Open Thread 56

Time for more open thread.

In an interesting coincidence, Brian Dunning is here in Sydney to talk at TAM Australia, so I thought it would be interesting to go to the TAM fringe open mic night (tonight!) and talk about, oh, DDT.

Comments

  1. #1 Bug_girl
    November 24, 2010

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall!!

    Please report back!!
    BTW, I have poked Dunning’s DDT balloon with a few sticks myself at Skepchick.org

  2. #2 Somite
    November 24, 2010

    That should be fun! I posted this on twitter:

    The general lesson from #skeptic fails Re: smoking, climate change, DDT, hybrid cars, etc. Is that you must only use primary refs.

    http://twitter.com/Toxicpath/status/7278144016883712

  3. #3 Steve L
    November 24, 2010

    What is the right way to report on this? Or is there a right way? Is the issue DDT or Rachel Carson? Chemical companies or a more general war on the Environmental Movement? Best of luck.

  4. #4 Somite
    November 24, 2010

    The right way is to not discuss Rachel Carson’s or the chemical companies opinion but only use published peer reviewed research.

  5. #5 Trent1492
    November 24, 2010

    On Scientific American we have had a larger influx of Denialist than normal. If some of you could swing by and put a word or two in. It would be appreciated.

    And I am not sure what to make of this poster who says that Nuclear Power is the only way to go. He claims that new plants are being built at 3bliilion a KwH. And I am like where?

    I have not put much time into the alternative energy aspect. I have simply worked at the debunkings.

  6. #6 Steve L
    November 24, 2010

    Thanks #4. When I first read what you wrote I instinctively agreed. But any non-peer reviewed assessment of the primary literature could be portrayed as biased: “Oh, sure you can find a few studies that say anything.” So I believe that to some degree being effective requires a fairly direct debunking. Debunkings should be comprehensive and with copious reference to primary literature, but I am leaning toward the idea that you have to show someone else’s use (abuse) of the literature is misleading in order to convince anyone that your use of it is faithful.

  7. #7 Somite
    November 24, 2010

    I also see the throngs of deniers show up in alternative energy, climate and electric/hybrid vehicle forums (like priuschat) and I simply do not know what is the best way to deal with this. Their tactic is to relentlessly quote from denialist or pseudosientific blogs. They seem well organized and tireless.

    The best tactic is to explicitly state that you will not engage in conversation unless they find peer reviewed published references for their assertions, and just as relentless hammer this point.

  8. #8 Strider
    November 24, 2010

    Brilliant! Good luck!

  9. #9 JamesA
    November 24, 2010

    #5: My usual reaction to people like that is “wake me up when you can cite your sources”.

  10. #10 DavidCOG
    November 24, 2010

    > I also see the throngs of deniers show up in alternative energy, climate and electric/hybrid vehicle forums (like priuschat) and I simply do not know what is the best way to deal with this.

    If you thought combating ACC denial was tough – wait until the anti-renewable / pro-nuclear monkeys attack! It’s the same deal all over again – they have a script of zombie talking points that cannot be killed.

    My recommendation: don’t get dragged down in to a debate about *estimates* of what it costs and what it can do. Just arm yourself with what is happening in *reality*, e.g.

    - Renewables Global Status Report: Renewables accounted for 60% of new power capacity in Europe in 2009; China added 37 GW of renewable power capacity, more than any other country in the world; Globally, nearly 80 GW of renewable capacity was added, including 31 GW of hydro and 48 GW of non-hydro capacity; Solar PV additions reached a record high of 7 GW; 83+ countries have policies to promote renewable power. “China’s wind power capacity surpassed the country’s installed nuclear capacity in 2009, with just over 13.8 GW added to reach a total of 25.8 GW.” http://www.ren21.net/globalstatusreport/g2010.asp

    - Total renewable power capacity in China reached 226 GW in 2009 … This total was more than one quarter of China’s total installed power capacity of 860 GW. …significantly, during the five-year period 2005–2009, wind power grew thirty-fold, from just 0.8 GW at the end of 2004. China have ~30GW of wind installed, 40% capacity factor = 12GW output, even 30% = 9GW. Assuming 1GW average per nuke reactor, that’s 9 or 12 reactors. Also, given the fact that it takes ~10 years to build a nuclear reactor, it really puts the success of renewables in perspective. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2010/07/renewable-energy-policy-update-for-china

    - State Lawmakers Do Not Share Congress’ Nuclear Love: Shoots 0-8 in State Legislatures During 2010. “Loan Guarantee Fever” in Congress not repeated by states. Kentucky to Arizona, industry lobbyists fail to overturn bans, pass costs on to consumers or get nuclear classified as “renewable energy”. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/its-not-just-vermont–state-lawmakers-do-not-share-congress-love-for-the-nuclear-industry-which-gets-shut-out-0-8-in-state-legislatures-during-2010-93695774.html

  11. #11 sunspot
    November 24, 2010

    Promising,

    ‘the National Ignition Facility in Livermore California, scientists are aiming to build the world’s first sustainable fusion reactor by ‘creating a miniature star on Earth’.

    The resulting release of energy was of a magnitude of 1.3 million mega joules, which was a world record and the peak radiation temperature measure at the core was approximately six million degrees Fahrenheit.

    http://www.tinyurl.com.au/ykb

    It doesn’t produce weapons grade by products so it will probably be shelved.

  12. #12 himThere
    November 24, 2010

    Here is some interesting breaking news.

    Tom Delay, former leader of the US House of Representatives, who once claimed that ["It is arrogance to suggest that man can affect climate change, that no science that supports such a notion"](http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/07/delay-man-is-not-causing-climate-change/) is now facing a [serious prison sentence for money laundering](http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/25/tom-delay-guilty-money-laundering).

  13. #13 harvey
    November 24, 2010

    China is investing heavily in 1GWe nuclear plants and plans to reach 400GWe capacity by 2050.

    [China nuclear power](http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.html)

  14. #14 jakerman
    November 24, 2010

    >*The temperatures inside the chamber will be more than 100 million degrees and create pressures more than 100 billion times Earth’s atmospheric pressure.*

    [Daily Mail](http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1329611/2-2bn-superlab-scientists-creating-star-Earth.html#ixzz16GWEZhb0)

    That is some serious engineering. How can we contain those tempertures and pressures! (I suppose it could be a typo on the order of magnitude, it is the Daily Mail).

    I wish them every success, and hope it works a treat.

  15. #15 quokka
    November 25, 2010

    #10 DavidCOG,

    If you are looking for an argument, looks like you have found one.

    Let me ask you two questions – are more concerned with your anti-nuclear crusade or mitigating climate change? And the inseparable question of whether you are interested in the realities of energy production rather than what is little more than a propagandistic advocacy of renewables?

    Before I say any more, let me make a “preemptive strike” and state I regard AGW as a matter of surpassing importance and I am very much on the left of politics.

    Your admonition “don’t get dragged down in to a debate about estimates of what it costs and what it can do” is absurd. Any real chance of maintaining a safe climate is utterly dependent on energy economics. Quite simply, if it costs too much and/or doesn’t deliver reliable electricity, it’s not going to happen on a scale that counts. What you are in effect advocating is to obfuscate the issues that matter most. This is in dramatic contrast with the insistence on the primacy of the science in debate over climate.

    I’m only going to touch on a couple of the issues you raised in your post. The first is the admiring terms in which you cite the deployment of 7 GW nameplate PV capacity in the last year. That’s equivalent to less than 1 GWe coal or nuclear and quite a bit less in northern Europe where most of that PV has been deployed. I took the trouble of looking at the peak output during November of Germany’s 15 GWe nominal PV capacity. In the middle of the day peak output ranged from about 0.8 GW to about 2.5 GW. How many coal fired power plants is that going to shut down? Probably none – not a one.

    This would be not so bad if it was not costing an arm and a leg. But it is. Most recent estimate I have seen puts the German cost by 2015 at well in excess of 100 billion euros. Maybe that might be enough to shut a coal plant – though I still doubt it. But it’s not going to make a tap of difference to climate. Do we want to affect climate or feel “green”?

