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Comments 901 to 950:

  1. michael sweet at 02:44 AM on 21 June 2022
    What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    Doing background reading I found this report about the NuScale reactor that they hope to build in Montana.

    NuScale’s Small Modular Reactor
    Risks of Rising Costs, Likely Delays, and
    Increasing Competition Cast Doubt on LongRunning Development Effort


    This report is written by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.   They describe themselves as "The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) examines issues related to energy markets, trends, and policies. The Institute’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a diverse, sustainable and profitable energy economy."

    The report is very grim reading for nuclear supporters.  The first line in the Executive Summary is "Too late, too expensive, too risky and too uncertain."  It is easy to read if you are interested in seeing why the NuScale reactor is a terrible investment and is unlikely to ever be built.

    On the issue of vaporware discusssed upthread, I note that in 2008 NuScale said they would have operating reactors by 2015-2016  (7-8 years).  They now plan to have working reactors by 2019-2020 (7-8 years). 

    They have decided to change the design they submitted to the NRC for review.  They plan to submit their new design to the NRC in December 2022 and hope to have an operating reactor by December 2029.  This report shows that timeline is not credible.  Their cost estimates are also not credible and all the risk is set on the buyers of the reactors if the timeline slips or the costs overrun.  There are many other very serious issues.

    That sounds like vaporware to me.

    Apparently buyers are starting to wise up.  The subscriptions for buying power have fallen from 213 MW in October 2020 to 101 MW.  Since the current design of the plant calls for producing 462 MW of power they are a long way from their targets.

    MacQuigg,  this paper will probably be easier for you to read.  I suggest you read the entire 39 pages like I did.  There are a lot of diagrams.  It should be added to your discussion of modular reactors.

    It is clear that these analysts think the debate around nuclear is over, nuclear is not economic.

    Nuclear power is not economic and the materials do not exist.

  2. Antarctica is gaining ice

    Eclectic @525,

    I don't think it is correct to say that Swally's Antarctic ice loss hypothesis is "now obsolete." It is glaceologists conundrum which implies a level of ice loss from Antarctic Ice Sheets that are certainly outside the levels calculated by more conventional methods, thus an "outlier." But surely the conundrum has yet to be resolved, thus Zwally et al (2021).

  3. Antarctica is gaining ice

    Philippe Chantreau , the Antarctic study mentioned by AndrewLB was not only an outlier (and is now obsolete) from the main group of studies of Antarctic ice loss : but at the time (2015) the author Dr Zwally himself commented that he expected to see further reduction of ice mass within 20-30 years (owing to continued global warming).  That comment of his was personal opinion I gather, rather than a scientific projection.  But it fits in with overall consensus.

    AndrewLB , the political ideas you mentioned (@522) are not science, and so do not get discussed in this thread.   However, I can refer you to the blog WattsUpWithThat , where you can find plenty of discussion of wacky paranoid conspiracy theories including contrail chemical poisons, Gatesian mind-control vaccine microchips, Jewish Space Lasers, and Soros machinations for World Marxism.

    True, the WUWT  conversations are rather one-sided, but if you wish to discuss those sorts of topics, then WUWT  is a good entry point for you.   (Take a torch with you  ~  the rabbit hole is very deep.)

  4. michael sweet at 09:48 AM on 20 June 2022
    What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?


    You have acted as an advocate of nuclear here so I have responded in kind.   The Renewables vs Nuclear Debate forum on Facebook seems to me like a lot of nuclear advocates slamming the "greenies".  You frequently state there that you support nuclear power.  I see little informed discussion.  The nuclear proponents who come here to post usually have little knowledge about reactors.  One poster, Ritchieb1234, was very informed and we had a good discussion.

    As I have previously told you, Abbott 2012 describes the issue with uranium.  He shows that with low uranium concentrations in the ore it takes more energy to mine the uranium than you get from using it in a reactor.  Your WNA article assumes that future engineers will develop mining processes that are orders of magnitude more efficient than any currently known processes.  I doubt that is possible.  Nuclear supporters would not work on breeder reactors or thorium if they thought there was enough uranium.  We could get unlimited supplies of hydrogen simply by syphoning off the surface of the sun, but that is impossible.  I note that you said "the cost of uranium is unlimited", not the supply.

    Thor Cons statement that they do not process the salt is obviously false since they remove the noble gasses from it.  That is a chemical process by definition.  You do not understand the difference between a chemical "process" and "reprocessing" nuclear fuel.  Thor Con is misleading.  That is not my problem.  Chemical processing the fuel is not a proliferation risk.  Reprocessing the fuel is a proliferation risk.  It appears to me that you are decieved by misleading information from Thor Con.

    137Cs.  As stated clearly in Lyman 2021, which I linked for you at least twice about this issue, giving you the page number (91) to read here, Thor Con would remove 137Xe, a noble gas, from the salt as part of their scheme to remove the noble gasses.  The Xenon then decays into 137Cs in whatever storage system they have for the noble gasses.  It would coat the inside of all the piping and the pumps.  Thor Con has to answer the question of how they plan to deal with radioactive cesium-137  formed in the noble gas stream.  Read the reference I have given for you to get the question that you are seeking.  Lyman stated (in advance) that Thor Cons answer is misleading.

    Your statement about Cesium being in column one is uninformed.  If you had read the citation I gave you, you would know that the cesium is formed in the gas stream from radioactive decay, it does not evaporate from the salt.  Since I am a professional chemist and I have read much, much more about reactors than you, I understand the chemistry of reactors better than you.  If you framed your statments as questions I would be more helpful and less irritated.

    Keep in mind that I have been having this debate with nuclear supporters for 15 years.  From your posts I understand that you are a newbie.  I researched most of your points years ago.  Nuclear supporters online repeat the same old tired arguments that were already false 15 years ago.  Back then renewables were more expensive than nuclear and there was a debate.  Now renewables are much cheaper than nuclear.  Informed debate ended several years ago, you have just not learned enough about nuclear and renewable energy yet to realize you are barking up the wrong tree.  Read Abbott 2012 about 15 reasons why nuclear cannot work.  His arguments have not been answered by nuclear supporters.

    This discussion has become very repetitive.  Since you do not read the references that I give, you do not understand the questions and answers.  I note that I have read your citations, read your Facebook site and read your Citizendium posts.  I have read Abbott, Krall and Lyman entirely and the response to Lyman on Facebook (the response is completely worthless).  Why don't you come back when you have done your homework and can address the issues that I raise.

    I have authored three posts on Skeptical Science about producing all the world's energy supply using renewable energy.  Read them here here and here.  All three say nuclear power is not necessary or economic.  That is what scientists think about future energy supplies.  You could use them as a basis of your renewable post.  Dana Nucitelli also authored a post about renewable energy powering the world.

    Nuclear power is not economic and the matrerials do not exist. 

  5. Philippe Chantreau at 09:11 AM on 20 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    I did not expand on the other subjects you approached since they are clearly off topic for the thread.

  6. Philippe Chantreau at 09:09 AM on 20 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice


    Your accusations are unwarranted. The recent exchange on this thread is a shining example of how some will believe assertions that are false, and will continue to believe them even after being shown without a shadow of a doubt that they are false. This behavior is contrary to a sincere scientific approach. It is not widespread among those who participate regularly on this site. The allusion to government bla-bla is rather ironic for 2 reasons. One is that you used a government agency as a source for your argument, and said government agency was publicizing scientific work headed by a government employee (Jay Zwally), pretty much the boss of glaciology at NASA. How did that irony escape you?

    Second, because governments have taken so far no significant action and most of them can even be described as actively resisting change. Some may pay lip service and have plenty of nice sounding declarations, but actions are more important than words, and governmental actions have so far been tepid, at best.

    I note that NASA has updated their position since publicizing the Zwally study, as well they should, because knowledge and understanding evolve and what matters is the weight of the evidence. I have no doubt that Dr Zwally thinks no different.

    The Zwally study (full paper with that link) is a well known outlier. It was a surprising outlier back in 2015 when published and generated a lot of interest. In the 7 years since publication, it has been contradicted by numerous subsequent studies that benefited from the data from IceSat2 launched in 2018.

    Because of that 2015 paper, there has been more scientific enquiry into this problem, which led to multiple publications. That is science at work. The Rignot et al (2018) paper is arguably one of the best researched, but there are plenty more:


    ww (full article accessible as pdf)

    About sea level:

    I have worked in various areas involving science and engineering. Anecdote is no substitute for data and rigorous analysis.

    Careful data gathering and analysis has been performed by numerous teams and, once again, there is an unmistakable convergence of results. Multiple scientific works can be fond in literally seconds on this subject.

