The narrow mind of Greenpeace

Way back when I was just a novice environmentalist, Greenpeace seemed like a good idea. It published a decent newsletter, was drawing attention to otherwise neglected issues, and, while understandably suspicious of technology, seemed to have more than a grudging respect for science as a tool to preserve those things worse preserving. It was one of the few NGOs that received what little I could afford to donate to charitable causes. I don’t regret supporting them in the 80s, and not just because I shared the group’s desire to save the whales.

I still want to save the whales. I no longer support Greenpeace.

It’s one thing to present a reactionary response to anything that smacks of corporatism or lends itself to the centralization of power, seeing as any technology or plan so characterized tends to be bad for the health of ecosystems. But civilization long since passed the point of no return on the path to the Anthropocene. It’s no longer about choosing between good and bad options. It’s about minimizing the damage. This is something Greenpeace doesn’t grok any more, if it ever did.

Take nuclear power. Greenpeace was built on an anti-nuke platform, although it was largely in response to nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific. Members quickly embraced an anti-nuclear power position, though, and today they’re about as resolute on that one as anything else.

Greenpeace has always fought and will continue to fight vigorously against nuclear power because it is an unacceptable risk to the environment and to humanity. The only solution is to halt the expansion of all nuclear power, and for the shutdown of existing plants.

I, too, have problems with the nuclear power industry, mostly because its just too damn expensive and time-consuming to build, but also because of the political (as opposed to practical) challenges posed by waste disposal. But it’s the height of folly to demand the dismantling of nuclear plants with years or decades of useful life left in them until there’s enough renewable capacity to take up the slack, and/or we’ve made commensurate reductions in our consumption patterns. It’s also foolish to oppose any efforts to look into safer, potentially cheaper variations on the nuclear theme, like liquid fluoride thorium reactors, that could offer acceptable options in decades to come.

The fact is, we’re going to need every arrow in our quiver to address climate change, and there’s little doubt that existing nuclear power reactors will have to play a role. We can debate the economics and regulatory burdens of expanding that role, but blanket opposition to any and all forms of nuclear fission is irresponsible given the threat posed by a warming planet.

Similarly, there’s a long list of reasons why we shouldn’t trust Monsanto and the rest of the agri-chemical transnationals who are responsible for pushing genetically modified crops on the world’s farmers. So far, they have proven useful for the seed companies’ bottom lines and precious little else. But given the fact we are headed for somewhere close to 10 billion humans by the end of the century, it is now abundantly clear that the first wave of the Green Revolution is maxed out and will not be up to the task of supplying enough food. Not without some help from GM crops tailored to grow in places that used to be unsuitable or are loaded with essential nutrients that evolution didn’t manage to pack in on its own.

On this subject Greenpeace does not agree and has even gone to so far as to destroy research that might help get us closer to genuinely useful, as opposed to merely profitable, GM varieties of wheat. [UPDATE: In t his case, the variety being tested contained no foreign genes and offered a lower glycemic index and higher fiber content, both good ideas from a nutritional point of view and hardly worrisome from a health perspective.] Why? Because we don’t know enough about the technology yet?

“GM has never been proven safe to eat and once released in open experiments, it will contaminate. This is about the protection of our health, the protection of our environment and the protection of our daily bread.”

Just because history hasn’t painted a rosy picture of GMOs or nuclear power thus far is no reason to reject it wholesale. Yes, we should be vigilant and skeptical very skeptical in many cases. But we just might need one or both of them in some form to survive the rest of the 21st century.

These sort of things are not self-evident. One needs to have done more than cursory research into the subject matter to get a grip on them. But we’re not talking quantum chromodynamics. An organization such as Greenpeace has the resources to study them and figure out that the most responsible and reasonable approach is not binary. It’s complicated. Sometimes the best response is “yes, but only if…” or “no, unless…” I know it’s tough to launch a public relations campaign with sophisticated or complex messages. But opposing science and research is not the sort of strategy that will be useful in the coming years. And it’s time more of us called them on it, publicly. It would nice if Greenpeace could be a force for good again. Saving the whales was great. But as they say: What have you done for me lately?

Comments

  1. #1 sevandyk
    July 15, 2011

    I used to give about 5 dollars a month to them. I cancelled for the GMO reason.

    Got any alternatives I can give my little contribution to?

  2. #2 Fred Magyar
    July 15, 2011

    great post I agree with most of what you say! I have but one minor quibble, you say:

    “But given the fact we are headed for somewhere close to 10 billion humans by the end of the century,”

    There is no such given, as a matter of fact it is becoming ever more likely that due to the simple fact that we are encountering real physical resource limits such numbers will probably not be attained.

    To be clear, I am strongly in favor of finding ways to curtail and reverse population growth.

    I’m currently taking part in a private discussion group about human population dynamics and the consensus, based on rather hard to refute science and data is that our planet can in no way sustainably support more than about a billion or so humans in a resource limited and ecologically impoverished future.

    It appears there are a number of factors converging to create an almost perfect storm for a population crash in the not so distant future.

    Granted that in no way invalidates any of your other points.

    It seems that the times, though they may be a changing, we still haven’t found a way around the second law of thermodynamics. We have only temporarily managed to stay some of natures regulatory mechanisms by harvesting fossil fuel energy to fuel our civilization.

    As for nuclear energy it too depends on the existence of a highly complex industrial civilization for it to be built and maintained, it’s looking more and more as if that will no longer be possible either… And I won’t even get into the details of the EROEI of all the links in its entire supply chain.

    Cheers!

  3. #3 Alex Besogonov
    July 15, 2011

    Greenpeace is a bunch of clueless idiotic treehuggers. They do far more harm to the environment than help it.

    For example, recent Germany ban on future nuclear was a reaction to Greenpeace demonstrations. They staged ‘die-ins’: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/8472706/Anti-nuclear-die-in-on-Franco-German-border.html to show people that would die from radiation as a reaction to Fuchushima. Never mind, that so far Fuchushima has not caused any radiation-related deaths so far.

    And as a result they got the ban on nuclear reactors in Germany. Only… There’s nothing clean to replace them! New COAL and gas power plants are going to be built by 2020.

    But that’s OK. Germany will meet its obligation to lower CO2 emissions. Right? Yeah, sure.

    Or another joke – Greenpeace plan to replace nuclear energy. It not only assumes ‘pie-in-the-sky’ scenarios with radically cheaper alternative energy technologies, but also requires us to actually _lower_ global electricity consumption. Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

  4. #4 Class Moron
    July 15, 2011

    Don’t sell yourself short douche boy. You’re still a novice.

