More Monckton

Christopher Monckton’s visit gets covered in the Sydney Morning Herald. On Monckton’s argument that climate sensitivity us just one-sixth of the generally accepted value:

The argument Lord Monckton mounted has been painstakingly picked apart by several eminent climate-change researchers, but it was an Australian computer scientist, Tim Lambert, who helped collate many of the flaws on his website.

“A lot of the equations used to cover it up were right, but the argument was complete gibberish,” Mr Lambert said.

The hypothesis took the lowest possible range of carbon dioxide’s known warming effect on climate, multiplied it by the lowest possible effect of the various feedbacks that amplify the warming effect, to give a figure well below that shown by any observation.

One of the implications of the hypothesis was that, given what we know about climate, there could not have been ice ages in the past.

“The hypothesis is completely inconsistent with the observations,” said Professor Matthew England, the co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW.

“In science, the world isn’t wrong so the calculations must be wrong.”

John Quiggin reflects on whether it is wise to debate with Monckton:

There is, obviously, little to be achieved by debating lunatic conspiracy theorists, especially if they have plenty of practice and no scruples about lying and dodging questions (see Plimer doing both on Lateline a little while back, and Clive Hamilton’s expose of Monckton).

Graham Readfearn agreed to the debate with Monckton and Plimer. Various denialists are trying to help him with debate prep with their comments on his blog.

Comments

  1. #1 Betula
    January 22, 2010

    To summarize JH @97…

    Natural systems consist of a “myriad of complex processes”…”whose functioniung we barely understand.”

    “The real concern amongst ecologists such as myself” is to “better understand how resilient these systems are under the human assault”

    In other words, because I admit we barely understand the processes and because I realize we need to better understand the affect man has on these systems……I’m right and you’re wrong.

    In addition, the fact that someone points out that I admit we don’t fully understand the processes or their resilience to AGW, proves that they are stupid and I am smart.

    Finally, anyone who questions my lack of understanding, doesn’t understand the significance of what it is I don’t understand, and is therefore, a denier.

  2. #2 Jeff Harvey
    January 22, 2010

    Flatula (a more appropriate name for you),

    Speaking out of your ass again, I see (no pun intended). Given you have absolutely no scientific acumen whatsoever, I wonder why I waste my time with types like you. But I do.

    First of all, we know enough about complex adaptive systems to realize that they sustain humanity through the generation of a range of freely provided ecological services. These services have few technological substitutes, and there are a number of empirical studies which have assessed their economic value after being loss or added to ecological communities. A seminal paper by Costanza et al. (1997) in Nature estimated the combined value of all ecological services worldwide to be twice that of the combined GDP of all nations on Earth. Theis clearly shows that ecological systems are worth more than the sum of their parts.

    We also know that as humans simplify natural systems, we reduce levels of functional redundancy in them, thus pushing them closer to points beyond which they will break down. Redundancy is important in maintaining the stability of natural systems because it offers alternate services for the cycling of nutrients, transfer of matter and water across different trophicx levels, and reduces the risk of stochastic (= unpredictable) effects.

    Certainly, the study of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning is one of the most intensively researched areas in the field of contemproary ecology. What we do know is that over vastly differing scales, ecological systems generate life-support conditions for humanity. We also know that the current loss of biodiversity is likely to have huge societal costs. As I stipulated in an early posting in this thread it already is. AGW is alsmost certain to exacerbate biodiversity loss that is already occurring due to other human-induced stresses. Against this background we have know-nothings like Betula wading in with his two cents worth of wisdom.

    Betula, given that you probably have no relavnt knowledge of population and systems ecology, I will not go on. But before you wade into areas beyond your competence it is wise to come up with something more than superficial arguments and wise-cracks.

  3. #3 Betula
    January 22, 2010

    @102

    A bit immature with the name calling eh Larvae? (no pun intended).

    You accused me of talking out of my ass @101, yet I was using your own words….. so wouldn’t that mean you were talking out of my ass? What are you, a ventriloquist?

    Your response to my comment, regarding your own admission of what it is we don’t know, is to inform me of what it is we do know, ie:

    1.”ecological systems generate life-support conditions for humanity”

    2.”that the current loss of biodiversity is likely to have huge societal costs.”

    3.”biodiversity loss [...] is already occurring due to other human-induced stresses”

    None of this disproves my statement @101. In fact, you reemphasized my point with this…

    “AGW is alsmost certain to exacerbate biodiversity loss that is already occurring due to other human-induced stresses”

    You see larvae, “almost certain” is not certain, and the reason it’s not certain, as you know, is because of our lack of understanding of many things…

    You believe AGW is certain, yet your mind won’t allow you to spell it out.

    Meanwhile, your arrogance and twisted logic have joined forces, causing you to believe you are somehow smarter than everyone else for pointing out how little it is you know.

  4. #4 guthrie
    January 22, 2010

    Well, yes, Betula, it is the smart thing to do to point out how little you know.

  5. #5 Betula
    January 22, 2010

    Guthrie,

    Finally, we reach a mutual conclusion. Larvae is a genius.

  6. #6 guthrie
    January 22, 2010

    I don’t know, who is this larvae you speak of?

  7. #7 sim
    January 22, 2010

    Camel writes:

    >*My goal is to slash CO2 emissions by methods that require far reaching legislation.*

    You’re going about reaching it in a funny way. Sort of like this is what you say but not what you do. Remember [how you started](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2214698)?

    >*Joe Six-pack is still hoping that the climate will get warmer so that he can give up drinking beer and switch to the wine his ancestors were enjoying back in the Medieval Warm Period. [...]*

    >*satellite temperature measurements support Joe’s wet thumb that tells him things have been cooling lately. [...]*

    >*…Can you learned gentlemen explain why IPCCs AR4 and the more recent Copenhagen Diagnosis still show the Hockey Stick temperature trend instead of a drooping noodle?*

    Your behavior provides ample evidence that you’re an insincere baiter. If I’m wrong then prove it by publishing you brilliant solution anywhere. However the reason you are hiding your solution is transparent.

  8. #8 jakerman
    January 22, 2010

    Betula returns to his same game:

    >*You see larvae, “almost certain” is not certain, and the reason it’s not certain, as you know, is because of our lack of understanding of many things…*

    Again Betula skewers his [trusty strawman](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/12/evidence_doesnt_seem_to_change.php#comment-2212688). How bold and skillful Betula is to be able to one again slay his own strawman, the one that he just keeps putting up.

    Time and time again Betula resorts to the bankrupt argument that if we don’t know everything then we don’t know enought to discern what a responsible approach to CO2 mitigation is.

    Lazy Betula, very lazy. But I suppose what else could you do if you are satisfied with being argumentative but empty.

