The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn

January 29th, 2008
submit to reddit Share

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.

â€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.

â€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.â€

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.
View blog reactions



530 Responses to “The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn”

Pages: « 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 [11] Show All

  1. 501
    DV82XL Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    I’m starting to wonder if I should even continue this discussion because this is supposed to be a post about the methods for improving the environment and reducing emissions by targeting the sources with the most effective solutions.

    This clown isn’t a Marxist-Leninist, he’s just a motor-mouth. He shown no understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory, dialectical materialism, or the historical roots of the movement. In the old days I crossed verbal swords with intellectual communists in university, and this guy couldn’t hold their shoes.


    Quote Comment
  2. 502
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Jack Celliers said:

    To think that a discussion involving a vital resource directly related with the economy should be a mere matter of “science” is ludicrous. If you want to develop an energy solution you certainly need investment. Taking into account how energy is consumed in the world, the huge rates consumed by the few rich and the tiny if ever part consumed by the many poor, you cannot avoid falling into politics. At least you have a good reason to.

    I see so this really is not just about the enviornmental issue, but that’s just a small part. In reality, the enviornmental problems are just another issue that can be solved with communism, the others being every social and economic and security problem in existence. In reality this is a social warfare issue that involves the few rich who cause all the problems…

    I think I understand what you stand for and what you are all about.

    As a supporter of the free market of both commodities and ideas, I respect your right to your opinion. As a human and a person with some knowledge in this area I have no respect for your opinion or you personally or others like yourself. I do not care to continue this or even bother with this song and dance anymore.

    I will no longer engage you in this discussion or any other and I encourage others to do the same.

    Any other valuable and deep cliche?

    Cliche, perhaps, but also true. How about this one: “Our system may not be perfect, but we don’t have to build a wall to keep our people in”


    Quote Comment
  3. 503
    Jack Celliers Says:

            DV82XL said:

    This clown isn’t a Marxist-Leninist, he’s just a motor-mouth. He shown no understanding of Marxist-Leninist theory, dialectical materialism, or the historical roots of the movement. In the old days I crossed verbal swords with intellectual communists in university, and this guy couldn’t hold their shoes.

    Hum… look at this: “I don’t debate with communists as a rule”. This was a couple of comments ago, now it is: “In the old days I crossed verbal swords with intellectual communists in university”. Very reliable.

    Besides, I wonder why there is not a single religious freak, fascist, or any kind of anti-Marxist who won’t claim to know more about Marxism than you, not forgetting to mention “Marxist-Leninist theory”, “dialectical materialism” and the “historical roots of the movement”. It’s some fascinating thing. Of course, they tell the same to every Marxist (or what they think is a Marxist) they talk to: “there are some intelligent commies, but you are the last dumb”.

    By the way, what part of “Marxist-Leninist theory” have we discussed here so that you can say I have no knowledge about it? What the hell has “the historical roots of the movement” to do with the subject?? And you really want to engage in a discussion about what dialectical materialism is? Of course you don’t, but mentioning en passant it is a handy (and cheap) way to show your deep knowledge about something, knowledge you will never have to prove.

    I expected more, really.


    Quote Comment
  4. 504
    Jack Celliers Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    I see so this really is not just about the enviornmental issue, but that’s just a small part. In reality, the enviornmental problems are just another issue that can be solved with communism, the others being every social and economic and security problem in existence. In reality this is a social warfare issue that involves the few rich who cause all the problems…

    I think I understand what you stand for and what you are all about.

    As a supporter of the free market of both commodities and ideas, I respect your right to your opinion. As a human and a person with some knowledge in this area I have no respect for your opinion or you personally or others like yourself.

    I do not care to continue this or even bother with this song and dance anymore.

    I will no longer engage you in this discussion or any other and I encourage others to do the same.