    It is entirely expected that see level not be uniform and that sea level changes vary by region. That variability itself is the subject of multiple studies.

  7. Doug Bostrom at 08:51 AM on 20 June 2022
    Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    Thanks for your thoughts, OPOF (One Planet Only Forever). You mention a spectrum of concerns, some within our span and some not. It's helpful to see matters arrayed in this way, as a menu. One item jumps out as particularly amenable to what we're seeking to achieve with our increase in scope.

    A person minded to do so could use this article:

    Carbon intensity threshold for Canadian oil sands industry using planetary boundaries: Is a sustainable carbon-negative industry possible?

    which by its nature draws on a considerable body of prior work to gain a reasonably circumspect toehold on the topic, based in published literature. With that information, one could produce a usefully coherent reply to "Canadian tar sands can be made net zero," an answer grounded in numbers derived from a sufficiently broad provenance as to lend confidence in forming and offering plausible conclusions. 

    It'll take quite a bit of digging into citations to write such a treatment, some hours. But one must start somewhere, and the above article is a helpful gateway to relevant cites.

    The misconception of "net zero Canadian tar sands is just  a minor technological challenge and will happen automatically through market forces" is rather narrowly specific, but if it's a frequent tripping point the investment of effort in correction might be worth it— especially if the conclusions will map onto other analogous situations such as Venezuela.

    We talk about prioritizing misconceptions centered on discourses of delay and solutions denial. Ideally we'd be able to staff such a rational plan and crisply work through the list of priorities. We'll try to follow that mode as best we can.

    But if somebody has a passion for a particular topic and feels like investing work in a durable product that will undoubtedly end up being read thousands of times, that's an opportunity for genuine efficacy for that person and for Skeptical Science. And as a practical matter, strong personal interest in a particular subject is how choices are often made about what we end up publishing here. 

    The above is a long winded invitation to participate, with some framing about how to do so usefully for Skeptical Science. 

  8. Antarctica is gaining ice

    "Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence) (see Figure SPM.3). (4.2-4.7)"

    NASA Study in 2015 clearly states Mass Gains of Antarctic ice sheet are greater than losses. I'll quote it.


    A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

    The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.

    According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008.


    On a separate personal note, having lived less than a 2 minute walk from the pacific ocean for the past 40 years, i have yet to see any rise in sea level. One of the docks near my home has pole marked to indicate the current tide height and it's been there for at least 30 years, and a  zero foot tide is still indicated spot on all these years later.


    I think a lot of the people on this site are unaware of their own motivations and almost religious adherence the government mandated narraitive. It's usually a good idea to actually listen to the people in charge of international climate policy and you'll realize it's all a lie. United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer said the following just a couple years ago.


    "One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,"

    And just a few years prior to that he said:

    "the next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world's resources will be negotiated."

    And a bit more insight:

    "This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,"

    "This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history."

    And my favorite is how they went on to say that in order to make this happen, they must plunge the world economy into a depression in order to force the end of capitolism.

  9. One Planet Only Forever at 07:05 AM on 20 June 2022
    Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'


    My comment @2 was mostly composed before seeing your comment @1. My comment @7 was written after reading the item you linked in your Comment @1, the Desmog article “Climate Deniers and the Language of Climate Obstruction”. I also read the Cambridge Core article “Discourses of climate delay” that the Desmog article provided a link to. My points of recommended focus @2 and @7 are a diverse variety of the 12 strategies in the 4 categories of delay discourse that the Cambridge Core article presents as a start on identifying and categorizing ‘discourse of climate delay’.

    A more pointed example of a ‘discourse of climate delay’ is what is being claimed by the Alberta Government, the oil sands industry and the Federal Government of Canada. They claim that the oil sands operations are going to be net-zero by 2050 (though admittedly some of the political groups are making statements that are more harmful misleading populist style claims, like saying that net-zero by a later date would be OK. For them, 2050 is ‘impractical, too soon’). But the seriously misleading part is the way they will get to ‘net-zero’. They have already reduced the processing and upgrading of the extracted product in Alberta. They are shifting to doing even less in Alberta and exporting ‘a bigger problem’. The result will be more processing and related emissions outside of Alberta (reduction in Alberta is Great eh). But, of course, the bigger scam of the fossil fuel company claims that they will be part of the solution, like being net-zero by 2050, is that there is no evidence of research into how to make the final product ‘carbon-zero’ when it is used by the end consumer (and if most end consumers, except the poorest, have to stop using fossil fuels by 2050 what is the point of producing them ‘net-zero’ by then). A related aspect of the scam would be the industry ‘buying carbon credits to offset emissions they won’t or can’t eliminate’. It is now well understood that the actions that are currently being counted as ‘carbon-credits’ to excuse continued or increase carbon harm need to be done in addition to winding down the actions that cause carbon emissions harm.

    Another ‘discourse of climate delay’ could be a ‘special diverting interest group’ like the one presented in the recent BBC Future article “Do we need a better understanding of 'progress'?”. The article is about ‘progress studies’, something started up in 2016 by a pair of technology development super-fans. As presented in the article ‘progress studies’ as initiated by this pair “...doesn’t desire a world where humans live more harmoniously with nature.” Progress studies also is not very concerned about the potential harm or unsustainability of technological developments. They also appear to believe the ‘now rather undeniable refuted claim’ that increased GDP or other artificial measures of ‘progress’ would sustainably improve things for everyone including the least fortunate (a belief that is about as far away from the evidence-based understanding of reality that beliefs can get). The 2020 Human Development Report presents that case fairly extensively. There does not appear to be anything sustainable about the interests of the ‘progress studies special interest group’.

    The ‘progress studies’ group start by making up their definition of progress. And their opinion, though of course not stated this way, appears to be that uninhibited technological development of a growing stream of unsustainable potentially harmful things is ‘Progress’ and is Glorious (Don’t peak behind the curtain in search of what is causing harm. Just be impressed by the impressions of progress). After all, technological developments are meant to be temporary. They are meant to be fads. They are expected to only be popular and profitable until they are displaced (before the harm they have done becomes too hard to ignore and excuse). Their concept of ‘Progress’ rapidly replaces things with the next ‘shiny new, likely harmful and almost certain to be unsustainable, things’. So it doesn’t matter if the growing stream of ‘shiny new stuff’ is unsustainable consumption of resources without recycling or is harmful. Each development will be gone soon anyway. ‘Progress studies’ thinking would not be concerned about the harm of the ‘solutions that are developed’. They would likely think that compact fluorescent bulbs and wind and solar power components that cannot be recycled were all ‘great progress’. They would push for more ‘progress’ like that, like pushing for newer nuclear fission systems.
    That ‘progress studies’ attitude would promote increasing energy consumption and un-recycled resource consumption and waste without concern, likely claiming it is progress. They may even try to claim that it is the best way to develop solutions to the harm of over-consumption of energy and materials that is ruining the future for humanity on this planet.
    Those visions of ‘progress studies’ would create more harmful consumption of ‘shiny new stuff’ that harmfully produces the waste of the previous ‘now older less desirable stuff’. Butt people immersed in the delusion of ‘that type of progress studies’ would struggle to see it that way.

  10. What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    Michael, you keep treating me as an advocate. My role here and at Citizendium is as a neutral editor. I have what I need from this forum, a list of critiques of our articles from the anti-nuclear side. Even if I wanted to argue with you on the points I have copied to CZ, I am not the expert.  Also, any such debate should be done in a neutral forum, like Renewables vs Nuclear Debate, or perhaps on  As I said before, this forum is a bit too hostile for the nuclear experts I have invited.

    I am not following this forum (and there does not appear to be a notififation feature) so if you expect a response from me, please notify me via gmail, username macquigg.

    I have collected one more critique from your last comment, a challenge to the WNA statement that nuclear fuel is essentially unlimited. If you have any good sources on this, please notify me.

    As for your argument about what was really meant about on-site chemical processing, I repeat: the statement from the UCS report Executive Summary is accurate, complete, and not taken out of context. Your interpretation that they meant to include the collection of gases bubbling out of the molten salt as a "chemical treatment" and a proliferation risk (that is the context of their statement) seems to me like a crazy stretch. The company's response, that they do no chemical processing online, addresses the critique as stated. 

    As for your critiques on Cs-137 and beryllium, they remain open points on our discussion page. ThorCon has not responded, but they probably will when I submit the article for final review. They have stated that the Cs is chemically bound to the salt, but we could use some data on how much ends up in the gas, and whether they use some kind of getter to remove it, as they do with tritium.

    It's been a while since I took chemistry, but as I recall cesium is in column one, like sodium. If a few disgruntled cesium atoms take their electrons and leave the party, they will probably be followed by some hungry chlorine atoms, and end up as salt on the reactor walls. There are some chemists at who could take up this debate. 

