Unforced variations: Apr 2011

This months open thread. There are some Items of potential interest::

or whatever you like.

525 comments on this post.
  1. Witgren:

    A new open thread hasn’t been opened for April yet, but this seems interesting, to say the least…Seems Anthony Watts blew a gasket over a study he thought would support his position, but instead appears to support AGW: http://www.salon.com/news/global_warming/index.html?story=/tech/htww/2011/04/01/climate_skeptics_betrayal

  2. MarkB:

    In between now and claiming seals are predicting global cooling, Watts’ own study is essentially saying the same thing as Menne et al.

    http://climateprogress.org/2011/04/01/wattsupwiththat-psychic-seals-have-evolved-ability-to-predict-the-future-climate-and-they-know-its-cooling/#comment-334958

  3. Maya:

    A friend of mine just showed this to me. It isn’t about climate science per se, but about “how to have a rational discussion”. Considering that conversations on the subject of climate science would be (in my opinion) much more productive if this diagram was adhered to, I submit it for your consideration.

    http://thoughtcatalog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/A-Flowchart-to-Help-You-Determine-if-Yoursquore-Having-a-Rational-Discussion.jpg

  4. Seb Tallents:

    I recently some stuff about this paper:

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/2/1/2011/esd-2-1-2011.html

    that purports to show:
    a. maximum extractable wind power.
    and
    b. the effect of large scale wind power is “in some senses equivalent to CO2 doubling”,

    Any comments on the climate impact aspect? It seems far fetched to me, though I haven’t been able to download the full text PDF for some reason.

  5. Seb Tallents:

    I’ve come across this:

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/2/1/2011/esd-2-1-2011.html

    which purports to show the maximum extractable wind power available, and that large scale wind power has a climate impact similar to CO2 doubling. This seems fanciful, though I have been unable to download the full text PDF… I was wondering if anyone would care to comment?

  6. Seb Tallents:

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/2/1/2011/esd-2-1-2011.html

    I came across this, which purports to calculate maximum extractable wind power and claims that large scale wind power will have similar impact to the climate as CO2 doubling. This seems fanciful, does anyone care to comment? (Note, for some reason I’ve not been able to download the PDF successfully due to a problem at my end).

  7. Seb Tallents:

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/2/1/2011/esd-2-1-2011.html

    I came across this, which purports to calculate maximum extractable wind power and claims that large scale wind power will have similar impact to the climate as CO2 doubling. This seems fanciful, does anyone care to comment? (Note, for some reason I’ve not been able to download the PDF successfully due to a problem at my end).

  8. Pete Dunkelberg:

    It would be very helpful to me if someone could point me to research on the possible increase in size of the Hadley cells and dry areas, and on the other hand a possible increase of the concentration of precipitation in heavy storms poleward of the dry areas. I have looked for papers but Have not found anything much that sums up these things.

  9. Bay Bunny:

    I was wondering if RC has any updates about this feedback discussed a couple of years back.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-sheep-albedo-feedbacki/

  10. Didactylos:

    Seb Tallents: This is all rather academic, given that there are more practical limitations on wind power exploitation. It’s a question of where we can put wind turbines, and what technical solutions we can use to extract energy from low speed winds.

    To give you an idea of how pie in the sky the paper is, consider that their most conservative land only estimate of 18–34 TW is in excess of the total global energy consumption rate from all sources (15 TW).

    Even if we could put wind turbines everywhere, we wouldn’t want to. It’s more effective to use different forms of energy in different places, to reduce transmission losses and storage losses.

    Don’t get me wrong, though – we currently need to add as much wind capacity as we can. We are a long, long way away from where we want to be, let alone theoretical “fundamental limits”.

  11. MarkB:

    I’ve started reading through the MCA/LIA PAGES links suggested here. I find the Steinhilber and Beer article to be an easy read for the layperson.

  12. Wheels:

    @1 Witgren, I notice this bit in the NY Times article:

    ‘BEST’s preliminary results show a warming trend of 0.7 degrees Celsius since 1957. That result, which Muller called “unexpected,” is similar to the findings of independent analyses by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Hadley Centre.’

    How he expected anything other than good agreement over the land station data is really beyond me. His is not the only team looking at the data, nor even the most experienced and qualified. The surprising part is that he’s surprised.
    Unfortunately, I think Watts’ reaction will be typical of the denialists even if the final results for all phases turn up agreement with the mainstream findings. Even releasing all the data, methods, software, etc. won’t satisfy some of the most vocal.

  13. Bay Bunny:

    I was wondering if RC had any updates regarding this feedback discussed a couple of years back.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/04/the-sheep-albedo-feedbacki/

  14. Seb Tallents:

    I appreciate it is pie in the sky stuff, I’m more wondering about the quality of the climate analysis aspect of it out of curiosity, though my curiosity is somewhat peaked by not being able to read it.

  15. Patrick 027:

    Re Seb Tallents, Didactylos – I had come across a paper which refered to a prior study about a (hypothetical, I think!) wind farm’s affect on (climatological? or weather?) circulation patterns, suggesting it was (as I recall) significant, and then went on to describe … potential purposeful alteration of synoptic scale weather in Europe by manipulation of a hypothetical wind power plant in the U.S. If I find the website again I’ll post it here; what I remember is that the power plant refered to was very large and concentrated into one small region; the authors suggested different effects may occur with different distributions of wind power plants (something about the spacing of the plants and the wavelengths of the weather, as best I can recall). I was happy to see that this effect was found for a very very large wind power plant because I’m a bit uneasy about such large-scale weather control, although that might (?) be somewhat moot in a world with 500+ ppm CO2 (so long as the Europeans et al are paying or payed for the services provided by or to the power plant as opposed to unilateral actions which might be used as a part of future warfare…)

    Not to feed into unjustified claims about solar power plants’ global albedo effects, but I wonder about local effects of wind and solar power, and for solar power, in cases where the change in albedo + efficiency (because the energy that is extracted turns to heat elsewhere, such as cities) actually has a local cooling effect, if that might tend to enhance downdrafts and reduce cloudiness, which has obvious advantages if the effect occurs over the forcing and not mostly downwind (I’d guess this would have a stronger effect on boundary-layer clouds) (to the extent the effect is redistributed by winds, this might suggest more or less favorable spacings and sizes for power plants depending on albedo changes – then again, the advantage might (?) be too small relative to land value, ecological concerns, locations of transmission lines, and of course, the available solar resource itself).

    As wind farms would leave some sort of wake, there should tend to be enhanced convergence (facing downwind) to the left (Northern Hemisphere) and enhanced divergence to the right (Northern Hem.), leading perhaps to more updrafts/downdrafts and associated changes in precipitation there (??). Would the observed size and orientation of lakes necessary to produce or arrange lake-effect snow give a clue to what effects a wind farm or solar power plant would have (factoring in that wind farms are mechanical, not thermal, forcing, etc.)?

  16. pjclarke:

    Mr Watts, in am eyebrow-raising example of revealing an agenda and pre-judging the results of a study prior to the data even being collected,

    “I believe we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment”

    As the abstract of his long-long-long-awaited paper, in review, now focuses on the lack of trend in the diurnal temperature range (watch the pea under the thimble, folks), and states that siting has no effect on the trend in the mean, can we infer that this cherished vision now lies in tatters?

    Also, a 1995 comparison of observations vs models published in Chemical Engineering News, had this:

    Furthermore, most models project that with global warming, the increase in mean surface temperatures will be more pronounced during the cold season; that precipitation at mid to high latitudes will increase, especially during the cold season; that droughts will be more severe and longer lasting, particularly during the warm season; that nighttime temperatures will increase more than daytime temperatures during the warm season; that a greater portion of warm season precipitation will come in heavy showers or thunderstorms rather than in gentler, longer lasting rainfalls; and that the day-to-day variability of temperatures will decline for mid to high latitudes. These are changes that are now being observed, if not globally, at least in many regions.

    But after many decades, Hansen says, “models show that daytime warming will be almost as great as nighttime warming.”

    In light of which, a headline appearing soon at WUWT must surely be:

    My research confirms Hansen model prediction. … …

  17. Isotopious:

    For the record (Bore hole or not):

    “12:48

    Gavin Schmidt:
    If the central issue is whether man-made CO2 is having a major impact on the climate, then I would have to say ‘case closed’ ;-) “

  18. Eli Rabett:

    That quote “I believe we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment”

    Is 100% pure Roger Pielke Sr., which gives you a pretty clear view of Watts going on.

  19. One Anonymous Bloke:

    Some good news? http://www.cellaenergy.com/ – new ways to deliver hydrogen as a fuel…

  20. Russell:

    Thanks for the House hearing link.

    Christy must be shocked, deeply shocked that its organizers though fit to have his testimony seconded by a Professor of Marketing

  21. Geoff Beacon:

    Any comments on Global radiative forcing from contrail cirrus? The abstact says

    Aviation makes a significant contribution to anthropogenic climate forcing…We also find that contrail cirrus cause a significant decrease in natural cloudiness, which partly offsets their warming effect. Nevertheless, net radiative forcing due to contrail cirrus remains the largest single radiative-forcing component associated with aviation. Our findings regarding global radiative forcing by contrail cirrus will allow their effects to be included in studies assessing the impacts of aviation on climate and appropriate mitigation options.

    “appropriate mitigation options”? Join the No Miles High Club?

    [Response: This looks to be an improvement on previous efforts to model contrails, but the bottom line number (0.03-0.04 W/m2) is not out of line with other estimates (i.e. Hansen et al (2005) had a very crude calculation assuming that contrails spread out by a factor of 10, and got 0.03 W/m2). Having said that, modelling aviation effects is complicated – involving ozone chemistry, strat/trop exchange, aerosols, CO2, contrails, water vapour etc. – all of which interact to some degree, and which have very different timescales. This means that net effects depend crucially on the time horizon you care about (and the longer the time horizon the more important the direct CO2 effect is). Unger et al (2010) does a nice assessment of this, though it is not comprehensive. – gavin]

  22. Snapple:

    Today the Pontifical Academy workshop on “The Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene” (April 2-4) begins in the Vatican.

    Maybe you will write about the presentations. I told Catholic H.S. students that the research of Pontifical Academician V. Ramanathan (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) is discussed in their high school Environmental Science course. He is famous for studying Asia’s brown cloud.

    Several links about the program, which is just the first in a series, can be found here.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2011/03/pontifical-academy-of-sciences-hosts.html

    The Prologue of the program, which was written by Pontifical Academician P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson, and Pontifical Academician V. Ramanathan, states:

    Mountain glaciers in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and the largest of them all in the Himalayan-Tibetan region are retreating, some at alarming rates. The hypothesized causal factors include global warming, atmospheric brown clouds, land surface modification, recovery from the mini ice-age, and large scale drying of the air among other factors. Some glaciers are expected to disappear during this century and others are predicted to experience significant loss of spatial cover and mass. The downstream consequences include glacial lake outburst floods, disrupted availability of water for agriculture and human consumption, changes to mountain eco systems, increased frequency of forest fires, loss of habitat, and other potential catastrophes. A holistic study covering the physical science, social science, and the human dimension sides of the problem has not been attempted thus far. It is our hope that this first of its kind workshop organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will lay the foundation for studying and monitoring this potential disaster that will impact the entire planet.

    The workshop will also explore avenues available for mitigating and adapting to this potential tragedy.

    P.J. Crutzen, L. Bengtsson and V. Ramanathan [See the full schedule of the workshop and the speakers.]

  23. richard zurawski:

    The paper is very interesting and informative. It also presents a pretty scary scenario. Our problem appears to be the media, especially TV and TV like programming. News coverage of science related issues by reporters and journalists without any BG in science is the crux of it. And taking a post secondary course in one of the sciences is not going to solve the problem. Reporters cannot differentiate between science and pseudo science and their desire to create “stories” leads to spectacle, hyperbole and BS (Bad Science). AGW is the tip of the ice berg. All of science is being marginalized and misrepresented by the media. Articles like this about the shortcomings of the media can only help.

  24. Kevin C:

    The Nature paper is an outstanding piece of work, and contains material which should be taken on board by everyone interested in climate science communication, Real Climate not excepted!

    This particularly struck me:

    For example, subject-matter experts should edit for fact, not style; they should also check that social scientists have not garbled the facts when trying to make them clearer. That coordination must maintain a rhetorical stance of non-persuasive communication67, trusting the evidence to speak for itself, without spin or colouring. Although there is an important place for persuasive communication, encouraging individual behaviours and public policies, it must be distinct, lest scientists come to be seen as inept politicians. If climate scientists passionately offer dispassionate accounts of the evidence, it will preserve their uniquely trusted social position and avoid the advocacy that most are ill-suited to pursue by disposition, experience and training.

  25. Hunt Janin:

    If I may be excused for doing so, let me put forward a heretical view:

    Why don’t climate change scientists, and their supporters, just get on with their own work? Why should they waste their valuable time trying to discredit the deniers? This is trying to push a boulder uphill.

    In my view, the climate change folks clearly are right; the deniers clearly are wrong. This will become increasingly evident, on its own, as the years roll by. The climate change folks would do better, in my opinion, to focus on brand-new research, not on old controversies.

  26. Susan Anderson:

    Legerdemain. Could this be another way to look at the problem of communication? ->

    The zealots, bullies, profiteers, and fellow travelers of the anti-best-science brigade are using science’s strengths to defeat it. They are using scientists’ regard for the truth to overturn it.

    It must be possible to bring substance to the senses of those being seduced by these illusions.

  27. M. Joyce:

    Hunt, the problem with that tactic is that we’re rapidly aproaching the point of no return. Confronting the deniers head on must be undertaken concurrent with continued science before, not after, we cross the tipping point.

  28. Wheels:

    @20, Hunt:
    See the effect denialism has had on the political will to not only do something about the climate, but even to continue funding research into it. Climate scientists used to keep their heads down and work away at the issue, but that got the rest of us no policy gains.

  29. flxible:

    20&21 – The real use of “confronting” the deniers is to get the politicians to start thinking about mitigation and adaptation, particularly getting onto a low carbon economy. Unfortunately, in N America, it’s the politicos who have become the worst deniers, to please their monied constituents. They aren’t concerned with life further down the road than 2 or 4 years.

  30. Big Dave:

    Would someone be willing to direct me to the source of information which would support Dr. Muller’s statement to US House Committee? He indicated that natural variability in land surface temperatures stopped in 1957.
    Thank you.
    Big Dave

  31. Joe Cushley:

    Wow! I hadn’t come across this J Scott Armstrong character before. What a bumbling, but dangerous nutcase.

    His recommendations at the end of his completely illogical ramblings to the House Committee, boil down to this “End all government funding of climate research….” He states it pretty much as baldly as that…

    He’s a Professor of Marketing…

    It is deeply worrying that one of the two major parties in the most powerful nation on the planet rely on such bat-shit crazy “experts’. Deeply worrying.

  32. BillS:

    Readers interested in the atmosphere might be interest in the latest request for comment issued by the IETF on 1 April 2011, RFC 6217. It’s title is,
    “Regional Broadcast Using an Atmospheric Link Layer”

  33. Adam R.:

    J Scott Armstrong

    Didja ever notice how often the biggest blowhards use a first initial in naming themselves?

  34. Fred Magyar:

    Joe Cushley @ 24,

    He’s a Professor of Marketing Propaganda…

    Which is precisely the kind of professional you want giving a presentation if you are trying push a particular agenda. Ironic that Dr. Armstrong could manage his Macintosh. Welcome to Orwell’s 1984 and the Ministry of Truth. Methinks, that we as a nation are FUBAR!

  35. seamus:

    This seems somewhat interesting: “Carbon dioxide traps heat in the middle of the atmosphere. This warm air higher in the atmosphere tends to prevent the rising air motions that create thunderstorms and rainfall. As a result, an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide tends to suppress precipitation.”

    Cutting carbon dioxide helps prevent drying

  36. Chris Colose:

    Gavin,

    I’m curious about the paragraph in the Nature communication piece suggesting that as climate models grow more sophisticated, many key uncertainties may actually grow relative to earlier models. This seems reasonable to me, and I’d suspect that for example many aerosol uncertainties may actually increase in the AR5, but it also seems like a testable hypothesis which can be applied to state of the art models hind casting observed and paleo-climate.

    I’m under the impression that model performance has typically increased with time, particularly when comparing ensemble means for today’s models vs, say those a decade ago. Could you amplify on the current thinking on this?

  37. Joel Shore:

    Geoff Beacon (#16): Unfortunately, that study has been getting some “press” at places like Watts’ site without proper context. It may sound impressive how the contrail forcing compares to the forcing due to CO2 from aircraft, but some context helps:

    (1) At this point, the amount of forcing due to CO2 from aircraft is only a tiny amount of the total forcing due to anthropogenic CO2. If you look at the contrail forcing on the scale of the total forcing due to anthropogenic, CO2, you see it is on the order of 2%.

    (2) If we imagine that airline traffic remains the same, then the total forcing due to CO2 from aircraft will continue to rise as this CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere. However, the forcing due to the contrails will remain constant. So, the balance will tend to shift over time. (To his credit, the lead author of the study himself make this point in this Reuters article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/29/us-climate-contrails-idUSTRE72S47O20110329 .)

  38. Hank Roberts:

    One thing individuals can do is get to know your local botany. A couple of resources suitable for starting anywhere from the dirt strip next to the sidewalk to any parcel of damaged property you can work on:

    http://islandpress.org/ser/ (ecological restoration; sample book chapters)

    Natural History of Vacant Lots (California Natural History Guide No. 50)
    (ISBN: 0520053907 / 0-520-05390-7 ) Matthew F. Vessel, Herbert H. Wong

    Earth Manual: How to Work on Wild Land Without Taming it (ISBN: 0930588185 / 0-930588-18-5) Margolin, Malcolm (1985, revised edition, green cover)

    (try ABEBooks or Powell’s)

  39. Rick Brown:

    Chris Colose @29: I doubt that I have anything useful to contribute, but just in case — Kevin Trenberth: More knowledge, less certainty [Apologies if I messed that up; I don’t get preview for some reason.]

  40. Ken Fabos:

    Seb @4 – My first thought was the similar impacts of deforestation; surely forests act in a similar way in absorbing wind energy at low altitudes. I think (without knowing so) that the other impacts of deforestation – like carbon cycle, water cycle and albedo changes – tend to make direct effects on winds virtually insignificant. Likewise I suspect the impacts on winds pale to insignificance compared to the impacts on emissions of such technologies.

  41. Susan Anderson:

    Legerdemain. Could this be another way to look at the problem of communication? ->

    The zealots, bullies, profiteers, and fellow travelers of the anti-best-science brigade are using science’s strengths to defeat it. They are using scientists’ regard for the truth to overturn it.

    It must be possible to bring substance to the senses of those being seduced by these illusions.

    Believing the truth will prevail is not enough. As pointed out earlier, time is running out. But this idea that truth itself shines in the house of the hostile is just not going to work. Sad but true.

  42. adelady:

    seb@4. My instinctive reaction that any (if any at all) such impacts would have to be tiny in climate terms. Maybe bigger than microclimates for walled gardens or windbreaks on farms. But the idea that climate drivers like the high altitude jet stream winds, Hadley cells and their many friends could be affected is, to me at least, fanciful.

    Just for a visualisation. Picture a circle with the same diameter as the blades of a wind turbine. Estimate the area of the circle. Estimate the surface area of the blades of the turbine. Now make the circle the diameter of a tube wind tunnel. How much impact would those blades have compared to the total volume of air passing them at various wind speeds?

    My feeling is that someone, somewhere has underestimated the height of the atmosphere and/or the real quantity of power in the winds within 500 metres of ground level. And that also ignores the fact that 70% of the planet surface is covered by water which is pretty flat and entirely open, not land with its mountains, forests and other large impacts on wind flows.

  43. Bern:

    Adelady @ #34 – good point – surface roughness effects may be far more substantial than wind turbines. How much energy does a skyscraper pull out of the wind, by it’s wake turbulence?

  44. Tom Keen:

    @ Seb Tallents, 1 Apr 2011 at 3:34 PM

    I don’t think this hypothesis will ever be tested anyway. Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run. Frankly, I think it’ll be nuclear power or climate change in the end.

    There is a lot to be concerned about in regards to fossil fuel expansion right now. These articles give an indication as to why:
    http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=1420
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704021504576211652537417160.html
    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/03/176/

  45. Brian Dodge:

    @ Chris Colose — 2 Apr 2011 @ 6:20 PM and Rick Brown — 2 Apr 2011 @ 8:19 PM regarding knowledge and uncertainty –

    We will likely discover more butterflies.

  46. Sou:

    @ Seb #4 – I think this article in New Scientist is about the same paper.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028063.300-wind-and-wave-energies-are-not-renewable-after-all.html?full=true

  47. Joe Lassiter:

    Does anyone know the approximate total number of personnel and perhaps even the approximate subtotals of scientific, administrative and other personnel working at or substanitally funded by CRU?

    I don’t have any sense of the scale of the CRU operation. I have always assumed it was “small,” but maybe I am wrong.

    Thanks.

  48. Hunt Janin:

    Does anyone know of any highly speculative thinking that has been done, or is being done, on the likely impacts of sea level by and after the year 2100?

  49. Andrew Hobbs:

    #38 Joe Lassiter

    You could try their website.

  50. flxible:

    Joe Lassiter – It’s not hard to find the answer to your first question in detail – depends on what you define as “small”, and of course none of them are “funded by CRU”, it’s also easy to “follow the money”.

  51. Rob OC:

    Joe Lassiter:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/

    contains a current staff list.

  52. Brian Schmidt:

    So Scott Armstrong is back for Congressional hearings. Can’t quite get myself to watch, but I assume he neglected to mention the unfair Intrade prediction market bet that his side set up, supposedly against Al Gore, in which Armstrong managed to lose anyway:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2011/02/climate-betting-update-for-2010.html (in update at bottom)

  53. Joe:

    Joe Lassiter, CRU’s staff is listed here: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/

  54. Thomas:

    I would think wind turbines would inhibit the decoupling of medium altitude winds to the surface during times of strong radiational cooling (i.e. clear nights). To the extent that the wind is still blowing at the height of the turbine (roughly 100M), but would have been decoupled at ground level, (due to the temperature inversion inhibiting turbulent momentum trnasfer downwards). Still spinning turbines should create turbulent mixing of the warmer air at circa 100M with the cooler ground surface. This would have a local effect -raising minimum temperatures, and perhaps a global effect, the local area with wind turbines should more efficiently radiate thermal energy from the lower atmosphere into space (by advecting atmosheric heat to the ground surface at night, where it can be radiated away). I live downwind of topography which in interaction with the wind mixes warmer air aloft downwards at night, and my summer minimum temperatures are often 10F warmer than nearby locations.

