Mashey on Monckton/Schulte

John Mashey has written an account of Monckton and Schulte vs Oreskes affair. Schulte seems to be guilty of professional misconduct.

Comments

  1. #1 John S. Wilkins
    December 9, 2007

    Tobacco, anti-vaccination, anti-environmentalism, anti-evolution, and anti-global warming. All cut from the same cloth, and usually by the same people, to serve economic, corporate, and political interests.

    We live in an age of lobbocracy: government by lobby groups.

  2. #2 Eli Rabett
    December 9, 2007

    Complements to Johns Mashey.

  3. #3 Eli Rabett
    December 9, 2007

    Is falsely representing yourself as a member of the House of Lords a punishable offense in the United Kingdom? If so, Monckton may have bought himself some trouble which I am sure someone will be happy to deliver to his door.

    If not, call me Viscount Rabett from now on.

  4. #4 Paul S
    December 9, 2007

    Big surprise. A strident environmental group proclaims someone who doesn’t subscribe abjectly to AGW guilty of something or other.

  5. #5 jre
    December 9, 2007

    John Mashey took his place some time ago on the honor roll — along with Scott Church[1], Tamino, Eli Rabett and, of course, our esteemed host — of those who are willing to do some honest work in the interest of bloggy enlightenment.
    He deserves all the encouragement we can give him.

    [1] Silent on climate topics for a while now, but one can always hope.

  6. #6 Sortition
    December 10, 2007

    A quick look at the site hosting Mashey’s paper, zerocarbonnow.org, gives (me) the impression that it is essentially a nuclear energy boosting organization. Who are they? Their “About” page does not mention names of people or sponsors. Anyone know?

  7. #7 Bill O'Slatter
    December 10, 2007

    A whois reveals it’s Stephen Stretton http://www.stephenstretton.org.uk/?page_id=8

  8. #8 John Mashey
    December 10, 2007

    [5] Jim:
    thanks for your [too] kind words, to list me in same sentence as tamino and Eli.

    [6] Sortition:

    I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s mainly a U Cambridge-related thing, and I think their viewpoint is:

    a) Must reduce CO2

    b) Must do efficiency

    c) And a whole lot of other things

    d) including nuclear

    Part d) is of the James Lovelock viewpoint and of these folks:
    http://www.ecolo.org/base/baseen.htm

    I’ve talked to people I’d characterize as primarily nuclear-boosters [I was once training to be a nuclear / high-energy physicist until I caught the computer bug, and I used to help sell supercomputers to various nuclear lab folks.] I think some view AGW as a way to encourage nuclear, although strangely, I’ve run into some who thought that some environmentalists had wrongly hamstrung nuclear, and sicne those people believed AGW, that AGW couldn’t be true.

    I don’t think Zero Carbon are in the “GW is an excuse for nuclear” category, but rather seem to be people who worry hard about GW and have decided nuclear is part of the solution and less bad than GW. That’s a viewpoint that reasonable people might have, especially if they are located somewhere that doesn’t have much hydroelectric or solar potential.

    [There are legitimate folks who think nuclear is necessary to fight GW, some who think NO WAY, and some who have complex intermediate positions.]

    Joe Romm (who knows his stuff, see climateprogress.org), in “Hell and High Water” writes [pp174-176]:
    “The nation needs to put into place mandatory carbon dioxide controls. If a significant price for carbon makes nuclear power attractive to utilities and financiers, and if the plants meet the necessary safety and environmental codes,and if the country can finally agree on a place to put the nuclear wast, then nuclear plants may well make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this country….Now would I discourage other countries from pursuing nuclear power, as long as it is done … [properly].”

    Those are big IFs.
    He also notes that energy-efficiency is a lot faster, and that “nuclear power is hardly a fledgling technology that needs even more targeted support from the US government.” he also notes that CA gets less of its electricity from nuclear than msotstates.

    I personally don’t generally agree with the nuclear piece, but more for the timing and economics than any knee-jerk “no nukes”. Of course, I worry about disposal and proliferation, but I think it’s almost a moot point in the short term, in that I just don’t see how nuclear can be done *fast* enough and I think the economics really don’t work.

    At least, Amory Lovins’ chapter [in the (highly-recommended) "Energy and American Society - Thirteen Myths,", Benjamin K. Sovacool, Marilyn A. Brown Eds] includes some good discussion on nuclear economics, and I’d listen to arguments that he’s wrong, but for now, I go along with that.

    The reason my Monckton/Schulte piece is at Zero Carbon is that I sent copies to a few relevant people in the UK, and ZC offered to post it, so there it was. I have some connections with Cambridge, and also, I observed that the following organization was also in Cambridge:

    www DOT scientific-alliance DOT org

    and I knew which of the two I preferred :-).

  9. #9 Sovietologist
    December 10, 2007

    For some analysis of Lovins’ analysis of energy issues, see blogger Rod Adams:
    http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/search?q=Lovins

    In his words: “the gospel according to Lovins is not working.”

  10. #10 JB
    December 10, 2007

    Sovietologist:

    We can all tell from the first sentence in that piece you linked to where Rod Adams is coming from:

    “One of the great ironies in today’s America is that a two time college drop out and Friends of the Earth campaigner who spent a lot of time advocating the use of coal is often held up as a hero of the environmental movement”

    Mr. Adam’s argument is “ad ham” (and I do mean “ham”).

    Unfortunately for Mr. Adams, Lovins has been doing legitimate research and publishing for 30 years in the area of energy use and efficiency and actually knows what he is talking about. I’d venture to guess that he knows far more than Mr.Adams about the issue of energy at any rate.