    Sodium and Chlorine

  11. The History of Climate Science

    An article about the History of Climate Science was recently published in the French Wikipedia, featuring translated versions of jg's neat graphics:

    Histoire de la recherche sur le changement climatique

  12. Doug Bostrom at 17:54 PM on 19 June 2022
    Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    Thanks for your thoughts so far. 

    As they're statistically quite reliable (like fissioning atoms*), can be processed to identify consensus and over time have proven supremely helpful in leading to where we to go— consilience, collective decisions and action thereby--  we'll be sticking with peer reviewed research as foundational primary sources. 

    We won't be able to effectively answer value questions. How many more or less permanent radioactive blotches vs. heaps of dead bats & birds on the ground are acceptable as trades for climate mitigation isn't the type of question we can satisfactorily answer.  We can look at research on attitudes and beliefs about thse things, but we can't conclude or suggest  "right" decisions between such choices. They fall in the bucket of "it depends."

    Scientific research can and does identify dependencies and help to improve our collective thinking about how "it depends" unpacks, provide a basis of facts underpinning agreements that will be thrashed out elsewhere in the marketplace of ideas and ideologies. Helping to maintain attachment of discussion and deliberation to useful basic facts is our chosen means of productive activity, the less-duplicative contribution we can make as a practical matter. 

    Thinking of nuclear power since it's a dominant theme in discussion on this thread, research helps to tell us about the plausibility of borehole disposal of high level waste, in a way that is responsive to differences in toleration of of hazard and risk. We can connect readers to that. Research doesn't help much in telling us whether centralized nuclear power generation is a exploitative tool of rent-seeking capitalists or a opportunity for an efficiently run public utility to plug a difficult gap, because the answer to that is "maybe" for both, a matter wandering into ineffability. We can't contribute to resolving this difference here.

    *No U-235 atom is perfectly reliable, yet we can with statistical certainty fission U-235 to liberate power and do work.  That's quite adequate. 

  13. Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    nigelj @6, I proposed the material from WNA as a "good start", not the final resolution. How do we find the truth. I propose we start with a clear statement from one side, like we have from WNA. Then we can get a clear statement from the other side and compare. Academic papers are one source, but should not be given automatic priorty over statements from nuclear engineers who know the details of a process or design. Sometimes a peer-reviewed paper is simply wrong, and a good scientist will seek the truth, regardless of the prestige of the source.

  14. One Planet Only Forever at 11:22 AM on 19 June 2022
    Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    Another priority for “discourse of climate delay” would be the diversity of unsustainable harmful actions that were quick fixes claimed to be helpful but really weren’t helpful. What is needed is the development of sustainable improvements. Anything other than that is harmful or a harmful distraction.

    The BBC Ideas video “The 12-year-old who tried to save the world” is related. It expressed concern (in 1992) that adult leaders may not responsibly act to limit harm done and would try to claim that they were acting helpfully.

    Examples of this problem since then are:

    • Claims that changing the date of start and stop of Daylight-saving (a silly term to begin with) time change would significantly reduce energy demand. US President Bush did that. And he also declared that Americans did not have to change how they lived.
    • Claims that compact fluorescent bulbs were a part of the solution. They were a harmful wasteful product. It would have been better to get people to replace use lower wattage incandescent bulbs and turn off bulbs when not needing the light while the development of LED light fixtures was prioritizes and expedited. A policy step for that would have been imposing a significant tax on higher wattage bulbs.
    • Claims that wind turbines with blades that could not be recycled or that solar panels made in ways that are hard to recycle were part of the solution. It would have been better to get people who used more electricity than they needed to while the development of recyclable renewable systems was prioritized. A policy step for that would have been imposing a graduated pricing model for home electrical use, with the price rising for steps of higher use ($0.10/kWh for the first amount, $0.15/kWh for the next increment .....)
    • Claims that nuclear fission is part of the solution. Nuclear fission consumes resources without recycling ... it is unsustainable. And nuclear fission produces accumulating harmful waste ... it is doubly unsustainable just like fossil fuel use. But, unlike solar and wind which can be part of a distributed integrated sharing power generation system, nuclear will be centralized power generation that investors and executives are more likely to be able to benefit from, as long as they are ‘privatized’ rather than being ‘Public owned utilities’.

    The status quo of developing a series of harmful unsustainable things and claiming they are improvements that are ‘part of the solution’ is a delay tactic. The actions often do little to encourage the required reduction of energy consumption.

    Reducing energy demand would be far more beneficial to future generations than higher demand for less harmful energy. Totally recyclable renewable energy generation and use may never be developed. It hasn't yet been developed. The most advanced systems still are not fully recyclable and accumulate harmful waste. It is possible that fully recyclable renewable energy systems will never be developed. Seriously restricting energy use is required until fully recyclable renewable energy generation is developed. Those restrictions would seriously motivate the development of the required recyclable renewable energy systems.

    There is ‘only this one planet that is habitable for humans almost forever as long as humans don't ruin it with their technological creativity and related harmful misunderstandings about how great the new things are’. Humans have to learn to adapt to live with that reality.

  15. Antarctica is gaining ice

    Philippe & MAR, thank you for the detailed info.

    Shalom Wulich , your initial assertions are completely wrong. Demonstrably.  Nevertheless, you are an intelligent guy and presumably are aware of your own motivations in questioning the climate science.  It would be helpful to readers (and to yourself) if you would clarify your underlying thoughts in this whole area.

    (For it seems unlikely that you simply awakened one morning and found yourself racked with doubts about the peculiar nature of Antarctic sea-ice extent. )

  16. Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    Macquigg, material from the world nuclear association on nuclear waste is not an adequate assessment of the issues around nuclear waste because they have huge vested interests in minimising the problem. It's pretty much going to be one sided spin. 

    If this website documents myths around nuclear waste disposal, I'm confident they would take a balanced approach and read both sides of the debate, but rely heavily on published independent academic research on the issues.

    That said, I'm not an opponent of nuclear power and the problems of nuclear power do sometimes get exaggerated.

  17. michael sweet at 05:02 AM on 19 June 2022
    What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?


    Rereading you post at 27 it appears to me that you are using the terms "chemically treat" and "reprocessing" as equivalent.  They are not equivalent.  Chemically treating the fuel can be a number of different actions, many small, that change the chemical composition of the fuel.  Reprocessing is extensively repurifying the fissile compounds in the fuel to put back into the reactor.  According to you Lyman says: 

    "All MSRs chemically treat the fuel to varying extents while the reactor operates to remove radio-active isotopes that affect reactor performance. Therefore, unlike other reactors, MSRs generally require on-site chemical plants to process their fuel."

    That means that all plants chemically treat their fuel but only some reprocess the fuel.  For example, Thor Con chemically treat the fuel to remove the noble gasses from the fuel.  Thor Con does not reprocess the fuel on site.

    At 27 you say:

    "The point of this statement about on-site processing is to emphasize the risk of diversion of fissile materials from operating reactors. Reprocessing at a secure central location does not have this risk."

    You are saying that chemically treating the fuel is the same as reprocessing the fuel.  This is incorrect.  Lyman says all MSR's chemically treat the fuel since they remove the noble gasses from the fuel.  Some plans call for on site reprocessing but others, like Thor Con, call for off site reprocessing.

    It is not my job to teach you the vocabulary of nuclear plants.  Your claim that Lyman was wrong is incorrect. 

    It is not clear to me what post from Thor Con you refer to.  Most of what I have seen from Thor Con is deliberately deceptive.

    The peer reviewed literature says that uranium is extremely limited.  Nuclear engineers would not be looking at breeder reactors, thorium and obtaining uranium from sea water if they were not resource limited.  From your post at citizendum "As for the cost of fuel, the World Nuclear Association says it is essentially unlimited" my emphasis.   It is not economic to have a fuel with unlimited cost.  Wind and sun are free.

    Nuclear plants are not economic and the materials needed to build them do not exist.

  18. Antarctica is gaining ice

    Shalom Wulich @518,
    You ask "Where is the other trend?" given the passage you quote makes no mention of Antarctic SIE.
    You are actually quoting the header of Section B.3 from the SPM of AR5 WG1 2013. The section you quote is repeated word-for-word within the AR5 Synthesis Report 2014 Secrtion 1.1.3 but the WG1 SPM you actually quote does head a series of eight bullet points, one of which is specifically describing Antarctic SIE and references Section 4.2 of the main AR5 WG1 report which in Chapter 4 Section 4.2.3 Antarctic Sea Ice provides coverage of your missing "other trend." If you would but look this is all fully referenced.

