by Judith Curry
Right about now would be a good time for people who care about climate change to acknowledge our clean energy crisis. – Mike Shellenberger
Environmental Progress is an organization that I’ve just become familiar with. Excerpts from their About page:
The mission of Environmental Progress is to build a movement of concerned citizens, scientists and conservationists to advocate ethical and practical energy solutions for nature & people. EP was founded to address the two most serious threats to environmental progress: continued dependence on wood & dung in poor countries, and climate change.
How do humans save nature? By caring for people. Poor nations access cheap and reliable energy to grow more food on less land, create jobs in cities, and reduce fertility. All of this urbanization & increasing yields returns the countryside to grasslands, forests and wildlife. In rich countries — where forests & wildlife are returning — the key to environmental progress is to move to ever-cleaner and safer forms of energy, including nuclear power.
Unfortunately, both of these strategies are increasingly opposed by powerful interests. Using a variety of policy and regulatory mechanisms, large NGOs, European governments, and financial institutions in rich countries are forcing the closure of our largest source of clean energy, nuclear power plants, all while diverting funding from cheap and reliable power to expensive and unreliable off-grid solutions incapable of lifting billions from poverty.
Our ambitions are immodest: we seek to double the rates of both a. electricity growth in poor nations and b. new clean energy generation globally by 2025. Our strategy is to build a grassroots social movement capable of changing minds and policies.
We seek first to stop the premature closure of nuclear plants, restart shuttered plants, and increase the rate at which nations build new nuclear plants, whether Generation III or Gen IV. Second, we seek to motivate policymakers, private banks and public financial institutions to significantly reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for inexpensive baseload electricity in nations where people still rely on wood and dung as their primary energy.
Wow. Right on target. I don’t disagree with a word they say.
The specific topic of this post is their article ‘Key Questions‘. I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts.
Isn’t clean energy on the rise?
Clean (low-carbon) energy as a percentage of electricity globally has been on the decline for the last 20 years — from 37 to 32 percent since the mid-1990s. This is not just because fossil energy is increasing faster than clean energy. It’s also because nuclear power is on the decline in absolute terms.
But don’t Germany and California show you can reduce emissions by deploying a lot of solar and wind?
No. When countries like Germany and states like California deploy large amounts of intermittent renewables like solar and wind, they must use a lot of natural gas or coal as back-up. California emissions have actually declined less over the last 15 years than the U.S. average, while German emissions actually rose slightly during the period of intensive solar and wind deployment, and it has recently cut back on subsidies for renewables. In both California and Germany, the premature closure of nuclear plants was another major reason for higher emissions.
Does the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say nuclear is needed?
Yes, since 1990 the IPCC has stressed the need for an expansion of nuclear to deal with climate change. In its 2014 report, the IPCC concluded, “Achieving deep cuts [in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions] will require more intensive use of low-GHG technologies such as renewable energy, nuclear energy, and CCS.”
Why is nuclear on the decline?
Everywhere the underlying reason is the same: anti-nuclear forces, in tandem with rent-seeking economic interests, have captured government policies. On one extreme lies Germany, which decided to speed up the closure of its nuclear plants following Fukushima. In Sweden the government imposed a special tax on nuclear. In the U.S., solar and wind are far more heavily subsidized than nuclear. And states across the nation have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards, RPS, that mandate rising wind and solar, and that exclude nuclear.
Isn’t nuclear is just too expensive?
No. In countries like Germany and Sweden governments are openly closing economical nuclear plants. In the US, economical nuclear plants are being closed or threatened 10, 20 — even 40 years before a full life. Nuclear plants are being closed off prematurely both because they are excluded from federal and state clean energy policies and the fracking boom. Solar and wind receive many times more in subsidies than nuclear. Meanwhile, 30 states, including Illinois, exclude nuclear from their Renewable Portfolio Standards.
Aren’t solar and wind becoming so much cheaper that we don’t need nuclear?
No. The actual cost of solar panels and wind turbines have declined, but as they become a larger percentage of our electricity, their value declines. That’s because they produce so much power when demand is relatively low, and don’t produce enough power when demand is relatively high. That means they require very large quantities of back-up power, since the grid must have the same amount of power being produced as is being consumed at any given time.
But won’t we fix these short-term problems of integrating solar and wind?
Unlikely. Intermittent power has to be backed up by an equivalent capacity of dispatchable power, and that usually means fast-ramping gas plants that can rapidly adjust to chaotic surges and slumps of wind and solar power. As wind and solar capacity swells without displacing conventional capacity, the grid enters a spiral of persistent and rising overcapacity that lowers prices even further as more gigawatts fight for market share.
As wind and solar capacity climbs the returns of usable power diminish because of increasing curtailment during surges that the grid can’t absorb. More and more intermittent capacity has to be pushed onto the grid to get less and less additional renewable electricity. The dynamic of soaring overcapacity and falling prices is the inevitable result of the fundamental inability of intermittent wind and solar generators to efficiently match supply to demand.
Research by German economist Lion Hirth finds that the value of wind and solar drop as they become a larger part of the electricity supply
Can’t poor countries “leap-frog” over fossil fuels directly to solar and wind?
No. Solar and wind cannot provide the cheap 24-7 electricity needed to power factories and cities — which are the keys to development, as well as sparing nature in the countryside. And neither solar panels nor more efficient cookstoves are substitutes for wood fuel, upon which three billion people still depend.
Isn’t nuclear a right-wing technology?
No. Until the early-seventies, nuclear was embraced by liberals and environmentalists including the Sierra Club. “Nuclear energy is the only practical alternative that we have to destroying the environment with oil and coal,” said famed nature photographer and Sierra Club Director, Ansel Adams. “Nuclear power is one of the chief long-term hopes for conservation,” said Sierra Club director David Siri. “Cheap energy in unlimited quantities is one of the chief factors in allowing a large rapidly growing population to preserve wildlands, open space, and lands of high scenic value … With energy we can afford the luxury of setting aside lands from productive uses.”
Since then, nuclear has been embraced by French and Swedish socialists, left-wing Guardian columnist George Monbiot, President Barack Obama, co-founders of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Bill Gates, Carol Browner, former EPA head under President Bill Clinton, liberal Minnesota Senator Al Franken, economist Jeffrey Sachs, Gaia hypothesis originator James Lovelock, Whole Earth Catalogue founder Stewart Brand, Virgin’s Richard Branson, TVA chief David Lilienthal, and the late, great humanitarian and environmentalist, Cambridge professor, David MacKay (1967 – 2016).
Is nuclear really low-carbon energy?
Yes. According to a review of the evidence, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says nuclear is two to four times less carbon-intensive than solar.
Isn’t the electrical grid an inefficient relic being disrupted?
No. Our electrical grid is the most efficient way we have of distributing electricity. That’s because it requires we only produce as much as power as we need at any given moment (or there are blow-outs). By contrast, large amounts of energy are lost converting electricity to batteries and back again. For this reason, the grid will always be more efficient than any system heavily reliant on storage.
But isn’t the trend now toward distributed rather than centralized production?
No, the broad trend remains toward centralized production because billions of people seek liberation from not having to haul wood, gather water, grow food, and wash clothes by hand. Two hundred years ago, 90 percent of us used to produce our own food and energy; today, in rich countries, less than one percent of us do. This applies to solar and wind as well. Cheaper solar panels came from giant centralized production facilities, and solar electricity from large solar farms in the desert is far cheaper than solar on rooftops. Three billion people still rely on decentralized wood fuel production.
What about the accidents?
All of the nuclear accidents demonstrate nuclear’s relative safety. At Three Mile Island, there was a meltdown and yet the public was not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 9,000 people will die prematurely from radiation from Chernobyl. And the authoritative study of the Fukushima accident by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation concluded that “no discernible increased incidence of radiation –related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants.”
By contrast, the World Health Organization estimates 7 million premature deaths each year from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels and biomass for energy. Replacing these sources with non-polluting nuclear-powered electricity would save millions of lives every year.
What do we do with all the nuclear waste?
One of the great advantages of nuclear is that it produces very small amounts of highly manageable, and easy-to-store, waste. The volume of long-term radioactive waste generated from American nuclear plants is so small if it were all stored in the same place it would fit on a single football field stacked about 20 feet high. Currently, nuclear waste is stored on-site, largely because opponents of nuclear power have opposed the construction of a central waste storage facility. In the future, after Congress passes bipartisan nuclear waste legislation, it will likely be transported and stored underground in New Mexico or another state that wants it as a source of income. And later this century, nuclear “waste” — which contains over 98 percent of the energy in the original fuel — will likely be recycled by next-generation nuclear plants.
Does nuclear energy lead to nuclear weapons?
No. And in fact, the opposite is the case. Nuclear energy has been essential to dismantling nuclear weapons, and until a few years ago, a full half of the nuclear energy in the US was produced using plutonium from de-commissioned warheads. There is no case where a nation acquired a nuclear weapon through nuclear energy. The reason for this is is easy to understand. Nations seeking nuclear power plants must agree to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and regular inspections by the United Nations, which thus makes acquiring nuclear energy an obstacle to proliferation. Nations do not need nuclear power plants to pursue a nuclear weapon and indeed, as in the case of Iran, choose to build medical research reactor rather than a full-blown nuclear power plant.
Why then are people so afraid of nuclear energy?
Fear of nuclear energy has developed for a variety of reasons ranging from association with nuclear weapons to mutant creatures in science fiction. The most persistent cause, however, began in the 1960s when environmental groups decided to oppose nuclear power. Originally, their concerns about nuclear had nothing to do with safety or waste and everything to do with opposing economic growth and in-migration to California. Their explicit strategy was to prey on public misunderstandings of how nuclear power works, exaggerate the amount and risk of nuclear waste, block disposal facilities, and conflate nuclear energy with nuclear weapons. Paradoxically, early environmental leaders like Sierra Club Directors David Siri and Ansel Adams, supported nuclear power as the best means to achieve universal prosperity, avoid dams on America’s scenic rivers and leave more room for nature.
We’ve covered many of these issues in previous guest posts on energy. But I find this compilation of questions and answers, including the graphics and data in the main post, to be very effective in communicating the central issues surrounding ‘clean’ energy.
On the current path of mandating renewable energy to fight global warming, the goal of electricity growth in poor nations is in direct conflict with new clean energy generation. Morally, it would seem to me that the goal of electricity growth in poor nation, which would address very real concerns that exist now, seems to be a higher priority than renewable energy mandates to fight the hypothesized global warming. Even if you believe the climate models, poor nations would arguably be better prepared in the future to grapple with climate change if they have electricity and a developed economy.
The bottom line is that the current path we are on with renewable energy is not going to be effective at either promoting electricity growth in poor nations or increasing clean energy generation globally.
So where does that leave us? Right now, the only option seems to be nuclear energy. We can continue to argue whether new nuclear plants are cost effective in the face of inexpensive natural gas. But premature decommissioning of nuclear plants makes absolutely no sense.
The issue is whether these energy transitions are ‘urgent’ or not. I suspect that by the end of the 21st century, fossil fuels will not be a major source of energy production – we will have found cheaper and cleaner ways to produce energy. Investing in energy R&D can possibly accelerate this transition. But mandating this transition on the time scale of a decade or two, with inadequate renewable energy technologies, makes no sense.
Here’s to hoping that orgs like Environmental Progress, Breakthrough Institute and a few others can turn the tide away from senseless renewable energy mandates to policies that promote electricity growth in poor nations along with a transition to cleaner energy production
Pingback: Clean energy emergency – Enjeux énergies et environnement
If CS is low, then there’s no problem. Looks to me like coal is the more efficient and should win… unless the government is picking the winner.
Nice website. However challenging “clean” requirements might become here, they are far more likely to be unfairly burdensome in the third word.
They define “clean” incorrectly : “Clean (low-carbon) energy”. This is one of the insidious atrocities of the rabid greenies and their fellow travellers – deliberate corruption of the language. Clean means free of pollutants, so it is not about what goes in (carbon) but it is about what comes out (noxious gases and particles).
Coal, nuclear, and natgas are all clean and efficient when used properly (unlike wood and dung, for example). Just use all three, use whichever is best for each individual situation, and get the World Bank de-politicised so that it can support all of them for the less-developed countries. Then we make real progress.
Has the situation In Fukushima been stabilized?
Or for that matter, Chernobyl?
I don’t think Gaia has sequestered much strontium-90.
What “situation” are you referring to?
Can you tell me how many deaths have been caused by radiation and radioactive contamination from the Fukushima and Chernobyl accidents (from authoritative sources please, not the anti-nuke protest movement)?
And how many are projected for the future?
And compare the risk of fatalities per TWh of electricity supplied by: coal, gas, solar, wind and nuclear (fatalities per TWh on a life cycle analysis basis).
If you dodge the questions or divert to something else this is a sigh of intellectual dishonesty.
Nuclear and coal are both capital intensive.
Gas (CCGT or simple cycle) is cheap to capitalize. Granted, the fuel is (somewhat) more expensive. But there are advantages. It’s cheapest to get up and running.
Chernobyl became a wilderness wild life refuge with abundent growth.
No mutants identified to date on the worst accident prior to Fukushima.
Should ge fish restoration in the offshore areas in Japn that shut fishing like the Monterey national marine reserve. Interesting to see the impacts around land there in the future. Stocks recover and then migrate to other areas.
Not a good way to create wilderness areas.