  9. #9 Bernard J.
    January 22, 2010

    [Betula](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2220471).

    Jeff Harvey is simply using scientifically traditional circumspection in his statement, but I’ll say it explicitly for you – AGW is certain to exacerbate the enormous rate of biodiversity loss that is already occurring due to other human-induced stresses. It will have profound consequences for the functioning and the integrity of ecosystems, and it will have huge negative consequences for human society.

    You’re an arborist, aren’t you? You should be able to identify examples pertinent to your own line of work, and they should be sufficient to raise alarm bells for you – cerainly in the context of the next century or several.

    If, after a day or so of thinking time (and probably repeated prompting) you struggle to think of any, perhaps I or others can throw a bone or two your way.

    Consider it professional development.

  10. #10 TrueSceptic
    January 22, 2010

    “Larvae is“? WTF?

  11. #11 gallopingcamel
    January 22, 2010

    sim@107, no I was not baiting you; just trying to get your attention. I really am one of those people you love to slap labels on but my intentions are honourable. I want to find out how many can muster the testicular fortitude to work with people you despise.

    When there is a bi-partisan group with a simple purpose its chances of success will be much higher than that of any partisan group, no matter how well funded. Even with such a group the road will be long and hard.

    My solution is not brilliant and I hope you folks can come up with something better. However, just to get things started here is my idea. For the last 20 years I have been a researcher and teacher in the field of Electro-Optics. Although I am not a nuclear physicist I am a trained “Radiation Worker” with experience managing “Radiation Safety” at a university in the United States where some of the research underpinning this proposal was carried out.

    To go back to where I started, Joe Six-pack has the idea that reducing CO2 emissions is another way of saying “Give up your 4×4 truck or Redneck Cadillac”. Any solution that aims to cut those emissions has no chance. One needs to look elsewhere.

    A solution that allows Joe to keep his truck while reducing his electricity bill may have a chance. In 1977, France started commissioning nuclear plants on a huge scale; in less than 30 years over 80% of the nation’s electric power was nuclear.

    When France was going nuclear, the US president (Jimmy Carter), trained in nuclear engineering, made the contrary choice so US nuclear power generating capacity stagnated. Carter’s decisions also included a ban on the reprocessing of spent fuel, thereby creating the need for Yucca mountain.

    The US could enact legislation on the French model but in my view it would be a mistake to emulate the extremely complex reprocessing technology the French have mastered. We can do better by “leap-frogging” the French with advanced fission reactors.

    The nuclear reactors I am talking about will look a little different from current designs as they will be smaller and simpler:

    1. No containment structures because the reactors are intrinsically safe.

    2. The reactors consume nuclear waste very efficiently, including the higher Actinides currently destined for Yucca mountain.

    3. The reactors “burn” Thorium which is far more abundant in the earth’s crust than Uranium is.

    4. The related fuel reprocessing is “dry”, much simpler and more efficient than the “wet” French technology. Best of all, it happens at each reactor site.

    There are already two technologies that meet these criteria but before they can blossom new laws will have to be written.

    There are some fun (at least to physicists) videos and presentations describing these technologies. If anyone is interested in technical details please email me at:
    p23305209@yahoo.com

  12. #12 John
    January 22, 2010

    Yes Camel I would like to lose weight while eating nothing but Mars Bars.

  13. #13 jakerman
    January 22, 2010

    Its my understanding that the Gen IV including Thorium reactors you decribe are not a silver bullet. The time frames required for sufficient deployment mean their role will be moderate at best.

    The economics are not yet clear because of their developmental phase and the various subsidies that are not fully transparent. I’m not sure that the safety issues are as simple as you imply either.

    I assume you’d prefer a market solution to the energy problem rather than a centrally planned soviet style imposition and walking over local government and local citizen’s rights.

    I’m pro-renewable and interested in a price on carbon (which nukies should favour). I’also see the desperate need for Democratic protections against concentration of political power (which has some overlap with protection from energy monopolies and concentration from electrical power).

    I don’t want some massively subsidized nuclear program backed by highly concentrated power displacing more distributed and democratically consistent renewable program.

    It seems to me that internalizing closer to the full price of carbon is in the interest of the the pro-nukes and the pro-renewables. When we’ve got that we can talk about internalizing more of the cost of nuclear and renewable power.

  14. #14 gallopingcamel
    January 23, 2010

    jakerman@113, you are the one I am looking for. You already understand everything that I am talking about; the good, the bad and the ugly.

    We can agree that there are no silver bullets but anything that can be done to reduce CO2 emissions makes sense. Returning emissions to lower levels reminds me of the Hippocratic Oath that says “First do no harm…”

  15. #15 jakerman
    January 23, 2010

    >*jakerman@113, you are the one I am looking for. You already understand everything that I am talking about; the good, the bad and the ugly.*

    As do many [here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/09/nuclear_power.php) on this blog.

  16. #16 guthrie
    January 23, 2010

    gallopingcamel – if that was your best way to get our attention, you just made yourself look like a moron. Do some research before you open your big mouth next time. You could have started talking about good way’s of stopping CO2 emissions right from the start without making idiotic comments to wind us up. Now we’ll just leave jakerman to talk to you because in terms of communication, you suck.

  17. #17 Jeff Harvey
    January 23, 2010

    Good old Betula does not attempt to engage is discussion over the effects of climate change in synergy with other anthropogenic stresses on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

    Why not? Because, quite simply, he does not even possess a basic understanding of the main theories and empirical findings in the field, let alone how changes in the structure of food webs or communities will affect the way they work. So he does what the ignoranti usually do – resort to personal smears and accusations. Basically, the thrust of the arguments put forward by the anti-environmental lobby is much the same – if you do not understand a process, then there is no problem. Their other refrain is to say without 100% unequivocal proof, a problem does not exit. This strategy has been used to downplay habitat loss, acid rain, loss of biodiversity, the threat of invasive species and climate change. They suggest that if we do not fully comprehend the effects, then there is not concern. Business as usual is the only business until scientists can prove beyond any doubt that these processes are harmful.

    Expanding upon this theme, denialists like Betula will claim that nothing should be done to deal with human assaults on natural systems across ther biosphere if we do not fully understand the consequences of these assaults. Basically, we do have more than enough empirical evidence to show that (1) humans are radically altering the surface of the planet, (2) that there are ecological consequences to this, (3) this is occurring through through the effects of anthropogenic stresses I outlined above, including significant regional changes in climate since the 1980s, (4) that this is having a singificantly deleterious effect on individuals, populations and communities (= biodiversity), (5) that this is reducing functional redundancy and thus system resilience and (6) that natural ecosystems are showing signs of fraying. I might as well (6) which is that the loss of biodiversity is having significant economic costs on society.