    Obviously wind is much closer to being economic, but I note that here: http://www.gwec.net/fileadmin/documents/Publications/GWEO%202010%20final.pdf the Global Wind Energy Council in association with Greenpeace, puts it’s most optimistic estimate of wind deployment by 2030 at about 2,400GW. That’s about equivalent to 800 GWe of coal or nuclear. China alone projects a generation capacity of 1,500 GWe by 2020. Is this where we really need to be at?

    My second issue is your claim that it takes 10 years to build a nuclear power plant. If you were interested in energy realities rather than pushing your pet technologies, you would be having a careful look at what China is achieving in it’s new nuclear build with time frames of 3 – 5 years. With standardized designs and accumulating engineering experience, 3 years from first concrete to criticality is looking like a real possibility.

    I might summarise this post as: I am not the slightest bit interested in feel good stories about solar, wind, nuclear or anything else. What I do care about is LCOE cost, build rates, materials requirements, feasibility and cost of grid integration and environmental footprint.

  16. #16 sunspot
    November 25, 2010

    ackers,

    its straight from the horses mouth, http://www.tinyurl.com.au/ykv

    This paragraph should interest wacko wow.

    ‘In ignition experiments, more energy will be released than the amount of laser energy required to initiate the reaction, a condition known as energy gain. NIF researchers expect to achieve a self-sustaining fusion burn reaction with energy gain within the next two years.’

    Stan Mayer was splitting H2O with lasers years ago, his patents are still online.

  17. #17 Billy Bob Hall
    November 25, 2010

    There is no such thing as ‘denialist’ or ‘denialism’ trent1492 #5 – even with a capital ‘D’. Look up any main-stream English Dictionary if you don’t believe me.

    Alarmist is in there however :

    Alarminst (n) A person who needlessly alarms or attempts to alarm others, as by inventing or spreading false or exaggerated rumors of impending danger or catastrophe.

    Go figure. Sums it all up perfectly I think. :-)
    Do have a nice day now yar heeya.

  18. #18 JamesA
    November 25, 2010

    NIF is interesting stuff, but it has no means of capturing and utilising any excess energy produced. So even if they do achieve net energy gain within 2 years, a fusion power plant is still the proverbial 10 years away.

  19. #19 Wow
    November 25, 2010

    > ‘the National Ignition Facility in Livermore California, scientists are aiming to build the world’s first sustainable fusion reactor by ‘creating a miniature star on Earth’.

    Funnily enough, I guess that this project, unlike the European CERN experiment, won’t generate complaints worldwide and a clamour for the US Senate and Government to intervene and stop this before we consume the earth in the fireball at the centre of a new sun…

  20. #20 Wow
    November 25, 2010

    > Let me ask you two questions – are more concerned with your anti-nuclear crusade or mitigating climate change

    Quackers, why only those two questions, both loaded?

    1) nuclear isn’t mitigating climate change. You still have to build out, taking years, you still have to mine, producing pollution including CO2 and curing concrete (of which you need lots) produces even more CO2.

    2) why is it anti-nuclear to claim correctly that nuclear power plants are not the solution?

    Here are the reasons why it isn’t a solution:

    1) lag time too long for a short term solution

    2) CO2 production still higher than renewables

    3) Now relying on supernova-created fossil fuels, still non renewalble

    4) unsafe and untested new designs are hailed as “the solution” despite being untested

    5) old designs ineffective as a long term solution

    6) still reliant on the resources of other countries for most of the world, a continuation of the lock in strategy

    7) only big corporations can play, whose size ensures that the economic process is inefficient

    8) we still have renewables which need building out to exploit the resources

    9) nuclear is ineffective economically. after 60 years, it still needs cash injections or won’t be built, so only a command economy like the old soviet bloc can ensure its roll-out

    10) nuclear is still unsafe, as shown by the fact that nobody in the free market will insure them, so governments have to underwrite accidents

  21. #21 Wow
    November 25, 2010

    #18, Bent can you kindly piss off.

    Nobody wants to hear you wibble like a nutter.

  22. #22 toto
    November 25, 2010

    Anybody knows how the NIF compares to that ITER thingy they’re building in (one of the nicest parts of) France?

  23. #23 quokka
    November 25, 2010

    #20 Wow

    What you have written is almost all plain wrong. I’m going to skip the economics stuff as it’s hardly worth replying to, other than to observe that France went nuclear without becoming “like the old soviet bloc” and manages to supply some of the cheapest electricity in Western Europe.

    1. Nuclear power has in the past and continues to contribute far more to mitigating climate change than non-hydro renewables. Not by a little bit, but by a huge margin. This is indisputable. If you don’t believe me, then go and lookup CO2 emissions per kWh of electricity for whichever countries you choose. eg France ~80 grams/kWh. Denmark over 500 grams/kWh according to Danish Energy Agency and a whopping > 800 grams/kWh according to David MacKay.

    2. Building nuclear or wind or CSP or anything requires “curing concrete”, mining and smelting iron etc etc. The thing is that wind or CSP require not just a bit more but hugely more materials and land than modern Gen III+ nuclear. See this for some estimates: http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/10/18/tcase4/ . Nuclear of course needs uranium mining. How about we try to get to the nitty gritty and quantify things for a change rather than wild assertions?

    3. The task to decarbonise electricity generation is huge. There is no substantive evidence that solar and wind can be deployed any faster than nuclear. The materials requirements mentioned above for renewables should at least raise an eyebrow – lots of stuff usually means longer to build. We have an existence proof than nuclear can be deployed at good rates in France which did it over a period of about twenty years. Furthermore wind turbines for example have a service life of about twenty years, which means that they will have to be replaced well before any complete decarbonization of electricity is achieved – very possibly more than once.

    4. There is enough uranium. A large recent MIT study finds that there is enough uranium even for a “once through” fuel cycle to around the end of the century: http://web.mit.edu/mitei/docs/spotlights/nuclear-fuel-cycle.pdf . Should the price of uranium go up sufficiently there is certain to be an accelerated development of closed fuel cycle technologies – for both uranium and thorium. This will extend the supply of nuclear fuel by a factor of at least 100, which is more than enough to see us through until fusion or something more exotic comes about. FWIW I would like to see closed fuel cycles developed as soon as possible as it produces far less and shorter lived waste.

    5. “unsafe and untested new designs”. Are you taking about evolutionary Gen III+ reactors (eg EPR or AP1000)? The first of these will be on-line soon, probably first in China. These will be the safest nuclear power stations ever built – by a considerable margin. If you are talking about Gen IV reactors with a closed fuel cycle, then yes more R&D is required, though not as much as you may think. For example there are moves to build a demonstration GE-Hitachi S-PRISM reactor, based on the highly successful IFR program at US Argone National Labs, at Savanah River. Meanwhile the Gen III+ reactors will do a perfectly good job.

    The bottom line is that there is more than likely a place for all technologies and in particular nuclear as the core baseload electricity source. And yes, there is baseload demand regardless of “baseload is a myth” myth.

    In any case, the developing world is very likely going to drive the deployment of nuclear power – lead by China and India. Quite poor developing countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam now have agreements with Russia to build nuclear power plants as a major part of their plans to alleviate severe electricity shortages. Following on from the UAEs nuclear program, expect several middle eastern countries to make announcements soon – including Turkey , Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt. This is happening because at least in these parts of the world nuclear is the cheapest and most reliable non-fossil technology available. It’s really the only viable option in some cases – trying to throw something like variable wind into an overstretched and unstable grid in somewhere like Bangladesh would be insane.

    Some western countries may sit on their hands dithering, but it is not going to stop world wide deployment of nuclear power on an accelerating scale. It would be best to do it as well as possible.

  24. #24 quokka
    November 25, 2010

    22 toto

    A large part of the work of NIF is nuclear weapons research:

    https://lasers.llnl.gov/about/missions/national_security/

    As far as I am aware ITER is purely for development of fusion generated electricity.

  25. #25 JamesA
    November 25, 2010

    22 Toto:

    ITER will use the tokamak design (like has been used in JET and others), the idea being to create stable, sustained fusion in the form of a contained plasma that emits more energy than you put in. The principle behind NIF is to trigger a short, sharp bursts. In principle, you could use this for power generation if you had a train of pellets being zapped one after the other and some means of harvesting the energy, but this is a long, long way off and the most NIF will ever achieve in this department is a proof-of-concept.