  55. Geoff Beacon:

    Gavin, Thanks for the response to my post #16.

    Fig.2 of Unger et al. suggests that aviation cools the Earth for the first few decades. I was very impressed by Unger et. al. (and still am) but the paper I quoted by Burkhardt et. al. suggested to me the effects of aviation may not be cooling in the first few decades. Is the jury still out on this or do you stick with Unger?

    Joel #30. The importance of aviation is that it is overwhelmingly an activity of the affluent … and affluence is something to which the whole world aspires. Unlike us only a small proportion of Chinese fly but many of them are getting more affluent. Do we say “Do as I say. Not as I do?

    In the UK the government is still aiming for each person to have a carbon footprint of 2 tonnes per year so how can we justify flights like the following:

    A return flight from Leeds UK to Brisbane Australia (and making everything except air travel zero) gives a carbon footprint of just over 2.9 tonnes of CO2 according to the Governments carbon calculator. The Green Ration Book gives a figure for a similar journey of 6.8 tonnes. The difference is largely that the government calculator ignores non-CO2 effects although it does mention them.

    [Response: It is not obvious that the non-CO2 effects are large and positive – and indeed, the magnitude of the effects (as mentioned) are complicated and (as yet) incompletely understood. Unger et al was a big step forward – doing these calculations in a more coherent framework than previously, but they did not include everything. Thus my feeling is that we probably still want to wait and see. Strong statements that the non-CO2 effect is small or a factor of 3 larger are not justified. – gavin]

  56. One Anonymous Bloke:

    Interview with Prof. Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Adviser to the NZ Prime Minister. Touches on many issues around science’s relationship with the media, the political/science interface, etc.

  57. Patrick 027:

    Re my 11:

    “Weather response to a large wind turbine array”
    D. B. Barrie, D. B. Kirk-Davidoff
    http://www.atmos-chem-phys.org/10/769/2010/acp-10-769-2010.pdf
    section 2.4: they calculate that their wind farm would produce 2.48 TW power (I only read a little bit, it sounded like this is for the specific time period modelled but I could be wrong. I might not be the average output and it might not be the capacity either… still, that’s HUGE, several times the present U.S. electric power consumption and roughly similar to U.S. primary (fuel-equivalent) power consumption.)

  58. Patrick 027:

    … re my last comment – interesting point, the actual change in kinetic energy dissipation in the area of the wind farm was a small fraction of the energy output of the wind farm, because much of that energy would otherwise have been dissipated by land cover.

  59. Frank Giger:

    Is it jut me or does the mention of a “Green Ration Book” make one shudder just at the thought of the implications?

    [Response: If you go to their web site, you’ll see it’s just an attempt to calculate the energy costs associated with various economic choices (paper vs. plastic, flying vs. driving, etc.). It’s not a manifesto on how we should run the world. They could have chosen a better title, obviously, to avoid stoking the fears of the paranoid.–eric]

  60. calyptorhynchus:

    On another topic, I have noticed in the last few months in Australia that the tone of denialist comments on Australian online discussions has changed. You still get just as many people offering flat statements about how they don’t believe in AGW without proof, but those who do try to argue are using more and more desperate and convoluted arguments.

    For example on a recent discussion about comments from Tim Flannery, head of the Climate Change Commission, there were endless arguments by denialists about whether one statement he made was contradicted by the IPCC report. Pointing out the irony of denialists using the IPCC as evidence elicited no response.

    I’m beginning to think the tide is turning.

  61. Andrew Hobbs:

    #48 Patrick

    The paper you cited uses a hypothetical wind farm covering 23% of the land area of North America (US and Canada) containing windmills spaced 800 metres apart. The length of each blade being about 64 m (or 210 feet).
    That would require about 9 million windmills. I suspect that might be a tad unrealistic.

  62. Eric Swanson:

    I see that John Christy was one of the people who testified before the House Committee last Friday. His prepared testimony is amazing, running to 60 pages. He certainly wins the “if you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with BS” award for that.

    Christy may think there are no longer any problems with his TLT, after the several rounds of criticism by other scientists. Sad to say, I’m still not satisfied with Christy’s satellite analysis, perhaps because I’ve not attended numerous meetings where my questions might have been answered. What bothers me is his basic algorithm for the TLT, which was first published in 1992. As far as I know, he has never explained how this algorithm was derived.

    It appears he used a model of the microwave emissions of oxygen thru the entire column of the atmosphere at each scan position, then decided on a combination which would satisfy some criterion of “best fit” in minimizing the stratospheric component in the result. My guess is that he did this analysis by using the lapse rate of the US Standard Atmosphere as input to his model, which is itself the result of an idealized mathematical model. Thinking about this process, I wonder how well this modeled lapse rate matches the real world, especially at polar latitudes (where the tropopause occurs at lower pressure altitudes) and during different seasons. If the TLT algorithm is impacted by either seasonal or latitudinal influences, would that induce another source of bias in the measurements, such as increasing the stratospheric component at polar latitudes? And, would adding greenhouse gases change the lapse rate in some way which would bias the TLT algorithm which Christy then uses to calculate the TLT to assess the temperature trends? Any comments would be appreciated.

  63. Eric Swanson:

    I see that John Christy was one of the people who testified before the House Committee last Friday. His prepared testimony is amazing, running to 60 pages. He certainly wins the “if you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with BS” award for that.

    Christy may think there are no longer any problems with his TLT, after the several rounds of criticism by other scientists. Sad to say, I’m still not satisfied with Christy’s satellite analysis, perhaps because I’ve not attended numerous meetings where my questions might have been answered. What bothers me is his basic algorithm for the TLT, which was first published in 1992. As far as I know, he has never explained how this algorithm was derived. It appears he uses a model of the microwave emissions of oxygen thru the entire column of the atmosphere at each scan position, then decided on a combination which would satisfy some criterion of “best fit” in minimizing the stratospheric component in the result. My guess is that he did this analysis by using the lapse rate of the US Standard Atmosphere as input to his model, which is itself the result of an idealized mathematical model. Thinking about this process, I wonder how well this modeled lapse rate matches the real world, especially at polar latitudes (where the tropopause occurs at lower pressure altitudes) and during different seasons. If the TLT algorithm is impacted by either seasonal or latitudinal influences, would that induce another source of bias in the measurements, such as increasing the stratospheric component at polar latitudes? And, would adding greenhouse gases change the lapse rate in some way which would bias the TLT algorithm which Christy then uses to calculate the TLT to assess the temperature trends? Any comments would be appreciated.

  64. SCM:

    Just though I’d give a plug for Australia’s CSIRO (national science organisation) who have just released an online book in an attempt to communicate the facts about climate change, adaptation & mitigation.
    Link is: http://www.csiro.au/resources/Climate-Change-Book.html
    The target audience is:

    business / community leaders
    federal, state and local government members
    researchers and academics involved or interested in climate change science, adaptation and mitigation
    educators and media
    General public with an interest in climate change science
    _

    It maybe be useful to those down-under.

  65. Nick Gotts:

    “Is it jut me or does the mention of a “Green Ration Book” make one shudder just at the thought of the implications?” – Frank Giger

    It’s just you and your fellow-denialists – or to be more accurate, it’s an attempt by you and your fellow-denialists to stir up vague and unfounded fears. What implications, specifically, are you referring to? When a particular resource is limited, rationing is sometimes necessary. Rationing can be by price, or by quota. Generally, the rich and selfish prefer the former, but pretend it’s not rationing, because they can get all they want.

  66. Geoff Beacon:

    “The Canadian government has stepped up lobbying in Europe for its highly-polluting tar sands industry, repeating its threats of trade conflict, a leaked letter shows.”

    “Given the desire for freer trade between us, it is important that our individual efforts to address climate change do not lead to the creation of unnecessary barriers”

    “The Government of Canada believes this approach raises the prospect of unjustified discrimination and is not supported by the science.”
    Reuters report

    Comments?

  67. flxible:

    Geoff – there is currently a Canadian federal election happening – all that can be said is “hope the Conservatives don’t get a majority”.

  68. J Bowers:

    \Green Ration Book\ is a terrible name. I’ve told them via their Contact page and I’d suggest that others do. It plays right into the hands of the pro-fossil fuel lobby and anti-environmental screeching hordes who portray concern over the environment as being comparable to wanting to take developed nations back to the Stone Age, and not simply wishing to switch to more sensible energy and materials. They really need to rebrand it, and I really don’t care if that sounds like a cynical marketing suggestion.

  69. J Bowers:

    And got an impressively swift response. Don’t follow my suggestion to contact them, is all I’ll say ;)

  70. SecularAnimist:

    Tom Keen in #35 wrote: “Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run.”

    Both of those statements are simply not true. The USA has more than enough commercially exploitable wind energy to replace all fossil fuel consumption. And extremely conservative US DOE studies estimate that wind could easily be generating more electricity than nuclear power within 10 years.

    Wind power has demonstrated that it is highly reliable. For example, Japan’s wind turbine farms including a major offshore wind farm were pretty much unscathed by both the earthquake and the tsunami.

    Neither does the inherent variability of wind make wind power “unrelaiable”, as studies in both the USA and Europe have demonstrated.

    And as to cost, wind is already competitive with natural gas, and far less expensive than new nuclear power.

    Which is why, in 2010 — which was a bad year for the growth of wind power — wind accounted for 37 percent of all new generating capacity installed in the USA (second only to natural gas at 43 percent), and a record of 68 gigawatts of new wind generation capacity was added globally.

  71. Radge havers:

    For years now, large numbers of prominent scientists have been warning, with increasing urgency, that if we continue with business as usual, the results will be very bad, perhaps catastrophic. They could be wrong. But if you’re going to assert that they are in fact wrong, you have a moral responsibility to approach the topic with high seriousness and an open mind. After all, if the scientists are right, you’ll be doing a great deal of damage.

    But what we had, instead of high seriousness, was a farce: a supposedly crucial hearing stacked with people who had no business being there and instant ostracism for a climate skeptic who was actually willing to change his mind in the face of evidence. As I said, no surprise: as Upton Sinclair pointed out long ago, it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

    But it’s terrifying to realize that this kind of cynical careerism — for that’s what it is — has probably ensured that we won’t do anything about climate change until catastrophe is already upon us.
    Krugman

    Like the lilly pond on the 30th day?

    More than careerism, I can’t help noticing that there’s a whole culture of “mischievous speculation [tee hee]” designed to make people feel good and clubby, righteous even, about not having to put any painful effort into their opinions. It’s an uphill battle for people who want to address AGW seriously. There’s no instant sense of belonging, no climate bar for the average Joe, if you will. Hell, you can’t even get an RC T-shirt or mug with logo or “I (heart) Climate Science” or “Have you hugged your climatologist today?”

  72. Dan Kirk-Davidoff:

    Re: 11 & 48: My student and I wrote that paper on the hypothetical weather impacts of a really big wind farm. I agree with Patrick027 ‘s interpretation of our results. We wanted to examine the impact of manipulation of a fully built-out on shore wind resource. The power to influence weather was pretty modest in our experiments, and the climate impacts were also modest. The more recent paper paper by Miller et al. (2011) likewise shows (see their figures 3 and 7), that you don’t get appreciable climate impacts due to wind farms until the amount of mechanical energy exerted on turbines approaches the entire global energy demand (21 TW). At half that level the predicted changes in temperature and precipitation are pretty trivial.

  73. EFS_Junior:

    #4 & #10 Seb Tallents

    Here’s a link to the final and draft of said paper (both work at my end with IE9);

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/2/1/2011/esd-2-1-2011.pdf

    http://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/1/169/2010/esdd-1-169-2010-print.pdf

  74. Geoff Beacon:

    Tom Keen in #35 wrote: “Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run.”

    SecularAnimist in #60 plausible argues against this. But if energy must be more expensive to save the planet so be it. I would suggest a high carbon tax with the revenues recycled to help the poor and increase employment by cutting taxes on labour. Remember that the affluent cause more carbon pollution than the poor.

    As you all probably know, it is possible for energy to be carbon negative e.g. by burning biomass with carbon capture and storage. It may cost more but we should be prepared to pay. How much more depends on your favourite climate change scenario.

    J Bowers #58 may be right about the name of our Green Ration Book but the pollution cost of everyday living is something about which we should all be aware. Because it is difficult to know this exactly (see Gavin’s reponse to #46) we decided to have a panel to make informed estimates (sometimes just guesses). I’m afraid we have rather run out of steam recently so if the right organisation wants to carry it forward we are open to offers.

    We need pollution charges counteract the deficiencies in our market economies. I am chairman of the Pollution Tax Association (established 1992). We pay (ridiculously small) carbon taxes to give to charity but I’m afraid there aren’t many of us left.

  75. SecularAnimist:

    Geoff Beacon wrote: “But if energy must be more expensive to save the planet so be it.”

    The price of wind and solar energy never changes: it’s free. Always has been, always will be.

    Of course the technology to harvest free wind and solar energy and convert it into electricity is not free. And the price of that technology does change: it gets cheaper and cheaper all the time, as the technology advances and becomes more efficient and production scales up.

    A renewables-based energy economy is thus one in which energy gets less expensive over time.

    Yes, fossil fuels “must be more expensive to save the planet” — but that is merely to say that their price must be forced (e.g. through a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system) to include the full cost of the pollution they generate.

  76. Steve Metzler:

    61. Radge Havers

    I headed over to the NY Times site and read the Krugman article that you linked to. I liked it. Then I began to read the comments. There was about a 50/50 mix between pro/anti-AGW stances. Not too shabby, nowadays anyway. Some of the highlighted comments were very good, but I stopped reading when I discovered this absolute clanger in a highlighted comment:

    Look, the volcanoes continue to spew CO2 at 100 times the rate we do, and have done so for the last billion years.

    Supposedly, the highlighted comments are indicative of, according to a “what’s this?” hover:

    A selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.

    So, now completely blatant untruths are “interesting” and/or “thoughtful”. Oh, I get it. Gotta have balance. Pfft.

  77. RickA:

    #65 – SecularAnimist.

    What about the fossil fuel (or Nuclear) power plants which are required to provide baseload power when it is dark or not windy?

    Maybe when we solve the problems of power storage, your statement will be true (that renewable energy gets less expensive over time).

    But as far as I know, when it is dark, households get their power from non-solar sources. When it is not windy, households get their power from non-wind sources.

    If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?

  78. SecularAnimist:

    RickA:

    1. Multiple studies in both the USA and Europe have found that a diversified regional portfolio of renewable energy sources, managed through a smart grid, can provide 24×7 power that is at least as reliable as coal or nuclear — without storage.

    2. There are no major “problems of power storage” to be “solved”. We already have multiple methods of storing energy including chemical (batteries and hydrogen), kinetic (compressed air, pumped hydro, flywheels) and thermal (concentrating solar thermal with molten salt thermal storage). These technologies need to be scaled up, to be sure — but there are no fundamental, unsolved “problems” in the way of doing that.

    Meanwhile, utility-scale grid storage is an area that is attracting huge investment, and where the technology is rapidly advancing, so even better solutions are on the way.

  79. flxible:

    Maybe when we solve the problems of power storage, your statement will be true (that renewable energy gets less expensive over time).

    Renewable generation equipment [solar and wind] can be cheaper than it currently is, that does not mean it will ever be as cheap as fossil fuels have been sans hidden costs. That is part of the problem with “selling” the idea of renewables, too many folks realize energy costs for the end user can only go up from the historic artifical levels regardless of source. The storage “problem” is one of system design – of the necessary infrastructure, particularly for distributed generation and lower level storage. The question has become the cost to humanity and the planet, we need to figure out how to answer it. If we don’t go 100% renewable, what happens when the oil runs out?

  80. David B. Benson:

    Having now read through chopter 8 of Raymond T. Pierrehumbert’s impressive book, “The Principles of Planetary Climate”, a question is raised: from where does Terra derive the nirtogen in the atmosphere? Nither Venus nor Mars seem to have much, if any. And more, from where does Terra derive such a high proportion of argon in the atmosphere?

    Puzzling and making the argument in Ward & Brownlee’s “Rare Earth” all the more compelling.

  81. J Bowers:

    RickA — “But as far as I know, when it is dark, households get their power from non-solar sources. When it is not windy, households get their power from non-wind sources.”

    You forget one. Everything I use from the national grid is replaced by hydro.

  82. dhogaza:

    David Benson:

    from where does Terra derive the nirtogen in the atmosphere?

    Volcanic activity …

    You may enjoy this.

  83. Radge Havers:

    66. Steve Metzler

    I missed that. Can’t help wondering if Krugman has any say at all in what gets highlighted. It’s probably some editor with zero knowledge of the subject targeting an imagined reader also with zero knowledge of the subject.

    Then again, perhaps it should just read “interesting or thoughtful” if interesting can be said to mean clinically horrendous.

    Journalism. What can you do? If it’s not cranking out so-called balance, it’s playing toady to paying nutters. Nutters who get very angry and probably have guns.

    Krugman’s closing line:

    So on second thought, I was wrong when I said that the joke was on the G.O.P.; actually, the joke is on the human race.

    There you go.

  84. David B. Benson:

    Partly answering my questions in #70,
    Present day composition of volcanoe effluents:

    * Water Vapor –> 60%
    * Carbon Dioxide –> 24%
    * Sulfur –> 13%
    * Nitrogen –> 5.7%
    * Argon –> 0.3%
    * Chlorine –> 0.1%

    from
    http://zebu.uoregon.edu/1996/ph123/l11.html

  85. Seb Tallents:

    At eveyone who answered:

    Thanks for your comments!

  86. David B. Benson:

    dhogaza @72 — Thanks.

    Turns out that Venus actually has more N2 than Terra by weight, which is another question for another day.

  87. Patrick 027:

    Re RickA – If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?

    1. So don’t go 100 % renewable right away. Going 40 % would be better than nothing. (Sometimes I get the impression that opponents of clean energy, efficiency, and GHG emission reductions insist on all-or-nothing, sloppy solutions. Frankly sometimes it sounds like ‘I can’t put my shoes on, because I would have to tie the laces if I did that!’)

    2. Some renewable energy sources in some places tend to somewhat compensate each other. Wind and solar, for example.

    3. Transmission. HVDC. Weather varies over space. Maybe ultimately intercontinental, interhemispheric transmission?

    4. CSP can be readily used with storage (I think this is being done now) to cover variations over a day. Also consider solar ponds, solar water and space heating, and solar heating for industrial processes. (Note that some solar heating can be combined with PV in hybrid systems.)

  88. Patrick 027:

    5. biofuels are stored/storable. Not the greatest renewable energy in general, though they could be better

  89. Patrick 027:

    if we moved away from corn ethanol

  90. Patrick 027:

    and towards – maybe algae, food and food

  91. Patrick 027:

    pr oc es sing scr ap s / wa ste
    (coffee grounds, peanut shells, olive pits – maybe banana peels, corn cobs, anything that’s gone bad or been recalled) and crop residues, and spoiled/damaged/contaminated crops (good for farmers!), used paper (napkins, paper muffin tin liners, paper coffee filters etc.), sewage (there’s paper in there too), … lawn grass clippings? There’s also CH4 from landfills. I think CH4 might also be used from some agricultural sources – which would reduce CO2eq emissions.

    6. Hydroelectric power is stored (dams, anyway – yes, not always ecologically friendly, but we’ve already got some so…) and can fill short-term gaps.

    7. Geothermal might fill seasonal gaps – not sure how that would affect the price or efficiency, but putting it out there. There is also potential for (adiabatic) CAES. Would hydroelectric power tend to be more available during cloudier periods in some places and seasons? Fuels might eventually be made from off-peak PV power.

    8. Remember that power consumption is neither constant nor completely rigid. Power consumption tends to reach a minimum at night, peaks in summer and winter (depending on latitude, other things). Solar in particular has some correlation with summer and daytime usage – particularly air-conditioning. Power consumption could evolve to different power supply patterns if pricing signals allow it (think market economy – balancing supply/demand curves for source, storage, use, transmission). Water desalination and pumping may be more in demand during droughts – would these also tend to be sunnier? Perhaps aluminum production could function as a storage mechanism. And CO2 sequestration and ocean pH buffering efforts might be done seasonally (though if these were energy-intensive they would tend to defeat the purpose).

  92. RickA:

    J Bowers #71:

    Ah – you are right! I did forgot hydro.

  93. Patrick 027:

    Re 69 flxible

    Renewable generation equipment [solar and wind] can be cheaper than it currently is, that does not mean it will ever be as cheap as fossil fuels have been sans hidden costs. That is part of the problem with “selling” the idea of renewables, too many folks realize energy costs for the end user can only go up from the historic artifical levels regardless of source.

    I agree that refering to solar and wind as free is not necessarily helpful, as one could say that coal in the ground is free and the costs only involve getting at it, getting it out, preparing it for burning, building and maintaining the power plant, scrubbing the pollutants that are presently required, ideally paying/ paying for mining accident victims, ash spill and contaminant victims, mercury, GHGs, property damage, etc, etc, etc. Although it is helpful to point out we’ll have plentiful solar resource for at least a few billion years (and in principle, the other ingredients can be recycled).

    But I disagree that the price can never come down to present values without GHG externality policies. Not that I expect it to become as cheap as coal, but there isn’t a hard fast rule that says it can’t. And depending on when this comment is read, the inclusion of petroleum in the total energy expenditure may make net savings from switching to clean energy and efficiency options more likely, particularly in the long term (consider a future steady state where PV power component sales only need keep up with replacement rates …

    (If it still takes a long time for PV systems to realize net economic benifit, or depending on how rapidly PV manufacturing can be scaled up, we might have ‘strategic PV reserves’ to handle certain kinds of disasters. Then again, how long does it take a fossil-fueled or nuclear power plant to pay-back or to be produced? And we can’t stockpile those so readily. Also, perhaps there will be a bifurcation in technology, with some types of PV being cheaply manufactured in cheaply manufactured factories, but require greater area and degrade more rapidly or fail more often – these could be employed in disaster situatuations giving time for the quality PV devices to be produced. By the way, what kind of disaster, nationally or worldwide, would actually cause a problem necessitating these solutions? I guess that depends on how many power plants are packed into small areas in wildfire country or tornado alley, etc. – but I haven’t done any calculations with that).

    Aside from that, consider that the production possibilities curve is not always convex (the efficient market might be trapped in a lower local maximum) and can evolve (technology, experience, habits, values) or depend on the timeframe that can be considered – that can be an argument for some types of government involvement).

  94. Susan Anderson:

    re Krugman comments, whoever highlights seems to have taken “range of views” a bit too literally. However, if you look at “reader’s recommendations” you’ll see it’s quite a different picture.

    As someone who spends too much time over at DotEarth (cross referenced) you’ll see quite a different picture. There, the deniers have taken over. I found this relevant:

    http://imgur.com/QAcJm
    “Writers Needed to Post Right-wing Comments (National)” at Craigslist.

