huge price of CO2. Not to mention dioxin. Thermal depolymerization or plasma arc is about the best way to get rid of waste cleanly but that’s energy intensive.

    Hate to see us burn up all the oil, when we are going to need it as a food source as we mine the asteroid belt.

    Um… yea… maybe. We can always make more oil synthetically but you just need a lot of energy

    Don’t give up on the homesteaders, the hi-tech is their last hope.
    And don’t destroy the last of the soil by “growing” your energy. (And don’t get me started on the hops shortage, or farm subsidies.)

    Well it’s interesting to go for such a solution. It seems like the obsession here is over cars and switching to hydrogen?

    my advice: power generation is about four times more CO2 then automobiles. That’s the source you need to tackle. Don’t worry as much about cars. Too high an investment at a hard problem which will have a minimal return. Power plants can make a bigger difference. Also clean electricity is essential as a basis for a clean transportation system. Going with hydrogen or electric cars is putting the cart before the horse.

    Tackle electricity, start considering how it factors into a transportation model. Electricity is priority 1. Then heating, transportation, industry etc etc. This is an engineering issue. No use putting in the wiring in a building that doesn’t have the walls up yet. Do it in the way that gets the max benifit in the least amount of time.

    oh also.. biofuels are not necessarily “Carbon neutral” that only works if you assume that not using them as fuel would result in the plant (or whatever would have grown there) would die and decompose back to Co2 with 100% effeciency.

    Sorry if I’m peing on the hydrogen parade. The answers are often not as easy or simple as they may seem. It’s best to accept that it’s a tough nut to crack before going gung-ho into something that might never pan out.


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  267. 267
    Rod Adams Says:

            Lee A. Arnold said:

    The problem with the theory that big oil is trying to defeat nukes is that these are all publicly traded companies, so big oil can buy an interest in nuclear power. Anybody can buy an interest in nearly anything.

    Oil companies were heavily involved in the First Atomic Age. They bought uranium mines, contracted to operate national laboratories like the Idaho Reactor Testing Station, and even bought reactor suppliers like General Atomics – which became Gulf General Atomics and then received a large investment from Standard Oil.

    Those companies, however, knew exactly how they were actually making money and have excellent predictive models for how various actions in the market influence their ability to make even more. What they all understand is that price increases in their primary product fall right to the bottom line, and growth in a competitive energy source hurts their pricing power.

    I once lived in a town with a new grocery store on one side of the street and an vacant grocery store on the other side of the street. After living there for several years and wondering why that store still sat empty, I happened to meet the person who owned it. They told me that they had no reason to sell – the national company that had built the new store had been paying them a larger than market rent ever since it had come to town. The new store wanted to ensure that no competitor could move into the nice space across the street.


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  268. 268
    Rod Adams Says:

            jim said:

    The comment above my last is excellent.

    We’re going to need to find oil-substitutes soon.
    Clean & economically viable – not simply for energy.
    For everything from insulation to packaging to medicine to product-casings.

    Nuclear power only solves one aspect of the oil issue.
    IF you think it can hold up to a serious rational risk-benefit analysis.
    Consult an insurance firm or actuary about that one, if you like.
    Or, come to think of it, even a reliable bookie.

    It is true that you cannot directly use nuclear fission materials to replace oil in plastics or fertilizer applications. However, fission is a great substitute for combustion as a source of heat, and perhaps 90-95% of all hydrocarbon production goes into the heat market in one form or another.

    Nuclear powered ships have been a reality since 1955, so have nuclear powered air conditioning systems, air purification systems, and water treatment plants. Nuclear powered trains speed across France, Sweden and Switzerland (using electricity generated in their grid), and it is technically possible to build nuclear powered aircraft. Of course, it might be easier to use the heat from nuclear fission power plants to assist in the endothermic parts of the coal to liquids process so that process produces less CO2.

    Of course, substituting fission for oil combustion will dramatically shift the supply-demand balance away from oil.

    Companies and countries making billions per week on oil will not be happy.


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  269. 269
    Jarrod Says:

    True Jevons Paradox is only thought to hold in free economies, or at least where there is no problems on the supply side.

    Well, there goes your argument. Show me an economy that has free, easy and unlimited access to oil based fuels… Fact is that fuel resources are limited by their nature, so whilst Jevon’s Paradox may hold for the time being, as fuel production slows due to lack of supply of raw material the cracks will start to show. Economics models based on mathematical ideals will always fail at some point when applied to reality. The map is not the territory.

    I agree with the nuclear power stations but they do need to be kept somewhere safe: in orbit would be nice… once we solve the energy transfer problem we’ll be sorted.

    Also, I just want to say something about point (not a rule!) 4. Major is a key word here – I *have* made changes to my lifestyle. I take the bus to work even though my car would take half as long (cost would be equivalent when you factor in parking and insurance premiums). Also, I grew up in a country where a 2.4L V6 was considered a reasonable (mid) sized car – that is to say, this size car was considered standard or normal. I now live in one where such a car is generally seen as being a rather large-ish sized car and totally unnecessary, somewhat impractical and generally wasteful. I broke out of my conditioning and realised that a bigger car didn’t make me any happier and I adjusted to life with (what I grew up understanding to be) a small car for students and poor people. I do generally accept this point generally speaking: are these major changes? Not for me. Maybe attitudes still need to change… e.g. humvees are just rediculous. I just hate suburban 4×4 drivers… so pathetic.

    Anyways, I largely agree that a more open and less one-sided discussion needs to be made about this topic. As such, I would recommend that the author change point 1 to accept that the impact of an environmental catastrophy would make arguments against sacrificing the economy moot. If people are too busy protecting their houses from flooding and dealing with pandemics (resulting indirectly from environmental catastropies) then the same people won’t be working or shopping and the economy will suffer. Clearly these two “forces” are intertwined in a feedback loop of sorts. Perhaps changing the point to add, “but sacrificing the environment for economy will too.”

    Finally, point 2 is bull****. Consumerism is built on the backs of trends. Do you think that McDonalds or Coke would have thought “Ah, we only have a few customers, no one’s ever going to take to our products globally. Let’s just give up.”??? If enough people make such small changes, a trend for doing so will take off and soon you will find everyone (who can afford – and those who can’t desire it none-the-less) is installing ground pump heating, solar pannelling, insulation or some such measure. Anyways, at what point can one decide it is known that “everyone *will not* do it”? Are you proposing that we ask you? No disrespect but I’m afraid I don’t trust your opinion. I think I’d rather leave it to the market to decide what is popular and what is not. Point 2 is such blatant defeatism it saddens me to see that someone who seems so intelligent could not see this major error. No, I am not a positivist (more cynical to be honest) but attitudes to the effect of ‘why bother trying, we’re going to fail anyway’ function as self-fulfilling prophecies. You will lose because you have decided to lose. Mate, you seem smart enough to know better…

    So, overall this article is still a little one sided, but thanks for trying.


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  270. 270
    McGlashan Says:

    I’m sure the Easter Islanders put forward similar “top ten” arguments in support of cutting down the last tree on the island.


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  271. 271
    erutufon Says:

    reply to:Michael Ejercito
    “So what have you done to find alternatives to oil?

    Or are you waiting for Jesus Christ to do it for you?”

    I am very interested in finding alternatives to oil. to be honest I think about it most days – maybe I need to get out more (I do need to get out more). anyway, as far as I can see it, there is no single solution to the problem, there is no magic bullet that will sort things out. I think we need to use pretty much everything we can to start making changes. so for example, distributed generation – small power generating (and heat generating) plants scattered through communities, such as wood fired CHP – use the heat to heat houses, the electricity to supply them (works with factories too). you can use sustainable forests, wood chip, wood chip from forestry wastes etc. same for wind power – community turbines. I worked for a company that put up wind turbines for factories and villages etc, locals use the power and sell the rest back to the grid. transmission losses are reduced, locals get an income source and cheaper energy as well as a degree of independence from the grid. the same could be said for waste incinerators (although, from what i understand, to do this cleanly you need very high voltages to zap the waste, so that the harmful emissions are basically blasted into their constituent parts – this will be a draw back). then there is small scale hydro – not so widely applicable, but if I lived next to a stream or small river I could spend £5000 odd, and have my own small supply of electricity (enough for a few houses, very roughly). there are many other technologies that will achieve similar results – and i think we need them all. solar for hot water can be good – here in the uk, solar for electricity is not really an option (20 year payback), but this is not the case in warmer climes.
    so those are some high tech approaches (but all of which will, and are working now).
    some low tech approaches – home made renewable energy. it’s not really that hard. you can find a number of different designs for home made solar thermal panels on the web (eg using an old radiator, which isn’t so good, to using a fridge heat exchanger in a box). simple to make, and for me this type of thing is fun (as I said above – I need to get out more). then there are wind turbines – you can make a simple vertical axis wind turbine from an old barrel (oil barrel, obviously!), and a few bits and bobs. that will generate rotation -put that to use moving water, generating electricity, whatever you want. or gasification – in the uk during world war two we were short of petroleum. I found a design for a gasifier, made from an old barrel or bin. pour in wood chip in the top, hydrogen and carbon monoxide comes out the bottom, pipe it into a petrol engine and you can run a tractor on it, probably most of the more robust engines (this was done in WW2). biofuels for vehicles are another option, but must be sourced sustainably – eg in the uk oil seed rape grown in the uk (ideally not replacing food production, but it is grown widely in the uk anyway). this is best as it is local so less miles for the fuel to travel to point of use. also it has a better viscosity – it won’t solidify in your tank in the winter.
    there are lots and lots of solutions, they just aren’t widely used yet – some countries do much better than others (germany for example). in the uk we are lagging behind, but hopefully as things like wave energy becomes better (it’s getting there) things will improve.
    one of the main things that needs to be done is combined heat and power, or district heating systems. take (pretty much) any power station, it generates a lot of heat. it then throws the heat away, up cooling towers or into the sea or a river. that is a terrible waste. use it – heat neighbourhoods or factories or both (this requires a big investment in infrastructure, best done at the construction stage). but that would boost a power station efficiency from 30-40% up towards 80-90%, as well as displacing the use of gas to heat homes. alternatively, as most power stations are not too close to housing, use the heat – more sustainable agriculture (eg growing tomatoes in the uk – greenhouses next to power plants, use the waste heat for heating, get cheap electricity, can also use the CO2 from the power station if done cleverly). this reduces emissions from the power station, reduces the use of valuable oil and gas for heating, and the CO2 will double production rates of tomatoes (roughly). this is not done enough, and needs to be done more (lots more).

    anyway, to sum up a slightly long post – there is technology available now, at varying levels of complexity and cost, that can get us on the road to a sustainable future, and can do this with economic advantages. there is technology available that you can use to make home made renewable energy, using materials you will find in a back alley or a skip. they will not solve the problem, but they will definitely help, and we have to start somewhere.

    as for jesus christ – I’m not going to get started on religion. but religious types are always talking about the power of prayer – if anyone has any ideas as to how you can convert this to electricity I would love to hear them.


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    erutufon Says:

    on the electric car front (fuel cell powered vehicles also). I heard an interesting fact some time ago – if all the cars in the world were magically converted to electricity overnight, it would take more copper than there is available in the earth (for the electric motors). Afraid I don’t have a source for this, so cannot vouch for it’s accuracy, but it illustrates the scale of the problems we face.


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    Quentin Long Says:

    You gotta love those Green-tards who oh-so-’thoughtfully’ suggest that this post is wonderful, but geez, it really ought to be taken off the Internet *now*, please. Two words: “Concern troll”.
    Personally, I rather like solar power — but we really need to put the collectors up in orbit, where there’s none of that damn *weather* getting in the way at arbitrary moments, nor yet an 8,000-mile-wide chunk of rock blotting out the Sun half the time.
    Nuclear waste: I really love how anti-nuclear types get their knickers in a twist over “OMG it takes [mumble]-thousand CENTURIES for the stuff to become harmless!!1!” The *real* question is *not* how long it takes for nuclear waste to until it’s inert. Rather, the *real* question is how long it takes for nuclear waste to decay until it’s NO MORE RADIOACTIVE THAN THE ORE IT WAS ORIGINALLY EXTRACTED FROM. After all, a kilo of uranium is a kilo of uranium, regardless of whether it’s an ingot of the pure metal or a larger chunk of X-percent pitchblende/yellowcake/whatever, right? So… you say you’re *concerned* about the radiation produced by nuclear waste? How very commendable of you. What are you doing about the *far greater* amount of radiation produced by *natural ores*? I mean, that stuff is *randomly scattered around* within the Earth’s crust, and there’s *immensely more* of it out there than there is actual nuclear waste! So if you think the waste is a problem, surely the ores are a *bigger* problem, hence a lot more worth dealing with?


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    Bob Arning Says:

    I’m having trouble finding references to support the claim that “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.” Can you offer some numbers/links? Thanks.

    Bob Arning


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    Michael Ejercito Says:

            McGlashan said:

    I’m sure the Easter Islanders put forward similar “top ten” arguments in support of cutting down the last tree on the island.

    How are you sure?


