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Climate Hustle

What should we do about climate change?

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Kevin Judd

A short piece for the general audience of RTR radio, Perth, Australia.
(listen to the original audio podcast)

Climate scientists are telling us that the earth is warming, we are causing it, and we should reduce carbon dioxide emissions to lessen the effects. So what should we do?

Firstly, we should either use less energy, or use renewable energy sources, like solar-thermal generators that are now providing energy in Europe more cheaply than Nuclear generators, without the waste products. In Australia, peak energy demand is on hot summer days, when solar energy is most abundant; it makes no sense to not use solar energy to help meet this peak demand.

Most importantly, we must stop listening to disinformation. Contrary arguments have been repeatedly shown to be false and misleading. Claims that climate change is a hoax, or a conspiracy, or that climate scientists have deceived the public, is an inversion of the truth. Climate change denial is the propaganda. Ninety seven percent of scientists agree climate change is happening. The peer-reviewed evidence is overwhelming. The time for scepticism about climate change has past.

Scepticism is a good thing, all scientists are sceptics. I always encourage people to critically examine evidence and motivations. A good place to begin is the following. What is more plausible? That thousands of scientists have been fabricating evidence and theory for over a hundred years in a conspiracy to achieve, well, what exactly? Or that industries and their partners are sponsoring a disinformation campaign because they stand to lose billions of dollars in profits, if people should use less, or alternative forms of, energy? Ask yourself who stands to lose the most if the scientists' warnings are acted on? Then ask yourself who stands to lose the most if scientists' warnings are not acted on.

And keep in mind that the costs of prevention now is less than the cost of trying to fix the damage later

LISTEN TO THE AUDIO PODCAST

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Comments 201 to 250 out of 380:

  1. This was just posted on the BraveNewClimate web site by DV82XL, a Canadian contributor, and I thought some readers here might be intersted in the comment:

    @Gallopingcamel – First, and we have gone over this, there is no question that nuclear energy is less expensive if coal were held financially responsible for its environmental footprint, if only at the combustion end of the line. If every coal burner were forced to implement CCS, and vitrification of its ash stream , they would be out of business tomorrow.

    That they are not held fully accountable is the result of of a lack of legislation making them so, and that is a political issue, not an economic one. Trying to take an end run around this with some grand new design of NNP is just not going to work.

    Look. I have been in this fight for a very long time. I was active long before there was any talk of a nuclear renaissance – a time when one was regarded as slightly crazy even for considering nuclear energy as anything except undiluted evil. Thus those of us that were interested enough, and motivated enough, came to support nuclear energy for good solid technical reasons, and because we could think for ourselves.

    Yet I learned that attempting to appeal to reason only convinced a very limited number of people, and they would have probably convinced themselves, had they bothered to look into the subject prior. Attempting logic and facts with the doctrinaire antinuclear zombies, provoked not anger from them, but only giggles, so incapable were they of independent thought. And those that were in nether of the above groups had been so thoroughly brainwashed with the precautionary principal, and nonproliferation propaganda that they were unreachable without a lot of effort.

    Things have changed. The climate, has become the collective worry for the future, replacing thermonuclear Armageddon, and without much effort from our side, people are beginning to give nuclear energy a more nuanced look, more so than they have for decades. The antinuclear movement had become complacent and had not overhauled their arguments for years, and it shows.

    So it looks like nuclear energy might have a second chance.Great. But now everyone that was out in the cold designing reactors, planning fuel cycles, and such thinks that they have a shot, and are cutting each others throats attempting to sell their vision of how nuclear energy should be developed. Meanwhile they are loosing sight of the fact that the war is far from being won, and our enemies are regrouping.

    Right now it is a political duel between nuclear power and coal power – just look around the world – the countries with the most rabid (and effective) antinuclear movements are the ones with major coal sectors, (China excepted) this is not a coincidence. The coal industry is using their right to employ money-amplified free speech to persuade the world that nuclear energy is evil and that continued use of their product is mankind’s wisest course of action. This is where the fight is.

    The problem is this is a big enough battle as it is, and we do not have the advantage of having a huge industry behind us. So what is our response? To balkanize ourselves into camps backing one new technology or another, losing the support of what little backing we had from the established industry, and diluting the effort to build new reactors which at this point is the only practical path open to us.

    To do this we must win the hearts and minds of the masses, and you will not do that by floating technical arguments, and you won’t do that writing checks with your mouth that you expect your undeveloped designs to cash.

    We have to be out there vilifying coal and salving the fears people have with nuclear, as it is now. The future will come, it will, but not until the groundwork has been laid, and nuclear power is brought in from the cold.
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  2. quokka #199: Like Peter Lang, you are disputing an argument which was never advanced. The safety of nuclear vs fossil fuels is not in question.

    I had thought of the hydro dam possibility, but the potential death toll from a nuclear accident is just as great if not moreso. You cite Chernobyl, but that had a population of only about 14,000. A disaster like that, even if only likely to be triggered by some other catastrophe such as an attack or earthquake, in a major city would be far worse.

    And the primary point continues to be that disputing the safety of solar and wind in comparison to nuclear is just pathetic.
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  3. quokka,

    The New York Academy of Sciences says that earlier estimates "have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments."