  19. Philippe Chantreau at 03:32 AM on 19 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    You see what you want to see even it if it's not there and do not see what you don't want to see, even if it is there. 

    Your did not link AR5, so I went directly to the source.

    From AR5 synthesis report, Topic 1: Observed changes and their causes, section 1.1.3, page 42 (58 in the pdf counter), Cryosphere: "There is high confidence that there are strong regional differences in the trend in Antarctic sea ice extent, with a very likely increase in total extent.

    Further down, it reads " It is very likely that the annual mean Antarctic sea ice extent increased in the range of 1.2 to 1.8% per decade (range of 0.13 to 0.20 million km2 per decade) between 1979 and 2012."

    Is that obvious enough? How else could it be written? How did you miss it?

    Synthesis Report here.

    Earlier you mentioned the Summary for Policymakers. So I went to that part and looked at what it said about the cryosphere. Unsurprisingly, it said almost verbatim the same words as in the synthesis report. Quote from AR5 Summary for Policymakers: " It is very likely that the annual mean Antarctic sea-ice extent increased in the range of 1.2 to 1.8% per decade between 1979 and 2012. However, there is high confidence that there are strong regional differences in Antarctica, with extent increasing in some regions and decreasing in others."

    Those familiar with IPCC know that specific ranges of probability correspond to "likely" or "very likely." As usual, that can be found in the the report.

    Not only AR5 mentions the increase of Antarctic sea ice in the body of the report and in the summary for policymakers, but it even quantifies the size of the increase and the level of confidence in the finding. It also lists scientific references. If that is your idea of sweeping under the rug, you can't be helped.

    You asked the question "Where is the other trend?" 

    The answer is: in the synthesis report and in the summary for policymakers. Read them. For all your talk about what's in the reports, you seem surprisingly ignorant of their actual content.

    The accusation that the IPCC was trying to hide the small increase in Antarctic sea ice that existed at the time of AR5 is baseless, as can be easily verified from examining the report you cited. This suggests that you did not read the material you used for your own argument.

    This: "Ice is decreasing dramatically all over. Measured data is aligend with models, we go to do something, IPCC is totally right !" would certainly qualify as a strawman argument but it is so grotesque that a better name would be a straw clown.

    In the actual IPCC material, what policymakers find is language like this: " In the Synthesis Report, the certainty in key assessment findings is communicated as in the Working Group Reports and Special Reports. It is based on the author teams’ evaluations of underlying scientific understanding and is expressed as a qualitative level of confidence (from very low to very high) and, when possible, probabilistically with a quantified likelihood (from exceptionally unlikely to virtually certain). Where appropriate, findings are also formulated as statements of fact without using uncertainty qualifiers."

    You also do not seem to understand how models are made, validated and used, what ensemble means are and a number of other elements. I have never seen before the expression "approval model." From what you have produced so far, I doubt that there is much point getting into a discussion of these issues. 


  20. Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    nigelj, here is a good start: radioactive-wastes-myths-and-realities 

    Safety and Cost are two other areas where the mythology needs some debunking. I share your frustration with the repetition of these myths. Fighting them on social media is an endless game of whack-a-mole. We need a repository of good information we can link to and avoid the repetiion. 

  21. Shalom Wulich at 22:11 PM on 18 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    Hi Philippe,

    So following the fact that measured data wasnt aligend with the CMIP5 model, now there is new explantation - Good for science!
    CMIP6 - you are king !

    Were Policy makers aware that in 2014 IPCC CMIP5 got it wrong and now there is a correction with new explanation ? Are they being told of all the corrections ? if so where in the SPM ?

    Additionally , if the models then were wrong and now fine tuned, how can we be sure that now they are ok ? what new findings might finetune future models ?

    So while we rely on these models to drive policy it might be that in the future, due to these model coming out wrong, we might find ourselves regreting actions we took based on wrong predictions ?

    If we go back to 2014 AR5 and review the SPM this is what I make of it:

    IPCC - the model predicting Antarctic sea ice got it wrong, lets not include it in the report. If we do include it, it might raise concerns on the validity of the other models we used. Why raise this doubt to begin with ?

    Policy makers understanding- Ice is decreasing dramatically all over. Measured data is aligend with models, we go to do something, IPCC is totally right !

    Attaching the 2 links showing the Arctic and Antarctic trends measured vs. model and the CMIP5.

    Actual Sea trends

    The approval CMIP5 model got it wrong


    The IPCC used models

    and again qouting the key section from IPCC AR5 2014 report:

    B.3 Cryosphere

    "Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence) (see Figure SPM.3). (4.2-4.7)"

     Where is the other trend ? The Antarctic sea ice ???? Ohhhh. That. It's not relevant now.

  22. Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    A page on solutions denial myths would be helpful. I encouter these myths whenever our daily news media runs an article on something like a new wind farm or on EV's, and allows the public to post comments. The myths just get repeated over and over.

  23. Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    I welcome expansion of SkS mission to include a new focus on climate solutions. We need to see the same scientific objectivity applied to the BS around renewables and nuclear solutions. Follow the facts. Don't assume that academics have the only truth, or that peer review is gospel. Don't assume that industry experts are all dishonest. Don't become just another info bubble like most Internet forums, where opposing views are driven out by personal attacks. Recruit some scientists and engineers to expand your expertise beyond just atmospheric science. We all share a common purpose, solving our climate crisis. We all value facts and evidence, and thinking like a scientist, even if we are not expert in a particular field of knowledge.

    Recent discussions here on nuclear power are not a good start. I am looking for a better alternative.  So far the best I have found for discussion forums are the FaceBook forums Renewable vs. Nuclear Debate, and The Rational View.  For a repository of good peer-reviewed information, I like Citizendium. This is what Wikipedia should have been.

  24. Philippe Chantreau at 06:38 AM on 18 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    In summary: there is not really a trend to ignore or sweep under the rug. That lack of trend has nonetheless not been ignored. Models do not predict identical trends in Northern and Southern sea ice cover for a number of reasons, the SAM being a major one. Variability is far greater in the Southern hemisphere, with diverging regional trends. 

  25. One Planet Only Forever at 06:34 AM on 18 June 2022
    Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    My recommended priority for “discourse of climate delay” would be the diversity of misleading marketing efforts under the category “The transition or corrections must not reduce any developed perceptions of status (success) or reduce opportunities for improved perceptions of status (success)”. They include the following types of claims:

    • Being dismissive or denying that reduction of energy consumption is a required action. It is actually the action that can be immediately acted on by everyone whose lifestyle includes fossil fuel energy consumption that exceeds the minimum needed for a basic decent life.
    • Alternatives must be as enjoyable and be as cheap and as easy as the developed popular and profitable status quo. Alternatives to the developed status quo must be perceived to be an improvement by everyone. That attempts to protect perceptions of status that developed by continued or increased fossil fuel use. It hides the fact that many people, especially higher status people, have made harmful bad bets through the past 30 years and deserve to lose those bets and lose some status.
    • The marketplace has, and will, correctly govern development to limit harm done and improve things for everyone, especially for the people with lower status (versions of “without the wealth obtained from continued or expanded fossil fuel operations it will not be possible to help the lower status people live basic decent lives”).
    • Government (by the people for the benefit of the people) should not increase the cost of any pursuit of benefit or make any pursuit harder. That is a disguise for fighting against making it harder or more expensive for some people to benefit from an activity that causes harm to others. It is a version of the claim that ‘the collective benefiting from an action must be free to accept the risk of harm done to itself’ (echoed unintentionally by saying ‘the collective We are causing climate change harm to the collective We). That understandably only applies if the harm done by the group’s collective actions will only affect the group, with each member of the group suffering a degree of the total harm that is commensurate with the degree of benefit they obtain.
    • Government should not impose new restrictions on already permitted or operating activity. If it tries to do that it is claimed that the Government must fully compensate the investors and other beneficiaries of the activity for their perceived loss of opportunity for benefit.
    • Government action should not reduce any status quo employment or level of compensation of employment. The claim is that only the ‘magical market place’ has the authority to do that.
    • Lower status people will be harmed by the transition actions. Admittedly, the lower status people who are unable to afford a basic decent life need to have their circumstances improved by the transition, even if that happens at the expense of higher status people.
    • Taking advantage of harmful misunderstandings to appeal for regional opposition to the installation of less harmful more sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel energy generation. An example is claiming the installation ‘ruins a view’, which deflects from the awareness of the harm happening elsewhere ‘out of sight’ due to the fossil fuelled power systems.


  26. Philippe Chantreau at 06:12 AM on 18 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice


    You are launching accusations of nefarious intent. However, you are not producing anything even close to evidence that would support such accusations. In fact, the accusations thenselves are about actions that have not taken place and facts that are imaginary.