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    McGlashan Says:

    Michael Ejercito.

    Let me replace “I’m sure” with “I expect that”. The fact remains that it happened on several island communities that I know of. Easter Island, Iceland and Shetland.


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    Finrod Says:

    “I’m sure the Easter Islanders put forward similar “top ten” arguments in support of cutting down the last tree on the island.”

    How is this relevant to the discussion? Are you another one of these people who can’t grasp that drbuzzO is actually trying to find environmental solutions that work?


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    Finrod Says:

    “anyway, to sum up a slightly long post – there is technology available now, at varying levels of complexity and cost, that can get us on the road to a sustainable future, and can do this with economic advantages. there is technology available that you can use to make home made renewable energy, using materials you will find in a back alley or a skip. they will not solve the problem, but they will definitely help, and we have to start somewhere.”

    Or you could do something that will actually work, like build some nuclear power stations, and use the power to synthesise fuel.


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    drbuzz0 Says:

            Bob Arning said:

    I’m having trouble finding references to support the claim that “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.” Can you offer some numbers/links? Thanks.

    Bob Arning

    Absolutely!

    http://www.post-gazette.com/healthscience/20030215coalenviro4p4.asp
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3390-wild-coal-fires-are-a-global-catastrophe.html
    http://myblogscience.blogspot.com/2007/07/coal-fires-major-pollution-source-jack.html
    http://www.topix.com/city/centralia-pa
    http://www.newstatesman.com/200711290024

    some estimates put the total worldwide coal fire co2 production at 3% of total co2. That might not sound that big, but it’s actually huge compared to many sources. The potential return on investment is enormous. Also, one should consider the local damage and the other emissions from them. The problem is enormous.

    I’ve been trying to raise concern about these for some time.


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  280. 280
    McGlashan Says:

    Finrod.

    You and drbuzzO are advocates of nuclear power and continued economic growth as “environmental solutions that work”. We can never agree.

    Life cycle costs (full cost accounting) for nuclear power are notoriously difficult to pin down; reactors are mega-engineering projects with life cycles approaching 150 years. Uranium mining is increasingly carbon intensive as the available ores become lower in quality. I agree with the assertion from the main article “3. Depending on continuous heavy subsidies is not sustainable.” Nuclear power (in the UK) is the most heavily subsidised form of power generation we have available in our mix. How can your advocacy of nukes square with this?

    Continued economic growth is unsustainable on one planet. What happens when the expansion of global capital has assimilated everything, touched every live, controls every resource? Where do we go then? Mars? Marxism?


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  281. 281
    Finrod Says:

    “You and drbuzzO are advocates of nuclear power and continued economic growth as “environmental solutions that work”. We can never agree.”

    That’s a shame for you. The advantages of nuclear power are only going to become clearer everywhere over the coming years. There is no hope that we’ll have a nuclear-free future (most people wouldn’t want to live in a nuke-free world anyway if they understood the implications).

    “Life cycle costs (full cost accounting) for nuclear power are notoriously difficult to pin down; reactors are mega-engineering projects with life cycles approaching 150 years.”

    I don’t know about that. Martin Sevior did a pretty good job of showing that the costs posited in Stormsmith were ludicrously inflated.

    “Uranium mining is increasingly carbon intensive as the available ores become lower in quality.”

    Not if the energy for mining is derived from nuclear power sources in the first place.

    I agree with the assertion from the main article “3. Depending on continuous heavy subsidies is not sustainable.” Nuclear power (in the UK) is the most heavily subsidised form of power generation we have available in our mix. How can your advocacy of nukes square with this?

    I understand that the development of nuclear power in the UK was accompanied by considerable difficulties. I’d advise contracting the job out to the French or the Canadians (which I believe the UK government is considering). As for subsidies, why not look to the US model? They don’t have any subsidies for nuclear power (sure, they have guarentees for insurance, but that’s not particularly expensive, and it isn’t a subsidy, despite what the anti-nukes like to say).


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  282. 282
    McGlashan Says:

    Finrod.

    Thanks for response to my post.

    “most people wouldn’t want to live in a nuke-free world anyway if they understood the implications”
    What are the implications?

    “Martin Sevior did a pretty good job of showing that the costs posited in Stormsmith were ludicrously inflated.”
    Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen likewise did an excellent job rebutting Sevoir’s study and of showing that Sevoir (a vested interest) omitted major factors relating to full cost accounting in his investigation.

    This illustrates my point that the full costs are notoriously difficult to pin down. I don’t claim any special expertise, nor am I necessarily anti-nuclear. I’m merely pointing out that you don’t know as facts that which you assert to be so.

    “Not if the energy for mining is derived from nuclear power sources in the first place.”
    Solipsism. This is a logical absurdity.

    “As for subsidies, why not look to the US model?” One word: ENTOMB. Beyond the horizon of predictability.

    I note you that don’t address my macro-economic questions.


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  283. 283
    DV82XL Says:

    Those of us the agree with the list are not suggesting in any way that change is unnecessary or that we should continue to use resources until they are gone. Anyone reading that into our support is being pigheaded.

    The whole point is that change must be effective; and effective change addresses all parts of the problem, technical, economic, and social. Unworkable ideas that fail to take into account human behavior will fail just as surely as those that don’t take into account the laws of physics. You can moan and whine about it all you want and you won’t change these two facts. Anyone that puts forward a plan that depends on 6.5 billion people changing their innate behavior to fit some ideal model is just as bound to fail as a plan that depends on the development of perpetual motion.

    I’ll admit that dealing with the issue of subsidies is not simple. Even defining and determining exactly what constitutes a subsidy is damned near impossible especially in countries with mixed economies. However it holds that actively distorting the energy market by advantaging one source over another be it by tax breaks, loan guarantees, or special dispensation (allowing coal to release more radioactive material than a reactor, for example) is not in our long-term interest. However that does not imply laissez-faire across the board, standards have to be met; just the same standards for everyone.


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  284. 284
    Johan Says:

    McGlashan have you read all the rebutals and comments betwen Storm van Leeuwan and Sevior that can be found at http://nuclearinfo.net/Nuclearpower/WebHomeEnergyLifecycleOfNuclear_Power

    Maby we are reading different things, but its seems quite obvious that Storm van Leeuwan is handwaving alot. For instance he can not explain why his models leads to a Namibian mine having a larger energy consumtion than the entire country in reality has. If the model doesnt fit the facts you need to discard the model.


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  285. 285
    McGlashan Says:

    I’m a bit concerned that this blog and it’s fans want to mess about with the supply side until the problem goes away through a combination of nuclear power and other extra engineering bolted onto the existing infrastructure. You can’t consume your way out of a consumer-driven crisis. We must take personal responsibility for the state were in and for future trends.

    I am no free-marketeer. My suggested approach would be to, rather, adjust the demand side through mitigation of the consumer society. Exponential growth cannot continue.


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  286. 286
    Finrod Says:

    I’m a bit busy at the moment, McGlashan, so I’ll respond later, except for one point I’ll deal with now:

    ““Not if the energy for mining is derived from nuclear power sources in the first place.”
    Solipsism. This is a logical absurdity.”

    How is that solopsism?

    This is possibly the most senseless thing posted on this thread to date. Why in the world couldn’t you run a uranium or thorium mine using electricity generated by a nuclear plant and with machinery using fuel synthesised at a nuclear plant?

    Do you also contend that it’s impossible for fossil fuels to be mined using coal and oil powered machinery?

    If you tried to apply that arguement to solar, wind or biofuel, it may have greater merit. There is some doubt that any of those power sources could generate enough over their lifetimes to manufacture their replacements.


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  287. 287
    Finrod Says:

    “You can’t consume your way out of a consumer-driven crisis.”

    I suppose that depends on whether you think that environmental degradation is the crisis in question, or whether it’s consumerism itself which is the problem. Lets rephrase your post a little:
    “You cant buy your way out of a wealth-created crisis.” I disagree.

    “I am no free-marketeer.”

    You don’t say.


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  288. 288
    BAW Says:

            NVGurl1979 said:

    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!

    You have an overly optimistic view of human nature. Most people do not consider the common good; most people are selfish and greedy. The rule for most people’s behavior is “What’s in it for me?” It would be a wonderful world if it were not so, if most people were motivated by altruism; but it isn’t, and pretending otherwise will not make it so.

    I think you need to review your Enlightenment political thinkers, such as Locke, Hobbes, and Payne; they had a highly realistic view of human nature.


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  289. 289
    Finrod Says:

    “DV82XL, your logic only works if we keep doing things like we have through history.”

    You gotta love that line!


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  290. 290
    BAW Says:

            Green4Clean420 said:

    HA YOU HAVE PICTURES FROM INDIA!

    YOU SAY ECONOMIC GROWTH IS GOOD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?

    LOOK AT INDIA AND CHINA YOU BASTARD AND LOOK AT HOW MUCH MORE POLLUTION!

    Yea yea, we’ll have less polution with more consumerism just like it worked in India.

    They’re making money like crazy AND LOOK WHAT THE F*** HAPPENED.

    YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND SO STUPID AND WRONG ON EVERUYTHING YOU SHOULD SHUT THE F***UP AND EAT S*** AND DIE SO THINGS CAN BE BETTER FOR EVERYONE ELSE YOU ARE THE PROBLEM AND DONT BLAME ME IF EVERYONE HATES YOU YOU F*****G IDIOT I HATE YOUR KIND SO MUCH

    Please remember the rules of civilized debate. Please do not shout and refrain from vulgar and abusive language.


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    BAW Says:

            Journey 1984 said:

    Yes I have a computer but I don’t see why that is a problem because I use it for then greater good just like Greenpeace is right for burning oil because they have to to stop a big oil tanker from coming in and doing worse by having more oil burned.

    Ah, yes. “The end justifies the means.” We know where that sort of thinking leads.

    Greenpeace wants something to power their boat on that is not oil and I want to have something to power my computer on that is not nuclear but we can’t because of the scientists who will not invent ways or who have but won’t let them out.

    Human beings were navigating the seas long before boats had engines. If Greenpeace used only sailing ships, I’d have more respect for them.


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  292. 292
    BAW Says:

            marymary said:

    THE EARTH SHOULD BE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE , “LIST OF CONCERNS”, FOR LIFE AND PEACE ON EARTH. IT’S ALL VERY WELL TO GIVE OPPINIONS AND DONATE WHAT WE CAN TO HELP THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM SO MANY DIFFERENT CONFLICTS, BUT THE ONE THING WE SHOULD ALL BE DEVOTING OUR TIME AND EFFORTS ON IS , THE EARTH”.
    .

    Please do not shout.


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    BAW Says:

            Phillip said:

    As someone who cares about the future I would rather not worry about how things were done in the past.

    The problem is that in the past they did things wrong and that’s why we are stuck with the pollution we have now.

    I don’t think we should listen to this because it’s just ancient history.

    Things are different now and we are learning to live differently with minimal impact and sustainable lives.

    Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I think it was George Santayana who said that, and he was right. Or are you agree with Henry Ford who said that history was ‘bunk”?


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    McGlashan Says:

            Finrod said:

    “You can’t consume your way out of a consumer-driven crisis.”

    I suppose that depends on whether you think that environmental degradation is the crisis in question, or whether it’s consumerism itself which is the problem. Lets rephrase your post a little:
    “You cant buy your way out of a wealth-created crisis.” I disagree.

    “I am no free-marketeer.”

    You don’t say.

    Climate change is the problem. Consumerism and the expectations of ever-rising standards of living are the cause. This is not a matter for debate.

    By the same circular logic you love:
    You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis.
    You can’t solve the problems created by short-termism with more short-termism.

    I don’t pretend to have the answers. I just want you to admit that you don’t have them either.

    And sure, I’m no free marketeer, but who is (trading-bloc-wise)? Rice and cotton do their bit to keep Africa in poverty. There’s no such thing as a free market.

            Finrod said:

    I’m a bit busy at the moment, McGlashan, so I’ll respond later, except for one point I’ll deal with now:

    ““Not if the energy for mining is derived from nuclear power sources in the first place.”
    Solipsism. This is a logical absurdity.”

    How is that solopsism?

    This is possibly the most senseless thing posted on this thread to date. Why in the world couldn’t you run a uranium or thorium mine using electricity generated by a nuclear plant and with machinery using fuel synthesised at a nuclear plant?

    Do you also contend that it’s impossible for fossil fuels to be mined using coal and oil powered machinery?

    If you tried to apply that arguement to solar, wind or biofuel, it may have greater merit. There is some doubt that any of those power sources could generate enough over their lifetimes to manufacture their replacements.

    I didn’t say that it was impossible; I pointed out that it was logically absurd. You will not convince nuke skeptics by using circular arguements like this. I remain open-minded, but you’ll have to do better than that!


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  295. 295
    Bob Arning Says:

    re: links to coal fire stories

    Thanks, but I was hoping for something more that popular press articles and blogs. Are there any scientific articles that discuss what the numbers might be, how they are calculated and what the error ranges are?

    WRT

    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,

    is this a generally accepted figure or is it just some estimates…? How much CO2 is that? How much from China? The US? The rest of the world?