    Cliche, perhaps, but also true. How about this one: “Our system may not be perfect, but we don’t have to build a wall to keep our people in”

    Thanks very much for “respecting my right”, but I own that right so I don’t care about your “respect”. Regarding your personal respect for me… I think I can live without that, don’t worry

    I only wanted to discuss the issue presented here. Of course there are political implications, and certainly from a Marxist point of view there will be a particular opinion. But there are (I’m telling you, because evidently you don’t know) smart ways to deal with energy crisis even in a capitalist market. Again I mention Norway (not a Marxist state) as a good example of how to manage oil markets.

    But there is no interest in that, because the guy telling this happens to be a Marxist, who by the way does not know anything about Marxism. Delicious.

    Have a nice day, guys.


    Quote Comment
  5. 505
    mlp Says:

            Justice said:

    Give the buses wireless, give them traffic signal priority, give them special lanes wherever you can, but give it to EVERYONE. That’s essentially what they do in Switzerland. Switzerland is a wealthy nation, and they refit their cities for mass transit. People use it.

    Long-distance buses have started offering wifi on the east coast — some friends of mine were blogging from it during a recent trip between NYC and Boston. Sounded very relaxing and fun! I recently went from Boston to NYC by train and there was no wifi but it was still a nice low-stress trip and easier than driving or flying would have been.


    Quote Comment
  6. 506
    Jason Lee Says:

    I was surfing the web and ran across your web site. My name is Jason Lee and I have strong ties to the Pacific Ocean, I was raised in both Hawaii and California. In the 60s I started SCUBA diving and by the 70s I spent some time as a commercial diver – I have watched life in the Pacific Ocean die away.

    I am writing to you because my hope is for the oceans of the world. I am working with a new technology that can take any water and clean millions of gallons per day per plant. The process is hot-fusion with hydrogen. Hydrogen being the most abundant element in the universe and consequently it is the most inexpensive fuel on earth. We have all seen ads on television promoting the need for clean energy, yet all of the sources I have followed were promoting unrealistic solutions for they are dependent on weather and are not designed to generate enough power to justify the expense.

    With gasoline and diesel fuel prices jumping to all time highs, all of America is feeling the pinch. We are not addicted to foreign oil; we are addicted to the lifestyle that is based upon consuming a depleting resource. The oil companies want us to panic and let them drill everywhere. Solar and wind technologies are dependent on the weather and still can’t produce enough electricity to be considered seriously. People are afraid of nuclear power because of the radioactive waste and control problems.

    For the past 50 years the government has invested over a trillion dollars in research for the development of hydrogen fusion because it is not a depleting resource, and they were not successful in gaining an economic answer. But, what if a different direction changed all of that?

    Hot-fusion with hydrogen can generate temperatures that rival the sun. Unfortunately, past research has not yielded economically feasible solutions. I am sitting on patent pending technology whose method of operation has already been proven by prominent nuclear physics labs. It needs to have production development and testing. Instead of using inefficient magnetic confinement, this one uses an alternating current particle accelerator that enables the technology to control the burn to as little as 1/50,000 of a second. Instead of using having to use heavy hydrogen only, this one can use plain or light hydrogen so expensive concentration of special fuels is not needed.

    The reactor creates steam to operate steam turbines for generators of electricity. It also can be made into a giant desalinization plant. Pollutants can be recycled or molecularly altered at the atomic level into inert elements. Yes, by altering contaminants, including radioactive waste, it would be possible to process hazardous waste into non hazardous wastes while generating electricity from a nonpolluting fuel. Radioactive wastes can be recycled into non radioactive materials. Ocean water can be used to produce cheap distilled water for agricultural use and human consumption. It can be piped from ocean side areas into areas where it can be used by man for drinking, agriculture, or to make arid areas of the planet habitable.

    If I have tickled your imagination with a cure for some of man’s problems that have led to the planet’s problems, I hope to hear from you. We are seeking money from non-government sources as this technology can also be used for military purposes. Our feeling is that this technology should be reserved for humanitarian purposes including fulfilling a need of supplying clean inexpensive energy.