  5. #5 BlueRock
    July 15, 2011

    [Duplicate post with links removed as I've had other comments not get past moderation here when they contain links - Google the 'link redacted' text for source]

    Disappointing to see you join the knee-jerk anti-Greenpeace hysteria. Regardless of the merits or otherwise of actions taken by one small group in one country, it is nonsense to now rubbish a global organisation that probably does more than any in providing protection to the environment that we so desperately need.

    > …it’s the height of folly to demand the dismantling of nuclear plants with years or decades of useful life left in them …

    It’s the height of folly to continue running nukes that are located in highly vulnerable locations or that are vulnerable to catastrophic failure. Also, dismantling nukes – regardless of if there is serviceable life left in them – can and should stimulate massive investment in renewables. That is now happening in Germany (even more than they already were).

    * Germany says auf wiedersehen to nuclear power. Critics argue that Germany will hurt its economy by raising energy costs, replacing nuclear power with imports from France, and building more coal plants, thus increasing carbon emissions. The facts do not bear this out. [link redacted]

    > Not without some help from GM crops tailored to grow in places that used to be unsuitable…

    That’s what the GMO lobby keeps telling us. Where’s the *evidence*?

    * Failure to yield. The promise of higher yields from GM crops has proven to be empty. [link redacted]

    * Organic farming produces the same yields of corn and soybeans as does conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides, a review of a 22-year farming trial study concludes. [link redacted]

    Fact is, there is no shortage of food to feed all 7 billion of us. The only problem is that the top 1 billion scrape a lot of it in the trash because they have more than they need.

    Disappointing response, James.

  6. #6 rork
    July 15, 2011

    Neither this article nor the one linked to says what the damned genetic modification in question was.
    Searching about, it seems to be “Round-up” resistance.

    “Failure to yield”: Heard about cotton with the Bt gene? I thought it was working out for the farmers. Whether the yield is higher depends on what I compare to. Comparing to folks flying planes to spray real Bt, perhaps little is gained. But if I compare to what the same field produced previously (there were no planes), perhaps a huge difference.

  7. #7 Raging Bee
    July 15, 2011

    For example, recent Germany ban on future nuclear was a reaction to Greenpeace demonstrations.

    Um, no, it was a reaction to the nuclear charlie-foxtrot at Fukushima. When a reactor threatens to melt down and is releasing radiation and they can’t bring in enough water to keep it under control after being completely “shut down,” that kinda looks bad regardless of what Greenpeace does. Also, the folks at TEPCO started acting just as incomptent and dishonest as any good ol’ American nuclear bigwig, which only reinforced us “lefty treehuggers’” concerns about governments’ and corporations’ willingness to manage nuclear power the way it needs to be managed.

    Greenpeace may be stupid, but blaming them for the obvious, sometimes tragi-farcical, problems of nuke-biz, is even stupider.

  8. #8 John Stumbles
    July 15, 2011

    OK this is *Science*Blogs – yes? – so let’s get evidence-based here!
    I don’t know what you’ve got over in the US of A where SB seems to be based but on this side of the pond we have a physicist – David MacKay – who has published[1] an analysis of UK energy consumption broken into categories: Cars, Planes, Heating and cooling, Light, Gadgets, Food and farming, Stuff and Public services, and non-fossil energy sources: Wind, Solar, Hydro, Offshore wind, Wave, Tide and Geothermal, and addresses the question “Can we live on renewables?”. MacKay considers possible changes to transport, smarter heating, efficient electricity use, sustainable fossil fuels, nuclear, and living on other countries’ renewables, and produces a handful of sample plans – including some with and some without nuclear.

    MacKay states clearly that he is not proposing any particular plan, except the meta-plan that any plan one proposes should add up!

    So rather than criticising Greenpeace (or anyone else) for flatly opposing all nuclear power, let us challenge them to show us their quantified plan for a nuclear-free and fossil-free energy system.

    With bonus points for being remotely practicable. : – )

    [1] http://www.withouthotair.com/

  9. #9 John Stumbles
    July 15, 2011

    PS George Monbiot has also written quite outspokenly (for a renowned environmentalist) about nuclear power, e.g. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/pro-nuclear-japan-fukushima and recently debated the topic with Greenpeace.

  10. #10 John Stumbles
    July 15, 2011

    PPS with regard to GM and world food supplies I suspect that the world’s poorest people who need better food supplies most are too poor to afford GM even if it would help them, and actually the problems include:

    * poor agricultural practices, improvements to which would vastly improve production without any GM-type high-tech

    * economic pressures: many third-world countries are saddled with huge international debts (often incurred by corrupt dictatorships) resulting in tax burdens on poor citizens who are obliged to grow cash-crops for export at the expense of food crops for themselves and their families and communities.

    From the little I know the GM industry is targetting wealthier industrial agriculture which already spends huge amounts on fertilisers, weedkillers and pesticides.

  11. #11 Jesse
    July 15, 2011

    Yeah, I have to say that the opposition to GM crops and nuclear isn’t just knee-jerk stuff. There are (as you concede) very real concerns. But let me lay out a few:

    – Safety. In the US all I have to prove is that a given crop is equivalent to a current one. There is no precautionary principle here. I don’t think that you’re too likely to have a real issue myself, but given also that Monsanto et al are in this for the money, I wouldn’t doubt that corners will be cut. If there were independent testing of foods (or at least double blinds) a la drugs that would go a long way.

    – Intellectual property. Farmers have saved seeds since there was farming. Now they aren’t allowed to do it. Now, as it is, I can’t patent a breed of dog and I can’t patent genes (this was just decided in the courts here in the US) that I didn’t invent. (This has more to do with testing for genetic disease in humans, however). In any case, the problem is that you have GM rapeseed/canola “volunteering” in various places and possibly getting all over the place. And given what we know now about gene transfer, and how it can be very hard to control in the wild, I am not sure that the current system of intellectual property law lends itself terribly well to agriculture. There are a couple of issues here around control of food supply and the like.

    – Supply. No modern (i.e. industrial age) famine has ever been caused by supply issues. (See: Amartya Sen). The problem is distribution and affordability. Even as far back as the Irish famine the problem was not that there was not enough food, the problem was that the Irish didn’t have any money and you need money to buy food. (You can’t instantly change crops and if you aren’t paid enough for labor to buy food you starve). In Bangladesh something similar happened — the food was there but it was much more profitable to sell it to people who had money. The Bangladeshis (a lot of them) had no money. To put it another way, if I can sell rice for $1 per bushel in the U.S. and make $1 billion I have zero incentive to sell it in Bangladesh for 50 cents per bushel and make only, say, $300 million. It is not clear to me that GM foods have anything to do with this.