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  296. 296
    PDW Says:

            Sovietologist said:

    EddyB7979-
    Once upon a time there was a country that declared war on the rich. Not only did the rich pay for their crimes with their property, but many of them did so with their lives. The founder of this state declared that his goal was “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” He foresaw a future in which everyone would be socially and economically equal, and was willing to use any instrument to create that future. Tyranny, conspiracy, and terror were all used in the name of utopia and equality.

    In time, the state’s war on the wealthy was an unqualified success. The old privileged class was liquidated, and a new society was built in which the state allocated resources and planned economic development. But in time, the state stagnated. Nations with “bourgeois” economic systems leapfrogged it in economic development, resulting in far higher standards of living for ordinary people. Meanwhile, state mismanagement resulted in the most severe ecological catastrophes ever caused by man. Ultimately, the people rejected the state and its “egalitarian” economics in order to revert to capitalism.

    This country was called the Soviet Union.

    You forgot to mention the rise of the nomenklatura, those privileged few in charge of the distribution of resources on behalf of the proletariat, whose interests they tirelessly & selflessly served.


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    drbuzz0 Says:

            McGlashan said:

    Climate change is the problem. Consumerism and the expectations of ever-rising standards of living are the cause. This is not a matter for debate.

    By the same circular logic you love:
    You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis.
    You can’t solve the problems created by short-termism with more short-termism.

    I don’t pretend to have the answers. I just want you to admit that you don’t have them either.

    And sure, I’m no free marketeer, but who is (trading-bloc-wise)? Rice and cotton do their bit to keep Africa in poverty. There’s no such thing as a free market.

    Ah so consumerism is the problem. Also human nature. And the existence of humans. And the fact that there is nothing counteracting global climate change.

    So we have the following options:

    - Impose restrictions leading to a reduction in living standards thus making those in the first world have lower quality lives and assuring those in the third world continue to live as they do and have no opertunity for improvement.

    - Change the nature of man completely.

    - Kill all members of the human race.

    - Reduce the rate of fusion in the sun proportionately to the increased heat retention by the earth.

    Which one is going to have the best chance of flying?


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  298. 298
    drbuzz0 Says:

            McGlashan said:

    I didn’t say that it was impossible; I pointed out that it was logically absurd. You will not convince nuke skeptics by using circular arguements like this. I remain open-minded, but you’ll have to do better than that!

    Actually it’s not logically absurd to presume that you don’t use nuclear energy to produce it, it’s impossible. All energy is nuclear energy. You can’t avoid it. Oh sure, you can put a few more degrees of separation between you and it.

    So are we to scavenge the nuclear energy being imparted to us at the moment at a very low concentration?

    Recover the nuclear energy that has been concentrated in deposits of carbon and then use it by reoxidizing the carbon returning it to the state that it was in millions of years ago when the world was much hotter?

    Or would you like to make the energy here? yes, make it. Not out of nothing. Make the energy, as much of it as you happen to need, out of the mass of an atom as an expression of its binding forces?

    For this reason nuclear energy always wins. You cannot ever get past the fact that it is the most fundimental and dense energy source in general. Nothing chemical or mechanical or thermal alone can ever hope to touch it or even come close. This is why they don’t have fuel gauges on nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Use all the passive sonar, active sonar, computers, heaters, air conditioners, catipults, stoves, lights, freezers you want while cruising at full throttle. You don’t need to worry about fuel. You won’t run out. If you’re an officer on such a vessel you’re likely to be retired before they bring it in for an overhaul, at which point the golf-ball sized chunk of uranium gets replaced with a fresh one (every 15, 20 or 30 years or so depending on the core type).

    NOTHING non-nuclear can match that kind of materials effeciency or energy output for a given system. Don’t bother trying. You’re going up against relativity. You will loose.

    And if you don’t think Co2 can be reduced by nuclear energy (to paraphrase) “Because we still have to enrich and fabricate the fuel and such and it’s logically absurd for reasons I don’t want to get into to use nuclear for that” then I’d like to point out something:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

    Notice the location of france: Number 63. considerably lower than Brittan, the US, Australia, Germany, New Zeland.

    There are not a whole lot of countries bellow that that aren’t either third world or have a relatively large class divide and a very large lower class. Switzerland is lower (it imports a lot of electricity) and generates 40% of the electricity from nuclear energy.

    The difference between the “circular logic” of using nuclear energy to run the mines and fuel fabrication of more nuclear energy and the same logic as applied to solar and wind is that nuclear actually gives you so much more energy that even if you start off with fossil fuels you get vastly more energy back so you can easily transition. On the other hand, trying to run a wind turbine factory on wind power or run a solar cell factory on solar power… that is a losing battle.


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    Finrod Says:

    “I didn’t say that it was impossible; I pointed out that it was logically absurd. You will not convince nuke skeptics by using circular arguements like this.”

    Kindly point out the logical flaw in my statement that uranium and thorium can be mined using nuclear power. All you’ve done so far is state that the the statement is illogical. You have not deigned to prove that the statement is illogical.


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  300. 300
    DV82XL Says:

    I can put an even more sharper point on the argument that nuclear energy can be used in mining: all underground mining and much open cut mining IS done with electric motive power. Getting it from nuclear is no big deal.


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    Sovietologist Says:

    PBW-
    You’re right, I did. Although in all fairness, before Khrushchev members of the elite were among the most likely to end up being killed or sent to the GULAG, as Stalin found them threatening. In fact, the people who became the nomenklatura were the technocrats installed by Stalin to replace the “Old Bolsheviks” and other purged elements. Once Soviet power assumed a more benign form, they were able to retain their position and became a privileged class. On one hand, this wasn’t a good thing; on the other hand, I’d much rather live under Brezhnev’s corruption that Stalin’s terror.


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    Finrod Says:

    Climate change is the problem. Consumerism and the expectations of ever-rising standards of living are the cause. This is not a matter for debate.

    That’s odd… I was under the impression that it was the rise in the level of atmospheric greenhouse gasses that was the problem, not ‘consumerism’.

    Lovely to see you walking in Ecofiend’s footsteps with this business of your particular political prejudices not being a matter for debate. I think you’re on the wrong thread if you think that sort of comment will have any effect other than to bring your shoddy little ideological house of cards down around your ears.


    NOTE: This comment has been edited by the blog’s author to fix an apparent error in the quote tag. No change to the content has been made


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    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    I can put an even more sharper point on the argument that nuclear energy can be used in mining: all underground mining and much open cut mining IS done with electric motive power. Getting it from nuclear is no big deal.

    Very good point. However even if you have to start off with some aspects of the equation creating fossil fuels (transportation and such) it’s still absurd to think this somehow negates the enormous amounts of clean energy the process yields.

    I’ve never heard anyone argue against wind or solar on the grounds that the silicon, aluminum, copper and all the other materials need to be mined or that the construction involves energy or the other incidentals. It’s as absurd as “yeah we can’t have wind power because someone has to drive out to the turbine to inspect it every couple months and then they have to climb it, exhaling Co2 in the process and lubricate the bearings with foreign oil. And you also have to construct it”

    Actually the argument against nuclear is less absurd because there’s reason to question whether solar or wind ever creates a positive energy balance.


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  304. 304
    Finrod Says:

            Finrod said:


    NOTE: This comment has been edited by the blog’s author to fix an apparent error in the quote tag. No change to the content has been made

    Thanks drbuzz0. Lets see if it works this time…


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  305. 305
    jim Says:

    Both CIRUS & CANDU were examples of Canada knowingly abetting horizontal proliferation.
    The earlier use of the CIRUS in India was aided considerably by subsequent use of CANDU components.
    Their nuclear program may well have collapsed completely without it.
    India’s desire for the CANDU included a not-very-hidden agenda of nuclear weapons development.
    Canada’s government & nuclear industry took a lot of heat over the sale – & rightly so.
    The dire risks were well-known at the time … & consciously ignored.
    Short-term profit, at the potential long-term cost of many millions of human lives.
    That’s who you’re opting to trust in regards to nuclear power?

    Where is energy demand rising fastest?
    Developing nations.
    That’s where a lot of the reactors will have to be built, unless you want them to keep deforesting for fuel to run dirty furnaces & stoves. They don’t do it for fun, they do it because they have no options available.
    Our population isn’t exploding like theirs, & we’re getting more energy-efficient by the day.
    They want them, & it looks like at least some of them will get them.
    If you tackle world energy demands with nuclear, that “some” will be many more.
    At which point I think the nuclear-weapons & -technology black-market will boom like never before.
    Your energy solution will create a much nastier issue than brownouts or $10 gas at the pump.

    “All that’s required to build a bomb is motivation”?
    Um, no.
    Hamas would’ve already nuked Tel Aviv, & the Chechens Moscow, if that were true.

    What’s required to build a bomb is uranium, tritium, a centrifuge, timers, et cetera.
    Along with the technical skills to put them together.
    OR the money, & an unscrupulous seller of a black-market nuke.
    The more uranium available, the higher the odds of a rogue state or terror-cell going nuclear.
    Every country that’s wanted them so far has NOT gotten nukes – or the “Club” would have about 250 members by now… lots of regimes want in that aren’t.
    That’s a fatalistic viewpoint – & a potentially fatal one.
    Sadly, the global community hasn’t done nearly enough to limit membership in the Nuclear Club.
    Double the world’s uranium supply & watch how rapidly that Club’s membership grows.

    There may well be 20% “veins” in Canada – how many & how rich?
    Again: there’s only so much pitchblende that can be economically extracted – exactly like oil.
    The more you mine, the faster it runs out.
    When it does, you’re left with a lot of dead reactors, not readily convertible to any other use.
    Mothballing them will be both risky & expensive as hell.

    I don’t feel much like trading one non-renewable for another one, thanks.
    We already did that, when we went from coal to oil – & just look how well that’s turning out.

    Saying uranium mining has less impact on groundwater than some other forms of mining is as weak as comparing nuclear itself to oil ( a horrendously dirty & inefficient means of making things run). Yes, we will have to keep on mining resources in the future, but how many of us that mining supports & how much we use as individuals are not trivial “externalities” – they’re the crux of the issue.

    We’re beyond carrying-capacity & accelerating our rate of increase.
    The exact opposite of what we need to be doing & where we need to go.
    Nuclear energy doesn’t address that problem, nor does ANY form of generation, clean OR dirty.
    In fact, any cheap energy source will only make the problem worse in the long-term, if not much sooner.

    Then there’s the simple fact that most people are adamantly anti-nuclear.
    (Chernobyl, by the way, was the direct result of some enterprising technicians trying to get their power output to increase. It actually worked like a charm – they just got some unfortunate spinoffs they’d hoped to avoid, along with the extra megawatts. I’m sure with many more reactors in operation, despite our “human naure” including both greed & an embarrassing tendency to repeat our mistakes, nobody would ever try that kind of crazy stunt again – right?)
    People have been wary of nuclear power for a long time now – Chernobyl simply solidified an already existing prejudice against it – the question is: how can you change people’s minds about that?
    Either you’ll have to lose your “human nature” thesis, or your primary focus on nuclear reactors.
    You can’t have that cake & eat it too.

    We don’t just have an oil problem – we have a “way too much energy for the biosphere to accomodate” problem.

    The Northwest Passage isn’t mythological anymore.

    The impact of that geographical novelty alone may be years away, but I strongly suspect it’ll be brutal. It’s likely to effect ocean currents as well as the weather, worldwide – probably for millennia to come.

    I think we need to begin thinking about how we’ll survive the results of that & other impacts, right now, while we still have the time & resources to prepare. It doesn’t look to me like the world will be either able or willing to accomodate a lot of new nuclear reactors in that scenario. I’d like nothing more than to be dead wrong on this … but I wasn’t shocked when the previous “worst-case scenarios” for climate change turned into reality, decades ahead of schedule. You only needed to do some basic math & chemistry to figure it out. Now those are BEST-case scenarios, & even the Pentagon is saying we need to look at it as a major security issue, & back away from fossil-fuel ASAP.

    Mock the hippies & back-to-the-landers all you want: given the increasing chances of our future being one of global scarcity, it’s looking ever more likely that they’ve got it right, & it’s the rest of us that’re pathologically off-track. With all due apologies to hippy-haters everywhere: we may wind up having to follow their example – or go the way of brontosaurus.

    Reactors may be cleaner-burning than oil, but the energy increase at the end of the line & its inevitable degradation to heat energy is identical – no matter whether it’s being produced via oil, nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal or steroid-fed genetically-modified gerbils on treadmills.

    If reactors could get us to a place where we’re using less net energy, & if they could be put in place without the safety risk & high potential of extremists & authoritarian regimes using them for weaponizing, I’d say go for it. But they just can’t. You can cite all the studies you want – I’ll cite history. The history of nuclear technology isn’t pretty. More of that technology in an increasingly unstable world isn’t likely to beautify it – to put it mildly.

    To paraphrase a comment above: you can’t get out of an energy-surplus problem with more energy.
    That’s about as rational as drinking yourself sober.