  11. #11 Sovietologist
    December 10, 2007

    Try actually reading the posts- after all, by your logic we’d have to dismiss valid technical criticisms of AGW because someone knowledgeable got frustrated and called AGW denialists (well-deserved) names. Adams is a genuine nuclear energy expert, and his take on energy issues is anything but ill-informed. If you have a critique of what Adams writes beyond “he should be more polite,” I’d like to hear it.

  12. #12 Sovietologist
    December 10, 2007

    D’oh! I meant “valid technical criticism of AGW denial”.

  13. #13 JB
    December 10, 2007

    Try actually reading the posts-”

    My Dear D’oh (Sovietologist):

    I did read the first sentence of Adams’ post and it is an ad hom attack.

    That’s all I need to read.

    If “Adams is a genuine nuclear energy expert” as you claim, he would not need to resort to such attacks.

    I don’t read ad hom crap.

    Your man Adams is pathetic.

  14. #14 Sortition
    December 11, 2007

    > I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s mainly a U Cambridge-related thing, and I think their viewpoint is:

    > a) Must reduce CO2

    > b) Must do efficiency

    > c) And a whole lot of other things

    > d) including nuclear

    Somehow d) gets much more attention than a), b) or c).

    The number of Google hits when searching the zerocarbonnow.org domain for “nuclear” is 405. The corresponding numbers for “co2″, “renewable”, “efficiency” and “wind” are 285, 175, 184 and 124, respectively.

    So I would say the agenda of the site is:

    a) Must use nuclear

    b) Let’s use co2 reduction as an excuse

    c) Let’s mention other things like efficiency or renewable energy sources so our real agenda is not too obvious.

  15. #15 Rod Adams
    December 11, 2007

    JB:
    I heard a rumor that you considered me to be “pathetic” and a debater who tends to resort to ad hominem attacks. I would like to respond.

    An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.

    The key in that definition is relevancy. In a debate, it is perfectly legitimate to point out relevant information about the source of analysis.

    In the case of Amory Lovins, the fact that he dropped out of college is relevant since he has long claimed to be educated at both Harvard and Oxford. Many audience members at his talks and readers of his publications do not recognize the subtle difference between someone who merely attended for a while and someone who actually followed a recognized course of study, passed examinations, and obtained an earned degree. I have attended several of his talks – he did not correct people who addressed him as Doctor Lovins.

    I have no problems respecting college drop outs – one of my heros is Steve Jobs. However, I do have a problem with someone using the title of “experimental physicist” without ever having earned a degree.

    I also think it is relevant to understand that Lovins gets a great deal of support from established energy firms and that he has long been an advocate of both coal and natural gas. He claims that these are just “bridges” to a utopian future, but he never demonstrates how the other side will ever be reached. His math is always questionable and based on fallacies like cascading percentage improvements that followed to their full conclusion would indicate that you can get everything you want without any inputs at all.

    As an aside – my nuclear expertise is reasonably solid. Though my degrees are in English and Systems Technology, I served for about 12 years as an officer in the nuclear submarine force. During about 40 months of that time, I was the Engineer Officer (a role that the surface navy calls the Chief Engineer) of the USS Von Steuben, SSBN 643 Gold.

    I also founded a Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. in 1993 based on an evolutionary design for a small atomic power plant. As part of that effort, I began publishing Atomic Insights. I also write a blog titled Atomic Insights and produce a podcast called The Atomic Show.

    Decide for yourself I know what I am talking about.

  16. #16 luminous beauty
    December 11, 2007

    Rod,

    Lovins got his masters at Oxford. Hardly a college dropout. He has received numerous honorary doctorates. They don’t hand those out for nothing.

    Ad hom.

  17. #17 Hank Roberts
    December 11, 2007

    Rather pathetic that Mr. Adams’s ‘dropout’ postings on the web about Lovins are in the top handful for a Google search, the spin he makes is awfully obvious. Must be linked to a whole lot, eh? Wonder how.

    Primary source:
    http://www.rmi.org/images/other/Energy/E06-07_TransCharlieRoseShow.pdf

    —excerpt—

    AMORY LOVINS: I dropped out of both Harvard and Oxford.
    CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah.
    AMORY LOVINS: Harvard wanted me to specialize too much. And I got to Oxford.
    CHARLIE ROSE: But you went like when you were what, eight — I mean you were very
    young –at 16, you went to Oxford.
    AMORY LOVINS: And then transferred to Oxford as a grad student and became a don, but
    I wanted to do a doctorate in energy two years before the Arab oil embargo. And they said,
    “Energy?”
    CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah.
    AMORY LOVINS: “What is that? We haven’t a chair, pick a real subject.” So I quit and did
    the work anyway. Now they have a chair in it.
    ….
    —end excerpt—-

  18. #18 JB
    December 11, 2007

    Rod Adams: “An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.”

    Nice try, but not quite:

    “An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.” — wikipedia

    If your statement “that a two time college drop out and Friends of the Earth campaigner who spent a lot of time advocating the use of coal is often held up as a hero of the environmental movement” is not an “argument against the man”, I don’t know what is.

    It just so happens that Lovins has published voluminously on energy related matters over 3 decades (including many books and numerous articles — eg in Foreign Affairs–, including “Soft Energy Paths”, and a book on nuclear power)

    I suppose we are to believe that the Pentagon and others seek his advice (ie as a consultant) on energy related matters because he is an idiot, right?

    PS When you find the clue that you have been searching for, let us all know, will you?

  19. #19 JB
    December 11, 2007

    Rod,

    BTW, your experience as an English major on a nuclear submarine does not make you an expert on energy economics, nuclear waste, nuclear fuel proliferation or any of the other issues related to nuclear energy.

    Nor does it make you an expert on alternative energy sources or energy efficiency (as Lovins is)

    Some might consider such issues just a wee bit important to the discussion of nuclear energy as it compares to other energy options.