    IEEE Spectrum: One Million Chernobyl Fatalities?

    Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment

    The Banqiao and Shimantan Dam failures in 1975 were not an act of terrorism, but the result of a once in 2,000 year flood. The dams that were intentionally destroyed were coordinated for the purpose of protecting other dams by channeling the flood waters away.

    After the waters receded, the affected areas could be repopulated. The rebuilding project was finished in 1993 with an increased capacity. There is still a 30 kilometer area around the Chernobyl site that is cordoned off and patrolled by military forces, and an estimated five million people live in areas contaminated with radionuclides from the event.
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  4. CBDunkerson

    "And the primary point continues to be that disputing the safety of solar and wind in comparison to nuclear is just pathetic.

    What I think is pathetic is that you are not prepared to open your mind and understand. Why didn’t you answer the questions I put to you in #177, #178, #179. If you did, and read ant tried to understand the links I provided, you might begin to understand why nuclear is about the safest of all electricity generation technologies on a properly comparable basis. Nuclear is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal for generating electricity as you can appreciate from figure 1 in the link I provided. I point this out because coal is the only other technology, realistically, that can provide the electricity modern society demands.

    Just humour me and follow through on the energy risk analysis. Stop assuming you are correct before you’ve done some homework.
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  5. @203

    "Chernobyl: the true scale of the accident", by World Health Organisation
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  6. "Politics is the art of the possible" and given the political climate it is impossible to sell the mass building of nuclear reactors. The public is prepared, at the moment, to pay extra for solar and wind. Give it another 20 years when temperatures are still rising and the, at present 70-year-old, skeptics have reduced in number and volume a larger program of building reactors will probably take place.
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  7. I agree with MichaelM, and cannot understand how anyone can be advocating the relaxation of rules and regulations concerning nuclear builds - that is definitely the best way to put people off, especially if they believe they don't have a proper say about whether a nuclear power plant is going to be built in their own vicinity.

    And I still think there is something not right about a power source which leaves a by-product that has to be buried deep underground, and which leads to headlines like this in the UK :

    Lake District identified as prime site for burial of nuclear waste
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  8. Did I mention that renewables also contribute to lower electricity prices? When they contribute to the grid, they lower the spot price as the most expensive other sources go off-line.

    The claim that you need "excessive" back up capacity for renewables is also a straw man, as you need similar back up capacity for conventional power stations.
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  9. @Peter Lang: is your link supposed to tell us Chernobyl was no biggie? Because reading it sure doesn't make it sound like a breeze. Hint: thyroid cancer is no fun, even if you don't die from it.

    @GallopingCamel: so, you've gone from skeptic who didn't believe in CO2 warming the globe to gung-ho advocate of nuclear power as a way to reduce CO2 emissions. Did I miss something, here? Did Koch Industries buy a whole lot of shares in Nuclear companies? (I kid, I kid...)

    "As you said, wind, solar and photo-voltaic sound great in theory but fail dismally when implemented on a large scale as in Denmark, Spain and Germany."

    Yeah, except they don't.

    @quokka: the problem with Chinese dams is that they are often built in regions with high population densities. I'm not sure there'd be a lot of deaths if one of the dams in Northern Quebec was blown up, for example...

    @Eric (skeptic): Germans don't mind subsidizing renewables, which is why they're happy with the current push for solar energy. Don't let nuclear power fanatics tell you otherwise.
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  10. Estimates of health effects of Chernobyl vary and it is difficult to attribute the exact cause of any cancer.

    However, also consider the economic impact: However, the magnitude of the impact is clear from a variety of government
    estimates from the 1990s, which put the cost of the accident, over two decades, at
    hundreds of billions of dollars.6
    The scale of the burden is clear from the wide range of costs incurred, both direct and indirect:
    — Direct damage caused by the accident;
    — Expenditures related to:
    • Actions to seal off the reactor and mitigate
    the consequences in the exclusion zone;
    • Resettlement of people and construction
    of new housing and infrastructure to
    accommodate them;
    • Social protection and health care provided to the affected population;
    • Research on environment, health and production of clean food;
    • Radiation monitoring of the environment; and
    • Radioecological improvement of settlements and disposal of radioactive waste.
    — Indirect losses relating to the opportunity cost of removing agricultural land and
    forests from use and the closure of agricultural and industrial facilities; and
    — Opportunity costs, including the additional costs of energy resulting from the loss
    of power from the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the cancellation of Belarus’s nuclear
    power programme.
    Coping with the impact of the disaster has placed a huge burden on national budgets...


    Total spending by Belarus on Chernobyl between 1991 and 2003 is estimated at more than
    US $13 billion.

    Taken from
    Another WHO report
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  11. JMurphy,

    “I agree with MichaelM, and cannot understand how anyone can be advocating the relaxation of rules and regulations concerning nuclear builds - that is definitely the best way to put people off, especially if they believe they don't have a proper say about whether a nuclear power plant is going to be built in their own vicinity.”

    We require nuclear to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal? Why? We accept the safety of coal, so why do we demand that nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer?

    If the cost of the higher levels of safety was not an issue, then of course we would want it. But by running up the cost, as we have done, we make it more expensive than coal. Then it is uneconomic. So we stick with coal which causes 10 to 100 times more health effects and fatalities than nuclear per MWh.