    – Energy. The idea that we’re stuck with using nuclear is, as they say, not necessarily so. We changed our whole consumption patterns in the US in short order after WW II, and we changed them in even shorter order leading up to the war. It is possible to have radical changes, if you can get people to sign on. It was patriotic duty in 1943 to recycle. It was your patriotic duty to save on gas by not driving, saving, and re-using stuff for several years. Now you’re a freaky tree-hugger. The only difference is in the framing. (If anything the technological advances have made doing these things easier).

    Getting functional nuclear power took the Manhattan project. (While the program was for bombs, the efficient reactor technologies emerged from there, partly so we could build more bombs). As a percentage of the economy that was actually larger than a similarly-sized project would be now, by an order of magnitude at least. For about the price of a current nuclear plant (say $10 billion+) I can launch, with current technology, a solar plant to freaking orbit and even with the power losses beam the energy via microwaves to earth and supply a small town. But there is no research funded at that scale to doing something like that, to increase it’s efficiency. The Manhattan Project is why a goodly chunk of New Mexico has anyone living there at all. A similar project for solar — or anything else– could do wonders. Heck, the Iraq war has sunk enough money to build a megawatt-scale solar plant in space with current technology.

    I don’t think space-based solar is the answer, (it will be part of it I hope) but I also think it’s important to remember just how far behind we are — and it is manifestly not because of Greenpeace. Greenpeace didn’t say we should protect fossil fuel supplies (including coal) and develop nothing else. Greenpeace didn’t say that digging up coal was ever and always the answer. Greenpeace didn’t ask Congress to cut funding for alternative transportation methods (some of which were relatively new technologies, some not). I think Greenpeace would be thrilled to death if someone said “I want to build an electric maglev from New York to Chicago.”

    I have my differences with Greenpeace on occasion. (I think they really have to re-think a lot of issues surrounding class and race, for instance). But I think there is a tendency to assume that a lot of them are anti-technology. I found that to not be the case– they just aren’t technophiles. Quite the contrary. Their technological optimism is just placed in things that don’t have lobbying firms on the scale that exists for current players. But it isn’t any more irrational than the “peaceful atom” movies I saw as a child.

  12. #12 BlueRock
    July 15, 2011

    John Stumbles:

    > David MacKay … www. withouthotair . com/

    Despite his claims of impartiality, MacKay produced a very biased and unreliable screed that is strongly pro-nuke and anti-renewable. See http://thisbluerock.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/david-mackays-sustainable-energy-without-the-hot-air-perhaps-a-little-hot-air-2/

    > George Monbiot has also written quite outspokenly (for a renowned environmentalist) about nuclear power,

    His output since Fukushima has been little more than a propaganda campaign for the nuke industry. There’s a reason for that. He’s being tutored on energy by his old school chemistry teacher, Malcolm Grimston, who subsequently moved on to become a booster for the British nuclear industry. The web is littered with articles that absolutely shred Monbiot’s nonsense on nukes and radiation. He is not a credible commentator.

  13. #13 Alan
    July 15, 2011

    I was a supporter of GP during the 70′s when they were fighting atmospheric testing and rainforest plunder. They lost my support 20yrs ago when they started campaigning against chlorine in the water, a public health mesure that has saved more lives than anything else I can think of.

    GP have not been an environmental organisation for decades, they are a neo-luddite organisation. This doensn’t mean that they are wrong about everything but I cannot support an organistion that threw out science and logic in favour of zealotry and dogma.

  14. #14 Freerefill
    July 16, 2011

    My two cents…

    You know, nuclear radiation is bad. Clearly. I don’t think anyone will dispute that (except Ann Coulter, but I don’t consider her human for issues of personal sanity). However, it is a very reliable and powerful source of energy which, if harnessed correctly, can be very clean and safe. It’s a lot like flying in an airplane: crunch the numbers and it’s one of the best ways to travel… but if something goes wrong, you’re screwed.

    So, should we tear down all nuclear power plants? No. To do so would require replacements. And, there are alternatives, but each one has their downside: wind and solar take up a lot of space, are weather-dependent, and aren’t as efficient when considering land area per output. Hydroelectric is crazy awesome, but it can’t be applied everywhere, and usually demands restructuring the local environment (guess who doesn’t like that? Greenpeace.) I think we can agree that coal and oil need to go away. So what are we left with? Precious few options, I’m afraid. Nuclear power really is the best. And if we spent real money trying to perfect the process, we could make it better. It’ll last long enough to keep humanity going after our fossil fuels run out, until we can come up with something better (fusion? Oh, what a lovely day that would be…). And yes, I am all for something better.

    As for the crops, I have nothing against those. Genetic engineering has such a stigma nowadays, but humanity has been artificially selecting plants and animals for thousands of years!! Genetic engineering is just a more precise way of doing it; fiddling with the genetic code rather than trying to select from phenotypes. And yes, the science and technology of genetics is still relatively young, but we are advancing rapidly. Does that mean I think all genetically modified foods are A-OK? Hell no! But I know that they -are- required to pass the same tests as any other foods, and I know that they can produce higher yields at a lower cost and still contain higher nutritional values. This technology will be vital as the population grows; there can be no argument otherwise.

    I’d like to see alternatives to nuclear power and genetically modified foods.. but they are, far and above, the best options available until new science and technology appears. And if we accept them without stigma or bias, we can approach them boldly and fix the problems that they have. I respect the concept of defending the environment, but doing so without considering the consequences is, in my opinion, foolish. If Greenpeace wants to save the planet, they should put those donations toward scientific investigation and try to fix the problems that they find, not hinder the attempts of real scientists attempting to do just that.

  15. #15 Andrew Davies
    July 16, 2011

    Hi there,

    Greenpeace webbie here. Just passing though. My own personal thoughts…

    The case for shutting down nuclear power plants boils down to:

    1. Every nuclear plant poses an unnecessary risk.

    2. While operational, the plants continue to produce radioactive waste, which there is still no practical way of disposing of.

    As for new reactor technology – better to invest in areas with more promise (renewable energy, efficiency).

    The main point I’m making here is that Greenpeace is not against “technology”.

    We’re against specific technologies and in favor of others. So while you’re free to agree/disagree with any of the above, I hope we can agree that any difference of opinion is about what the best technology choices (and thus policy choices, investment choices, etc).