But far less capital intensive than solar and wind, right? If you disagree please provide the full system capital cost per MWh for solar, wind, nuclear, coal.
Sorry, you can make demands like that on me, but they don’t mean squat. Too many variegated assumptions go into such estimates.
Feel free so say whatever you like, and back it up with whatever garbage you like.
You posted the disingenuous comment:
“Nuclear and coal are both capital intensive.”
You failed to state that renewables are much more capital intensive.
When asked to clarify, you dodged. A clear sign of intellectual dishonesty.
I wasn’t arguing for “renewables” here, I was pointing out the advantages of gas CCGT over coal or nuclear. So in bringing up “renewables”, you’re advancing a straw man. As usual.
Rubbish AK. Your always invariably ranting, avocating, and making disingenuous comments for renewables. This was another of your misleading, disingenuous comments. Why did you name nuclear and not renewables whaich are worse and are your pet topic. Your conitinual misrepresentation, cherry picking, strawman arguments are worse than intellectual dishonesty
I guess because I was thinking of new service. I’ve never tried to say that intermittents are ready for prime time in areas where reliable service is needed.
Sure, if you’ve got a few dozen (or hundred) megawatts of CCGT, solar PV could probably be made to pay for itself as an add-on. I’m still working on the calcs for that, and even there, I’m talking more about 5-10 years from now, when the cost has come down by a factor of 3-4.
But if you’re looking for quick, cheap, power, CCGT is the immediate answer. Less than a year turnaround (assuming permitting can be handled with force majeure), under a dollar a watt (with the same assumption).
Right now, the cost of fuel for CCGT in the US is roughly equivalent to the operating cost for nuclear. Of course, everything changes when you’re talking about Africa or India. But how?
AK. More like about 2 years to build CCGT power sell at around $55 megawatt hour but your observations are about right
All the research I’ve done shows it can be done easy within a year.
Except for permitting delays.
I’ve built them. Takes about 24+ months for 2×1 CCGT. As usual, you have no practical experience.
Cool. EP seems to be fairly MOR so perhaps all Dr. Bjørn Lomborg’s hard work is getting heard by decision-makers at last.
Re: “Can’t poor countries “leap-frog” over fossil fuels directly to solar and wind? No. Solar and wind cannot provide the cheap 24-7 electricity needed to power factories and cities”
After spending almost ten years doing humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic, a very representative burgeoning developing nation, my wife and I reached the conclusion that what the people needed most was reliable 24/7 sufficient electrical power.
The need was 1. To be able to have refrigeration in their homes allowing safe storage of perishable food — almost all could have at least a small ‘frig, but they become merely fancy cupboards when electrical power is off-and-on, for days at a time, with voltage dips and spikes. 2. To power micro-businesses that so many of the people depend on for their daily bread — to run a compressor or anything with electrical motors in a small shop.
ALL businesses have their own backup generators, usually diesel, to power their offices and plants. Without the generators, no one could do business there. [ The poor, of course, do not have generators, not could they afford the fuel for them.]
Dominicans burn wood and charcoal to cook — everywhere, even in the capital — the only exceptions being the very rich living in high-rise apartments. They prefer bottled gas (propane) which is subsidized by the government and use it when they have it, cooking on tabletop one or two burner units, but supplies run out, money runs out, and they revert to their wood and charcoal stoves.
I can not envision kitchens in the DR having electric kitchen stoves anytime in the next decade or two.
Things are better in the Virgin Islands, worse in Haiti.
Develop economies & sustainable energy now
I strongly concur with Curry’s statement:
The basis for this is detailed in studies by the Copenhagen Consensus led by Bjorn Lomborg.
See Lomborg’s TED talk:
Global Priorities Bigger Than Climate Change
Why waste $ trillions on the least effective measures???
See the recent Copenhagen Consensus outcomes of studies:
Nobel Laureates Guide to Smarter Global Targets to 2030
Prioritizing 19 targets instead of the UN’s 169 targets is equivalent to doubling or quadrupling foreign aid
See: Post-2015 Consensus: Climate Change Assessment, Galiana
Science and Technology
Challenge our legislators to prioritize funding by cost effectiveness, not political pandering.
The Future of Biofuel Isn’t Corn—It’s Algae
Why water is the future of biofuel.
Interesting freelance writer’s view. Does anyone have any recent quantitative economic comparisons of algal vs corn fuel production, ROI and EROI costs?
Reminds me of Nick Lewis of CalTec’s research he presented at a Standford 101 series of seminars on renewables a few years back
Essay Salvation by Swamp goes into the insurmountable problems. In open shallow raceways (algae is green, opaque, so racewaydepthnis limited to about 1/2 meter) in high insolation SW water is an insurmountable problem. Switch to enclosed tube systems to conserve water, cost becomes prohibitive. For both supplemental CO2 must be provided, but there is no economic CO2 capture system. Pretty much a non-starter. Sapphire has morphed to nutritional supplements. Joule is years behind schedule and has never (yet) demonstrated viable economics in their pilot plant.
A little gem from the article: “algae-based platforms boasting well-tested estimate yields up to 2.8 times that of corn”. I love well-tested estimates. Paper endures a lot.
I think the evolution of global electrical power systems will adopt the architecture of our communication systems going forward. Distributed, but most still connected to the backbone. If nuclear can go modular then it will fit in well. As it stands right now the vast majority of the money is going into nuclear weapons ($37b/yr.) Which begs the question, will there even be a grid if we actually use the weapons?
Here is a more in depth article based on a recent Bloomberg report
Companion story in the N.Y. Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/20/business/energy-environment/how-renewable-energy-is-blowing-climate-change-efforts-off-course.html?smid=fb-share
Commenting on a previous article, you stated:
I could not find any similar caveat here.
Would you claim any personal expertise on nuclear energy?
Willard | July 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm
“Judy, Would you claim any personal expertise on nuclear energy?”
Willard, do you claim any personal expertise on nuclear energy? Ever been on a nuclear submarine or carrier? Very nice, very clean, very safe!
One doesn’t have to have in depth expertise in a particular energy topic to formulate an opinion when there’s sufficient reliable literature and experts to question to acquire information.
I know this is a fairly mysterious world to you mr Willard, as well as to most of your associates. But those of us who have held senior engineering positions do carry on without having to understand every little detail. The key is to have the nose to detect faulty logic, unreliable or weak data, poor quality work unfit for purpose, unexecutable projects, and to be able to fire underperformers.
==> One doesn’t have to have in depth expertise in a particular energy topic to formulate an opinion when there’s sufficient reliable literature and experts to question to acquire information. ==>
What’s your opinion about scientists publicly advocating for policy perspectives in fields were they lack in-depth expertise? Do you consider that to be irresponsible advocacy?
Joshua: all of us should be able to advocate policies. Advocacy by an individual isn’t irresponsible. Advocacy by a government official such as President Obama can be highly irresponsible. The higher the power and responsibility one has, the more critical to be properly informed.
As a general rule, I don’t think scientists are very good at policy, they are too specialized and disconnected from the real world. However, a scientist who spends time trying to understand other subjects (Judy does) can evolve into a quality policy maker. Scientists like say Hansen and that guy who advises Obama are clearly unable to grasp the subjects needed to formulate good policy.
Obama is an interesting guy, very smart, but seems to have an incomplete vision of the outcome when he makes a move. A poor chess player, I imagine. Because Obama wields so much power, then he can definitely be said to be irresponsible. From what I can tell, Hillary won’t be much better, and Trump will be a disaster.
Then there’s the issue of advocacy mixed with fraud. I see too much of this going on. The IPCC is both irresponsible and fraudulent when it takes RCP8.5 and starts a propaganda campaign calling it “business as usual”.
> [A]ll of us should be able to advocate policies.
The liberty to advocate policies ain’t under dispute, fernando. Right after bragging about having a nose to detect faulty logic. Fancy that.
Even the advocacy issue is more or less irrelevant to Judy’s bottom line:
Even if we accept that it’s a value-laden statement, it’s more factual than anything.
Now, either Judy rubberstamps the Breakthrough Boys’ or the new Boys in the Hood’s crap, or she reached the same conclusions doing her own homework.
Which is it?
I believe that judith is entitled to have a policy position based on limited expertise or even on ethical considerations alone. That’s the essence of democracy, at least so I thought. Since science cannot tell us much about values as Lord Russell said many many times, we should all feel free to develop our values and try to get them into policy. Each of us is an independent thinking adult and should think for themselves, don’t you think?
I believe that Judy’s entitled to whatever she pleases here, David P. Young from the Boeing Company. It is her blog, after all.
Contrary to what you think, the essence of democracy is to have a voice in the election process.
The fact/value dichotomy is fishy, as any Honest Broker already told you. It would be dubious to attribute to Lord Russell one and only one conception of ethics. It evolved over the time, and by the end of the 30’s our Lord went on to disregard the ethical value of religious experiences. He could not find any coherent metaphysics in them, and therefore went for a consequentialist outlook.
Thinking for ourselves is an interesting myth. People usually think aloud, which is tougher to do alone. You’re of course free to entertain thoughts about Russell’s philosophy without paying due diligence to it. That may not be a virtue, however. Unless you’re a GOP nominee, in which case anything goes. Russell even contemplated economic nationalism as “the prevalent creed” of his time.
How little things change.
Well that’s certainly what the New Athesists believe, and want everyone to believe.
I think I found atheism’s fifth horseman, Glenn:
Only someone with a reading comprehension disorder could read the paper you linked and conclude that Roger S. Pielke, Jr believes that “The fact/value dichotomy is fishy, as any Honest Broker already told you.”
Trying to enlist to enlist Pielke to your cause is a major fail.
“Pielke himself plays the role of Honest Broker,” Brown writes, and then adds:
Also, you should not conflate atheists with New Atheists.
New Atheists are a rump group amongst the larger atheist population whose values, attitudes and opinions do not necessarily represent those of all atheists.
> Only someone with a reading comprehension disorder could read the paper you linked and conclude that Roger S. Pielke, Jr believes that “The fact/value dichotomy is fishy, as any Honest Broker already told you.”
If his endorsement of constructivist research on the co-production of facts and values is too fast for you, Glenn, you could derive it directly for his stockholder model if you please: Junior states on p. 18 that the two criterias to evaluate the role of scientists’ role are: (a) the consensus on the values among the stakeholders and (b) the uncertainty surrounding a decision process. This, in turn, implies that an honest broker is useful when we don’t know the facts for sure, and we can’t disentengle values.
If this doesn’t amount to reject the fact/value dichotomy, Glenn, I don’t know what is.
Rejecting the fact/value dichotomy may not imply the rejection of objective knowledge. It doesn’t even imply that the is-ought problem gets dissolved. There’s a tension between trying to wedge both options, and Junior fails to address it. There’s a background exchange where Junior and Richie accused MT of being an authoritarian if you’re interested. Then I lost interest in the whole Honest Brokering charade.
Instead of reading Junior’s book, I’d suggest this other one:
It’s more about your more general question regarding the fact/value dichotomy. If you prefer something quicker and dirtier:
If you have to pick a side between “Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, John McDowell, Hilary Putnam as well as all classical pragmatists” or Dan Dennett’s buddy, please choose wisely.
Hope this helps,
But Pielke never says “we can’t disentangle values.” Those are apocryphal words that you put in his mouth. What he says is that when facts are low — “uncertain” is his preferred terminology — then one should not substitute values for facts.
How you can twist Pielke’s Kantian philosophy into him being the fifth horseman — or even an acolyte of the fundamentalist stealth religion of the Four Horsemen — is quite a feat of sophistry.
For those not familiar with the Four Horsemen, it refers to the four leading figures of the New Atheist good old boys club: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens:
New Atheism has been branded a “boys club” because of the conspicuous absence of women in the religious movement.
As to the article you cite, it merely argues the New Atheist position. But that’s a far cry from saying that Pielke accepts that position, or that he is “the fifth horseman” as you allege.
I would argue that the fact/theory dichotomy has not collapsed (as the authors allege), no more than the fact/value dichotomy has collapsed.
I would add that where facts are low or uncertain, we should not substitute theory or speculation for facts, no more than we should substitute values for facts.
> Pielke never says “we can’t disentangle values.”
I’m not sure how on what basis you can affirm this, Glenn. This kind of claim presumes (a) you’ve read all of Junior’s words, (b) you’ve memorized them all, and more importantly (c) he’d need to say “we can’t disentangle values,” otherwise the very idea of his stakeholder modul would not imply that we can’t disentangle values.
Words. Ideas. Learn the difference.
No wonder you recite the same long quotes over and over again as if they were mantras or something.
> How you can twist Pielke’s Kantian philosophy into him being the fifth horseman […]
Again with the big words, Glenn.
First, Pielke has very little philosophy to offer.
Second, he appeals more to pragmatism than everything else, and Kant may not be the parangon of the kind of kantism you usually peddle.
Third, the horseman was a joke, son.
Fourth, your ad hominem against the horsemen is getting silly. I don’t always pay due diligence to the horsemen’s crap, (I’m more of an agnostic myself, and I barely suffer 3/4 of this bunch), but when I do, I attack their arguments. Big words don’t scare big boys.
Big words. Arguments. Learn the difference.
> I would argue that the fact/theory dichotomy has not collapsed (as the authors allege), no more than the fact/value dichotomy has collapsed.
I’m sure you would, Glenn. I’m sure you would.