    How dumb is that?

    Not only that, we continue to do so because of a phobia of all things nuclear.

    And the same people who call climate sceptics “deniers” practice denial themselves.
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  12. archiesteel, (#209),
    Burning fossil fuels makes very poor use of an important resource and that is why I advocate building a large nuke each week or a small nuke each day.

    In the long run fission power is inevitable unless something even better such as fusion (Hot or Cold?) comes along. This is simply a matter of economics based on the fact that fission fuel reserves dwarf fossil fuel reserves.
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  13. @Peter Lang: "We require nuclear to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal? Why? We accept the safety of coal, so why do we demand that nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer?"

    Because the potential threat is higher as well. The greater the threat, the higher the security threshold must be. Anyone would be more concerned about the safe handling of C4 as opposed to some firecrackers...

    "And the same people who call climate sceptics “deniers” practice denial themselves."

    Wait, aren't you one of the people who'd call climate skeptics "deniers" as well? I mean, you *do* believe that AGW theory is correct, right? Following your logic, wouldn't that mean you're in denial yourself?
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  14. Peter Lang: Can anybody name any non-nuclear power generation accidents?

    Not building nuclear power plants is certainly irrational but the level of public protest against building a nuclear vs coal powerstation does not bear comparision so it is no surprise that more nuclear plants are not built. If you want to confront protesters with your shouts of "But it's 100 times safer than coal!" feel free. It's not comparisons of safety that the public make but comparisons of fear. "Which is more scary, coal or nuclear?" has long been answered by the public to the detriment of the latter.

    It's not the people at this website who plan power station building, it is the politicians who think that renewables are the sole solution. In 20 years time when a large number of renewable projects have been built even Greenpeace will grudgingly accept the necessity of nuclear as part of the solution.

    As for the practice of denial I don't think that 'our side' is immune but I would hope that they would be more likely to admit it and change when presented with evidence and not rhetoric. If we didn't follow the evidence we wouldn't be here engaging the skeptics. I favour solutions that recognize reality and that is that nuclear is not going to happen yet, not a fantasy land where building renewables is going to stop and we are all going to begin a massive nuclear program. It is that reality that you seem be be in denial of.
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  15. @gallopingcamel: what about decentralized power production by consumer-producers, which wind and solar power allow?

    Isn't it better to spread out power production, using the same philosophy as the Internet, and empowering citizens in the process, or do you only support large corporations?
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  16. As someone trained in "Radiation Safety" and with years of experience overseeing operations involving radiation at lethal levels, I have the greatest respect for safety issues.

    Today's nuclear power plants are demonstrably much safer than any of the alternatives available, including wind power. No professionals in the nuclear power industry are advocating reducing radiation safety standards; all we want is for the licensing process to be made comparable with the regulations covering fossil fuel plants.
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  17. #198: "fail dismally when implemented on a large scale as in Denmark, Spain and Germany."

    The study used to show Denmark's wind 'failed dismally' appears to be a product of the same fossil fuel industry lobby mentioned in #196.

    A press release from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) indicated that it had commissioned the report ...

    If there is a flaw in the Danish system, it would seem to be an obvious fix: Return the revenue from exported power to the consumer.
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  18. Peter Lang wrote : "We require nuclear to be 10 to 100 times safer than coal? Why? We accept the safety of coal, so why do we demand that nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer?"

    Well, that's quite a range you have there - is that for different countries ? And anyway, coal plants are there now but perhaps might not be in certain locations if present-day regulations had been in force when they were originally built, and that would be fine by me. Would you be happy to have limited regulations for all dirty/dangerous power plants or only for nuclear ones ?

    But, even so, an accident in any nuclear power plant has got to have the potential to be at least anywhere between 10 to 100 times worse, if the worst were to happen. Or can you guarantee that the worst won't happen ?

    Plus, looking for lists of industrial accidents, mainly in the energy sector, the list for nuclear is a long one - the only similar comparisons for scale of disaster come with the coal and oil industries. I have yet to find any lists of disasters with regard to the renewable sector.

    List of Industrial Disasters

    List of Civilian Nuclear Accidents

    List of Civilian Radiation Accidents

    Who would rather be living next to a nuclear power plant than any other form of energy plant, if the worst were to happen ?
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  19. @Peter #160

    Why do you believe replacing coal power stations with nuclear (in an economically rational way) is not effective at cutting emissions? It is proven that it works. See France for example.


    I looked up France

    Carbon dioxide emissions rise slightly despite reduction efforts

    Despite having 80% of their power generated by nuclear plants, France's carbon dioxide emissions have increased slightly between 1990 and 2007. Obviously, France will not be able to obtain much more CO2 reductions from deploying even more nuclear power.

    The article states: “Had there been zero economic growth during the same period, carbon dioxide output would have decreased by more than 30 percent.”

    I think this is exactly the point I want to make. You cannot look at these things in isolation. You cannot suppose one parameter will change and the rest will stay constant. Economic growth, energy efficiency, population growth are all connected. Using energy more efficiently will result in an overcapacity in energy, which will result in more economic growth, which results in a netto increase in the energy demand. Therefore nuclear (or green energy) will – according to me – not result in a decrease of CO2 emissions. But I am willing to listen to any argument, any proof that proves me wrong.