    I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

    Sincerely,
    Jason Lee


    Quote Comment
  7. 507
    Garry Morgan Says:

    It is true nuclear energy is very mature, and so is the NEI’s quest to build more reactors. The atomic bomb is very mature, so is nuclear waste. Another very mature fact, the NEI does not tell the truth, neither do you. Very Propagandicious of you in your criticism of environmentalists. Expecting the truth from the NEI is like expecting socialists to promote capitalism.


    Quote Comment
  8. 508
    DV82XL Says:

            Garry Morgan said:

    It is true nuclear energy is very mature, and so is the NEI’s quest to build more reactors. The atomic bomb is very mature, so is nuclear waste. Another very mature fact, the NEI does not tell the truth, neither do you. Very Propagandicious of you in your criticism of environmentalists. Expecting the truth from the NEI is like expecting socialists to promote capitalism.

    Oh please! Do you really think this sort of hyperbole will make a favorable impression on people here? It is you that are the propagandist sir. Making open statements and veiled accusations is exactly the sort of behavior that we have come to expect from your kind since they know that none of their arguments can stand the harsh light of examination by the facts.

    What is worse is that apparently you are an educated man and according to your website served for 10 years, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Hollow statements like you made above are both beneath you, and demonstrate your utter contempt for the readers here.

    Go through the leading post and marshal some decent arguments against the points, if you have them. But be aware that I am a trained scientist with many,many years of industrial experience under my belt, as do many of my colleagues here, and you will not get away with statements you cannot prove.


    Quote Comment
  9. 509
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Garry Morgan said:

    It is true nuclear energy is very mature, and so is the NEI’s quest to build more reactors. The atomic bomb is very mature, so is nuclear waste. Another very mature fact, the NEI does not tell the truth, neither do you. Very Propagandicious of you in your criticism of environmentalists. Expecting the truth from the NEI is like expecting socialists to promote capitalism.

    Nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons are related in exactly the same way that incendiary bombs and candle flames are – they both use the same basic reaction. Atomic bombs have killed far fewer than incendiary weapons have in even a single incident.

    Power reactors are all but useless for creating nuclear weapons. A modern light water reactor produces spent fuel which is far too contaminated with Pu-240 to make an effective weapon. About the only thing a power reactor could possibly be used for in a weapons program is the possibility of breeding tritium, but that’s hardly relevant since it can be acquired by other means and is not a necessity to produce a weapon.

    What nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants have in common is one thing which makes them the be-all-end-all: Energy density. A nuclear bomb is the ultimate weapon of destruction becasue it packs such energy density. A nuclear reactor is the ultimate instrument of producing bountiful energy becasue it also has enormous energy density.

    The NEI is made up of nuclear companies and thus they have a vested interest. This is understood. It does not mean they are liars in general. There are plenty of groups lobbying for wind or gas or other energy forms that have much greater funding than NEI and much worse of a reputation in terms of honesty and motivation.

    I support nuclear energy because of the good it can do for humanity and for the enviornment. I don’t support it because I have a direct financial role in it. You might hate this, but there are others like me, we’re a group of honest, intelligent, forward-thinking nuclear energy supporters. We don’t necessarily have a stake in the industry but we care about society, about the enviornment, about human progress and about the security and availability of energy.


    Quote Comment
  10. 510
    phebe Says:

    THANKS GOD NOT EVERYBODY THINKS LIKE YOU!!


    Quote Comment
  11. 511
    DV82XL Says:

            phebe said:

    THANKS GOD NOT EVERYBODY THINKS LIKE YOU!!

    Just a spammer. Boy is that ever lame.


    Quote Comment
  12. 512
    rollinginsanity Says:

    The current economic system and environmentalism are mutually exclusive. One or the other, and I don’t think we have the knowledge to go back and live on the land. Not that it was ever very good for humans to live on the land. The only real options are:

    Keep going the way we are going and hope for the best, that all forces (including our pollution) ballance out and not too much damage is done.

    Change our economic system to one that environmentalism will compliment (huge task, I think it’s pretty impossible)

    Or somehow make environmentalism more economocally viable. (Again, I don’t know how that will happen).