It has been more difficult ever since the forth estate become the fifth column.
“Hope this helps,
Willard, I don’t think anything you post helps.
Helping isn’t your intention, is it?
We should take a page out of Trump’s playbook, and start calling you Lying Willard.
For your problem isn’t that you have a reading comprehension disorder. Your problem is that you are dishonest — maliciously, deliberately, and intentionally so.
For instance, I stated that “Pielke never says ‘we can’t disentangle values’,” to which you respond:
But of course I wasn’t responding to Pielke’s entire oevure, I was responding to your claim in your previous comment that:
If one goes to p. 18 what one finds is that Pielke never says what you claim he says. Furthermore, he never says anything that even remotely resembles what you claim he said.
Lying Willard. Yep, I like that. And the moniker fits you perfectly. And like they say, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”
> If one goes to p. 18 what one finds is that Pielke never says what you claim he says.
Perhaps I missed something. Let’s check back:
There was even a star next to the paragrah of the PDF I linked.
Compare and contrast:
Hoping that this is to your satisfaction,
Thank you for making my day,
PS: You could even derive the entanglement of facts and values from the concept of the honest broker, actually, since this ideal character has been created to solve this very problem.
It’s not just that you lie so much, it’s that you’re so bad at it.
Where does Pielke say on p. 18 that “we can’t disentangle values”?
He never comes anywhere remotely close to saying, implying or inferring that “we can’t disentangle values” or that the fact/value dichotomy has collapsed. This is something that you inveted out of whole cloth.
> Helping isn’t your intention, is it?
Read back and report, Weazle.
Even if it wasn’t, a good strategy is to act as if it was. Think about it: the more crappy arguments I extricate from the contrarian playbook, better are the arguments that can hit the table. In return, I get more potent contrarian arguments to get into my Matrix, and I improve my own playbook.
It’s a win-win, cf. the Freedom Fighters’ Bible.
Pride is nothing compared to Honor.
> Where does Pielke say on p. 18 that “we can’t disentangle values”?
Where do I say that Junior says “we can’t disentangle values” again, Glenn?
You start out lying when you say:
I called you out on this, because Pielke never said any such thing, nothing even close to this..
Your reaction was typical of unapologetic liars: you doubled down. Your reply was:
But if one goes to p. 18, what one sees is that Pielke never says “we can’t disentangle values,” nor does he “reject the fact/value dichotomy.” In fact, he does just the opposite.
Like I say Willard, what’s remarkable about you is that you not only lie so prolifically, but you’re so incredibly incompetent at lying.
> I called you out on this [the fact/value dichotomy is fishy, as any Honest Broker already told you], because Pielke never said any such thing, nothing even close to this.
That Honest Broker is my own character, Glenn. Junior is not even an honest broker. His prides himself in self-avowing his own advocacy. He said that many times. Wondering how Junior can be sure that he’s not forgetting some values is left as an exercise to readers.
You should know that Junior’s not a broker, because not only you know everything Junior, you also can recognize everything that could be close to what he ever said. Since you are Junior-omniscient, perhaps you’d recognize this quote from Sheila Jasanoff:
Do you recall having read that recently? I hope you do.
If you were also logically omniscient, you’d infer why Jasanoff says that, and why Junior relies on that quote to show “how scholars demonstrated at a great depth the degree to which considerations of politics and values shape the work of experts seeking to provide guidance to decision-makers.” You don’t need to be logically omniscient, however: it should be easy to understand that the fact/value dichotomy collapses as soon as you endorse a “constructivist research on the co-production of facts and values,” as Mark Brown worded it earlier.
Just for you, Glenn – let’s try to fit all this into a single paragraph. If value-producers shape the work of fact-producers, not all facts can be said to be value independent. Then the dichotomy falters. The very concept of fact implies a choice, the choice to divide the things and the events of the world according to what matters to us and what doesn’t. We call the former facts, and the others, we don’t need to call them anything.
As an old constructivist teacher was fond of telling and writing: what is given to us is pre-fabricated. If you prefer to buy local, start with Wilfrid Sellars:
The fact/value dichotomy and the Myth of the Given go hand in hand.
Junior fabricated his Honest Broker to solve the “values shape facts” problem: while you may not be able to disentangle facts and values, you could, somehow, in principle, compartimentalize the roles of each respective producers.
If you can allow me an editorial comment (I am almost merely reading Junior to you until now), I’d say that Junior is rediscovering semantic frames for policy. If that diagnosis is correct, then his technical solution falters on the same grounds that frames led to networks.
Think about it – Junior simply created a 2 x 2 matrix to dissolve the values shape facts problem. This is too basic network theory to be taken seriously. It’s basically a pedagogical tool that is being promoted to raise lukewarm concerns.
You treat us to yet one more barrage of tedious, wearisome mendacity.
Of course what should one expect from someone who believes that “the fact/value dichotomy is fishy,” and proselytizes “the collapse of the fact/theory dichotomy”?
> You treat us to yet one more barrage of tedious, wearisome mendacity.
You’re a tough customer, Glenn. I offer you an argument against the fact/value dichotomy that fits into a single paragraph and you call it a barrage.
Here, Glenn, is where I copy-pasted Sheila’s sentence. Notice how Junior added his own dot to her sentence. I’m sure you could read the end of that sentence somewhere, since you’re Junior-omniscient.
Notice how Junior introduces that quote:
Are you still willing to maintain that Junior never, ever-ever-ever, nothing, absolutely nothing anywhere, “even close to this,” Glenn? If that doesn’t meet your tough-customer satisfaction, I will try again. As you are Junior-omniscient, you must know better than me how much corpus has been dedicated to the Honest Broker myth.
Please beware your wishes.
Sorry, but despite all your lies and spin doctoring, Pielke is not in the same camp with New Atheists like Sam Harris, nor is he in the same camp with construcivists like Nelson Goodman, Hilary Putnam or Richard Rorty.
Your attempt to put him in these camps is a big fail.
Glenn, Willard uses the Lenin method.
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” – Vladimir Lenin
> [Junior] is not in the same camp with New Atheists like Sam Harris, nor is he in the same camp with construcivists like Nelson Goodman, Hilary Putnam or Richard Rorty.
So that’s how you roll, Glenn. Sam Harris, bad. Whatever Sam thinks, bad. Therefore, whoever associates with Sam, bad. Search for “constructivism.” Find some names. Drop them.
I’ve got news for you – if Sam’s showing that there are facts that matter for some values, if Hilary (no, the other Hilary) says that some values influence how you cookie-cut the world, you can indeed say that both Sam and Hilary reject the fact/value dichotomy.
Emotions that you get while hearing names. Understanding of the claims made by some philosophical positions. Learn the difference.
Do you still dispute that Junior never said nothing even close to the idea that the fact/value dichotomy is fishy and that such claim rests on being Junior-omniscient, Glenn?
Not that this matters much for my argument, since you’re beating up a strawman. What matters is that if we had a full-blown dichotomy between facts and values, we’d have facts that are certain and values that are clear. If that was the case, could still hope for a single scientific answer to complex issues without having to deal with conflicting values. Science would top politics, and the linear modul, the competitor to Junior’s stakeholder modul, would win.
In other words, the fact/value dichotomy implies we don’t need no stinkin’ Honest Broker. Stealth issue advocates, the bane of Junior, would not matter. What they say is either true or false. Nobody would care about their advocacy.
Thank you for making me discover this shorter proof, one that does not require we deal with ethically “thick” concepts, a notion I never really liked.
Is anyone exploiting the temperature incline for generating electricity, and I don’t mean geothermal?
If you are referring to the thermal incline of oceans, this article, although several years old, is a useful primer
the oceans offer a variety of energy generation opportunities, of which tidal is probably the most advanced, although all forms are much less advanced-and subsidised- than solar or wind. As a consequence limited research and development has been directed to the ocean and I know of few projects that use energy derived from the oceans, let along cost effectively.
It is thought that thermal in particular can provide base power, something that many economies urgently need. Of course, not everywhere has oceans!
I am glad to see this new organization pointing out the dangers of “renewables”. However, the very notion of a “clean (low-carbon) energy” is based on a legal but totally unscientific assumption that the carbon dioxide is a “pollutant”. So is water, but probably not legally.
Yes, they get too often get away with claiming the poorly-defined “clean”, as if anything else is no better than leprosy. It is an almost religiously political stance as well as being profoundly ignorant, duplicitous, or all of the above.
“Clean” is a propaganda word. The correct expression would be “CO2 free” but “clean” is more sexy, more misleading, and it’s users believe – more effective (although lying).
To define nuclear as “clean” is especially, and horrendously wrong.
One of the foremost opponents of common sense in the energy field is Stanford professor, Mark Jacobson. Almost all of the quixotic proponents of renewable energy like to trot out one of his 100% wind, water and solar (WWS) papers. They contain such proposals as building 387 concentrating solar plants in “sunny” New York state or that all new long haul aircraft, by 2040 be “electrolytic cryogenic hydrogen”. He’s getting quite a reputation for blocking people on twitter:
A number of people have been debunking him and one of the best is Blair King:
One can watch Jacobson and Schellenberger square off in this video:
The need for clean energy will be discussed at the London GeoEthics Conference on 8,9 Sept. 2016. There is time is for questions and discussion after each presentation.
In the last paragraph of F. W. Aston’s 1922 Noble Lecture, nuclear energy offers humanity:
1. The promise of “powers beyond the dreams of scientific fiction,” and
2. The possibility of becoming uncontrollable, igniting other elements, and transforming the Earth into a star.
FEAR of (2) during the closing days of WWII blocked access to the clean energy in (1).
Judith, you say “we will have found cheaper and cleaner ways to produce energy.”. I am at a loss to know what you mean by “cleaner”. Modern coal fired plants filter out all particulates and scrub out all gasses except CO2 (and water vapour). Both of these are essential to all life on this planet. How on earth could you ask for anything “cleaner” and more positive for our environment. In our part of the world (Australia) there is nothing cheaper than coal fired power, so I am at a loss to know what you mean. Australian coal is a premium coal and could lift India and Africa out of power poverty, while causing no damage to the invironment. What could be better?
Blast – Environment – what happened to spell check?
Coal emits too much CO2. Over the long term it may be economically harmful to rely on coal instead of nuclear energy. It’s evident that third world countries have safety cultures which make nuclear a bit risky. Therefore more advanced nations should shift to nuclear baseload and leave coal for less sophisticated locations.
I like more CO2, not less. Burning hydrocarbons creates at a minimum CO2 and H2O, both of which are essential to plant life – and us.
Peter Meadows pointed out modern coal fired plants can (and presumably mostly do) filter out harmful emissions of particulates and gases.
Electricity can be generated in many ways. In Australia, people in the outback used a “pedal radio”, invented by Traeger. These days, solar or wind, with a battery backup, has probably replaced all the old pedal powered generators. Saves a lot of effort, just costs more.
Why not use coal, if it’s more cost effective, and produces plant food and water as well?
Just a thought.
Mike: lucky for us, the world has limited coal reserves. Otherwise my Ft Lauderdale house value may drop way too much.
We BURN fuels, converting their energy to heat and than the heat to electricity. Heat to electricity is an inherently inefficient process. A direct conversion in a fuel cell would still produce the same amount of CO2 and H2O, but twice to four times the electricity. We are not quite there yet, but this is where the research grants should go.
Could you outline again what criteria you use to distinguish between responsible and irresponsible advocacy from scientists?
Limit science advocacy to your area(s) of expertise and be clear when you are presenting a personal opinion not based on your formal expertise or professional experience;
Back to the old ponytail-pulling routine again I see…
The problem that I constantly run into at CE is the binary arguments that polarize many discussions. The anti-Renewable crowd here at CE just love to frame this with Jacobson’s 100% argument.
I’ve asked Michael Shellenberger if he will weigh-in on this blog post to show he’s not anti-Renewable, but simply pro-Nuclear (especially old nuclear).
Maybe he will. If not, will people read the following links which clearly present his views? For most here at CE, probably not:
Michael is speaking on July 28th on this very subject (Can Nuclear Power and Renewables and Nuclear be Friends?): http://eetd.lbl.gov/dls/lecture-07-28-16-shellenberger.html
Environmental Progress & Michael have now written 7 open letters supporting clean energy. In reading these letters, how can anyone come to a conclusion that Michael is anti-Renewable?: http://www.environmentalprogress.org/sign-the-letter/
One question that I constantly ask the anti-Renewable and pro-Nuclear Crowd: Lets eliminate all Renewable Energy off the face of our Earth — will this solve Nuclear’s current competitive problem with natural gas in the U.S.?
Renewables are very expensive and produce little energy – that is they are very expensive for the amount of intermittent energy they produce.
If you are “for renewables” you are for waste of resources, regardless of nuclear.
Wind power is also anti-environmental. It saturates virgin nature lands with noisy, industrial, bird chopping monsters.
jacobress — Your opinion simply does not follow engineering economics. For example, it is very, very possible that solar or off-shore wind can beat the cost of a combustion turbine in meeting peaking loads — especially when existing Renewable penetration is low.
With higher and higher penetration, the value of peaking Renewables decrease — as the Renewables are picking off lower and lower fossil fuel resources on the economic dispatch.
“For example, it is very, very possible that solar or off-shore wind can beat the cost of a combustion turbine in meeting peaking loads”
Never. Because you cannot rely on them to be available at peak demand.