    The treatment of polar regions in the 6th assessment is summarized here. It says: "For Antarctic sea ice, there is no significant trend in satellite-observed sea ice area from 1979 to 2020 in both
    winter and summer, due to regionally opposing trends
    and large internal variability." The trend is not significant because it is less than the uncertainty. Antarctic sea ice is not ignored or swept under the rug. As usual with IPCC reports, the full treatment of the polar regions is accessible online.

    Not only does it not ignore Antarctic sea ice, it provides numerous references for it:

    Turner et al., 2017

    Kusahara et al., 2018

    Meehl et al., 2019

    Wang et al., 2019

    Before asserting that a trend is being ignored, it would also make sense to ensure that there is really a trend to speak of. Turns out that there isn't: "Total Antarctic sea ice cover exhibits no significant trend over the period of satellite observations (Figure 3.3; 1979–2018) (high confidence) (Ludescher et al., 2018)."

    Interestingly, this was compiled before the lowest extend on record, which was in 2022.

    Last point, about models. Another quote from same AR6: "Coupled climate models indicate that anthropogenic warming at the surface is delayed by the Southern Ocean circulation, which transports heat downwards into the deep ocean (Armour et al., 2016). This overturning circulation (Cross-Chapter Box 7 in Chapter 3), along with differing cloud and lapse rate feedbacks (Goosse et al., 2018), may explain the weak response of Antarctic sea ice cover to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations compared to the Arctic (medium confidence). Because Antarctic sea ice extent has remained below climatological values since 2016, there is still potential for longer-term changes to emerge in the Antarctic (Meehl et al., 2019), similar to the Arctic."

  27. Skeptical Science tackles 'discourses of climate delay' and 'solutions denial'

    Related article from Stella Levantesi over at Desmog:

    Climate Deniers and the Language of Climate Obstruction

  28. Antarctica is gaining ice

    Sorry, Shalom Wulich , I apparently have cross-posted with you.

    I hope my above post has answered both of your concerns.

    You are therefore quite right in saying that the Antarctic sea-ice extent is not worth you bothering yourself about.  The southern sea-ice extent trend, and the modelling of it, is only of real interest to the specialists who study that issue.  Nothing for you to get excited about.  Almost zero relevance to your own AGW concerns.

  29. Antarctica is gaining ice

    Shalom Wulich @510 , it would be helpful if you would explain why you think the conditions at the two polar regions are comparable.

    To me, the two cases seem so very different ~ so much so, as to make trend comparisons very difficult.  How can even the sea-ice comparisons be relevant?

    Arctic sea-ice is a thin film ~ 1 meter up to 5 meters thick, depending on temperature conditions.  Antarctic sea-ice is similarly thin, but is "fed" by ice melting off the periphery of the permanent massive ice sheet that covers the Antarctic land.  The extent of the antarctic sea-ice is influenced by air temperature and ocean temperature; and by the melting rate of the ice sheet periphery; and by the local surface oceanic salinity; and by the local strength of the katabatic winds coming down off the mass of Antarctica itself.  Quite different to the Arctic situation.

    (The Antarctic ice sheet is about 2,000 meters thick, and has a mass of approx 26 million gigatons . . . that is, 26 million cubic kilometers.  So large, that most of it will persist for many thousands of years despite whatever multi-degree global warming we humans produce over the coming centuries.  And the temperature conditions near the south pole's position will remain at the same frosty level, on top of such a huge block of ice ! )

    West Antarctic (and peripheral East Antarctic) amount of melting will of course have a major effect on global sea level rise.

    So if you are looking at Antarctic sea-ice extent only, then a comparison with the Arctic sea-ice extent has little relevance.  No need to get excited about the trend comparisons you mention @510.

  30. Shalom Wulich at 04:44 AM on 18 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    Hi Philippe,

    If your replly was to me then:

    1. What is significant is irelevant to my questions since I'm raising 2 concerns. Why a when a wrong model trend of Antarctic sea ice is not mentioned and why Arctic sea ice is ? Why arent the the full picture of trends is discussed.

    2. Alternatively why was it so important to show a model forcasting  dramatical reduction of Antarctic sea ice (also if it's irelevant, why bother) but once measured data arrives and it doesnt fit the model abandon this Antarctic sea ice and dont mention it in the SPM ?

  31. EGU2022 - A personal diary from a science enthusiast perspective

    Terrific post, Baerbel - you really captured the essence of it all.  Many thanks too for:

    • Helping to convene EOS1.8 Climate & ocean literacy;
    • Your presentation in EOS1.8 Climate & ocean literacy;
    • Helping to chair the Townhall Meeting TM8.
  32. Philippe Chantreau at 01:26 AM on 18 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    When this myth was addressed, there was a small upward trend of Antarctic sea ice, that was squeaking by the statistical significance criteria.

    As of now, the Antarctic sea ice long term trend in the satellite record is difficult to distinguish since the margin of error is more than twice as large as the trend(!): 0.6% +- 1.6% per decade.

    Incidentally, 2022 saw the lowest Antarctic sea ice extent in the satellite record.

    None of this really affects the basic argument in this myth rebuttal, which is that the loss of land based sea ice is a concern for sea level rise, whereas variations in sea ice are not.

    The data does not allow to identify any significant long term change at this time, although what has been happening since 2014 certainly seems interesting.


  33. Shalom Wulich at 23:35 PM on 17 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    1. You mentioned that Antarctic sea ice is irrelevant. As if saying "Lets focus on the Antarctic land ice we are losing". 


    2. I'm wondering why is this trend not relevant but other are. Why dismiss any trend that shows different behaviour than expected.
    3. By saying expectedI see that the models for arctic sea ice fit well with measured trend while models for Antartic sea ice got it wrong. So can you comment on why the model for Antartic sea ice got it wrong and is the same model used also for Arctic ?
    4. Comment 3 is also is clearly inline with Key section from IPCC Assesment Report "AR5", 2014 where it accuratly reports trends of sea ice in Arctic but dont mention the different trend in sea ice in Antartic. Why did IPCC include the Arctic sea ice (i.e. it's relevant) but omitted the Antartic sea ice (i.e. you seem to claim it's irelevant). Do you thing it's because it interfers with the main message which implys that "ice is melting dramatically"







  34. Shalom Wulich at 23:35 PM on 17 June 2022
    Antarctica is gaining ice

    1. You mentioned that Antarctic sea ice is irrelevant. As if saying "Lets focus on the Antarctic land ice we are losing". 

    2. I'm wondering why is this trend not relevant but other are. Why dismiss any trend that shows different behaviour than expected.
    3. By saying expectedI see that the models for arctic sea ice fit well with measured trend while models for Antartic sea ice got it wrong. So can you comment on why the model for Antartic sea ice got it wrong and is the same model used also for Arctic ?
    4. Comment 3 is also is clearly inline with Key section from IPCC Assesment Report "AR5", 2014 where it accuratly reports trends of sea ice in Arctic but dont mention the different trend in sea ice in Antartic. Why did IPCC include the Arctic sea ice (i.e. it's relevant) but omitted the Antartic sea ice (i.e. you seem to claim it's irelevant). Do you thing it's because it interfers with the main message which implys that "ice is melting dramatically"




  35. One Planet Only Forever at 14:13 PM on 17 June 2022
    A durable U.S. climate strategy … or a house of cards?

    It is indeed incorrect to claim that only one issue matters or that one action will be the solution to a complex multi-faceted problem like the diversity of harm and destruction being caused by human pursuits of impressions of success and status relative to others.

    However, the authors appear to have missed the harmful influence power of the science of misinformation and disinformation marketing.

    "Deny, Deceive, Delay: Documenting and Responding to Climate Disinformation at Cop26 and Beyond by King et al., Institute for Strategic Dialogue" highlighted in "Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2022" is recommended reading. I have not completed reading it. But the 7 specific Policy Asks presented appear to be an important focus for implementation by elected representatives wanting to correct the harmful reality that has developed due to a lack of such policies.

    I would add that the authors need to be careful when using the term Freedom, like their statement "The price of freedom, human health, and planetary health is constant vigilance on these and many more issues." Freedom has become weaponized to include the freedom to believe whatever is desired to excuse doing whatever is desired. It should only be "Freedom diligently governed and limited by the pursuit of increased awareness and improved understanding of how to be less harmful and how to be more helpful to others who need assistance". The authors may have intended that understanding. But what needed to be said could have been said without using the term Freedom -> 'Developing a sustainable healthy diversity of human societies fitting in as part of a robust healthy planetary environment ...' says what needs to be said without invoking the now weaponized Freedom term.