  26. #26 Wow
    November 25, 2010

    > Nuclear power has in the past and continues to contribute far more to mitigating climate change than non-hydro renewables

    No it doesn’t.

    > If you don’t believe me, then go and lookup CO2 emissions per kWh of electricity for whichever countries you choose. eg France ~80 grams/kWh….

    And how much of the power is from renewables?

    You’re picking figures that, sans context, make the statement you want, not the statement of fact you proclaim it.

    > Building nuclear or wind or CSP or anything requires “curing concrete”,

    you don’t need 100t 747-proof dome of concrete around wind turbines.

    > The task to decarbonise electricity generation is huge.

    Says nothing about nuclear. Just about how oil/coal/gas is bad.

    > There is no substantive evidence that solar and wind can be deployed any faster than nuclear

    Uhm, there’s the time to build each.

    Just as a start.

    There’s no substantive evidence for it if you decide to ignore the evidence…

    > There is enough uranium.

    If you have breeders. Which the USA has threatened Iran with invasion for even minor progress towards. If you’re going to disallow options to countries you don’t like, they aren’t options for global change, are they.

    > unsafe and untested new designs”. Are you taking about evolutionary Gen III+ reactors (eg EPR or AP1000)?

    Among others.

    And the fact that the FIRST ONE will be put online is exactly my point.

    Chernobyl used new techniques but the government cut corners and put operation of the site to lowest bidder. Who didn’t understand the safety features or operations.

    Boom.

    And if it’s safe, I take it the government isn’t underwriting the insurance, and Lloyds or whoever is paying, yes?

    > The bottom line is that there is more than likely a place for all technologies

    Indeed. The first sensible thing you’ve said.

    But you had to go ruin it all, didn’t you:

    > and in particular nuclear as the core baseload electricity source.

    Nope.

    Buildout of nuclear is far too long, the payback uncertain and isn’t actually reliable enough. France had water shortage problems in a heatwave and had to take many stations offline.

    Given that the renewables actually have a BETTER match between load and production, baseload need is reduced (see Crock of the Week, IIRC, you can reduce power load available by 15-30% because peak demand nominative curve matches peak production of renewables).

    NONE of which has actually answered the original query:

    why did you make up two strawmen positions in the first place?

  27. #27 Wow
    November 25, 2010

    > There is no such thing as ‘denialist’ or ‘denialism’

    So clueless.

    Here’s a free one, kid.

    When you deny, what is the stance of opinion?

    Denialist.

    When there’s a general stance of denial, what is that general stance called?

    Denialism.

    But I guess you can’t expect more from some hick from the bondooks like billy bob here.

  28. #28 Wow
    November 25, 2010

    PS that’s not to say that nuclear has no future, but that the short term solution is NOT to build lots of nuclear power stations but sort out how we’re going to do that.

    Meanwhile, because we want to reduce coal use, increase renewables to replace fossil fueled power and reduce waste of power.

    Reduction is more than 100% free, instantaneous in application and has no pollution.

    When the problems of new designs, the political problems that plague nuclear (proliferation) and the product FINALLY safe enough for the free market to insure, build out of nuclear baseload may well be necessary as well as accepted.

  29. #29 Hank Roberts
    November 25, 2010

    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/government/88/8845gov3.html
    Chemical & Engineering News
    November 8, 2010 DOI:10.1021/CEN110210164212
    Perspective
    Sustainable Growth Is An Oxymoron

    (hat tip to Metafilter)

  30. #30 harvey
    November 25, 2010

    Interesting research into using particle accelerators to create nuclear reactions for power.

    [Italian interview](http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=228×60525)

    [theoretical background](http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf35.html)

  31. #31 Jeff Daly
    November 25, 2010

    Tim, watch out for big denier hype I hear is coming next week over some new book. ” Slaying the Sky Dragon Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.” They claim they have debunked the GHG theory! Jeez, screwballs!
    May be worth a read just for the belly laughs.
    http://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Sky-Dragon-Greenhouse-ebook/dp/B004DNWJN6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=A7B2F8DUJ88VZ&s=books&qid=1290706832&sr=8-1

  32. #32 James Haughton
    November 25, 2010

    How’d the open mike DDT session go?

  33. #33 quokka
    November 25, 2010

    26 Wow,

    How can I make this more plain for you. Nuclear generates ~15% of the world’s electricity, and about 20% in the US and Europe and has been doing so for decades. Non-hydro renewables generate ~3%. It is plainly obvious that nuclear has contributed and continues to contribute vastly more to reducing CO2 emissions than non-hydro renewables. You are simply in denial if you dispute this.

    Some nice charts showing per capita CO2 emissions:

    Per Capita CO2 Emissions

    Go here to find the electricity generation by fuel for most nations: http://www.iea.org/stats/index.asp

    For example France

    http://www.iea.org/stats/pdf_graphs/FRELEC.pdf

    Do some comparisons.

  34. #34 Hasse Schougaard
    November 25, 2010

    31, seems to be another Tim Ball effort according to DeSmogBlog… http://www.desmogblog.com/node/1272

  35. #35 jakerman
    November 25, 2010
  36. #36 snide
    November 25, 2010

    @Jeff Daly

    the ‘hockeyschtick’ is promoting it already!

    Here is an analysis of it.

    Even before publication, Slaying the Sky Dragon was destined to be the benchmark for future generations of climate researchers. This is the world’s first and only full volume refutation of the greenhouse gas theory of man-made global warming. Nine leading international experts methodically expose how willful fakery and outright incompetence were hidden within the politicized realm of government climatology. Applying a thoughtful and sympathetic writing style, the authors help even the untrained mind to navigate the maze of atmospheric thermodynamics. Step-by-step the reader is shown why the so-called greenhouse effect cannot possibly exist in nature. By deft statistical analysis the cornerstones of climate equations – incorrectly calculated by an incredible factor of three – are exposed then shattered. This volume is a scientific tour de force and the game-changer for international environmental policymakers as well as being a joy to read for hard-pressed taxpayers everywhere.

    Tim Ball can be bought to say anything. The list a co-authors is collective of some of the biggest morons out there, including the estimable Oliver K Manuel.

  37. #37 Billy Bob Hall
    November 25, 2010

    Such gentlemanly comments sill I see from my friends here at deltoid. (#27) :-)
    My observation ‘still stands’ however.

  38. #39 James Haughton
    November 25, 2010

    The Australian’s War on Science has become a civil war!
    [An Oz journalist has broken ranks](http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/11/26/the-torture-of-writing-about-climate-change-at-the-oz-one-journos-story/), describing attempting to write on climate change there as “torture”, self-censoring stories so as to get them published, and that editor Chris Mitchell is “inclined to conspiracy theories”.
    Chris Mitchell is now [suing everyone who has reported the comments for defamation](http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/mitchell-says-posetti-defamed-him-on-twitter/story-e6frg996-1225961470219) (Imagine what he would say if politicians, especially Green politicians, did the same when his journos report, or rather distort, their comments…)

  39. #40 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 25, 2010

    DavidCOG – “If you thought combating ACC denial was tough – wait until the anti-renewable / pro-nuclear monkeys attack! It’s the same deal all over again – they have a script of zombie talking points that cannot be killed.”

    Right with you there. Try Brave New Climate or the Energy Collective where the pro nuclear crowd have created echo chambers of nuclear. EC is not quite so bad however BNC is dominated by the ‘work’ of Peter Lang.

    Anyway I tend to use load following and the fact that conventional nuclear is baseload only and cannot load follow at all. France is about the only country that runs load following nukes however special modifications are needed for this and the range and ramp rate are still limited. Nuclear still needs peaking plants.

    Secondly the imaginary technology works angle pretty well. Most of the fixes for the nuclear problems are with designs that only exist in blueprints like the IFR that Barry Brook pushes with religious fervour. Apparently this wonderful new technology could be rolling out of the factories in 5 years time if only the greenies/socialists/anti-nuclear people would get out of the way and let nuclear save the planet. IF you want a laugh read “Prescription for the Planet” by Tom Blees – didn’t stop chuckling the whole way through. This whole book shows how the IFR can save the world despite the the fact the the fuel electrochemical processing has never been done on an industrial scale and must be done in moisture free environment in intense radioactivity. One bit of moisture risks a sodium fire so imagine an aluminium smelter that had the same radioactivity as a spent fuel waste cooling pond that also has to be totally excluded from any moisture or leaks. Anyway apparently this is a piece of cake according to Blees and Brook et-al.