Solar might be useful in hot climates (to power AC at peak day hours). Nevertheless, not one solar panel has ever been installed unless it was aimed at harvesting massive subsidies. I’m not against solar energy, only against the subsidies.
Wind, on the other hand, beside being useless and subsidised, is environmentally harmful.
Stephen Segrest said:
Can you show us one single example where that is the reality?
In California it certainly is not the reality. Peak load is at about 9 p.m. By this hour wind and solar production have fallen to almost zero.
This creates the famous duck curve effect, where flexible energy must rapidly be ramped up to meet the gap created by falling wind and solar production.
With more and more wind and solar penetration forecast for coming years, it is predicted that by 2020 the need for flexible energy will approximate 15,000 MW.
Texas faces the same dilema, ERCOT predicts:
jacobress — Google the term “ELCC electricity” to understand the engineering concepts. Numerous examples of applying this engineering methodology such as Nevada and New York State.
Also, while I’m not a big fan of “simply” using LCOE (on a MWh generation basis), google “Lazard LCOE” for a Apples/Apples comparison of Technology with similar capacity factors to meet specific load requirements, like peaking.
Renewables will be fine once we command winds and rain. An old communist dream. God, what mess would we create…
Here is a critic of ELCC:
No amount of funny statistics will mask the fact that at some times wind production is almost zero, and you don’t control those times.
South Australia is now paying the price for implementing wind & solar while shutting down coal fired power stations. They have unreliable power which is having problems meeting demand. They have the highest prices for electricity & are now begging for power from other states.
2016 La Nina prospects have been waning, They forgot about the beast: the positive phase of the PDO. Time to start thinking the unthinkable: back-to-back Super El Nino events:
ENSO averaged indicator is neutral, where it has to be before it gets negative.
Lol, it’s also where it has to be to have back-to-back El Nino events.
You think the IPWP is recharged?
Right now? No, but I suspect there has been very little loss of OHC in this El Nino, so it could change fairly quick. There is nothing unusual about back-to-back ENSO events.
All the recent records not taken into account?
California could use more rain.
Have you identified the thermodynamic driver that would cause such a response?
We could be in the ramp-up phase to a PDO peak. The phase appears to be dominated by El Nino events, and they can occur two in a row, or even three in a row.
No cultism required.
No cultism required
no carbon dioxide either.
Your response is conjecture not a thermodynamic explanation.
JCH: Time to start thinking the unthinkable: back-to-back Super El Nino events:
Since the index has returned to neutral, it next can go up or down. It should become clear in the next 12 months.
Yes, the odds of a La Nina event in 2016 have dropped from ~73% to ~57%, and most are commenting that if there is a La Nina, it’s looking like it will be weak. Wolter has been hinting on his MEI page that he thinks the 2016 outcome will be ENSO neutral.
But, the ramp-up to a PDO peak, and we may not be there yet, is dominated by El Nino, and they’re often back-to-back El Nino events. Of course, this would falsify the IPCC models as surface warming would tower above the model envelope. Lol. And Hansen would be wrong again.
JCH, ” … positive phase of the PDO … thinking the unthinkable … “
You mean that the climate is driven by the oceans, and not by a trace gas? I agree.
ACO2 is the control of the climate in which we live. It is changing the oceans, and there is nothing your big bad oceans can do about it except let off steam… like you.
JCH: there is nothing your big bad oceans can do about it except let off steam…
Not so. The rate of carbon deposition on the ocean floor has increased as CO2 concentration has increased.
I also have written elsewhere about the oceans letting off more steam — will it or won’t it increase summer daytime cloud cover? The science is unsettled.
You worship false gods JCH, Repent!
Poseidon rules the waves and Apollo the sky!
Repent! Before they visit serpents and plagues upon you!
If the CO2 controls things, it’s controlling the oceans from letting off warmth.
Peter Minnett at RealClimate has an article that has a diagram that says more heat remains in the upper oceans. There is a new temperature gradient across the skin layer. So the balance needs to be restored by emitting less LW photons to the atmosphere. On average and all other things being equal, atmospheric CO2 insulates the atmosphere from ocean warmth.
Judith, you say that you don’t disagree with a word they say. Does that mean that you also think that ‘climate change’ is one of the two most serious threats the world faces? I think it’s an excellent paper, but I cavil at that judgment.
“Does that mean that you also think that ‘climate change’ is one of the two most serious threats the world faces?”
Running up the Italian flag, it seems “more likely than not” (66%) to me* –
either: yes, in the same way Hansen does;
or: yes, because huge white elephants will bankrupt us and catch us wrong-footed;
or: no, because it’s no big deal either way.
* Any resemblance to Judith’s real opinion is purely coincidental
“The mission of Environmental Progress is to build a movement of concerned citizens, scientists and conservationists to advocate ethical and practical energy solutions for nature & people.”
i thought they were a nuclear power advocacy group
exactly — Prof. Curry is most on target when she speaks to her core competency of climate science and not regurgitating pro-old-nuclear rhetoric.
Fyi– “The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System near Primm, Nev. Solar power is three times as expensive as conventional power, according to the Brookings Institution. (AP)”
In Year 2, the plant produced 655,926 MWh of electricity, but the natural gas used at Ivanpah in Year 2 would have produced 180,000 MWh at a modern natural gas-fired power plant like the Lodi Energy Center, opened in 2012. So for the capital, maintenance, and environmental costs of Ivanpah we get a net of about 475,000 MWh of electricity vs a flexible natural gas plant.
But it gets worse. As solar capacity piles up in California and the duck curve deepens, the 656,000 MWh will tend toward a smaller net system-wide marginal supply as solar sources without storage will be increasingly forced to curtail operations during oversupply events.
I obtained my data here, and do not have time now to check properly. Blame the author if there are errors.
Leftist Feel-Good (aka, Flaming Bird) Project — Solyndra Scandal, Part Deux :
“A $2.2 billion solar electric generating facility, backed by a generous $1.6 billion loan guarantee, more than $400 million in grants from the U.S. Treasury and California ratepayer agreements, appears to be failing… badly.”
~Adam Kazda (‘Google This: Billions in Federal Tax Dollars at Risk…’)
” But premature decommissioning of nuclear plants makes absolutely no sense.”
well it is decades over their original plan.
Make the market free and you will have innovative new nuclear — but keep anti-market Price-Anderson in play and you won’t.
The stuff from the pro-nuclear website on waste is also la-la-land.
The consequences of a spent fuel fire, such as almost happened in Fukushima pool #4, could have been much worse than those
of the reactor accidents that actually occurred. The reason is that 98% of the cesium-137 from the core melt-downs was trapped
in the reactor containments while, after the hydrogen explosion, there was no containment structure over pool #4.
In a 2013 assessment, the regulatory staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated that, on average, for a spent
fuel pool fire in the United States, the area from which the population would have to be relocated would be larger than New Jersey.
It also concluded that the danger would be dramatically reduced if the NRC mandated a policy of “expedited transfer” in which
spent fuel would be removed from the pools to dry-cask storage after 5 years of cooling instead of today’s 20-25 years.
When the staff multiplied its estimate of the cost savings to the public of the reduced accident consequences by its estimate of
a probability of 1/10,000 of a spent fuel fire during the remaining licensed life of the average U.S. reactor, however, it found
that the expected economic benefits to the public would be less than the estimated $50 million per reactor that it would cost U.S.
nuclear utilities to buy the extra casks.
A recent National Academy study found that the benefits to the public were underestimated due to a number of incorrect assumptions
including: zero risk from terrorism, exclusion of accident consequences beyond 50 miles, an obsolete value for a human life, no
indirect consequences such as the economic costs from the shutdown of all Japan’s reactors for 5 years after the Fukushima accident
and no psychological costs. More recently, as a result of a lawsuit by the State of New York, we learned the staff assumed that
decontamination would be quick and almost everyone would be back in their homes within a year. Still more recently, we found that
the staff set the dose threshold for relocation higher than recommended by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).
If just some of these errors were corrected, the staff’s estimate of the base-case benefits to the public would exceed the costs of
expedited transfer. However, the staff argues that NRC policy is not to limit collective costs but rather the risks of radiation
doses to individual members of the public, which can be done by relocation. Therefore, expedited transfer would still not be required.
Thus, while the U.S. nuclear regulatory system may not have defense-in-depth against accident consequences, it certainly has
defense-in-depth against decisions that would inflict significant costs on the U.S. nuclear industry.
ybutt:Make the market free and you will have innovative new nuclear — but keep anti-market Price-Anderson in play and you won’t.
Why, or in what way, is Price-Anderson more of a restriction on free markets than unrestricted jury awards for claimed damages? (Or restrictions on construction and disposal of waste, for that matter.) It seems to me that what you have there are competing approaches to defining fair recompense for certain “external costs.” Neither is perfect, but Price-Anderson is more fair under some scenarios, and less fair under others.
After 5 years a spent fuel assembly can be cooled via natural circulation of air. That is why they can, after 5 years, be placed in dry casks. Those casks are groups of fuel assemblies cooled by natural circulation of air around the cask. Absent the cask, they are kept in water for radiation shielding not heat removal. Uncover them and they would not “burn”.
“Does nuclear energy lead to nuclear weapons?
Well, that’s interesting because Iran was building a bunch of centrifuges it said were for its nuclear power sector and we had that whole deal thing with them.
What’s the point of quoting from this website evidently written by a grade-schooler?
Molten salt reactors are much safer proliferation-wise.
The issue was the true purpose of their enrichment activities.
Thank you for this excellent post. I am impressed.
I want to comment on JC Reflections:
This is supported by the ERP analysis that I wrote a post on here Is nuclear the cheapest way to decarbonize electricity https://judithcurry.com/2016/01/19/is-nuclear-the-cheapest-way-to-decarbonize-electricity/ . Figure 14 shows that by far the worst policy is to close existing nuclear plants – doing so increases the cost of electricity, increases greenhouse gas emissions and increases CO2 abatement cost.
I totally agree. It is inevitable, but progress is being slowed by the anti-nuclear protest movement.
The emphasis should not be on publically funded R&D. The emphasis should be on removing the impediments to nuclear power. We need to focus on identifying and removing the blockages that are preventing progress. If not for 50 years of anti-nuclear misinformation, nuclear power could be substantially cheaper than it is – perhaps around 10% of current cost (see https://judithcurry.com/2016/03/13/nuclear-power-learning-rates-policy-implications/ )
I agree about publicly funded R&D. Electricity supplies have only been around since the 1880s, but like Topsy, just grew. Useful. Edison went down a blind alley, choosing DC. The US chose an AC voltage a little too low, in my opinion, but it’s still in use. Useful enough.
My guess is that someone will stumble upon small scale practical mass conversion. Yay!
Or something else, as yet unimagined. Who knows? Apart from niche uses, intermittent, expensive, high maintenance “renewables” don’t seem a terribly intelligent choice. I’ve noticed Governments don’t call me for my advice, and I’m sure that they have my phone number.
Damn. Maybe they just don’t care what I think!
Pingback: Extraordinary numbers, and new words — a miscellany | DON AITKIN
The pro-nuclear position of EP (and Peter Lang) is no more realistic and reality constrained than the pro-renewables camp.
There will be no massive nuclear build up (or revival) in the next several decades, it just won’t happen. A few nuclear plants are being built in China and India – but that’s all. More nuclear plants will be closed than new ones started.
Let’s face it: the approx 400 nuclear power plants operating now are old. You can prolong them another 10 or 20 years, but that’s all. They will close in this time frame. Few new ones will be built to replace them. Nuclear’s share in energy production will decline, and that’s inevitable.
Maybe nuclear energy is necessary in the long run, but in the time frame of the next several decades and the climate change context – it is not a realistic option. Promoting nuclear energy as a climate-change combat tool seems to me mendacious – an attempt to ride on a fashionable wave of hysteria.
If only talking about the U.S. you may be correct. Regarding the rest of the world, there is no evidence that the nuclear build will end or slow…though I have no crystal ball.
Dr. Curry’s position on existing nuclear power is somewhat of a “Head Scratcher”. In one way it makes sense continuing her belief in taking low regrets policies. On the other hand it is a call for urgent current action by people who believe in CAGW (Shellenberger, Hanson, etc.).
In the past I’ve stated my huge respect for both Dr. Molina (a CAGW Warmist) and Dr. Curry. I try to find common ground between the two and focus on that — such as “Fast Mitigation” (reducing methane, smog, black carbon, HFCs).
In following Dr. Curry’s opinion on TCR, one would come to a conclusion that there is no need for urgent actions on AGW — we’ve got some time for technology to advance. Thus, there is no need for current actions to de-carbonized the economy. Doing no regrets actions like Fast Mitigation give us even more time.
It is on this de-carbonization that Dr. Curry’s position becomes a little fuzzy. Under Lewis/Curry TCR there is no need to de-carbonize the World’s economy. From an energy perspective we don’t need to pick only “clean energy” options (nuclear, Renewables) but a “everyone in the pool approach” that emphasizes efficiency. Options would include of course natural gas but also ultra super-critical coal units.
So how does extending existing nuclear fit into “low regrets”? It can’t be because of AGW, it has to be something else. For me, that something is the argument for a balanced fuel risk portfolio. Every electric utility CEO that pushes nuclear is saying this — where without nuclear and retiring coal units, the fuel portfolio will be too heavily weighted to natural gas. Thus, “no regrets” economic risk management of Fuels.