    Why do you believe CCS would be more direct than replacing coal with nuclear (or any economically viable low emission technology that would be capable of replacing coal)?


    OK, to illustrate the difference between a direct and an indirect approach: the hole in the ozone layer is a problem that has threatened mankind, but it is a problem that was effectively solved by internationally coordinated actions (that should give us at least some hope that the climate problem can be solved as well, although it is much more complex).

    In this case, a direct approach was taken: prohibit the use of CFCs that break down the ozone in the atmosphere.
    An indirect approach could be: allow CFCs, but promote the use of alternatives, and hope that in the end no manufacturer is going to use CFCs anymore.

    You understand the difference ? The first approach works. The second approach might work. Or it might not.

    Similarly, promoting either green energy or nuclear energy is at best an indirect approach to reduce CO2 emissions. It doesn’t guarantee that global CO2 emissions will be lower (and until now, worldwide CO2 emissions are still rising).
    Nuclear energy will only ultimately reduce global CO2 emissions if
    - for every nuclear plant that is built, effectively a fossil fuel plant is shut down (and not just adding nuclear plants to the total installed power)
    - AND: if the fossil fuel that is saved this way doesn’t get burnt in another place. F.i. decreasing demand leads to decreasing fossil fuel prices, and as a result some power plant in Tajikistan will burn more fossil fuel.

    On the other hand, CCS effectively catches CO2 and removes it from the cycle, permanently. Or I should rather say, before I get corrected: CCS effectively prevents new carbon from entering the cycle. (By the way, France has coal plants with CCS as well).

    The earth/human society/the economy is a complex system of communicating vessels. The only thing that matters in the end is not how much CO2 reduction we can get from one power plant, but the global amount of CO2 reduction we can achieve. The common assumption is: many small measures will result in one big change. My question is: Is that so ?

    Why do you believe that CCS can remove 85% to 90% of CO2 emissions?

    That's what CCS manufacturers claim. Perhaps it can’t. The point is: for every ton of CO2 that enters the atmosphere, a ton should be removed. CCS is a really good start, since it removes CO2 at the source: where it is produced.


    What is the real reason you are anti-nuclear. I challenge you to challenge your beliefs - your underlying fears.

    You may not have noticed it, but for the sake of my argument, nuclear and green energy are exactly the same: they are what is called in economics “substitutes” for fossil fuel. A substitute may replace an earlier product. Or it may not. It depends on a lot of conditions (whether the substitute is actually better, cheaper, and of course it depends on the demand for the good).

    I have indeed issues with nuclear energy, but in this discussion they are irrelevant. Firstly, you need to prove that a solution actually works to solve a problem. If it does, we can discuss about advantages and disadvantages. If it doesn't work, it doesn't make sense to discuss any further.
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  20. CBD: "And the primary point continues to be that disputing the safety of solar and wind in comparison to nuclear is just pathetic."

    Peter Lang: "Nuclear is some 10 to 100 times safer than coal for generating electricity..."

    I say X, you dispute Y. So long as you continue to do this intelligent conversation is literally impossible.
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  21. MunichRe seem to think it worthwhile insuring the risks involved in achieving 100% renewable energy. Would they really be considering this if they believed they were going to lose money ? Or do they think that the losses would be less than those involved in pay-outs due to increasing global warming ?
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  22. #221: "insuring the risks involved in achieving 100% renewable energy."

    Turns out its not the renewable technology that's the problem for Germany, its the EU's wacky trading system.

    As more wind turbines go online, coal plants will be able to reduce their output. This in itself is desirable -- but the problem is that the total number of available CO2 emission certificates remains the same. In other words, there will suddenly be more certificates per kilowatt of coal energy. That means the price per ton of CO2 emitted will fall. ... As a result, there was very little incentive for big energy companies to invest in climate friendly technologies. -- der Spiegel, 2/2009

    That means that viable technology for GHG reduction must overcome not just the technical issues, but must also fight an economic/political headwind as well.
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  23. archiesteel (#215),
    I am a sucker for all kinds of de-centralized energy efficient technologies. I had compact fluorescents when they were only available from Amway; I have an electric car and am looking seriously at roof top PV which almost makes sense here in Florida. While these things are great fun they simply cannot compare with nuclear power when it comes to reducing CO2 emissions on a vast scale.
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  24. Archiesteel, @213,

    You have revealed you do not have the most basic understanding of what 'risk' means. I've pointed you to What is Risk? A simple explanation about five times so far and it is clear than you and others either haven't even bothered to read it or you haven't understood it.
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  25. Ann

    "Despite having 80% of their power generated by nuclear plants, France's carbon dioxide emissions have increased slightly between 1990 and 2007."

    You have misundersood, again!

    I was referring to the emissions from electricity, not from all sources.

    I've been referring to emissions from electricity all along, as I have repeatedly stated. France's emissions from electricity are near zero. France's total emissions from electricity generation are about the same as from just two of Australia's power staions!

    The point I am making is that if we allowclean electricity to be cheap, it will displace oil for transport and gas for heating and, therefore, reduce emissions from all fossil fuel use.