  20. #20 Rod Adams
    December 11, 2007

    JB:

    In my day job, I have spent the last 6.5 years working on staffs that report to the Pentagon. Having spent quite a number of hours in the Puzzle Palace during that time, I can testify under oath that “the Pentagon” often hires idiots who know little about the topic in which they claim expertise.

    It is a politically driven place with plenty of decisions directed by appointees with agendas.

    One of the reasons that I engage in discussion about particular personalities in the anti-nuclear movement – like Lovins – is that my analysis indicates that the largest beneficiaries of their activities has been the fossil fuel industry.

    Every time a new nuclear plant came on line in the 1970s and 1980s, it removed a market for the equivalent of 3 million tons of oil or 4 million tons of coal each year.

    The current world nuclear fleet currently produces the energy equivalent of 12 million barrels of oil per day. That is a 30% larger contribution to the world’s energy supply than Saudi Arabia. That figure also ignores the contribution to the world’s energy supply of the couple of hundred shipboard reactors operated by the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China.

    If you have any understanding of economics in general and energy economics in particular, you can imagine what effect a continued growth in nuclear power would have had on the price and sales volume of coal, oil and natural gas if the growth of the 1960s and 1970s had continued. My theory is that the fossil fuel interests in the world – which are quite pervasive, politically connected and economically astute played an important role in the anti-nuclear movement’s success.

    When I point out that Lovins has published a great deal about his support for coal and gas, I think that is relevant to his popular reputation as a speaker and as a consultant for major companies and governmental bodies. If you actually read his works carefully, you will find that the only source of power that he does not like is atomic fission.

    Feel free to disagree. Feel free to attack my expertise. It really does not matter, as long as the ideas that I present have an opportunity to be heard and considered.

  21. #21 Rod Adams
    December 11, 2007

    JB:

    One more thought about ad hominem as a logical fallacy. I found this quote to be quite germane to the specific discussion at hand:

    “Only in the case of opinions, expert and otherwise, where you must rely not on the argument or evidence being presented but on the judgment of someone else, may personal or background information be used to evaluate the ideas expressed. If, for example, a used car vendor tries to prove to you that the car in question is being offered at lower than the average or “blue book” price, you must ignore the fact that the vendor will profit from the sale, and evaluate the proof. If, on the other hand, that used car vendor says, “Trust me, this is a good deal,” without further proofs or arguments, you are entitled to take into account the profit motive, the shady reputation of the profession, and anything else you deem to be relevant as a condition of “trust.”

    (ref: http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/itl/graphics/adhom/adhom.html – part of Mission Critical an online course described as follows – The goal of Mission: Critical is to create a “virtual lab,” capable of familiarizing users with the basic concepts of critical thinking in a self-paced, interactive environment.)

    Based on the facts that I know about nuclear power, nuclear waste, energy politics, and energy economics from about 26 years worth of education, practice and research, I put most of Lovins’s attacks on the technology into the category of opinion. He makes numerous predictions and statements that are not backed up by actual statistics or experience and therefore cannot be verified.

    He has engaged in what I consider to be deceitful embellishment of his educational resume by calling himself a physicist. Sure, he answered Charlie Rose truthfully during an interview in the summer of 2006 (http://www.rmi.org/images/other/Energy/E06-07_TransCharlieRoseShow.pdf) and admitted that he had twice dropped out, but that admission seemed to take Rose by surprise. Read the transcript for yourself.

    Rose is an experienced journalist and interviewer and Lovins has been a public figure for more than 30 years. Isn’t it a bit surprising to learn that Rose would have thought that Lovins did more than just attend for a while? Perhaps the appearance in May 2006 of some online research about his academic career had something to do with his admission that he did not really finish a degree.

    Isn’t it also a bit deceitful for Lovins to characterize his position at Oxford as having been a “grad student”? For most of us, that means someone who has already graduated and earned an undergraduate degree, yet Lovins had dropped out of Harvard in 1966 after his sophomore year. (As an aside, that was a risky move in the US in 1966 since that meant the end of a student deferment.)

    Lovins portrays himself as an expert whose opinions on energy should be valued. I think it is worth wondering where he got his expertise. I also think about the possibility that much of his political and economic support exists because he paints a picture of utopian world that does not need nuclear power.

    The reality is that negawatts are not cutting it. Coal and oil burning have more than doubled since Lovins published his seminal article on the Soft Energy path. Few people have successfully reproduced buildings like his famous Snowmass headquarters and there are no Hypercars on the road. That reality is not from lack of trying, lack of interest, lack of time, or lack of attention. Perhaps Lovins’s ideas simply do not work very well.

  22. #22 Dano
    December 11, 2007

    One must also look at Lovins’ numbers on efficiency gains and say that these are part of the solution offered in Socolow’s and Pacala’s wedges.

    I also often question Lovins’ solution set, and Hunter’s ideas sometimes are waaaaaaay off base (GF serves on a board with her and violently disagrees with many of Hunter’s uninformed solutions and assertions). But one cannot wholly dismiss the approach that society will eventually need to get to. That is: I’m all for more widespread nuke solutions if the advocates will agree to store some waste under their children’s beds.

    Best,

    D

  23. #23 Eli Rabett
    December 12, 2007

    So Rod, what is the liner in your engine?

  24. #24 Ian Gould
    December 12, 2007

    “Amory B. Lovins, a 59-year-old American consultant physicist, 1993 MacArthur Fellow, and 1997 Heinz
    Awardee, has been active in energy, resource, environmental, and security policy in more than 50 countries
    for 30 years, including 14 years based in England. After two years at Harvard, he transferred to Oxford
    and two years later became a don at 21, receiving in consequence an Oxford MA and, later, nine honorary
    doctorates. He has been Regents’ Lecturer at the U. of California both in Energy and Resources and
    in Economics; Grauer Lecturer at UBC; Luce Visiting Professor at Dartmouth; Distinguished Visiting
    Professor at U. Colo.; Oikos Visiting Professor at the Business School, U. of St. Gallen; an engineering
    visiting professor at Peking U.; and MAP/Ming Professor at Stanford U.”