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  306. 306
    ellindsey Says:

    “Chernobyl, by the way, was the direct result of some enterprising technicians trying to get their power output to increase.”

    It was nothing of the sort. The Chernobyl accident happened during a test to determine if there was enough residual energy in the turbines to start the emergency diesel generators in case of an unexpected loss of electrical power. This was done because as a military facility it was expected that the Chernobyl reactor might be a target of air strikes in case of war. The actual explosion was caused as a result of unexpected instability at low power levels, combined with operator error and multiple severe design flaws in the reactor.


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  307. 307
    Sovietologist Says:

            jim said:

    You can cite all the studies you want – I’ll cite history. The history of nuclear technology isn’t pretty. More of that technology in an increasingly unstable world isn’t likely to beautify it – to put it mildly.

    >Enter historian of nuclear technology in USSR


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  308. 308
    DV82XL Says:

    Oh for pity sakes the CIRUS reactor was sold before the NPT and No one would use a CANDU for breading weapons grade Pu if they had the use of a high flux reactor like the the CIRUS at hand. At any rate Canadian nuclear technology is designed to work on natural uranium and you cannot use a CANDU to breed weapons grade with that fuel. As who supplied the enriched fuel if you want to point fingers.

    To quote my friend Rod Adams: “(Nuclear) Weapons were here before commercial reactors (very much unfortunately), and they are as relevant to peaceful nuclear energy uses as napalm is to gasoline for vehicle fuel.” To lump them together is disingenuous at best ignorant at worst.

    At any rate this demon is out of Pandora’s Box now and we are not going to put it back in. Any country that has wanted to, has built a device, and there is no way to stop it. The NPT is a failure and the West no longer dictates policy to the rest of the world.

    And BTW your lack of any real knowledge of nuclear technology, or it’s history is showing. Get some facts from reliable sources before you embarrass yourself even more.


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  309. 309
    Johan Says:

    Jim. In what way does it increase proliferation risk if EU, america, China and india build more nuclear power plants? Or vice versa, how much does it decrease proliferation risk if the above nations/regions dismantle all nuclear power plants?

    I stand by what I said, all that is relay needed is motivation for a country go get nuclear weapons. Palestine nad Chechenya is bad counterexamples since they are not working countries in any stretch of the imagination. A tiny nation like sweden had a quite advanced secret nuclear weapons program back in the 60′s.

    Aviability of low enrichened uranium will not in anyway increase proliferation risk, not in any way.
    There is plenty of uranium and thorium to sustain nuclear power for thousands of years, especialy with breeders. Just take a quick look at the geological estimates of uranium resources not yet discovered.
    We will never experience a “peak uranium” because even if the entire worlds energy was produced by uranium you would still only need something betwen 50 and 100 000 tons/year if we have breeders and if nuclear power expand to that size it will be breeders.

    Your main opposition to nuclear power seems to be that nuclear power can sustain our current standard of living, but you dont want that so nuclear is out.


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  310. 310
    Rod Adams Says:

    I am not sure why people believe that the need for nuclear power in developing nations is a problem. There are plenty of ways to imagine making use of the technology without having the ability to gain access to the fuel.

    Relatively small, long lived cores, for example, would allow operators to use reactor heat without risking proliferation in much the same way as I can use a Li-ion battery without having any knowledge of how to make one.

    The cores could be delivered intact, and when used up be recovered for recycling by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). This would still leave lots of room for the receiving country to benefit and to increase the skills of its indigenous labor force in the heat conversion system operation.

    If you are interested in a thought paper on the use of nuclear power in regions that do not have reliable fuel sources, you can find one at http://www.atomicengines.com/distributed.html.


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  311. 311
    drbuzz0 Says:

            jim said:

    Both CIRUS & CANDU were examples of Canada knowingly abetting horizontal proliferation.
    The earlier use of the CIRUS in India was aided considerably by subsequent use of CANDU components.
    Their nuclear program may well have collapsed completely without it.
    India’s desire for the CANDU included a not-very-hidden agenda of nuclear weapons development.
    Canada’s government & nuclear industry took a lot of heat over the sale – & rightly so.
    The dire risks were well-known at the time … & consciously ignored.
    Short-term profit, at the potential long-term cost of many millions of human lives.
    That’s who you’re opting to trust in regards to nuclear power?

    Okay, lets have a lesson here in how you build a nuclear weapon as a nation. First, you need fissile material. You can make that with either a cascade of extremely large gas centrifuges spinning at high rates of speed OR you could use plutonium which you can make in a reactor. A reactor like the CIRUS can make plutonium. The CANDU is crappy at plutonium production in general but I guess you could use it.

    Now how the hell do you make a reactor? Start with uranium. Add a layer of graphite. Repeat until you reach critical mass. Alternatively take a big tank of heavy water (which you can make using well known processes) and use that instead of graphite. That’s it. That’s all you need to make a breeder. ANY country with a few million dollars and a desire can make their breeder. Of course, then it needs to be reprocessed out which requires some chemical processes.

    But a chunk of plutonium does not make you a bomb. No, uranium can be done easily but plutonium you need a rather precise implosion system and a neutron source and high velocity explosives and a precision trigger mechanism.

    So lets consider something: If we are to blame Canada for “Oh making profits such a horrible country” then we must also track down all the parties that helped India aquire the hot boxes, chemicals, explosives, casing, trigger and so on.

    Where is energy demand rising fastest?
    Developing nations.
    That’s where a lot of the reactors will have to be built, unless you want them to keep deforesting for fuel to run dirty furnaces & stoves. They don’t do it for fun, they do it because they have no options available.
    Our population isn’t exploding like theirs, & we’re getting more energy-efficient by the day.
    They want them, & it looks like at least some of them will get them.
    If you tackle world energy demands with nuclear, that “some” will be many more.
    At which point I think the nuclear-weapons & -technology black-market will boom like never before.
    Your energy solution will create a much nastier issue than brownouts or $10 gas at the pump.

    Actually you can build the reactors anywhere you want and they will have the same net global effect. Built a terawatt of nuclear capacity in the USA and the USA uses that much less fossil fuel and all benifit. You’d only *have to* build them in developing countries after you’ve taken care of the domestic energy needs. And gee wouldn’t it suck if the US stopped making CO2 like it’s going out of style. We could occupy the whole capacity of building for the next ten years just outfitting all the industrial countries with nuclear.

    “All that’s required to build a bomb is motivation”?
    Um, no.
    Hamas would’ve already nuked Tel Aviv, & the Chechens Moscow, if that were true.

    Well you also need money and some precision materials handling equipment. You could give hamas a reactor and they couldn’t build a bomb. Everything you’d need though could be acquired with relative ease by any nation of any kind of size. It might be hard for a country like Bolivia or Somalia to get their hands on all the chemical reprocessing, measuring, electronics., fabrication stuff but for a country like India it’s no big deak. Pakistan managed to go nuclear. Kim Jong Il made a nuke without importing much of anything. Yeah, he had some old reactors but NK had to develop their own extraction and such. Spent a good portion of the national budget on it. It fizzled but oh well, still goes to show you can make plutonium without Canada handing it to you.

    The more uranium available, the higher the odds of a rogue state or terror-cell going nuclear.

    CRAP! Everyone we gotta keep the fact that this stuff occurs naturally in the earth’s crust secret! As soon as someone finds out everyone and their brother will have a bomb!

    Every country that’s wanted them so far has NOT gotten nukes – or the “Club” would have about 250 members by now… lots of regimes want in that aren’t.

    It’s not that hard actually depending on the country. Any industrial nation could do it no problem. As for dirt poor countries.. they can really only do it if they make it a big national priority.

    That’s a fatalistic viewpoint – & a potentially fatal one.
    Sadly, the global community hasn’t done nearly enough to limit membership in the Nuclear Club.
    Double the world’s uranium supply & watch how rapidly that Club’s membership grows.

    Uh huh. So the way we stop nations from wanting to aquire weapons of mass destruction (nuclear or otherwise) is… um… by increasing the severity of the global energy crisis and denying them higher standards of living? Sounds like a plan. An idiotic one, but a plan none the less.

    There may well be 20% “veins” in Canada – how many & how rich?
    Again: there’s only so much pitchblende that can be economically extracted – exactly like oil.
    The more you mine, the faster it runs out.
    When it does, you’re left with a lot of dead reactors, not readily convertible to any other use.
    Mothballing them will be both risky & expensive as hell.

    Uh huh. You don’t need a lot of the stuff you know, so if you could easily do it if uranium cost three times the price? Converting “dead reactors” to other use? Not at all. A standard reactor will run on MOX or reprocessed fuel or U-233 no problem. I’d advocate more advanced reactors but the ones we got now can keep going damn near forever with regular upgrades and life extension.

    I don’t feel much like trading one non-renewable for another one, thanks.
    We already did that, when we went from coal to oil – & just look how well that’s turning out.

    Well we never “went from coal” to anything. We still use coal like crazy. And coal is not running out (that’s part of the problem) Renewable energy is fine if it’s not a pea-shooter. Nuclear, yeah you can make the argument that it’s not renewable because there’s a finite amount of uranium. Of course the sun won’t last forever. “Oh but thats whether or not you use it” I could say the same about uranium. Given billions of years it decays.

    Besides, oil isn’t really “running out” it’s becoming less avaliable mostly due to demand but either way, if a gallon of oil could heat your house and run your car for ten years then there’d be no worries. That’s basically what uranium can do.

    Saying uranium mining has less impact on groundwater than some other forms of mining is as weak as comparing nuclear itself to oil ( a horrendously dirty & inefficient means of making things run). Yes, we will have to keep on mining resources in the future, but how many of us that mining supports & how much we use as individuals are not trivial “externalities” – they’re the crux of the issue.

    We’re beyond carrying-capacity & accelerating our rate of increase.
    The exact opposite of what we need to be doing & where we need to go.
    Nuclear energy doesn’t address that problem, nor does ANY form of generation, clean OR dirty.
    In fact, any cheap energy source will only make the problem worse in the long-term, if not much sooner.

    So then cheap clean plentiful energy is bad? Wow. May I ask why? Just using energy is bad even if it doesn’t harm the environment?

    Then there’s the simple fact that most people are adamantly anti-nuclear

    WRONG -http://neinuclearnotes.blogspot.com/2005/05/another-nuclear-energy-poll.html

    Besides the whole point of this site is not to convince people what they think is right but rather to educate people in general. Most people have some very bad misconceptions about many things. Hard to blame anyone with all the misinformation out there

    (Chernobyl, by the way, was the direct result of some enterprising technicians trying to get their power output to increase. It actually worked like a charm – they just got some unfortunate spinoffs they’d hoped to avoid, along with the extra megawatts. I’m sure with many more reactors in operation, despite our “human naure” including both greed & an embarrassing tendency to repeat our mistakes, nobody would ever try that kind of crazy stunt again – right?)

    Wow. Just wow. That’s not even a butchering of history it’s simply not true. Chernobyl was the result (in addition to bad design and operation) of a turbine rundown test in which the reactor was first powered up and then rapidly powered down while the time it would take to….

    Oh why do I bother. Go read a book, PLEASE!

    People have been wary of nuclear power for a long time now – Chernobyl simply solidified an already existing prejudice against it – the question is: how can you change people’s minds about that?

    Oh that’s easy. Just educate them on the facts. There have been plenty of popularly approved witchhunts and scares People in South Korea fear sleeping with an electric fan in their room (yea I wrote about that a while ago). People have feared witches, black people, electricity, fire…
    Mostly it’s ignorance

    Either you’ll have to lose your “human nature” thesis, or your primary focus on nuclear reactors.
    You can’t have that cake & eat it too.

    If by “have you’re cake and eat it too” you mean continue progress and development while maintaining the enviornment than I guess you can. Actually… funny story. The Unabomber loved that phrase except he did it backward. “eat your cake and have it too” and that was one of the things his brother noticed in his manifesto. Ever read it? I think you’d agree with it.

    We don’t just have an oil problem – we have a “way too much energy for the biosphere to accomodate” problem.

    So it’s energy in general that’s bad? oooohhh kkk. I personally dislike matter. But I guess if you want to dislike energy that’s cool. What else is there to dislike? Maybe space and time.

    The Northwest Passage isn’t mythological anymore.

    The Northwest passage hasn’t been mythological for a long time. It was crossed way back in the 50′s. They were able to do it because an energy source of such extreme density was developed that a submarine could cruise right under no problem. Try that with a wind-powered ship.

    The impact of that geographical novelty alone may be years away, but I strongly suspect it’ll be brutal. It’s likely to effect ocean currents as well as the weather, worldwide – probably for millennia to come.

    I think we need to begin thinking about how we’ll survive the results of that & other impacts, right now, while we still have the time & resources to prepare. It doesn’t look to me like the world will be either able or willing to accomodate a lot of new nuclear reactors in that scenario. I’d like nothing more than to be dead wrong on this … but I wasn’t shocked when the previous “worst-case scenarios” for climate change turned into reality, decades ahead of schedule. You only needed to do some basic math & chemistry to figure it out. Now those are BEST-case scenarios, & even the Pentagon is saying we need to look at it as a major security issue, & back away from fossil-fuel ASAP.