    We can do this by removing the impediments to clean electricity generation. We need to establish a truely level playing field for electriticy generation technologies. Remove all the ridiculous impediments we've placed to block nuclear and to support all other industries, especially fossil fuels.

    In an earlier post I gave a list of some of the most obvious impediments to nuclear and support for the other technologies.
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  26. CB Dunkerson

    "I say X, you dispute Y. So long as you continue to do this intelligent conversation is literally impossible."

    I agree with this statement. So perhaps you should go back and reread my post 204. Don't pick out on sentence and quote it out of context.

    I've answered you. You have not answered me.
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  27. formatting of previous post got messed up. Moderator: please delet it.

    Ann @219

    “OK, to illustrate the difference between a direct and an indirect approach: the hole in the ozone layer is a problem that has threatened mankind, ..

    In this case, a direct approach was taken: prohibit the use of CFCs that break down the ozone in the atmosphere.
    An indirect approach could be: allow CFCs, but promote the use of alternatives, and hope that in the end no manufacturer is going to use CFCs anymore.”


    I agree with the direct approach. But that is not what you are proposing when you advocate CCS and renewables but not nuclear. You are advocating that society (government) picks the technologies to use.

    Direct approach would be to restrict CO2 emissions.

    I oppose picking technology winners. I gave you reasons why CCS is a ridiculous approach to take.

    Instead, I’d suggest, as a first step we should remove all the impediments to low cost clean electricity generation. That could be done relatively quickly if we wanted to. Our governments could remove the blocks and send a clear message to investors that nuclear is wanted urgently; we could move start making real progress.

    Such a change of policy woiuld be most effective and would take effect fastets if it was led by those who have most strongly opposed it in the past (Left aligned political groups and the environmental NGO’s – the same ones who are most alarmist about the dangers of climate change)
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  28. Moderator: Formatting worng again. Sorry. I am not sure what I did wrong.
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  29. Ann,
    It goes against the grain to support France but when it comes to CO2 policy they are being unfairly treated. Take a look at this link:

    http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/10/25/2060-nuclear-scenarios-p4/

    The comments by Tom Blees address some of your concerns and explain why France is not getting any credit for their achievements in reducing CO2 emissions.
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  30. @Peter Lang: "You have revealed you do not have the most basic understanding of what 'risk' means. I've pointed you to What is Risk? A simple explanation about five times so far and it is clear than you and others either haven't even bothered to read it or you haven't understood it."

    You didn't point me to that a single time (you did point CBDunkerson and possibly others to it, but I don't have time to read all the messages). Considering that you yourself have chosen not to respond to some of my arguments (such as the ability for individuals to produce and sell surplus solar/wind energy to power companies), I don't see why I should respond to arguments you have used in discussion with others.

    The fact you are wrong on something that simple (which link you've given to who) makes me question why we should trust you on more complex matters.

    In any case, as far as risk goes: an environmental catastrophe such as Chernobyl is not possible with Wind or Solar power. Furthermore, why do you insiste on gas generators as backup for wind/solar? Why not a nuclear solution for that as well?

    Again, I don't think any of us are against use of nuclear power. What we're objecting to is your "nothing but nuclear" approach. It's hard to have a rational conversation with someone who is so clearly biased.

    Also, for the record, can you state whether or not you agree with AGW theory? The fact you won't also makes your whole intervention suspect.
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  31. @gallopingcamel: "I am a sucker for all kinds of de-centralized energy efficient technologies."

    That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about private individuals producing electricity through renewables, and selling the excess production to power companies. Please explain to me how I can do this with nuclear.
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  32. archiesteel,

    The reason I don't bother answering your question about private individuals selling power to the grid and thinking that that is a solution to our energy supply problems is because it is so silly it is not worth trying to discuss it. If you want to know why, go to Brave New Climate and find out. Or have a go at crunching the numbers yourself. It is impossible to explain to people with strong beliefs but no understanding of any of the fundamentsla od energy generation, transmission, distribution, costs, financing and importantly no sense of proportion.
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  33. @Peter Lang: did I say it was the solution to our energy supply? No, I didn't. Why should I trust anything you say when you put words in people's mouth?

    As for being "so silly it's not worth discussing it," that's just a cop-out and you know it. The fact is that, right now, Germany's power grid is being put under stress by such independent producers. Is this sufficient for our energy needs? Of course not. We need a mixed solution: large-scale and decentralized solar/wind power production, hydro-electrical *and* nuclear. Also, small-scale independent producers can benefit from this - why would you prevent the little guy from doing his part *and* benefiting from it at the same time? Because it means less money for Big Nuclear?

    It's quite clear you have a pro-nuclear agenda. You've made that abundantly clear through your repetitively arrogant posts. You've also proved to all of us here that you're a *terrible* salesman for nuclear.

    Oh, and I'm not going to grace Brave New Climate with hits. I would have, but you've completely turned me off by using them as your primary source over and over again. As I said, you make a very poor spokesperson for nuclear. I truly hope you're not an industry shill, because if you are someone is not getting his/her money's worth.