    Finally I am against any one technology that will save the world as we know it. Nuclear people are far more guilty of this fallacy than renewables however pro-renewable people are not completely innocent. The many problems we are facing are, in my opinion symptoms, of overshoot and far beyond any one technology no matter how good. I recently read “Limits to Growth – the Thirty Year Update” and it makes a compelling case.

    The only solution, again in my opinion, is a restructuring into a steady state economy with no requirement for growth for a healthy and vibrant economy. We must reduce our footprint on the Earth before considering any energy supply.

    To my mind renewables fit much better into a zero growth economy and they are my energy system of choice. However many countries have low renewable resources so they will of course choose nuclear power and as far as I am concerned that is better than coal. The imaginary at the moment small nuclear reactors should be better at this.

    The point is that we need to reduce the problem first, then fit whatever renewables we can into the remaining energy demand and then if nothing renewable fits consider nuclear power. Again the LFTR if it ever becomes non-imaginary is probably the best non-renewable thing here.

    The point is that nuclear is not the savior of the world nor are renewables. The saviors of the world are human beings that need to learn to live with what streams in the windows of our house rather than burning the furniture as we have been doing up till now.

  40. #42 jakerman
    November 25, 2010

    James [that is](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/11/open_thread_56.php#comment-2953801) a ripper!

    Now we watch the oligarchy force come down on the whistleblower.

  41. #43 jakerman
    November 25, 2010

    Edner, Brook has bias (emphasing the pros of nuke and and deemphasising the pros of renewables vice versa with each’s weakness) but I wouldn’t agree that he has a religious approach. I was influenced by the attention to facts that he uses. Reading Brook shifted my opinion and educated me on several issues. Though the bias (as I described) I found less convincing.

  42. #44 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 25, 2010

    Jakerman – “but I wouldn’t agree that he has a religious approach.”

    No I don’t think that he has a religious approach either he just pushes the nuclear bandwagon with a religious type fervour. He has valid, to him, scientific reasons for this promotion of nuclear technology. I just disagree with it as I do not think any technology can save us unless we start saving ourselves with some lifestyle changes.

    Again I could be completely wrong and we could grow infinitely on a finite planet however there is a growing (no pun intended) body of evidence to say that the Club of Rome and Limits to Growth may have been closer to the mark than its detractors maintain.

  43. #45 jakerman
    November 26, 2010

    The limits to growth argument is a strong one indeed. But I fear our momentum will carry us into a rhelm of where our choices are scant.

    Ideally we could shift our economy to a knowlege and service base that could grow for quite some time. But the faster we consume that seems a direction that has an ever shrinking escape path.

    If the energy plutocarcy has its way we will delay action until geoengineering is our only option (with all the added risks).

  44. #46 Tim Lambert
    November 26, 2010

    The open mike on DDT went well, but Brian Dunning was over at the other pub full of skeptics that night, so we did not settle things in the traditional Australian way with a drinking contest.

  45. #47 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    Jakerman – “The limits to growth argument is a strong one indeed. But I fear our momentum will carry us into a rhelm of where our choices are scant.”

    I completely agree. The choices to me are change now or ignore the problem and hope it goes away and change will happen anyway however in an uncontrolled way.

    I hope we are both wrong.

  46. #48 Jeremy C
    November 26, 2010

    I’m sorry but as an engineer each time I hear the anti-nuclear, pro-nuclear brigades go at each other’s throats I am irresistibly reminded of the coliseum sketch in Month Python and the Life of Brian.

  47. #49 quokka
    November 26, 2010

    @ender

    IF you want a laugh read “Prescription for the Planet” by Tom Blees – didn’t stop chuckling the whole way through. This whole book shows how the IFR can save the world despite the the fact the the fuel electrochemical processing has never been done on an industrial scale and must be done in moisture free environment in intense radioactivity. One bit of moisture risks a sodium fire so imagine an aluminium smelter that had the same radioactivity as a spent fuel waste cooling pond that also has to be totally excluded from any moisture or leaks. Anyway apparently this is a piece of cake according to Blees and Brook et-al.

    Pretty much all wrong. Sodium is the coolant in the IFR (and other fast reactors such as the Russian BN-800). IFR fuel is metal encased in cladding and it is these fuel rods and blanket material that are removed for pyroprocessing – not the sodium coolant. The reprocessing separates out the fission products (the waste) from the actinides which are subsequently fabricated into new rods with the addition of makeup material. The sodium coolant stays in the reactor and does not need to be stored with the waste.

    You seem to be confusing IFR with molten salt reactors where the fissile and fertile material is dissolved in the coolant.

    South Korea has a program to have an industrial scale pyroprocessing plant operating by 2015. A number of other countries are also working on this including Japan.

    Here is a 2007 paper from INL on progress in pyroprocessing development: http://www.inl.gov/technicalpublications/Documents/3931942.pdf

    The only solution, again in my opinion, is a restructuring into a steady state economy with no requirement for growth for a healthy and vibrant economy. We must reduce our footprint on the Earth before considering any energy supply

    This is possibly the most worst remark I have ever seen about the climate problem – no matter how desirable the outcome may be. Not only is there no prospect for this happing in the foreseeable future – there is also no historical precedent. FFS China and India have annual GDP growth of 8-10%. There is virtually no prospect of world population stabilizing, most optimistically, by 2050.

    No amount of wishful thinking is going to change this situation. With the possible exception of environmental disaster/energy crunch or other unforeseen catastrophe, there is no prospect of a world wide steady state economy before long after a safe climate is anything other than a distant memory. The disaster scenarios hardly bear thinking about.

    Axiom Number 1: Energy demand will continue to grow sharply worldwide for the foreseeable future.

    This is at the very core of the climate problem.

  48. #50 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    quokka – “Pretty much all wrong. Sodium is the coolant in the IFR (and other fast reactors such as the Russian BN-800). IFR fuel is metal encased in cladding and it is these fuel rods and blanket material that are removed for pyroprocessing – not the sodium coolant.”

    Maybe you should take another look at this:

    http://www.ipd.anl.gov/anlpubs/2002/07/43534.pdf
    “The pins were removed from the molds, cut to length and placed in stainless-steel cladding that contained sufficient metallic sodium to provide a thermal bond in the gap between the cladding and the pin.”

    Do you think that it would be safe to remove the cladding in the open air and give it a quick wash with water?

    and

    “Various mixtures of chloride or fluoride salts have been used, but all must operate in high temperature (450 C and up) and in a dry argon atmosphere.”

    I never said the coolant was removed however the whole fuel processing center must be dry to avoid moisture causing problems with all the processes that go on.

    ” Not only is there no prospect for this happing in the foreseeable future – there is also no historical precedent.”

    Actually there are plenty of historical precedents. The archeological record is littered with civilisations that risen and fallen. We are just one of them. We may think we are special however so did the Romans and this did not prevent their amazing civilisation from falling.

    Play with World3 or the equivalent for a while. Even if the IFR is the best thing since sliced bread and works fantastically, eventually the entire output of as many as you can build is spent cleaning up pollution. I can see you can not accept this and wishfully think that we can continue to grow forever with the IFR supplying unlimited energy which will magically create resources for the unlimited world population that unlimited energy would allow. I am not sure how the IFR replaces the topsoil or makes up for the loss of complexity in the soil and subsequent loss of food quality or replaces the fish in the sea etc.

    The alternative do not bear thinking about and I am not a doomer. We can progress to a better society or not – the choice is with us. Blindly increasing the energy supply no matter how clean it is will not solve the problem – it may look like it is solving it for a while however nature will bite back sooner or later.

  49. #51 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    quokka – “Axiom Number 1: Energy demand will continue to grow sharply worldwide for the foreseeable future.”

    Just a small amendment:

    Axiom Number 1: Energy demand will continue to grow sharply worldwide for the foreseeable future until it can’t.

    Then what???

  50. #52 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    Jeremy – “I’m sorry but as an engineer each time I hear the anti-nuclear, pro-nuclear brigades go at each other’s throats I am irresistibly reminded of the coliseum sketch in Month Python and the Life of Brian.”