    Mock the hippies & back-to-the-landers all you want: given the increasing chances of our future being one of global scarcity, it’s looking ever more likely that they’ve got it right, & it’s the rest of us that’re pathologically off-track. With all due apologies to hippy-haters everywhere: we may wind up having to follow their example – or go the way of brontosaurus.

    So we have gone full circle from fossil fuels are causing the problem to dismissing the most viable source of alternative energy. Also the brontosaurus never existed. Someone put the wrong head on a body and… Well nevermind. Who cares about real science, right?

    Reactors may be cleaner-burning than oil, but the energy increase at the end of the line & its inevitable degradation to heat energy is identical – no matter whether it’s being produced via oil, nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal or steroid-fed genetically-modified gerbils on treadmills.

    If reactors could get us to a place where we’re using less net energy, & if they could be put in place without the safety risk & high potential of extremists & authoritarian regimes using them for weaponizing, I’d say go for it. But they just can’t. You can cite all the studies you want – I’ll cite history. The history of nuclear technology isn’t pretty. More of that technology in an increasingly unstable world isn’t likely to beautify it – to put it mildly.

    To paraphrase a comment above: you can’t get out of an energy-surplus problem with more energy.
    That’s about as rational as drinking yourself sober.

    OH! I see. So we’re back to the idiotic concept mentioned earlier that global warming is not caused by atmospheric factors but by manmade thermal energy. Wow. That’s not even wrong


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  312. 312
    Q Says:

    Obviously jim likes matter a lot more than energy. Therefore he takes great offense to someone taking matter and making energy out of it.


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  313. 313
    DV82XL Says:

    Anybody that wants to hold an informed opinion on nuclear weapons would do well to read the following:

    The Nuclear Game, An Essay on Nuclear Policy Making – Nuclear Warfare 101

    It is an eye-opener, I guarantee you it.


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  314. 314
    Fitch Says:

    Wow this article is an eye opener. I’m floored. Actually it’s not the article but the comments. Tell me if this is a fair assessment of what I see. There’s two groups. Group one thinks that enviornmental problems are a bad thing in general and should be managed using the most effective methods of doing so and all things being equal dislikes poverty and prefers enviornmental solutions that don’t cause more of it. Other than that politics aside, democrat, republican, marxist or whatever just do what you can for the environment by the method that works.

    Then group two would like to see the environment protected but really that’s not the main issue. What they really want is a sort of combination of minimalism and anti-technology combined with a neo-communist undertones, a general dislike for human activity and a belief that an agrarian, communal, non-global society is what we need. It doesn’t matter if a solution somehow solves global warming or oil spills or smog or ozone depletion, because that’s not really the issue to them. The issue is that all problems would go away as soon as we completely change society.

    This scares me, honestly. I’m neutral in terms of political philosophy it’s not my thing. Fine, you want to push communism or minimalism then that’s your deal, but the enviornment really needs to be managed in a non-political way. I’m more concerned with the depletion of the ozone than what it means to freedom and the human spirit and the ethical aspects of a free thinking being.

    I’m ashamed to say I donated money to enviornmental organizations in the past in good faith. In the future I will continue to donate to enviornmental causes but I will be very careful about checking out what they really have in mind. I never donated to greenpeace, thankfully. I thought they were extremist, but they are worse. They’re a fraud.


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  315. 315
    DV82XL Says:

    You hit it out of the park Filch


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  316. 316
    DV82XL Says:

    When you’re all finished reading ‘Nuclear Warfare 101′ you can move on to:

    Nuclear Warfare 102 – Targeting Weapons

    and

    Nuclear Warfare 103 -The Attack And After

    Collect your diplomas on the way out.


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  317. 317
    Michael Ejercito Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

            McGlashan said:

    Climate change is the problem. Consumerism and the expectations of ever-rising standards of living are the cause. This is not a matter for debate.

    By the same circular logic you love:
    You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis.
    You can’t solve the problems created by short-termism with more short-termism.

    I don’t pretend to have the answers. I just want you to admit that you don’t have them either.

    And sure, I’m no free marketeer, but who is (trading-bloc-wise)? Rice and cotton do their bit to keep Africa in poverty. There’s no such thing as a free market.

    Ah so consumerism is the problem.

    Also human nature.

    And the existence of humans.

    And the fact that there is nothing counteracting global climate change.

    So we have the following options:

    - Impose restrictions leading to a reduction in living standards thus making those in the first world have lower quality lives and assuring those in the third world continue to live as they do and have no opertunity for improvement.

    - Change the nature of man completely.

    - Kill all members of the human race.

    - Reduce the rate of fusion in the sun proportionately to the increased heat retention by the earth.

    Which one is going to have the best chance of flying?

    We could reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the earth’s surface.

    That has its own challenges and side effects; it has a much better chance of flying than any of the above.


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  318. 318
    Michael Ejercito Says:

            McGlashan said:

    Climate change is the problem. Consumerism and the expectations of ever-rising standards of living are the cause. This is not a matter for debate.

    By the same circular logic you love:
    You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis.
    You can’t solve the problems created by short-termism with more short-termism.

    I don’t pretend to have the answers. I just want you to admit that you don’t have them either.

    And sure, I’m no free marketeer, but who is (trading-bloc-wise)? Rice and cotton do their bit to keep Africa in poverty. There’s no such thing as a free market.

    Teenage sex is the cause of teenage pregnancy.

    Try stopping teenagers from having sex.


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  319. 319
    Finrod Says:

            Fitch said:

    I’m ashamed to say I donated money to enviornmental organizations in the past in good faith. In the future I will continue to donate to enviornmental causes but I will be very careful about checking out what they really have in mind.

    Are there any prominent environmental activist groups which currently support nuclear power for its green credentials? If not, I’d say there’s an excellent market opportunity here! Anyone keen?


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  320. 320
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Finrod said:

            Fitch said:

    I’m ashamed to say I donated money to enviornmental organizations in the past in good faith. In the future I will continue to donate to enviornmental causes but I will be very careful about checking out what they really have in mind.

    Are there any prominent environmental activist groups which currently support nuclear power for its green credentials? If not, I’d say there’s an excellent market opportunity here! Anyone keen?

    Good question. Actually one of the organizations I really like is the African American Environmentalist Association. You don’t actually have to be black to join and I’d suggest looking at their stuff just because they have a lot of good links to other rational enviornmental associations. http://www.aaenvironment.com/

    I think someone mentioned the world wildlife foundation as well, which does work in areas not directly relating to wildlife as well.


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    Finrod Says:

    Fair enough, but I’m in Australia. Also, just from memory, I saw a report on the net put out recently by WWF concerning their agenda. As part of their energy strategy they foresaw that by 2050, nuclear power might cover perhaps 4% of global electrical generation. The arguments against nuke power looked like they’d been lifted straight out of Stormsmith.

    I really had in mind an organisation willing to be loudly proactive in support of the nuclear solution, and which can serve as a rallying point for rational donors to the environmental cause. one which can serve to drain financial support away from anti-nuclear organisations, organise rallies in favour of nuclear power, against coal plants, and generally get enough media attention that they can put the pro-nuclear case to a much wider audience. Just in case anyone missed the hint, I’m kinda proposing that it might not be a bad thing if we considered doing this ourselves.


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    DV82XL Says:

    There are a few pronuclear organizations out there. One that I like is:

    Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy

    Who have chapters in several countries. However Australia seems to be missing from the list of branches. Maybe you might consider starting one Down Under.


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    Sexy Don Says:

    Okay I basically agree with Fitch. I don’t understand why this is such a big deal with politics. I understand that people in the movement don’t like capitalism which is a fair debate but a completely different debate all together and not related.

    If they want to change society that’s fine but I think global warming and fossil fuel issues are too pressing to base the whole plan on a pie in the sky like that. Why is it a shocker to anyone that we should use solutions that work now? Why does it come as a revelation that you attack the biggest problems that are the easiest to solve? Why do people think it means something anti-environment when you say not to spend so much time on small things when you ignore the big?

    To me I see common sense here. I see stuff that should be obvious to anyone with at least some concept of reality. Thats the thing, this is reality and we need to be realistic. The scariest thing is that this is not fringe either. It seems to have entirely colored the whole issue. Can we stop with attacking culture and realize that culture is the way it is? Try to fix things within the bounds of what we got. Go change culture some other time. Or if you want to stop calling yourself an enviornmentalist and start calling yourself an anti-consumerist anti-tech anti-society ist or something


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  324. 324
    McGlashan Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

            McGlashan said:

    Climate change is the problem. Consumerism and the expectations of ever-rising standards of living are the cause. This is not a matter for debate.

    By the same circular logic you love:
    You can’t borrow your way out of a debt crisis.
    You can’t solve the problems created by short-termism with more short-termism.

    I don’t pretend to have the answers. I just want you to admit that you don’t have them either.

    And sure, I’m no free marketeer, but who is (trading-bloc-wise)? Rice and cotton do their bit to keep Africa in poverty. There’s no such thing as a free market.

    Ah so consumerism is the problem.

    Also human nature.

    And the existence of humans.

    And the fact that there is nothing counteracting global climate change.

    So we have the following options:

    - Impose restrictions leading to a reduction in living standards thus making those in the first world have lower quality lives and assuring those in the third world continue to live as they do and have no opertunity for improvement.

    - Change the nature of man completely.

    - Kill all members of the human race.

    - Reduce the rate of fusion in the sun proportionately to the increased heat retention by the earth.

    Which one is going to have the best chance of flying?

    DrBuzz0, Finrod, DV82XL, Michael et al. Good Morning.

    You’d do well to bear in mind that I’ve stated that I’m open-minded on the issue, and try to persuade me. You might just succeed, but at the moment, you’re doing more to drive me into the arms of the environmentalists. My reason for visiting your site (and others), is that the Nationalist Scottish Government seems set to block any new nuclear power stations in our country. Good thing or bad?

    Let’s see what I can do to move towards synthesis…

    I’m happy to modify my assertion at the top of this post as follows:

    Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), on the publication of the executive summary of the IPCC 2007 report stated: “Friday, 2 February 2007 may go down in history as the day when the question mark was removed from the question of whether climate change has anything to do with human activities.”

    (Then) UK Environment Secretary David Miliband stated: “The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over. The window of opportunity to avoid dangerous climate change is closing more quickly than previously thought.”

    You all point to the immutability of human nature in support of your advocacy of (heavy) engineering our way out of the problem. I assert that human nature is malleable and that the individualism rampant in the English-speaking world is an aberration brought about by the transmission of the idea of the “American Dream” as the global economic model. Local collectivism of some sort (tribalism, feudalism, fascism, socialism, confucianism, etc) has a much longer pedigree.

    Human nature and attitudes can be changed. 40 years ago, drink-driving was regarded as a right. 20 years ago it was a bit naughty. Now it is totally unacceptable. Smoking tobacco in public will go the same way over the next decades. Are these changes in living standards? Yes; what was once regarded as a freedom, a right, is now regarded as a reprehensible imposition on the rights and freedoms of others. Is it too much of a leap to imagine that the same will happen with profligate energy use and excessive consumption?

    My grandparents were from the Orkney Islands, to the north of Scotland. They had a saying “some is plenty, enough is too much” which they doled out with the porridge. Perhaps this is how the Orcadians managed to keep some of their indigenous trees on the island. Unlike their neighbour islanders in Shetland and Iceland. Thus they maintained their independence and their standard of living. On Iceland, ocean-going Vikings settled to avoid the tyranny of the Norse kings. (Sound familiar?). Once they’d cut down the trees, they were once again forced into the arms of their former masters and had to rely on subsistence farming for food. No more deep ocean fishing – they could no longer build the boats!

    The Orcadian’s philosophy is in direct contrast to the American Dream which suggests that enough is never enough. Hence, with America as the global hegemon, we have Oliver James’s “Affluenza”. Debt, stress, waste and debt; obesity epidemics in the English speaking world. The two-car family is more common than the two-book family. Koyaanisqatsi. The cultural difference is understandable. On Orkney, one can actually see and therefore appreciate the full extent of the environment and resources available. America and Australia appear infinite.

    I’m calling for a bit of wisdom from us all. A bit of self-control. A bit less greed. From the Renewable Energy Foundation (who DrBuzz0 quotes in favour of his arguments elsewhere):

    “Lastly, and perhaps most importantly of all, REF will be adding its voice to the argument for demand-side solutions to the energy question. The very real reductions in emissions that can be achieved with renewables can so easily be wiped out and rendered meaningless if overall energy demand continues to rise. Much of this demand is needless waste. A European Commission study published in 2003 observed that:

Total final energy consumption in the EU is thus approximately 20% higher than can be justified on purely economic grounds. Estimates in a SAVE study state that energy efficiency measures and demand side management services can easily realise three-fourths of this cost-effective savings, i.e., 15 % in the medium term (10-15 years).”

    Or do you want to keep on driving your car at 50mph?