    "It is impossible to explain to people with strong beliefs"

    I don't have strong beliefs. In fact, as I've repeatedly stated, I'm in favor of Nuclear being part of a mixed solution. That, however, does not fit into your "only nuclear" propaganda, and so you are now trying to discredit me and ridicule my position.
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  34. By the way, I will not respond directly to you until you say whether or not you agree with AGW theory. I'm starting you're only trying to recuperate the concern people have with CO2 to make your industry more appealing.
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  35. #233 archiesteel

    "Oh, and I'm not going to grace Brave New Climate with hits".

    That's your loss really. RealClimate (Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann et al) have no problem linking to BNC. It's run by Prof Barry Brook - Director of Climate Science, University of Adelaide.

    Sites such as SkepticalScience and RealClimate have done an absolutely invaluable service in increasing public understanding of climate and in particular SkepticalScience is the go to place for dealing with denialist nonsense that is forever mutating into new forms.

    But unfortunately, while there is a growing public knowledge of climate, confusion abounds around issues of energy and climate and the economics and engineering thereof. This reflects itself in public debate. How can policy makers get it right when those most concerned about the urgency of GHG mitigation themselves are all over the place? Barry Brook's aim is to promote critical thinking about sustainable energy.

    BTW, the latest piece on BNC is by animal liberationist Geoff Russell about the obstacles posed for reforestation by increasing meat consumption world wide. Geoff also supports nuclear power. How's that for confronting a few stereotypes?
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  36. The biggest problem with nuclear is actually not the risk, but rather the perception of risk. The simple fact is that a large percentage of people are afraid of it. Even many of those who support it in theory are strongly against having it nearby due to lingering radiation concerns or just awareness of what it would do to property values.

    The simple fact is that many parts of the world are not ready to accept large scale nuclear power yet. That's reality. Thus, to me, nuclear is not currently a viable option because people aren't ready to allow it to be. That being the case we need to look at other options rather than dwelling in a fantasy world. It's like the argument that abstinence is 100% effective against teen pregnancy... it may be true on paper, but it isn't grounded in reality because there is no way you can prevent teenagers from having sex. Ditto the extremes of 'free market' economic theory... you can just let corporations do what they want with no regulation because they'll avoid any impropriety because it would impact their bottom line. Which inevitably leads to mortgage derivatives, Enron, S&L, et cetera... yet people still keep drinking the cool-aid.

    Human behavior needs to be taken into account to develop reality based solutions. And right now human behavior isn't supportive of switching over to a nuclear powered world.
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  37. CBDunkerson,

    I think your line of arguments is illogical on several counts.

    1. you say nuclear is unpopular so we shouldn't advocate it. But if we dont advocate and educate it will remain unpopular.

    2. You believe GHG emissions are a mjor risk, yet you preclude tackling them with the only viable technology available to make serious cuts

    3. You say some parts of the world are not prepared to accept nuclear so we shouldn't argue for it. Yet many people weren't preared to accept dangerous AGW theory, yet that disn't stop believers arguing for it. So why do argue to not argue for the practical solution?

    4. You say "Thus, to me, nuclear is not currently a viable option because people aren't ready to allow it to be." Where it is implemented it is accepted, supported. So it is a mattrer of education.

    5. You say: "just awareness of what it would do to property values."In Toronto, Canada (an probably other places) property values are far higher near the NPPs than near the coal fired power stations. These sorts of statements are made from ignoraance.

    6. You say: "That being the case we need to look at other options rather than dwelling in a fantasy world."

    'The simple fact' is that the other options, like renewable energy and energy efficency, have been looked at for at least 20 years and they can make no significant impact on cutting GHG emisisons. Believing that somehow a mircale will happen and renewables will suddenly become viable is living in a fantasy world.
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  38. The continuing fictional works of Peter Lang;

    "1. you say nuclear is unpopular so we shouldn't advocate it."

    Fiction. I did NOT say that.

    Advocate all you like. You (well, not YOU, but nuclear advocates in general) may eventually change enough peoples' minds for nuclear to become 'near universal'. However, it seems more likely renewable energy will have become widespread before that change could take place.

    "2. You believe GHG emissions are a mjor risk, yet you preclude tackling them with the only viable technology available to make serious cuts"

    Again, fiction. Nuclear as a sole (or nearly so) power source is NOT viable at this time. Public support for it does not exist. Ergo, not viable.

    Also, 100% nuclear is NOT the only option (which is good since it isn't possible). Arguments can be made that 100% solar or 100% wind, both requiring significant grid and power storage improvements, could be made to work. However, the most logical course is a mix of energy sources... wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, nuclear, et cetera. Each where they are most accepted and practical.

    "5. You say: "just awareness of what it would do to property values."In Toronto, Canada (an probably other places) property values are far higher near the NPPs than near the coal fired power stations. These sorts of statements are made from ignoraance."

    Yes, because all the world is Toronto and built next to coal plants. Everyone knows that people the world over JUMP at the chance to live next to nuclear power plants.

    Seriously, truth time now... you're really an ANTI-nuclear campaigner out to drive people away from the technology by promoting totally irrational arguments in favor of it. Right?

    "'The simple fact' is that the other options, like renewable energy and energy efficency, have been looked at for at least 20 years and they can make no significant impact on cutting GHG emisisons. Believing that somehow a mircale will happen and renewables will suddenly become viable is living in a fantasy world."