    This is what you are up against.

  95. Patrick 027:

    Re 62 Dan Kirk-Davidoff – Thank you.

  96. Patrick 027:

    Not to clog up the blog with mere politeness, but also
    re 65 EFS_Junior – Thank you.

  97. flxible:

    Patrick – solar is already economic, except the upfront cost makes it problematic for most individuals – amortized over decades, yes it is “cheap” and may become cheaper as prodction ramps up, but considering the finite nature of resources required for the infrastructure and endlessly escalating labor and profit costs, no alternative can in the future approach the apparent current cheapness of fossil fuels.

    I know a lot of folks, including myself, that would gladly have roofs covered with solar panels . . . if someone else would pay for them. Right now my electricity comes 100% from hydro and I only have to pay monthly for what I use, I didn’t have to pay to build the dam. ;)

  98. John E. Pearson:

    Patrixk 027 said Geothermal might fill seasonal gaps

    Why seasonal gaps? WHy not baseload. As far as I know in the places where it is used it provides baseload.

  99. flxible:

    Patrick – solar is already economic, except the upfront cost makes it problematic for most individuals. Amortized over decades, yes it is “cheap” and may become cheaper as production ramps up, but considering the finite nature of resources required for the infrastructure and endlessly escalating labor and profit costs, no alternative can in the future approach the current apparent cheapness of fossil fuels.

    I know a lot of folks, including myself, that would gladly have roofs covered with solar panels . . . if someone else would pay for them. Right now my electricity comes 100% from hydro and I only have to pay monthly for what I use, I didn’t have to pay to build the dam. ;)

  100. Fred Magyar:

    But I disagree that the price can never come down to present values without GHG externality policies. Not that I expect it to become as cheap as coal, but there isn’t a hard fast rule that says it can’t. And depending on when this comment is read, the inclusion of petroleum in the total energy expenditure may make net savings from switching to clean energy and efficiency options more likely, particularly in the long term (consider a future steady state where PV power component sales only need keep up with replacement rates

    It’s really time to toss that most tired of canards that renewables are too expensive and unreliable. Even if they are more expensive than coal and oil for now, assuming we don’t include the externalities and costs to our environment. As for the ‘WE ALL NEED POWER 24/7′ or we can’t survive, that is pure BS! It’s time to reexamine our current paradigm and redefine what our needs really are. In my view at least, clean air, clean water and a stable and non toxic environment are quite high on that list.

    May I suggest an hour with one of my favorite entrepreneurs: Bill Gross, from Idea Labs. He recently gave this talk at the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Lecture Series.

    http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2659

    We need a few thousand more people like him and a lot fewer Dr. Armstrongs, Koch Brothers, and the cowards and mental midgets that currently inhabit the halls of The US Congress.

  101. Brian Dodge:

    “If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?” RickA — 4 Apr 2011 @ 3:54 PM

    This.

  102. jthomas:

    Gavin,

    You might want to tackle this guy:

    Wall St. Journal
    OPINION EUROPEAPRIL 5, 2011

    How Scientific Is Climate Science?

    “What is arguably the most important reason to doubt global warming can be explained in plain English.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704615504576171863463697564.html?mod=europe_opinion

  103. dhogaza:

    David Benson:

    Turns out that Venus actually has more N2 than Terra by weight, which is another question for another day.

    “The surface of Venus is dominated by volcanism and has produced more volcanoes than any other planet in the solar system.”

    Wikipedia, I think (being too lazy to confirm at the moment)

  104. Vendicar Decarian:

    “Geoff – there is currently a Canadian federal election happening – all that can be said is “hope the Conservatives don’t get a majority”.” – 59

    They are guaranteed to.

  105. Vendicar Decarian:

    “If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?” – 69

    Well, then… On that day we can conclude that God has given us another day of rest.

    You wouldn’t turn down a gift from God would you?

  106. Vendicar Decarian:

    “Ah – you are right! I did forgot hydro.” – 83

    But what happens when it doesn’t rain?

  107. seamus:

    More interesting research: Mangroves Among the Most Carbon-Rich Forests in the Tropics “mangroves may be strong candidates for programs aiming to mitigate climate change by reducing deforestation rates”

    It’s such a shame that nuclear (especially gen iv) is often totally ignored when talking about clean energy plans. We need “all of the above” in order to supplant coal and provide power to the 1.6 billion people who still have no access to electricity.

  108. Titus:

    Brian Dodge @91 answers this question:
    “If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?” RickA — 4 Apr 2011 @ 3:54 PM

    With “This” (a link to a solar reference).

    The question from RickA was “what happens when it’s dark”. Many parts of the world have very limited sun light at the times of year when energy is needed most. It’s a great option for most tropical regions where less energy is typically required. Hard to see right now how this will turn into a viable option. It certainly is a very limited option (and very high cost) option to RickA’s question.

  109. don gisselbeck:

    Once again, we need to pay for wars in the Gulf and most of our War Department with petroleum taxes, not that anyone can hear that.

  110. Ron R.:

    My 2c on the energy issue.

    Most of the difficulty in the debate between the dirty energy camp (oil, coal and nuclear) and the clean energy camp (solar, wind, geothermal etc. etc.) is that people tend to have an all or nothing view of things. It’s either/or for us. We have difficulty compromising.

    I think though the problem would be better characterized as a case of not having our priorities straight. From the beginning dirty energy has utterly dominated while clean alternatives have been given short shrift. What we should have done loooong ago was to completely reverse that. We should have done a 180. Had we invested in solar, for example, instead of paying scandalous subsidies to dirty energy which certainly did not need them, our outlook today would certainly be brighter. We SHOULD have made clean alternatives the dominant sources of energy and used the dirty forms, but only as a last resort. It’s a little late now but we could and should still endeavor to do that.

    I’m not talking about huge, centralized solar and wind farms, though those might be appropriate in certain situations. I mean de-centralized alternatives. I.E. if every building was outfitted with the system(s) that would best serve the energy needs of those occupying it (and we could obtain most or all of the materials necessary for construction simply by recycling the plastic and metal we’ve thrown and continue to throw away) our need for dirty energy would be greatly reduced. IOW, the dirty energy cultists often decry the inability of clean energy to cover everyone all of the time. So they throw the whole idea out. It can be debated whether clean could cover us all especially with improving technologies. But had we prioritized clean alternatives first and foremost decades ago and used the others as a filler for gaps everyone could have been covered and we more than likely would have never had to deal with such devastating crisis’ as the gulf oil spill or Fukushima.

    We have enough energy, we just have to get our priorities straight. Whether there’s time left to do so is another issue.

    P.s. For the solar naysayers out there take a look at what one teenager was able to accomplish with and old satellite dish and some mirrors.

    http://tinyurl.com/63kkl46

  111. J Bowers:

    #84 Patrick 027 — “Not that I expect it to become as cheap as coal”

    Coal is hugely expensive, with that extra but hidden cost of $345 billion per annum to US taxpayers alone IIRC. It’s also the most dangerous with more deaths per terrawatt hour than any other source of energy, with oil in second place.

    The True Cost of Coal Power
    Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal. Epstein et al (2011)
    Chart: The Deadliest Energy Sources in the World (deaths per terrawatt hour)

  112. J Bowers:

    @ #92 J Thoms

    That would be Doug “climate scientists are corrupt call the FBI” Keenan probably doing his bit for the climate troofer cause in response to the BEST preliminary results. The tobacco tricks of casting doubt on climate science become more openly transparent with each passing week.

  113. Fred Magyar:

    Brian Dodge @91,

    “If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?”

    Umm, candle light dinner, followed by activities that most conservatives can’t conceive of and wouldn’t approve of even if they could… >;^)

    Comment by Brian Dodge

  114. Kevin C:

    OK, here’s a random thought which has been bothering me for a while. Maybe someone can tell me if I’m stupid, or otherwise.

    GISS has been showing a consistent upward trend, while HADCRUT has shown more of a plateau during the last decade. We know that the main difference is that HADCRUT doesn’t have global coverage and omits the poles. It is therefore also more strongly influenced by ENSO.

    It seems to me that since most energy is absorbed from the sun in the tropics, HADCRUT would also be more strongly influenced by the solar cycle. So it saw a steeper rise during the increase of cycle 23, and a more pronounce plateau during the solar minimum. You could say we are seeing the extra energy being absorbed in the tropics during the maximum and redistributed to the poles (where HADCRUT doesn’t see it) during the minimum.

    If that is so, then HADCRUT should show a steeper increase than GISTEMP as cycle 24 kicks in (bearing in mind that cycle 24 looks like being very weak). Does that make sense?

  115. flxible:

    we need to pay for wars in the Gulf and most of our War Department with petroleum taxes

    I wonder if the Americans who consider the Gulf wars as being specifically to protect the cheap supply of oil complete that circle. ;)

  116. Ric Merritt:

    There have been several replies to the naive (or trolling?) question What will happen if we go 100% renewable? None of them (sorry if I missed something amongst the crowd) included the most basic part of the answer, which is that we ARE going 100% renewable, or as near as makes no difference, whether we like it or not. Not all at once, of course, but since fossil fuels do not renew on the time scales of people and civilizations, we’ll be using something else more and more.

    Better concentrate on how to do that with minimal regrets. If it is to be done without horrendous losses, that must be demonstrated at scale, not merely wished for eagerly and devoutly. “Scale” means close to 100%, with infrastructure NOT dependent on fossil fuels. Infrastructure includes transportation, industry, and the built environment. This is all obvious, but strangely enough seldom figures much in public discussion.

  117. Sphaerica (Bob):

    104, Kevin C,

    I don’t think so. Your assumption equates to the position that the tropics will be relatively warmer then other parts of the globe during the height of a solar cycle, and cooler at the minimum. Temperature is redistributed around the planet pretty quickly and efficiently, I think, so I don’t think that’s true.

    HADCRUT will always be low if a lot of the warmth is being pushed up into an area where they don’t use observations (i.e. the high Arctic), but I don’t think the conclusion that it will then reflect more warmth at times due to a “tropical bias” is true.

    In fact, the opposite could turn out to be true (i.e. that due to higher insolation/energy, more heat is redistributed poleward more efficiently, and HADCRUT would then demonstrate a negative bias).

    Consider these graphs:

    Wood for Trees : GISTEMP, HADCRUT, Sun Spots and TSI, 1950+

    and the same, zoomed in on more recent decades:

    Wood for Trees : GISTEMP, HADCRUT, Sun Spots and TSI, 1979+

    Wood for Trees : GISTEMP, HADCRUT, Sun Spots and TSI, 1990+

  118. Septic Matthew:

    Here is an item on the costs of a current solar technology:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/02/19/solar-power-almost-as-cheap-as-natural-gas-in-six-states/

    I have lost the link, but the same CleanTechnical web page reported a few months ago that the city of Los Angeles had contracted for the installation of a new solar facility to provide electricity during peak demand. The solar facility won the contract because it was cheaper than the next-best alternative, which was natural-gas powered. I expect more announcements with that theme. Solar is nice for this purpose because peak production matches peak demand. Solar power costs, measured in $/megawatt-hour, continue to decline, both because of new technologies and because of continuous improvement in the manufacturing processes.

    Also more plentiful and cheaper by the year are technologies for converting and storing energy from wind and sun to provide backup when wind and sun are absent. That’s a topic for another post.

    It is a mistake to think of either/or (when many technologies can combine to provide solutions, each in a favored niche), and now-or-never (when the replacement of America’s coal-fired power plants will take place over decades.)

  119. Edward Greisch:

    106 Ric Merritt: Nuclear is not a fossil fuel and we have enough for 30,000 years if we recycle.

    [Response: A quick reminder that nuclear energy is always off topic here. If you want to discuss that, please go to Barry Brooks’ bravenewclimate site. Thanks – gavin]

  120. Didactylos:

    Ron R.: The “problem” is that there are not two camps, but as many camps as there are people in the debate. Everyone has their own view on energy, and each view brings with it its own set of compromises, problems and blind spots.

    I think it’s time we cut through some of the confusion. It doesn’t really matter what our energy policy is. Some of us can support nuclear power, others can prefer wind over solar – but we must agree that fossil fuels have to go. And by “go”, I mean leaving them buried.

    We can argue the other points as much as we like, but it mustn’t distract from the central goal. And, I think, details such as where and how to build wind, solar, nuclear and others will ultimately be decided by cold reality and stupid local politics.

    On the subject of microgeneration, I have to direct you to the opinions of David MacKay. In short, every little adds up…. to…. very little. For small-scale to work, it has to be ubiquitous. And then it’s not small-scale any more, it’s massive – just spread out a lot. The idea is right, but I rarely hear people discussing how to really make it work. They are usually far more interested in their own personal power project, and often feeling so virtuous (and worried about how much it really cost them) that they just want their ego stroking and the difficult questions kept far, far away.

  121. Vendicar Decarian:

    RE:85
    “http://imgur.com/QAcJm”

    Good find Susan.

    — Transcribed —

    Date: 2011-03028 1:03PM EDT

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    You writing must be strong, right-wing and use supplied talking points without bogging down in too much detail. You are creating an online persona with a consistent tone. Ideally you can find or make up facts and statistics to stir controversy. Where suited humour, sarcasm and personal insults are welcome.

    You are a news junky who is able to log on to news forums, facebook pages several times a day. You are able to write comments tailored to new topics while always repeating key talking points.

    Compensation TBD. hourly rate and volume of online activity. Bonuses for controversial postings that heat up a topic or forum thread.

    How to apply: We are more interested in your writing than your resume. To apply submit a 100 word post based on the headline “ignatieff Promises No Coalition after Election.” Show us that you can write from a right wing character voice, score points, stir outrage and use humour.

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  122. GlenFergus:

    Realers might enjoy Richard Glover’s weekend piece at the SMH on the internet and climate change deniers:

    …they fiercely drive their heads into the nearest beachfront, their bums defiantly aquiver as they fart their toxic message to the world.

    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/why-the-internet-will-destroy-the-planet-20110401-1cri1.html

  123. Patrick 027:

    Re 88John E. Pearson says:
    Geothermal WHy not baseload
    I get the impression that geothermal is generally thought of as a baseload contributor; I was thinking that perhaps it might be designed to be ramped up in the colder, cloudier portions of the winter when solar is more scarce – depending on what wind, hydroelectric, and biofuels can do. (Hydroelectric could be seasonal and I suppose if we get more winter precipitation with earlier snow melt … but that would be after the winter energy usage peak and solar resource minimum, wouldn’t it? On the other hand, in Mediterranean climates with rainy winters… – of course, othere than given precipitation patterns, the potential problem with seasonal hydroelectric would be unacceptable or problematic reservoir variations – but I don’t know a lot about that. Large areas are helpful – what if water could be pumped from Lake Ontario back into Lake Erie in the summer? Just keep the zebra muscles out of the system…)

    On the other hand, the cheapest easiest ways to use solar power would be for lighting and heating (oh, depending on insulation and window technology). Even on a cloudy day, skylights can brighten a room. With good heat storage that can carry over into the night. What would be really cool is windows that let solar IR in in winter and reflect all but visible light in summer (use retractable filters (cost?) or transparent blinds if necessary (cost?)). Anyway, if cheap enough, no problem only using it for part of the year – it would still pay back well. One thing winter has going for it is that waste heat can be a resource, not a burden.

    Re 101 J Bowers – I was of course refering to the present cost that appears in transactions now, but yes it’s good to emphasize the public cost.

    Re 106 Ric Merritt – Have we been over this before? Infrastructure already available can be used. During the transition period, of course some fossil fuels (and corn ethanol and nuclear) will be used to produce renewable energy infrastructure. But as more of the energy we use is clean energy, more of the energy used to provide clean energy will be clean energy. If we still need (hydro)carbon for some particular uses (metals production, etc.) then so be it, but eventually we might make such fuels using renewable power – well, as you said, we’ll pretty much have to. (What fraction of energy use is best left for hydrocarbons? Maybe I did the math wrong (was in a hurry), but it seems like less than 0.2 % of U.S. energy consumption is fuel input to non-heating, non-cooling, non-machine drive industrial processes. http://www.eia.doe.gov/aer/pecss_diagram.html
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/aer/pdf/pages/sec2_15.pdf
    Then there’s some hydrocarbon products themselves (asphalt, plastic) and allowing some fraction of transportation (PHEV’s fuel inputs for long-distances if necessary, air travel, ocean boats?) remains unelectrified…, some fuel for (winter in particular) space and water heating)

    Re 97 seamus – what is this nuclear gen iv – no wait, we shouldn’t get into that here (which website should I go to). (Just my two cents though – build a component (like a fuse or surge protector) that is designed to fail above normal operating temps but below meltdown temps, which upon failling, would release either extra neutron-absorbing material (maybe a liquid, in case things get bent and solids can’t get through) or release some fraction of the fuel rods into a lower chamber … etc, halting the chain reaction)(PS maybe the depleted U should be used as a basement to catch melted fuel and hold it?). PS I’ve heard something about potential for Th-based nuclear power plant?

  124. Patrick 027:

    Sorry, just go ahead and delete my Re 97 part…

  125. J Bowers:

    This is a new one:

    MBA course: ‘blind pursuit of profit is destroying the planet’

    Marbella University offers ‘Green MBA’ highlighting ‘lies, deceit and hype’ of business world
    […]
    Look at the “Green MBA” course description and you can see that issues such as population growth, climate change and “limited resources and raw materials” are all prominently discussed – even if there is still a tendency to slip effortlessly into management speak: “The business world must become aware of such developments and use all vanguard tools to efficiently navigate in such a challenging business environment.”…

    Press Release

  126. Steve Metzler:

    112. GlenFergus:

    That Richard Glover article you linked to is just so full of win. Made my day. But of course, it is at the same time a sad commentary on where we’ve come to :-\

  127. don gisselbeck:

    Re: #85,111
    Are you sure we are not being Poed here?

  128. Jonathan Abbatt:

    Matt Ridley writing in the Times recently http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article2972845.ece , claims to have discovered that sea level rises are decelerating, thus reducing the main threat to our societies (and that climate change remedies are ineffective or too costly)..Anyone knowledgeable care to comment on his sources?

  129. Jonathan Abbatt:

    Matt Ridley, writing in the Times recently, claims to have discovered that sea level rise is decelerating, reducing the main threat to human societies and that the proposed solutions are too costly or ineffective. See http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article2972845.ece “Green cure for a nosebleed: choke the patient”. Anyone care to comment on his analysis?

  130. adelady:

    That’s the ineffable beauty of Poe in a nutshell.

    You can’t actually tell without a fair bit more information about the source.

  131. David B. Benson:

    dhogaza @93 — Yes, I think I knew that. But the question still remains; why so much more vulcanism.

  132. Vendicar Decarian:

    “Are you sure we are not being Poed here?” – 117

    You should respond and find out.

    http://www.herinst.org/sbeder/PR/tanks.html

  133. Chris Colose:

    It seems them pesky climate modelers have been outdone. Boogg Bang drives global climate change

    arxiv has great stuff…

  134. Chris Colose:

    If link above is broken
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.0061

  135. Sarah Albright:

    Using the word ignorant to describe Republicans who refuse to listen to climate scientists is accurate, but insulting. It halts the national conversation because puts people on the defensive. Liberals are super sensitive to labels (unless they apply to Republicans), and are forever changing them, so this should be easy for them to understand. Maybe it should be said that these Republicans are “ignorant of climate change science” instead of “ignorant.” Petty point? Maybe. But it is part of the reason we can’t have a reasonable discussion about the issue of climate change in this country.

    Scientists and environmentalists have only themselves to blame if the public has yet to grasp the severity of the problem enough to elect politicians who will put effective regulations in place. Republicans are scared of carbon emission regulation because they are worried about what it will do to our extremely fragile economy. It is indeed a complex problem that will have dire consequences for future generations. We can’t survive without a healthy economy today, but we won’t be able to survive without a healthy environment tomorrow.

    People are scared. That is why our politicians are acting this way. I am neither Republican nor Democrat, and I am very tired of the insults thrown back and forth, the intolerance of ideas, and the pettiness that runs rampant in blogs like this. I am no scientist, but I do know that if we all sit around and argue like children, we will accomplish nothing. Education might be slow, but it is necessary. Community outreach programs are extremely effective, but there are too few. It will take time to bring about effective change, but the longer we sit around and insult each other, the less time we have to DO something about it.

    Now it is time for someone to come back with a clever insult.

  136. Ric Merritt:

    Patrick 027 #113:

    Yes, we have been over this before a bit, but never with any responses that are comforting, or very illuminating. What we would need, to continue economic growth as conventionally defined, is transportation, including the big stuff (container ships, passenger and cargo planes, gargantuan dump trucks and open-pit mining shovels, you get the idea), construction, roads and bridges, manufacturing, all without FF, literally down to the ground.

    The transition has to always stay ahead of the FF production decrease, or the world economy will contract severely, perhaps convulsively. Any problems along those lines will affect all investments, including ones aiming for sustainability. You will notice that we’ve known this, to varying approximations, for decades now, without exerting ourselves very greatly. Maybe you know something about green container ships that I don’t, but I don’t see the needed progress.

  137. Don Gisselbeck:

    Re: imgr
    Wow! I didn’t think anyone would seriously say “Ideally you can find or make up facts and statistics to stir controversy.” My somewhat paranoid brain still wonders if someone is trying to discredit truth tellers with false documents saying true things (ala the Dan Rather/G. W. Bush AWOL affair). If not, maybe we can use this. Whenever a denier shows up on a blog say “Are you getting paid for posting this? If not you should be.” Then give the link.

  138. One Anonymous Bloke:

    Sarah Albright #124 That seems disingenuous to me. As an interested outsider I have watched coverage of the recent congressional hearings with alarm and disgust: it is abundantly clear that the issue is not ignorance, it is the corruption endemic in your government. People are ‘scared’, although I think ‘concerned’ is more accurate, because your politicians are acting this way.
    Blaming ‘scientists and environmentalists’ for the lack of clarity around these issues is equally naive in such a poisonous political environment.

  139. Sphaerica (Bob):

    124, Sarah,

    There’s a lot to reply to in your 3 short paragraphs, but one thing in particular struck me:

    We can’t survive without a healthy economy today, but we won’t be able to survive without a healthy environment tomorrow.

    People are scared.

    This really bugs me. People have been programmed to think this for the past decade… be afraid for the economy, fear loss of income, fear taxes, fear fear fear and consume.

    People shouldn’t be scared. If you compare lifestyles of average Americans today versus in the fifties, I believe we have more security and more creature comforts, so far beyond what any human could ever expect that its frightening. I won’t get into a philosophical discussion of whether we are actually happier or have better or worse values, but I do think we’re spoiled, pampered, and live in fear of losing any little thing, because we seemingly have everything — cheap.