    Evidence 'limits what can be sustainably believed'. Evidence limits Freedom of belief. And the ethic of Do No Harm further limits Freedoms. Contrary to the preferred beliefs of the delayers, deniers and doubters, the required corrections of what has developed have been correctly exposed by climate science. The science correctly limits what can sustainably and justifiably be believed and claimed. And it indicates the required rapid correction of the over-development in harmful directions due to the delay in corrective actions through the past 30 years. And pushing for that rapid change is required from leaders 'even if it is believed to be impractical' (50% of car sales in the USA being electric by 2030 is required). 'Setting lower bars' is the scam of the delayers that has so successfully developed the much more massively harmful and challenging current problem. The delayers need to lose some of their 'harmfully hard won status'.

    Perhaps another Policy Ask would be along the lines of: Have elected representatives removed from office, not rely on 'the next election' to correct things, if they make repeated public declarations, or take repeated actions, in their roles as leaders that are contrary to 'pursuing increased awareness and improved understanding of what is harmful and how to limit harm done and help those who need assistance' (if they show a resistance to learning to be less harmful). Alternative Truth based harmful misunderstandings need to be kept from influencing the actions of leaders.

  36. One Planet Only Forever at 07:36 AM on 17 June 2022
    Skeptical Science New Research for Week #23 2022

    The report “Cost increase in the electricity supply to achieve carbon neutrality in China” is indeed a robust evaluation of the likely future costs of electricity after the correction of the market failure free-riding by harmfully exploiting non-renewable fossil fuels. The resistance to rapid correction of the market failure is making the situation worse for the future generations than it has to be. And the most important, and most powerfully resisted (or attempted to be ignored), understanding is that energy consumption and other consumption, needs to be reduced with the highest per capita consumers leading the correction to less consumption. More ‘less harmful consumption’ can be worse that the status quo (a case in point is Alberta increasing oil sands operations excused by the new things having ‘lower emissions per unit of production’ while the already built stuff is permitted to continue be more harmful).

    The full evidence-based cost of harmlessly using fossil fuels (paying to fully neutralize the harm) should have been the market pricing requirement all along. The costs would have steadily increased as the evidence of the harms were identified (no need to try to develop popular support for imposing a carbon tax today). Instead the socioeconomic-political system failed by ‘permitting harm to be done’, then deeming that what was permitted cannot be made to be corrected in a way that is detrimental to those who had developed substantial benefits from the harmful activity.

    The current generation of humanity faces the daunting task of correcting the massively incorrectly produced results of that massive market system failure. And climate scientists have faced the challenge of being understood, being faced with vicious significant resistance to their improved understanding becoming common sense knowledge. Perceptions of advancement or superiority due to burning fossil fuels are harmful misleading if they can’t be continued without continued fossil fuel use. But demands that the ‘correction of the harmful results of the market failure’ must not reduce developed perceptions of advancement or superiority remain intensely irrationally harmfully popular.

    And, indeed, it is likely that the higher cost of electricity after the transition to net-zero would not just apply to China. The following is the electricity generation mix and electricity generation per capita for several nations (electricity generation data is from Our World in Data. Population data is from Worldometer):

    % Coal (fossil fuel generation/total generation TWh) [Total TWh/million]
    Norway 0.03% (<1.0/151=<0.7%) [151/5.42=27.9]
    Sweden 0% (2/171=1.2%) [171/10.1=16.9]
    Canada 5.5% (106/623=17%) [623/37.7=16.5]
    USA 21.6% (2509/4157=60%) [4157/331=12.6]
    Australia 50.8% (174/247=70%) [247/25.5=9.69]
    New Zealand 5.4% (10/45=22%) [45/4.8=9.4]
    France 1.05% (49/549=8.9%) [549/65.3=8.4]
    Germany 28.8% (272/574=47%) [574/83.8=6.85]
    China 63.6% (5664/8460=67%) [8460/1439=5.88]
    Denmark 15.1% (8/33.4=23%) [33.4/5.8=5.76]
    Italy 5% (167/283=59%) [283/60.5=4.68]
    South Africa 84.4% (198/230=86%) [230/59.3=3.88]
    Brazil 4.1% (120/640=19%) [640/213=3.0]
    India 73.7% (1313/1697=77%) [1697/1380=1.22]

    South Africa, India and Australia have high coal generation percentages like China. But all fossil fuel generation, not just coal, needs to be ended soon. And that indicates that the US, Italy and Germany also have a major generation transition challenge like China’s. And a significant concern could be the high per capita electricity generation of nations like Norway, Sweden and Canada.

    I listed the nations in order of electricity generation per capita for a reason. A better future, and advancement of humanity, can be understood to have less per capita energy use and less per capita consumption of resources. That ‘improvement understanding’ would require renewable energy systems to operating in ways that minimize consumption of non-renewable resources (ideally fully recycling the non-renewable resources) and not produce accumulating harmful consequences (no problems getting bigger). That would only be achieved by competition for popularity or profitability if there is significant monitoring and governing that pursues improved awareness and understanding of how to minimize harm done and help those needing assistance.

    But, of course, there is much more to understand about why electricity is being generated. The very high value in a nation like Norway may be close to being a valid minimum amount of electricity generation for a nation to have all of its members live at least a basic decent life. Alternatively, it could be due to large amounts of electricity used for an activity like fossil fuel extraction and exporting (like happens in Alberta, Canada where I live – a province with a population that is comparable to Norway). Given the history of free-market consumerism and aspirations for the luxuries of higher status, it is likely that a significant amount of unnecessary consumption is occurring in high electricity consuming nations like Norway (and regions like Alberta).

    Returning to the evaluation of the future situation in China. The study’s authors based their work on China’s 2050 annual electricity demand being 14,900 TWh (200.9 PWh is reported to be 13.5 times China’s 2050 electricity demand). For the current population of China that would be 10.3 TWh/million (on the high side of current consumption per capita). But the population in China is expected to peak soon and decline by 2050. The BBC Futures article "Could China’s population start falling?” indicates that China’s population may peak this year (or peaked last year) almost a decade earlier that forecasts made in 2019. The indicated 2021 population of 1412 million as the peak would mean China’s 2022 population will be 37 million lower than presented by WorldoMeter (which are based on UN Population Division estimates). And research referred to in the BBC Futures article indicates that China’s population peak will be followed by a decline of 1.1 percent per year (down to 587 million by 2100). That decline raises the question of the wisdom of over-building a more expensive to build renewable energy capacity if global total population will be declining soon (The recent report in The Lancet "Fertility, mortality, migration, and population scenarios for 195 countries and territories from 2017 to 2100: ..." indicates that global population is likely to peak at less than 10 billion near 2060).

    China’s population in 2050 would be approximately 1030 mllion (based on a peak of 1412 million in 2022 and an annual decline of 1.1%). That would mean an approximate 2050 electricity demand of 14,900/1030=14.5 TWh/million. That would put China up to the levels of the highest consuming nations rather than seeing China, and the highest consuming nations, target developing to be closer to 5-7 TWh/million.

    As indicated in the study report, renewable electricity will likely cost more. However, reducing energy demand will reduce some of the costs identified in the study. It would reduce the costs of excess demand for manufacturing components. It would also reduce the cost of system integration components. And reduced energy consumption would reduce the costs of a person’s lifestyle by having reduced energy to pay for and having that reduced amount of energy cost less.

    In Summary:

    Developing sustainable solutions is unlikely to happen if something easier and cheaper is allowed to compete and compromise the pursuit of doing things less harmfully and more sustainably. That aligns with a fundamental ethic of engineering – the limitations on the risk of harmful results are not to be compromised by something that is cheaper or easier. Anything failing to pass the ‘limits of harm’ requirements is not a viable alternative regardless of how much cheaper and easier it is to be more harmful. (note that a profit bias can harmfully compromise the limits of risk of harm that are established to govern the actions of engineers).

    It is important to be aware that sustainable ways of living almost always ‘Cost more and require more personal effort than getting away with harmful less sustainable alternatives’. The related understanding is that more sustainable ‘renewable energy’ can be expected to be more expensive than less sustainable alternatives, even if the alternatives are called ‘green solutions because of a claim that they do not produce ghg emissions’. Note that nuclear fission consumes non-renewable non-recyclable resources and produces accumulating harmful impacts).