    Quote Comment
  13. 513
    DV82XL Says:

            rollinginsanity said:

    The current economic system and environmentalism are mutually exclusive. One or the other, and I don’t think we have the knowledge to go back and live on the land.

    See that’s the BIG LIE – the fact is we can have our cake and eat it too, all that is needed is cheap, abundant energy. We have the technology available in the form of nuclear fission, in fact we have had it for the last half-century, even most of the ‘new generation’ reactors had examples running in the 1950′s!

    Nuclear power reactors each have an output similar to coal power stations, namely around 1000 MW. There are now about 440 nuclear reactors worldwide delivering about 2,500 TWh per year, around a fifth of world electricity consumption. The numbers of nuclear power stations built in each country depends on its natural resources, principally coal and oil. France, which lacks these resources and is unwilling to become dependent on imports, generates about eighty percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors. It is unlikely to rise higher than this because nuclear reactors take time to get started and therefore cannot react quickly when there is a sudden demand. They are best suited to supply the base load, supplemented by other methods of generation (such as gas power stations) to handle the fluctuations in demand. Many other countries generate around fifty percent of their electricity from nuclear power, and now nuclear has outstripped coal in Western Europe. There is thus no doubt that nuclear power stations are able to provide for the world’s energy needs.

    Please note that ALL of the issues that detractors like to wave about when nuclear energy comes up HAVE SOLUTIONS right off the shelf: The wastes can be reprocessed as they are in France and several other countries; we are not running out of nuclear fuel -there is enough to last us for as long as we inhabit this world; nuclear weapons are not made with power reactors, nor do such reactors blow up.

    The only thing standing in the way of nuclear energy is politics and lies, it’s that simple.


    Quote Comment
  14. 514
    rollinginsanity Says:

            DV82XL said:

    See that’s the BIG LIE – the fact is we can have our cake and eat it too, all that is needed is cheap, abundant energy. We have the technology available in the form of nuclear fission, in fact we have had it for the last half-century, even most of the ‘new generation’ reactors had examples running in the 1950′s!

    My mistake, I did forget about Nuclear. I tend to just forget about nuclear, but it is a perfectly valid source of power. Just thinking about it, it would be a cheaper and easier idea researching even better ways of disposing nuclear waste instead of finding alternate fuels.


    Quote Comment
  15. 515
    DV82XL Says:

            rollinginsanity said:

    My mistake, I did forget about Nuclear. I tend to just forget about nuclear, but it is a perfectly valid source of power. Just thinking about it, it would be a cheaper and easier idea researching even better ways of disposing nuclear waste instead of finding alternate fuels.

    There are several valid ways of dealing with spent fuel. Reprocessing removes the transuranics that act as neutron poisons in the reactor. What you are left with is new fuel and a small bit of material (about a golf balls worth from every 1000kg) This has been practiced, most notably in France, for decades. The fact is, our ‘once through and bury it’ cycle is very wasteful of good nuclear fuel.

    The other option is to use liquid core nuclear reactors, a technology that had working examples in the 50′s and 60′s, which are so effective at burning their fuel, that they leave very little waste at all.

    It’s all there, just waiting for the political will to deploy it.


    Quote Comment
  16. 516
    rollinginsanity Says:

            DV82XL said:

    There are several valid ways of dealing with spent fuel. Reprocessing removes the transuranics that act as neutron poisons in the reactor. What you are left with is new fuel and a small bit of material (about a golf balls worth from every 1000kg) This has been practiced, most notably in France, for decades. The fact is, our ‘once through and bury it’ cycle is very wasteful of good nuclear fuel.

    The other option is to use liquid core nuclear reactors, a technology that had working examples in the 50′s and 60′s, which are so effective at burning their fuel, that they leave very little waste at all.

    It’s all there, just waiting for the political will to deploy it.

    Thankyou very much for the little informative conversation. I personally have no fears of nuclear power, but in Australia where I live Nuclear power is opposed quite heavily. The incident of Chernobyl is often touted as the reason why not, but people don’t seem to understand that chernobyl was 95% human error and 5% dodgy Soviet reactor design.