Extending the operation of current nuclear plants for another 10 or 20 years is perfectly reasonable from any point of view (especially the economic one). But the plants are old and need to be retired sooner or later. There is no getting-around this fact.
It sure appears hypocritical when people on the CE Blog: (A) argue that actions to de-carbonize the economy are not necessary and bash the CAGW Warmists; and then (B) argue that the only way to effectively de-carbonize the economy is Nuclear.
There’s nothing “hypcritical” at all, you’re spinning for partisan reasons again.
People on this blog argue that “actions” that are ineffective in addressing global warming – renewables, tax hikes – are unnecessary. It’s never “necessary” to do something ineffective. People on this blog note that the “urgency” for action decreases every year based on observations.
Finally, we note that CAGW warmists continue to oppose the one power source that could actually reduce emissions. In short, you think this is the biggest issue ever but not big enough to warrant doing anything effective if it doesn’t mesh perfectly with your political world view.
Fact of the matter is, as you well know, the biggest impediment is that Democrats and environmentalists don’t want to admit they’ve been wrong on nuclear power for 50 years. This is why it was such a bad move to politicize the issue so strongly so early (remember when Joe Romm was the “indispensable” source on global warming? He works for a partisan think tank that can only push partisan policy).
Said it before, will say it again. We’re all just waiting on the warm to care enough about their signal issue to build nuclear. Every day it gets harder. Not only do you have to admit you were wrong about nukes in the 70s, now you have to admit you were pushing nonsense about renewables since the early 90s. Warmists are today’s Population Bomb and Peak Oil fanatics – proven embarrassingly wrong, but too partisan to realize it and move on.
Stephen Segrest: It sure appears hypocritical
Hypocrisy is as much in the mind of the perceiver as is beauty. It appears hypocritical to me that people argue that CO2 is really a great threat, and then don’t support nuclear power. Nuclear power is not absolutely “safe”, but the most dangerous product of nuclear power is the electricity. Nuclear power generates less toxic waste, per GW-hour of energy produced, than solar or wind power, and has the lowest rate of death per GW-hour of energy produced.
In the Tsushima disaster, more people were killed by electrical and gas fires than by radiation, and at least a few were killed by downed power lines. Nuclear power disasters are fascinating, like airplane crashes. About 1% of nuclear power generating capacity has been lost in partial meltdowns, and each incident has generated loads of reportage; more people have died in ordinary transformer explosions in hydroelectric power plants. The many people who die in home and business electrical fires are hardly in the public consciousness at all.
oops, Fukushima disaster.
the Tsushima disaster was different.
matthewrmarler (1) Just checking, but when have I ever said anything negative about the need for nuclear power? My position is the same as Michael Shellenberger — pro Nuclear but also pro-Renewables (done right) — and I’ll add pro-Efficiency; (2) My point on hypocrisy is not relevant, because there are bigger hypocrites out there?; (3) Assuming that one is an extreme Skeptic, downright denier, or very anti-CAGW — what’s the best argument why we need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)?
“Assuming that one is an extreme Skeptic, downright denier, or very anti-CAGW — what’s the best argument why we need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)?”
This is the essence of the argument. The warm insist that we need to switch away from coal and gas for electrical generation right this minute, and most of that switch has to be to solar and wind. The luke warm and cold say we don’t need to switch right this minute and if we have to switch over time, the obvious best choice for most of it is nuclear. The reason the argument is getting grumpier and more partisan is because you’ve been saying “right this minute” for 25 years now, blithely deny everything we’ve learned about renewables over that time, and insist you’re pro-nuclear despite the fact that the vast majority of your comments disagree with those who support nuclear.
You’re in the warm camp, why on earth are you spending all your time disagreeing with people who would reduce emissions? It’s like the old joke about the guy stuck on roof in a flood who turns down three rescues because he expects God to save him. When he drowns and reaches the pearly gates he asks why God didn’t save him and St. Peter says “dude, we sent you three rescuers.”
Stephen Segrest: when have I ever said anything negative about the need for nuclear power?
Like you, I addressed the case of unnamed “people” holding a position that “seemed” to be “hypocritical”. I did not argue that you personally hold a position on nuclear power..
And they’re wrong on AGW, you know they are going to choke on their pride.
And I’ve been pro nuclear since the 60’s, it’s the only source that will power the future we can have.
Nuclear enthusiasts play down the risks of radioactive contamination, and the costs of de-commissioning and storage of waste. These are serious problems.
Maybe nuclear energy is inevitable, and in the future the technology will improve. Maybe. The current technology of nuclear plants is inadequate.
Automotive enthusiasts play down the risk of cars. Cars killed 32,675 people in 2014 in the US. No nuclear deaths reported.
Treasure your maybe.
Well, we let Gomer Pyle refuel and drive cars; hopefully he won’t be allowed anywhere near a reactor.
This guy is a PNS scientist who insists that AGW is a load.
Try to up him now.
That Donald Duterte guy is awesomer than the original, Arch:
Norman Lear’s father?
Nuclear energy – is always potentially dangerous. Never in 100% safe.
In my country, because, already 40 years discussed about building a nuclear power plant.
„… dangers of “renewables” …”, additions:
Wind energy – also always can be very dangerous. Could have a significant influence on the correct operation of airborne radar.
Solar energy – ibid., Ie. toxic waste matter – you can not really avoid it; plus always “symbolic” disposal – utilization (worn out photovoltaic cells).
Then: Renewable energies must be subsidized. Subsidies depend on the amount of costs. Reducing costs it does not pay – the result of this: (early or later, but always) decrease in grants.
The effect (of above) of the “second order”: blockage new “renewable” technologies.
I. Blockage the real development of technologies windmills ‘vertical’ (with a vertical axis rotor) in the European Union.
II. Construction of wind farms in the “nonsense” places (the cost of energy increases, so the subsidies do not fall …).
http://www.villagreta.pl/wilcza-gora/ – the place of my birth (obviously the city – does not the mountain). The text is in Polish language, but it is not important. Important is the last photograph. The signed is so: “Absurd idea of building wind turbines in the Polish region where the wind not blowing. […]”. The third sentence (with the “stupidity” of EU officials) removed – “green” censorship …
Conclusion: nuclear energy is not ideal, but the only really effective – best of “today” – not only for the rich countries.
Pingback: Clean energy emergency | budbromley
Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
“The bottom line is that the current path we are on with renewable energy is not going to be effective at either promoting electricity growth in poor nations or increasing clean energy generation globally.” –JC
“The World Health Organization estimates that up to 9,000 people will die prematurely from radiation from Chernobyl.”
Alarmists nonsense. Ukraine and Belarus have lower cancer incidence than US and California. Wildlife is thriving and tourists are visiting Chernobyl. You get higher radiation dose in a transatlantic flight than a ten-hour stroll at the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Below, tourists enjoying Chernobyl “deadly” radiation
“And later this century, nuclear “waste” — which contains over 98 percent of the energy in the original fuel — will likely be recycled by next-generation nuclear plants.”
This had been done by past-generation nuclear plants. Below, the EBR 1 breeder reactor in Idaho that operated in 1951-1964
Republican Christine Todd Whitman (ex EPA) on the need for nuclear power and other energy issues: http://www.eenews.net/tv/2016/07/19
Science and scientists are unempeachable, except when they don’t march in lockstep with one of the tenets of the left’s stealth religion.
Here’s a letter that 110 Nobel Prize laureates signed in support of GMOs:
Here’s an example of how the left attacked the science and the scientists:
And of course there’s an ad hominem attack as well, something the left never gets tired of doing and has perfected to an art form:
Golden rice was developed expressly for the purpose of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which effects about 190 million, mostly in Asia and Africa, causes between ~600k and >1 million annual deaths (mostly children), and about 500k annual cases of permanent blindness. Twice a year supplements programs only alleviate about 1/2 the problem.
GreenPeace opposes all GMO including Golden Rice on ignorant grounds of ‘genetic pollution’. Their first official negatives were a website article and downloadable pamphlet in 2005. The current website includes the article ‘Golden Illusion’ and report ‘Lack of Luster’. Just checked. It also includes pictures of them leading anti-Golden Rice protests in southeast Asia.
Stupid to respond as they did when all one has to do is go on line to Greenpeace verify that their response is blatantly untrue. How can they live with themselves?
The Greenpeace is actively combating the overpopulation.
I pity the fools. They fear the unknown of having mortals design their own destiny with genetic engineering.
Check out this new map of the human brain.
Ironic and prophetic that they used a AI program to identify and refine the new map. I noticed that the areas being mapped demonstrate unique neuron DNA sequencing.
Finally is people leaving the fantasy of wind and solar powered homes.
Here in Denmark and the UK we have begun burning woodchips in the coal fired power plants, and as many is aware, biofuels is a part of the remedies to co2 emissions. Reality is kicking in and many of them has come under scrutiny for not being co2 neutral. The other major problem is cultivating land to grow energy timber. There is already a high strain on land use, to grow food for people. Growing energy for Europe will require that a lot more area is converted from nature to growing trees increasing pressure on area and biodiversity. We have seen it with wood, but also palm oil, where large areas of rain forests are cleared and drained to make way for palm oil plantations.
This means it is not a viable source of co2 neutral energy on large scale and is not sustainable as it claimed.
Anyone who is pro nature/conservation/biodiversity should be against bio energy that relies on converting nature areas to plantations or logging.
Nuclear is one of the few where a lot of energy can be extracted with little impact on nature and biodiversity. Even wind and solar affect a larger area and cannot provide base load. The only energy source that can do that and do it at a reasonable price is nuclear.
I’m re-asking this question because more and more here at CE, I am believing that Denizens can’t answer a basic question. It’s not a trick question, or a bias straw-man question:
Assuming that one is an extreme Skeptic, downright denier, or very anti-CAGW — what’s the best argument why we currently need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)?
Can the CE Denizens answer this question (where I have done so) instead of just attacking me or Renewables? I’m not holding my breath.
Call me dumb, you won’t be the first, but I will provide one person’s answer.
In American football, the team with possession of the ball steps to the line of scrimmage with a play in mind: a series of moves it wants each player to take in order to gain the maximum positive effect. If the quarterback (the play caller for non-fans of American football) steps to the line and sees the opposing team is now aligned in a way which would almost surely thwart his success, he will call a new play (usually prearranged) which may not be his first choice, but which offers a greater hope of success given the existing playing field.
For some folks who are skeptical of the efficacy of wind and solar in high penetration levels, nuclear may not be the first play called. But if it becomes obvious that the political playing field is heavily stacked against fossil fuels, or if the supply of fossil fuels becomes unstable or expensive, then nuclear presents itself to be the best second-choice play. For a variety of reasons (anticipation of green “defenses” or fuel shortages for instance) other skeptics may “step up to the line” with nuclear as their first choice play. In any case, a team that puts all of its hope on one play, with no available fallback, will eventually face some nasty consequences.
IMO, at some point we’ll need to stop burning fossil fuels. 20 years ago I said we’d need to switch over by ~2050 before supplies are better used elsewhere, if we didn’t we’d never have the energy to become a space-faring race, at least not until we were so advanced we could do it without oil. Maybe it’s longer now, maybe not. But we need 10 times the power we generate now, not 1/3 and nuclear of some flavor is the only source of that sort of energy density. The only one.
“IMO, at some point we’ll need to stop burning fossil fuels.”
I doubt we’ll stop because we have to.
We will stop because we have produced something cleaner, more efficient and more versatile.
As a species, we’re good at stuff like that.
Fair enough, there was definitely a time when I thought it was need, but I’m also starting to think there is more evidence of an abiotic oil generation, where it might replenish itself regardless of reserves, in which case I agree with you.
Dead right. Isn’t it amazing how the real deniers (like the renewables lobbiests) can’t understand the important fact you’ve stated here.
Put plainly, for the true deniers:
Renewables cannot supply a large proportion of global electricity, let alone of global energy. But nuclear can and can do so effectively indefinitely.
Renewables are very high cost (total system cost) and this is likely to remain the case.
There is no obvious advantage of renewables over nuclear. There is nothing significant they do better (at the scale needed to make a substantial contribution to global energy supply, reliability, sustainability, GHG emissions reduction or of reducing cost of electricity).
Those are the relevant fact the renewable dodge and ignore.
Stephen – “Google the term “ELCC electricity” to understand the engineering concepts.” Which one of nine results is best for your engineering concepts?
Curious George — eliminate the quote marks. Just put in two words ELCC electricity. Lots of links to choose from.
Stephen: the plain fact is that at some times (which we don’t control) wind and solar produce exactly zero electricity.
No amount of funny statistics, like ELCC, can mask that fact.
Some ELCC calculations reckon you can rely on wind for 13% of it’s nameplate capacity, some reckon – for only 2.7%. Whatever it is, it’s close enough to zero. Zero must be the working assumption of any engineering system, with is required to incorporate adequate safety factors.
ELCC is sophistry, is wind apologetic, it’s not an engineering concept. In engineering you are obligated to work with safety factors.
Stephen, thanks. But you are not providing a link. Only a method to generate nine – and now “lots of” – links. I have no idea from which link you got your understanding of engineering concepts. Please provide one.
In the past you gracefully offered a link that considered octane an additive to gasoline. I don’t intend to wade through a lot of similar nonsense. You clearly do read a lot, but you can not yet distinguish a grain from a chaff.