    I think any real, substantial disagreement will be around the word “necessary”. As you point out, the world population is growing, and in many countries (China, India, Brazil, etc) the standard of living is fast improving (that’s a good thing).

    Working with European Renewable Energy Council we’ve created a detailed practical blueprint for cutting carbon emissions while achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    This blueprint shows we can get cut our CO2 emissions and get rid of nuclear power while continuing economic growth.

    You can find this plan here…
    http://www.energyblueprint.info

  16. #16 Mary
    July 16, 2011

    @rork: That’s not correct on the modification–you can read up on the story here: http://www.biofortified.org/2011/07/greenpeace-destroy-gm-wheat-trial/

    @Andrew Davies: Funny how this “The main point I’m making here is that Greenpeace is not against “technology”. We’re against specific technologies and in favor of others.” sounds just like: “We’re not anti-vaccine. We’re pro-safe vaccine….”

    And in general the lack of understanding of the plant science and all the academic and government projects around GMOs is disappointing. You all need to realize that the fog the word “Monsanto” creates in this arena clouds out your view of the field as a whole. And that’s exactly what Greenpeace wants. Their product is doubt.

  17. #17 Colin Megson
    July 16, 2011

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs)are hundreds of times safer than Fukishima and TMI Light Water Reactors (LWRs).

    On ’38 Degrees’, the Campaigning Website, you can vote for UK Manufacture of LFTRs. Do this and we’ll save £50 billion of the £110 billion of our hard-earned taxes that Chris Huhne is chucking away on inconsequential renewables and CC&S. Have a look at the arguments on ’38 Degrees’ and vote for LFTRs – nothing is more important to the future of the UK.

  18. #18 Alex Besogonov
    July 16, 2011

    “1. Every nuclear plant poses an unnecessary risk.
    2. While operational, the plants continue to produce radioactive waste, which there is still no practical way of disposing of.
    As for new reactor technology – better to invest in areas with more promise (renewable energy, efficiency).”

    What fucking promise? Barring breakthroughs in solar PV the current crop of alternative energy is many times more expensive than nuclear for baseload capacity.

    And about “facts not bearing out”. Germany is already planning to build more fossil fuel plants: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gnJH-sZ9D1lD39l-ekmBrnx2xuyg?docId=CNG.789d47896547d432d46c547221e2b880.461

    Let me quote: “The Bundesrat also approved measures to fill the gap left by nuclear power, on which Germany relies for about 22 percent of its energy needs.
    These include building new coal and gas power plants, although Berlin is sticking to its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, and by 80-95 percent by 2050.”

    So how are they going to cut emissions by 40% by 2020? By using unicorn farts?

    What is Greenpeace going to do when the clock chimes 00:00 Jan 1 2020? Are they going to stage die-ins near the coal plants that they themselves helped to build? No, I don’t think so – that’d be a political suicide for them.

  19. #19 Alex Besogonov
    July 16, 2011

    “This blueprint shows we can get cut our CO2 emissions and get rid of nuclear power while continuing economic growth.
    You can find this plan here…
    http://www.energyblueprint.info

    This is not a plan, this is a typical load of bullshit from Greanpeace. There’s a good joke in Russian about this, it goes like this:

    Hares come to a wise owl and ask: “Oh wise owl! Help us! Our lives are miserable, we are always on the run, we are hunted by wolves and foxes. Help us, please!”. Wise owl thinks a bit and says: “Well, you can turn into hedgehogs, that should solve your problems”. Hares walk away awed. Few days after they come back and ask owl again: “Oh wise owl! But how do we turn into hedgehogs?” and wise owl answers: “Stop bothering me with your stupid questions, I’m a strategist, not a tactician”.

    Greenpeace is like that. Their plan is formulate like: “Assume that we have replaced fossil-fuels with pie-in-the sky alternative generation. In this case we’ll have low CO2 emissions! Yay, let’s all hug trees!”

  20. #20 John Stumbles
    July 16, 2011

    @BlueRock

    Despite his claims of impartiality, MacKay produced a very biased and unreliable screed that is strongly pro-nuke and anti-renewable. See http://thisbluerock.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/david-mackays-sustainable-energy-without-the-hot-air-perhaps-a-little-hot-air-2/

    I came to MacKay with the opinion that nuclear power was unnecessary and undesirable, and I did not get the impression that he had a pro-nuke or anti-renewable bias, and I don’t think any reasonable person reading his work would form that impression. If you think his figures are wrong have you written to him about it? And what was his response? If he refuses to engage in reasonable scientific discussion *then* you can call him out as ‘biased’. If you refuse to engage in discussion then the shoe is on the other foot. That’s how science works. And this is ScienceBlogs :-)

    > George Monbiot has also written quite outspokenly (for a renowned environmentalist) about nuclear power,

    His output since Fukushima has been little more than a propaganda campaign for the nuke industry. There’s a reason for that. He’s being tutored on energy by his old school chemistry teacher,…

    Monbiot strikes me as a man who is quite capable of making up his own mind rather than a puppet for his former teachers. But in any case it is what he says that I am responding to, not who he is, and what he says makes sense. In a nutshell: the current state of the nuclear power industry is shoddy, penny-pinching and corner-cutting and quite inappropriate for handling a dangerous technology. And the particular current variants of the technology itself are poor choices for civil nuclear power. But to dismiss any and all nuclear power on the basis of flawed examples is irrational.

  21. #21 John Stumbles
    July 16, 2011

    @Andrew Davies

    Greenpeace webbie here. Just passing though. My own personal thoughts…

    Hi Andrew – Greenpeace supporter here! :-)

    Working with European Renewable Energy Council we’ve created a detailed practical blueprint for cutting carbon emissions while achieving economic growth by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    This blueprint shows we can get cut our CO2 emissions and get rid of nuclear power while continuing economic growth.

    You can find this plan here…
    http://www.energyblueprint.info

    Wow that’s a *BIG* document!

    Now I’m reasonably familiar with MacKay’s analysis: I’m sure the energy experts at Greenpeace must be too, and anybody who’s put in as much effort as the “energy [r]evolution” document must have taken must be able to trivially easily tell me how Greenpeace’s plan fits in with MacKay’s analysis – in other words, how much energy does GP see being generated from the various renewable sources MacKay identifies, how much could be saved by what specific energy conservation measures, etc? From my (admittedly cursory) scan of the “energy [r]evolution” PDF I can’t find that information.