    Quote Comment
  17. 517
    DV82XL Says:

            rollinginsanity said:

    Thankyou very much for the little informative conversation. I personally have no fears of nuclear power, but in Australia where I live Nuclear power is opposed quite heavily. The incident of Chernobyl is often touted as the reason why not, but people don’t seem to understand that chernobyl was 95% human error and 5% dodgy Soviet reactor design.

    Ya, except I would put it at 80% criminal stupidity and 20% shoddy reactor, but that’s all moot. The bottom line is that there is no reactors of that type anywhere outside of the old U.S.S.R. and the ones there are all scheduled to be decommissioned in the near future.


    Quote Comment
  18. 518
    ron Says:

    I was told by somebody in industry as a passing remark (but they could not remember source when asked) that a large cargo ship or tanker travelling across the ocean puts more pollution in to the sea & more c02 that all the cars in the UK in one year! I would love to see the figures for this from an official source…


    Quote Comment
  19. 519
    Pragmaticlese Says:

            Green Is The Color Of Life said:

    Well I want to ask something and that is what if capitalism is the only system that has worked?

    Maybe it has but it is such a horrible system for people and the environment maybe we need to get something else to work.

    Yes, I admit that Marx was wrong on some things. I have studied Marx and where he thinks a big worldwide society is the way to do it, he was wrong. Communal living, however, is right. The difference is it needs to be on a local scale and we need to do away with our reliance on big societies and big technology. We should have technology, yes, but we need to change how we think of success. Capitalism might have a small place but basically we need to move back to small villages and small regional cities with limited trade when needed. We need to redefine success and be more modest and less materialistic.

    It’s not communism. It is more like multiple communical minimal localisms. It is the best of all worlds and it’s fair, modest and human and earth centered.

    We need to change the way we think and I already see it happening. More organics, more local farms, more agriculture, less oil, less energy, less consumption. More community and more family. Lets think of terms like ‘clan’ and ‘village’ as the basis.

    Does this mean no electricity? No, of course not. Think of electricity generated in your little village by burning biomass and used only sparingly for small lights and that kind of thing.

    We need technology but we don’t need so much. We need as little as we can possibly get by with.

    This system is what we should work for and I believe if we all work hard enough we can do it.

    So what if we save the environment with nuclear power and technology? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose! It’s just more of the same. Less modesty and less restraint.

    This needs to be about how we change the way we live and define our lives!

    Do you seriously think that this is even remotely viable?

    There are an absolute myriad of issues I could raise here, but I’ll go with one that most people would probably overlook: population. First of all, there is absolutely no way you’ll feed earth’s current population on organic agriculture. It’s not even remotely possible. But put that aside for a moment, do you know what the population of earth is? Overpopulation has long been cited as potentially disastrous, both for humanity and the earth, but growth is finally slowing and projected to level out. If you break down population growth rate by country, you’ll find that the most affluent societies have slowed the most (enough that in some cases they now actually worry about “demographic collapse!) Whereas in more “humble” agrarian societies, it remains high. Put aside the fact that in places where people live the closest to your “utopian” vision they tend to have the lowest qualities of life, if we all somehow went back to that level of society, population would explode, starving people would carve up the grasslands and forests in an attempt to feed their families, and everyone and everything would be in a much worse situation.


    Quote Comment
  20. 520
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I’d like to point something else out: Living a “humble” life in a “humble” society, where everyone takes the absolute minimum and has enough to live a reasonably healthy and safe life, but not even a tiny big more than they need to do so will only work if 100% of the citizens agree to this and also must never deviate from the principle of always taking only what is needed and never even a tiny bit more.

    In such a society, if one person becomes enterprising and tries to achieve more or to have more then is absolutely needed, they will end up succeeding more than others. The system favors those who will use their creativity, skill or drive to go a little bit further than the minimum and as soon as that gets rolling, people realize that it’s kinda nice to build an addition to their home to have some more space or to go and get some stuff they might not absolutely need.