    We could easily live with less. The world is expected to spend 2 trillion dollars a year on electronic entertainment and media. 2 trillion a year. Couldn’t we sacrifice just a little of that to move forward, without harming the economy?

    When I go out I see streams and streams of cars driving by, hundreds of people hurriedly going places. Do we really all need to be constantly on the move? Do we have to live with an ability to use $0.50 of gas to go to 5tarbucks to get a Grande Skinny Vanill4 L4tte?

    People in the fifties thought it was a big deal just to get a TV. Today, we expect everything, from huge flat screens to 0n demand movies to the best health care on the planet to total and complete protection from job loss.

    Today’s conservatives talk about “entitlements” in the soci4list sense and the welfare state. But really, people have come to treat action movies with special effects, the Internet, giant televisions, huge SUVs, D1sney vacations, and a lot of other perks of modern society as “entitlements” in the true sense of the word.

    For the entire history of civilization, until the past fifty years, people lived with the constant realities that they could die or lose a loved one at any time, and that an ever changing world meant economic insecurity. For most of the history of the world, the vast majority of the population, from peasants and serfs to factory workers on up, toiled countless hours and lived like virtual slaves.

    During the Second World War the peoples of the earth tried to virtually destroy civilization in the name of their disparate ideologies. To engage in that monumental struggle, people made personal sacrifices beyond the imagination of any American living today.

    People today are spoiled brats.

    Today we finally have a society where the common man can enjoy a great degree of security and creature comforts… and we have grown so fat on this that people are scared to lose anything, or sacrifice anything, or to live responsibly and within reasonable limits so that this untenable system can actually last beyond another generation or two.

    People are scared.

    And that’s the problem. Instead of being scared of the things that should scare them, they’re scared of losing the tiniest little convenience from an overly pampered lifestyle.

    So please forgive this long diatribe, but I don’t buy it. People are scared, and that’s the problem. The economy is not fragile. The problem is that you believe that it’s fragile.

    How about if we start by growing up, and start by ceasing to exacerbate and prey upon people’s quite honestly irresponsible and unfounded fears.

    [Forgive the 0bfusc4tion mistakes, but the spam detector thinks I’m a very bad person.]

  140. caerbannog:

    Sarah Albright said,

    It will take time to bring about effective change, but the longer we sit around and insult each other, the less time we have to DO something about it.

    Who’s “We”, Kemo Sabe?

  141. Sphaerica (Bob):

    After the disheartening display of ignorance and snake oil sales showmanship at the hearings this week…

    Could we perhaps educate politicians by… trying to educate politicians? I’m not talking about the handful of rabid deniers who are beyond hope, but rather that disinterested majority who are sitting on the sidelines and letting the ignorant and politically motivated lead the way.

    It’s not going to happen in “hearings” like these (it’s spelled “h-e-a-r-i-n-g-s,” but it’s pronounced “laughable farce concocted for political reasons by people with closed minds and absolutely no intention of actually listening and learning”).

    What would happen if a group of leading climate scientists scheduled a conference specifically for congressmen and congresswomen and senators, in Washington, with a series of seminars and workshops specifically aimed at teaching the science to (and debunking the myths for) the policy makers in our government?

    This really doesn’t need to be big name scientists, and probably shouldn’t be. Any collection of ordinary but informed professors — actually, ones who are good at teaching, versus good at doing research — would do the trick.

    Is there any entity (such as the Union for Concerned Scientists) that could fund and organize such a venture?

    If not… perhaps its time one was created (the Union for Concerned Climate Scientists?).

    Expecting politicians to responsibly educate themselves is clearly not a workable approach to the problem. They won’t be motivated to do so until the problem has become so obvious and dangerous that they need to publicly admit to recognizing the problem in order to get elected — which means it will be too late to actually do anything about it.

  142. jthomas:

    I’d like to point you all to this interesting study that just came out:

    “What Motivates a Climate Skeptic?”

    http://www.desmogblog.com/what-motivates-climate-skeptic

  143. Ray Ladbury:

    Sarah Albright,
    So what would you suggest as a description for those who wilfully refuse to face reality?

    And if fear is sufficient to cause human beings to reject reality, then what hope can we have for the long-term survival of the species?

    Given the way the Rethuglicans are holding the government hostage right now, I’m afraid ignorant is just too charitable a term for me to use toward them.

  144. Susan Anderson:

    I have to apologize. I have no idea if it is true, but in my life peregrinations I find that while I was absent, someone claims the Craigslist post, which I stole from someone else, is a plant. I don’t know if it is, but perhaps we should just take it as read that that kind of activity does take place, plant or not, and move on.

    Meanwhile, I agree with those who claim that all or nothing means we do nothing, which is not a good or viable option. The earth is about to deal us a huge surprise whether we like it or not, both in the form of consequences and of diminution of cheap sources of fossil fuel. The antis have been preventing full-scale development of the real cheap fuels, the renewables, since Carter and likely before. It’s a bad argument, not made better by persistence or successful anti-human-race results.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Tenney Naumer has posted a few fascinating items about (a) ozone problems (I’ll leave that one alone) and (b) the giant pool of freshwater in the Arctic. What a schlemozzle!

    Anyone interested, or have any ideas?
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325111901.htm

    (given my lack of science background, I’ve used the ScienceDaily cite instead of the article itself; also this ABC news item (ABC does a good job on these kinds of things; don’t go to the kneejerk anti-MSM thing here, please):

    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=13299904

    Anyway, does anyone know if this is real? I know the Arctic has been crazy lately, is this part of it?

    Tenney had a few items about this on her blog: you’d have to click on the titles or search to get past other material about Wisconsin and the Kochs (not that that is not of interest):
    http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.com/

  145. adelady:

    bob. I think that sense of ‘entitlement’ attitude is a bit ingrained. Think of a nomad or a peasant desperately clutching their one and only cooking pot or quilt. Hanging on to what we’ve got is fairly instinctive.

    It takes a bit of perspective to stand back and look at our bulging wardrobes and the clutch of contrivances sitting in the rechargers on a shelf and see them clearly. To see such things clearly in a developed country *should* lead to a sense of gratitude, if not pure wonder at the abundance of easily acquired food as well as all the cheap electronic gadgetry making our lives better or more fun (or easier housework).

    That fear you talk of is a rejection of the ideas of abundance and its associated gratitude. Not sure how best to promote it. Most approaches I’ve seen come very close to forms of either Buddhism or tree-hugging hippieism, though there is a strong theme of gratitude in much Christian thought, but that tends to get mixed up with a whole lot of other, not-so-helpful stuff in many people’s minds.

  146. Patrick 027:

    Re 130, etc. – you can lead an elephant to water but you’ll have to do a search to make sure he’s not packing some LSD to take with it.

  147. Ron R.:

    Didactylos — 5 Apr 2011 @ 3:18 PM said, In short, every little adds up…. to…. very little. For small-scale to work, it has to be ubiquitous. And then it’s not small-scale any more, it’s massive – just spread out a lot.

    I think you need to listen to your own words. Of course, compared to giant power plants someone’s home solar system may be very small scale – but it’s enough for them. Get it? Yes, for small scale to work to fix our current energy problems it has to be ubiquitous, every home, office building etc. So yes if everyone did it, if clean alternatives were maximized as much as possible it would be big, but that’s not a problem, that’s the solution. Every kilowatt generated with clean energy is one less generated with dirty. Let everyone that can generate their own energy. Cost’s could be offset just by diverting subsidies going to dirty energy. Another benefit with de-centralized energy is that people would no longer, or at least not nearly to the degree that they are now, be at the mercy of the power giants that can raise rates whenever they feel like it. Nor would they be nearly as subject to massive blackouts as we are today.

    Don’t know where you were going with your last point. But let me give a personal example. I built our own home solar water heater for a few hundred dollars. I live in a area with distinct seasons so the cold season gets really cold (though that’s seems to be moderating lately – no news to anyone here). Still even with that I am able to turn off the gas since we only use it to heat water, from the beginning of April to the end of November the last couple of years. That’s seven months of savings and adds up to a lot. Some people have built their own solar and space heaters that work the year round. Now if everyone that could did something as simple as that think of the amount of oil and gas that would stay in the ground.

    There actually is a lot of creativity out there. You can see for yourself at this DIY site:

    builditsolar.com

  148. Ron R.:

    Sphaerica (Bob) — 6 Apr 2011 @ 5:04 PM

    Nice thought but I guarantee that as soon as anyone trys to arrange a educate the politician seminar the Liars 4 Hire on the other side will do exactly the same thing.

  149. Radge Havers:

    jthomas @ 131

    Seems to be a fair description of how the ideology plays out but doesn’t really explain the behavior. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s because we’re born with early neolithic social predispositions which don’t filter out the dysfunctional ideation of others very well, belying the stability of our modern institutions. And if ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny in a behavioral sense, then the antics of certain pontificators suggest stunted growth somewhere at the root of the problem.

    Imagine Oog and Ook huddled together in their cave, feeling threatened, lips curled in a primate display of disgust and working themselves into a frenzy over those uppity Gorks who think they’re so special with their fire pits and their roundy wheel thingys; them and their fancy mouth words… Stupid Gorks. Go bonk stupid Gork heads.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  150. Ron R.:

    Hi messed up the captcha again so resubmitting my comments,

    Didactylos — 5 Apr 2011 @ 3:18 PM said, In short, every little adds up…. to…. very little. For small-scale to work, it has to be ubiquitous. And then it’s not small-scale any more, it’s massive – just spread out a lot.

    I think you need to listen to your own words. Of course, compared to giant power plants someone’s home solar system may be very small scale – but it’s enough for them. Get it? Yes, for small scale to work to fix our current energy problems it has to be ubiquitous, every home, office building etc. So yes if everyone did it, if clean alternatives were maximized as much as possible it would be big, but that’s not a problem, that’s the solution. Every kilowatt generated with clean energy is one less generated with dirty. Let everyone that can generate their own energy. Cost’s could be offset just by diverting subsidies going to dirty energy. Another benefit with de-centralized energy is that people would no longer, or at least not nearly to the degree that they are now, be at the mercy of the power giants that can raise rates whenever they feel like it. Nor would they be nearly as subject to massive blackouts as we are today.

    Don’t know where you were going with your last point. But let me give a personal example. I built our own home solar water heater for a few hundred dollars. I live in a area with distinct seasons so the cold season gets really cold (though that’s seems to be moderating lately – no news to anyone here). Still even with that I am able to turn off the gas since we only use it to heat water, from the beginning of April to the end of November the last couple of years. That’s seven months of savings and adds up to a lot. Some people have built their own solar and space heaters that work the year round. Now if everyone that could did something as simple as that think of the amount of oil and gas that would stay in the ground.

    There actually is a lot of creativity out there. You can see for yourself at this DIY site:

    builditsolar.com

  151. Vendicar Decarian:

    “And if fear is sufficient to cause human beings to reject reality, then what hope can we have for the long-term survival of the species?” – 132

    Fear is the mind killer, and always has been. I doubt if this will ever change. Our machine replacements may decide to keep us as pets rather than eradicate us.

    Fear the primary motivating factor behind denialism though. Fear of change, fear that one’s ideology is incompatible with reality, fear of the unknown… fear. fear.. fear…

    Denialists are not only irrational. They are cowards. It is highly advisable that they be publicly labeled as such.

  152. Ron R.:

    Ray Ladbury — 6 Apr 2011 @ 5:27 PM said “Given the way the Rethuglicans are holding the government hostage right now, I’m afraid ignorant is just too charitable a term for me to use toward them.”

    Note: if the following comment is too far off-topic the moderators may feel free to delete. I have a “theory” about what’s going on with the Repugs. Here it is: I think, in my increasingly cynical and paranoid mind, that this whole economic meltdown thing may have been contrived, planned and executed by the neocons and extremist Repugs in the last adminstration (I refer to them and their teabagger goons as “meaniacs”, that’s a maniac on steroids). I mean the Bush Gang took an economy that was booming pre-2000 and found a way to bring it to its knees in eight short (okay looong) years. Why? Because a country that is bankrupt cannot pay for those programs which the Repugs hate so much: things like food stamps and school lunches for the poor, things like environmental protection, things like public radio, even things like libraries etc.

    And that brings us to this shutdown. Remember that it was Gingrinch that orginally oversaw the first one of these back in Clinton’s days. We all know these guys hate the government. All that anti-governmentism, all that talk about “local control” and “states rights”. I would submit that the hard right actually hates the United States itself, since they are trying so hard to divide it. I think these people are confederates to the core, always have been. They’ve been chaffing ever since they lost the civil war. All this Dixie and “the south shall rise again” stuff. All those guns they’ve been amassing all these years was for a reason.

    [Response: Off topic indeed! But I’ve let this comment stand because it serves as a useful illustration for something. You sound no less crazy that ‘Jeff Id’ does, only in reverse. You’re both giving way to much credence to the advance planning of the right wing (in your case) and the left wing (in his case). Sorry, but I just don’t see any evidence that the supposed masterminds of all these conspiracies are smart enough to have it all planned out so well. –eric]

  153. adelady:

    Thank you eric.

    Whenever we have a choice between conspiracy and FUBAR, fubar is the better wager every time.

    Occasionally there *is* a conspiracy – but it’s usually about something else and the thing that worries you is merely a consequence or collateral damage.

  154. Andrew Dodds:

    Ron..

    Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity…

    But loosely speaking, what has happened in the western world (not just the US, we have plenty going on in Europe) is something that has been done to the rest of the world since the 1970s; a debt fueled boom is induced, government ends up borrowing too much on the back of it, the boom turns to bust, and in the fallout there is a savaging of various government programs and a fire sale of assets.

    Not sure if it’s exactly planned or just a natural consequence of financial services deregulation.

  155. Deconvoluter:

    Re: #52 and #57 ‘Rationing’

    [political but short]
    I don’t agree with part of Eric’s inline comment after #52. Why follow in the footsteps of Frank Luntz? As advisor to George.W.B., he had a preference for ‘climate change’ over ‘global warming’. In the case of rationing energy, the criterion should be accuracy and avoidance of ambiguity, not appeasement; real or imaginary evidence of spin is not a good idea.

  156. Lars T.:

    What to do when there is no sun and wind on (or too much wind)? How about Biogas, IOW burning excess methane. And various energy storage technologies to store the excess energy from when there’s more sun or wind than we can use at the time.

  157. Didactylos:

    Ron R.: I think you just underlined my point.

    Your home installation may be great for you, but it has no measurable impact on global warming.

    The economies of scale mean it is very difficult for home generation to compete with wind and solar farms. And siting issues mean that home generation does not provide the same opportunities for everyone.

    I’m confident that in time, and particularly with new build housing, home generation capacity will be added where it makes sense. But please don’t mistake it for a panacea.

  158. Scotch:

    “Could we perhaps educate politicians by… trying to educate politicians? I’m not talking about the handful of rabid deniers who are beyond hope, but rather that disinterested majority who are sitting on the sidelines and letting the ignorant and politically motivated lead the way.”

    Good luck!

    The parallels between climate research and intelligence analysis are quite striking! In both disciplines, fabulous products are written and disseminated, but no one on the policy side reads them…unless they’re distilled down to a power point presentation with no more than 10 slides.

    The “hearing” mostly dealt with analysis methods…so where was the defense (or advertisement) of products like the US Climate Change Science Program’s “Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations”? Maybe the US Climate Change Science Program should create power point presentations instead of .pdf files :).

  159. Snapple:

    The America Lung Association has published this press conference.

    “A coalition of nearly 500 organizations concerned about congressional proposals to weaken the Clean Air Act sent a letter today urging Congress to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to protect Americans from toxic air pollution.”

    http://www.lungusa.org/press-room/press-releases/uphold-clean-air-act.html

  160. Susan Anderson:

    While I’m interested in the political discussion, endless energy is expended on trying to figure out why scientific illiteracy reigns and nature is being ignored; how wealth promotes self-interest at the expense of the future; and what can be done about it. Had to look up FUBAR, and I’m afraid that’s not useful either. I’d tend to agree that people at the top of the pyramid are casual about the quality of life (and lives) of people they exploit for profit, but that’s nothing new.

    Perhaps my request for information was too idiotic to be answered, but was hoping for some knowledgeable response about the freshwater pool in the Arctic. I see the Guardian has now taken it up. It might be helpful, as this is just the kind of “alarmist” worry that I know in the past has been labeled as hype. Could someone who understands this stuff enough take a gander and include some simplification for those less versed in the science as well, inasmuch as that is possible? (Well, I see the Guardian has made a stab at it, so is it credible?)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/05/arctic-ocean-freshwater-climate

    (@133:)
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325111901.htm

    Once upon a time I thought of moving to Cornwall, but as northern weather looked diffy, I desisted. This was part of that thinking but at the time I learned the possibility of losing the overturning currents, especially the Gulf Stream, was remote. It seems a lot less remote now.

  161. Ron R.:

    Sorry, but I just don’t see any evidence that the supposed masterminds of all these conspiracies are smart enough to have it all planned out so well

    You might be right Eric @ 11:49 PM but there are a lot of people right now who think that the Repubs are trying to sabotage the economy just to defeat Obama in 2012. Google Republicans economic sabotage. If true that would show that they don’t mind hurting the economy for political purposes. I mean they have amply demonstrated that they are not above sabotaging the future of the entire planet for personal gain either right? The motivation? No more government, no more taxes, no more regulation. The wild west (or the dark ages) all over again.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2010_11/026737.php

  162. Ron R.:

    Didactylos — 7 Apr 2011 @ 8:32 AM said:

    Your home installation may be great for you, but it has no measurable impact on global warming. The economies of scale mean it is very difficult for home generation to compete with wind and solar farms. And siting issues mean that home generation does not provide the same opportunities for everyone.

    I we’re talking past each other D. I know that my one solar heater has no measurable impact on GB. But again, the point is that if everyone that could also installed some kind of clean alternative system that would add up. The more, the better. This is not new math here. I think we all know that we are not even close to what we could be doing.

    Cost has been a big issue. Cut subsidies going to dirty energy, cut the money going to redundant weapons and stupid wars, divert it to helping people purchase these systems.

    BTW, I said earlier that we turn off the gas from the beginning of April to the end of November. It’s usually the first of April to the first of November. Seven months.

    http://www.builditsolar.com/

  163. SecularAnimist:

    Ron R. wrote: “Of course, compared to giant power plants someone’s home solar system may be very small scale – but it’s enough for them.”

    There is a middle ground between “giant power plants” and residential rooftop solar that seems to be neglected in these discussions.

    Residential solar installations are typically in the low KW range, perhaps 3 KW.

    “Giant power plants” are in the hundreds of MW to GW range, like the Brightsource Ivanpah solar thermal power plant (392 MW) or the Blythe Solar Power Project (1000 MW).

    In between, are muncipal-scale solar power plants in the low MW range, like the 1 MW solar thermal power plant in St. Paul, MN, or the 5 MW Sunset Reservoir PV power plant in San Francisco.

    There is HUGE potential for building lots of 1 – 20 MW solar power plants, located close to existing municipal utility infrastructure, often on degraded “brownfields” or other unused (or dual-use) urban/suburban land, at lower per-KW cost than individual residential installations but with many of the same benefits of distributed power generation that is close to existing grid infrastructure and to point-of-use, and without the potential environmental impacts of building “giant power plants” in ecologically sensitive desert areas.

  164. One Anonymous Bloke:

    Susan Anderson #161. Rabe et al is summarised here. The Guardian’s report seems to be broadly accurate: there is more freshwater in the arctic. It will affect global climate, but there is considerable uncertainty as to how.

  165. Michael Hillinger:

    There is a posting at WUWT http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/06/warming-or-cooling-heads-or-tails/#more-37452 that seems a little crazy (ok, I know).

    This reprints a piece in the WSJ that attempts to argue that the temperature anomaly data is being incorrectly analyzed. For example, the author says

    “Likewise, in order to determine if the global temperature series is increasing significantly, we must first state what we know about what causes those temperature movements.”

    This seems a little nutty to me since I always thought that statistical tests looked at the size of an effect related to the variance in the data.

    Ayway, as usual, the author makes the case that the anomaly data should be analyzed using a time-series rather than a regression.

    It has been quite a few years since I was in Stats so I would be interested in more knowledgeable reactions to the piece.

    Thanks!

  166. Septic Matthew:

    164, Secular Animist: There is a middle ground between “giant power plants” and residential rooftop solar that seems to be neglected in these discussions.

    I am glad you wrote that.

  167. tamino:

    Re: #166 (Michael Hillinger)

    The WSJ article seems to be based on the now-old canard that global temperature is a random walk — but the author doesn’t give enough information for his claim to be tested. Frankly, it’s a truly idiotic idea which is rather easily refuted, another example of “mathturbation.”

    We should note that he insists on knowing what causes temperature movements, then deliberately ignores all the knowledge that we *do* have in favor of some ridiculous statistical model.

    Perhaps we should also point out to Anthony how strongly he objected to BEST releasing preliminary results with no peer-reviewed publication to back it up. Looks like his objection was just “sour graphs.”

  168. JCH:

    I have always thought this RC article was one of the most interesting I’ve read here, and, that I know of, no promised followup has ever been done.

    One prominent skeptic suggested that since Minnett never published the work in a peer-reviewed journal, he must be wrong. Well, I believe this is the article. If so, any chance of getting Minnett back for a follow up?

  169. Brian Dodge:

    @ Michael Hillinger — 7 Apr 2011 @ 2:00 PM re WUWT/DOUGLAS J. KEENAN

    “Nowhere in the IPCC report is any testing done on the changes in global temperatures;”

    It’s a rehash of “if we take the derivative of the temperature, hiding the trend and emphasizing the short term noise, we can pretend that the trend doesn’t exist”

    He states “The alternative assumption I tested does make use of the changes in global temperatures and obtains a better fit with the data.” Well, no. He uses changes in ice volume as a proxy for temperature changes, without realizing that ice volume integrates temperature, so changes(derivative) in ice volume map to temperature, not changes in temperature.

  170. Dan:

    A very sad state of anti-science affairs in Virginia where Roy Spencer was actually invited to speak at the “Environment Virginia Symposium”…to “bring balance” to the subject of climate change.
    http://www.dailypress.com/news/politics/dp-nws-domenech-speech-20110405,0,5755730.story

    “”This is a highly politicized area of science,” he said. “There is so much about climate change that we don’t know.”

    Spencer, who now works for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, addressed a few hundred people Tuesday at the 22nd annual Environment Virginia Symposium. The three-day event draws a who’s who of academics, industry leaders, government officials and activists in Virginia.

    While maybe counterintuitive to an environment conference, state officials sought out Spencer to bring “balance to a subject that is generally one-sided,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Douglas Domenech.

    Spencer lends scientific weight to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration, which is fighting federal attempts to counteract Earth’s rising temperatures.”