    Also, this relates to the donut eating analogy for fossil fuels presented in the SkS OPs Planetary Dieticians and Planetary Diet:

    • In the developed system, equally enjoyable less harmful replacements for donuts will likely cost more than donuts. And they will also need to be limited because with the developed preferences of the system the alternatives to the donut will still be harmful or unsustainable.
    • Not everyone can have as much as they want. But some people will make the mistake of consuming more of the less harmful alternative because it is less harmful so more is OK isn’t it? The objective is zero harm. Not just less harm. And the objective certainly isn’t as much harm as you can afford, especially when Other people will be suffering the harm ‘you can afford’.
    • The most advanced highest status humans already have the ability to enjoy eating in ways that are significantly less harmful. But they also have to learn to live without harmful eating, ending their temptation to eat harmful things. And they con do it because they have access to the Best Dieticians and Personal Cooks to be able to enjoy nutritious harm free food and beverages. They can live donut free. But the poorest struggle to get their basic energy needs. And they can be stuck eating as much of whatever harmful anti-nutritious, understandably more harmful than beneficial, donuts they can find to eat. And some of the poor are so mistaken that they believe that they will have a better life if they eat more donuts (because they see the highest status people eat donuts).

    In spite of the harmful actions not being essential to survival for the highest status people, it is challenging to correct something that has developed a perception of being essential or, because of massive market failure, has become almost locked in as temporarily essential to survival. It is hard to correct harmful developments in competitions for popularity, profit, status and power. And it is even harder to take away the benefits, including the benefits of perception of higher status, that were obtained via the harmful unsustainable activity and related misunderstanding.

  37. A durable U.S. climate strategy … or a house of cards?

    "Will be with us for centuries. . . "


    I want to. . . Debunk this, one minute . . . 


    Too often youth movements are not seen as the catalysts of change that they are. 

    catalyst: ????????✔️

    a person or thing that precipitates an event.
    "the governor's speech acted as a catalyst for debate

    When, time and time again, the Old While Male wins a Utah election I'm thinking, "Oh, look, now it's raining all of their to do lists. . . And cats. . . ?"


    I'm saying. . . That. . . This problem will be with us for centuries is not really an accurate statement in the grand scheme of things when . . . "TIME" is a variable we are ALL aware of. 


    "What. . . Is. . . . This. . .? 

    If we lead you follow."



    One cognitive process that contributes to this effect is Confirmation Bias, where people selectively seek out information that bolsters their view. In one experiment, people were offered information on hot-button issues like gun control or affirmative action. Each parcel of information was labelled by its source, clearly indicating whether the information would be pro or con (e.g., the National Rifle Association vs. Citizens Against Handguns). Although instructed to be even-handed, people opted for sources that matched their pre-existing views. The study found that even when people are presented with a balanced set of facts, they reinforce their pre-existing views by gravitating towards information they already agree with. The polarisation was greatest among those with strongly held views.1

  38. One Planet Only Forever at 12:42 PM on 15 June 2022
    Planetary Dieticians

    This is a good analogy. However, building on my Planetary Diets comment, the context for the dietician’s work should be expanded to be working with multiple people. And one of the objectives would be to help reduce the collective harm of avoidable future demand for health care services or other needed future adaptations or attempts to repair the avoidable harm.

    In that context, the resistance of learning (lack of change of behaviour) of some patients would cause the dietician to pursue understanding of the likely developed motivations of the patients which would be influenced by the environment they developed in. Consumption-based competition driven by popularity and profit should be expected to develop powerful resistance to governing that would limit the pursuit of enjoyment and status. And it is worse if there is misleading marketing that scientifically tempts people to harmfully over-develop primal instinct-based harmful misunderstandings. That scientifically driven system of misleading marketing can promote desires for sweet, fat and salt in the pursuit of profitable popular harmful over-consumption. Examples include:

    • a culture development like the ‘Reward of Birthday Cake’ (the donut being like that reward)
    • enjoyment of salty snacks at a bar (causing you to desire more beverages)
    • a cultural development like being impressed by a large piece of unhealthy fatty meat (fatty fish in moderation can be a helpful part of a healthy diet)

    The dietician would become aware of the harmful desires for more consumption of whatever is perceived to be enjoyable or perceived to indicate higher status. Those desires could motivate people to resist changes that reduce their perceptions of enjoyment or status. And some people can become so harmfully tempted that they irrationally declare that they will only behave better if new things are developed that they perceive to be equally or more enjoyable, and cheaper and easier, than their harmful developed preference.

    If the individual is determined not to learn to limit harm done to themselves then there is little that the dietician can do to help them. Updated monitoring and explanations of the results will continue to be denied and dismissed until the patient personally suffers horrible consequences that shake them out of their developed pattern of desired harmful misunderstanding.

    That leads to understanding the dilemma of the reality of higher costs for renewable energy compared to the misleadingly low costs of fossil fuel energy. Fossil fuel costs are misleading because the costs do not fully neutralize the harmful impacts. The specific case of electricity is highlighted in “Cost increase in the electricity supply to achieve carbon neutrality in China” presented as the lead item on the Skeptical Science New Research for Week #23 2022. I will make a more extensive comment about that there.

  39. What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    macquigg - Sks space is refutation of myths with peer-reviewed science. Other sites dealt more effectively with political and economics. To my mind, a useful site for discussion of nuclear is one where nuclear scientists and engineers contribute and back their claims with peer-reviewed paper not references to blogs and opinion pieces. The opinions of practitioners vested in the industry are difficult to evaluate without peer review.

    The climate controversies were not helped by people without any domain knowledge (and often wikipedia-level physics) making wild speculations and theories. I dont think an accurate evaluation of risk and benefits of nuclear power is going to come from atmospheric physicists.

  40. What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    Michael, I have said nothing about the scientific consensus on nuclear power. Please stop trying to make me your strawman. This debate is not about me. I am here to collect critiques for the Discussion pages on some articles in Citizendium. To avoid long, inconclusive debates we are summarizing the best statement from each side, focusing on just one issue at a time. If you want to raise new issues, like “no long term repositories exist”, please make that a separate issue. I will add it to our numbered list.

    5) Lyman's statement about all MSRs requiring on-site processing. See my last statement on this issue at post 27. I did NOT claim that generally means all. Another strawman.
    I will assume from your response at post 34 that we agree, the quote from Lyman’s paper is complete, accurate and not taken out-of-context, and that the response from ThorCon’s engineer is factually correct.
    We disagree on how to interpret Lyman’s words “All MSRs chemically treat the fuel”, and “generally require on-site chemical plants”.
    Even if we alter the quote, changing “all” to “generally”, the ThorCon response is still correct: “ThorCon does no chemical processing online to remove fission products or anything else.” Also, I think the altered quote would still be untrue. I am familiar with three MSRs (ThorCon, Elysium’s FC-MSR, and LFTR). Only LFTR uses on-site chemical processing. I think we should leave the quote on Citizendium as is, and let the reader decide what it really means.

    2) Non-fuel waste
    I have just added this:
    Answer from World Nuclear Association discussion of Recycling and reuse of materials from decommissioning:
    Decommissioned steam generators from Bruce Power in Canada
    "These steam generators were each 12m long and 2.5m diameter, with mass 100 tonnes, and contained some 4g of radionuclides with about 340 GBq of activity. Exposure was 0.08 mSv/hr at one metre." This compares to a chest x-ray (0.02 mSv) or the minimum exposure to show a measurable increase in cancer risk (100 mSv) XKCD Radiation Chart

    I am still trying to get numbers on the ThorCon reactor. I have talked to engineers at ThoCon and one who was in charge of decommissioning a big PWR. They tell me that the irradiated steel is not a big problem. Cutting is done underwater, and the pieces are handled the same as spent fuel. Nobody is being evasive here. We just can’t get experienced nuclear engineers to jump only a few days after kerfuffle in academia.

    You said I “cannot find anyone who can contradict [the Krall] paper in the PNAS written and peer reviewed by experts with over 200 years of experience designing reactors.” I gave you two links in comments 9 and 10 above. Here is another: - response from David LeBlanc, Chief Technology Officer, Terrestrial Energy; “IMSR’s actual predicted thermal neutron flux at the reactor vessel is over 1,000 times lower.” than Krall assumes.

    Who are these reactor designers you say reviewed the paper? Apparently not the engineers familiar with the designs. The reviews are still rolling in, and Dan Yurman is updating his webpage:
    Stanford's Questionable Study on Spent Nuclear Fuel for SMRs | Neutron Bytes


    4) Material resources. I have posted your question on beryllium to our Discussion page. On the hafnium question, do we really need to worry about this? Do you really think reactors can't be built with some other material in the control rods? Are you aware that some MSRs don't even have control rods? Helium is not an issue for this reactor.
    Uranium supply should be a whole separate issue. WNA has a section on Uranium Resources:

    6) The NuScale controversy. Looks to me like a miscommunication over an issue that doesn't really matter. They are arguing about maybe a factor of two at most in a small volume of waste that is easily managed. Let’s put this question aside until we resolve #2, and let’s stop calling people dishonest.