    So presumably Lovins should be telling people who address him as Doctor Lovins that they should be calling him Professor Lovins.

  25. #25 Rod Adams
    December 12, 2007

    Ian:

    Honorary degrees are often awarded to people for reasons other than academic accomplishment. The ability to get material published is also not a guarantee that the information is accurate. I have no doubt that Mr. Lovins is a smart man because he managed to gain entry into some fine institutions and he can carry on a discussion full of figures without stumbling or referring to notes.

    My beef with Lovins is that he plays loosely with numbers about energy, even when there are well measured and analytical facts available. I believe that his career success has been largely influenced by the fact that his numbers have pleased some very powerful and wealthy countries, corporations and individuals associated with the fossil fuel industry.

    It is fairly easy to make friends and have influence if you start as a member of “The Establishment” and if you are willing to bend reality to help people who seek power and wealth. As Sun Tzu would say – “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” I know from long association that powerful people have often read Sun Tzu’s classic “The Art of War” and apply his advice in their daily work.

    I think Lovins’s academic record is germane to the discussion of his credibility. The RMI web site describes his qualifications in very interesting language:

    “Amory Lovins – Rocky Mountain Institute Cofounder, Chairman, and Chief Scientist, is a consultant experimental physicist educated at Harvard and Oxford. He has received an Oxford MA (by virtue of being a don)”

    The phrase above “awarded an Oxford MA by virtue of being a don” intrigued me, so I wrote to the information office at Oxford to see if they could explain it to me. Here is a quote from the reply email that I received on March 15, 2006:

    Dear Rod

    Thanks for your message.

    Due to the restrictions imposed by the UK Data Protection Act we can’t discuss the details of an individual’s academic or employment record without their permission. In general terms, though, members of academic staff are awarded what is known as the MA by Special Resolution to allow them to become members of Congregation, the University’s governing body, if they fulfil all the necessary criteria other than being a holder of one of the qualifying degrees (usually an Oxford doctorate or an Oxford MA). I should explain that the Oxford MA is awarded to holders of the Oxford BA (Hons) seven years after they first become members of the University, and is not awarded as a result of following a course of postgraduate study. Our Masters degrees are known by different titles eg MSt, MSc.

    I hope this helps.

    Best wishes,
    Clare Woodcock
    University of Oxford Information Office

    The record shows that Lovins had already developed a powerful friend named David Brower before arriving at Oxford. I would guess that Brower had something to do with Lovins appointment and selection as a don. It sure looks to me like this is an example of fluffing up a resume and then relying on that fluff for many years.

    I started digging into this topic and published a comment on my blog titled Amory Lovins Academic Career in May 2006. As some others have pointed out, that article has some pretty decent Google juice. Perhaps that is because it covers a topic that is of interest to many others.

  26. #26 Rod Adams
    December 12, 2007

    Eli:

    I do not understand your question. What “liner” are you referring to?

    Rod Adams
    Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.

  27. #27 Ian Gould
    December 12, 2007

    Rod,

    Having heard Lovins speak I suspect that he is something a snake-oil salesman and agree with your key point that he is overly optimistic about the benefits of energy efficiency. (Not to mention I’m still waiting for the first hypercar to roll off the assembly line.)

    Can I suggest though that you’d be more effective if you concentrated the substantive issues rather than quibbling over whether an MA from Oxford implies one undertook postgrad studies.

  28. #28 John Mashey
    December 12, 2007

    re: #27

    Yes, this has really gotten off into the weeds instead of arguing about any real issues, and in any case, this thread has certainly departed from Tim’s original topic.

    I *really* recommend that Sovacool/Brown book I mentioned above, as it has a lot of very good articles (not just the Lovins one whose mention stirred all this up heat).

  29. #29 Dano
    December 12, 2007

    Ah, I see: Lovins has given Rod some slight, and now Lovins has a stalker. Taking up residence in this little corner of the blogosphere.

    Best,

    D

  30. #30 JB
    December 12, 2007

    Rod Adams claims: “Based on the facts that I know about nuclear power, nuclear waste, energy politics, and energy economics from about 26 years worth of education, practice and research, I put most of Lovins’s attacks on the technology into the category of opinion. He makes numerous predictions and statements that are not backed up by actual statistics or experience and therefore cannot be verified.”

    How can one ever refute such a self-evident truths as those? (No evidence required, since they were written by God on Moses’ stone tablets).

    “He has engaged in what I consider to be deceitful embellishment of his educational resume by calling himself a physicist.”

    Perhaps you might spend less time obsessing about Lovins’ degrees and more time addressing the issues that he talks about.

    Just a thought.

    Based just on what I see above, it would appear that Rod is obsessed with Lovins qualifications.

    No wonder why he does not address the arguments that the man makes.

  31. #31 Eli Rabett
    December 12, 2007

    Liner commonly refers to the inside material in a system in contact with the working fluid. If your motor casing is made of a single material what is that material.

  32. #32 Charles Barton
    December 12, 2007

    I have had a number of internet encounters with several of Lovins’ disciples. The appear to uniformly dislike our current way of life. They dislike consumers and consumption, and argue that the American way of life cannot be sustained. They are all strongly opposed to nuclear power and full of misinformation about it. They all hate cars. They also hate WalMart, but for the wrong reasons.

  33. #33 JB
    December 12, 2007

    Charles Barton: “I have had a number of internet encounters…”

    You and Rod seem to share the superhuman ability to divine sweeping conclusions from the smallest bits of information (perhaps even a single bit).

    It have always envied diviners (or at least their rods).