    I am not so much anti “nuclear” any more, I am more anti “nuclear will save the world”. Just as much as I would be anti “renewables will save the world”

    Nuclear will have a place and it is better than coal however it is not the holy grail that will deliver us from overshoot as many nuclear proponents will try to argue.

  51. #53 Jeff Harvey
    November 26, 2010

    Stephen,

    Many thanks for the thoughtful posts. In particular, you are correct when you argue that it is folly to argue that we can increase energy supply and consumption forever. This argument, which quokka apparently poses, blindly ignores the effects that ever-increasing consumption are having on the planet’s ecological life support systems. I have written about this topic on various threads in Deltoid very many times over the past several years, yet people still come in here promulgating arguments that brazenly ignore human impacts on the natural economy, as if that does not matter in terms of human welfare. I suggest that quokka read up a bit of the empirical literature on the value of supporting ecological services in permitting humans to exist and persist. By now we know that indirect services sustain human civilization in a wide array of ways, and that expansion of the human enterprise as currently defined is reducing the capacity of nature to support man. The crux of the matter is in seeking economic and political solutions to global problems that aim to give everyone on the planet some modicum of dignity and security whilst not further simplifying nature, pushing complex adaptive systems towards and beyond thresholds where they will be unable to support life in a manner that we are used to.

    Colleagues in my profession (population ecology) have the massive task of providing concrete evidence that the human assault on nature cannot be sustained. The developed world alone – making up < 20% of the planet’s human population – already consumes natural capital beyond the sustainable means of the planet’s natural systems. In fact, were one to compile the volumes of evidence already published in dozens of peer-reviewed journals, it would be easy to show that humans and nature are on a collision course. Adopting nucelar energy is not the solution to the equity dilemma nor will it address serious environmental issues of today. It is time that we recognized the need to address the real problem – that is, the scale of the human enterprise – and not only small symptoms of it. Only in that way will we be able to get through the bottleneck that we have created over the past century.

  52. #54 quokka
    November 26, 2010

    @Jeff Harvey

    I do not contest that there are limits to growth and that humans and the rest of life on earth are on a collision course with in all likelihood very nasty consequences. Exactly what the limits are is obviously uncertain, but I 100% agree that a conservative approach is the only sane one. I agree wholeheartedly that population should be stabilized as soon as possible and that GDP and GDP growth are by far not the be all and end all metric of human well being. I also agree that the north/south divide is grossly unjust.

    In short, I fully agree that there is every indication that the planet is headed to an environment train smash and that climate problem is not the only major problem.

    I have spent a lot of time thinking about the politics and political economy of the environmental problem and come to the conclusion that the environmental movement is simply delusional if it thinks it has political clout to bring about the truly radical changes required for zero growth. Not even close. Maybe in twenty or thirty years if things go badly downhill it may become part of the mainstream agenda – but not now. It’s not even clear to me that capitalism could continue in zero growth – history suggests it may not. The fundamental nature of the required changes should not be underestimated. This is not being defeatist, it is a realistic assessment of where we are at.

    No matter how undesirable it may be and whether we like it or not, worldwide economic growth is going to continue and energy demand is going to rise for the foreseeable future. If that rising demand is not met with low emissions energy, it WILL be met by burning stuff. And that will be game over for a safe climate. What are we going to do about that?

  53. #55 Wow
    November 26, 2010

    Well said Stephen, @52

  54. #56 Wow
    November 26, 2010

    Billy Bob, we aren’t your friends.

    You aren’t ours.

    And you’re the alarmist. How many times have you proclaimed it all a scam to enter in a new world order for communist greens, or the attempt to send us back to the stone age or all sorts of other doom-and-gloom scenarios?

    I guess you get pissed off at the warnings “Cliff edge, rockfall hazard” because they’re alarmist…

  55. #57 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    Jeff Harvey – “In particular, you are correct when you argue that it is folly to argue that we can increase energy supply and consumption forever.”

    After reading Limits to Growth then this became obvious. I would really appreciate if you can recommend some more reading along these lines for the interested amateur as my knowledge of population dynamics is limited really to this book.

    The problem I fear is that humans are so geared to solving short term problems that long term problems take second place. Witness all the solutions to climate change cannot possibly interrupt even a bit the far more important task of making money. Nothing is more sacred that jobs and money – indeed the solutions have to be cast in the light of creating jobs and money before anyone will do anything about them.

  56. #58 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    quokka – “If that rising demand is not met with low emissions energy, it WILL be met by burning stuff. And that will be game over for a safe climate. What are we going to do about that?”

    The problem is that meeting that rising demand even with low emission energy without first restraining growth will simply lead to more demand that the roll-out of low emissions technology no matter how cheap and clean can cope with. We will still burn stuff.

    I see you are thinking about the problem and like me have no real solution. Unlimited low emission energy seems like the ideal solution and yes we have to cope with rising demand but can’t we also work to reducing that demand to manageable levels rather than just rolling out the that will solve the problem?

    I am more in favour of renewables because more pro-renewable people seem to be in favour of powering down to some extent. Most nuclear people I talk to are more that energy will save the world and there is no need to touch our way of life.

    I reject most of what I read on BNC simply because the vast majority of people there are in the second category and dismiss renewables and EE&C as greenie whims while only serious people recognise that nuclear is the answer. Barry has written that if you are serious about climate change then you must embrace nuclear power and to deny this is un-scientific.

  57. #59 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 26, 2010

    Sorry this is garbled

    Unlimited low emission energy seems like the ideal solution and yes we have to cope with rising demand but can’t we also work to reducing that demand to manageable levels rather than just rolling out the that will solve the problem?

    Should read

    Unlimited low emission energy seems like the ideal solution and yes we have to cope with rising demand but can’t we also work to reducing that demand to manageable levels rather than just rolling out the “insert favourite technology here” that will solve the problem?

  58. Unlimited low emission energy seems like the ideal solution and yes we have to cope with rising demand but can’t we also work to reducing that demand to manageable levels …

    If, as you presumably believe, nuclear energy is higher in price than carbon-emitting energies,
    then in those countries now emitting large amounts of CO2, won’t that higher price accomplish the demand limitation you call for?

    I notice you acknowledge nuclear energy is better than coal energy but make no acknowledgment of its superiority to natural gas energy.

    Is this you?

    … Mind you if Slumberger ever charter a special helicopter to fly their personnel off a rig I am on, sure as s**t I am going to be on that chopper even if I have to hang off the landing skids.

    If those are your words, how might it happen that you would be on a rig?

    (How fire can be domesticated)

  59. #61 Stephen Gloor (ender)
    November 27, 2010

    Dear fire can be domesticated – trying to see if I am a part of the anti nuclear gas conspiracy Mr Adams has dreamt up?

    Try looking again at that thread at the EC. You will clearly see why I visit oil rigs.

  60. #62 Chris O'Neill
    November 27, 2010

    Ender:

    Anyway I tend to use load following and the fact that conventional nuclear is baseload only and cannot load follow at all.

    There aren’t too many load-following renewable sources (apart from the limited hydro) and they aren’t reliable either.

  61. #63 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    November 27, 2010

    Overlaid files and missing files in FOI2009.zip’s yamal/ directory:

    http://ijish.livejournal.com/26331.html

  62. #64 Stephen Gloor (Ender)
    November 27, 2010

    Chris – “There aren’t too many load-following renewable sources (apart from the limited hydro) and they aren’t reliable either.”

    Solar thermal with storage and gas backup is both load following and ‘reliable’ if you are using this term instead of despatchable. Geothermal is also both.

    Wind is non despatchable like nuclear however when wind is delivering energy it can be curtailed or advanced automatically in response to demand in quite short time intervals.

    Again this is not and should no be a contest of energy sources. This is not the question we should be answering really. The fundamental question is can we lower our energy and resource use while maintaining the benefits of our technology.

  63. #65 frank -- Decoding SwiftHack
    November 28, 2010

    Jeff Id whines loudly when I point out he’s propagating baseless innuendo:

    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/11/24/asd/#comment-40911
    http://www.webcitation.org/5uZugl0Vk

  64. #66 Elihphile
    November 28, 2010

    I thought you’d like to see this about Richard North staying classy:

    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2010/11/climategate-blogger-richard-north-in-new-racial-slur/

  65. #67 Billy Bob Hall
    November 28, 2010

    Yes you are indeed my friendy friend Wow. (#56).
    Alarmist’s are always my friends. :-)
    Yes, it’s true. The green parasites are communists.
    And yes, ‘cliff rocks falling’ signs are a waste of time and money.