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  325. 325
    Finrod Says:

    Yeah. So where exactly is this great logical fallacy you claim to discern in my assertion that nuclear power can be used to power the mining and refinement of nuclear fuel?


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    McGlashan Says:

    Hi Finrod.

            Finrod said:

    Yeah. So where exactly is this great logical fallacy you claim to discern in my assertion that nuclear power can be used to power the mining and refinement of nuclear fuel?

    For the sake of the smooth dialectic progression, I’m happy to withdraw, and concede the point; of course nuclear power can be used to power the mining and refinement of nuclear fuel. However, it is the necessity of expanding the use of nuclear power which is the contentious point. The point which you have yet to address with any compelling proposition. I await your answer.

    Additionally, is not uranium a finite resource, subject to a Hubbert Peak of its own?


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  327. 327
    Finrod Says:

    There are sufficient reserves of uranium and thorium to last us for geological ages if breeder reactors are used.

    McGlashan, if you don’t think that simultaneously addressing the global warming issue while maintaining a high standard of living in the west, as well as extending it to the underdeveloped world, is a valid and worthy goal, I’m not sure what words of mine could satisfy you. Perhaps I could point out that the capabilities that having a robust power system give to a country are essential for national security and the ability to effectively respond in times of emergency. Also, any nation which doesn’t adopt such a system will be dangerously vulnerable on a number of fronts to other nations which do.


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  328. 328
    drbuzz0 Says:

            McGlashan said:

    Hi Finrod.

    For the sake of the smooth dialectic progression, I’m happy to withdraw, and concede the point; of course nuclear power can be used to power the mining and refinement of nuclear fuel. However, it is the necessity of expanding the use of nuclear power which is the contentious point. The point which you have yet to address with any compelling proposition. I await your answer.

    Additionally, is not uranium a finite resource, subject to a Hubbert Peak of its own?

    No it’s not. It is a finite resource but of such high density that it is not comparable to any chemical energy reserve. That is the ultimate fallacy is attempting to describe nuclear energy in terms of chemical energy sources. The difference in nuclear energy as an energy form versus chemical energy is as vast as trying to claim it is not feisable to build an electrical grid because “Building an electrical grid to transmit energy to homes and businesses is impossible because it’s the same as building a system of belts and pullies to do so and we’ve already found that is a limited method”

    Yes there are limited resources on earth. Limited amounts of material to build wind farms and limited silicon for solar panels. But lets consider something: Technically we can get energy back from any element heavier than iron by inducing it to break apart. It could be done with sufficient neutron bombardment or other particles or possibly photofission. Physics tells us the basic fact that energy can be derived from matter. Uranium is well suited to this because it will maintain a chain reaction.

    The problem is not running out of resources but rather the waste. We won’t run out of stuff to burn. (perhaps oil but not stuff to burn in general). That’s not the problem. We could burn coal and peat and biomass and power the world that way but the waste is the problem. Nuclear waste is always tiny in volume. It’s also limited in life and easy to deal with. That’s because all it really is is some of the left over matter from the reaction.


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  329. 329
    McGlashan Says:

    Finrod,

    I didn’t know that about the thorium and breeder reactors. Geological ages sounds most impressive. References?

    I assure you that I think that addressing the global warming issue while maintaining a high standard of living in the west, as well as extending it to the underdeveloped world, is a valid and worthy goal. What makes you think I don’t? Please, I await with anticipation your argument as to the necessity of expanding the use of nuclear power.

    Providing a high standard of living to the underdeveloped world is not merely a matter of energy policy. I believe that the legacy of colonialism and restrictions on equitable trade and capital flows are the major issues there.

    A further concern I have about the expanded development of nuclear power is the implied centralisation of such a policy. Centralisation of power generation implies centralisation of political and economic power.

    I agree that that the capabilities that having a robust power system give to a country are essential to national security and the ability to effectively respond in times of emergency. However, I would naturally favour a more de-centralised, devolved or distributed system, to suit our evolving political system here in Scotland.

    QV the Island community of Eigg
    http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/1105740/an/0/page/1

    These people were part of the underdeveloped world until last week! Now their standard of living is at least equal to or better than yours and mine.


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  330. 330
    DV82XL Says:

    Scale McGlashan scale. Your little community’s solutions don’t scale up to service a city of two million.


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  331. 331
    McGlashan Says:

    DV82XL

    I can’t see why the small scale solutions are not scalable. I am open to your reasoned arguments why not. Please let me know.

    QV London Array
    http://www.computing.co.uk/business-green/news/2200599/thames-array-gets-green-light

    I understand the cost per household for the Eigg scheme is about £25,000. A tiny fraction of the average UK house price, about the cost of replacing the roof, about the price of a conservatory. Similar in cost to the provision of piped water and sewerage services. Public investment isn’t it?


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  332. 332
    Johan Says:

    McGlashan if you have acces to scientific america look up Bernard Cohen Am. J. Phys. 51, jan 1983 pages 75-76 about how long a breeder economy is sustainable.

    Otherwise this sums it up http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/cohen.html


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    drbuzz0 Says:

    So basically it’s a hydroelectric plant with a few solar cells and wind turbines too, just to make it nice and trendy, eh?


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    McGlashan Says:

    Hi Doc.

    Thanks for the info on the energy density of uranium. Noted.
    I heat my home using seasoned soft wood logs. The resource is government certified renewable on a 7-10 year cycle. The waste is negligible, I dig the ashes into my garden.
    I light my home and cook using electricity from hydro dams. What waste?

    Again, I ask you for a compelling argument in favour of the necessity for the adoption of greater levels of nuclear power. It’s something I’ve yet to see.

    All the best!


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  335. 335
    Finrod Says:

            McGlashan said:

    Hi Doc.Again, I ask you for a compelling argument in favour of the necessity for the adoption of greater levels of nuclear power. It’s something I’ve yet to see.
    All the best!

    Hydro power is limited. There simply isn’t enough of it worldwide to cover for fossil fuel power stations or nuclear power stations. Nowhere near enough, by a factor of at least a hundred.

    Wind is intermittant, and in spite of various claims, cannot be shown to reduce the need for conventional baseload power by any significant factor.

    PV solar is intermittant, the power levels abysmally low, and is much too expensive to consider as a main power source.

    Solar thermal is unproven.

    In a debate on this subject I had about a year ago, a solar enthusiast pointed out to me that South Africa was doing well by going down the road of renewable energy, using PV solar to power remote locations. Quite apart from the immorality of expecting the poorest of people to adopt the most expensive generating option to satisfy some environmentalist political agenda, I note that the South African government has recently conceded that it got energy policy horribly wrong, and is now scrambling to get nuke plants up and running as quickly as possible to meet the massive power shortfalls which are now seriously retarding the country’s economic growth.

    Russia, while doing its best to flog as much fossil fuel to Europe as possible, is quietly renewing its nuclear power program.


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  336. 336
    Finrod Says:

    Another thing that has occured to me is the illogic behind the green push for renewable power sources as a means of protecting the environment. let us suppose for a moment that renewables such as wind and solar are able to show a sufficient gain on EROEI that they can both provide a bit of power to consumers and also power the facilities needed to manufacture replacement units, and therefore could be said to be sustainable.

    Let us posit a world powered by such. OK. Any power generated by such systems would be power that didn’t flow to wherever it was going to go naturally. It will be a direct interference with the natural energy flows through the biosphere of the planet. if we wanted to increase output, it would be at the direct expense of the environment. If we wanted a more natural environmental energy flow, it would be directly at the expense of human civilisation’s power generation capacity.

    I can’t imagine a scenario which would place the environment under greater threat!

    Nuclear power, on the other hand, apart from all its other advantages, is radically disconnected from the natural energy economy of the environment. It is so energy dense that the mines and facilities needed for it will be (overall) smaller and less destructive than anything else at all. We could generate as much power as we needed without worrying about what was happening to huge swaths of the environment because of it, as we wouldn’t be in direct competition with the needs of the biosphere. This strikes me as a much safer and more sustainable situation.


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  337. 337
    DV82XL Says:

    There are constant, ill-informed debates and reports that suggest that we can easily replace our fossil fuel usage by wind, or solar cell power, or some such method. Within current technology, this is a pipe-dream, it is impossible, it simply cannot be done. Solar-electric systems and wind turbines face not only the enormous problem of scale but the fact that the components require substantial amounts of energy to manufacture and the number of sites that are economically exploitable are limited. They are not that clean as, a great deal of waste is created in their manufacture, and in the case of photo-electrics, their disposal. Also there is valid concern that windmills are hard on flying creatures, and shadows cast by vast fields of solar arrays will have a negative impact on the soil beneath leading to erosion risks and the destruction of whole ecosystems on a grand scale.

    The killer however is the fact that the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow all the time, so backup is needed. It is also needed for load leveling and to provide a service called frequency discipline by maintaining so called spinning reserve. This means that a fair fraction of available power must not be drawn from a generator so that it doesn’t slowdown (or speed up) too much with a changing load. This situation is made worse when the power input itself is subject to variation, consequently a greater percentage of spinning reserve is required. In short, almost as much power must be available on backup as is being extracted from the wind and/or sun and a fair amount of that has to be spinning free at a cost of fuel and emissions.

    What about the idea of a power system composed of distributed energy resources, where much smaller amounts of energy are produced by numerous small, modular energy conversion units, like renewables which are then integrated into the grid like an energy internet? Thing is each node whether a gigawatt natural gas power station or a single solar photovoltaic panel needs to be controlled and the necessary number of combined control tasks multiply as devices multiply. requirement of implementing Flexible AC transmission systems increases the number of control parameters. Accurate information on the state of the network and coordination between local control centers and the generators is essential. However an inherent risk of interconnected networks is a domino effect – that is a system failure in one part of the network can quickly spread. Therefore the active network needs appropriate design standards, fast acting protection mechanisms and also automatic reconfiguration equipment to address potentially higher fault levels. On top of which most of the proposed systems require intelligent loads as well, adding to network complexity and cost.These changes are not cheap or easy.

    Adding to the complexity of this sort of system is that it would require storage technologies that can store significant amounts of power and reliably discharge it over and over again. Most of the candidates suffer from poor power density, as in standard batteries and flywheels; high complexity, in the case of molten salt and regenerative fuel cells, or are limited by location such as subterranean compressed air and hydraulic storage.

    These things have been covered elsewhere on this thread and in other postings on this site. You would do well to review them before continuing. You would also do well to get some feel of the sort of numbers that are involved, and note that individual homes are not the only load that must be factored in to an energy plan. Much low energy technology depends on material that cannot be produced using these light sources. The day I see someone running a smelter on wind power I will grant that they can.

    Finally the rest of the infrastructure requires larges amounts of reliable power, and these must be provided for, even in the unlikely event that that dwellings go the path that you suggest.


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  338. 338
    drbuzz0 Says:

    The problem with storing energy: pumped hydro and compressed gas are horribly ineffecient. Horribly. You may need as many as eight times as many wind turbines to make up for the energy lost in the conversion. So if you produce 80 megawatts on average you have an average output of 10. It can be worse. Regenerative fuel cells are not going to do all that much better, although they would need less space.

    The most effecient method is batteries, hands down. There are utility scale batteries, but they’re rarely used because they’re so damn expensive. The largest is in alaska. It’s nicad based. It would do for a nominally sized wind farm that didn’t vary too much: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/main.jhtml?xml=/connected/2003/09/03/ecnalaska03.xml

    Nicad of course has two problems: Cadmium is nasty toxic stuff. Nickle is limited in how much is avaliable. You’d easily deplete world supplies if you started building a lot of these. NiMH doesn’t have cadmium but needs even more nickle. Then there’s lead acid. You might be able to do that without depleting world reserves of lead, but building it on a wide scale you’d quickly excede world production of sulphuric acid. Also, that is nasty stuff. Then there’s sodium batteries. You’d need to ramp up world sodium production and also it takes energy to make sodium and produces chlorine as a biproduct. If you wanted to run any portion of the world on those it would mean a lot of chlorine to either do something with or find a place to put.

    And of course, this would bankrupt the richest governments all put together.


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  339. 339
    McGlashan Says:

    Gents,

    Thanks for the responses. Not got the time to respond right now. Please check back am tomorrow.


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  340. 340
    Jara Says:

    Hemp oil is so versatile that it can be used instead of diesel fuel or you can fry tempura in it. Before petroleum and electric lightbulbs, lamps burning hemp seed oil illuminated homes around the world. One ha of seed hemp produces about 1000-1500 litres of hemp oil plus several thousand kg of cellulose-rich fibre. One ha of fibre hemp produces about 8000-11000 kg of dry biomass.

    As a renewable resource from living plants hemp does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. The growing plants absorb as much CO2 as will later be released when oil or other plant matter is burnt. Unlike fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) or nuclear fuels hemp could supply us with raw materials for thousands of years, without ever changing our climate and without producing waste that remains radioactive for millions of years.


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  341. 341
    drbuzz0 Says:

            McGlashan said:

    Again, I ask you for a compelling argument in favour of the necessity for the adoption of greater levels of nuclear power. It’s something I’ve yet to see.