    Now, Betula, you actually made some very important factual statements in an earlier response, one of which is that I know infintely more about this field of research than you do. Many thanks for pointing out that. Second, the views I express here are shared by the vast amjority of professional population and systems ecologists and are certainly not my own. If you were to scan through the pages of about 20 of the most important journals in ecology you would see that they are filled with articles supporting what I have said here.

    If you want, Betual, I will debate you any time and any place on the importance of biodiversity in sustaining civilization, on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioining across various scales in terrestrial and aquatic ecosytems, and what the effects of warming are likely to be on the ecophsyiology of species in their natural habitats.

    But, given you know absolutely nothing of the field, I might as well debate a kindergarten child.

  18. #18 Lawless Lill
    January 23, 2010

    Your posts are very informative Jeff Harvey – thank you, however, I detect the same level of disinterest in biodiversity and ecosystems that one encounters elsewhere. I wonder when the disinterested will realise that all things are connected – but hey why don’t you come over to Western Australia and give the regulators a rev? WA has only 2.2.million people, is the largest state in the nation but its population growth is the highest in the country.

    The SW of WA is offially one of the planet’s biodiversity hotspots with many threatened plant and animal species. Dryland salinity in WA is engulfing the equivalent of 19 footie fields are day.

    The major Swan and Canning rivers are polluted with toxic levels of cancer-causing heavy metals, pesticides and hydrocarbons, creosol, phenol etc. Poisons including zinc, lead, copper, mercury and dieldrin were found to exceed guidelines at seven sites across Perth. Lead concentrations peaked ‘dramatically’ around the Maylands and Claisebrook area.

    Plumes of BTEX are heading towards the Swan. They’re already in the Canning. A toxic plume from a hazardous waste plant chemical fire has reached the major Swan tributary, the Helena River.

    Last November, the West Australian government was accused of a cover-up for failing to tell the public that dolphins had been dying in Perth’s Swan River for months. Six bottlenose dolphins died over 5 months and at least three had high levels of dieldrin which were among the highest levels reported globally in marine mammals at the present time. Some were covered with severe skin lesions. While dieldrin is bio-accumulative, one needs to question what river remediation has been carried out when dieldrin was banned in WA in 1988?

    Mass fish mortalities continue in WA – one incident – 300,000 deaths. 9,000 native birds were wilfully slaughtered by a mining company from lead emissions – poisoning the environment with impunity. 6,500 native birds and animals were slaughtered by another miner when caught in a mining trench where they were unable to free themselves. One mining company dumped 14 tonnes of mercury over the city of Kalgoorlie in two years and got a slap on the wrist for their efforts. Impacts on biodiversity? Who knows?

    Thousands of native birds have died in outback heatwaves. Birds around Perth’s lakes and parks are dying in the hundreds from avian botulism.

    Rightwing forces who brought us market fundamentalism and the shonky Ponziform schemes simply deny our every ecological calamity. Collaborator, WA’s Premier, Barney Rubble, is over-riding EPA Environmental Impact Assessments and handing out licences to pollute like paddle pops.

    Is there any hope for the survival of the species – any species?

  19. #19 Jeff Harvey
    January 23, 2010

    Before Betula digs himself into an even deeper hole, let us cast our minds back to examine why I entered this debate on this thread.

    In an earlier posting, galloping camel made the rather fatuous remark that he/she would enjoy an even ‘toastier climate’ under the auspices of the current warming. My riposte was to argue that the survival of the human species is dependent on a wide array of conditions and services that emerge from nature for which there are few technological substitutes. Therefore, putting aside the usual anthopocentric posturings of the denialati, we should aim to better understand what a ‘toastier climate’ means for food webs, communties, ecosystems and biomes across quite large spatio-temporal scales. As a senior scientist, I am fully aware that a rapidly changing climate is challenging many species to adapt and that many will not be able to do so (this is already being shown in numerous studies). The consequences of biodiversity loss, exacerbated by the current warming episode are likely to be dire. I say likely as any scientist would or should; there is is significant evidence that this is correct.

    In wades Betula, self-appointed contrarian rescuer of contrarians, not to criticize GCs simple remark but to try and make my own arguments appear to be irrational and thus to give ther impression that I stand out on a limb. I got news for you pal: MY VIEWS ARE SHARED BY THE VAST MAJORITY OF MY PEERS IN POPULATION ECOLOGY. And then pages of journals like Ecology Letters, Ecology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Oecologia, Oikos, Functional Ecology, Global Change Biology, Ecological Mongraphs, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution are filled with peer-reviewed articles that support what I have said here and above.

  20. #20 gallopingcamel
    January 23, 2010

    jakerman@115, thanks for the links, Barry Brook is crystal clear in his analysis. In the USA, the IFR was taken out of play in 1992 by Bill Clinton. Is it politically possible to build one in Australia?

    To respond to one of your earlier comments I am not advocating a government managed program. Governments are no good at picking winners and losers when it comes to technology; we need to get them out of the way and let the market place sort things out.

    Private enterprise (e.g. GE) will build your windmills, solar cells or nukes; whatever makes economic sense under our laws. Personally I like LFTRs and SCNRs but you can be sure that something even better will pop up.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHdRJqi__Z8

  21. #21 Marco
    January 23, 2010

    @gallopingcamel:
    Could you please explain how Clinton could take something out of play in the year before his presidency started?

  22. #22 elspi
    January 23, 2010

    Come on Marco,
    The Clenis is so massive that it warps time and space. This is also how
    Clinton invaded somalia before his inauguration.

    Thus we may assume that the camel a right-wing half-brain (as if there were any other kind).

  23. #23 P. Lewis
    January 23, 2010

    I think someone didn’t read Wikipedia closely enough:

    With the election of President Bill Clinton in [Nov] 1992, and the appointment of Hazel O’Leary as the Secretary of Energy, there was pressure from the top to cancel the IFR. Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) and O’Leary led the opposition to the reactor, arguing that it would be a threat to non-proliferation efforts…

    But earlier in the page:

    The U.S. Department of Energy built a prototype but canceled the project in 1994, three years before completion.

  24. #24 Nick
    January 23, 2010

    I love watching J. Harvey giving Betula a birching…

  25. #25 AmandaS
    January 23, 2010

    Jeff Harvey

    In an eco-lodge in Belize, they had a saying carved into the centre which I’ve always remembered.

    “The ecologist walks in a world of wounds.”

    A

  26. #26 Bernard J.
    January 23, 2010

    Betula.

    How’s your [professional development](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2221233) progressing?

    Are you right to review the science of climatological impacts upon species and ecosystems ,as it might pertain to your line or work, or do you need a hint?

    [AmandaS](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2223391).

    That quote says it so profoundly well…

  27. #27 gallopingcamel
    January 24, 2010

    Marco et al, @121-123, many thanks for picking up my mistake.