  171. Patrick 027:

    Re 168 JCH – one thing that “One prominent skeptic” should consider is that some things are too obvious or already too well known to be published farther. I just looked back at that RC post – I didn’t read all the details, but the basic idea that of course LW forcing can heat the oceans (given that wind-driven motions mix heat downward, solar heating commonly occurs through a greater depth, and that this heat must be flowing back out to space eventually – through convection, conduction/diffusion (at the surface), and also generally (global average) ocean surfaces would tend to emit more LW than they absorb (and also that the forcing at the surface, with atmospheric adjustment, could include both LW and convective changes, in response to LW forcing at the tropopause level)) is, I would think, one of those things. Like 1+1=2 – It’s not considered a major discovery anymore. (Similarly, (I would think) there wouldn’t have been any need (except for the lay audience) to publish a rebuttal to G&T, as they were preemptively falsified by physics – although that has been done.)

  172. Vendicar Decarian:

    “But again, the point is that if everyone that could also installed some kind of clean alternative system that would add up.” – 162

    Every watt of energy obtained by the sun is a watt that is not obtained from non-renewable sources.

    A typical U.S. home will use around 2 kilowatts of power per day for water heating.

    Here is a fine summer alternative for the entire country, and a winter alternative for the sourthern states.

    http://www.sidite-solar.com/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYDBTPep8ic

    Exposed to direct sunlight, the water in these evacuated tubes will boil. No concentrating mirrors or lenses are required.

    If installed on 1 million homes in the U.S. this equates to an energy savings of 2 terrawatt hours per day.

    There are 130 million homes in the U.S. putting the total potential savings at 130 terrawatt hours per day (rougly compensating for winter)

    Total energy savings (expressed in dollars) equates to roughly $16 million per day. $5.7 billion per year.

    With a cost per installation of less than $1,000 (lets presume $1,000) then a government grant program covering full installation at a cost of $5.7 billion per year, will install 5.7 million units per year.

    All homes in America would then be fitted within 22 years.

    Over that period (Presuming no growth in electricity demand), the equivalent of 42 gigawatt power generators could be shut down across the country, or re-tasked for other purposes.

  173. adelady:

    Climate communication? This neat little analysis of a couple of surveys tells us something I’ve suspected for quite a while. What people think about climate change or climate science really does depend on the situation outside their window.

    …”This myopic focus on their immediate experience suggests that people’s beliefs can be as mercurial as the weather,” the researchers wrote.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/08/3186411.htm

  174. J Bowers:

    #172 Vendicar Decarian

    Thanks for that :)

    Make a simple solar water heater with easy to find materials

    Solar Water Heating is a fantastic way to obtain free hot water and to save fossil fuels. The following simple design for a solar water heater requires no pump or difficult to find materials, and it can be built in just a few hours by anyone with basic DIY skills.

    All you need is some black pond liner, plywood, a plexiglass sheet, a big bucket, and some hoses and clamps. In total it will cost around £30 assuming that you have to buy all of the materials you use (rather than recycling junk). For your efforts you will have a solar water heater which will heat up a 5 gallon bucket of water to well over 40 degrees celcius (the temperature of a hot bath).

    One thing I like about that – if you built it, then you’ll probably know how to fix it.

  175. Jeremy:

    Tennessee House Bill 368 weasels around a stock list of inconvenient truths:

    https://nondiscovery.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/tennessee-house-bill-368/

    “The teaching of some scientific subjects including, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy.”

    And then vague (but utterly nothing to do with any “religious or non-religious doctrine,” no sir!) allowances to teach the controversy. Public welfare, indeed.

    [Response: I love the ‘not limited to’ part. –eric]

  176. Ron R.:

    Vendicar Decarian @ 1:15 AM: “Every watt of energy obtained by the sun is a watt that is not obtained from non-renewable sources.”

    Bang on!

    Meanwhile:

    [http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/clean-energy-is-a-target-of-ryan-budget-plan/?partner=rss&emc=rss Clean Energy Is a Target of Ryan Budget Plan]

    A long-term Republican budget plan released this week by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin calls for drastic cuts in federal spending on energy research and development and for the outright elimination of subsidies and tax breaks for wind, solar power and other alternative energy technologies.

    Big Dirty Energy to Republicans: “Who’s your daddy!”

  177. thingsbreak:

    Remember when Richard Muller said, re: cutting off the Briffa proxy data when it stopped tracking temps and adding the instrumental record, “You’re not allowed to do this in science”?

    Here’s Muller in an interview with ScienceInsider describing how the BEST project deals with problematic temperature data:

    R.M.: [NOAA, GISS, HadCRU’s goal is] to generate long continuous methods. … If there was a change, [like] a station moved, they would adjust the data to try to eliminate that. [But] it makes me very uncomfortable when you adjust the data. … [So] we just cut the data at that point [and create two shorter records].

    So, it’s perfectly fine for him to drop data after he believes they have been compromised, but when the paleo people did it, it was completely unscientific.

  178. thingsbreak:

    Last comment is apparently incorrect, as someone more familiar with the BEST methodology has pointed out.

  179. Septic Matthew:

    CleanTechnica again on recent progress and reasonable expectations for the near future in Solar Power:

    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/04/07/cost-of-solar-power-competitive-with-coal-some-places-dropping-fast/

  180. Jack:

    Is there any absolute understanding of why the Arctic stratosphere is so cold this year, leading to the record 40% loss of ozone? I take it we never get an absolute answer to such a question, but any ideas nonetheless?

    [Response: It’s related to planetary wave activity. If you get a lot of ‘incoming’ it disrupts the polar vortex in the lower stratosphere, and you get a lot of mixing with warmer air. This is the normal situation (which is why you don’t generally get an ozone hole in the arctic. This year seems to have been anomalous, and the polar vortex was quite strong, leading to more cooling, PSC formation and significant springtime ozone loss. We discussed this issue back in 2005 when something similar happened. (search for ozone loss 2005). -gavin]

  181. spyder:

    Even Burning Man helps with climate science: this just in from burning nerds group:
    JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 116, D06113, 22 PP., 2011
    doi:10.1029/2010JD014784

    *Dust storm over the Black Rock Desert: Larger-scale dynamic signatures*
    John M. Lewis, National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
    Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Michael L. Kaplan, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Ramesh Vellore, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Robert M. Rabin, National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA, Norman, Oklahoma, USA
    Space Science and Engineering Center, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
    John Hallett, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada,
    Stephen A. Cohn, Earth Observing Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research,
    Boulder, Colorado, USA
    A dust storm that originated over the Black Rock Desert (BRD) of
    northwestern Nevada is investigated. Our primary goal is to more clearly
    understand the sequence of dynamical processes that generate surface winds
    responsible for entraining dust from this desert. In addition to reliance on
    conventional surface and upper-air observations, we make use of reanalysis
    data sets (NCAR/NCEP and NARR)—blends of primitive equation model forecasts
    and observations. From these data sets, we obtain the evolution of vertical
    motion patterns and ageostrophic motions associated with the event. In
    contrast to earlier studies that have emphasized the importance of indirect
    transverse circulations about an upper-level jet streak, our results
    indicate that in this case the transition from an indirect to a direct
    circulation pattern across the exit region of upper-level jet streak is
    central to creation of low-level winds that ablate dust from the desert. It
    is further argued that the transition of vertical circulation patterns is in
    response to adjustments to geostrophic imbalance—an adjustment time scale of
    6–9 h. Although unproven, we suggest that antecedent rainfall over the
    alkali desert 2 weeks prior to the event was instrumental in lowering the
    bulk density of sediments and thereby improved the chances for dust ablation
    by the atmospheric disturbance. We comprehensively compare/contrast our
    results with those of earlier investigators, and we present an alternative
    view of key dynamical signatures in atmospheric flow that portend the
    likelihood of dust storms over the western United States.

  182. Daniel Bailey:

    @ JCH

    Dunno if this helps, but I located a full copy of the Minnett et al 2010 paper here

    Best,

    The Yooper

  183. Vendicar Decarian:

    Re: 152, 176

    “We need to manufacture an crisis in order to insure that there is no alternative to a smaller governmnet.” – Republican Jeb Bush – Imprimus Magazine 1995.

    Google “Starve the beast”.

    Bankrupting the U.S. government as a means to end social programs in the U.S. has long been a goal of many Libertarians and Republicans.

    Hence the rallying cry… “Starve the beast”.

  184. dhogaza:

    VD:

    Bankrupting the U.S. government as a means to end social programs in the U.S. has long been a goal of many Libertarians and Republicans.

    Yes, indeed, Grover Nordquist being a visible example. They’ve been very clear: cut taxes while not addressing the deficit/national debt until desperation economics (read: the need to feed debt service) becomes so onerous that there’s no choice that reasonable people will move to Europe … oops, I mean, that we’ll sit here and let them screw us.

    This isn’t an opinion, they’ve stated this as their strategy for well over a decade. They know the programs they want to end are popular, so in essence they need to convince us that we’re poorer that countries like costa rica …

  185. One Anonymous Bloke:

    re: Prof Schmidt’s response to #180. PSC = polar stratospheric cloud? It’s not in your acronym index. As for the response in general, I can sense another learning curve – or several :s – coming on…

  186. Ron R.:

    Holy Cow Vendicar @ 9:42 PM. A+! I Googled and there it is, 114,000 references. I feel so stupid. Apparently this has been a Republican strategy since 1978! Why this hasn’t been trumpted from the housetops is beyond me.

    Example: http://blogs.forbes.com/erikkain/2011/04/07/paul-ryan-and-the-republican-effort-to-finally-starve-the-beast/

  187. Radge Havers:

    Ron R. 186

    Why this hasn’t been trumpted from the housetops is beyond me.

    Frustrating. There are structural problems with journalism, but you can never underestimate the stultifying power of groupthink. The comfortable groove of stenography, boxed thinking, and self-censorship is designed to promote entertaining outrage without actually rocking the boat or posing challenging problems for of journalists.

    Interesting quote. Talking about finance, but could apply to handling risk in general:

    We have little empirical basis for judging rare events, so it is difficult to arrive at good estimates. In such circumstances, more than wishful thinking can come into play: we might have few incentives to think hard at all. On the contrary, when others bear the costs of mistakes, the incentives favour self-delusion. A system that social_ises losses and privatises gains is doomed to mismanage risk.
    Stiglitz

    reCAPTCHA: razatat ideology

  188. Hank Roberts:

    You should try citing the actual source, not posting paraphrases (which are far easier to find and far more often repeated than the actual quote). Success making stuff up and propagating it is not something to be proud of.

    Reality suffices.

    In this case, reality is more revealing than the fiction *cough*tax*breaks*millionaires*cough
    ________________________________

    … if Republicans merely redirect the flow of public largesse from traditional Democrat constituencies to traditional Republican constituencies … then the American people will have been witnesses to a tawdry palace coup rather than a glorious revolution.

    … We need to create a “crisis” that will ensure that there are no alternatives to less government.

    — Jeb Bush
    http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=1995&month=06
    June 1995–Deinventing Government
    Jeb Bush, Chairman, Foundation for Florida’s Future
    ____________________________________

  189. Ron R.:

    Well I did a little looking around on this. Here are some quotes:

    First, Paul Krugman:

    “The starve-the-beast doctrine is now firmly within the conservative mainstream. George W. Bush himself seemed to endorse the doctrine as the budget surplus evaporated: in August 2001 he called the disappearing surplus “incredibly positive news” because it would put
    Congress in a “fiscal straitjacket.”

    “Like supply-siders, starve-the-beasters favor tax cuts mainly for people with high incomes. That is partly because, like supply-siders, they emphasize the incentive effects of cutting the top marginal rate;
    they just don’t believe that those incentive effects are big enough that tax cuts pay for themselves. But they have another reason for cutting taxes mainly on the rich, which has become known as the “lucky ducky” argument.”

    “Here’s how the argument runs: to starve the beast, you must not only deny funds to the government; you must make voters hate the government. There’s a danger that working-class families might see government as their friend: because their incomes are low, they don’t
    pay much in taxes, while they benefit from public spending. So in starving the beast, you must take care not to cut taxes on these ”lucky duckies.” (Yes, that’s what The Wall Street Journal called them in a famous editorial.) In fact, if possible, you must raise
    taxes on working-class Americans in order, as The Journal said, to get their ”blood boiling with tax rage.”

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE0DB173BF937A2575AC0A9659C8B63&pagewanted=4

  190. Ron R.:

    dhogaza — @ 11:30 PM mentioned Grover Norquist:

    (from wikiquote)
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist

    We are trying to change the tones in the state capitals — and turn them toward bitter nastiness and partisanship.” quoted in John Aloysius Farrell, “Rancor becomes top D.C. export: GOP leads charge in ideological war,” Denver Post, May 26, 2003

    Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We’re sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent’s head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.” from the National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, Crown Publishers 2004, pg. 50

    Bipartisanship is another name for date rape.” Farrell, John A., “Rancor becomes top DC export: GOP leads charge in ideological war”, The Denver Post, 26 May 2003, p. A-01.

    [Democrats] will only become acceptable once they are comfortable in their minority status. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate.” As quoted by Paul Krugman, November 10, 2006

    My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.http://www.thenation.com/article/grover-norquist-field-marshal-bush-plan

    Can’t you feel the love? Maybe David Icke is right (Just kidding – well maybe not).

    I had to pass this one on from Sourcewatch quoting Slate:

    Even within conservative circles, Norquist’s combative personality has made enemies. Conservative columnist Tucker Carlson once called him a “mean-spirited, humorless, dishonest little creep … the leering, drunken uncle everyone else wishes would stay home.” http://slate.msn.com/id/3654/entry/23930

  191. Septic Matthew:

    Here is an interesting summary of the change in American electrical production in 2010:

    http://papundits.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/renewable-power-fail-as-usual-december-2010/

    Notice that the author reaches the wrong conclusion.

    Here is one sentence: The amount of power they supplied to all consumers rose in the whole year from 1.89% to 2.32%, an increase of only 0.43%, less than half of one percent.

    The change from 1.89% to 2.32% is a rate of increase of 23%. If this rate of increase can be sustained (and American manufacturing capacity in solar and wind is each increasing faster than that), then in 20 years the alternatives will be contributing 114% of American consumption.

    It’s not too likely that these calculations will be followed exactly by the real development. But they do show that the ongoing conversion of the American electrical power industry to non-conventional sources is non-negligible.

    In case you think this is too fanciful for consideration, recall that from 1945 – 1965, the airlines took most of the trans-oceanic passenger travel away from the sealines. For passenger traffic, the sealines are retained mostly for cruises.

    There’s more to trans-oceanic traffic than passengers, and there is more to the American energy economy than electricity, and all analogies break down in multiple ways. Nevertheless, the article shows that there is great potential for, over two decades, dramatically reducing American use of coal for electricity generation without impoverishing America.

  192. Hank Roberts:

    Useful numbers:
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/lifetime-deaths-per-twh-from-energy.html

    hat tip to commenter Cyril R. at Barry Brook’s bravenewclimate.com

  193. Kees van der Leun:

    Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf at EU Geosciences conference: global sea level rise likely between 0.75 and 1.90 metre by 2100: http://bbc.in/EGUSLR

  194. Ron R.:

    Don’t know how useful it is Hank.

    Though Fukushima had happened just 16 days previous and was and still is big news he makes no mention of it. Odd to say the least. Meanwhile

    http://www.canada.com/news/Fukushima+workers+expect/4535332/story.html

    He does say though (though I didn’t read it all the way through),

    •Low-dose repair time is on the scale of a day or so
    •Doses below threshold (100mSv) cause no damage.

    Then he goes on to uncritically quote from an article which states at the end that it appears that significant beneficial health effects may be associated with this chronic radiation exposure.. Known as “radiation hormesis” the idea has been debunked by knowledgeable people in science (although recently in response to Japan’s crisis professor Ann Coulter thinks that has merit :-)

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/will_radiation_hormesis_protec.php

    A preponderance of scientific evidence shows that even low doses of ionizing radiation, such as gamma rays and X-rays, are likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects, says a new report from the National Research Council. In living organisms, such radiation can cause DNA damage that could eventually lead to cancers. The report provides a comprehensive assessment of these risks based on a review of the scientific literature from the past 15 years. It is the seventh in a series of assessments from the Research Council called the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.
    http://www.nas.edu/gateway/foundations/jul05.html#2560

    To me it looked like propaganda from nuclear cultists.

  195. Didactylos:

    Ron R.: The reference to “significant beneficial health effects” was unfortunate, since the paper was outdated. The truth, as you might expect with science, is a whole lot more complicated.

    But even if you double the most ridiculous estimates from Chernobyl, or triple it to account for some future accident – even then, nuclear deaths still compare favourably with all forms of power, and continue to blow the coal and oil safety record out of the water.

    And have no doubt – those “worst case” estimates thrown around by some of the more hysterical environmentalists are sheer fiction. The true number is far lower (although possibly higher than official estimates).

    Fukushima is quite useful in reminding us that even when the worst happens, it isn’t the end of the world. Nuclear power isn’t “safe”, it’s just safer than nearly all other forms of power.

    Apologies for pointing all this out, but I do get rather tired of old CND people playing the denier game and trying to turn people’s deaths into propaganda, trying to fuel that fear of the unknown that radiation represents to so many people.

  196. Karen Street:

    What do you think if Environment Canada’s new study showing that peak CO2 = 450 ppm in 2050 will increase temperature 3°C (2.3°C after 2005)?
    http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/04/un-goal-of-limiting-global-warmi.html?ref=hp

    The paper finds that reaching that goal would require that greenhouse emissions “ramp down to zero immediately” and that scientists deploy means, starting in 2050, to actively remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Previous modeling efforts have already highlighted the difficulty of reaching the 2˚C goal. But the new study is unique in several ways. Most important, it relies on the first published results from the latest generation of so-called Earth System climate models, complex programs that run on supercomputers and seek to simulate the planet’s oceans, land, ice, and atmosphere. The model in this study, Canadian Earth System Model 2, also incorporates updated data on volcanic eruptions, and it simulates in a more sophisticated way the biosphere’s ability to take in or emit carbon.

  197. Joe Cushley:

    Didactylos

    “Fukushima is quite useful in reminding us that even when the worst happens, it isn’t the end of the world.”

    You make some fair points about environmentalist exaggerations and the terrible safety record of fossil fuel energy production. But this is just silly. This isn’t the worst that could happen. Far worse could happen. Terrorists could commandeer a jet and crash it into a nuclear installation, or military planes could bomb one, or two…or…. Or believe it or not, there could have been a complete meltdown of several nuclear reactors in an earthquake and tsunami-hit region…

    I get tired of nuclear-advocates brushing problems under the carpet.

  198. Ray Ladbury:

    Joe Cushley,
    The force of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake followed by a tsunami is far worse than would be inflicted even by a direct-hit airline crash or bombing raid. What is more, the consequences at Fukushima are attributable far more to the stupidity of the utility operators than to the failures of the design.

    FWIW, I agree, this is far from Worst-Case. However, the disaster was sufficient to derail the 3rd largest economy in the world–it is not surprising it had consequences close to the epicenter.

  199. Hunt Janin:

    Re #195 above:

    What would be the impact on sea level rise of a higher global temperature?

  200. Didactylos:

    Joe Cushley: they do test for that sort of thing, you know.

    In the case of Fukushima, I believe some serious questions are being asked about the tsunami and earthquake magnitudes the reactors were designed for. I’m all in favour of oversight, and that looks like a big failing. You don’t build on the ring of fire and fail to take these into account. You just don’t. (Yet they did!)

    I’m not a “nuclear advocate”. I’m just a realist – and some parts of the world will need (more) nuclear power in their energy mix until something better comes along. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that the sun shines all day or the wind blows in abundance, with convenient wide open spaces to harness it – then you are lucky, and should campaign against nuclear power locally. But please don’t confuse the local argument with the global argument.

    And a brief postscript: I am all in favour of nuclear disarmament. We don’t need nuclear weapons. We never did. But the old links between warhead manufacture and nuclear power are irrelevant. We need to move on from those attitudes, no matter how difficult it is to acknowledge changing circumstances.

  201. Karen Street:

    Re #198, we have more immediate problems. NASA predicts 16″ sea level rise by mid-century where I live (SF Bay Area). According to http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1934/85.full my area is likely to see 30% lower precipitation in DJF (that’s when it rains here) and warmer temperatures, decreasing runoff more.

    There is more information here: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1934.toc

    I did a blog on a Met Office report when it came out (http://pathsoflight.us/musing/?p=695):
    From the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre comes a new world map showing the effects of 4°C/7°F increase in temperature, expected some time this century, perhaps as early as 2060.

    Where I live,
    • Temperature would rise 6 – 7°C (increase is greater on land). Forest fires would increase.
    • Some crop yields decrease 40%, perhaps more because estimates about decreases in crop yield don’t include more weather extremes.

    Worldwide,
    • Assuming a population of 7.5 billion (OK, where did the others go?), 3 billion would be living with water shortage, less than 1000 cubic meters/year.
    • Now, 600 million are living within 10 meters of sea level, so any rise would increase flooding and reduce freshwater availability.
    • In eastern North America, the hottest day of the year could be 10-12°C, 18-22°F, warmer.
    • Water runoff could decrease 70% around the Mediterranean, southern African, and large areas of South America.

  202. William Jackson:

    Looks like Steve McIntyre…
    [edit: …has mesmerized you with a dose of his potion composed of invective, arrogance and inability to comprehend the larger picture.]

  203. Karen Street:

    Fascinating discussion of things nuclear. Robert DuPont, an expert in anxiety and phobias, writes about nuclear “what-ifs” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/interviews/dupont.html

    What if a situation arises which is worse than human errors compounded by a M9.0 earthquake and a 14+ meter tsunami? Yes, perhaps there will be 0 to hundreds of cancers in Japan from this event, but what if? (The health effects from loss of electricity, heat, and fuel after the earthquakes and tsunamis are arguably larger.)

    Meanwhile World Health Organization says that 150,000 died from climate change in 2000. I may be going out on a limb here, but the numbers may be larger in 2010 and have a high probability of being larger in 2020.

    So those who are more concerned about nuclear than climate change, those who have sources of information that assure us we will be just fine without nuclear—well, it’s clear from media obsession with things nuclear that there are plenty of sites where this argument works really well. Do you really want to take so much space on a climate change blog?

  204. Deconvoluter:

    Re: Sub-Thread on Hazards of Ionizing radiation i.e. #193,194,#196

    It may be even more complicated than that.[ But my knowledge of this topic is sub-amateur, I went to a lecture some decades ago and a read a paper or two.]

    That form of epidemiology is very hard*. The signal to noise ratio for low level radiation is very low and the number of variables in the noise is significant. For example, the whole idea of a measurable dose vs response relationship becomes dodgy when the population is not homogeneous. Age and prior health are obvious candidates to add to the noise.