    Also, can you point me to Greenpeace’s analysis of the various fourth-generation nuclear power technologies currently being proposed (MSRs, various breeders, Thorium, pebble-bed etc) and of course Fusion?

  22. #22 Michieux
    July 16, 2011

    Population seems to be the elephant in the room. Why is parenthood sacrosanct?

  23. #23 Party Cactus
    July 16, 2011

    One nitpick: it isn’t quite true that the modern crop of GM crops have done nothing but pad Monsanto’s coffers. It is pretty well accepted that the insect resistant ones have cut pesticide usage, and they’ve also increased yields, particularly in developing countries where they doesn’t always have access to pesticides (in developed countries yields were already high because we use pesticides). The herbicide tolerant ones, for all the ill will directed toward them, have enabled a wider use of no-till agriculture, which has cut carbon emissions and reduced fertilizer runoff (and of course both make farmer’s lives easier and their farms more profitable). Also, the GMO Rainbow Papaya in Hawaii, the only non-corporate GMO on the market (unfortunately) saved the Hawaiian papaya industry from the papaya ringspot virus.

    By all means, but wary of Monsanto, but their products really have made the world a better place. I think of Monsanto the same why I do of pharma companies. Sure, they’re occasionally untrustworthy jerks, and they’ve had more than their share issues, but many of their drugs and vaccines make people’s lives better. Same thing here. I’m not saying Monsanto is your best friend (not saying they’re the great evil they’re made out to be either), but the GM seed they sell really does do more than make them money.

  24. #24 MikeB
    July 16, 2011

    Apart from this thread having turned into the normal Alex B. ‘nuclear is lovely…raditaion is magic moonbeams’ stuff, I frankly found the original article to be pretty poor.

    Nuclear doesn’t make any money, and after Fukishima, you can see exactly why the German government thought twice about it. Remember, the average liablity cap on nuclear accident throughout the Western world in terms of the operator (private or otherwise) is usually about 1.5% (thats the cost TEPCO has to bear, the rest is the Japanese taxpayer). Considering decommissioning costs as well, and the problem of waste (anyone found the perfect dump for most of these countries yet? No), going for efficiency, improving the grid, better generation and renewables make good economic sense.
    The coal stations are stupid, but are a feature for German politics (German miners like their jobs mining dirty coal, and politicians know it). Greenpeace basically had nothing to do with it.

    Bluerock also points out Mackay’s bias in his analysis of renewables v nuclear. He really does like nuclear, but his figures have been questioned. You have to wonder how unbiased a person is when they write that Britains nuclear waste problem is ‘“a “beautifully small” problem. It really isn’t. Its held in decaying structures, increasing all the time, and the UK government has been trying to find a staorage site for at least 20 years. The people who want it (or have been bribed to have it) are geologically in the wrong place, and the geologically right places don’t want it anywhere near them. Basically, he’s ignoring political and financial reality.

    And considering the cost curve for wind/PV, basically he seems to write them off, or worse assumes outdated or false figure to base his calculations on (which are bit back of the envelope anyway). Mckay does seem to be the Freaknomics of the energy world, in that he’s loved by people who think he’s on the money, so don’t do any analysis. He might be right, but I’m not sure about his workings.

    Can we power the UK/Germany without nuclear or fossil fuels – possibly,. and there are some pretty good studies. They are certainly more robust than some of the pro-nuke arguements. As for Monbiot, we see an honourable man tying himself in knots trying to defend his latest love (which is a blind madness, as we all know). If you want to see how Monbiot argues, look at his strawmen and appeals to ‘Very Serious People’ – his arguement is ‘There is NO alternative’, even when there patently are.
    For him (and others like Stewart Brand), the one subject we will never bring up is money. becuase nuclear doesnt make any.

    As for GM – GM is not a perfect technology, and even if you think it is fine to release such an organism into the natural world(which I’m still not sure about), the social and economic effects are likely to be huge,and may simply concentrate more power in the hands of Monsanto, Gargill, AMD, etc – who really wants that? Greenpeace actually are supported by mnay, if not most, people in Europe is this kind of action. and in retrospect, may have done the right thing.

    If you think GM stories such as the golden rice are so good, think about how much rice someone would have to consume to make up for the Vitamin A deficiency caused by growing mono cultural crops instead of growing a few vegetables amoungst other crops. GM has often failed in the market, not least for its backers, and you have to wonder if, without its high level lobbying and PR, it would not have simply been written off as an expensive techno fix some time ago.

  25. #25 BlueRock
    July 16, 2011

    John Stumbles

    > …have you written to him about it?

    MacKay is aware of my criticisms. He acknowledged some, ignored many others. But why don’t you read what I’ve written and respond to any fact that I have asserted?

    You’ve set up challenges that I’m unlikely to have considered taking. It’s almost as if you want to avoid the facts.

    > Monbiot strikes me as a man who…

    Who was almost the only climate ‘realist’ who fell for the CRU stolen email scam. Monbiot was calling for resignation of scientists. The fool believed the propaganda.

    He’s done it again with nuclear.

  26. #26 Gopiballava
    July 16, 2011

    @MikeB:
    “Nuclear doesn’t make any money[...] better generation and renewables make good economic sense.”

    Direct question: Can you compare the cost of electrical power generation from nuclear to generation from renewables? Conservation is an important thing, but it is separate from generation.

    Nuclear may be expensive, but carbon emissions are a serious problem, and paying for a more expensive energy source to reduce CO2 seems like a worthwhile tradeoff.

    “Greenpeace basically had nothing to do with it.”

    Do you believe that Greenpeace had anything to do with the decision to decommission Germany’s nuclear plants? Do you believe that, if Germany had not opted for decommissioning, they would still be building these coal plants?

  27. #27 MikeB
    July 17, 2011

    #26
    ‘Direct question: Can you compare the cost of electrical power generation from nuclear to generation from renewables? Conservation is an important thing, but it is separate from generation.’

    Answer – getting a drect comparison between different generation systems isn’t easy (and since I’m supposed to be clearing up the house before my wife gets back and looking after the kids at the same time, I can’t spend all day looking..). However, a report from last year from Duke reports that PV is being offered in North Carolina at 16 cents per KWH, which is the point at which it comes in below the cost of nuclear. PV seems to be falling even further in unit cost this year, and the trend is very positive. Wind also has dropped in price, and even in 2009, there was little difference between onshore wind and coal (Onshore wind $0.096/kWh (higher in marginal wind areas with greater capital and O&M costs, such as on ridge lines in New England), Conventional coal (base-loaded) $0.095/kWh). Coal might be cheap, but if carbon is taxed/capped (such as in the UK and possibly Australia) and carbon capture is used, then the added cost will make it much more expensive. CCGT is cheaper and can suply base load, but of course the cost of gas has gone up (I’m now paying close to 20% more for gas/electric from my supplier than a year ago).