    My point about nuclear power is that the problems are political rather than technical. Perhaps, I should have tried the Sierra Club or Greenpeace instead of Deltoid.

    Getting back to technical matters, I was hoping that someone would play the 25 minute video on LFTRs (@120). If you can’t spare 25 minutes take a look at this link:

    http://thoriumenergy.blogspot.com/

    The excellent IFR was undone because it depends on molten sodium for cooling. Every schoolboy knows what happens when alkali metals come in contact with air or water. The LFTR replaces the sodium with inert salts, thereby resolving major safety issues while eliminating the need for a blanket of inert gas.

    The LFTR is by no means the end of this strand of technology (liquid phase fission reactors). I was hoping to be challenged when I said:

    @111 “The reactors consume nuclear waste very efficiently, including the higher Actinides currently destined for Yucca mountain.”

    The proponents of IFRs and LFTRs make no such claims. I was referring to another class of reactors specifically designed to do this; ones you won’t find in Wikipedia. The first one we tested was built out of wood by Charles Bowman on his farm in Virginia. You don’t see many nuclear reactors built out of “renewables” so this one got my attention.

    Our tests and a subsequent series at Los Alamos National Laboratory went really well but the meager funding dried up when the political champion (Senator Peter Domenici) decided not to run for re-election.

    SCNRs can burn the higher Actinides; the really nasty stuff destined for Yucca mountain. In addition the reactor can be turned on and off like a light bulb. By definition SCNRs are “Sub-Critical” so there is no possibility of a Chernobyl or 3M Island event. Take away the neutron beam and the nuclear reactions stop in micro-seconds.

    For SCNRs to be attractive, the cost of neutrons has to fall. Recently, the art of neutron production made a quantum leap forward following the commissioning of the 1 MW Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    What will it take to create a full scale SCNR? For starters you need a 25MW neutron source but that is not looking so cuckoo since the SNS has proven so successful.

    As I said earlier, the real problems are political rather than technical. Can we change the legislation in the USA or perhaps Australia? If not, the next generation of nuclear power plants will be built in India and France.

  28. #28 dhogaza
    January 24, 2010

    As I said earlier, the real problems are political rather than technical. Can we change the legislation in the USA

    Do you mean change the legislation in the US so nuclear power plant operators are fully liable for the consequences of catastrophic failure?

    Apparently that shield’s not necessary, right?

  29. #29 gallopingcamel
    January 24, 2010

    Owners of nuclear power plants in the USA are liable for any harm they cause and they all have insurance to cover the risks.

    My job involved compliance with radiation safety regulation at federal and state levels (North Carolina Yellow Book). If I had the power to change these regulations they would be even tougher than they are today.

    While I agree with James Lovelock when he advocates more nuclear power, I oppose his idea that we should accept a higher level of radiation in the environment; that does not need to happen, even with a ten fold growth of nuclear power generation. In the USA every major project has to provide an “Environmental Impact Statement”. Some of the technologies mentioned earlier have the potential to look really good in this regard.

    The legislation I am talking about discourages investment in nuclear power of any kind. Some of our legislation already expressly forbids technologies that are being used successfully in other countries.

  30. #30 Mal Adapted
    January 24, 2010

    “The ecologist walks in a world of wounds”

    The full quote is:

    one of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.

    Aldo Leopold, Round River

    Leopold would not be surprised by today’s AGW deniers.

  31. #31 jakerman
    January 24, 2010

    >*Owners of nuclear power plants in the USA are liable for any harm they cause and they all have insurance to cover the risks.*

    Are you sure this is an entirely accurate and transparent claim caemel?

    This link might give you some sense of the what dogaza is refering to.

    < http://www.citizen.org/documents/Price%20Anderson%20Factsheet.pdf>

  32. #32 Vince Whirlwind
    January 24, 2010

    “Owners of nuclear power plants in the USA are liable for any harm they cause and they all have insurance to cover the risks”

    Crap. Insurance companies would’t touch them with a bargepole which is why they need underwriting by the government AND a pathetically low cap on their liability.

    Your entire gibber about Nuclear power is nonsense from start to finish – Thorium reactors don’t exist, building a nuke without a containment building has nothing to do with safety but is to reduce costs, there is no nuke design that solves the intractable waste issue, and nobody will ever build a nuke without massive government support in the form of planning law immunity, subsidy and risk underwriting because it is an intrinsically uneconomic and socially undesirable method of generating power if you add up all the real costs associated with it.

    I wonder if somewhere in your imagination you aren’t even just a tad worried about the idea of a liquid-sodium-cooled nuclear reactor with no containment building? “So safe nothing could ever go wrong”.

  33. #33 P. Lewis
    January 24, 2010
  34. #34 Vince Whirlwind
    January 24, 2010

    Good link, Jakerman.

    Now that the Camel has been exposed at having no clue, it will hopefully have the good manners to piss off and inflict its stupidity on others, somewhere else.

  35. #35 P. Lewis
    January 24, 2010

    Ah! I see dhogaza got there first.

  36. #36 P. Lewis
    January 24, 2010

    Doh!!!! Make that jakerman! Time for bed.

  37. #37 Fran Barlow
    January 24, 2010

    Jakerman

    The reasoning at the link you refer to is flawed.

    What Price-Anderson does is force nuclear power companies to pay a large excess and then leave the rest to the public as insurer of last resort. Absent Price-Anderson, if there were a catastrophic accident causing, for argument’s sake, $100 billion in damage, the operator would declare bankruptcy and pay virtually nothing. The public would then have to pay all of it.

    As things stand, no nuclear mishap covered by Price-Anderson has gone within a bulls’ roar of testing the pooled $US10 billion liability. The pooling arrangement actually imposes a discipline on the whole industry not to permit free riders to under cut standards, because they all know that any serious accident exceeding an individual operators capacity to pay will be met by all of them. They also know that if the limit is tested, the pressure to raise the cap will be immense, so fears associated with adverse selection come to the aid of the public.

    What it also ensures is that notwithstanding poor business circumstances for an individual operator, the funds for remedial action for foreseeable incidents will be available.

    It’s also worth point out that no organisation in business is required to meet open-ended public liability. 9/11 showed that operating airlines opened the door to catastrophic losses. A lot more than $US10 billion was lost that day and as we know, there were some 3000 dead and countless others scarred for life. But are airlines required to indemnify for the worst harm that anyone could dream up? Of course not because if they were, there would be no airlines. What sort of casualties do you suppose would ensue if someone chose Superbowl day or Presidential inauguration day to crash a fully fuelled airliner into the assembled crowd? Don’t say it couldn’t happen.