Curious George — Let me look for “the very best” link that explains ELCC and why it is an internationally accepted engineering economics methodology. Understanding just the concept of ELCC is important in understanding how utility engineers approach planning. Its not how an awful lot of CE Commentors “think” planning is done.
BTW — I wonder if you are a “good faith” guy or more interested in some gotcha. I have said probably a dozen times I have no idea what link you are talking about on ethanol. I’ve graciously apologized each time, that IF I said this — it was sloppy writing on my part. Maybe I was talking about the common practice of “splash blending”?
Here is the article I wrote — please direct me to exactly what error you’ve been talking about for now 1 and a half years: http://greenenergy.blogspot.com/2015/02/is-ethanol-being-forced-down-our-throats.html
Stephen, thank you. I appreciate your effort to find the original reference. I apologize, I thought it would be very simple.
My objection was not to your article, but to your reference which stated explicitly that octane was an additive to gasoline. It is not. Your article mostly uses the correct term “octane rating”, but it is not apparent that you know how that rating is determined. For example, you state that “Unblended Gas (E-0) has an octane rating 84”. Unblended gas is not a chemical; it is a mixture of many chemicals including octane. If a particular unblended gas contains 84% of octane, it would likely be an 84 octane rated gasoline – but a refinery can change the composition (without adding any ethanol) to achieve 87, 90, or 92. My point is that there are unblended gasolines with other octane ratings. I am not an industry insider; I assume that 84 is an agreed standard, probably a result of price concerns. The way the octane rating index is defined – see Wikipedia – there are mixtures with a rating well over 100.
CG, hate to tell you, yup there is a octane to go with octane rating.
If I recite it correctly, octane is the 8 carbon hydrocarbon, that gets distilled out of cooking oil, and when served up straight is 100 octane, which is the reference for gas combustion rate. Though, it is an average, so some synthesis rings that are well over 100, and blend them down to lower ratings.
micro6500, the derivation of ‘octane rating’ comes from a test engine with a variable compression ratio. Using a given fuel, the CR is adjusted until the engine doesn’t quite ‘knock’ and the octane rating read off a scale.
The scale is created with iso-octane – a branched-chain molecule – set as 100 and n-heptane – a straight-chain molecule – set as zero.
How many carbon atoms does iso-octane have? It has 8, because octane is short for iso octane, probably got shorten by the mechanics, where the they used 100% octane as the metric for 100 octane. Which is exactly what I said.
I did think it was a chain, it’s more complex than that, and I forgot what it was diluted with.
“It has 8, because octane is short for iso octane”
Not exactly. Octane is a straight chain – CH3(CH2)6CH3, with no branches.
Iso-octane is actually the short form of 2,2,4-Trimethylpentane, (CH3)3CCH2CH(CH3)2!
The branched structure is responsible for the detonation resistance, which is even more pronounced with ring compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene.
I am not an extreme Skeptic, downright denier, or very anti-CAGW but a lukewarmer. My answer to your question follows— what’s the best argument why we currently need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)? It is not just the CO2 emissions. In New York if they shut down the nuclear facilities then the NOX emissions will go up. EPA is trying to reduce NOX to lower ozone and has proposed a very aggressive limit on NOX emissions that does not consider the loss of those facilities. Even if the retired nukes are replaced with natural gas, the increased NOX emissions will insure that insufficient allowances are available for emissions over the year or ozone season. Fossil-fired electric generating units will not run if have used up their emission allowances and the result will be a reliability problem
Economic reality will inevitably overtake “green energy” as it becomes painfully obvious that the erratic and expensive resource simply cannot cost effectively provide for our energy needs. Simply put, green energy will have run out of other people’s money.
Existing nuclear plants need to be available to carry the load as the electric markets are restructured to reflect reality, versus political nonsense.
Stephen Segrest: I’m re-asking this question because more and more here at CE
Well, since you demand answers, perhaps you could answer the question I posed in my 11:59am July 21 comment, that was regrettably not properly nested.
matthewmarler — I didn’t see anything that I disagree with in your 11:59 post. In fact, it appears to “fit” into my beliefs that I’ve often stated. IMO, we need current nuclear for a balanced utility fuel portfolio. With massive coal and nuclear retirements we become very much at risk on an over-reliance on natural gas. Every electric utility CEO advocating nuclear makes this point (e.g., Tom Fanning CEO of Southern that is currently building Vogtle units).
“what’s the best argument why we currently need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)?”
The answer is: we don’t need nuclear **currently**. We might need it in the (distant) future, when fossil fuels get depleted. Therefore we need to keep researching and improving nuclear technology.
And, we need to overcome the strong and unjustified prejudice that hampers it.
Stephen Segrest: Assuming that one is an extreme Skeptic, downright denier, or very anti-CAGW — what’s the best argument why we currently need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)?
If natural gas supplies and coal supplies in the US are as robust as they seem to be right now, the US has no need for nuclear power over natural gas. The need for nuclear power in places like Germany and Japan comes from the demands that fossil fuels be eliminated from the energy portfolio. It isn’t the class of “extreme skeptic[s]” who are demanding the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels.
The most common argument, in different phrases, is that people who are demanding both the elimination of fossil fuels and the elimination of nuclear power are either deluded, hypocritical, ignorant, or some such.
Are US fossil fuel supplies as robust as they appear right now? Will American power companies be permitted to use them? Consider California again for a few minutes — CA may or may not continue to penalize/prohibit some fossil fuels and enlarge the range of fossil fuels that are prohibited; in the meantime, for the cost of repairing the San Onofre power plants CA has invested in solar farms that will have to be replaced completely in 30 years. Nothing but anti-nuclear hysteria justifies such an expensive course of action.
There is an unstated conditional behind your question. Should we address the case where federal and state governments continue to permit the extraction and use of plentiful fossil fuels (especially natural gas)? Or shall we address the case that there are severe restrictions soon on natural gas and other fossil fuel use? It isn’t an idle question, because there are substantial lobbies trying to end all fracking and end all natural gas use; and there are lobbies warning us that the natural gas will be exhausted soon.
“what’s the best argument why we currently need nuclear power (especially over natural gas)?”
1. natural gas resources are limited and it is extremely valuable for other uses other then electricity generation. Conversely nuclear is effectively unlimited.
2. Electricity generation with Nuclear is about 100 times safer than with gas – i.e. gas causes about 100 times more fatalities per TWh than nuclear (life cycle analysis).
3. No pipeline infrastructure needed. Therefore, developing countries that are need to rapidly build electricity generating capacity (i.e. reliable, dispatchable) don’t need to invest huge sums in infrastructure for pipelines, railways, ports, etc to supply power stations with fossil fuels.
There’s three quick thoughts.
Of course the renewable lobby and anti nukes continually avoid and deny the relevant facts.
I forgot the most important of all. Nuclear could be much cheaper than fossil fuels (and renewables) if we removed the impediments that have been imposed in response to the anti-nuclear protest movement and the renewables lobby.
Peter Lang: 1. natural gas resources are limited and it is extremely valuable for other uses other then electricity generation. Conversely nuclear is effectively unlimited.
That’s the answer for the “limited gas supply” unstated conditional. It may be the answer that Stephen Segrest was asking for.. Maybe he’ll chime in. Or maybe he thinks the gas supply is essentially unlimited.
matthewmarler — Remember, the topic of this blog post was existing nuclear (Shellenberger), who I know and who I agree with. Again, I strongly believe in keeping existing nuclear operating because of a near term portfolio fuel risk problem (over-reliance on NG) here in the U.S. Its a prudent near term risk management position (e.g., low risk decisions one would make regardless of their position on AGW).
I disagree with Mr. Lang looking at his key points from a Regulators (e.g., PSC) point of view/decision making.
matthewmarler We have two issues: (1) existing nuclear; (2) new nuclear. I’ve addressed existing nuclear as (IMO) low regrets regardless of one’s views on AGW.
Just accepting Mr. Lang’s key nuclear argument that natural gas is limited and has a better use than electricity would put a current Electricity Regulator in an untenable place.
Let’s look at Georgia Power (Vogtle new nuclear units) and their PSC. In “making the case” for the PSC to approve Vogtle, Georgia Power presented scenarios of future fuel prices. At the time of the initial decision on Vogtle (in scenarios that the PSC accepted as prudent) the lifetime cost of the new Vogtle units was projected to be less than other options (e.g., natural gas combined cycle). Thus, Regulators fulfilled their fiduciary responsibility to customers in making best efforts decisions.
However . . .
Georgia Power is required to update the PSC not only on construction, but how the original decision making assumptions are holding up. In their latest report, in some of the key fuel cost scenarios, natural gas would be the winner over nuclear.
As Vogtle illustrates, Mr. Lang’s “slam dunk” argument just wouldn’t hold up. It’s complicated.
Also, can you imagine a Regulator saying we really shouldn’t use natural gas for electricity because it has higher economic value in other uses?
matthewmarler — The other point I’d disagree with Mr. Lang on “Top Reasons for Nuclear Power” is his argument on infra-structure of pipelines, railways, ports, etc in developing countries.
What Mr. Lang fails to address is that nuclear generation requires a transmission grid infra-structure — something that developing countries (especially Africa) don’t have.
Stephen Segrest: What Mr. Lang fails to address is that nuclear generation requires a transmission grid infra-structure — something that developing countries (especially Africa) don’t have.
Your question was about nuclear power compared to natural gas, or at least “especially natural gas”. The answer depends on how much natural gas there is and whether it is freely available. You have told us yet whether you expect natural gas supplies to be heavily restricted. Natural gas power also requires a safe infrastructure.
Furthermore, Segrest’s comments about transmission grids are disingenuous. The world needs centralised power with transmissions grids. Only a tiny proportion of the worlds electricity is off grid and the proportions is declining (see the top chart in Figure 3 here http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n4/full/nclimate2512.html
Segrest is a pretentious and highly dishonest person. He is a green activists who was once a mid-level planning engineer. He has no experience and no understanding of what is required for policy analysis and policy advice. His claims he “knows Michael Shellenberger” can be taken with a grain of salt. he write an email to someone. gets a response and then claims he knows them and that they agree with him. What rubbish. Shellenberger’s article and his other writings are clear. Segrest trying to claim Shellenberger agrees with him is a gross misrepresentation. My reading of what Shellenberger says is that the market distortions need to be removed then allow the technologies compete to meet the requirements at least cost. IUf the markets had not been distorted to accommodate the public fear of radiation and nuclear power, nuclear would now nebe by far the cheapest way to generate most of our electricity and there would be virtually no weather dependent renewables at all. We can get to much cheaper, more secure, more reliable electricity supply with mostly nuclear, gas and hydro over time if we implement sound, rational policy based on factual evidence not dictated by the beliefs of the Greenies like Segrest.
Segrest is highly dishonest, a disgrace to the engineering professions and (I believe) not a Professional Engineer.
matthewmarler — The short answer is, I personally don’t have any idea when or if natural gas will be limited in our lifetimes.
When I did planning (for large Utilities), we would develop scenarios on natural gas prices and put probabilities on each scenario. Sometimes during a rate case, we would be asked (e.g., PSC member, a large Industrial) do develop or add more scenarios or to change our probabilities.
Do you think there is any “slam dunk assumption” that we can make, And if so when? — 5, 10, 20, 30, …. or more years?
Again, I believe the best argument for nuclear today is to have a balanced near term fuel portfolio (recognizing the impending large retirements of old coal units)– and not overly dependent on natural gas
Stephen Segrest: matthewmarler — The short answer is, I personally don’t have any idea when or if natural gas will be limited in our lifetimes.
As I wrote, that affects the answers to the question that you posed. Unless you supply the missing conditional, your question is unanswerable. The less secure the natural gas supply, the more important is nuclear power, as long as coal must be eliminated. Demanding the total end to fossil fuels while also opposing new nuclear power (as some do, maybe including H. Clinton — I await her speeches) is is to demand a reduction in well-being, especially among the poor who are already short of electricity.
Peter Lang: Segrest is a pretentious and highly dishonest person.
I don’t care. I try to debate and discuss the writings and ideas, not the persons.
Me too normall,
But when someone is so dishonest as to continually misrepresent others )(many mothers) and also write emails to people like Shellenberger misrepresenting what I’ve said (i.e. lying) he is clearly such a despicable person others should be very careful.
Nuclear power’s capital costs will always be higher than a gas turbine (CCGT) even if the regulations were more reasonable. Simple difference in the mass of steel, concrete, etc.
If a country has no reasonably priced fossil fuels, then nuclear is a reasonable option. The US has low-cost natural gas, which makes nuclear not particularly cost effective. Renewable is even less cost effective for the simple reason that the capacity factor is too low to pay off the debt to build the facility (unless you force the hapless taxpayer and consumers to subsidize the whole film-flam green energy scam).
That is totally irrelevant. It is the total cost that counts. Some technologies have high capital cost and low operations and maintenance cost and others are the reverse.
The US has cheap gas at the moment and you can thank George Bush for that. However, the USA is not the whole world and this low cost is temporary. However, what is important is that nuclear can be become very much cheaper. Gas can’t.
Mr. Lang just continues to dig his hole deeper and deeper — showing zero credibility.