    Once this happens, the ideal of everyone living in modest little cottages that are exactly as large as they need for basic shelter and not a square inch larger completely breaks down. Those with drive and incentive to do more, to have more, to make more will do better and the ones who spend their time trying to do as little as they can get swept under.

    How do you prevent this? Simple you must use force and draconian measures. Historically, every society that attempts to institute Marxist systems and absolute economic equality does this because they have to – it is the only way such a system has any chance of working.

    In practice, you must keep a very close eye on everyone, and the moment anyone takes even the smallest action that is not in line with the societal plan or begins to do anything that might somehow oppose the instituted social order, they are immediately given the harshest punishment possible.

    In any society that attempts to actually have true Marxism, true social and economic equality, there is, by necessity the mass use of execution, often immediate and without trial. The threat posed by anyone who does not conform is so great that you can’t have a trail system in which there is innocence until proven guilty – the burden must be on the other side. Besides, it’s society that matters, not the individual, so if a few innocents get killed in the process, it’s worth it for the greater good.

    And this is why there are death squads in any system that has such planned equality. People are dragged out of their homes and shot at even the allegation of not supporting the state. Stalin did it, Lenin did it, Mao did it and even the various darling Marxists who people put on T-shirts lived by this idea. Ho Chi Mein, Che Guevara were all loyally committed to deadly force in keeping economic equality.


    Quote Comment
  21. 521
    David Craig Says:

    One at a time:

    10. A degree of truth in the main premise – but it’s way too late to focus on any one thing, or even on just the noticeable items. The narrower the focus, the more intense the pain. Yes, coal is the worst case – but ceasing all coal production would be disastrous for those involved, while all the other sources go unchecked.

    9. Well, it would be nice if we didn’t have to change anything at all – but it’s not practical or likely. All our infrastructure is going to have to change – any way; it has a limited lifespan, and will need to be replaced. Why not replace it to suit the 21st cntury, not the 20th? An infrastructure has always changed, over time. The mistake is to imgine that the current setup is somehow ideal.

    8. ” “Natural” “Organic” and “Bio” do not mean “good.”” So what? Nothing to do with environmentalism.

    7. Eh? It’s the business-as usual crowd who are the wildest optimists.

    6. Well, duh! But we are perfectly entitled to criticise plain bad behaviour – especially when there are plenty of alternatives.

    5. Bollocks. Taxation can be progressive, caps are neutral (but tend to weigh heaviest on the most profligate). Price rises certainly are regressive.

    4. More nonsense. A purely American conceit, it would seem. Most of the rest of the world acknowledges that we can’t always get what we want.

    3. Oh yeah? Tell that to the European railways. Do the huge and persistent subsidies on the US arms industry have the effects you describe?

    2. No, every tiny effect isn’t worth much effort. But every class of effort that is excluded, increases the degree of effort required on everything else. At the heart of this is the need for the broadest possible action, to share out the costs. That puts a personal responsibilty on everyone to do what they can – even if it’s just a bit.

    1. A really doozy,this one. Sacrificing the envionment is the surest way to destroy the economy.


    Quote Comment
  22. 522
    mr d Says:

    I don’t like nuclear power , but I am coming to the conclusion that a number of countries will have to end up building more nuclear plants if we are going to mitigate the affects of global warming . For some countries “cleaner ” sources like solar,hydro, geothermal . wind or wave are not practical. In that case I think nukes are a better alternative than coal plants . However, I notice you haven’t mentioned geothermal as a viable alternative to nukes. I am sure if enough effort is expended that this can be a very effective and cheaper alternative to nukes.its not got base load concerns and its pretty much risk free, no waste, very clean .
    My main objections to nuclear plants are
    1. Terrorist threat.Or conventional war target. You can’t tell me that reactors will be able to resist a guided missile or penetrating bomb attack by a hostile country .
    2. Cost. I’ve heard figures of five to ten billion for new generation reactors. Of course , its almost impossible to know the true cost of a reactor. if we factor in ongoing wartime level security at all reactors for as long as there is a terrorist threat , cleanup costs , the potential cost of any containment breach , the costs of storing waste ( security needed for 250,000 years , can we guarantee that ?). All too often quoted costs are not holistic and are skewed towards giving a rosier picture of the potential efficiences and safety of nukes , just as this site seems to overlook a few very pertinent concerns about nukes.
    3I think that there are several other avenues that can prove more cost effective and are certainly much safer. Geothermal. Wind , wave, solar .
    4.A potentially mentally fragile society. The long term worry of being surrounded by very ripe targets creates an atmosphere of paranoia , I never really felt safe in the UK as no one was further away than 70 miles from a nuclear power plant. Those of us who grew up in the 50s with mock air raid drills and nuclear shelter evacuations know just how paranoid the 50s turned out to be .
    6. Are reactors truly quake, hurricane and volcano proof ? . Government has to be very careful as to where it situates these plants.
    7. Apart from one or two isolated cases, Nuclear hasn’t made a profit so far , its been heavily subsidised , operators want govt to absolve them of any accidents that take place.
    8. Time and cost overruns , any new complex technology always has teething troubles and nuclear is no exception, historically the optimistic claims that were made of the technology have not eventuated.
    9. I would rather have us develop many smaller more efficient power plants spread over an area , than rely on large power plants that can be taken out . although its probably seems more efficient to build one big plant I think that its a good thing if more of us generate our own power as society would be able to function much more efficiently in an emergency such as a major quake or hurricane . also we maintain independence from the big utilities , they can buy back our power , it works well here in australia.
    10 . Proliferation. Look at the worry we are having over Iran . its too easy for a friend to become an enemy and if that enemy has nuclear technology then the chances are that they can create bombs if they make enough effort.
    11. people don’t want to live next to reactors, for safety reasons- real or imagined – also they have to be situated near water sources, if they are situated in remote spots ( and here in Austalia most remote spots are arid ) then the large costs of linking them to the grid have to be factored in, I believe this is one of the chief costs entailed when using geothermal.
    12.What do we do if our society breaks down ( say is decimated by plague,) and the plants can no longer be looked after ? Eventually they would leak and pollute and cause major catastrophe.
    As I said before, its inevitable that we have more nuclear plants , but lets try to look holistically at any situation before we jump into the nuclear solution. we have only just begun to exploit natures forces to generate power, think how much further we would be along the road to clean energy if some of the billions spent on refining nuclear reactors had instead been used to develop geothermal or wind ?


    Quote Comment
  23. 523
    DV82XL Says:

    I will cover your objection to nuclear energy first. In order:

    1. Several studies have examined the possibility of attacks by a large aircraft on reactor containment buildings. The US Department of Energy sponsored an independent computer-modeling study of the effects of a fully fueled Boeing 767-400 hitting the reactor containment vessel. Under none of the possible scenarios was containment breached. Only ‘bunker busting’ ordnance would be capable – after several direct strikes – of penetrating the amount of reinforced concrete that surrounds reactors. And besides, terrorists have already demonstrated that they prefer large, high visibility, soft targets with maximum human casualties rather than well-guarded, isolated, low-population targets.

    2. With all power generation technology, the cost of electricity depends upon the investment in construction (including interest on capital loans), fuel, management and operation. Like wind, solar and hydroelectric dams, the principal costs of nuclear lie in construction. Acquisition of uranium accounts for only about 10 per cent of the price of total costs, so nuclear power is not as vulnerable to fluctuations in the price of fuel as gas and oil generation.

    A worst-case analysis conducted for the UK Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department of Business and Enterprise), which was accepted by Greenpeace, shows nuclear-generated electricity to be only marginally more expensive than gas (before the late-2007 hike in gas prices), and 10 to 20 times cheaper than onshore and offshore wind. With expected carbon-pricing penalties for gas and coal, nuclear power will be considerably cheaper than all the alternatives

    3. California’s mandate for “green” power technology has demonstrated for all to see that the most highly acclaimed renewable energy technologies are a sham. Worse, for environmentalists, the large quantities of electricity generated by the more productive of the renewable technologies—quantities that have made them indispensable to Californians during their current electricity crisis—have converted these types of renewable energy into environmental threats in their own right.