    Nor are other energy operators open-endedly responsible in advance for the harms they might in extremis cause. They all have capped liability and for much the same reason. The services are essential and but for some risk pooling with the beneficiaries, the services could not operate. Indeed, what underwriter can pout a cost on perhaps a multi-trillion dollar risk, even if the operators might be inclined to pay the premium.

    To present Price-Anderson as some sort of subsidy without insisting that every other operator of every other business also insure for catastrophic risk is really just misleading special pleading against nuclear power.

  38. #38 jakerman
    January 24, 2010

    >*Absent Price-Anderson, if there were a catastrophic accident causing, for argument’s sake, $100 billion in damage, the operator would declare bankruptcy and pay virtually nothing. The public would then have to pay all of it.*

    Abscent the Price-Anderson Act, would be an alternative act for dealing with the risks associated with various forms of nuclear power chain. What advocates for closer to ‘full cost internalisation’ are arguing for, is that those in the nuclear profit chain be required to buy full insurance at market prices. (Should be quite cheap for plants that have seeming no risk).

    >*Nor are other energy operators open-endedly responsible in advance for the harms they might in extremis cause.*

    All should be responsible for the risks they induce, particular as there risk they induce are not equally distributed. That’s why I want a price on carbon.

    >*They [other energy operators] all have capped liability and for much the same reason.*

    Which Act are your refering to? Would be interesting to compare the Act which you imply with the Price-Anderson Act.

    >*The services are essential and but for some risk pooling with the beneficiaries, the services could not operate.*

    A similar argument is made for protecting coal fire power from internalising more of the costs of carbon. The solution can be similar, bring in the change over-time, telegraphing the policy for internalising full market costs in incramental steps.

  39. #39 Fran Barlow
    January 24, 2010

    Jkerman said:

    What advocates for closer to ‘full cost internalisation’ are arguing for, is that those in the nuclear profit chain be required to buy full insurance at market prices.

    I don’t disagree as a matter of principle. The question is, how does one calculate this, precisely? The latest iterations of nuclear plants are a good deal safer than the earlier and older ones. Even these are safer than they used to be as our knowledge has expanded. It’s worth noting that nothing nin Price-Anderson bars any state from imposing new burdens of liability or prevents anyone suing in cricumstances where the pooled funds don’t suffice. All Price-Anderson does is ensure that funds which will almost certainly be adequate are set aside.

    You might want to argue for a higher cap. $10.3 billion isn’t enough, what about $20.6 billion? At some point though you need to put a number on it for someone to pay it. It also can’t be a silly number that could never be paid because that’s really just a way of legislating the plants out of business or a number that doesn’t relate to a bona fide model of risk. If that would be the result one should simply do that and not pretend it’s about full cost internalisation.

    I rather suspect that for the next generation of plants, the number is too high, but politically it would be hard to put it down and there’s no reason to do so. But nobody is going to insure when the damage could be anything. Even a bookmaker who wanted to bet on me becoming the next Queen of England would insist on me specifying some odds.

    All should be responsible for the risks they induce, particular as there risk they induce are not equally distributed. That’s why I want a price on carbon.

    I agree 100%. Since we aren’t sure exactly what that risk is, but fear reasonably that it could be very great, we should put a high price on it and be prepared to adjust upward as needed. To me $100 per tonne sounds pretty good. I wouldn’t mind a price on the other toxics as well (such as actinides, mercury, sulphur etc) since this would distinguish coal from say NG which isn’t nearly as toxic in the immediate sense.

    But I still would have a number on it.

    At the moment other energy operators are ‘capping’ their liability at what they think is reasonable, accepting of course that their insurance company can be sued as can a negliogent nuclear power operator. Of course, if they do get sued and the funds aren’t there, they simply go out of business and allow the creditors to fight it out.

    As I see it, the problem is that the veryday risk of operating a nuclear plant is quite small but the damage ensuing from a bizarre confluence of events — is potentially quite large. It’s unlikely in the extreme that we or anyone of our descendents will ever see another nuclear accident to roughly compare with Chernobyl in its scope. I saw a quote of possibly one such accident every 4000 years but as the facility itself would have containment … Price Anderson would cover that easily.

  40. #40 gallopingcamel
    January 24, 2010

    dhogaza@128 Do you mean change the legislation in the US so nuclear power plant operators are fully liable for the consequences of catastrophic failure?

    I am not advocating anything of the kind. This would mean eliminating the concept of “Limited Liability” with huge ramifications for western civilisation. Oops! A new post by Fran Barlow appeared. I think he explains it rather well.

    Insurance is complicated, especially when the government gets heavily involved, as they do in banking and home ownership. When things go badly wrong, companies go bankrupt and that is why Price-Anderson includes an up front insurance bond.

    Insurance is an important part of the regulatory framework that investors need to understand before they will commit to building a nuclear power plant. How would you folks modify insurance regulations relating to nuclear power? Try to do better than dhogaza as his idea is a lead balloon.

    @132, I never suggested building IFRs with no containment structures or inert gas blankets. In fact the reactivity of the molten sodium was a big factor in the decision to cancel IFR funding. Read @127 more carefully. LFTRs on the other hand do not need the gas blanket. While a containment structure is needed it is pretty flimsy compared to the sturdy double containment structure of current water cooled designs.

    SCNRs can be built with very limited containment structures. I am surprised that none of you picked up on my mention of wood (black pine) as an integral part of the reactor. I would be happy to send you more information but so far I can detect no sign that anyone has looked at the links in my earlier posts. I had such high hopes for the savvy jakerman.

    @132 Your entire gibber about Nuclear power is nonsense from start to finish – Thorium reactors don’t exist, building a nuke without a containment building has nothing to do with safety but is to reduce costs, there is no nuke design that solves the intractable waste issue, and nobody will ever build a nuke without massive government support in the form of planning law immunity, subsidy and risk underwriting because it is an intrinsically uneconomic and socially undesirable method of generating power if you add up all the real costs associated with it.

    Vince, you must live in a parallel universe if you believe a word of the Gishgallop shown above. Just for starters, when it comes to burning higher Actinides in a SCNR I can send you the research studies from Charles Bowman, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Duke university, Virginia Tech and the ADNA corporation. Measurements on real reactors, not theory! To avoid exceeding your boredom threshold here is a very brief presentation on GEM*STAR:

    csis.org/files/attachments/091007_chang_virginia_tech.pdf –

  41. #41 gallopingcamel
    January 24, 2010

    Oops! That link I just sent was wrong. Click on the link below and then select the first .pdf file listed:

    http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q=GEM*STAR%2C+reactor&aq=f&aql=&aqi=&oq=&fp=371f8ac0c29333b5

  42. #42 jakerman
    January 24, 2010

    >*The question is, how does one calculate this [full insurance at market prices], precisely?*

    Swiss Re or LLyods could employ a few dozen contract lawyers, specialialist engineers and medical specialists and scientists to advise their risk specialsit profecssionals to get a price. And if risk is their business they can adjust the price in response to new nuclear plant and competition from other insurers.