    Bertelle claimed to have shown that a given low level of radiation tends to be worse in its effects for an older person (at least before the younger person starts to age). Just one reason is that everyone accumulates a dose from the background. The trouble is that her work was criticised , perhaps with some justification(?), but never repeated. Instead it was stopped perhaps (?) because she had two sets of powerful enemies i.e the nuclear industry and the medics who had been criticised by her for their excessive use of X-rays etc.

    http://ratical.org/radiation/inetSeries/nwRB.html

    If you are interested search or scroll down to

    Learning about Low-Level Radiation: The Tri-State Leukemia Survey.

    If this work is true, or partly true,19 the total damage being done by low level ionising radiation may have been under-estimated and would not be restricted to cancer.

    —————-
    * e.g. compared to tree ring analysis!. The fact that it is so hard, is only a partial excuse for its not being done.

    [Response: Tree ring based signal extraction ain’t so easy either.–Jim]

  205. Septic Matthew:

    197, Joe Cushley: Far worse could happen. Terrorists could commandeer a jet and crash it into a nuclear installation, or military planes could bomb one, or two…or…. Or believe it or not, there could have been a complete meltdown of several nuclear reactors in an earthquake and tsunami-hit region…

    Your thoughts about what might happen ought to be constrained by evidence about what has happened. 27,000 people have died and $300B of property damage have occurred in the earthquake and tsunami. Few of the deaths are attributable to radiation (far fewer than the number of deaths from riding in trains and walking on the streets), and most of the nuclear powerplant damage has occurred in plants already scheduled to be decommissioned soon, and will (probably)come to less than 2% of total property damage. Ionizing radiation is everywhere and nuclear power adds a very tiny amount to the background that people are exposed to. People die producing electricity all the time — e.g. from transformer explosions inside hydropower plants.

    There isn’t any safe way to make electricity, and the electricity itself is dangerous.

    If actual experience does not matter, if you ignore the tallied deaths per gigawatt-hour and ignore all other dangers, is there anything that could possibly change your mind?

  206. Didactylos:

    Deconvoluter: I don’t think that’s a very good source. It reads like paranoid conspiracy-mongering, and the fact that they try to imply that powerful interests are stopping their research is contradicted by the significant continuing research in this area. You say it was never repeated, but that’s simply not true. There are bucket-loads of studies into low-level radiation effects (see my earlier link to orac for more than a few examples).

    The specific example you focus on is just ludicrous. The radiation from an x-ray is very low – many times smaller than the radiation dose from a mid-range aeroplane flight. It’s more comparable to the background radiation dose in a single day. Linking doses this low with cancers is just ridiculous. How can you possibly control for all the far greater radiation sources in the patients’ environment? Linking it to a specific cancer is so ridiculous that I don’t understand why you are giving this web page any credibility at all. It’s fiction. And did you miss the reference to weapons research? No guilty conscience there…..

  207. Kees van der Leun:

    Cornell University report: natural gas produced by “hydraulic fracturing” contributes to global warming as much as coal, or more: http://bit.ly/FrCoal
    Preprint: http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/energy/howarth.pdf

  208. Deconvoluter:

    Re #203 and #204

    The point of her work was to detect the effects of very low level doses, which is why she looked at X-rays. To detect anything at all, a very large data-base was needed as well as a new method. As I understood it, the Tri-State survey provided just such an opportunity.

    When I get some time I hope to look at your references. Did any of them deal with the Tri-State collection? Perhaps you could read her paper if you can get hold of it? But meanwhile here are some comments about the history:

    The question of doses of medical X-rays ought to be trivial physics, but
    your comments about them do not provide dates. The only units we have in common are background radiation. Your one day’s dose has to be compared with Bertelle’s one year for the same procedure! No she was certainly not mad. The discrepancy has to do with the fortunate fact that the typical dose from medical X-rays have been reduced greatly since the Tri-State Survey.

    But you have disregarded the spread. When I last enquired, there had been an ‘official’ survey in the UK (mentioned on the BBC) which found that the doses from the same procedure varied by two orders of magnitude between one hospital and another. [For any readers who live in the UK, that will not help you, because the identities of the hospitals were kept secret as part of the agreement to participate in the survey.] That survey is already rather out of date, although it was more recent than Bertelle’s work, so I hope that the bad hospitals have caught up by now.

    Now going back earlier, the entire history of the recommended ‘safe dose’ used to consist of a downward trend. One application is that pregnant women are no longer given medical X-rays. This was at least partly due to Alice Stewart, whose conclusions were originally rejected by by some good epidemiologists such as Sir Richard Doll.
    ———————–
    [The draft display appears to have an unpredictable habit of bolding random sections]

  209. Kevin McKinney:

    #207–the money statement being:

    “Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.”

  210. Deconvoluter:

    Corrections:

    #208 (mine). The disagreement between Stewart and Doll, in which the latter was probably wrong, was about another aspect of her work concerned with the nuclear workers at Hanford, it was not about X-rays.

    #206 (Didactylos). The comment starts with a failure to distinguish between a real battle between real adversaries and an imaginary one conjured up in the minds of conspiracy theorists. It would have been instructive to read about the battles which had to be fought by Bertelle’s more senior colleague Alice Stewart. Both women suffered real cuts imposed by people with whom they disagreed. They shared some of the same adversaries, but at the technical level Bertelle’s investigation was harder and less complete, with less certain conclusions.

    The same comment ends with a failure to distinguish between a piece of work and the report about it. The report does convey some of the ideas involved.

  211. Didactylos:

    Deconvoluter: the page states “nuclear workers are allowed to receive up to five rems–which is the bone marrow equivalent of one thousand chest X-rays per year!”. This is consistent with my other sources, the US radiation worker maximum annual dose is 50 mSv (5 rems). One thousandth of that is 50 µSv, which is only slightly higher than a chest x-ray now: 20 µSv. X-rays range from 1 µSv to 20 µSv. A mammogram is 3 mSv and a chest CT scan 5.8 mSv. As you note, there is some considerable variation hidden by these average figures – but clearly, there isn’t a vast difference between current doses and what the web page discusses. Equally clearly, there are orders of magnitude between these different technologies.

    If all these many studies show that the risk from medical imaging with CT scans and similar high radiation technologies is real but acceptable, what are the chances that the risk from a few x-rays is massive and unacceptable and worthy of a rant-filled, conspiracy-filled book and web page?

    Remember that at doses this low, the hormesis people are claiming health benefits. They can’t both be right…. but they can both be wrong. Doses that low just don’t really have measurable effects. Smoking and CTs have much higher total doses, and it was hard enough to demonstrate the very real link there. Basically, there aren’t enough people in the world to prove what you want to prove, and even if you did prove it we’d say “Eh. I’ll still have my x-ray please, I think my ribs are broken”.

  212. Dan H.:

    I do not often agree with Didactylos, but I do here. Historically, the nuclear industry has a much better health record than other energy sources. Attributing health ailments to low levels of radiation is simply impossible. The estimates are so low that the study group would have to be astronomically high in order to determine an effect with any reasonable certainty. Individually, the benefits of the medical procedures, far outweigh the possible consequences (at least until we can develope a less intrusive method of diagnosis).

  213. Hank Roberts:

    The nuclear no-effects-level/hormesis hesaid-shesaid exchange is invited over at Bravenewclimate, here:
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/30/fukushima-philosophical-discussion-open-thread/

    (and only in that thread, by the moderator’s rule; citations are nevertheless expected for assertions of belief.)

  214. David B. Benson:

    To consider the effects of low level of damaging radiation it is good to have a model, even if wrong. Recall what George Box said of models.

    This is the Double Whammy model, surely not orginal with me.

    Tissue is normal until hit by damaging radiation. It is then in a state of repair for a time T which for convenience we set to one; T=1. If during that time of repair no further hits are received it returns to normal; otherwise it becomes morbid, a state from which no recovery is possible. The probability of morbidity depends upon the dose rate r as

    P[r] ~ r[1-exp(-r)]

    which is asymptotic to a linear increase at large r. For small r, where exp(-r) is close to 1-r, the approxiamtion becomes

    P[r] ~ r^2.

    This is a form of a quadratic-linear model which is discussed in some detail in BEIR VII from NRC.

  215. Susan Anderson:

    Tend to agree the nuclear argument is sucking all the oxygen from the room, and in the meanwhile we have some other problems. Not that the issues are not useful and relevant, mind.

    Meanwhile, of interest is the new PBS series Earth Observatory which is on now where I live.
    http://earththeoperatorsmanual.com/

    Hope it’s good, but not hopeful it will get much beyond the choir.

  216. Vendicar Decarian:

    “I’m not a “nuclear advocate”. I’m just a realist. – 200

    Then as a “realist” you must accept that a nuclear powered world with a population of 15 billion people, each consuming energy at U.S. levels of consumptive waste, will require the construction of approximately 200,000 new 1 gigawatt nuclear reactors.

    Given the track record for Nuclear Energy, we can extrapolate that the global result will be 1 core melt per week and several core breaches per year.

    These numbers are low of course, because non-technical countries do not have a track record for rational, competent, management.

    Good luck with that.

  217. angelle torrejas:

    Perhaps…. Dan did you think that A nuclear industry has a great health records with the other energy source? Can you please give me a particular detail about what you have written in your comments? Suppose to be the approximation of learning is very significant in order to know the effect and affect of this case.

  218. David B. Benson:

    Vendicar Decarian & angelle torrejas — There are other places on the internet with particualr knowledge of such matters. One which recommended was given just previously by Hank Roberts in comment #213.

  219. Didactylos:

    Vendicar Decarian: Please find where I suggested using nuclear energy as the sole power source for the human race. You can’t? Well, that would be because it’s not even on the same planet as what I have said.

    If you want to communicate, you have to go to the effort of understanding what people have to say.

    It’s funny, really – almost hilarious – every time nuclear energy comes up, people start trying to “convert” me. Is it so hard to pay attention to what I’m actually saying instead of dropping me in the “evil” box?

    But this sort of nonsense is why our hosts don’t like it when the conversation touches on nuclear power.

  220. Didactylos:

    angelle torrejas at #217 is markov chain spam.

    That, or she just failed the Turing test.

  221. John Pollack:

    Re #201 (Karen Street) I am rather disturbed by the temperature forecasts indicated for a 4C warmer world. Granted, climate change is full of nasty surprises. However, these numbers don’t make good meteorological sense.

    Having the S.F. Bay area warm 6-7C would not seem likely for a 4C rise in global temps. The temperature of the area is stabilized by coastal upwelling. Unless that shuts off, or more summer airflow comes from inland (unlikely if the ocean/land temperature contrast is increasing) you should be one of the slower areas to warm up. The coastal upwelling is a rather stable feature of large scale ocean dynamics. Will it really break down, or is the climate model fuzzy about the details?

    The assertion that the annual hottest day in the eastern U.S. could warm by 10-12C for a 4C rise in global temps is very extreme. Let’s look at the implications. Currently, annual extremes in most of the area, including the large population centers, are in the 35-38C (95-100F) range. This would result in annual highs of 45-50C (113-122F). Currently, the only areas in the U.S. with those types of annual highs are in the lowland deserts of the Southwest. In the worst of the Dust Bowl years, some of the southern Great Plains had those highs for a few years. While this was going on, these regions had no more than 1/3 the current precipitation in the eastern U.S. Even droughts in the East don’t produce anything close to these temperatures, because the area is forested and there is plenty of evaporation. To sustain annual highs of 45-50C, the area would first have to dry out to the extent that the forests die and burn up, an extreme disaster. Crop yields would go down by a lot more than 40% in that scenario, too.

    Does the model these temperatures are based on have a good handle on vegetation cover? Does it handle regional precipitation well? If the answer to either question is no, I would not expect anything this extreme, unless the global rise is greater than 4C. Alas, that could happen, if we stick to “business as usual.” Also, I am not saying that a lesser rise would not be a disaster, merely that these particular temperature results seem out of line for a 4C global rise.

  222. adelady:

    John. We’re not talking about an instantaneous rise of 4C. Several years of 2+C would be enough to increase evaporation and dry out many of the forests you’re thinking of as well as any grasslands surrounding them. Once they dry, they’re more susceptible to fire. 2 or 3 large fires in 10-12 years could make a big difference to some of these areas.

    Any such changes will be incremental and cumulative. The fact that in some such areas there may also be flooding from extreme precipitation events is no cause for comfort. Flooding damages roots of trees as well as suffocating microbial and other vital soil components. This makes the whole ecosystem just that little bit more fragile in the following couple of years, unlike areas accustomed to flooding which might flourish in those years.

    It’s entirely possible that some of the areas you have in mind might avoid these adverse consequences. That avoidance could just as likely be a delay rather than an escape.

    We know that modelling is working towards finer detail for regional level projections. It would be far, far better if that work simply told us how lucky we were to avoid such consequences because we took suitable action in time to do so.

  223. Septic Matthew:

    216, Vendicar Decarian: Given the track record for Nuclear Energy, we can extrapolate that the global result will be 1 core melt per week and several core breaches per year.

    Would you care to make the same extrapolation for all forms of electrical generation, based on evidence to date? deaths, property damage, cancer, etc?

    So far, nothing has been safer than nuclear energy. A writer above wrote of “sweeping under the rug”. Let’s get all costs, deaths, subsidies etc out from under the rug, shall we?

  224. wili:

    JP, these extremes are already happening in the Arctic and happened in Northern Europe in ’03.

  225. Nick Gotts:

    “The force of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake followed by a tsunami is far worse than would be inflicted even by a direct-hit airline crash or bombing raid. What is more, the consequences at Fukushima are attributable far more to the stupidity of the utility operators than to the failures of the design.” – Ray Ladbury

    I’m doubtful whether comparisons of sheer force – amount of energy involved, I guess you mean – are meaningful. The fact (if it is one) that the consequences at Fukushima are more due to operator stupidity than faulty design, strengthens the anti-nuclear case: poor design we can perhaps avoid, operator stupidity we can’t.

    “But the old links between warhead manufacture and nuclear power are irrelevant.” – Didactylos

    Tosh: the overlaps of materials, technologies and skills between civil nuclear power and nuclear weapons are unavoidable.

    Nuclear advocates like Didactylos overlook the real lesson of Fukushima, and one that will not be lost on governments. Even if not a single person dies as a direct result of pollution from Fukushima, it will almost certainly have cost many lives – although we will never know: at a time of utmost national crisis, the Japanese government has been obliged to divert much of its attention and huge resources away from search and rescue to dealing with Fukushima. It has had to evacuate perhaps 200,000 people – and has just announced an extension of the exclusion zone – and to route both planes and ground transport away from the area around Fukushima – which is on the direct route from Tokyo to the area of maximum destruction. The economic effects – on those evacuated, on farming, on fishing, on every human and economic activity near Fukushima – will continue for decades. The true message of Fukushima is this: whatever your disaster, nuclear power plants can make it worse.

  226. Septic Matthew:

    225, Nick gotts: Even if not a single person dies as a direct result of pollution from Fukushima, it will almost certainly have cost many lives –

    You still are not getting it: all electricity production costs lives. Had the Fukushima nuclear power plants been coal-fired, the loss of human life over the full lifetimes of the power plants would have been greater.

    “The” lesson of Fukushima is that the backup diesel generators should not be put in the path of a tsunami. That’s if anybody even builds a boiling water reactor again.

  227. Hank Roberts:

    Watch out: trolling ‘nuclear’ stuff is astonishingly easy.
    Look up the names; don’t take the bait, don’t feed the trolls.

  228. Andrew Piccirillo:

    I recently developed a statistical model for removing natural ENSO, solar, and volcanic variation from the temperature trend in an effort to reveal the underlying CO2 temperature trend. I thought this would be of interest to the folks at RealClimate. The result is a surprisingly monotonically increasing underlying temperature trend. The method and results are as follows:

    ENSO: I conducted a correlation between the ONI and temperature from 1950 to present and found that for each 1C of ONI, temperatures rise .105C, and that the peak correlation occurs with a 3 month lag to surface temperatures. Thus, I adjusted the annual temperature series by subtracting .105*(3-month lagged ONI).

    Solar: I used the correlation found by Camp and Tung 2007 of .18C peak to trough in the solar cycle. I converted this to .18C/W/m2 since the fluctuation across the solar cycle is usually about 1W/m2. I then adjusted my ENSO-adjusted annual temperature series by .18*(annual TSI anomaly).

    Pinatubo: I added +.05, +.35, +.22, and +.1 to the years 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1994, respectively. These numbers were based on the theorized cooling effect Pinatubo had.

    The result of performing these adjustments is a fairly monotonically increasing temperature. This indicates by removing the 3 primary sources of short-term variation, the underlying temperature trend is nearly consistently upwards, which may come as a surprise to some. The trend has not slowed in recent years as some have proposed.

    Results:

    http://www.americanwx.com/bb/index.php/topic/16966-statistically-model-for-removing-enso-tsi-and-volcanoes/

    The temperature series used is a customized series I developed based upon an average of HadCRUT and GISS LOTI between 60S and 60N but with UAH satellite data used from 90S-60S and 60N to 90N. I believe this gives an accurate estimate of surface temperature trends which most closely resembles the normal GISS LOTI. This essentially corroborates the GISS polar extrapolations.

  229. Martin Vermeer:

    Septic Matthew #

    “The” lesson of Fukushima is that the backup diesel generators should not be put in the path of a tsunami.

    Yep. This time. Last time it was building a reactor with a positive temperature coefficient, using combustible moderator — now that won’t happen again, count on it. Next time it will be something surprisingly, originally different again.

    Like generals, the builders of nuclear plants are best at arming themselves for the last war. That, and operator stupidity.

  230. tamino:

    Re: #228 (Andrew Piccirillo)

    I did something very similar a while back (here).

  231. B.Willam:

    Yes, nuclear power is dangerous. Here in Germany all the older reactors are now being checked for safety in a potential flood situation. What strikes me as funny is this: There are no tsunamis hundreds of miles from the coast, obviously, so the government constructs test situations in which a hydro power station further upstream fails fatally and the resulting wave then floods the reactor. The logical result would be getting rid of hydro power, since a wave large enough to flood a reactor would certainly cause tens of thousands immediate deaths in its wake. However nobody seems to fear that at all.

  232. One Anonymous Bloke:

    I can understand why N-power is OT here :) I think the main issue with it is that other facilities don’t require 50km exclusion zones when they break down. Real estate prices in Japan were high enough already.

  233. Jeff L.:

    There is an interesting article on the thinning of Arctic sea ice in the April 2011 issue of Physics Today. (Authors: Kwok and Untersteiner)

  234. Andrew Piccirillo:

    Re 230

    Very interesting Tamino! Performing the analysis for the individual sources was my next step but it seems you have already done that. The greater response of UAH and RSS to these exogenous factors had occurred to me before and your method demonstrates that nicely (my method could only do that for ENSO, but not TSI since I used a fixed .18C/W/m2 response). So your method is better in a number of ways. A couple questions:

    1) It is somewhat troubling that the adjustment in long-term trend is larger for RSS than for UAH. Given they both measure the same thing physically, the adjustment should be the same. This probably speaks more to artifacts contained in RSS and UAH and the fact that the temporal pattern of warming is quite different between RSS and UAH with RSS warming faster in the 1980s and slower in the 2000s (coinciding with the declining solar activity and -MEI tendency).

    Do you know the reason for this difference between UAH and RSS?

    2) The shortness of the period analyzed seems to be somewhat problematic to me. For example, the fact that UAH/RSS slower warming in the 2000s has coincided with a solar minimum means that a regression is going to attribute the former to the latter, even though it might not be causal (although it probably is).

    Do you have standard deviations for the coefficients used to relate each variable to temperature?

    3) Do you think the results would change much if you used TSI instead of sunspots?

    4) Why not use CO2 concentration instead of a linear time trend? The result probably would change slightly, but would be more physically realistic given the slightly accelerating CO2 concentration (and theorized temperature response).

    Nice to see we came up with very similar results independently.

  235. Kevin McKinney:

    Speaking, as some were, of impacts, Gwynne Dyer’s “Climate Wars” does a nice job of considering possible political/military impacts and feedbacks on GW.

    Not so coincidentally, my summary/review just hit 600 page views today–another modest but pleasant milestone. (It’s still trailing my piece on “The Long Thaw” by a couple of hundred, though.)

  236. Daniel Bailey:

    @ Andrew Piccirillo

    Glenn Tamblyn authored a nice piece on the various satellite temperature records over at Skeptical Science.

    HTH,

    The Yooper

  237. Andrew Piccirillo:

    That’s an excellent summary of the various different satellite analyses. I was familiar with most of the studies and methods but that piece puts it all together well.

    I don’t think it really answers my question of why RSS warmed faster in the 80s and slower in the 2000s than UAH, although it obviously relates to one or more of the methodological differences described. It suggests that the initial divergence is due to the different handling of NOAA 9 and 10. It then suggests that the reason for the convergence recently is because of the diminishing impact of their different handling of NOAA 9 and 10. However, I don’t think that explains the fact that over the last 10-15 years UAH has warmed MORE than RSS. It’s not simply that they are now warming the same and earlier divergences are getting washed out. UAH is actively converging to RSS. RSS has been extremely slow to warm the past 10-15 years.

    Anyways, this doesn’t really have anything to do with Tamino’s work and is just an example of the methodological differences between UAH and RSS yielding different results, and even different ENSO and solar responses.

  238. Vendicar Decarian:

    “Would you care to make the same extrapolation for all forms of electrical generation, based on evidence to date? deaths, property damage, cancer, etc?” – 223

    There is no need. I will simply not tolerate 1 core melt per week.

    No rational, thinking person will.

  239. Fred Magyar:

    Septic Matthew
    You moniker if deliberate is quite apt..

    So far, nothing has been safer than nuclear energy. A writer above wrote of “sweeping under the rug”. Let’s get all costs, deaths, subsidies etc out from under the rug, shall we?

    OK take a peek under the rug then and while you’re at may I suggest you go to Japan and volunteer your time to help clean up this mess.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1375877/Japan-nuclear-disaster-Pictures-tsunami-ravaged-Fukushima.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

  240. Joe Cushley:

    I’ve tried to keep schtum as I know it’s OT, but I can’t let Didactylos and Ray L go unchallenged on their responses (tho’ Nick Gotts mounted a far more eloquent rebuttal than I can manage).

    On the supposed ‘nuclear installation wall vs jet aircraft test’ film, try this…

    http://www.nci.org/02NCI/01/back-27.htm

    Please also consider the effect that massive fires caused by jet impact or conventional bombing would have on any emergency containment operations.

    Didactylos, you call yourself a realist in this debate, isn’t that what denialists call themselves in the climate debate…?