Michael Shellenberger is speaking on this very topic on July 28th. His organization’s press release:
Can Nuclear Power and Renewables be friends?: http://eetd.lbl.gov/dls/lecture-07-28-16-shellenberger.html
From this above press release: “In this talk, Michael Shellenberger, founder and president of Environmental Progress, a new environmental research and policy organization, will make the case for climate action based on an “all of the above” approach to energy efficiency, conservation, solar, wind and nuclear power.”
I specifically asked Michael to come to CE and to discuss his (above) views. His response: “How can our position not be clear on this? We (meaning EP, his organization) have now written 7 open letters on this.
Link to EP’s 7 letters: http://www.environmentalprogress.org/sign-the-letter/
And yes, I’ve followed Michael Shellenberger off and on for about 10 years. Understanding Michael’s “roots” explains the substance of his views.
matthewmarler Nobody knows (except God) the “answer” to if or when natural gas would be limited. This is why Utility Planners put so much weight in having a diversified fuel risk portfolio — not overly dependent on any one fuel source.
A critical argument for keeping existing nuclear operational (make in Congressional testimony from CEOs from the Southern Co., Entergy, and Others) is that in light of certain coal unit closings — the U.S.’s fuel portfolio becomes too heavily weighted to natural gas.
Respectfully, I’m not following your point.
More misrepresentation from Segrest (i.e. more lying). I never said anything about nuclear and renewabes being friends (whatever that BS means). I’ve said remove the impediments, and allow the market to decide..
Stephen Segrest: Respectfully, I’m not following your point.
I believe that is true.
You asked a question that can’t be answered unless an unstated conditional is specified, and you do not want to specify it. The advantages of nuclear over natural gas depend on access to natural gas. The harder natural gas is to get, whether by technological limitations or political controls, the more favorable is the case for new nuclear power plants.
If H. Clinton wins the election and carries Democratic majorities into the two houses of Congress, and if they push for a complete ban on nuclear power, fracking and coal, as some of her supporters want, then the US will run short of electricity or else waste an enormous amount of investment capital trying to supply the shortfall at high prices.
No one knows whether they will do that, but if they do then there is no advantage of natural gas over new nuclear. That is one of the possible answers to your question. If future access to natural gas is totally unknown, then nuclear power is attractive because the uncertainty is much lower.
You write as though you want to have your cake and eat it too; that is, you want to evaluate nuclear in comparison to natural gas as though natural gas will be accessible forever, and then back off from any confident claim that natural gas will be accessible for a long time.
Stephen Segrest: matthewmarler — Remember, the topic of this blog post was existing nuclear (Shellenberger), who I know and who I agree with.
That was not the only topic, but it was somewhat emphasized.
If fossil fuels are phased out, as widely advocated, and if new nuclear power plants are not built to supply the lost electricity, then we will have less electricity at higher cost and lest investment for the rest of economic growth.
You are not disagreeing with that are you?
matthewmarler — Wow, that’s quite a strawman that you developed. If Hillary Clinton becomes President and IF she eliminates fracking. Why not a strawman that Clinton will just destroy the economy?
(BTW, my understanding is that Bernie Sanders wanted the elimination of fracking in the Democratic platform, but Clinton had it removed.)
But being patient — In planning we all have to make assumptions, and utility engineers are no different. In planning you try and get the best advice available. In determining what natural gas will do, a Utility would go to an independent source that management and decision makers (e.g., a PSC) thought was reputable. An example might be someone like McKinsey who would survey lots of sources and recommend probabilities to the the scenarios.
The Utility Planners would take these scenarios and run them through their integrated electricity grid models (something like GE MAPS) to see if certain generation options were winning over a large number of scenarios. I alluded to this type of process earlier in referencing Georgia Power and Vogtle units (where at the time of the initial decision, nuclear was the lowest cost option under various scenarios).
If McKinsey, a Utility’s Management, and Regulators believed in your above strawman with a 100% planning certainty assumption, then it would be the only scenario explored.
I’ve tried my best in explaining how decision making is done with uncertainty. You can accept or reject it.
Mr. Lang just continues to demonstrate a poor knowledge of (1) engineering economics; (2) U.S. Tax Law; (3) U.S. regulated and de-regulated electricity markets. But every time he’s corrected with facts, he just doubles down and/or with his childish name calling.
If anyone has truly followed the issue of current nuclear plants they would see that the “elephant in the room problem” is low cost natural gas. Michael Shellenberger states this, as do energy expert after energy expert.
Michael is certainly not calling for the elimination of tax credit (subsidies) for Renewables. In the U.S., this would be an unrealistic argument given that the Federal Renewable tax credits were just extended in January 2016 after huge “horse trading” in Congress (where the GOP got lifting the +40 year old U.S. oil export ban in return).
Think about this — If Renewables were eliminated off the face of the Earth, how would this help existing Nuclear compete in the current market against natural gas? It wouldn’t.
Michael wants existing nuclear to be on the same playing field as Renewables. As a CAGW Warmist, Michael believes Renewables and Nuclear should have incentives versus fossil fuels.
Look at the details of what Michael is proposing — like including existing nuclear power plants in State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. Obama’s CPP on nuclear doesn’t make sense — where new Nuclear is given credit but old Nuclear gets nothing.
As I’ve said so many times, new Nuclear gets basically the same tax credit as wind energy does. Plus under the Energy Policy Act, nuclear’s capital costs are capped for Utilities. Plus new Nuclear gets loan guarantees (from the same program as Solyndra), and I could go on and on.
Existing Nuclear got enormous tax benefits (investment tax credit, accelerated depreciation) when they were originally placed in service (just like solar and wind are now getting when they are placed in service).
But times have changed, especially in de-regulated energy markets (the economic dispatch or capacity auctions) which don’t reflect the benefits of existing Nuclear versus fossil fuels.
Michael uses the CAGW meme to extend the life of nuclear units. I prefer to use a “No or Low Regrets” approach that regardless of one’s position on AGW, extending existing nuclear is a prudent risk management action on keeping a diversified fuel portfolio — not becoming too dependent on natural gas.
Stephen Secrest: Wow, that’s quite a strawman that you developed. If Hillary Clinton becomes President and IF she eliminates fracking. Why not a strawman that Clinton will just destroy the economy?
That is not a straw man. The Hillary Clinton supporters that I know want a complete ban on both fracking and nuclear power. As to Clinton harming the economy (I don’t sign on the the “destroy” extreme, but some people use that appellation for a 6% – 25% decline in GDP), that is not a straw man either. It’s just irrelevant to today’s discussion.
The answer to your question (nuclear vs natural gas) depends on the availability of natural gas. On that you are unwilling to make a decision, so your question can not be answered. If it is really true that no one can say with confidence that natural gas supplies will last a long time (more than 20 years), then it is clearly desirable to build a lot of new nuclear power plants. Among other things, using nuclear power now will extend the availability of natural gas.
You have not explained how decisions are made, you have avoided the most important near-term question: the long-term availability of natural gas.
matthewmarler — Yes I have answered your question. I would rely on opinions that common folk would have access to like BP, EIA, Shell, IEA, etc. where they believe natural gas continues to grow: http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/energy-outlook-2035/shale-projections.html
Can you provide me and blog Denizens any reputable group that is forecasting “doom and gloom”?
Stephen Segrest: matthewmarler — Yes I have answered your question.
No you have not. You have shown what a lot of other people have written, while being unwilling to answer the question of what natural gas scenario is most appropriate for addressing the question that you asked. You seem unwilling to bet that the natural gas supplies will last even 30 years.
Can you provide me and blog Denizens any reputable group that is forecasting “doom and gloom”?
Backing off from your claim that I made a straw man argument, are you? I did not make a straw man argument. I merely wrote that it is reasonable to think that Pres Clinton (especially with V Pres Kaine) will try to curtail natural gas supplies. Of course the promoters will claim it as a good idea if they try.
matthewmarler — Clearly, I’m not following your point. So I will verbatim reply to your question and see what your response will be: Yes, I am willing to bet that the natural gas supplies will last even 30 years.
I am personally willing to bet this based on the best available information from experts that I know — e.g., BP, EIA, IEA, Shell.
Oh, maybe if I rephrased the question? If you were arguing for nuclear power to a decision making body (e.g. a PSC) what would be the key/critical “big picture” arguments you would make?
Below I am linking to a couple of articles written by some of the more knowledgeable Peak Oilers, Art Berman and Euan Mearns.
With very recent advances in drilling and fracking technology, and much greater knowledge of shale reservoirs, the estimates of technically recoverable oil and gas reserves from shale formations have increased by more than an order of magnitude. All this has happened very recently, within the last year.
But of course, as Berman and Mearns point out, we have already reached peak cheap oil and gas. Here cheap refers to cost to produce, and not market price, as the two frequently part ways.
Berman and Mearns have therefore retooled their Peak OIl argument.
Peak Oil is now imminent, they assert, not because of a dearth of technically recoverable oil and gas, but because our global capatalistic system cannot survive expensive oil and gas. Peak Oil is imminent not because of lack of any physical supply of oil and gas, but because demand will crash.
I of course have no idea whether our global capitalist system can survive expensive energy or not.
What I do know is that Marxists have been waiting around for the demise of capitalism for some 150 years now, just like Christians have been waiting around for the second coming of Christ for over 2000 years. Have Marxists finally found their silver bullet to slay the capitalist vampire in expensive oil and gas?
Only time will tell.
Here are the articles:
Glenn Stehle and Peter Lang, thank you for your comments.
“But of course, as Berman and Mearns point out, we have already reached peak cheap oil and gas.”
That is of course assuming that extraction costs per unit do not improve due to advances in technology, which has already been comprehensively disproved by the experience with shale gas and oil extraction.
So the ‘Peak Oilers’ lose again.
Japan Progresses Methane Hydrate Project, Ignores Industry Downturn
Peter Lang: it is a well known fact that accidental deaths per TWh produced are way much higher for fossil fuels than for nukes. And besides – there are the deaths resulting from fossil fuel air pollution (not CO2).
Yet, these are not the only relevant metrics in evaluating hazards.
The two nuclear accidents (at Chernobil and Fukushima) had caused the evacuation and loss of homes for many tens of thousands of people, and the deaths resulting from the evacuations. Besides – tens of thousands of square kilometers of area have been rendered uninhabitable for hundreds of years.
It is our inability to control radiation, and the irreversibility of these long term damages that make nuclear hazardous.
I disagree with the points in this comment for these reasons:
The best comparison of the safety of the electricity generation technologies is deaths per TWh or Years of Life Lost (YOLL) per TWh or similar. On that basis nuclear power is the safest electricity generation technology by a significant margin.
The cost of clean up of pollution is not a fair comparison. Chemical pollution is far more damaging than radioactive pollution. Furthermore, it is much easier to detect and clean up radioactive pollution than chemical pollution. But, because of the paranoid fear of radiation pollution we require ridiculously costly responses – including the mostly unjustifiable evacuations and the deaths and health consequences of those evacuations.
You are poorly informed on this. It was not the accidents that caused the evacuations and the costs. It was the unjustifiable over-reaction to the accidents. Governments are forced to take these actions because of public fear, paranoia and IAEA regulations, all of which are a result of 50 years of anti-nuclear-power scaremongering by the anti-nuclear protest movement and the so called environmental NGOs.
I can give you plenty of information on this if you want to but here’s just two links for a start:
If you are interested in more, ask a question and I’ll attempt to address it.
I’d like to propose a different metric for public safety; direct impact on residents.
Nuclear has a 10 mile evacuation zone. Actual site about 750 acres.
An equivalently sized wind turbine plant (610 machines) has a residential exclusion distance of about 18 miles. Noise, missile protection (5x rotor diameter). Works out to be around a several hundred thousand acre site.
Solar ~ 8 mile exclusion distance because need about 35000 acres to generate the same amount of energy as a nuclear plant.
Coal plant about 2 mile exclusion distance; about a 1900 acre site.
Gas turbine about 1/4 mile for about a 25 acre site. Could add 50 foot for National Fire Protection Standard, but really makes no particular difference.
Provides a simple direct standard. Safest = gas plant. Most unsafe = wind turbine plant.
That is not a measure of safety. It is a measure of what the regulations require. And the regulations for nuclear are as they are because of regulatations that are a result of 50 years of anti nuclear scaremongering.
The only valid measure is the consequences of the pollution from each and on that basis nuclear is by far the safest of coal, gas and nuclear and on a LCA basis it is safer than solar and wind too. Thems the facts.
Attempting to correlate indirect impacts and safety is a nearly impossible exercise due to the wide range and lack of integrity of the various analyses. That’s why I propose using direct information that cannot be altered.
I suggest that pollution should be treated as a separate evaluation criteria, as regulations are reasonably well defined in that regard.
While you may not like the regulations, they are reality. If advanced reactors can be developed that avoid the 10 mile evacuation regulation, then nuclear becomes unquestionably safe. Until then, nuclear has a nagging safety question.
The cost of accidents is not a direct impact of the actual health consequences and environmental impacts of accidents. And it does not include the health consequences and environmental impacts of the ongoing consequences from pollution. For fossil fuels it is the later that are responsible for some 90% of the health and environmental impacts. The cost of Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents is mostly a result of the regulations and the government response. These are due to 50 years of anti-nuke scaremongering. They are not rationally justifiable on the basis of the health and environmental impacts on a properly comparable basis with other technologies. If you wanted to penalese to correct for the externalities to make all technologies comparable on their health consequences you’d have to penalise the technologies by these factors relative to nuclear:
Coal: 600 – 1500
Kellermfk (note, I got the spelling correct at last, apologies for the mistakes)
In your first comment on this subthread you said:
I agree. But we need to define “public safety impact” and “residents”
Public safety impact is measured in deaths, or years of life lost (YOLL) or chronic illness
Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs = Years of Life Lost + Years Lived
with Disability). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S095183201500277X
Residents should include all those people affected by the production of power on a life cycle analysis basis. That’s how it’s been done for at least 40 years.