    >*It [full cost internalisation] also can’t be a silly number that could never be paid because that’s really just a way of legislating the plants out of business [...]*

    Should they be in business if they can’t internalise close to the full cost of their actions? Lets not assume that risks are economic if they are shown to be otherwise.

  43. #43 jakerman
    January 25, 2010

    The following principle might also be apt when considering risk insurance if the numbers get very big:

    < http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/weekinreview/21dash.html.>

  44. #44 jakerman
    January 25, 2010

    The above principle @143 is also relevant to my preference to a carbon tax over carbon trading. And it also provides support for the arguemnt of regulating certain high polluting generators out of existance.

    I.e. no new coal fired power without CCS or specific emissions intensity.

  45. #45 sim
    January 25, 2010

    dhogaza ask:

    >*Do you mean change the legislation in the US so nuclear power plant operators are fully liable for the consequences of catastrophic failure?*

    camel replies:

    >*I am not advocating anything of the kind. This would mean eliminating the concept of “Limited Liability” with huge ramifications for western civilisation.*

    *This would mean eliminating the concept of “Limited Liability” with huge ramifications for western civilisation*. Camel, you’ve perhaps overstated the cosequences of changing this legislation, would you agree?

    What are the implactions for the concept of ‘limited liablity’ if limited liability is removed from nuclear power generators?

  46. #46 Betula
    January 25, 2010

    JH @117 states…

    “Good old Betula does not attempt to engage is discussion over the effects of climate change in synergy with other anthropogenic stresses on biodiversity and ecosystem function.”

    And Bernard @126 states…

    “How’s your professional development progressing?”

    JH and Bernard,

    I owe you both an apology. Somehow I let my ski trip to Vermont with my son get in the way of responding to both of your diverging questions.

    As you both know, I have never questioned….”biodiversity loss that is already occurring due to other human-induced stresses” (Bernard @109)

    As you also know, I have never questioned the fact that a warming world would effect climate.

    What I have questioned, is the ability to directly link any given climate event with anthropogenic global warming, not anthropogenic climate stresses. The fact is, you can’t.

    This is why JH will use terms like “almost certain”

    Bernard on the other hand (again @ 109), boldly states….”AGW is certain to exacerbate the enormous rate of biodiversity loss that is already occurring due to other human-induced stresses.”

    Bernard, you do realize “AGW is certain to” is not a proven statement don’t you? And I’m sure you also realize that your statement doesn’t hold the same meaning as “AGW certainly has”. By the way, the Minnesota Vikings are “certain to” go to the superbowl.

    Your attempt to divert the issue, by saying I question,or am not aware of human induced stresses on climate, is pathetic.

  47. #47 Betula
    January 25, 2010

    JH @117…

    First, let me compliment you on your ability to post a comment without name calling. Very impressive. I’m counting “Betual” as a typo.

    Here you state…

    “If you want, Betual, I will debate you any time and any place on the importance of biodiversity in sustaining civilization, on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioining across various scales in terrestrial and aquatic ecosytems, and what the effects of warming are likely to be on the ecophsyiology of species in their natural habitats.”

    “But, given you know absolutely nothing of the field, I might as well debate a kindergarten child.”

    Ok. My 4th grade son has a question for you:

    How many polar bears have died as a direct result of AGW?

  48. #48 Marco
    January 25, 2010

    @Betula: while Jeffrey is thinking, I have a question for you:

    How many Iraqis died as a direct result of US bombings on Iraq in 2003?

    And no, it is not an irrelevant question. It might teach you something about the dishonest question you came up with (nobody believes it was your 4th grade son, cut the nonsense).

  49. #49 Betula
    January 25, 2010

    Marco…

    “How many Iraqis died as a direct result of US bombings on Iraq in 2003?”

    I love the thought process. When a question can’t be answered, change the subject.

    Marco, the death toll from the bombing of Iraq in 2003 is something that can be estimated, since there is tangible evidence. I can also find many sources on the computer that give those estimates and how they were derived. Some estimate that 7500 civilians were killed during the invasion phase.

    But since my question was about polar bears and AGW, I have to tell you, I don’t think any polar bears were killed during the initial bombing.

    Now watch this Marco, you will learn how to respond to a topic, while staying on that topic. Ready?

    I can’t seem to find the estimated number of deaths caused from the missile strikes on Iraq in 1996 or the 4 day bombing event of Iraq in 1998.

    Regardless, I was wondering…..can you tell me what the intended targets were of the 1996 and 1998 bombings?

    Hint: It wasn’t a carbon emissions factory.

  50. #50 Lee
    January 25, 2010

    People keep arguing that Price-Anderson sets liability of 10.3 Billion. That is formally true, true irrelevant. Tht is the tota coverage across the entire US nuclear industry – woudl only be triggered if the impossible happened and every plant maxed their liability at once. And if that happened, 10.3 billion would be a pittance.

    Accidents happen to individual plants. The Price-Anderson liability PER PLANT is 300 million direct insurance, and up to 112 million per-accident pooled coverage to be paid retrospectively by the entire industry if necessary.

    If a worst-case accident happened, containment were breached, and a city rendered uninhabitable – extremely unlikely, but as I said, worst case – the total maximum financial liability to the plant operators and to the industry as a whole is 412 million dollars. Liability and costs above that are guaranteed and picked up by the government.

  51. #51 luminous beauty
    January 25, 2010

    >How many polar bears have died as a direct result of AGW?

    At the risk of being accused of ‘changing the subject, Betula, consider the hypothetical that someone (no-one here, I’m sure) were to beat you about the head and shoulders with a length of steel pipe. Given your logic, since the primary cause of your injuries is the direct application of the pipe against your flesh, then there is no amount of evidence that could prove the likelihood of the secondary cause, i.e., the intent of this hypothetical person wielding the pipe. Therefore, anyone beating you with a steel pipe is innocent of assault.

    I would question such logic. However, I would suggest that sufficient evidence exists from your comments that this hypothetical attacker might argue a tertiary cause, i.e., you are a taunting and insulting wanker, and plausibly plead to the lesser charge of aggravated assault.

  52. #52 Betula
    January 25, 2010

    Bernard @126

    “Are you right to review the science of climatological impacts upon species and ecosystems ,as it might pertain to your line or work, or do you need a hint?”

    Bernard, your hint is Amandas linked quote @125….

    “The ecologist walks in a world of wounds.”

    “Mal Adapted” expands the quote @130…

    “An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise. Aldo Leopold, Round River”

    As an Arborist, I do find this quote interesting as it pertains to my line of work and your line of questioning. Leopold is talking about a community that doesn’t quite see what it is doing the environment, yet the ecologist can.