  34. #34 elspi
    December 12, 2007

    “They…argue that the American way of life cannot be sustained.”

    Translation: “They are not idiots like Charles Barton”

    ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE CAN BE SUSTAINED AT $20/GALLON IS AN IDIOT.

  35. #35 trrll
    December 12, 2007

    An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument.
    The key in that definition is relevancy. In a debate, it is perfectly legitimate to point out relevant information about the source of analysis.
    In the case of Amory Lovins, the fact that he dropped out of college is relevant since he has long claimed to be educated at both Harvard and Oxford.

    I disagree. A “consider the source” argument is always ad hominem unless it is in rebuttal to an argument from authority, in which case it is relevant to question whether the individual in question is indeed an authority. Since Lovins makes actual arguments, rather than insisting “I’m right because I was educated at Harvard and Oxford,” it is not appropriate to lead off with a dismissive characterization based on his education. It is ad hominem. Like many others, I am disinclined to read further when somebody leads off with this sort of disreputable tactic, which seemed designed to bias the reader.

    Moreover, your defense which implies that you are questioning Lovin’s veracity also does not hold water, since you provide no evidence that Lovins actually claimed to have a degree from either institution. One can have been educated at an institution without having received a degree.

  36. #36 Charles Barton
    December 12, 2007

    ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE CAN BE SUSTAINED AT $20/GALLON IS AN IDIOT. – elspi

    elspi, I am planning to for my next car to be a plug in EV, powered by electricity by electricity from Comanche Peak reactors. Even if gas costs $30 a gallon, electricity from nuclear power plants still only costs 1.7 cents a KWh. Energy that cheep will sustain our way of life for a long time.

  37. #37 guthrie
    December 12, 2007

    The problem is the american way of life involves hogging the earths available resources and then throwing them away when finished with. That is unsustainable, unless some amazing wibbletech is discovered in the next decade or two.

    However, there is no reason why, with appropriate adjustments, most people in the USA cannot continue to enjoy the current living standards, except of course they won’t get to burn hundreds of gallons of fuel going places, and they won’t be able to buy socks for a couple of bucks.

  38. #38 Rod Adams
    December 12, 2007

    Rather than continue with my hijack of this forum, I invite those who are interested in learning more about the weaknesses in Lovins’s energy visions to do a search on Atomic Insights on the word “Lovins”.

    You are correct in asserting that I left a lot of facts and figures out of my posts here, but getting involved in any form of discussion always requires leaving out a lot in each exchange. There is always more to say.

    For Eli – Adams Engines are turbines and do not have a liner. The specific materials used are not complex, the temperatures and pressures in our system are essentially identical to those found in simple combustion turbines produced as early as the 1960s.

    For guthrie and elspi – I happen to agree with your sentiment. Our way of life is not sustainable without major changes in both energy use and supply. I just happen to understand that uranium and thorium are part of the solution based on having spent many months sealed in a small, self contained atmosphere with a tiny amount of uranium as my sole energy source.

    For trrll – I disagree with your assessment of whether or not Lovins uses an appeal to authority. His marketing materials certainly give the impression of one who wants people to believe him based on his superior education and intellect. Why else would he list all of his awards, the educational institutions that he attended, and his honorary degrees? It is also pretty clear that people who buttress their arguments about energy by using quotes from Lovins are using the “appeal to authority” argument, not performing original analysis.

    It has been fun.

  39. #39 Eli Rabett
    December 12, 2007

    Then you got a problem with nitridization and embrittlement.

  40. #40 JB
    December 13, 2007

    Charles Barton : “electricity from nuclear power plants still only costs 1.7 cents a KWh. Energy that cheep will sustain our way of life for a long time.”

    “Energy too cheap to meter”, anyone?

    The future cost of electricity generation by plants not yet built is the proper thing to consider.

    Putting a Price on Nuclear Power

    By John Murawski, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

    “Underestimating costs and charging them to customers helped discredit nuclear power 30 years ago,” said Peter Bradford, a commissioner on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who teaches energy policy at Yale University. “It would be astonishing if North Carolina and Florida regulators allowed it to happen again.”

    According to the DOE’s Energy Information Administration, a nuclear plant would generate electricity for 5.71 cents per kilowatt hour, which is 45 percent more than Progress Energy’s estimate [3.93 cents a kilowatt hour].Using industry assumptions, the cost would be 4.93 cents a kilowatt hour, which is 25 percent more than Progress Energy’s projection.”

    What’s more, the DOE study concludes that nuclear power is more costly than natural gas and coal plants. The construction and equipment costs of a nuclear plant don’t compensate for the low price of uranium, the DOE concluded.

    Other studies have reached similar conclusions. A University of Chicago study in 2004 concluded that the first new nuclear plants would be more expensive than gas or coal plants, generating electricity at a cost as high as 7.1 cents per kilowatt hour (81 percent more than Progress Energy’s estimate), depending on what assumptions are plugged in. Using assumptions similar to Progress Energy’s, the most optimistic estimate would be 5.1 cents per kilowatt hour, or 30 percent higher than Progress Energy’s estimate, according to the University of Chicago calculations.

    A study by MIT in 2003 estimated 5.2 cents per kilowatt hour for a nuclear plant, or 32 percent more than Progress Energy estimates.”
    ///end quotes

    And of course, the public is expected to pick up the tab for removal and long term disposal of the waste and decommissioning of spent reactors (more waste) — and for “cleanup” in the event of an accident.

    Of course.

  41. #41 trrll
    December 13, 2007

    Rob Adams writes:

    Based on the facts that I know about nuclear power, nuclear waste, energy politics, and energy economics from about 26 years worth of education, practice and research, I put most of Lovins’s attacks on the technology into the category of opinion.