Recall that accidents are responsible for only about 10% of the health impacts. This compares the deaths for major accidents (does not include the other 90% of health impacts from other ongoing operations). (note: Fukushima radiation and contamination caused no deaths and is unlikely to).
Note that, comparing early fatalities (i.e. deaths attributable to and within one month of the accident), nuclear is about four orders of magnitude safer than the fossil fuel technologies.
Attempting to measure indirect impacts from ancillary activities like mining, manufacturing, transporting stuff generally degenerates into skunk peeing contests. Ditto for indirect impacts of running power plants.
As a passing observation, having coal ash dumped on you will not kill you. The same cannot be said for spent nuclear fuel. The stuff is lethal, coal ash is not. My point is nuclear spent fuel is inherently quite dangerous. Trying to contrast it with coal ash is likely not a winning approach. Make the nuclear stuff a lot less dangerous and then use that feature to convince a skeptical public.
Your beliefs and analogies are just plain silly and ignorant. You demonstrate you know nothing about the subject. And it appears you are not open to learning about it either. Did you read the reference in my previous link. We have at least 40 years of analyses on this and the authoritative analyses have consistently shown similar ranking of the safety of the technologies. If you were interested, I could point you to references for you to start developing some background, but you don;t seem to be open to learning.
Start with these:
Markandya and Wilkinsin, 2007. Electricity generation and health
Wang, 2012, Deaths by Energy Source in Forbes
Gohlke et al. 2014. Estimating the Global Public Health Implications of Electricity and Coal Consumption
Cropper, 2015. he Health Effects of Coal Electricity Generation in India
I have a degree in nuclear engineering and about 45 years in the energy business, including nuclear power with an SRO certificate. I’ve been awarded several US patents for nuclear inventions.
Sure you want to go down the route of questioning my knowledge?
Many people claim expertise in technical areas of a technology, but have no or little experience in what is policy relevant. Your comments suggest you are one of them. Your comments here demonstrate you haven’t a clue on the matter we’ve been discussing. Your thoughts you’ve been suggesting are ridiculous.
I did look at your links. As I noted earlier, I am not a big fan of academic studies (particularly if the government is involved). Rather I tend to look at items easily measured or counted.
For instance, in a power plant, safety is more directly measured by things like getting electriocuted, scalding, burned, etc. With proper care and equipment, safety risks can be greatly reduced. However, power plants are inherently dangerous.
As far as the public is concerned, make sure power plant hazards are contained at the power plant. That generally means keeping the public well away.
Sorry, your ideas on this are just plain stupid and ignorant.
Fact is, nuclear power has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands and rendered vast swaths of the land uninhabitable. Not exactly inherently safe in its current form. That is indisputable.
Fossil fuels have their problems, but the power plants are not prone to causing large numbers of people to flee for their lives.
Rather than constantly defending nuclear power, step back and take a hard look at the product. It needs to be less costly and safer to compete.
Wrong!. it was not nuclear power that forced people to evacuate. it was government irrational over reaction as a result of 50 years of scaremongering by the anti-nuke protest movement. About 60 deaths attributed to to Chernobyl are zero to Fukushima so far.
Wrong!. The land is not uninhabitable. Radiation levels are lower than many other places where people live and the animals that live there are showing not sings of ill effect.
I don’t know what you mean by “inherently” safe. Nothing is perfectly safe. But nuclear is the safest way to generate electricity. Blocking it or making ir too expensive, as the anti-nukes have been doing for 50 years, is what is killing people – millions of people! The anti-nukes are responsible for those deaths. That is what is relevant.
Coal kills some 60/TWh (world average, 15 (USA average) versus nuclear 0.04 to 0.09/TWh. How can any rational person argue that fossil fuels are safer then nuclear. You’d have to be ignorant, blind, stupid, or have a agenda to argue fossil fuels are safer than nuclear.
Rather than constantly attacking nuclear power YOU should step back and take a hard look at the relevant facts about the relative safety of nuclear power (i.e. relative the the fossil fuels and renewables. The cost of nuclear has been inflated by around a factor of 10 as a result of 50 years of anti-nuclear protesting, misinformation and scaremongering which gullible people like you have swallowed hook, line and sinker.
By the way, I didn’t see your comment at July 24, 2016 at 11:01 am earlier because, although it seems to be a reply to me, not to jacobress, you posted your reply to jacobress’s comment not to mine.
You argue that the measure of safety should be based on the regulations imposed on different technologies. but these are not based on an objective measure. They are implemented for political reasons – e.g. because the public and politicians are scared stiff of radiation and nuclear power. That’s not rational. If it was we’d ban flying and cars. Commercial airline accidents kill about 1000 people per year, nuclear none. Yet we enact regulations that make nuclear far more costly than it should be while accepting the balance of risk and benefits for air travel. Furthermore regulations can be changed at any time. Therefore, they cannot be a valid measure of impact on residents.
This chart is an example of the consequence of a change of regulator and regulatory regime:
The health and economic consequences of that change is enormous detrimental, not just to the USA but to the whole world.
In case you missed it, I posted a reply to you here: https://judithcurry.com/2016/07/19/clean-energy-emergency/#comment-798500
It is circular and mendacious to claim “look! no deaths from radiation in nuclear accidents” – when the deaths were avoided thanks to the timely evacuations – and then claim further that the evacuations were unnecessary, or evacuations don’t count as damage.
I am aware that there is an ongoing debate about the level of safety of low intensity radiation. The debate results from the fact that we do not know, and cannot know it since we don’t experiment on human beings. So, the position that low radiation is dangerous is plausible and cannot be discarded.
It is only prudent to think that we must not allow background radiation to rise above old natural levels. It has already risen because of nuclear experiments, and we must not deliberately allow it to rise further. It is also a fact that once radiation escapes into the environment we cannot control it and remove it.
You can claim: “no! man can tolerate higher levels of radiation”. Maybe, but there is no compelling reason to risk it.
These are exactly the arguments made against steam trains 200 years ago. To travel faster than a horse was unnatural and there was no compelling reason to risk it.
You’ve made baseless assertions. You haven’t a clue what you are talking about on this subject. I suggest you ask questions, read from authoritative sources and learn instead of displaying your ignorance.
Levels of background radiation vary enormously over different locations.
It was not until after Chernobyl that a comprehensive radiological survey of the British Isles was carried out, resulting in a number of surprises. Certain areas had natural radiations much higher than are permitted in industry, and yet there was no evidence of increased rates of mortality due to radiation levels.
Another result of the survey was that large quantities of radon were found to have accumulated in the basements of dwellings in a large number of areas, and despite there being no statistical evidence of raised mortality due to this, a program was initiated to ventilate at-risk dwellings, and radon detectors were fitted.
So your claim that there are no metrics to evaluate the tolerance of humans to levels of radiation is clearly false.
Think about this — If one was to agree with Dr. Curry’s opinion on 3 things, the World has additional time to make decisions on AGW (better understanding the science and also developing technology [eg. nuclear]):
(1) A timeline of Lewis/Curry TCR.
(2) Fast Mitigation (reducing short lived carbon pollutants of methane, smog, HFCs, black carbon).
(3) Keeping existing nuclear plants operating.
Items (2) and (3) reflect “low regrets actions” that are prudent no matter one’s position on AGW.
Here’s one reason: If nuclear replaced coal it would have avoided 0.5 million premature deaths in 2015. If nuclear deployment had continued at the rates that occurred up to about 1976, 9 million deaths would have been avoided by 2015. Furthermore, if the pre-1970s learning rates had continued nuclear power would have cost 1/10th of the actual costs in 2015.
Cheap electricity increases productivity and GDP growth, drives faster electrification for the people without access to electricity or with insufficient and/or unreliable electricity and thus more quickly lifts the world’s population to higher standards of living and potentially saving millions more lives per year. As electricity costs decrease, the deployment rate increases and capacity doublings occur faster. Consequently, costs reduce faster; i.e. we progress more quickly down the learning curve (Rogner et al. (2008)). Technology transition takes place faster and the benefits are delivered sooner.
That’s an example of the forgone benefits that anti-nukes, like you, have caused.
Environmental Progress -finally an enviro org that I might consider supporting.
The thousands of deaths from nuclear accidents that journalists like to claim, are pure fiction. They are a statistical artefact of the LNT hypothesis (linear no threshold). LNT allows thousands of deaths to be arbitrarily attributed to miniscule incremental radiation doses in the absence of evidence of such causation.
The logic of LNT is as follows. If you drink 10 liters of water you will die. Therefore, among people drinking one liter of water, a tenth of them will die. And one percent of all people drinking a 100 ml glass of water will also die.
Ah but you say, we have all this fancy molecular biology about genetic damage, bystander effects etc that show that even a single ionising particle wreaks bio havoc in an organism. But bio havoc is the norm for living cells and tissue. DNA is near the quantum level. The closer you get to the quantum level the more furiously chaotic everything gets. Throwing a stone into a stormy sea has less effect than into a calm pond. DNA is constantly splitting and being repaired minute by minute. For radiation to make a difference it has to inflict damage at an organism level above the chaotic quantum level. That is, as radiobiologist Janet Vaughan concluded back in the 70’s (before radiation biology got molecular and lost its way) ionising radiation becomes carcinogenic when blood capillaries start getting damaged. Its not so much about molecules and direct DNA damage.
There exists a threshold below which ionising radiation is either harmless of even beneficial to an organism. This is a highly robust repeatable finding (unlike much current drug discovery biology) and papers showing both REDUCEDcancer incidence and INCREASED lifespan in mice and other animals (and plants) can be found in seconds on Google scholar or PubMed etc.
I did an MSc and PhD in radiation biology and set up radiation detection systems in Ukraine for post Chernobyl radiation monitoring. I visited the Chernobyl site (wonderful game reserve) and the international radiation biology conference in Minsk 10 years after the accident. The number of actual deaths from Chernobyl is in the low hundreds. A few dozen reactor staff (enormous doses, CNS syndrome) and some firemen. Thenthere were several hundred children with thyroid cancer from 125, 131 iodine. But thanks to intense medical care supported by visiting American and European doctors, very few of theae died – thyroid cancer is nowadays quite survivable if normally treated. Remarkably there was no leukaemia excess post Chernobyl. This is the cancer one expects following mass irradiation. However experience from strontium, radium and other boneseeking radionuclides shows that leukaemogeneticity depends on a dose distribution including deep marrow sinuses where hemopoietic stem cells lie, not al modalities of irradiation achieve this distribution.
So that was all, just those few hundred deaths. Although I should mention that, among the thousands of mostly elderly people needlessly evacuated from villages where they had lived their whole lives, under international pressure for ever lower “contamination ” thresholds for evacuation, death rates were sharply elevated. Wrenching these old folks from their villages literally killed them.
And all the hundreds of thousands of deaths claimed as resulting from Chernobyl fallout are just low dose fictions of the false LNT hypothesis. Such entrenched falsehood has sent a whole generation down the garden path regarding nuclear policy. Lets hope voices like Environmental Progress and JC can start restoring a basis of truth to the nuclear debate.
The Linear no-threshold, LNT, hypothesis became popular over 40 years ago. In theory, LNT was to be applied to every carcinogen, not just radiation. It was established in regulation long before we understood cancer and biological mechanisms to avert cancer and repair DNA. In practice LNT is not applied to every carcinogen. e.g. not to: alcohol and cooked food (containing acrylamides made during cooking), …
Here is the latest academic study to show no excess of mortality or cancer at low doses of irradiation:
It studies hospital radiologists who get more radiation than the general public. It even finds that radiologists have unusually long life expectancy. There is no cancer excess except for those practising up to the 1940s when doses were sky high (even then quite a small excess). The authors are silent about the obvious conclusions of an effect threshold and beneficial effects.
Peace and Quiet at last.
Pingback: Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #233 | Watts Up With That?
clean energy comes from NEW methods, not rehashing the old. Wind and Solar are only a hobby… we are producing a source that will make energy available to all … without pollution or transmission lines..
Nuclear power is on the decline because it was regulated nearly out of existence. In USA, the NRC was created in 1974, after fossil fuel lobbying, with the sole goal of making nuclear power as safe as possible. The NRC interpreted its goal to ignore cost benefit, to ratchet up costs, by obsessing over radiation emissions. They pay lip service to cost benefit. This despite radiation emissions from nuclear power being many times less than from burning fossil fuel. If the USA wants cheap CO2-free electricity it need only change the NRC mandate back to old AEC mandate. The AEC had a dual mandate: to ensure nuclear power was safe and economic. Regulation made nuclear power too expensive in Europe and USA. India can build new reactors for US $1.3 bn per Gigawatt. Hinkley C, in UK, will cost closer to US $7 bn per Gigawatt; nearly 5½ times the price. So US can’t afford to retire old plant because it costs a fortune to build new plant. Regulation also prevents old plant being mothballed until competitive again – if the price of natural gas rises or renewables subsidies end.
If there’s a US clean energy crisis it’s there by design.