  66. #68 Chris O'Neill
    November 28, 2010

    Chris – “There aren’t too many load-following renewable sources (apart from the limited hydro) and they aren’t reliable either.”

    Ender:

    Solar thermal with storage and gas backup is both load following and ‘reliable’ if you are using this term instead of despatchable.

    Ah yes, gas, the solution to all renewable non-load-following problems. Pity it’s expensive and will run out one day. Solar thermal is expensive and always will be.

    Geothermal is also both.

    The only plentiful geothermal is expensive.

    Wind is non despatchable like nuclear

    But unlike nuclear it can’t be relied on.

    Again this is not and should no be a contest of energy sources.

    I’d like to live in an ideal world too. It would be great to have all our electricity come from renewables but not many people and even fewer businesses (which is where most electricity is consumed) will want to pay the big cost of large scale renewable electricity (photovoltaics might have grid parity one day, that’s the only possible exception to this). The cost of large scale renewable electricity means it’s not going to happen in the forseeable future, especially in a political environment where the climate science denialists have scored major victories.

    This is not the question we should be answering really. The fundamental question is can we lower our energy and resource use while maintaining the benefits of our technology.

    Doesn’t look likely for a long time. Especially when our ideologically-motivated government benefit system is set up to reward high population growth. We got rid of the ideologically-motivated politicians who set most of this up, Howard and Costello, but unfortunately Rudd had a similar motivation. I don’t believe Gillard has the same motivation, but she doesn’t appear to have much interest in reversing it.

    In summary, I think there’s very little hope of reducing energy consumption in the next 10 years and very little hope of supplying much of it from renewables. CO2 emissions will keep going strong.

  67. #69 Anna Haynes
    November 28, 2010

    I’m seeking people who know their chops (and climate science literature) better than I do to critique an inactivist-friendly column that appeared in the local paper. Its author needs to see literature references for the critiques where possible, and (IMO) needs the critiques to come from someone other than me.

    I’ve reprinted the column here (link); if you could critique it in the (moderated for quality) comments there, I’d be most grateful.

  68. #70 Wow
    November 29, 2010

    Spencer Weart’s work on the history of climate change

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

    and skeptical science

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    And, if more science needed, realclimate.

    inactivist rhetoric is almost invariably shallow and you don’t really need to know very much about the science to debunk their arguments.

    Watch out for someone doing a Monckton, mind. Monckton once asked if anyone on the panel he was part of, discussing climate change, knwe the value for a certain figure to three significant figures.

    He stated a number that was WRONG to three sig figs.

    But, since he stated he knew it and stated three figures, many people would have bought his idea. If the others on the board had been as venal and open to flat out bare-faced lies as Monckton, they could easily have countered with a different number and not sweated whether it was right, just like he did.

  69. #71 Wow
    November 29, 2010

    > The only plentiful geothermal is expensive.

    Tell Iceland.

    > Ah yes, gas, the solution to all renewable non-load-following problems.

    It’s the solution to coal’s problem of hours lead-up and nuclear’s days lead-up.

    > But unlike nuclear it can’t be relied on.

    Yes, nuclear can be relied upon not to respond to demand changes.

    > not many people and even fewer businesses … will want to pay the big cost of large scale renewable

    They’re paying for large-scale non-renewables, with the solid knowledge that they’ll be replaced and subject to continual increase in prices, unlike renewables which will reduce in price as any new industry has happen to it.

    > > The fundamental question is can we lower our energy and resource use while maintaining the benefits of our technology.

    > Doesn’t look likely for a long time.

    Why?

    Because people will demand nuclear and coal power rather than stop wasting energy?

    This doesn’t seem to be all that much of a problem to me. Why do you make such a big thing about it?

    Note that the price of oil has increased fourfold, yet, despite this massive increase in cost, people are managing to deal with it. Yet you insist, despite this evidence, that price increases from moving to renewables will not be managed?

    Drop the underwriting of nuclear power, drop the subsidies for fossil fuels. Spend 10% of what is saved on build-out of renewables and the deficit will decrease markedly.

    Reduce waste by 50% and you’ll be at a Northern European level of comfort.

  70. #72 Wow
    November 29, 2010

    > If, as you presumably believe, nuclear energy is higher in price than carbon-emitting energies,

    No belief needed. It is. It’s even more expensive than gas, which is the most expensive fossil fuel for electrical power generation.

    And, until the mining and transport industry is zero-carbon, nuclear is not a non-carbon fuel.

  71. #73 Chris O'Neill
    November 29, 2010
    The only plentiful geothermal is expensive.

    Tell Iceland.

    We were talking about Australia.

    Ah yes, gas, the solution to all renewable non-load-following problems.

    It’s the solution to coal’s problem of hours lead-up

    If the load follows the forecast that’s not really a problem. Even if it was it pales in significance compared with renewables.

    But unlike nuclear it can’t be relied on.

    Yes, nuclear can be relied upon not to respond to demand changes.

    Ha ha. Very funny. I was talking about being relied upon when it is really needed, i.e. at peak demand.

    not many people and even fewer businesses … will want to pay the big cost of large scale renewable

    They’re paying for large-scale non-renewables,

    Right,

    with the solid knowledge that they’ll be replaced and subject to continual increase in prices, unlike renewables which will reduce in price as any new industry has happen to it.

    OK so you’re saying that renewables will be cheaper than fossil fuel – one day. I’ll just twiddle my thumbs until that happens and watch the CO2 graph keep going up in the mean time.

    The fundamental question is can we lower our energy and resource use while maintaining the benefits of our technology.

    Doesn’t look likely for a long time.

    Why?

    Why not?

    Because people will demand nuclear and coal power rather than stop wasting energy?

    As you deleted and ignored, the main part of the problem in Australia is population growth. As well, industry in Australia doesn’t really care where their energy comes from as long as it is as cheap as possible.

    Note that the price of oil has increased fourfold, yet, despite this massive increase in cost, people are managing to deal with it.

    The price of petrol took 30 years to increase fourfold in Australia so I wouldn’t expect the economic impact to be much different from many other things.

    Drop the underwriting of nuclear power,

    We don’t have any in Australia.

    drop the subsidies for fossil fuels.

    Not much of that (subsidies) in Australia either.

    Reduce waste by 50% and you’ll be at a Northern European level of comfort.

    That’d be great but unfortunately energy in Australia is too cheap for many people to be bothered going to the trouble of reducing waste.

    So I guess I’ll just keep twiddling my thumbs and watching the CO2 graph keep rising.

  72. #74 lord_sidcup
    November 30, 2010

    It has been a bad few days for Richard ‘Retracted’ North. In addition to being picked up for his use of [racial smears](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/11/open_thread_56.php#comment-2959582), he has also failed in both his complaints to the UK Press Complaints Commission:

    [Adjudicated - Dr Richard A E North v The Guardian](http://www.pcc.org.uk/news/index.html?article=NjgzMg==)

    The reference to “inaccuracy, misrepresentation and falsehood” was clearly linked to the fact that the Sunday Times had published a correction regarding an article to which the complainant had made some contribution. This was the basis for Mr Monbiot’s claim, and readers would be well aware of this.

    [Adjudicated - Dr Richard A E North v The Sunday Times](http://www.pcc.org.uk/news/index.html?article=NjgzMQ==)

    The correction did not claim that the IPAM research had been properly referenced or was itself peer-reviewed. It said that the research was “respected”, which was clearly a value judgement on the part of the newspaper, and that it did relate to the impact of climate change. The Commission did not consider that these points could be said to be factually inaccurate or misleading.

  73. #75 Wow
    November 30, 2010

    “Why not?” is not an answer, Chris.

    The EU Average is about half the US average power use. Yet we aren’t half as civilised. If anything, the EU is more advanced.

    So it’s a very simple question which you’ve managed to avoid answering:

    > The fundamental question is can we lower our energy and resource use while maintaining the benefits of our technology.

    Aluminium was extremely expensive. The Queen has a ring made of it. Not because they were cheap but because it was so expensive to refine.