    I find it interesting because here in my community, we have
    a variety of committees, laws, organizations and boards that are in place to oversee these things we don’t see.

    We have Wetland Committees, Zoning Boards and Building Committees. We have Town Tree Departments,Tree Wardens and Parks departments. We have rules in place for licensing professionals such as Arborists and Pesticide applicators. We have posting rules, neighbor notification rules and rules for record keeping. We have the EPA and State by State restrictions on Pesticide usage and applications.
    We have in place countless professional organizations such as Tree Protection Associations,Greens Keepers Associations, The International Society of Arbriculture, the Society of American Foresters etc. We also have Nature centers, Audubon centers and the list goeas on….

    Incidently, I happen to be on several local committees, and I hardly think that the community I live in doesn’t see what it’s capable of doing to the environment.

  53. #53 Betula
    January 25, 2010

    LB @151

    You wouldn’t happen to be smoking that pipe would you?

    I’ll rephrase the question for you, with the hopes that you can answer it when the effects wear off.

    Can you give me the estimated number of polar bears worldwide and how those numbers have changed over the past 30 years as a result of AGW or GW or climate change?

    And please, don’t put down the pipe for my sake, take your time.

  54. #54 luminous beauty
    January 25, 2010
  55. #55 gallopingcamel
    January 25, 2010

    sim@145, making corporations “…fully liable…” means denying them the “Limited Liability” that corporations currently enjoy. If nuclear power plants are operated with unlimited liability the plants will immediately be shut down. Maybe that is what dhogaza wants.

    Anyway, this discussion is an excellent example of what I have in mind, namely revisiting the US legislation framework relating to the operation of nuclear power plants. In the discussion so far, the nuclear industry is not doing too well! I suspect it will go even worse with the Sierra Club!

  56. #56 dhogaza
    January 25, 2010

    If nuclear power plants are operated with unlimited liability the plants will immediately be shut down. Maybe that is what dhogaza wants.

    Well, no. If they’re as safe as we’re told, “unlimited liability” is well within the bounds that insurance companies will underwrite.

    I’m simply suggesting that they be required to operate under the same rules that the majority of businesses operate under.

    Like I do, as a self-employed person.

  57. #57 Betula
    January 26, 2010

    TO ANYONE WITH AT LEAST HALF A BRAIN.

    I would encourage whoever is reading this, to look @154 and see the “evidence” provided in response to this question @153:

    “Can you give me the estimated number of polar bears worldwide and how those numbers have changed over the past 30 years as a result of AGW or GW or climate change?”

    We are doomed.

  58. #58 Jeff Harvey
    January 26, 2010

    Betula,

    Ever hear about something called the extinction debt? Ever read the seminal paper by Dave Tilman and Robert May in Nature (2004) on this subject?

    On that score, have you ever read anything about population lags in response to environmental perterbations? The fact is that changes in habitat ‘x’ do not instantaneously translate into effects on the population demographics of species ‘y’. These perterbations can take decades, even centuries to ripple through ecological communities. Ornithologist John Terborgh provided a good example with respect to tropical forests in Peru (where he does much of his research). He found that areas adjacent to national parks were often heavily grazed by cattle. The cattle made incursions into parks and trampled the understory, killing the seedlings and preventing recruitment. The parent trees still existed but their progeny were being destroyed. A contrarian, using your inane logic, might say that there is no problem because the forest is still there. But of course the forest is the ‘living dead’, given that recruitment is an essential pre-requisite for perpetuation of the tree species that make up the forest.

    Similarly, the loss of the Mata-Atlantica tropical forests in eastern Brazil was a gradual process that began in the 1800s and peaked in the middle of the last century. Many of the regional endemics there are teetering on the edge of extinction, but the process did not temporally mirror the loss of habitat. Instead, species populations descreased and either eventually reached a lower, but somehow sustainable equilibrium or else they continued to decline gradually, until many disappeared.

    Now to answer your son. The polar bear situation is no different. Because of AGW, the extent of pack ice is shrinking and shrinking rapidly. There is likely to be an optimum amount of ice that enables the bears to forage for their seal prey most efficiently but beyond this the population remains stable until it exceeds a tipping point. That point is being approached, just as there will be a tipping point in forests if the understory is either burned or grazed continually. The bears may now also be ‘the living dead’; extant but doomed if current trends continue.

    If you want to understand the machinery of nature, you need some basic grounding on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning or on the temporal effects of changes in the environment on the population demographics of species such as polar bears or pied flycatchers. Your posts suggest that you think you are well up on these areas when you clearly are not. I would galdly discuss topics like time-lags in deterministic systems and the extinction debt but then you will argue that I am trying to show how clever I am. Betula, this is my field of research. I did my PhD in 1995 and I attend many conferences and workshops where these issues are debated and argued. I work with colleagues with specific expertise in spatial ecology and conservation biology. I would not venture into a field in which I have superficial knowledge and then attempt to belittle the ideas of someone who has worked in that field for many years. Its fine to discuss these topics with you but for you to ridicule the notion that polar bears will decline because of AGW on the basis of bits of information that you possess is most certainly unwise.

    As for your discussion of NGOs and environmental regulations in the US, that is wholly pedantic. It is not stopping the inexplicable decline of many breeding birds in North America, for example, as well as the loss of other species in habitats that were ravaged by human actions (e.g. tallgrass prairie) a century or more ago. Restoration has not worked in this case, because ecosystems are quite complex entities and the ‘way back’ may be quite different from they ‘way forward’. Moreover, given the power of the corporate sector in the US, many regulations protecting the environment have been watered down to the bare minimum. The EPA is spineless and has been financially gutted by successive administrations anyway.

    As for your attempt to belittle my use of the term ‘almost certain’, very few scientists would ever say that proof of any process is absolute. Me and my colleagues in population ecology are always circumspect. Most of those who appear certain that the current warming has little or nothing to do with human actions apparently do little in the way of actual science. Many are retired or have mediocre publication records. And they are qutie rightfully called ‘denialists’.

    Along with the vast majority of my peers, I believe that there is very strong evidence that most of the current warming is due to the human combusition of fossil fuels. I would gladly change my opinion if new evidence came in casting doubt on that, but instead virtually all of the empirical evidence coming in strenghten the view that the warming has a strong human fingerprint all over it.

  59. #59 Jeff Harvey
    January 26, 2010

    Oops, my bad. I meant 2002. (the Tilman-May-Lehman-Nowak paper).

    Still, it is an excellent article. Grist fopr the mill – and certainly it explains exactly why Polar Bears are in deep, deep trouble.