    Renewables are already viable. There are several communities around the world which now generate more renewable power than they need. Germany is an example of an entire country which is well on its way to that situation (despite having relatively poor renewable energy resources). The US state of Hawaii is starting to switch over to renewables because it is so blessed with all manner of renewable energy sources that it can easily supply its power needs at costs much lower than the current generation of power by burning oil. This is the actual world. Already happening. Saying that what has already happened cannot happen... THAT is living in a fantasy world.
    0 0
  39. @quokka: I do not dispute nuclear is part of the solution. I'm opposed to people who say renewables are not.
    0 0
  40. @Peter Lang: "."In Toronto, Canada (an probably other places) property values are far higher near the NPPs than near the coal fired power stations."

    The fact Peter Lang is *still* comparing nuclear to coal notwithstanding, there are no coal power plants left near Toronto.

    Now, I wonder if Peter Lang will *ever* say whether he accepts AGW theory or not. The fact he won't tends to lend credence to the theory that he's not speaking on his personal behalf.
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  41. CBDunkerson,

    You aregue that because nuclear is not popular it is not viable. "Unpopular" is a political poblem. It can be fixed. It is a matter of education for most people and assisting a few people to overcome their phobia about "scary nuclear". Some will fear it forever, but not many. Just go and live near a NPP and you would/might understand that (or might not).

    However, you argue, in effect, that because renewables are popular they can provide our electricity supply. They cannot because of, so far and probably always, insurmountable technical constraints (like the sun doesn't shine at night). The cost of storage is far tool high.

    So I conclude you are one of those people who is irrational and unreachable. Some might refer to such people as deniers.

    I note how this thread started off areguing that nuclear was uneconomical. Then that it was unsafe. And at last the real issue is revealed - "nuclear phobia".
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  42. CBDunkerson,

    "Also, 100% nuclear is NOT the only option (which is good since it isn't possible)."

    Who said anything about 100% nuclear?

    However, you say it isn't possible. On what basis do you say that?

    "Arguments can be made that 100% solar or 100% wind, both requiring significant grid and power storage improvements, could be made to work."

    Arguments can be made for anything? What is your point?

    Do you think that cost and economics is irrelevant?

    Do you believe that the laws of physics are going to change? Or are you just hoping they will? If so why do you hope that?

    Getting to the real question: Why do you want anything but the proven, available, economic (if we removed the blocks and imposts) technology that can provide our power needs - nuclear?

    That question is really asking: why do you have aphobia about nuclear power?
    0 0
  43. This shows what technologies are generating France’s electricity on any given day
    (including today). (if the charts are blank change the date to yesterday).

    Move your mouse left and right over the stacked area chart and watch the changes on the pie chart below. Notice the following (for 1 November):

    Nuclear = 77% to 87%
    Coal = 1% to 2%
    Gas = 1% to 3%
    Hydro = 0% to 1
    Wind = 1% to 4%
    Export = 1% to 8%

    Scroll down to the “Emissions de CO2” chart. Notice that the total emissions from all Frances electricity generation are 1,400 to 3,255 tonnes per hour. Just two of Australia’s coal fired power stations produce that amount.

    This is what I suggest we should be striving for. It is proven, economic, safe, accepted, reliable, secure, and given France an economic advantage and higher standard of living than it would have without it. France built the nuclear generating capacity at the rate of about 3GW per year. At that rate Australia could replace all its coal fired power station in around 15 years from start. I would suggest 20 years from start would be definitely achievable.

    Wind and solar are only being built in France because France is forced, by EU regulation, to produce 23% of its electricity generation from renewables. If it could build nuclear it would, but that is not allowed. If it could build hydro it would, but it cannot. So it is forced to build wind and solar capacity. That is an example of the very worst of “picking winners”. That si what the renewable energy advocates are forcing on us.
    0 0
  44. On a completely different topic than the advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power:

    I just found an article on separating and sequestering atmospheric CO2; the authors of the study (Licht et al 2009) use a mix of solar thermal and photovoltaic power to capture CO2, breaking it down into O2 and solid carbon or at higher temps O2 and carbon monoxide. They indicate that the CO might be useful as feed stock with hydrogen to produce recycled diesel or jet fuel. Their energy efficiency for the process is estimated at 34%-50%.

    According to the somewhat more approachable article that led me to this reference (Photonics Spectra Oct. 2010), the authors indicate that ~700km^2 of photovoltaics (and much of the worlds annual lithium carbonate production, mind you) could drop CO2 levels to pre-industrial in 10 years if pushed.

    I'm certain that they're being a bit (!!!) optimistic, but it's an interesting read.
    0 0
  45. In the list above "Export" should have been "Others"

    During the day France exported up to 7.3GW of power with maximum exports at the time of peak demand. The large export of electricity demonstrates that France's power is low cost compared with the cost of generating electricity in the neighbouring countries.

    The large export at peak time demonstrates that, not only is France's basload electricity cheap (relative to its neighbours) but so is the cost of its peak power.

    France's electricity is cheap (relative to its neighbours). It has supported a strong economy and high standard of living. It is safe and clean. It has been proven reliable over a period of 40 years. What more could anyone want?