    I nominate “that’s only opinion” (along with it’s creationist variant, “it’s only theory”) for the award as the Dumbest Argument of All Time. Obviously, any generalization, prediction, or recommendation is opinion. An opinion may be right or wrong, ill-founded or well-founded, but it never becomes anything other than opinion, just as evolution and gravity will never be anything other than theories.

    His marketing materials certainly give the impression of one who wants people to believe him based on his superior education and intellect. Why else would he list all of his awards, the educational institutions that he attended, and his honorary degrees?

    If listing one’s experience and professional qualifications automatically transformed everything you said into argument from authority, then one could make that accusation of anybody who lists a degree after their name. An argument from authority explicitly bases itself upon the authority of the individual, without offering any reasoning or evidence. For example, I would consider the following to be an argument from authority:

    As an aside – my nuclear expertise is reasonably solid. Though my degrees are in English and Systems Technology, I served for about 12 years as an officer in the nuclear submarine force. During about 40 months of that time, I was the Engineer Officer (a role that the surface navy calls the Chief Engineer) of the USS Von Steuben, SSBN 643 Gold.
    I also founded a Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. in 1993 based on an evolutionary design for a small atomic power plant. As part of that effort, I began publishing Atomic Insights. I also write a blog titled Atomic Insights and produce a podcast called The Atomic Show.
    Decide for yourself I know what I am talking about.

  42. #42 Rod Adams
    December 13, 2007

    trrll:

    I guess I was not clear. The only reason that I listed my publications and the name of my company was to provide an easy way for people to Google to find articles and papers I have written so they can do some fact checking. They can decide for themselves if my work provides evidence of my knowledge about nuclear power. I did not think it was appropriate to take this discussion any further away from its original intent.

    Rod Adams
    Editor, Atomic Insights

  43. #43 Barton Paul Levenson
    December 14, 2007

    I think you can probably design a nuclear industry where A) the plants can’t melt down, B) the waste is properly disposed of, and C) terrorists and rogue governments can’t divert the material into nuclear weapons.

    But I think if you had such an industry, the electricity it produced would no longer be cost-competitive.

    I’m willing to be proved wrong, however. I’m all for letting nuclear compete in the marketplace — if it does so on market terms, that is, i.e., without all the present subsidies. We can start by repealing the Price-Anderson Act, which is essentially just a promise by the US government that it will clean up the multi-billion dollar cost of a big nuclear accident.

  44. #44 John Mashey
    December 14, 2007

    re: #43 & earlier

    1) Nuclear power, as used in the US Navy, is one of the great all-time engineering success stories, i.e., Rickover & co showed that it was possible to make complicated, potentially-dangerous things work incredibly well. Many engineers revere this effort.

    2) Unfortunately, success there does not automatically carry over into the general civilian energy-supply world, where economic & other considerations are very different.

    3) Exactly what Amory Lovins (or anyone else) said/didn’t say is irrelevant. This got started because I happened to mention an article that had a concise discussion on this, not because I thought it was gospel. Like BPL, I’m perfectly happy if nuclear competes fairly.

    I do worry about subsidies, especially since the state I live in (CA) has the largest balance of payments deficit with the Federal Government, [i.e., we pay more than we get back] unlike states like Maryland and Virginia, which are just the reverse. Hence, if the Federal government has to step in to take care of a nuclear disaster, the biggest fraction of that money would come from CA, and hence, I actually care what other states do as well.

    4) Given that people have commercial interests, someone who is a consumer of energy needs to work hard to sort out conflicting claims.
    Rod Adams is straightforwardly a nuclear advocate, and his pointing at his website seems fair to me.

    5) John Doerr has a clear opinion on energy&climate. He is a very smart, very, very rich venture capitalist (Kleiner Perkins, one of the top VC firms in the world], but you might legitimately ask:

    when he is advocating various alternate energy technologies is it:
    a) Because he believes they are desperately important?
    b) Because he thinks he can make yet more money?
    c) Or some combination?

    I have an opinion, but that’s because I’ve met him a few times and heard him at local talks, which makes it easy for me. I’d urge anyone to watch this 18-minute video from TED:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/128
    Which starts from his 15-year-old daughter, and makes him scared.
    You can either believe me or not when I say I don’t think this is an act, including the last minute.

    5) For overall questions of energy & climate change, one might look at government planning documents that draw on many people, and that are driven to solve energy+climate+economy problems. I.e., such sources have some chance of lessening appearance of obvious bias.

    I’m sure there are many such around [and maybe readers will post pointers to other good documents, or if they can't find a godo one for their country or state, ask why]. At least they tend *not* to be written entirely by advocates of technology X versus technology Y, but by people who are trying to solve difficult problems.

    6) But, since I live in CA, I’ll point to our most recent edition:
    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2007publications/CEC-100-2007-008/CEC-100-2007-008-CTF.PDF

    Start with a quick summary by Joe Romm in:
    http://climateprogress.org/2007/12/13/california-looks-for-yet-more-clean-energy/

    This is a 300-page analysis, but anyone who is serious about this topic might at least see what’s covered, who participated (p279-282), which includes AREVA*, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Lawrence Livermore Labs, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Nuclear Energy Institute, PG&E, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, US DOES, US EPA, Wal-Mart, etc … so it’s hardly just Sierra Club & environmental activists.

    * Anyone who knows anything about the nuclear industry knows AREVA.

    6) This document talks about numerous things, but if people are seriously interested in nuclear issues, pp72-74 discuss its role in CA.

    p72. Plusses of nuclear, “nuclear renaissance”
    p73. “However, nuclear power still faces a number of barriers, including high capital costs, uncertain construction timelines, regulatory risks associated with the use of once-through cooling, waste disposal, and potentially sever effects from accidents, acts of nature, or terrorism.” [acts of nature: ~earthquakes]

    “Although California consumers have paid over $1B to support Federal efforts to develop a permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the repository is not expected to open until 2021, if at all.”