    Link:http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v371/n6492/abs/371065a0.html

  60. #60 luminous beauty
    January 26, 2010

    Betula,

    I think you meant to write:

    >TO ANYONE WITH AT _MOST_ HALF A BRAIN

  61. #61 Betula
    January 26, 2010

    LB,

    You’re dull but you have a point.

    Anyone who had at least half a brain before reading your evidence @153, will likely have, at the most, half a brain when they are thru.

    That is why I am now discouraging anyone from going to #154 and viewing the evidence presented in response to my question @153.

  62. #62 JasonW
    January 26, 2010

    Fine, we’ve got that covered. Now Betula, your response to Jeff Harvey?

  63. #63 jakerman
    January 26, 2010

    Janson ask:

    >*Now Betula, your response to Jeff Harvey?*

    Betula has already [stated his tactic](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2226055)
    (via projection):

    >*I love the thought process. When a question can’t be answered, change the subject.*

    If Betula’s moves from that tactic we can expect him to employ [bales more straw]( http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2221199), such [as this](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/01/more_monckton_2.php#comment-2225791):

    >*What I have questioned, is the ability to directly link any given climate event with anthropogenic global warming, not anthropogenic climate stresses. The fact is, you can’t.*

    Then he huffed and he puffed…

  64. #64 gallopingcamel
    January 26, 2010

    Deltoiders, it has been fun but I have to admit defeat; I failed to get you interested in “Green” nuclear power (aka SCNRs) that would consume most of the higher Actinides destined for Yucca Mountain.

    Let’s assume that Yucca Mountain will cost $90 billion and that it will store ~120,000 tonnes of high level waste. That works out at about $750,000/tonne.

    If the US government put out an RFQ for de-activating that kind of nuclear waste there are at least five existing companies capable of submitting bids. I am familiar with the work of one of them (ADNA Corporation). Given the amount of money involved there would probably be bids from many other companies too.

    Studies in prototype reactors suggest that the winning bid would be based on a Sub-Critical Nuclear Reactor (e.g GEM*STAR) with the potential to save the taxpayer up to 90% of the cost of Yucca Mountain while producing significant amounts of electricity as a by-product.

    The beauty of SCNRs is that they can be small. At 250 cubic feet, Charlie Bowman’s prototype is small enough to fit into Dilbert’s cubicle. SCNRs are highly scalable and are “safe at any size” because critical mass cannot be achieved. They also operate at low pressure so a pressure containment structure is not needed.

    Take a look at:
    http://www.ornl.gov/sci/nuclear_science_technology/nstip/presentation/Pierson_seminar.pdf

    No need to have a cow about slide 35. This refers to new measurements (Triangle Universities Nuclear Laboratory) on graphite that would have had huge effects on the core sizes for earlier reactor designs. These measurements also affect the “Multiplier Factor” in SCNRs, this being crucial to reducing the size of the neutron source. Dr. Chang expects a multiplier of 34 which implies an output of 450MW (Electrical) using a 2 MW neutron source.

    In nearby Tennessee there is already a 1 MW neutron source.

    Slide 40 implies a reduction of higher Actinides by a ratio of 10:1 and that has huge implications in terms of the scale of the Yucca Mountain project.

    Live long and prosper!

  65. #65 Vince Whirlwind
    January 27, 2010

    Camel, you’re selling something which doesn’t exist.
    The whole breeder-reactor thing *in reality* has been a massive disappointment and has not come anywhere near meeting expectations heaped upon it by the nuke-enthusiasts.
    Apparently they are not disturbed by this and continue to sell their pipe dreams.

    Interestingly, Yucca mountain, despite decades of work, has been found to be a highly dangerous and inappropriate site for storing high-level waste. The problems encountered by the Yucca mountain project are legion and the only way around them has been for the governent to constantly downgrade its safety requirements.

    Even that hasn’t stopped the nuke-enthusiasts from continuing to try to sell yet more of the technology that has created vast mountains of waste for which there is at this point in time no known method of safely dealing with.

  66. #66 Jeff Harvey
    January 27, 2010

    Betula’s tactic: bait and switch.

    I think that he should be ignored. Or else the use of [killfile] may be recommended…

  67. #67 JasonW
    January 27, 2010

    galoppingcamel: Technical issues aside, I am highly unsure on the cost benefit issue of new nuclear plants based on technology that can’t really be employed on an industrial scale – nukes are hideously expensive and require massive government backing to be profitable at all. While the same is true for renewables (albeit on a markedly smaller scale, the tech is here, today and being installed in developed and emerging countries right now. Furthermore, government subsidies are starting to be phased out – at least this is true for Germany where they have been supported since 1990. Nuclear may have it’s role right now but unless the massive waste problem is solved permanently, nukes are a non-issue – and I don’t see that happening. Just remember, something needs to go wrong only once.

  68. #68 Chris O'Neill
    January 27, 2010

    Interestingly, Yucca mountain, despite decades of work, has been found to be a highly dangerous and inappropriate site for storing high-level waste.

    The US doesn’t seem to have much choice for places to put such waste as opposed to Australia which has several salt-pans, one of which it could sacrifice for such a task.

    Nevertheless, until breeder reaction is successful, it is an enormous waste attempting nuclear energy.

  69. #69 Vince Whirlwind
    January 27, 2010

    The whole breeder pipe-dream has been a massive disappointment and costs in the Nuclear industry continue to spiral upwards, which is the reason they are now proposing reactors with no containment building.

    As for Yucca mountain – the dawning realisation over the years of the unstable rock, fractures and faults, frequent local seismic activity, thermal activity and underlying magma pocket with evidence of volcanic activity in the recent past and worst of all the lack of impermeability has shown it is a disaster waiting to happen.
    In fact it’s a disaster that has already happened if you look at the massive costs that have been poured into Yucca.
    And that’s the *best* the nuke industry can come up with to store their waste.

    Nuclear is a total non-starter.

    Its proponents see renewables as a serious threat which is why their cynical denialism and bone-headed pro-nukery go hand-in-hand – eg Nick Minchin.

  70. #70 Chris O'Neill
    January 27, 2010

    And that’s the best the nuke industry can come up with to store their waste.

    And the best the fossil-fuel industry can come up with to store their waste is the atmosphere. Interesting co-incidence that the half-life of Plutonioum 239 (24,100 years) is similar to the longest half-life of CO2 in the atmosphere, about 21,000 years (0.7 of the average life-time of 30,000 years.) Calling CO2 the Plutonium of the atmosphere isn’t too far from the truth.

  71. #71 jakerman
    January 27, 2010

    >*Calling CO2 the Plutonium of the atmosphere isn’t too far from the truth.*

    But Chris, humans are arrogant if they think they can effect the atmosphere. How could 0.00038% of Plutonium in the atmosphere make any difference at all?