    And of course the estimated costs of future nuclear build per KWH seem to be climbing constantly. Two proposed Florida plants were estimated to have an overnight cost of $3,800 per kilowatt. But if you look at the general overuns and costs increases of nuclear construction (you may argue its going to be better this time, but its not looking good at the moment), its closer to $6,800 per kilowatt. Progress Energys as yet uncompleted plants are trending about 25-55% above estimated KW cost. And of course there will almost certainly be larger costs due to extra safety precautions after Fukishima. And this takes into account the very large direct and indirect subsidies nuclear gets. Remember that the german reactors have had 200 billion euros from the state in the last 40 years. Renewables had 4.8 billion in 2010, but its unlikely that that level of subsidy will stay for the next 40 years, and even if it did, they still have no decommissioning or storage costs.

    ‘Nuclear may be expensive, but carbon emissions are a serious problem, and paying for a more expensive energy source to reduce CO2 seems like a worthwhile tradeoff.’

    How about you change nuclear for ‘other sources’? The same arguement applies (in fact the ‘renewables are too expensive’ is a hardy perential), yet these other sources have none of the downsides of nuclear, and are in many cases cheaper right now. PV alone is steaming along.

    Nuclear loses in economic terms, which is why so few are being built. If Greepeace are ‘luddites’ for campaigning against them, then so is the City of London and Wall Street – they don’t want to invest in them either. Its not that their deluded fools, its just that they can read a spreadsheet. Given the choice between coal and nuclear, I’d go with nuclear. But its between two evils, and who needs evil when there are so many good options?

    ‘Conservation is an important thing, but it is separate from generation.’
    Conservation is the flipside of production – the less you need, the less you need to produce. Efficency is a relatively cheap and quick way to decarbonise much of the energy mix. New grids in Europe are being built not only to replace ageing infrastructure, but also to reduce spinning capacity (and thus cost) and allow more effecient demad management. If you devolve the grid in the way the germans have been with local PV, you also increase security of supply.

    Amory Lovins has long pointed out that the projections for energy demand in the early 1970′s were massively overblown. We used more energy, but not nearly as much as we thought we would. During the past 34 years, US demand actually fell for 11 of them. California is the poster child of what you can do to restrict expensive increases in generating capacity, yet increase economic activity. Your fridge uses a lot less energy than it did 30 years ago, as does your new TV. You now have an Ipod, HDD recorder, mobile phones, etc, but even they are now more efficent than they were. The new electric/hybrid cars will use more, but they replace fossil fuels with other possible sources.

    ‘Do you believe that Greenpeace had anything to do with the decision to decommission Germany’s nuclear plants? Do you believe that, if Germany had not opted for decommissioning, they would still be building these coal plants?’

    I’m not an expert on german politics, but the Green party and a long tradition of anti nuclear probably had more to do with it than one organisation. And when the average German saw the footage of Fukishima going bang, closing them down suddenly made a lot more sense. If you add to that the need to keep 22000 miners vaguely happy and the natural fear that without nuclear, then the lights would go out, building the coal plants makes some sort of sense, no matter how dumb it might actually be.

    But again, your seeing this as a false choice between frying the planet with coal, or saving it with nukes. Nukes wont save it, but will hold up the technologies which might.

    Right, I’m now going to do the things I should have done an hour ago…..

  28. #28 Erik
    July 17, 2011

    My final straw with Greenpeace is when they asked their member base to do what they could to get rid of any Chemical Plant in their hometown. While I agree that there are dangers(having worked at a few), it was the shortsightedness of “Just get it out of the US, it’s not like China or India would make these problems worse.” As a avid hater of NIMBY, it made me cringe.

  29. #29 Gopiballava
    July 17, 2011

    @MikeB:
    “However, a report from last year from Duke reports that PV is being offered in North Carolina at 16 cents per KWH,”

    This statement makes me suspicious – why North Carolina specifically? Makes me suspect it relates to subsidies in some manner.

    I’m interested in the total cost, including all subsidies, rather than the cost to consumers after tax breaks, etc. We’re looking at global problems for resources that everybody uses. When everybody gets a subsidy paid for by taxes, nobody gets anything in the end. Zero sum game and all.

    “If Greepeace are ‘luddites’ for campaigning against them, then so is the City of London and Wall Street – they don’t want to invest in them either.”

    Over the last 5 years, Monsanto has outperformed the S&P and Dow Jones. I presume this makes Greenpeace neo-luddites regarding GMOs? :)

    My concern here is that you seem to be using many unreliable markers and heuristics to try to guess which one is cheaper. Of course, if I were less lazy I would attempt to research this myself instead of asking you here.

    My fundamental complaint re: Greenpeace et al’s position: It seems like nuclear is the only time I see cost brought up. Many of the things that Greenpeace support require spending more money. Yet somehow only nuclear is brought up as costly.

  30. #30 pam ronald
    July 18, 2011

    I also gave up on greenpeace years ago and sierra club for similar reasons so largely agree with your article. one mistake though:

    “So far, they have proven useful for the seed companies’ bottom lines and precious little else.”

    In fact Ge cotton has dramatically reduced use of synthetic insecticides in every country that has planted in. In Arizona, farmers of GE cotton use half the amount of insecticide compared to their conventional neighbors and achieve the same yield with enhanced biodiversity.

    In hawaii, farmers of GE papaya, see 20-fold increases in yield compared to nonGE papaya. This is well established in peer-reviewed literature over many, many years. Union of Concerned scientists knows this too but fails to yield this information in their “failure to yield” opinion piece. UCS also knows that yields of cotton have increased dramatically in India and china after planting of GE cotton. So sadly, the quality of UCS pronouncements about GE crops now approaches that of Greenpeace’s non-science based rants.

  31. #31 Eric
    July 18, 2011
  32. #32 rork
    July 18, 2011

    Thanks for the pointer Mary, and to some other commenters too.

  33. #33 James Hrynyshyn
    July 18, 2011

    Thanks to those who reminded me that there has been some reduction in pesticide use thanks to GM technology. Indeed, the refusal of so many supporters of organic agriculture to embrace the possible benefits of GM on this specific issue drives me nuts.

    I regret the oversight.

  34. #34 Wow
    July 18, 2011

    “But civilization long since passed the point of no return on the path to the Anthropocene.”