  41. UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models and/or surface temperature data sets are wrong

    knaugle @4&5,

    As we are commenting on SkS, perhaps it would be appropriate to note that Cowtan's "Temperature plotter" is one of the resources provided here at SkS.
    And do note that UAH TLTv5.6 data only runs to July 2017 so any trend comparison using more recent dates (so an end date beyond 2017.6) will be comparing apples and oranges. For Jan 2000 to Jul 2017 HadCRUT5 (not on the trend engine) yields a trend of +0.226ºC/decade, pretty-much as per GISS & BEST.

    You note the OP above hasn't been updated for a while. The 20 min video mentioned by Eclectic @6 doesn't really explain why UAH TLT 5.2 evolved into UAH TLT 5.6 and then into UAH TLTv6.0. And at one point the video actually uses the table shown in Fig 1 of the OP above.

    Post-v5.2 (& I am no expert but if you are interested there is a UAH log of work done which shows one side of it), the evolution of UAH TLT to become 5.6 apparently does still include being driven by folk outside UAH observing problems and the UAH folk taking a long time to notice and to admit it was a problem and then to correct the problem.
    Thus v5.3 arrived in 2010 addressing a spurious annual cycle which had been known about in 2008 but apparently first spotted back in 2003.
    But much of the difficulty and thus the incrementing versions is down to the performance of individual satellites.
    UAH TLTv6.0 appeared in 2015 and strangely UAH are more interested in proclaiming a new lower rate of warming than explaining what the new version is adressing. But perhaps not so strange if you watch that video.

  42. michael sweet at 12:54 PM on 14 June 2022
    What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?


    You are mistaken.  Scientists overwhelmingly oppose nuclear power.  The last group studying future energy systems that supported nuclear power gave up on nuclear in 2021.  The debate is over.  Abbott 2012 is accepted by the scientific community.

    2) Krall et al 2022 have shown that small reactors generate much more radioactive waste and it is a disastrous problem.  We have not even discussed  Krall's claim that the fuel waste from many modular reactors cannot be processed and stored in currently planned long term repositories (no long term repositories exist).  You cannot find anyone who can contradict a paper in the PNAS written and peer reviewed by experts with over 200 years of experience designing reactors.

    4) There are many elements that are in short supply besides beryllium.  Helium and uranium come to mind immediately.  Your reference on uranium is incorrect.  Abbott 2012 shows that the energy used to mine low grade ores is greater than the energy you get from the reactor.

    5) You claim that when Lyman says "MSRs generally require on-site chemical plants" he means "all MSRs".  Generally doesn't mean all.  Generally means most of the time, not all.  You are completely wrong.

    It is impossible to have a rational discussion when you insist generally means all.

    6) Nuscale accused Krall et al of having an error in their paper.  That is a very serious claim in science.  Nuscale was completely incorrect.  Their error was massive.  Their letter was not written in good faith.  I note that the Nuscale letter would not have passed peer review.

  43. TheRationalView at 12:34 PM on 14 June 2022
    What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    nuclear waste is a non issue  when compared to any other power source.  Power density is orders of magnitude higher so the ecological footprint is much smaller. 

    Good rebuttal about SMR waste argument at 10:12

    Fossil fuel burning creates climate change and aerosols

    hydro creates mercury in the food chain

    solar and wind have short lifetimes and their manufacturing stream has a significant chemical waste footprint.

  44. A durable U.S. climate strategy … or a house of cards?

    "Stopping greenhouse gas pollution will require a complete transformation of the way the global community produces and uses energy. We cannot achieve that goal without sustained efforts on many fronts: technological, scientific, socioeconomic and political."

    Correct, and that's the key problem, because it requires literally hundreds of simultaneous changes and solutions, and this appears to be more than humans and our institutions can cope with mentally. Otherwise we would have made much more progress by now.

    Imagine if one technological thing could fix the whole climate problem, and I think people would support that even if it cost them significant money. Its a mentally digestable sort of thing and clear cut. But we don't have that, so we are struggling.

  45. What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    scaddenp, the battle against climate science deniers has been won, and SkS played a major role. Even the oil companies are now promoting wind and solar. The war against global warming is much bigger than that one battle.  Climate scientists should play a major role, even if they don't understand the technical details of nuclear power. Very few of the critical issues require that level of understanding. e.g. a civil engineer building inspector could verify the safety of many of the new designs. SkS should expand its role in this debate.

  46. What role for small modular nuclear reactors in combating climate change?

    BraveNewClimate was blog that discussed nuclear issues and had that focus. It attracted people with the appropriate expertise which contributors did not have. Sks has been about refuting denier arguments with published science. Arguments about nuclear energy potential seldom focus on any published science so it would be hard to see how Sks could work in that space effectively. Moderation is rather informal - moderators are people who read Sks and skim the new comments. If you arent interested in the nuclear debate, then probably skimmed too quickly for effective moderation.

  47. UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models and/or surface temperature data sets are wrong

    Knaugle , this very issue is addressed by the science journalist "Potholer54" in his latest Youtube climate video.  Video dated 19 March 2022, and titled "A close look at Roy Spencer's claims on global warming".  (Duration 20 minutes  ~  and is number 59 in his climate series.)

    The video lacks the usual humorous touch by Potholer54 . . . possibly because it leans more towards discussing Spencer's intransigence - the failure to acknowledge the validity of the mainstream climate science (owing to Spencer's religious fundamentalist belief that the Earth's climate is ultimately under divine control).

  48. One Planet Only Forever at 04:15 AM on 14 June 2022
    Planetary Diets

    This is a good analogy for part of the fuller more complex issue of climate science. But it is missing some important aspects of the increased awareness and understanding of what is happening and the required changes and adaptations.

    It has taken some time to reduce this to the following comment on this post. I intend to provide related ‘complementary or convergent’ comments on the Planetary Dieticians post and the “Cost increase in the electricity supply to achieve carbon neutrality in China.” item that is the lead in to the Skeptical Science New Research for Week #23 2022

    A important awareness/understanding to be included is that the harmful climate impact problem is the result of the collective of personal actions. Everybody’s actions add up to be the future, and invariably impact Others. Climate science understanding is that the consequences of the climate change impact actions, the benefits and harms, are unfairly experienced. The ones who benefit most from the harm done generally will not suffer a commensurate amount (most) of the harm. What is happening is a reality that is a nasty version of the Corsican Brothers fictional tale. The Brother enjoying something feels little harm. Significant harm and little of the enjoyment is experienced by the Other Brother. It is also important to understand that those suffering climate impact harm include all the people of the future who have no influence today (which is a major part of the reason that the problem has not been seriously addressed in societies governed by current perceptions of popularity and status). That is a very important difference from presenting the case that an individual, or group, is only harming themselves by their actions.

    A less significant point to include is that the type of donut consumed can also be understood to make a difference. But changing to lower calorie types only reduces the rate of the problem. Ending the donut eating is what is required along with actions by the donut eater to undo the damage done by the donut consumption.

    That understanding connects to the unhelpful and harmful, but valid, claims that people will only change what they do after what they have developed a liking for is able to be replaced by something they see as being as enjoyable, cheaper and easier. Many people have learned things like ‘not to drive dangerously’ or ‘not to hit Other people’ or ‘not to litter’ without the development of an equally enjoyable alternative that was cheaper or easier (and some people did not even require the threat of penalties to learn to be less harmful and more helpful).

    A serious problem is the people who resist learning from the advice of experts -> related comment in Planetary Dieticians.

  49. UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models and/or surface temperature data sets are wrong

    Sorry, a bit more.  I agree GISS and Berkeley show higher warming, but the delta is about half large as what UAH 6.0 shows.  I guess it depends what one would call "reasonable".

    Regardless, this page is very dated, ending at ver. 5.2.

  50. UAH atmospheric temperatures prove climate models and/or surface temperature data sets are wrong

    MA Rodger @3

    What I have to go on was David Cowtan's Univ. York Temperature plotter.  For 2000 to 2018, UAH 5.6 reported warming of +0.193°C/decade.
    Global set HadCRUT4krigv2 had +0.191°C/decade.  That seems reasonably close to me.  I have not seen what HadCRUT5 says.

    Meanwhile UAH 6.0 gives +0.141°C/decade since 2000.  That seems a big downward drop.  I imagine different time frames could vary the comparison, but when I used WoodForTrees to plot them all in 20,30, & 40 year increments, UAH 6.0 always stands out.  5.6 not so much.

    Cowtan's Univ. of York Temperature Plotter

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