    For those who are the most ardent supporters of immediate action to cut CO2 emissions, it absolutely stunns me that they are so strongly opposed to nuclear power (and are totally opposed to investigating it in an unbiased way - similar to what they claim they have done on "dangerous AGW"). It makes me wonder about their real agendas, and whether they really have been objective on "Dangerous AGW". If they are so emotively driven on nuclear, are they just as emotively driven on "Dangerous AGW"?

    I wonder if they are using fear of climate change as a means to push their other left wing agendas. I think many people are concerned about this.

    I'd urge the real thinkers to consider whether tieing many other agendas to climate change is helping or hindering getting in place the policies to cut emissions. If we cannot be economically rational, it's going to be a long hard fight and slow progress.

    I, for one, am strongly opposed to economically irrational policies. Especially when I am firmly convinced that we can have low emisisons and a strong economy, and reliable, secure energy supply. So why risk wrecking the economy when we don't have to.
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  46. KR,

    What is the cost per tonne CO2 avoided/removed?
    0 0
  47. Peter,

    My skepticism comes not from "scary nuclear" (OMG! Teh radiations!), but from a cynicism that the safety measures will be observed in a cost-cutting race for the short-term bottom line. This especially holds for pleads of "removing blocks and imposts".

    France still hasn't figured out what to do with the spent fuel waste, other than piling it together and watching it for an initial term of 300 years. That is not reasonable in my opinion.

    The 2005 WHO study is one of the works discussed by the 2009 NYAS study.

    Talking about "insurmountable technical constraints" does not give you the high ground to call others "irrational and unreachable".
    0 0
  48. Peter Lang - An excellent question, I have no idea. They've done proof of concept work, I don't think they've published economic data.

    They're using full spectrum solar units - visible light goes into the photovoltaic conversion, the rest to heat their thermal cell to 750-950 degrees C to make the reaction possible. So solar utilization is excellent. But again as to cost, considering the need for lithium carbonate or (less efficiently) potassium carbonate, ???

    Given the use, irregularity of sunlight would be irrelevant as long as the rate of CO2 removal over time was sufficient.

    It's also interesting in terms of (possibly) producing a possible carbon neutral fuel for transportation use. I think we're still a long way away from battery electric cars being generally practical.
    0 0
  49. Re: Peter Lang

    It is with great interest that I have been following this thread. Over the course of your many comments I feel I have learned a great deal that I was unaware of in regards to NPP. I feel you have brought some valuable points to the table as well, challenging (from your point of view) the 'sacred cows' of green energy (wind and solar).

    Those in advocacy of wind and solar, on the other hand, have not been remiss in putting forth their positions as well. Makes for a lively debate and a good read by those of us in the background.

    Where I feel you have made your best mark, Peter, is when you challenged the perceptions and preconceptions of the advocates of wind and solar. However, the same lens of analysis can also be applied to your position as well. Where you lost credibility with me was when you were challenged, several times, to elucidate your position on AGW and the dangers we face from human-produced, fossil-fuel-derived CO2 emissions. And failed to respond.

    Either you feel it is a grave threat, or you don't.
    So what's the harm in stating your position on it?

    If, as Ann posits, it is a grave threat to humanity, then it's simply not good enough to remove restrictions on NPP and let the market replace coal-fired electrical power plants. People have to be convinced of the graveness of the threat CO2 represents so they will want to leave the fossil fuels in the ground. Or they will use it all. No matter how universal or cheap NPP becomes. Or solar. Or Wind. Or tidal or geothermal (did I leave any out?). To summarize Ann's point: In order to fully replace fossil fuel CO2 production, we have to educate the public & replace the world's fossil fuel energy sources at the same time.

    And this task will require every energy source available: NPP, wind, solar, geothermal, tidal. All of them, in bulk quantities.

    So you either believe in the dangers that CO2 represents, and are part of the solution, or you don't.

    So, Peter, which is it?

    The Yooper
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  50. Peter Lang at 08:44 AM on 2 November, 2010

    Your figures for hydro in France are a bit misleading (a typo?). Move the cursor on your nice link to the times of peak generation, Hydro will be around 15%. It plays a significant role in filling the base to peak load gap. The UK planned a similar scheme when Nuclear was "the answer" to the 70s oil crisis, and did actually build half of the intended pumped hydro capacity (about 10GWhr of energy storage).

    Economical large scale (or distributed small scale) energy storage would be a good aim, even for supplementing Nuclear, but especially for mitigating the intermittent nature of any significant contribution from solar/wind. "Economical" is the tricky bit.

    On the downside I note even France has still not resolved its high level nuclear waste storage problems and only recently has put a plan in place to open its first deep repository by 2025 (which is not yet licenced). Political problems are just as real as technical ones.

    The extreme price volatility of non-renewables (including Uranium) over the past few decades (and especially recently) is also not being factored in to the price comparisons and "economics" are notoriously short term. I am not against Nuclear, but the current build of Gen III reactors may run out of fuel before the end of their design life if current rates of use accelerate (going by the industries own figures). Current and Gen III build Nuclear is (in climate terms) a temporary measure but may be necessary short term to fuel the next transition, and it is what's next that interests me.
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