  241. Edward Greisch:

    239 Fred Magyar: “go to Japan and volunteer your time to help clean up this mess.”
    Sure. They are paying very well for reactor cleanup. I need hip surgery first. I can’t walk without a cane right now. And I can’t speak Japanese. Otherwise, I would be there.

    Chernobyl: There are people living there now. They are operating the remaining 3 first generation reactors. The annual dose of radiation is 390 rems in Chernobyl. Compare to 1000 rems/year in Denver, Colorado and 12000 rems/year somewhere in Iran. Except for Chernobyl, those are natural background rates. Why hasn’t Iran been evacuated?

    238 Vendicar Decarian: “No rational, thinking person will.” Speak for yourself.

    ““Would you care to make the same extrapolation for all forms of electrical generation, based on evidence to date? deaths, property damage, cancer, etc?” – 223″
    Yes. It isn’t an extrapolation. Coal contains uranium, thorium, their decay products, arsenic, …… Cancer::Benzene. Benzene comes from petroleum and coal.

    9 billion people? Isn’t going to happen. See “Ecological Footprints and Bio-Capacity: Essential Elements in Sustainability Assessment” by William E. Rees: “humanity had already ‘overshot’ the long-term human carrying capacity of the Earth by about 20% in 1999—the whole planet is in deficit. (A population can live in overshoot—i.e., beyond its ecological means—for a considerable period by depleting vital ecosystems and non-renewable resource stocks.)”
    RC: Please get a guest article by a population biologist.

  242. veritas36:

    I would like an explanation/discussion of the changes in the sky. A few days ago, the sky was actually true blue and cloudless, like it used to be frequently. Since 5 or 6 years ago, the sky is streaked across with the jet contrails that used to vanish behind the silvery plane. There are thin whitish clouds all over the sky, and the overall color is pale blue. I suspect it’s due to increased moisture.
    I’m in NH but I’ve noticed skies criss-crossed with contrails in picture from Korea and Scotland.
    What is the cause? What is the effect?

  243. Septic Matthew:

    239, Fred Magyar: OK take a peek under the rug then and while you’re at may I suggest you go to Japan and volunteer your time to help clean up this mess.

    I’m 64 and I don’t speak Japanese. They won’t take me, but other than that I think it’s a good idea. I thought of it.

    It’s irrelevant to the question of whether, in actual operation, nuclear power plants kill fewer people than coal and gas power plants. Would you have thought to invite me to a coal mining disaster? Or to work on the other appx. $300B in property damage that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami? Or to dig the dead out from the train wrecks?

    Is it your contention that other methods of producing electricity are safe?

  244. Septic Matthew:

    More about Fukushima here:

    http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

    I’ll let others have the last words.

  245. apeescape:

    Richard Alley recently did a PBS special on renewable energy. I didn’t know Alley was a registered Republican, and that influence shows in its presentation. This is generally much more engaging and palatable for a skeptic / business-type. I love how farmers in Texas lease out their lands for wind generation to stabilize their income.
    http://www.earththeoperatorsmanual.com/broadcast_info

  246. Fred Magyar:

    Septic Matthew @243,

    Is it your contention that other methods of producing electricity are safe?

    Yes, that is partly my contention. See Bill Gross’s talk at Stanford, recently, on Entrepreneurship, and the application of Moore’s law to concentrating solar power generating plants. But much more important is the fact that our entire energy usage paradigm is fundamentally flawed and we need to reassess it. What we really need to do is power down and learn to do more with much less energy.

  247. George Fripley:

    Fred Magyar,

    It’s all about risk and consequence. Sure, there have not been huge numbers of accidents at nuclear power stations, but the consequences of such accidents are catastrophic and the true death toll will nOt be known for many years. Accidents at coal mines etc occur more often and have more immediate consequences – but then they are over. Nuclear accidents poison land and water for generations and have ongoing impacts.

    Therefore coal and other power generation accidents = higher risk of occurring and immediate impacts / loss of life

    nuclear = less rick of occurring but catastrophic consequencesto the environment and people’s health that last for generations.

    I don’t think on that basis that you could consider nuclear any safer. The consequences OF accidents outweigh the low risk of ccurrence.

  248. George Fripley:

    Correction, my last comment was in response to Spetic Matthew, not Fred Magyar

  249. Hunt Janin:

    Assuming (for the purposes of discussion) a sea level rise of, say, 3 meters at some point in the distant future, which parts of the world would be impacted the most severely?

  250. Edward Greisch:

    247 George Fripley: It is pointless to argue with you. You are just wrong.

    Reference: “Google and the myth of universal knowledge” by Jean-Noel Jeanneney 2007 The original is in French.

    When you do a Google search, you get “sponsored” links on the right side and “non-sponsored” links on the left. The “NON-SPONSORED” links on Google ARE LISTED IN THE ORDER OF THE HIGHEST BIDDER to lowest bidder. Companies pay dollars to Google to get web sites other than their own that lie in favor of the paying company to be at the top of the “non-sponsored” list. Google search results in your getting nothing but corporate propaganda. Since the coal industry has a $100 Billion per year income at stake, they can and must share a lot of money with Google.

    Page 32: 62% of internet users questioned make no distinction whatever between advertising and other information, and only 18% proved capable of telling which data were paid for by companies for their promotion and which were not.”
    “92% of users of search engines have full confidence in the results of their search, and 71% (users for less than five years) consider that information from this source [Google] is never biased in any way.”

    Suggestion: Use only Google Advanced or Google Scholar. On Google Advanced, specify either the .gov domain or the .edu domain. Otherwise, use only web sites that http://www.RealClimate.org uses or the IPCC.

    There should be a law requiring Google to disclose the above and the donors and the dollars for each “non-sponsored” link.

  251. Nick Gotts:

    “You still are not getting it: all electricity production costs lives. Had the Fukushima nuclear power plants been coal-fired, the loss of human life over the full lifetimes of the power plants would have been greater.” -Septic Matthew

    [citation needed]

    The calculations are difficult when we simply don’t know how many lives Fukushima has cost and will cost, nor how many a hypothetical power plant would have cost. Coal is of course not the only alternative to nuclear power – in fact it’s the worst possible alternative. Nor do I call for a complete abandonment of nuclear power; just realism about its severe drawbacks, and limited potential over the crucial next two decades.

  252. Donna:

    In reading the comments on nuclear versus other power sources and then some of the earlier comments on whther small scale chages per household versus larger scale power plants, made me think about a tangential issue.
    We seem to be stuck in a paradigm that says we need large scale stuff that is fixed in place to provide power. But large scale fixed assets mean that we lock down where things have to be. Probably not a good idea as we are going to need flexibilty and mobility.
    I think we need to be thinking how can we make it harder for single events (hurricanes, earthquakes, ice storms) to knock out power to big chunks. Sort of the beehive approach – lots of bees bringing in power so that the loss of even a number of bees does not doom the hive.
    I suspect that climate change is going to force population moves and if we have smaller more mobile power sources, then that movement could be easier and less painful.
    A more diverse, flexible power system would be a great benefit in a number of ways.

  253. Martin Vermeer:

    Hunt Janin #249: it depends on where the water comes from. For such a large sea level rise, most of the water must come from the continental ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica). There is however no easy way, short of physical modelling, to tell how much will come from Greenland and how much from Antarctica. And furthermore, the ratio may change over time.

    What one can say with some certainty is that equatorial regions will get more than the average. This is because the disappearance of ice (mass) from the polar regions will lower the geoid there, while it will rise at lower latitudes to compensate.

  254. Deconvoluter:

    re: #250

    An interesting comment about Google, but it would help if there was at least one example. As for your suggested remedies, I agree about the Scholar version, but are you also saying that the Advanced version of Google is non-trivially different from the ordinary version? I just thought that it was an alternative and ‘friendly’ front end. You don’t need Advanced to restrict to *.edu files.

    Is your main reference relevant? I have only read some short reviews but they restrict themselves to the topic of the selection of books to digitise.

  255. kevin mckinney:

    #250, #254–

    I have to say that I don’t believe Ed’s source on this one. I’ve got a bunch of web articles, all on the same site (Hubpages), and I pay some attention to their position in search results. There’s not all that much point, after all, in being somewhere on page 10.

    Search result position varies widely among my articles, and changes over time, which shouldn’t happen if it were just a matter of what Hubpages supposedly pays Google. (I doubt Hubpages pays Google anything; and I certainly know for a fact that I don’t.)

    Moreover, it depends greatly on the search terms. I don’t think there’s any way, realistically speaking, of auctioning off every search term, nor involving every online source. Clearly Google has some sort of algorithm, but a simple auction ain’t it. And, from everything I’ve ever heard, Google isn’t telling.

  256. flxible:

    Edward@250 Google is waaay more complicated than your reference makes out. I do a certain search for my own small business web site and there is only one result above mine that has been paid for – it’s highlighted and labeled “ad”, the next 10 “unsponsered” results are to my site or other local sites that specifically mention mine. The primary problem with google is folks mostly don’t know how to use search terms well and web authors don’t use keyword tags properly.

  257. Walter Pearce:

    Those arguing in favor of nuclear should Google the Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, without which we would have no nuclear industry.

    That’s because the savviest market-based risk analysts — the insurance companies — won’t provide anywhere close to the liability coverage required for plants to get funded.

    Anyone wanting to bet against the insurers?

  258. Edward Greisch:

    251 Nick Gotts: [citation needed]:

    Citation: book: “The Revenge of Gaia” by James Lovelock page 102. Chernobyl is included.

    Deaths per terrawatt year [twy] for energy industries, including
    Chernobyl. terra=mega mega [There are zero sources of energy
    that cause zero deaths, but not having the electricity causes the
    far more deaths because not having electricity is a form of poverty.]

    fuel……… ……..fatalities… …..who……… …….deaths per twy
    coal……… ………6400…… ……workers……….. ………342
    natural gas….. ..1200…… …..workers and public… …85
    hydro…….. …….4000….. …….public………… …………883
    nuclear…….. ………31…… ……workers………… ………….8

    He may have omitted deaths caused by the air pollution from coal, which includes airborne uranium, thorium, arsenic, etc.

    I have no connection with the nuclear power industry. I have never had any connection with the nuclear power industry. I am not being paid by anyone to say this. My sole motive is to avoid death in the collapse of civilization and to avoid extinction due to global warming.

    Citation: papers: http://www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-34/text/coalmain.html
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory REVIEW
    Volume 26 Numbers Three and Four, 1993
    “Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger?” by Alex Gabbard

    References and Suggested Reading

    J. F. Ahearne, “The Future of Nuclear Power,” American Scientist, Jan.-Feb.. 1993: 24-35.

    E. Brown and R. B. Firestone, “Table of Radioactive Isotopes”, Wiley Interscience, 1986.

    J. O. Corbett, “The Radiation Dose From Coal Burning: A Review of Pathways and Data,” Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 4 (1): 5-19.

    R. R. Judkins and W. Fulkerson, “The Dilemma of Fossil Fuel Use and Global Climate Change,” Energy & Fuels, 7 (1993) 14-22.

    National Council on Radiation Protection. Public Radiation Exposure From Nuclear Power Generation in the U.S., Report No. 92, 1987, 72-112.

    National Council on Radiation Protection, Exposure of the Population in the United States and Canada from Natural Background Radiation, Report No. 94, 1987, 90-128.

    National Council on Radiation Protection, Radiation Exposure of the U.S. Population from Consumer Products and Miscellaneous Sources, Report No. 95, 1987, 32-36 and 62-64.

    Serge A. Korff, “Fast Cosmic Ray Neutrons in the Atmosphere”, Proceedings of International Conference on Cosmic Rays, Volume 5: High Energy Interactions, Jaipur, December 1963.

    C. B. A. McCusker, “Extensive Air Shower Studies in Australia,” Proceedings of International Conference on Cosmic Rays, Volume 4: Extensive Air Showers, Jaipur, December 1963.

    T. L. Thoem, et al., Coal Fired Power Plant Trace Element Study, Volume 1: A Three Station Comparison, Radian Corp. for USEPA, Sept. 1975.

    W. Torrey, “Coal Ash Utilization: Fly Ash, Bottom Ash and Slag,” Pollution Technology Review, 48 (1978) 136.

    “OUR NUCLEAR FUTURE: THE PATH OF SELECTIVE IGNORANCE” by Alex Gabbard
    Metals and Ceramics Division
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

    Unpublished loose pages listing the percentages of elements from a selection of mines by Alex Gabbard. See the references to the above to find out who did the actual analysis.

    References

    1. “Senior Expert Symposium on Electricity and the Environment”, Key Issues Papers, Helsinki, Finland, May 1991

    2. Sun, Yuliang; “Gas-cooled Reactor Program in China”, Presented at ORNL, Mar. 3, 1995 (unpublished).

    3. Judkins, R. R., and Fulkerson, W.; “The Dilemma of Fossil Fuel Use and Global Climate Change,” Energy & Fuels, 7, pgs 14-22,1993.

    4. “Coal Data: A Reference,” USDOE/Energy Information Administration, DOE/EIA-0064(93), Feb. 1995.

    5. Livingston, R. S., et al; “A Desirable Energy Future, A National Perspective,” pgs 37-41, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and The Franklin Institute Press, 1982.

    6. Valkovic, V., “Trace Elements in Coal,” Vol. 1, CRC, 1983.

    7. Geotimes, pg 20, Feb. 1994.

    8. Lyon, W. S., et al; “Nuclear Activation Techniques in the Life Sciences,” IAEA, 1978.

    9. Gabbard, W. A., “Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger?”, ORNL Review, Vol. 26, Nos. 3 & 4, pgs 2433, 1993.

    10. Facer, J. F., “Uranium in Coal,” Rep. GJBX-56(79), USDOE, Grand Junction Office, Colorado, May, 1979.

    11. “Background Information Document (Integrated Risk Assessment); Final Ruling for Radionuclides,” USEPA Report EPA 520/1-84-002-2 Vol 11, 1984.

    12. Beck, H. L., et al, “Perturbations on the Natural Radiation Environment Due to the Utilization of Coal as an Energy Source,” Natural Radiation Environment 111., Vol. 2, Proceedings, USDOE, pgs 1521-1558, 1980.

    13. Corbett, J. O., “The Radiation Dose From Coal Burning: A Review of Pathways and Data,” Radiation Protection Dosimetry, Vol. 4, No. 1, 5-19, 1983.

    14. Coal Fired Power Plant Trace Element Study, Vol. 1, A Three Station Comparison, US Dept. of Commerce, PB-257293, Sept, 1975.

    15. McBride, J. P., et al, “Radiological Impact of Airborne Effluents of Coal and Nuclear Plants,” Science, Dec. 1978.

    16. Cohen, B. L., “Letters,” Physics Today, pg 97-98, Oct. 1995.

    17. “Radiation Exposure of the U.S. Population from Consumer Products and Miscellaneous Sources,” National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurement,” Report No. 95, Dec. 1987.

    18. Wilder, R. F. et al, “Recovery of Metal Oxides from Fly Ash Including Ash Beneficiation Products,” Electric Power Research Institute, CS-4384, Vols. 1-3, 1986.

    Source of the above paper:
    The 19th Annual Conference of the SOUTHERN FUTURE SOCIETY was developed in cooperation with CUMBERLAND UNIVERSITY, Lebanon, Tennessee and
    THE WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY, Bethesda, Maryland

    The 1997 Annual Conference of the Southern Future Society, April 3, 4, and 5, 1997 in Nashville, Tennessee.

    Do the computation yourself: All natural rocks contain most natural elements. Coal is a rock. The average concentration of uranium in coal is 1 or 2 parts per million. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. A 1000 million watt coal fired power plant burns 4 million tons of coal each year. If you multiply 4 million tons by 1 part per million, you get 4 tons of uranium. Most of that is U238. About .7% is U235. 4 tons = 8000 pounds. 8000 pounds times .7% = 56 pounds of U235. An average 1 billion watt coal fired power plant puts out 56 to 112 pounds of U235 every year. There are only 2 places the uranium can go: Up the stack or into the cinders.
    Since a reactor full fuel load is around 11 tons of 2% U235 and 98% U238, and one load lasts about 10 years, what one coal fired power plant puts into the air and cinders could fully fuel a nuclear power plant.
    Compare 4 Million tons per year with 1.1 tons per year. 1.1 divided by 4 Million = 2.75 E -7 = .000000275 =.0000275%. Remember that only 2% of that is U235. The nuclear power plant needs ~44 pounds of U235 per year. The coal fired power plant burns coal by the trainload. The nuclear power plant consumes U235 in such small quantities yearly that you could carry that much weight in a briefcase.
    3. See the rest of Alex Gabbard’s article. U238 can be bred into Plutonium and Thorium can be bred into Uranium. We can fuel our nuclear power plants for CENTURIES just by extracting uranium and thorium from coal cinders and smoke.

    Summary of Wind Turbine Incidents (December 2008):
    
• 41 Worker Fatalities, 16 Public- Includes falling from turbine towers and transporting turbines on the highway.
    
• 39 Incidents of Blade Failure- Failed blades have been known to travel over a quarter mile, killing any unfortunate bystanders within its path of destruction.
    
• 110 Incidents of Fire- When a wind turbine fire occurs, local fire departments can do little but watch due to the 30-story height of these turbine units. The falling debris are then carried across the distance and cause new fires.
    
• 60 Incidents of Structural Failure- As turbines become more prevalent, these breakages will become more common in public areas, thereby causing more deaths and dismemberment’s from falling debris.

    • 24 incidents of “hurling ice”- Ice forms on these giant blades and is reportedly hurled at deathly speeds in all directions. Author reports that some 880 ice incidents of this nature have occurred over Germany’s 13-years of harnessing wind power.
    Source: Treehugger http://www.treehugger.com/
    If you google “deaths wind turbines” you will get lots of stuff.

    Enough or do you need more?

  259. Didactylos:

    It’s funny, isn’t it….

    Hydroelectric fatality figures are completely dominated by a single incident. Banqiao Dam failed in 1975, killing 26,000 people directly and another 145,000 died due to conditions afterwards.

    Likewise, nuclear fatalities are completely dominated by a single incident. As a result of Chernobyl, 31-64 people died directly from the radiation, with a potential 4000 deaths as the projected total.

    It’s amusing watching people try to magnify these figures, to make them all scary and horrifying. The truth, of course, is that most silly figures quoted about Chernobyl require doing silly and unjustified things with the figures.

    But what about Fukushima? A very good question. We don’t know the final death toll from the Fukushima reactor failures, nor do we know the death toll from the Fujinuma Dam failure.

    Am I going to get yet more flak for pointing this out? Probably. The fact that all I’m doing is agreeing with James Hansen seems to be lost on some people. Is Gavin’s boss completely cuckoo? Or does he have the ability to look at facts and figures without letting emotion cloud his judgement?

    Of course, the most absolutely hilarious thing is that if you ask the average American about nuclear accidents and why they are worried about nuclear power, they are most likely to cite Three Mile Island – an incident in which nobody died at all.

  260. Snapple:

    A Russian scientists named Nestorenko claimed that Chernobyl had killed about 985,000 people since 2004.

    Here is some information about his claims.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/05/death-of-exceptional-resister-vassili-b.html

  261. Didactylos:

    Snapple: Fiction.

    I would have thought dealing with climate deniers would give you a better nose for this sort of thing.

  262. David B. Benson:

    Didactylos — Many different classes of extreme events have fatalities dominated by a single event; earthquakes comes to mind.

  263. JiminMpls:

    I’m not particularly concerned about the safety of nuclear power. I *am* concerned about the astronomical cost, the decades long construction cycles, the massive cost overruns, the near 100% dependence on government subsidies, the absolutely unacceptable practice of Toshiba and Areva declaring cost projections “proprietary”, and in the United States, our near total dependence on foreign sources of uranium fuel. These are all issues that the nuclear lobby and THEIR cadre of denialists refuse to acknowledge, let alone address.

  264. Edward Greisch:

    263 JiminMpls: “These are all issues that the nuclear lobby and THEIR cadre of denialists refuse to acknowledge, let alone address.”
    I have addressed those issues many many times. So many times that RC is very tired of it and usually cancels the subject of energy. I am tired of repeating myself as well. All of your problems are nonsense. If you had read my post at 258, you would know that we have enough uranium in coal ashes and cinders alone for a very long time. And you would know that we could get enough uranium out of sea water for 30,000 years. The remainder of your problems are solved by http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/
    including the price “problem.” Per email from Hyperion sales, the price is 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour for everything. The company recycles the fuel. Hyperion is one of about 30 manufacturers of modular [factory built small] reactors that are delivered complete. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html

    From: Jim Jones at hyperionpowergeneration.com

    Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 2:27 PM
    Subject: Re: $.05 to .06 per KWh

    Assume HPM costs $30M and plant side doubles it:

    $60M divided by 25,000kw = $2,400/kw
    $2,400/kw divided by 5 years = $480/KWyr
    $480/KWyr divided by 8760 hours = $.0547945/KWhr (Call it 5 and half cents per KWhr)

    OR

    $60M divided by 20,000 homes = $3,000/home
    $3,000/home divided by 5 years = $600/home/year
    $600/home/year divided by 12 months = $50/home/month (How’s that for an electric bill?)

    Jim

    See also
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/
    http://bravenewclimate.com/
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org
    http://casenergy.org/

  265. Edward Greisch:

    Woops! The uranium from sea water was in a different post.

  266. Edward Greisch:

    I see that that huge figure for casualties from Chernobyl came from a Russian book. It isn’t a peer reviewed journal article. Sorry, I didn’t catch the title or authors of the book. I found the reference at http://www.enn.com/press_releases/3694
    “”Chernobyl: A Million Casualties” Karl Grossman’s interview…..” which leads to http://envirovideo.blip.tv/

    I think there are a lot of holes in their science. Like they didn’t control for other sources of pollution. They didn’t show us how they got that result. Is GW causing any of the problems? There are a lot of things going on in Eastern Europe that could cause a lot of stuff. Etc. It looks like pure propaganda to me. It looks like 2 old people [my age] saying: “Oh my!” over and over. I haven’t seen the book. I can’t read Russian anyway.

  267. CM:

    Ed, I disagree. I think JimInMpls’s points are central to the debate. See e.g. Amory Lovins’ “Nuclear Power: Climate Fix or Folly.”
    http://www.rmi.org/rmi/Library/E09-01_NuclearPowerClimateFixOrFolly

    As for the price on Hyperionpower’s units, what say we wait at least until they’ve actually sold one? (The name does not bode well — Keats never finished Hyperion…)

  268. CM:

    Should have said: as for the price on power from H.’s units, let’s wait till someone’s actually operating one… Sorry.