    4. I’m a member of the ‘Duck-and-Cover’ generation too, old man, and without putting too fine a point on it we are not the ones that will suffer the worst impacts of global warming, because by then we will likely be dead of old age. We cannot doom generations that follow because of the fears of our youth.

    5. You seemed to have missed or edited out

    6. Several nuclear power stations have had to ride out these types of events, and there has been no loss of containment and only very minor damage. Naturally there needs to be some forethought in the placement of these facilities, but that is true of big hydro, gas lines, and any other form of energy installation of significant size.

    7. The statement is wrong. Many NPP are operated as merchant generators, make a profit, and provide a return on investment. They also pay insurance premiums, and are by no means absolved of responsibility, financial or otherwise. Note that the Price-Anderson laws only apply to the U.S., similar laws are NOT in force in all countries.

    8. AECL has brought in their last seven nuclear reactor builds on, or before time, and on or under budget. This is public information, and you can go and look for yourself. What you write may be true in past cases, but the technology has matured to the point where most delays and added expenses can be avoided.

    9. The dream of distributed power is fantasy. 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 falls apart under any scrutiny 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 (FACTS) technology increases the number of control parameters. Accurate information on the state of the network and coordination between local control centres 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. Real, productive people need real, industrial-sized power. And, don’t even mention conservation. Conservation is no energy policy. Conservation is no more an energy plan than fasting is a food supply. Sure, greater efficiencies save energy, but we immediately have more uses for it.

    10. The fact is that weapons and reactors have nothing in common despite a ready emotional association between them, at least partly because of the common adjective “nuclear.” There is no evidence showing any nuclear weapons program anywhere in the world has ever leveraged civilian nuclear power to meet its ends. The technology and the fuels used a very different, and the so-called dual use arguments a specious given the international inspection regime. Countries that refuse inspection, do not have to hide weapons programs in any case.

    11. Australia has more than enough coastline to site NPP, and desalination is one of the activities that one can use waste heat for – a bonus I would think in an arid land.

    12. Most NPP and all newer ones are designed to allow for in situ entombment should it be necessary, there would likely be enough people left to do the job. However what you are concerned about is also true for every large chemical plant, every massive hydro dam, and any number of thing we have built in the last century, nuclear isn’t even the worse risk in that scenario.


    Quote Comment
  24. 524
    Lajuana Lammey Says:

    Nice blog post! Well done.


    Quote Comment
  25. 525
    Links for 04-02-2008 | Velcro City Tourist Board Says:

    [...] 7 – The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn [...]


    Quote Comment
  26. 526
    ronangel Says:

    Please have a look at & sign my petition
    Only the government can see details of signers.
    Render safe, or remove wreck of liberty ship SS Richard
    Montgomery of the coast sheerness Kent England. The ship sunk 67 years ago 20 august 1944 containing 1400 tons of high explosive some still in primed condition and libel to explode without warning. The wreck also may contain mustard gas or other chemical agents the existence of which cannot be confirmed or denied under a freedom of information enquiry.

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/13021

    (copy and paste url in to your browser)


    Quote Comment
  27. 527
    Anon Says:

    WTF does some stupid epetition (which politicians basically never take seriously) have to do with this?


    Quote Comment
  28. 528
    Cornwall Surfing Says:

    Does your site have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email.
    I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

    Also visit my web page: Cornwall Surfing


    Quote Comment
  29. 529
    ecommerce web design design Says:

    Howdy would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then
    most. Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a fair price?
    Kudos, I appreciate it!


    Quote Comment
  30. 530
    ron Says:

    DepletedCranium.com Whois Record says godaddy.com I recomend them.


    Quote Comment

Pages: « 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 [11] Show All

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *

Please copy the string eEUqvT to the field below:

Protected by WP Anti Spam