    Wow. I never knew that genetic modification by insertion of new genes into another organism was tens of thousands of years old!

  35. #35 Wow
    July 18, 2011

    On Organic farming:

    http://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~christos/articles/cv_organic_farming.html

    Short version: highly intensive farming is damaging the ecosystem and reducing the ability of the ecosystem to produce the same output.

    On GM crops working as advertised:
    http://www.pan-uk.org/pestnews/Issue/pn44/pn44p6.htm

  36. #37 mad the swine
    July 19, 2011

    Thanks to those who reminded me that there has been some reduction in pesticide use thanks to GM technology. Indeed, the refusal of so many supporters of organic agriculture to embrace the possible benefits of GM on this specific issue drives me nuts.

    There has been no ‘reduction’ in pesticide use thanks to GM. Rather the opposite: mutant GM crops kill pests by secreting their own pesticide in their leaves and fruits. The industrialists who call themselves ‘farmers’ don’t have to pay as much up front, but the crops are soaked in toxin to an unprecedented degree.

    (And name one natural plant that poisons the soil and air around it. Natural things grow in harmony with their surroundings. Creating plants that enforce their own monoculture is a sick perversion of nature.)

    In a nutshell: the current state of the nuclear power industry is shoddy, penny-pinching and corner-cutting and quite inappropriate for handling a dangerous technology. And the particular current variants of the technology itself are poor choices for civil nuclear power. But to dismiss any and all nuclear power on the basis of flawed examples is irrational.

    You remind me of the Marxist reading group on my local campus. “Communism works in theory! Just because every attempt at a communist government has failed doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try again!” You cannot have a nuclear power industry that is not “shoddy, penny-pinching and corner-cutting”. That’s how industry works. That’s how human beings work. Technocratic fever dreams aside, there has never been any mechanism, built and operated by human beings, that was capable of running forever without breaking down. And the consequences of a breakdown when dealing with nuclear power are so great that the innate fallibility of human nature should militate against its utilization. We, as a species, cannot be trusted with the technology, period.

  37. #38 John Stumbles
    July 19, 2011

    @mad the swine

    You cannot have a nuclear power industry that is not “shoddy, penny-pinching and corner-cutting”. That’s how industry works.

    We had steam engines that exploded, cars that were death traps, mines that exploded, slag heaps that engulfed schools, factories, construction sites, docks etc where people died needlessly. Public outcry and labour organisation lead to regulation, and regulation and improvements in technology (often largely driven by regulation) improved safety enormously. You could have a nuclear power industry that was a lot less shoddy (etc), and was based on inherently safer versions of the technology (reactors incapable of melting down, systems that don’t produce large amounts of high-level waste. It’ll never be perfectly safe but even with today’s crap technology more people are killed in the wind power industry per unit power generated than in nuclear (including Chernobyl and likely worst-case Fukushima).

    I think it’ll come anyway: it’s just a case of whether we in the West develop safer nuclear technologies ourselves or buy them from China in a few years’ time.

  38. #39 BlueRock
    July 19, 2011

    James Hrynyshyn

    > …there has been some reduction in pesticide use thanks to GM technology.

    * The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and more chemical residues in foods. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5AG0QY20091117

    * More herbicide use reported on genetically modified crops. http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2009/1221/More-herbicide-use-reported-on-genetically-modified-crops

    > Indeed, the refusal of so many supporters of organic agriculture to embrace the possible benefits of GM on this specific issue drives me nuts.

    Imagine how frustrating it is for those of us who have seen past the lies and propaganda but still see that same propaganda being parroted by people who should know better….

  39. #40 Wow
    July 20, 2011

    “You could have a nuclear power industry that was a lot less shoddy (etc)”

    However, that would ruin the profits, so won’t be done.

    Tell me, if we COULD have that, why haven’t we got it despite 60 years of effort and government aid? Incompetence or malice?

    “more people are killed in the wind power industry per unit power generated than in nuclear”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Ah me.

    So wind power deaths are counted as “people who fell off the building while constructing”.

    I guess that we should remove all buildings, since not only do a non-zero number of people die on construction, they actually produce NEGATIVE energy!

  40. #41 John Stumbles
    July 20, 2011

    @Wow

    “You could have a nuclear power industry that was a lot less shoddy (etc)”
    However, that would ruin the profits, so won’t be done.

    Depends how the market is subsidised. Without FITs rooftop PV wouldn’t be taking off the way it is now.

    “more people are killed in the wind power industry per unit power generated than in nuclear”

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

    Ah me.

    So wind power deaths are counted as “people who fell off the building while constructing”.

    You can place the goalposts so that you don’t count the people killed and injured building wind generators so that wind appears almost 100% safe, but that seems dishonest to me.

  41. #42 Quick Sand
    July 20, 2011

    Douche boy rides continues to ride on into the sunset of irrelevance.

    Looks like someone is starting to realize how douche his life premise actually is. (aka when dumbass liberals “wake up”)

    Sucks when when your hard ground turns out to be quicksand.

    Ain’t it. douche boy?

  42. #43 Pierce R. Butler
    July 21, 2011

    … the political (as opposed to practical) challenges posed by waste disposal.

    Oh? You’ve got some “practical” solutions to nuclear waste disposal?

    Please share…

  43. #44 Wow
    July 25, 2011

    “You can place the goalposts so that you don’t count the people killed and injured building wind generators so that wind appears almost 100% safe, but that seems dishonest to me.”

    People die and are injured in mines. Uranium mines, coal mines, whatever.

    We don’t mine the wind.

    People die and are injured building nuclear power stations.

    You’re not counting them.

    People died from Chernobyl, but not for years and for things that people die of anyway: cancers and the like. So you aren’t counting them.

    But all we need to do to make wind 100% safe is better security on the building stage. A building stage nuclear has to do too.

    Yet once built, the deaths no longer happen, unlike nuclear.

    And YOU think that I was being dishonest??!?!?

  44. #45 John Stumbles
    July 25, 2011

    @wow

    “You can place the goalposts so that you don’t count the people killed and injured building wind generators so that wind appears almost 100% safe, but that seems dishonest to me.”

    People die and are injured in mines. Uranium mines, coal mines, whatever.

    We don’t mine the wind.

    People die and are injured building nuclear power stations.

    You’re not counting them.

    Of course one must count the people killed in mining uranium, and in building nuclear power stations as well as building wind turbines. And I guess we should count people killed in mining the materials used for building wind turbines too.

    People died from Chernobyl, but not for years and for things that people die of anyway: cancers and the like. So you aren’t counting them.