    See discussion about CA state laws regarding disposal.
    Also, read about GNEP and National Academies’ comments.

    p.74: economics and summary

    “In the light of the economic, environmental and regulatory obstacles involved in developing new nuclear power plants, the Energy Commission does not expect significant contributions from new nuclear plant’s towards the state’s AB 32 goals by 2020.”

    7) Anyway, this document is CA’s particular view, for CA’s own environment (although there were representatives from state governments of nearby states, plus a power company from Florida.) As something to read, though, it is *not* written from the viewpoint of “the technology I know and sell is the solution” or “I hate that technology, and it cannot be the solution.”

    This document also makes it clear that there is *serious hard work* ahead,that there are no simple magic silver bullets.

    As an historical observation, for all of CA’s screwups and faults [CA by itself is the 2nd biggest consumer of gasoline, after the USA as a whole], ignoring CA’s directions has often been unwise.

  45. #45 John Mashey
    December 15, 2007

    re: #44 ERRATA
    Oops, in 6) I mentioned a post, which was in JoeRomm’s ClimateProgress, but the post was actually by Earl Killian. Also, if you are interested in that, go first to:
    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2007_energypolicy/index.html

    and look at the executive summary.

    Also, in the ERRATA, there is:
    Good News: CA has dropped to #3 in overall gasoline use (after USA as a whole).
    Bad: News it’s not because we radically improved our usage, it’s because China came up fast.

  46. #46 Rod Adams
    December 16, 2007

    John Mashey included a very important thought in his comment posted on December 15 at 7:13 PM:

    This document also makes it clear that there is serious hard work ahead,that there are no simple magic silver bullets.

    There is no doubt that John is correct here – it took the world about 150-200 years worth of fossil fuel based development to reach the stage where we are today. Billions of man hours worth of labor and thought went into building our current civilization.

    I think that is one reason why Lovins work rubs me so wrong. He is always portraying his solutions as soft, easy, cheap and fast when compared to the “hard energy” path that includes nuclear fission power.

    The work that is before us is hard enough so that it does not make sense to eliminate any potential tools. Some of what initially bothered people like Lovins about nuclear power has concerned many of us who have devoted our lives to solving the problems. Thanks to a lot of hard work by many intelligent people most of the issues have solutions. “Waste” for example, has been stored for more than 50 years without harming anyone. It also shows great promise as a recycled future energy source.

    Lovins made the following comment during a November 2007 interview “Not a single new nuclear project on earth has received a penny of private risk capital: they’re unfinanceable in the private capital market.” (http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=672&idli=1)

    He made a similar statement during a talk that he gave in Washington, DC last spring. I was there and personally informed Mr. Lovins that I had invested a good deal more than a penny of private capital in developing Adams Engines (TM). I also mentioned that I have good information about a number of far larger investments.

    Atomic Insights includes a number of posts about private investments in nuclear power by private investors like Warren Buffett, George Chapman and Chris Crane. My blog is not the only source of that kind of information. There is a lot of private money interested in nuclear power – $100 per barrel oil and $8 per million BTU gas combined with severe restrictions on new coal fired power plants can cause people to do some serious rethinking.

    Either that truth is simply inconvenient or Mr. Lovins is a bit dated in his research.

  47. #47 JB
    December 18, 2007

    Rod Adams said: “There is a lot of private money interested in nuclear power”

    And the amount of public money that has gone into it (and that may yet again go into it) makes the private investment pale in comparison. Public “investment” is greater by orders of magnitude (“By Billions and billions” as Carl Sagan might have put it)

    Nuke Industry Is on the Verge of Getting $25 Billion Handout

    “The House is set to vote on Tuesday on the $500 billion 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill…”
    Hidden in the bill is a major energy package that would boost government financing for the nuclear industry. It would provide loan guarantees of up to $25 billion for new nuclear reactors.”

    And of course, that does not include the $50 billion or more that will have to be spent on waste storage or the untold billions that might have to spent for “cleanup” if there is a major accident.

  48. #48 Rod Adams
    December 19, 2007

    JB:
    A loan guarantee is not the same as a grant – just ask any student who has received a government backed load, a veteran who used a VA backed loan to purchase a home, or a small businessman who received an SBA backed loan after a disaster declaration.

    The waste storage fund receives about $780 million per year from electric utility companies as a result of a 0.1 cent per kilowatt-hour fee imposed on nuclear generated electricity. Since the average cost of electrical power in the US is at least 6 cents per kilowatt hour, that fee could be doubled or even tripled without any material effect on the cost of electrical power generation.

    When it comes to the “untold” billions for an accident clean-up, that story is getting a bit long in the tooth. We have had commercial nuclear power in the US for 50 years and there has NEVER been a payout needed. Either we are just darned lucky, or the risk is not very great. In the meantime, nuclear companies continue paying their insurance bills and insurance companies keep banking the money.

    (BTW – if I am not mistaken, the final energy bill did not include loan guarantees for either nuclear plants or renewables, but it did for “clean” coal. Wonder whose lobby is really strong here – clean energy or fossil fuel?)

  49. #49 JB
    December 20, 2007

    Rod Adams said “BTW – if I am not mistaken, the final energy bill did not include loan guarantees for either nuclear plants”

    Had you read what I wrote above, you would know that the guaranteed loans for nuclear plants were part of the “$500 billion 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill”, which just passed, not part of the energy bill that you refer to.

    “Hidden in the bill is a major energy package that would boost government financing for the nuclear industry. It would provide loan guarantees of up to $25 billion for new nuclear reactors.”