    Technology comes around and makes it cheap to extract.

    Another example where technology changed things.

    The one-piece coke can is cheaper and easier to make, wasting less energy because technology changed fabrication methods available that made a change in the production possible.

    Another example of how technology has changed the need for power.

    LED lights are more efficient than incandescents.

    HPSV (high pressure sodium vapour) lights are more effective than incandescents or LPSV.

    But you think it is not going to happen why?

    Because you have a pet project.

  74. #76 Wow
    November 30, 2010

    > > Drop the underwriting of nuclear power,

    > We don’t have any in Australia.

    And it’s [more expensive](http://ezinearticles.com/?Nuclear-Power-for-Australia?&id=374453)

    But, since you only have one and it’s not commercial scale, I suppose it’s easy not to have a problem getting insurers. Nothing to insure.

    > > drop the subsidies for fossil fuels.

    > Not much of that (subsidies) in Australia either.

    Except all the tax breaks, lobbying on their behalf and so on..?

  75. #77 Chris O'Neill
    November 30, 2010
    Drop the underwriting of nuclear power,

    We don’t have any in Australia.

    And it’s more expensive

    Yes, burning coal is much cheaper. Australia has no substantial plan to change that. Those CO2 emissions will keep going strong for a long, long time.

    drop the subsidies for fossil fuels.

    Not much of that (subsidies) in Australia either.

    Except all the tax breaks,

    OK, they do give a lot of subsidy for coal-burning electricity to Aluminium producers. I’d love for this to end but no government that wants any chance of surviving the following election will ever do this.

  76. #78 Chris O'Neill
    November 30, 2010
    The fundamental question is can we lower our energy and resource use while maintaining the benefits of our technology.

    But you think it is not going to happen why?

    OK, I agree there will be progress. In that case all we have to do is relax, let the new technologies take care of the problem and in due course there won’t be too much CO2 emissions. Problem solved.

  77. #79 MFS
    November 30, 2010

    Wow (@ [#74](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/11/open_thread_56.php#comment-2963180))

    >”But you think it is not going to happen why?”

    >”Because you have a pet project.”

    Care to be less cryptic? You imply that you know something about Chris that the rest of us don’t. Could you elaborate what you mean?

  78. #80 Wow
    December 1, 2010

    > Care to be less cryptic?

    Chris likes nuclear, so any change that doesn’t end in more of it is given a reason to be untenable.

    Did I use too many syllables?

  79. #81 Wow
    December 1, 2010

    > OK, I agree there will be progress. In that case all we have to do is relax, let the new technologies take care…

    Funny this coming from someone who insists that new nuclear technologies are the solution to the problem…

    Reduction is a 100% guarantee success to reduce costs and emissions and has a zero lag time. This is our first and best option.

    Renewables are far cheaper to roll out, quicker to realise the ROI and are far, far safer and will only get cheaper. This is our second option.

    Nuclear requires untested tech and subsidy to be competitive, despite 60 years of development with government grants and worldwide rollout. This is the option to take when technology has been tested and we still need more power that renewables cannot manage to fulfil.

    But as I said, it’s odd that someone who insists that the technology of nuclear power will solve the problems whines that I’m saying we should let technology solve our problems and that’s unreasonable.

    I guess you don’t read your posts either, Chris.

  80. #82 Wow
    December 1, 2010

    > Those CO2 emissions will keep going strong for a long, long time.

    Or, you know, you could waste less electricity, use all that hot, sunshine-drenched desert to produce solar, all that antarctic cold water for heat pump energy and not use either coal or radioactives.

    Plus, where do you look to get your information about the future? Do you ask Mystic Meg? Read Tea Leaves?

    If coal is not dug up nor uranium used, people will use less electricity because there will be less electricity to use.

    Since you can’t go out and refine your own uranium nor mine your own coal seam, all it requires is a ban on mining for these and they won’t be sources of energy.

    Since people can’t build their own electric nuclear power stations, the government merely has to not subsidise or ignore the risks of nuclear power and the free market will run away from it like frightened chipmunks. This one has the advantage that the government doesn’t actually have to do anything, the market will do it to itself, and the government can stay out completely.

  81. #83 MFS
    December 1, 2010

    Wow,

    As usual your style spills into the snide and the bullying.

    Your solution of ‘let us just use less energy’ seems to me to be both naive and unworkable. Unless you can find a bunch of politicians with a majority in parliament to pass the legistation, and willing to suicide polytically in order to do the right thing, it will remain a utopian dream. They have a hard enough time admitting that a carbon tax will raise the price of power (which is the whole bloody point!).

    While we’re at it, why not change mining law in Australia so that a person who owns the rights to a coal resource (or another mineral) does not automatically lose them if they don’t mine it within a short period? Once you have a carbon trading scheme and coal becomes as valuable by remaining in the ground as it does out of it, you can sell offsets by competing directly for the carbon resource that shall not be mined and burnt. This competition and increased demand will also act to increase the price of coal and encourage lazy power companies to do some serious investing in renewables.

  82. #84 Wow
    December 1, 2010

    > As usual your style spills into the snide and the bullying.

    As usual, play the man, not the ball.

    > Your solution of ‘let us just use less energy’ seems to me to be both naive and unworkable.

    Yes, Chris repeats the same tired old canard all the time.

    Both of you are completely and utterly wrong.

    > Unless you can find a bunch of politicians with a majority in parliament to pass the legistation, and willing to suicide polytically in order to do the right thing

    When did use of power become a mandate under law? I don’t remember being told I have to use electricity in the last set of laws passed…

    Here’s an idea: don’t waste power.

    It will save you money unless you’re getting paid to use it.

  83. #85 adelady
    December 1, 2010

    “Use less” is one of the reasons why I favour fairly wide installation of domestic PV. When people can reduce their bills considerably many will go the extra to get the costs as small as possible. My mum’s neighbours are already involved in a bragging competition for who’s got the smallest power bill since they all (190 of them) had solar panels installed on their units. The first bills started coming in last week – the current winner is $10 a month.

    (Mum’s installation was delayed and she’s got slightly more installed. I think she’s holding her fire, until she can wave an even smaller bill under everyone’s noses.)

    Extend this approach into streets, suburbs and families and the idea of reducing use will soon become a badge of honour rather than the sign of a motheaten wallet. And the people who can afford PV out of their own pockets are likely to be higher users of airconditioning and the like, so bigger reductions for bigger users.

  84. #86 MFS
    December 1, 2010

    >When did use of power become a mandate under law? I don’t remember being told I have to use electricity in the last set of laws passed…

    >Here’s an idea: don’t waste power.

    Yes, you know that and I know that. Yet people continue to use more power when they get told to use less. Our local council has gone as far as paying people to replace their wood stoves (where we burnt wood we grew ourselves in 25 acres of bush, and replanted every tree we cut) with electrical heat pumps. At least our power is hydroelectrical.

  85. #87 Chris O'Neill
    December 1, 2010
    OK, I agree there will be progress. In that case all we have to do is relax, let the new technologies take care…

    Funny this coming from someone who insists that new nuclear technologies are the solution to the problem…

    Where did I say this?

    Reduction is a 100% guarantee success to reduce costs and emissions and has a zero lag time. This is our first and best option.

    OK, in that case just sit back and relax, let it happen and we have nothing to worry about. You keep missing the point that this is not going to happen to the extent needed by itself.

    Renewables are far cheaper to roll out,

    Far cheaper than coal? I don’t think so.

    quicker to realise the ROI and are far, far safer and will only get cheaper.

    They had better get cheaper if there is to be any chance of getting cheaper than coal. BTW, doesn’t look likely except for photovoltaics.

    Nuclear requires untested tech and subsidy to be competitive,

    Fine, as long as government and business are financially rational then you have nothing to worry about.

    But as I said, it’s odd that someone who insists that the technology of nuclear power will solve the problems

    Where did I say that?

    whines that I’m saying we should let technology solve our problems and that’s unreasonable.

    So will it? The point is that renewables are not going to replace coal-burning if left to their own devices because, barring photovoltaics, they will remain more expensive than coal for a long time. Even photovoltaics are yet to be cheaper than coal-burning in the vast majority of places. Renewables are not going to replace most coal-burning without substantial subsidies, and there are no genuine plans for those substantial subsidies.