    Deaths from Chernobyl *are* counted in estimates of deaths due to nuclear power. As you say, it can be impossible to attribute a cause to any individual death from a cancer which could be caused by Chernobyl or could equally well be caused by radiation from some other ‘natural’ source, or occur for some other reason, but one can estimate the number of extra deaths likely to occur worldwide due to radiation from Chernobyl (and Fukushima, and TMI; and for that matter from burning coal).

    But all we need to do to make wind 100% safe is better security on the building stage. A building stage nuclear has to do too.

    One can make construction safer but never 100% safe, and the closer we approach 100% the more expensive it gets, making the construction less economic.

    The same argument applies to nuclear of course: one can make plants safer but never 100% safe. That’s why it’s not just the risk of something bad happening that’s important but the consequences when it does. Which is why plants such as the early Fukushima reactors which (as we have seen) can and did melt down when the tiny risk of everything going wrong actually happened, are such a bad idea, and why the push in the so-called 4th generation is towards designs which are inherently safe even when the remote probability does occur.

    Yet once built, the deaths no longer happen, unlike nuclear.

    Wind turbines need no maintenance? Last forever? Never go wrong?

    And YOU think that I was being dishonest??!?!?

    I wasn’t accusing you, personally, of being dishonest. I assume you are engaging in this discussion in good faith and are open to rational discussion of the pros and cons of the issues being considered here. Which is how I try to be, myself.

  45. #46 Wow
    July 26, 2011

    “Of course one must count the people killed in mining uranium”

    Then the claim that Fukishama hasn’t killed anyone is a lie.

    And you’ve not included them in your count.

    “Deaths from Chernobyl *are* counted in estimates of deaths due to nuclear power.”

    They aren’t when the same thing happens at Fukijama. And there’s a new lie popping round the ‘tubes that those deaths were from chemicals released, not the nuclear fallout.

    How’s that for a laugh!

    “One can make construction safer but never 100% safe”

    You can make it as safe to build 100GW in wind turbines as building 100GW of nuclear.

    “I wasn’t accusing you, personally, of being dishonest.”

    OK, so it was dishonest of you to say:

    “You can place the goalposts so that you don’t count the people killed and injured building wind generators so that wind appears almost 100% safe, but that seems dishonest to me.”

    then, since you didn’t mean to say I was being dishonest doing so.

  46. #47 John Stumbles
    July 26, 2011

    @wow
    I take back what I said.
    You seem to to be more interested in scoring debating points than rational discussion.
    I think that is intellectually dishonest.

  47. #48 Wow
    July 27, 2011

    And you seem to want to cast yourself as always the victim.

    Rational discussion? You wouldn’t know it if you found it sleeping with your wife in bed singing “Rational discussions are coming round the mountain when it comes” accompanied by a full brass brand and chorus line.

    Your arrogant nonsense about wind power being more dangerous than nuclear is laughable. So you paint “I’m Being Oppressed” on yourself and run off.

    Well piss of, then.

  48. #49 John ONeill
    August 18, 2011

    The problem with wind isn’t that once in a while a turbine might throw a blade and kill someone, or even that a gigawatt of wind would cover half a state and use more steel and concrete than the Hoover Dam. It’s not even that a 100 megawatt farm might average 30. The problem is that seventy percent of the time when you want power, you won’t get it. If you could turn on your hydro plant, no worries, but most places will use gas, which means fossil fuel emissions continue.Only hydro, geothermal and nuclear give reliable full time power with minimal emissions. If Co2 has to be cut 100% to solve climate change, a solution which mandates 70% fossil fuel is no solution

  49. #50 Wow
    August 23, 2011

    “It’s not even that a 100 megawatt farm might average 30.”

    It’s just as well: a nuke gets around 60% of baseplate.

    “The problem is that seventy percent of the time when you want power, you won’t get it”

    1) Nope, that 30% you came up with was pulled from your anus

    2) That’s only true in cases where demand is even

    The same problem exists for all power production. Ask France. Nuclear goes offline and you’re short. Nuclear CANNOT change quick enough to cover demand, so you get enough to run your fridge but when you want to put the kettle on, nuclear power isn’t supplying it.

    Guess what you do to solve this.

    You use other forms of power.

    Just like you can use other forms of power with wind.

    Idiot.

  50. #51 Tweenk
    November 6, 2011

    “It’s just as well: a nuke gets around 60% of baseplate.”
    Wrong. The real capacity factor is around 90%. It’s lower than 100% because of refueling. Reactors routinely run at full power for months.

    “Nuclear CANNOT change quick enough to cover demand”
    It can. It’s just not used. It’s most profitable to run nuclear at 100% and provide peaking with sources that have more expensive fuel, such as natural gas. The EPR reactor can change output by 5% (80MW) per minute. A nuclear submarine can go from minimal power to full power in seconds.

    “that 30% you came up with was pulled from your anus”
    Search “wind capacity factor”. 30% is in fact rather generous.

  51. #52 Wow
    November 7, 2011

    “Wrong. The real capacity factor is around 90%.”

    Mope, wrong yourself. It’s 60%. The UK Energy industry DAWES report and your “capacity factor” is actually the load: how much power out was actually used. Not how much power output compared to nameplate, idiot.

    For example, what has been the power output of Fukijama recently? Sellafield has been out for over 8 months, and so on.

    “”Nuclear CANNOT change quick enough to cover demand”
    It can”

    No, it can’t.

    “”that 30% you came up with was pulled from your anus”
    Search “wind capacity factor”.”

    Just did. It is more than 40% in every link I found, and the older reports were lower.

    You know, all that “technological innovation” stuff producing a better product and all.

    From the link you probably used (Wikipedia):

    As of April 2011, the Danish wind farm Horns Rev 2[3](the world’s largest when it was inaugurated in September 2009[4] comprising 91 Siemens SWT-2.3-93 wind turbines each of 2.3 MW) with a nominal total capacity of 209 MW, has the best capacity factor of any offshore wind farm at 46.7% having produced over 1.5 years 1,278 GW·h.[5] The record for an onshore wind farm is held by Burradale, which reached an annual capacity factor of 57.9% for 2005.[6]

  52. #54 air jordan
    http://www.jordanssneakersmall.com/
    August 1, 2013

    Well this is The narrow mind of Greenpeace – Class M very useful . air jordan http://www.jordanssneakersmall.com/

  53. #55 guaine phde
    September 1, 2013

    Ottimo. Articolo ben scritto. Argomento interessante.