    To put it simply…

    Because we need TERAWATTS.


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  342. 342
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Yeah biofuels are okay in certain applications but the whole “carbon neutral” thing is totally bunk. You assume that whatever else would have grown in the area you use for the crop would just decay back to co2 with 100% effeciency. Also it fails to take into account the greenhouse gas produced by soil tilling and other activities.

    The whole “carbon neutral” thing is going way beyond what any common sense. Also it won’t be more radioactive than the original ore for “millions of years”


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  343. 343
    Finrod Says:

    Although I understand hemp can be of great help getting salt out of saline soil, and therefore could be useful in certain land reclaimation projects, especially here in Australia. If you’re going to grow it for that purpose, you might as well get some biofuel out of it as well. Heat from nuclear reactors would facilitate this greatly.


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  344. 344
    DV82XL Says:

    McGlashan, I’m going to turn your question around: what proof can you show me that we can meet the objectives of keeping our living standard, allowing the less favored parts of the world to catch up, and reduce the volume of greenhouse gases that are released down past some critical level, without turning to nuclear energy?

    The only two sources that it can be proven can reliably meet our energy needs until the end of this century and beyond are coal and nuclear. Coal is just too dirty to consider, and thus we are left with nuclear by default. The onus is really on you (figuratively) to show hard proof that some other system will do. That is going to require more than anecdotal stories from closed communities. You will have to provide numbers.

    Here in North America we have many Hudderite/Menonite/Amish (collectively The Plain Folk) communities that have minimum energy lifestyles, and they all have problems keeping their kids from leaving. I note that you are not living in the Orkney Islands. It would seem that only a limited number of people will chose to live in that manner, thus it is going to be impossible to get a majority to elect a government that will legislate them into such a life. So I also would like to hear how you plan to do the large-scale social engineering across the entire world to bring about a change of mind.

    The point of the whole post is that we must strive for workable solutions. Many of the serious desenters here are calling for ideal solutions, and these are just not possible.


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  345. 345
    Finrod Says:

    “I assure you that I think that addressing the global warming issue while maintaining a high standard of living in the west, as well as extending it to the underdeveloped world, is a valid and worthy goal. What makes you think I don’t?”

    The following:

    “My suggested approach would be to, rather, adjust the demand side through mitigation of the consumer society.”

    And this:

    “You all point to the immutability of human nature in support of your advocacy of (heavy) engineering our way out of the problem. I assert that human nature is malleable and that the individualism rampant in the English-speaking world is an aberration brought about by the transmission of the idea of the “American Dream” as the global economic model. Local collectivism of some sort (tribalism, feudalism, fascism, socialism, confucianism, etc) has a much longer pedigree.

    Human nature and attitudes can be changed. 40 years ago, drink-driving was regarded as a right. 20 years ago it was a bit naughty. Now it is totally unacceptable. Smoking tobacco in public will go the same way over the next decades. Are these changes in living standards? Yes; what was once regarded as a freedom, a right, is now regarded as a reprehensible imposition on the rights and freedoms of others. Is it too much of a leap to imagine that the same will happen with profligate energy use and excessive consumption?

    My grandparents were from the Orkney Islands, to the north of Scotland. They had a saying “some is plenty, enough is too much” which they doled out with the porridge. Perhaps this is how the Orcadians managed to keep some of their indigenous trees on the island. Unlike their neighbour islanders in Shetland and Iceland. Thus they maintained their independence and their standard of living. On Iceland, ocean-going Vikings settled to avoid the tyranny of the Norse kings. (Sound familiar?). Once they’d cut down the trees, they were once again forced into the arms of their former masters and had to rely on subsistence farming for food. No more deep ocean fishing – they could no longer build the boats!

    The Orcadian’s philosophy is in direct contrast to the American Dream which suggests that enough is never enough. Hence, with America as the global hegemon, we have Oliver James’s “Affluenza”. Debt, stress, waste and debt; obesity epidemics in the English speaking world. The two-car family is more common than the two-book family. Koyaanisqatsi. The cultural difference is understandable. On Orkney, one can actually see and therefore appreciate the full extent of the environment and resources available. America and Australia appear infinite.

    I’m calling for a bit of wisdom from us all. A bit of self-control. A bit less greed. From the Renewable Energy Foundation (who DrBuzz0 quotes in favour of his arguments elsewhere):

    “Lastly, and perhaps most importantly of all, REF will be adding its voice to the argument for demand-side solutions to the energy question. The very real reductions in emissions that can be achieved with renewables can so easily be wiped out and rendered meaningless if overall energy demand continues to rise. Much of this demand is needless waste. A European Commission study published in 2003 observed that:

Total final energy consumption in the EU is thus approximately 20% higher than can be justified on purely economic grounds. Estimates in a SAVE study state that energy efficiency measures and demand side management services can easily realise three-fourths of this cost-effective savings, i.e., 15 % in the medium term (10-15 years).””

    What you’re talking about is a planned reduction in western living standards to those of the undeveloped world (or preindustrial society).

    If you go for a more decentralised, localised production system, you undo the advantages of economies of scale and division of labour. This will drastically reduce production. We would shortly be in a situation where the current global poulation could no longer be supported. Assuming that whatever regime was in charge was able to continue enforcing this economic policy, the result would be population collapse, in which case:

    What would your preferred method of dealing with the situation? Would you allow famine, disease and violence to take its course, or would you be in favour of a more proactive solution to the ‘problem’ of excess population?


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  346. 346
    McGlashan Says:

    Gentlemen,

    A lot to get through this morning…

    Let’s see if I can answer points one by one:

    Johan
    Thanks for the link to John McCarthy’s pages at Stanford. Breeder reactors past, present and future are, however, experimental, or demonstration models. I think they therefore fall into the category of “unproven” or “ideal”.

    I note that McCarthy is mostly concerned with artificial intelligence, and writes SF on the subject. This reeks of singularitarianism or extropianism to me. How many extropians does it take to change a light bulb? None! They sit in the dark and wait for the technology to improve. :)

    Finrod
    “Hydro power is limited. There simply isn’t enough of it worldwide to cover for fossil fuel power stations or nuclear power stations.”
    Noted and agreed. However, my own geographical location is blessed with suitable glacial topography. Scotland is a net exporter of electricity.

    “Wind is intermittent, and in spite of various claims, cannot be shown to reduce the need for conventional baseload power by any significant factor.
    PV solar is intermittent, the power levels abysmally low, and is much too expensive to consider as a main power source.”
    In this country, when the wind doesn’t blow, the sun shines and vice-versa. I know this sounds trite, but it is true. Additionally, the waves ceaselessly crash upon our north-west shores. I agree that PV is not anything like a suitable technology which is ready for primetime. But neither are breeders.

    “Solar thermal is unproven.”
    Not true. Direct solar heating has been reducing electricity and gas bills across my region for decades. A kilowatt saved is the same as a kilowatt generated. Local authorities are beginning to mandate direct solar water heating into local construction codes for new-build residential accommodation. It’s possible to make a direct solar water heater yourself as a weekend project with common tools and materials. Ground-source heat pumps also make a great deal of sense for domestic and district heating. ROI 5-7 years.

    “Russia… is quietly renewing its nuclear power program.”
    Is this an adequate reason for us to do likewise?

    Finrod
    “Let us posit a world powered by such… directly at the expense of human civilisation’s power generation capacity.
    I can’t imagine a scenario which would place the environment under greater threat!”
    Finrod, really, I would have expected better of you. If we build tidal barrages across every estuary on Earth, will it rob the Moon of orbital momentum? If we surround Albion with Salter Ducks, will we dampen the Atlantic Breakers out of existence? Actually, it’s maybe not a bad idea to surround Albion with Salter Ducks, it might mitigate some of the worst effects of coastal erosion which parts of England face at an alarmingly increasing frequency.
    “Nuclear power… strikes me as a much safer and more sustainable situation.”
    Oldest hydro-power – 4th Century BCE, India.
    Oldest wind-power – 1st Century CE, Greece.
    Safety. I’ve tried to stay off the subject. I’ll leave it to others…

    DV82XL
    “power system composed of distributed energy resources… not cheap or easy.”
    You speak with great authority, but perhaps your expertise is out of date, or you are obfuscating.
    The UK Energy Saving Trust encourages individuals and communities to sell micro-generated electricity to the grid. All you need is a Windy-Boy.
    http://www.windandsun.co.uk/inverters_gridwindy.htm

    drbuzz0
    “The problem with storing energy…The most efficient method is batteries..”
    I believe that pumped storage utilises otherwise unused base load, so, while low efficiency is lamentable, it’s not a show-stopper. The most efficient method is pumped hydro without intermediate conversion to electricity.
    qv Polderisation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands

    drbuzz0
    “Because we need TERAWATTS”
    Are you confusing “need” with “want”?

    DV82XL
    “I’m going to turn your question around: what proof can you show me that we can meet the objectives of keeping our living standard, allowing the less favored parts of the world to catch up, and reduce the volume of greenhouse gases that are released down past some critical level, without turning to nuclear energy?”
    I have provided many examples of ways individuals and communities can lower their reliance on electricity. I have shown how those in less favoured parts of the world can catch up. I have done this without appealing to you to reduce your own reliance on mechanised transportation. But I will now. If hydrocarbon profligacy on personal transportation were reduced, we would be able to divert that resource to providing extra bridging generation baseload. I appreciate that carbon capture and storage is not all the way there yet, but it is more feasible for a power station than an automobile.

    “Here in North America we have many Hudderite/Menonite/Amish (collectively The Plain Folk) communities that have minimum energy lifestyles, and they all have problems keeping their kids from leaving. I note that you are not living in the Orkney Islands.”
    Comparing my community to the puritans who fled the Enlightenment is a non-starter; I feel vaguely insulted. The whole of Scotland is a modern, largely post-industrial nation. Life sciences and banking, insurance & finance make up the majority of our economy. Culture and the creative arts make up a third of our economy. Sure, we have a large public sector. Free university education and our national health service make us the envy of the world.
    You are correct, I don’t live in Orkney, but I hope that you’re not implying that I’m a hypocrite. My lifestyle and carbon footprint would be identical if I did. The peregrinations of two world wars uprooted my family. I live in Aberdeen, the (self-styled) Energy Capital of Europe. I used to work in the Oil & Gas industry here. Ahh the boomtown days of the seventies… The towout of the Ninian Central Platform was something to witness. Largest ever structure moved by man… those were the days… sniff, wipes tear from eye. Mega-engineering glory days indeed. The North Sea’s a mature oil producing province now, there’s no more capital being deployed out there, just a bit of infill drilling and enhanced recovery techniques. Aberdeen, once full of can-do engineers with pencils behind their ears and slide-rules in their shirt pockets, is now full of accountants and asset managers, tapping away in front of their excel spreadsheets. Maybe I should count them in the “creative” sector of our economy! ;)

    But what about the numbers…
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/47176/0014633.pdf

    Finrod.

    Energy efficiency absolutely does not imply a reduction in living standards. Quite the reverse. The warm glow of smug self-satisfaction I get keeps me nice and toasty at no cost whatsoever!

    To finish, I came across this…
    In John Maynard Keynes “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” he posits that economic success would mean that, in the 21st century we’d no longer have to work so hard to fulfill our basic needs. He reckoned that most of us would be satisfied with the fruits of about 15 hours per week or so of labour. A few might work harder in pursuit of wealth or material possessions, but most wouldn’t, seeing the love of money and things as “one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities”. It strikes me that this is how a lot of us in northern Europe are seeing things and organising our lives. I think they’ve been like that in southern Europe for centuries.

    Then again, Keynes also said “In the long run, we’re all dead”. Perhaps the extropians amongst you will disagree!


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    drbuzz0 Says:

    Oh not the “energy effeciency does not mean a reduction in living standards” crap again.

    Look, the amount of electricity used for lighting is less than 10% and most of that is already high effeciency sodium lights for large areas. Hence, everyone switching to CF lights does not do very much. Given the amount of CO2 production automobiles make up you cannot expect 50% cleaner cars to make that big a difference.

    This “energy effeciency without reduced quality of life” is bull because it presumes the problem can be solved by effecient lightbulbs and insulation and energy star appliences and small cars. Those help, but they don’t get you nearly far enough. The problem is aluminum smelting, heating of large structures (already very well insulated in general), cement manufacture, metal recovery, refining and plenty of other things. Just broadcasting television to a reasonable area on UHF or VHF can take megawatts.

    Here’s a simple graphic on it: http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/local/reduction/cleaner/images/image6.gif

    Simply put, the measures pushed as being effeciency with minimal sacrafice are not going to amount to much because they address comparatively small uses of energy. The largest users of energy already have high effeciency because for them energy is a major cost.


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    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Is it too much of a leap to imagine that the same will happen with profligate energy use and excessive consumption?

    Yes.

    Advocates of abstinence-only sex education claim that the teen sex will become taboo, and teens (nevermind adults) will stop having sex.