    I guess you don’t read your posts either, Chris.

    You don’t read them carefully.

  86. #88 John
    December 1, 2010

    Conspiracy time: when I Google “Deltoid” it no longer comes up on the first page at all. I have to google “Deltoid blog” but even that delivers me to a year old post and not the main page.

  87. #89 Chris O'Neill
    December 1, 2010

    “Use less” is one of the reasons why I favour fairly wide installation of domestic PV. When people can reduce their bills considerably

    That’s great if you can get someone else to pay most of the cost. Unfortunately, ad hoc subsidy schemes are usually not much more than token gestures and are unlikely to ever have a great deal of effect, especially considering that households are only directly responsible for 20% of electricity consumption. None of these ad hoc subsidy schemes are ever likely to make a big difference.

  88. #90 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    > That’s great if you can get someone else to pay most of the cost.

    You’re misreading adelady.

    With PV the “game” is that, because of feed-in tarrifs, you can actually reduce your bill to nil by reducing use.

    This is not saying that you need PV to use less, because you can use less by

    a) not installing PV

    b) not using the clothes dryer

    which saves money, not cost money.

    But, with something you can get a FIT with, you can find not only do you reduce your bill by using less, you use less of the power from that local source (PV being the easiest to install for electricity generation in a residence) which gives you money back.

    Not just the difference, but DOUBLE the difference!

    So, no using less doesn’t require you find someone else to pay.

    PS you need to pay more for nuclear in Australia, yet you don’t seem to be averse to people having to pay extra for THAT, why so leery of doing so with renewables?

    Oh, sorry, forgot: you have a pet project here.

  89. #91 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    > > Renewables are far cheaper to roll out,
    > Far cheaper than coal? I don’t think so.

    Just because you don’t think doesn’t make coal cheaper.

    Don’t you know how much it costs and how long it takes to build a coal powered station, during which you cannot generate electricity and therefore the investment is losing the ROI of 10%+ you’d get investing elsewhere?

    Add to that the fact that coal is a dead-end technology (literally so), even if mitigation doesn’t happen.

    Why do you INSIST in scaring people by promoting the false dichotomy that anything that isn’t nuclear must be coal?

    Oh, sorry, forgot again, you have a pet project here.

    > They had better get cheaper if there is to be any chance of getting cheaper than coal.

    Nope, not at all true. As time goes on, if coal isn’t phased out, demand will push the prices up. Since there’s thousands of times more renewable energy available than any currently legitimate population of earth could want, demand is not a problem.

    Again, why do you insist that we must use coal?

    Oops, forgot again. Pet project.

    > > But as I said, it’s odd that someone who insists that the technology of nuclear power will solve the problems
    > Where did I say that?

    Yes, you don’t read your own posts.

    Whenever you say that it’s the fourth generation that will solve the problems of lack of uranium, dangers of nuclear and all that tosh you keep spouting when you’re not pushing coal.

  90. #92 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    > Yet people continue to use more power when they get told to use less.

    Well, there’s funny.

    When there’s a recession and money tight, people use less electricity.

    When petrol prices rise, people use less.

    When people get the chance to use less, they use less.

    Why else does Europe use 1/2 the power per capita the US does, or 1/3 what Canada does?

    Because people given the chance will use less.

    But people like you offer the ones who don’t want to change their profligate lifestyle the mesmerising prospect that nuclear power will come to the rescue (cf the “technology will save us” that Chris hates when it comes to it not saving nuclear power at the same time), therefore they don’t have to change.

    Why do people not use less?

    Because of you and people like you, MFS.

  91. #93 Chris O'Neill
    December 2, 2010
    That’s great if you can get someone else to pay most of the cost.

    You’re misreading adelady.

    No, you’re misreading adelady. Other people get to subsidize the solar cells on installation or by subsidizing the power they produce.

    not using the clothes dryer

    I don’t have a clothes dryer.

    you need to pay more for nuclear in Australia, yet you don’t seem to be averse to people having to pay extra for THAT, why so leery of doing so with renewables?

    When are you going to get this straight. I have absolutely no interest in nuclear electricity IF it is more expensive than renewables. If it is indeed true that nuclear electricity is more expensive than renewables then why are there so many statements about nuclear energy that are just plain wrong? What have these people making wrong statements about nuclear energy got to fear when they should have nothing to fear because it is putatively more expensive?

  92. #94 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    > Other people get to subsidize the solar cells on installation or by subsidizing the power they produce.

    Ah continued misreading there from Chris. Just as well I’m sitting down, else I’d faint in shock.

    Try reading.

    Using less doesn’t require PV. Using less requires using less which is 150% free, maybe more.

    But the game adelady’s mum and friends are playing isn’t merely use less, but to have a lower bill than anyone else.

    Someone who uses no power will have a bill of nil.

    Someone who uses less power than installed PV to their home will have a bill of negative.

    Which one “wins” the game.

    Funny how you don’t care about subsidising the cost of nuclear, by the way.

    But you have a propoganda to support, don’t you.

  93. #95 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    > I have absolutely no interest in nuclear electricity IF it is more expensive than renewables.

    This is already true.

    Yet, somehow, you’re still supporting nuclear.

    OK, maybe it’s not nuclear you’re supporting but coal.

    > What have these people making wrong statements about nuclear energy got to fear when they should have nothing to fear because it is putatively more expensive?

    Because people like you insist that it’s nuclear or coal.

  94. #96 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    Here are costs from the US on [generation costs](http://www.energy.ca.gov/2007publications/CEC-200-2007-011/CEC-200-2007-011-SD.PDF)

    Advanced Nuclear 67

    Wind power 60

    And from a European study, the figures are:

    Nuclear Energy 107.0 – 124.0

    Wind Energy Onshore 49.7 – 96.1

    Though you can’t fit a suitable sized wind turbine on top of your house, so for electricity generation, you’re looking at PV, but if you only want to reduce your power needs, heating the water from solar power is much more cost effective.

    You can still use low-flow or non power shower and reduce your hot water needs which may mean you have a surfeit of hot water you don’t want.

  95. #97 Bernard J.
    December 2, 2010

    [John](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/11/open_thread_56.php#comment-2968686):

    Conspiracy time: when I Google “Deltoid” it no longer comes up on the first page at all. I have to google “Deltoid blog” but even that delivers me to a year old post and not the main page.

    I’ve noticed exactly the same thing. In the past when I’ve used a new computer I usually typed in “delt” and it was enough to give a link, in the first 10 returns, to Tim’s front page. Nice and quick, when there’s no bookmark. Now the front page is nowhere to be found, even with “deltoid blog”.

    The same thing happened with scroogle.org a few months ago, but their reason for disappearing scroogle is a bit more obvious!

  96. #98 Wow
    December 2, 2010

    > why are there so many statements about nuclear energy that are just plain wrong?

    Got any?

  97. #99 MFS
    December 2, 2010

    Wow,

    #89:
    >”Oh, sorry, forgot: you have a pet project here.”

    #90:
    >”Oh, sorry, forgot again, you have a pet project here.”

    #91:
    >”Why do people not use less?”

    >”Because of you and people like you, MFS.”

    #93:
    >”But you have a propoganda to support, don’t you.”

    #94:
    >”Because people like you insist that it’s nuclear or coal.”

    I put it to you that either your comprehension skills are woeful, or that you have fallen sooo far down the conspiracy black hole that you confabulate every time you read a post, and assign secret agendas to any post that disagrees with yours. You’re a moron, Wow, and a snide, aggressive moron at that. By personifying the luddite greenie stereotype, you give environmentalism a bad name.

  98. #100 Chris O'Neill
    December 2, 2010
    why are there so many statements about nuclear energy that are just plain wrong?

    Got any?

    In http://www.helencaldicott.com/chapter3.pdf she talks about nuclear fuel fabrication workers being exposed to radon gas. This is just garbage in any significant sense because the radon gas is released when the Uranium ore is mined and ground up. Any further generation of radon gas by the Uranium in human timescales is completely insignificant. Some people claim that nuclear power stations will increase background radiation when in actual fact if they replace coal-burning stations then they will reduce background radiation compared with those coal-burning stations.

    But of course those facts don’t need to be mentioned anyway because renewables are cheaper than nuclear, aren’t they?