    Either that truth is simply inconvenient to you or you are a bit dated in your research. :)

  50. #50 Rod Adams
    December 20, 2007

    JB:

    I may be dated, I am trying hard to find a definitive source of what the bill actually included and did not include. I am looking for some that are in the past tense rather than the future tense of what might be in the bill. As you probably know, such legislative actions taken under pressure of a holiday break deadline often change at the very last minute.

    If there are provisions for loan guarantees for nuclear projects, I would imagine that the same guarantees will apply to other emission free energy sources based on the language that has been suggested up until now. If that is true then my comment about loan guarantees versus outright subsidies is germane. The only time that there will be a cost to the taxpayer is in the case of a default on the loan.

  51. #51 JB
    December 21, 2007

    Rod Adams said
    “The only time that there will be a cost to the taxpayer is in the case of a default on the loan.”

    While a government loan to a utility may not be the same as a grant or subsidy, it certainly ain’t “private investment”.

    And contrary to the implication of your false analogy, there is a very big difference between a guaranteed loan for a college student and one for a nuclear utility.

    In the former case, there is a big personal price to pay for the college student defaulting and they have little recourse but to pay.

    It is very hard to imagine a utility that serves thousands of customers threatening to default and the government allowing them to go belly up — ie not doing anything to bail them out: not allowing them to raise their rates so that they do not default.

    If the nuclear option is so attractive and so economically competitive, why does the government have to get involved at all?

    The nuclear industry has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars of government money over the past few decades which has effectively acted as an impediment to competition from other electrical generation sources like wind and solar. The amount of government money that has gone into the solar, wind and other renewables has been a drop in the bucket in comparison.

    With regard to the omnibus bill that includes the loan guarantees for nuclear industry, it passed both the House and Senate this past week.

    By the way, I think some people might be interested in knowing whether YOU or your company have been the beneficiary of any guaranteed loans, grants or other government sponsored programs over the years. It would seem to be very relevant to the current conversation.

    Personally, I have no dog in this fight other than a desire to see that public money is spent in the wisest manner possible (and not wasted on boon-doggles)

  52. #52 Rod Adams
    December 22, 2007

    JB:

    You wrote:

    “By the way, I think some people might be interested in knowing whether YOU or your company have been the beneficiary of any guaranteed loans, grants or other government sponsored programs over the years. It would seem to be very relevant to the current conversation.”

    So far, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. has not received any government loans or grants. It is an early stage company that has been funded through what is commonly referred to as F&F (friends and family) sources. (For a lot of reasons, our early stage has lasted for more than 14 years so far.)

    I personally have been the recipient of a huge investment by American taxpayers. I attended the US Naval Academy from 1977 through 1981. After graduation, I spent the next 18 months in nuclear power training. I then had the opportunity for a seriously immersive work/study program in nuclear plant operations that lasted for about 2.5 years and I earned the designation as qualified as an Engineer Officer. (That is the way I think of my junior officer tour on board the USS Von Steuben.) The taxpayers then invested a bit more in my formal education by sending me to the Naval Postgraduate School where I earned my MS in Systems Technology. After that school, I went back to a boat and served as the Engineer Officer for about 40 months. I could go on, but the bottom line is that I have probably received well in excess of $2 million dollars worth of salary and direct educational investment from the taxpayers. I feel a strong sense of obligation to give them a return on that investment.

    I will go back to at least one of the reasons that my company continues to be a struggling start up. (BTW – it is a part time gig for me since there is not yet revenue. My full time gig still brings in a government paycheck.) Before we can build the machines that we believe can make the world a better place, we have to obtain the permission of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We have no issue with that – there are good reasons for some government oversight on nuclear power systems. What has been the hurdle is the way that we have to pay for the review process – the initial application fee is $250,000 and we have to pay the NRC $258 for every hour a bureaucrat spends reviewing our application.

    The most recently approved plant design cost about $70 million in NRC fees in addition to the hundreds of millions spent in design and component testing. It takes the NRC about four years to review a design license, but there is no time limit and no limit on the number of hours that they can decide to spend. Since our gas cooled reactor technology is a bit different from the light water reactors that they know, we also have to pay the NRC fees for their reviewers to learn enough about gas cooled reactors in order to be effective regulators.

    One has to look REALLY hard to find investors who are patient enough to wait for four years and invest a couple of hundred million dollars before they can even start building!

    We have run the numbers – which happens to be what I do for a full time living – and believe that there is a substantial pay-off once the investment is made. It is just a matter of continuing to look to find the patient money that we need.

    If a loan guarantee from the government will help alleviate investor reluctance, we believe that is a good thing. It would be better if the cost structure of the NRC license process were changed, but that is pretty difficult to arrange as well. You see, making it REALLY hard for nuclear plants to be built provides a HUGE financial benefit for coal, oil and gas companies that are our only competition in the reliable energy market. The leaders and corporate strategists for those companies and their financial and political backers understand that fact very well.

    I know that people think that there MUST be breakthroughs possible in renewables if we simply invest enough money. I cannot prove them wrong, but I have looked at the technology pretty hard. It is my professional, technical opinion that investments in wind, solar and biomass are roughly equivalent to investing in teaching a near sighted dwarf with a bum knee to play basketball. He might get really good at certain aspects of the game – for his height – but he will never, ever compete in the NBA no matter how much you spend on his training and practice.

    I very clearly have a dog in this fight. I want to see America regain its moral leadership and its ability to inspire the world to greater freedom and economic prosperity. I want to break the stranglehold that fossil fuel suppliers have on the world economy and the world political sphere.

    I also want my company to be a prosperous employer and to leave my children and grandchildren a legacy that will make them proud of me.

  53. #53 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 11, 2008

    It’s a bit late, but did anybody notice that Rod Adams claimed to work at the Pentagon and then referred to it as “the Puzzle Palace?” The Puzzle Palace is the NSA, not the Pentagon.

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