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    drbuzz0 Says:

    I should add something: I’m currently working on compiling data and generating charts on energy use by type and sector. This will describe energy in terms of direct use of fossil fuels as well as electricity and be broken down into the major sectors: residential, transportation, industrial, commericial and then further broken down into major end uses: Lighting, refrigeration, heating, cooling, electronics, compressors, metal smelting and so on.

    I’m hoping to have that up as the next post here and have it up in the next few days. My past two or three posts have been shamefully lacking in quality and obviously haphazardly thrown together. Sorry but this site has been deluged and also has had some very good discussions by people and requests for more data and better sourcing.

    This is not my day job and I’ve been rather busy recently, so I’ll try to get that taken care of as soon as I can, but updates may be a bit lacking for the next two or three days as I try to iron out some good info.


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    drbuzz0 Says:

    Oh one other thing: Trying not to be too American-centric, the whole thing with getting energy data that is representative of the world is rather hard. World energy consumption is hard to pin down at times because it varies from place to place and a lot of areas use less energy as they are in very bad shape in general.

    Considering that the focus is on industrial countries, which have the greatest margin to change things as well as developing countries which have rapidly growing econemies and will become more industrial as time goes on I’ve been looking for some representative samples.

    Data on the US has been by far the easiest to gather as the US department of Energy does a great job at compiling statistics through the Energy Information Agency. The IAEA does a good job with world data for certain countries which have good reporting.

    Aside from the US, Canada and Australia both seem to have excellent data avaliable. The EU does okay as well.

    I think the US, Canada, Australia and the EU are fair places to use as examples because they are examples of countries which have achieved a good living standard and full development. So these are the countries which, ideally, India and other nations with great poverty are going to be moving in the direction of.

    Also, the US and Canada both seem to be very similar in energy end use. Canada uses more energy per-capita for heating and less for cooling, not surprisingly. The southern US tends to skew data toward cooling, but otherwise the US and Canada are similar. The EU is similar to both as well except for a bit less energy, proportionately, is used for transportation. Also, heating in the more nothern european countries like Denmark, Sweeden, Norway is very very heavily represented.

    Australia is very similar to the US, Canada and Europe in some areas but other parts the energy use is much more heavily balanced toward mining and agriculture. I guess that’s not surprising.

    So sorry if I seem like I’m not including everyone. It’s really hard to do a full world picture that shows all the details that matter.


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    DV82XL Says:

    McGlashan your answer to the problems of distributed energy is trite, and does not address the issues that I brought up.

    The report you linked to seems to suggest that again a combination of wistful thinking and unlimited money is all that is needed to exploit these resources. Note that the study was done six years ago, before long baseline data from the Danish wind installations were available. Where these to be included in the constraints it would not paint so rosy a picture.

    I was not attempting to insult you, or accuse you of hypocrisy, only pointing out that low energy lifestyles are not to the majority’s taste and any plan to mandate it by fiat is not going to happen in a democracy.

    Your dialectic gymnastics really have no place in a technical discussion. This is one of the biggest problems in debating with non-technical people (or those with an agenda) because opinion counts for very little here, and many seem to think that the issues revolve around opinion. No. It revolves around what is required and what is possible. Unless you understand the underling systems and how they work and are able to critically analyze all the data you cannot possibly come to an informed conclusion. It would appear to me that you have fallen into the trap of only considering evidence that supports your position, rather than approach the issue with the open mind you claim to have.

    You have been given enough pointers to begin your own unbiased research, should you wish, arguing with you here is without you doing the homework is a waste of everybody’s time, including your own.


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    Johan Says:

    McGlashan
    I would not call breeders unproven, but that isnt realy very important so we can ignore that discussion. Even if you pessimisticaly assume breeders wont be a reality for say 50 years it still means uranium is a sustainable resource. Breeders arent realy “needed” until we start running out of uranium and that wont happen for a few hundred years. In any case there is no showstopper when it comes to breeding technology so it will be a reality long before uranium becoes scarce.


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    DV82XL Says:

    The fact is that existing heavy water reactors can burn thorium right now, and that IS proven, and breeder reactors have been running for decades making fissile Pu for weapons. Where this ‘unproven breeder’ nonsense came is beyond me.


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    Rod Adams Says:

    McGlashan, in his long post about the abundant energy sources he has available by luck of geography also let slip his real love:

    I used to work in the Oil & Gas industry here. Ahh the boomtown days of the seventies… The towout of the Ninian Central Platform was something to witness. Largest ever structure moved by man… those were the days… sniff, wipes tear from eye. Mega-engineering glory days indeed. The North Sea’s a mature oil producing province now, there’s no more capital being deployed out there, just a bit of infill drilling and enhanced recovery techniques. Aberdeen, once full of can-do engineers with pencils behind their ears and slide-rules in their shirt pockets, is now full of accountants and asset managers, tapping away in front of their excel spreadsheets.

    I live in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. There are probably 4-6 million people who live within 50 miles of my home. We have hot, muggy STILL summers, relatively cold winters, lots of trees, some farms, and lots of industry. Wind mills would probably achieve a 15% capacity factor and solar panels would be almost useless because of clouds, shade, and short winter days.

    We burn coal by the thousands of tons, have a few nuclear plants, use a lot of gas and diesel fuel and burn methane by the millions of cubic feet per minute.

    I cannot imagine ways that my region could survive, much less prosper using anything other than a tiny portion of conventional renewable energy. We can, however, steadily reduce our fossil fuel dependence by building new nuclear plants on the already existing sites and by finding new sites within the region. We could also fit them onto the numerous ships that ply the Chesapeake Bay on their way to and from Baltimore and Norfolk to the open ocean.

    Of course, I never worked for the oil and gas industry and have no nostalgia for the damaging engineering projects that those extractive industries have been causing for a couple of hundred years. Instead, I used to operate a small reactor that could be sealed inside a submarine and operate for decades without new fuel.

    I guess we all have our prejudices. McGlashan has stated that he sees no compelling reason for a nuclear fission based economy – my favorite reason is that it would be far superior to the fossil fuel based economy that we have today. Heck, nuclear plants can perform so well that they are the functional equivalent of a 760 million mile per gallon carburetor.


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    Sexy Don Says:

    So how’s about this. The term “Environmentalist” gets dropped by all the organizations that are basically trying to put up a new social philosophy, because it implies something that they don’t really want except perhaps as a secondary thing. So it goes back to it’s original meaning and the Green party and the Friends of Earth and Greenpeace and all those groups can rename themselves “Anti-market Minimalist Localists” or “Anti-Energy-and-human-activitiy-ists” or something else that communicates what they want. Maybe something like kumquat-ists, as long as they define what it means honestly. They can invent a new goddamned word if they want. Just stop trying to pass yourself off as something you are not all about. It’s damn confusing


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    Finrod Says:

            Sexy Don said:

    and the Green party and the Friends of Earth and Greenpeace and all those groups can rename themselves “Anti-market Minimalist Localists” or “Anti-Energy-and-human-activitiy-ists” or something else that communicates what they want.

    Maybe something like kumquat-ists, as long as they define what it means honestly.

    They can invent a new goddamned word if they want.

    How about ‘Mortocrats’? Appointed rulers of a ‘Mortocracy’, or advocates of such a system.


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    Finrod Says:

    Or in Greek, a ‘Thanotocracy’, administered by Thanotocrats?


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    Finrod Says:

    Pardon my misspelling! Thanatocrats, thanatocracy.


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    blobbles Says:

    There’s a problem here most are forgetting:

    Global warming is causing massive upheavals in the earths natural weather systems. This is a man made problem which we created. It is now futile to reject this. And it’s not getting better – it’s only gonna get worse from now on.

    So what options do we have? We could do nothing drastic, have minimal effect on greenhouse gas production, leading to a future where basically a lot of people (more so in developing nations) become refugees relying on aid and/or relocation to developed nations or are killed. Think about the amount spent on aid from the US last year (both domestic and international) and now think about multiplying this figure by a factor of 10-20 and you might start to get a different idea of the problem. I think that the people that wrote this article from an economics point of view should start thinking about the economics of doing nothing.

    Another option is that we do take some drastic measures. This will not be popular with people in the short term. But if people are educated on the risk of doing nothing, I think you will find that they may be more receptive. People in developing nations don’t see the actual cost of doing nothing. They continue to rely on countries like China and India to provide them with cheep goods (the production of which puts massive amounts of greenhouse gasses into the enviroment) and see no consequences of driving their SUVs and generally polluting to their hearts content. But if you explained the economics of doing nothing I think you will find people a lot more receptive to these drastic measures.

    And individual action does have an effect. It changes attitudes, slowly but surely. If you don’t believe this, then I suggest you shouldn’t *beleive* in things like fashion or any type of word of mouth / advertised change in opinions.


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    Finrod Says:

    Blobbles, did you even bother to read one single line of the original post or subsequent comments?


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    Michael Ejercito Says:

    So what options do we have? We could do nothing drastic, have minimal effect on greenhouse gas production, leading to a future where basically a lot of people (more so in developing nations) become refugees relying on aid and/or relocation to developed nations or are killed. Think about the amount spent on aid from the US last year (both domestic and international) and now think about multiplying this figure by a factor of 10-20 and you might start to get a different idea of the problem. I think that the people that wrote this article from an economics point of view should start thinking about the economics of doing nothing.

    Here is an idea: how about setting off ten megatons of nuclear weapons at a test site?

    A mere one hundred megatons would set off an epoch of cold and dark . This scenario was published by Carl Sagan back in 1983. Therefore, one must assume that a lesser yield would cool things down a little bit.

    If ten megatons is insufficient, then set off another ten megatons.


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    DV82XL Says:

    Jesus Mike, don’t give them any ideas ;)


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    McGlashan Says:

    Just listened to BBC radio programme on Solar Power mega-engineering
    Listen to this and then tell me what’s wrong with it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/radio4_aod.shtml?radio4/costingtheearth

    More later

    McG


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    drbuzz0 Says:

            Michael Ejercito said:

    So what options do we have? We could do nothing drastic, have minimal effect on greenhouse gas production, leading to a future where basically a lot of people (more so in developing nations) become refugees relying on aid and/or relocation to developed nations or are killed. Think about the amount spent on aid from the US last year (both domestic and international) and now think about multiplying this figure by a factor of 10-20 and you might start to get a different idea of the problem. I think that the people that wrote this article from an economics point of view should start thinking about the economics of doing nothing.
    Here is an idea: how about setting off ten megatons of nuclear weapons at a test site?

    A mere one hundred megatons would set off an epoch of cold and dark . This scenario was published by Carl Sagan back in 1983. Therefore, one must assume that a lesser yield would cool things down a little bit.

    If ten megatons is insufficient, then set off another ten megatons.

    Sagan later stated that some of the data from that was incorrect and that his conclusions were probably wrong or overstated. Anyway, they set off tens of megatons in the 1950′s and early 1960′s. Didn’t do a whole lot.


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    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Sagan later stated that some of the data from that was incorrect and that his conclusions were probably wrong or overstated. Anyway, they set off tens of megatons in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Didn’t do a whole lot.

    He probably misplaced a decimal point somewhere.

    Even scientists are not immune from arithmetic mistakes.


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    Tsakanga Says:

    McG, I’m a little confused, or perhaps more baffled by the string of your comments. You chide us for trying to come up with an engineering solution instead of social solutions popular among environmental groups but then point to a solar mega-engineering project and ask what’s wrong with that.

    Granted, I’m not a solar expert, but the first thing to pop to mind as a possible problem for desert solar installations (besides being a centralized source, which for some reason is evil…) is sandstorms. Whether PV or CSP, one would think the panels and mirrors wouldn’t do too well with the occasional sandblasting. Even if it doesn’t cause physical damage, that’s still time without sun exposure and time until panels/mirrors can be cleared of built-up sand before the plant can get back up to ‘full’ power.

    And might I ask what the point of bringing up the oldest account of hydro or wind power was? if you want to get picky like that, I believe the first energy producing nuclear reactions occurred in the first few nanoseconds after the big bang created the universe, granted no one was around to see it, but that still makes that energy source a few magnitudes of order older than hydro or wind. Along the same lines of pickiness, it could be argued that solar, hydro and wind power are actually nuclear power (the same could be said for fossil fuels, but who wants to claim that red-headed stepchild in these environmentally-minded times?) since the motive force for those cycles is sunlight. This might come as a shock so take a deep breath… Sunlight is radiation. The sun is a big nuclear reactor.

    Oh, no! Its the end of days, hug the ones you love good-bye because, as some ‘environmentalists’ are fond of pointing out, any dose of radiation no matter how small can be lethal and the fact that the planet’s flooded with it from sun up to sun down means we’re all going to start growing third eyes and extra limbs and popping cancers out of every orifice until we’re dropping like flies.

    But wait, that hasn’t happened. Could that mean radiation isn’t the Devil’s mistress? Could that mean the linear-no-threshold model doesn’t hold water? Could that mean radiation is actually a natural occurrence without which the planet we all love so much would be nothing more than a icy chunk of rock floating in space? Could radiation actually be one of the greatest contributing factors to life as we know it? Of course not, that’d be blasphemous…