  269. Nick Gotts:

    “Citation: book: “The Revenge of Gaia” by James Lovelock page 102.” – Edward Greisch

    Sorry, I don’t take anything written by Loony Lovelock seriously. This is the man who said we needn’t worry about the ozone layer hole because his imaginary friend “Gaia” would sort it out; and who now says we’re doomed anyway. Nor do I trust him for a moment to be capable of impartiality in his calculations – like many of his generation (and you – I’m not for a moment accusing you of sordid monetary motivations), he is literally in love with nuclear power, and will defend the beloved’s honour at all costs.

    I don’t see anything in your references that would allow a comparison between the unknown number of deaths due to Fukushima, and the unknown number of deaths a coal-fired plant would have caused, which was what I queried. I’m not denying that the latter would have caused more deaths, simply saying that we don’t know. Nor, as you are very well aware, am I advocating substituting coal-fired plants for existing or planned nuclear ones.

    “If you google “deaths wind turbines” you will get lots of stuff.”

    You certainly will: all of it, at least on the first three pages, concerns bird and bat deaths; most are saying that the claims of wind power opponents about these are grossly exaggerated. The only actual human deaths you cite are worker fatalities, which are liable to happen in any construction project. We’d need to include all the deaths from uranium mining (which I’d bet are mostly unrecorded because the mining companies would much prefer not to pay compensation) as well as the construction of nuclear stations to get a comparison on that limited issue.

  270. Nick Gotts:

    Further to my last point on worker fatalities: of course we’d also need to factor in deaths from mining and transport of other raw materials for both nuclear and wind.

  271. JiminMpls:

    Edward – Thank you for proving my point. Hyperion isn’t even shipping product yet and extracting uranium fuel from coal ash or sea water is pure fantasy. There are an estimated 25 billion tons of gold in ocean waters. That’s doesn’t mean that it will ever be an economically viable source of gold.

  272. Snapple:

    Senator Inhofe was so arrogant that he landed a plane on a closed runway and scattered terrified workers.

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/bizarre/inhofe-scared-crap-out-airport-workers-192645

    This shows a lot about his psychology.

  273. JiminMpls:

    Edward, Thank you for proving my point. Hyperion isn’t even shipping product and uranium extraction from coal ash and ocean waters is pure fantasy. There are 25 billion tons of gold in ocean waters. That doesn’t mean it is an economically viable source of gold.

  274. Didactylos:

    JiminMpls and Nick Gotts: Have you gone to the trouble to look up some reliable cost comparisons for different energy sources? Have you looked up some reliable studies recording total fatalities per TWh? Have you looked up the amount of uranium available to mine in the US?

    If you have, you will know that all your objections have perfection rational answers.

    All these “economically viable” arguments are silly. Just because something isn’t economically viable now doesn’t mean that it won’t be perfectly viable when other sources are unavailable! For example, in the US, nuclear power struggles to compete with the insanely cheap coal power, and uranium mining can’t compete with cheaper foreign sources.

    PS: While I agree with some of your opinions about Lovelock (he’s nuts, bless him) that doesn’t automatically make him wrong. And I’m not from his generation. Or the one after, either.

  275. SecularAnimist:

    Didactylos wrote: “The fact that all I’m doing is agreeing with James Hansen seems to be lost on some people. Is Gavin’s boss completely cuckoo?”

    James Hansen is a climate scientist. He has no particular expertise in energy technologies. Many of his public statements about alternative energy sources are embarrassingly ill-informed.

    Didactylos wrote: “For example, in the US, nuclear power struggles to compete with the insanely cheap coal power …”

    Nuclear power cannot compete with natural gas or wind power either.

    Nuclear power has never, ever been economically viable anywhere on Earth. It has always, and everywhere, been absolutely dependent on massive public subsidies.

    Nuclear power is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Even the most aggressive and optimistic scenarios for a “nuclear renaissance” that the nuclear industry itself has put forward would, at most, keep nuclear power’s share of global electricity generation about where it is now. Realistically, it is going to decline.

    Meanwhile, wind and solar are booming — they are the fastest growing sources of new electricity generation in the world, and have been for several years. Wind accounted for 37 percent of new generation capacity in the USA in 2010 — and that was a bad year for the growth of wind power in the US. Worldwide, wind added a record 68 GW of new capacity. Solar PV is going mainstream, with costs of today’s mature PV technologies plummeting and revolutionary ultra-cheap, high-efficiency PV technologies headed for commercialization. And utility-scale concentrating solar thermal power is going to explode within the next few years.

    The bottom line is that investing in nuclear power today is simply a bad investment, both economically and with regard to AGW mitigation. By the time any new nuclear power plant can actually be built and brought online in the USA, it will simply not be able to sell its extremely expensive electricity at profit in a market transformed by wind and solar and efficiency technologies. As for AGW, nuclear power is the most expensive and least effective way to rapidly reduce GHG emissions from electricity generation.

    As for safety issues, there are obviously good reasons to be very concerned about the safety and security of currently operating reactors in the USA, and to improve the NRC’s oversight process.

    But I don’t spend much time worrying about safety issues around a large-scale expansion of nuclear power, because such an expansion is neither necessary nor effective to address AGW, so there is no need to deal with the very real dangers and risks of such an expansion. Plus, a large-scale expansion of nuclear power is just not going to happen.

  276. Walter Pearce:

    Didactylos @ 274: It’s already been established that nuclear power isn’t economically viable, purely from a liability standpoint. Hence Price-Anderson and similar laws in Japan and elsewhere.

    You can’t just omit these societal costs any more than we should omit the climate impacts from fossil fuel extraction and use.

    Barclays puts the total estimated cost of dealing with the Fukushima disaster at close to $190 billion. That’s a lot of money that could otherwise be spent on cheaper conservation, efficiency and renewables.

    And yes — there ARE costs to the latter — but nothing like the minefields nukes pose.

  277. SecularAnimist:

    Edward Greisch wrote: “Per email from Hyperion sales, the price is 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour for everything. The company recycles the fuel. Hyperion is one of about 30 manufacturers of modular [factory built small] reactors that are delivered complete.”

    From the World Nuclear Association page that Edward linked to:

    “In March 2010, Hyperion notified the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it planned to submit a design certification application in 2012 … Hyperion has said it plans to build a prototype by 2015, possibly with uranium oxide fuel if the nitride is not then available.”

    It is misleading to quote a price per KWH, for a reactor design that — according to what Hyperion “says” — will not even be submitted to the NRC for certification until next year, and when Hyperion only has “plans” to build its first actual prototype in 5 years, and cannot even say for certain what type of fuel it will use.

    It is misleading to say that Hyperion “manufactures” or “delivers” these reactors when in fact Hyperion has not manufactured or delivered even one.

    It is misleading to say that Hyperion “recycles the fuel” when in fact Hyperion has yet to recycle any fuel.

    I understand that nuclear power has its fans.

    But please, can we stop comparing today’s mature, powerful wind and solar technologies which are already adding tens of gigawatts of new generation capacity worldwide every year, with sci-fi fantasy nuclear vaporware?

    Otherwise, let’s compare Hyperion’s reactor with 100 percent efficient organic thin-film PV that costs one cent per watt installed.

  278. Septic Matthew:

    277, SecularAnimist: Otherwise, let’s compare Hyperion’s reactor with 100 percent efficient organic thin-film PV that costs one cent per watt installed.

    Nicely written. Include cheap backup: batteries, pumped storage, H2 from electrolysis, whatever. I look forward to the day when the factories that manufacture solar and wind generation devices are themselves powered by electricity solar and wind.

    The experience to date, however, has been fewer deaths per TWH from nuclear than from gas, wind, solar, coal, or hydro. So to me they should continue to build new nuclear plants until nothing in wind, solar or hydro requires an external source for its manufacture.

    Right now in the U.S. a little over half of electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. We would like (I think we all here agree on this) to drive that down to 0. Can we drive it down to 0 more quickly and with fewer deaths and other costs with or without nuclear? Given the performance of the American nuclear power industry, even including three Mile Island in the record, I think we can do it better if we include nuclear in the mix.

    Does anybody have figures on the subsidies to the various power sources per terawatt-hour?

  279. Didactylos:

    …sigh…

    I see that facts have no place in discussion of energy. I will leave you all to your own constructed reality.

    Or you could do what I suggested, and go looking up those sources. I won’t spoonfeed you with them*, since obviously nobody is going to trust any source cited by someone they disagree with. But for Pete’s sake, find some more reliable ones than the rabidly anti-nuclear sources so many of you seem to lean on.

    Nuclear power does compete, successfully, with other forms of power. It even dominates in some countries. This simple fact falsifies your “not viable” nonsense, Walter Pearce and SecularAnimist. Now, it would be nice if we could remove all subsidies of wind, coal, etc. so that costs could be assessed on an equal footing. But you don’t have that luxury, so you will have to deal with the real world, and levelised costs.

    * Or you can check sources I have cited on earlier occasions, if you prefer.

  280. SecularAnimist:

    Didactylos wrote: “I see that facts have no place in discussion of energy.”

    The fact is that over the last five years, wind power has added more new electric generating capacity in the USA than coal and nuclear combined — in spite of the fact that both coal and nuclear have enjoyed large, and permanent public subsidies, while subsidies for wind have been small, short-term and therefore unreliable.

    The fact is that wind power is already competitive with coal and natural gas. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance:

    The cost of electricity generated from wind is now at record lows: several projects in high resource areas (US, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico) display a levelised cost of energy – excluding the impact of subsidies but after including the cost of capital and maintenance – below EUR 50/MWh ($68/MWh). This compares to current estimated average costs of $67 per MWh for coal-fired power and $56 per MWh for gas-fired power.

    The cost of wind and solar power will continue to go down as the technology improves and manufacturing scales up. This applies especially to mass-produced photovoltaic materials. And keep in mind that for distributed PV installed at the point of use, “grid parity” means that it only has to be competitive with the retail cost of grid electricity, not the wholesale cost.

    The debate about nuclear power is moot. Given the entrenched political power of the nuclear industry — as reflected in the Obama administration’s continued support for huge subsidies for new nuclear, Fukushima be damned — it is possible that one or two new nuclear power plants may be built in the USA in the next decade or so. But there is not going to be any major expansion of nuclear power in the USA.

    Indeed, if the NRC behaves responsibly and stops rubber-stamping license renewals for aging nuclear power plants, and they are decommissioned as originally planned, it is likely that nuclear’s share of US electricity generation will drop, even if a few new plants are eventually built.

  281. Septic Matthew:

    280, Secular Animist: excluding the impact of subsidies but after including the cost of capital and maintenance

    Despite being intermittent, the subsidies for solar and wind are huge per MWH. Do you have any figures that include them? I may have saved some, but have not any close to hand.

  282. Edward Greisch:

    Why indeed doesn’t anybody extract minerals from coal ash and cinders, if they are so valuable? Good question. Coal contains: URANIUM, ARSENIC, LEAD, MERCURY, Antimony, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Selenium, Barium, Fluorine, Silver, Beryllium, Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Titanium, Cadmium, Magnesium, Thorium, Calcium, Manganese, Vanadium, Chlorine, Aluminum, Chromium, Molybdenum and Zinc.

    Coal ash and cinders are used as building material, and I attended and spoke at an EPA hearing on the subject. But why not extract the minerals first? Coal ash and cinders are not the best ore for any one mineral, but there are 28 minerals listed above, not counting the radioactive decay products of uranium. I don’t know. Do you? Should we form a corporation to try?

  283. SecularAnimist:

    Septic Matthew wrote: “the subsidies for solar and wind are huge per MWH”

    And what Bloomberg is saying is that even without those subsidies wind is competitive with coal and gas.

    And I am aware that the “subsidies per MWH” is the latest fossil / nuclear industry talking point. It is deliberately misleading.

    Of course subsidies for technologies that have only begun to be deployed at scale within the last few years will be higher “per MWH” than subsidies for technologies which have been deployed for decades.

    If you look at the total cumulative subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear power over the last 50-100 years, it’s another story.

    And of course if you want to talk about subsidies for “4th generation nuclear power” they are infinite per MWH since “4th generation nuclear” has yet to feed a single watt into the grid.

  284. Didactylos:

    SecularAnimist: I found it amusing that you managed to find some numbers that don’t show wind being particularly competitive. Since you know that it *is*, perhaps it’s time you looked wider, and see that different energy markets favour different energy mixes. What isn’t competitive in one place is competitive in another.

    That’s what I have been trying to point out.

    And I have to add: one of the biggest problems with nuclear power – an absolutely massive problem – I’ll be upfront about this – is all the ill-informed protesters and coal-based lobby groups making it hard for nuclear to even exist in some areas. Without this oppressive presence, nuclear power can benefit from the economy of scale, and improved designs will have a lower overall cost. I can’t help wondering how many ageing reactors have been kept in service beyond their safe lifetime thanks to the idiot protesters preventing replacements being built.

    Do you really want to side with the coal industry on this subject, or can you let nuclear power win or lose on its own merits, without silly arguments about extreme scenarios or tail-chasing arguments about economics? And yes, this means allowing governments to provide subsidies if they want to. Nuclear has a big upfront build cost, and benefits from different kinds of subsidies than wind does.

  285. Walter Pearce:

    Didactylos@279 — Please consider my actual point before hurling insults. Yes — let’s operate from facts.

    Nuclear power doesn’t compete with other energy sources anywhere because it receives massive public subsidies in the form of liability limits enjoyed by no other energy source — not even close.

    And, this is why, even in countries where nuclear power “dominates” as you say, not a single nuke plant would ever get built without the public assuming massive financial and other risk. Alternatively, please show me where nukes are getting built without such a public subsidy.

    These subsidies, in my view, represent a gigantic misallocation of resources that could otherwise be put toward more efficient forms of low-carbon energy production and conservation, which carry a tiny fraction of nuclear’s risk premium.

    You are free to argue otherwise, but not factually (sigh!)from an economic perspective.

  286. Brian Dodge:

    “Why indeed doesn’t anybody extract minerals from coal ash and cinders, if they are so valuable?” Edward Greisch — 14 Apr 2011 @ 3:48 PM

    According to http://www.wise-uranium.org/uwai.html, the minimum economically processable Uranium ore concentration is on the order of 700-1000ppm.
    According to http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html, the average concentration of Uranium in coal ash is ~ 1.3 ppm, although it varies from 1-10 ppm depending on source.

    The highest trace metal concentrations are less than 500ppm

    U3O8 ~$58/lb (down from $70 since Fukushima catastrophe)
    V2O3 ~$6.50/lb
    Cr ~14eu/kg
    Co ~$18/lb
    Hg ~$1500/76 lb flask

    It’s not economic, compared to conventional sources.

  287. Didactylos:

    Walter Pearce: You keep making a big deal of this liability issue, but I simply don’t see it the way you do. Nuclear power isn’t comparable to most other forms of power in that serious accidents are very, very rare, but have potentially catastrophic consequences. The act you keep harping on about simply creates an absolute liability insurance system, and is industry funded.

    This makes perfect sense for risks that can be made very small but not reduced to zero. Companies cannot use absence of fault as an excuse. And if there is negligence, then that is handled separately.

    In the absence of such an act, then a severe nuclear accident would bankrupt the company and nobody would be compensated. Who wins then?

    So, can you explain to me how this is a subsidy? It’s not. It’s industry funded, and government regulated. If anything, the US system is *less* of a subsidy than other countries, where the state has to make up the difference if the company falls short.

    A similar system exists for oil spills.

    If you want to discuss subsidies, then please go and find some figures for actual subsidies. I’m not really interested, since subsidies are just politics and have little to do with merit. But I live in the hope that you will find something worth discussing.

  288. David B. Benson:

    Didactylos @287 — All of such matters are presented quite clearly in the TCASE series linked on the sidebar of
    http://bravenewclimate.com/

    and I must add that the recent commentary here on RealClimate seems far off the topic of climate.

  289. Snapple:

    Tim Ball’s defender John O’Sullivan is claiming that a professor in Mexico named Nasif Nahle claims that CO2 cools the earth.

    http://www.suite101.com/content/greenhouse-gas-theory-discredited-by-coolant-carbon-dioxide-a365870

    I wonder which of the denialist mouthpieces will pick this story up first.

    Or maybe this story will appear in Pravda, RIA Novosti, or Kommersant and Cuccinelli can cite this latest “science” in his attack on Michael Mann.

  290. Edward Greisch:

    286 Brian Dodge: “average concentration of Uranium in coal ash is ~ 1.3 ppm” Wrong. The average concentration of Uranium in COAL is ~ 1.3 ppm, not coal ash. Illinois coal is up to 103 ppm uranium. Again, that is coal, not coal ash. Coal is 25% to 96% carbon. Burn away the carbon and the other organics and then what do you get? Varies.

    What is U3O8? The middle character is the letter “O”? Do you mean 8% enriched uranium?

    285 Walter Pearce: Nuclear power is NOT subsidized in France. In fact, the nuclear power company pays the French government. See: “Environmentalists for Nuclear” the book and the web site. “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy”, by B. Comby
    English edition, 2001, 345 pp. (soft cover), 38 Euros
    TNR Editions, 266 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris, France;
    ISBN 2-914190-02-6

    ORDER FROM THIS PLACE ONLY: http://www.comby.org/livres/livresen.htm
    You will not find it elsewhere. 100 Euros.

    Read a review of this book by the American Health Physics Society at:
    http://www.comby.org/media/articles/articles.in.english/HealthPhysics-NUC-July2002.htm

    http://www.ecolo.org
    Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy [EFN]

    288 David B. Benson: “recent commentary here on RealClimate seems far off the topic of climate.”
    The federal way to regulate is to put a legal limit on the CO2 into the air per kilowatt hour and allow the electric companies figure out how to do it. That is what I propose doing. The problem is that coal companies and people who think that they can get rich building wind or solar do not want to allow the electric utilities to have that freedom. And oil companies try to pervert the process into “energy independence” meaning “drill baby drill.” The desired result for all fossil fuel companies is gridlock. Gridlock = GW. That is what it has to do with climate.

  291. CM:

    Snapple, re: this Nahle person in Mexico,

    Bring out the popcorn…

    In the “paper” linked from your link, he starts out saying: “This assessment is a review of the common AGW argument on the carbon dioxide increasing the potential of the water vapor for absorbing and emitting IR radiation as a consequence of the overlapping absorption/emission spectral bands.”

    Clearly he’s not engaging with the scientific consensus on AGW, but attacking a strawman “common AGW argument” he’s misconstructed from
    a) the anonymous author of an Environmental Defense essay (activist),
    b) an anonymous author at Science Daily (journalistic), and
    c) a single sentence, out of context, from a single paper that he clearly hasn’t understood, published in J. Climate.’s “Notes and correspondence” section (science, but no warranties).

    These three sources speak of three entirely different things:
    a) the water vapor feedback,
    b) the carbon cycle feedback, and
    c) effects on precipitation of reduced longwave radiative cooling in the tropical lower troposphere. An overlap effect of CO2 and water vapor absorption bands is indeed discussed, but the effect claimed is explicitly discussed as a separate matter from the global warming by CO2 changing the energy balance at the top of the atmosphere.

    This tells me all a layperson needs to know about Nahle.

  292. Walter Pearce:

    Didactylos@287: Sure — if by self-funded you mean up to the point of an arbitrarily set and ridiculously low level, you are correct.

    Who is paying the costs in Japan in excess of insured costs? Oops.

    But that’s OK — just keep pretending that those non-insured costs don’t exist — the only way you can continue to assert that nukes are competitive.

    I now see the wisdom of avoiding this topic in this forum. Even if you were a willing pupil, this isn’t the venue to walk you through basics of risk management and finance. Your failure to address points raised — by me and others — and argumentative style have reached Rod B. proportions.

    I’ll leave you to pontificate further, and await a return to climate discussions.

  293. Hunt Janin:

    As far as I can tell, only one highly developed country – the Netherlands -is making any firm plans,at the national level, to deal with sea level rise.

    Know of any others?

  294. Walter Pearce:

    @290: This really is my last word on the nuclear subject — Here ya go, Edward Greisch.

    From just one of any number of sources:

    “Current legislation and practice in France does not require the owner or op- erators of nuclear power plants to cover the entire risk of severe accident, but limits their liability. Current practice in France limits the liability of the owner/operator to below 10% of the current internationally agreed liability limitations. This insufficient provision for future liability can be considered a form of environmentally harmful indirect support to the owner/operators of French nuclear power plants.”

    “Environmentally Harmful Support Measures in EU Member States”
    Delft, January 2003
    Authors: B.A. Leurs and R.C.N. Wit (CE, Delft)
    In cooperation with: G.A. Harder, A. Koomen, F.H.J. Kiliaan (Ernst & Young Rotterdam) G. Schmidt (Öko Institut, Darmstadt, Germany)

  295. Rod B:

    Walter Pearce, if you mean that Didactylos evidently doesn’t just roll over and submissively swallow your assertions in toto, I agree.

  296. SecularAnimist:

    Didactylos wrote: “all the ill-informed protesters … the idiot protesters”

    You mean like the “idiot protesters” in Japan who opposed the construction of the Fukushima power plants in an area that was known at the time to be vulnerable to tsunamis that the power plants were not designed to withstand?

    You mean like the “idiot protesters” in Vermont who forced the operators of Vermont Yankee to admit that they had been systematically and deliberately lying to the public about radioactive leaks into groundwater?

    Besides which, the meme that nuclear power was shut down in the USA by “protesters” is utterly bogus. Nuclear power died in the USA because the industry simply could not deliver on its promises to investors.

    Didactylos wrote: “Do you really want to side with the coal industry on this subject”

    I am not “siding with the coal industry” on anything, Didactylos. With all due respect, that’s nothing but a bit of dishonest and deliberately offensive flame-bait, and unworthy of the level of discourse that you normally bring to these discussions.

    Moreover, it’s a false dilemma fallacy. Coal and nuclear are not the only choices. As I have written repeatedly, we have vast solar and wind resources, and the mature and powerful technologies to harvest them, and we can easily phase out both coal and nuclear in 10 to 20 years. If you want to challenge that view on the merits, then fine — have at it. But please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming that the wind and solar industries are fronts for big coal.

  297. Walter Pearce:

    @295…Ha! A submissive Didactylos? A submissive Rod B.? Inconceivable! [you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. -moderator]

  298. Septic Matthew:

    283, Secular Animist: Of course subsidies for technologies that have only begun to be deployed at scale within the last few years will be higher “per MWH” than subsidies for technologies which have been deployed for decades.

    that’s a good point. A while back I posted an article on a purchase of a solar power generating facility by Los Angeles, in which it was said that solar is already competitive with gas turbines for peak generation, with all costs and subsidies included in the calculation.

    When coal is used to produce electricity that is used in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels, the deaths per terawatt hour due to coal are dramatically reduced.

    288, David B. Benson: and I must add that the recent commentary here on RealClimate seems far off the topic of climate.

    It’s an open thread discussion alternatives to fossil fuels, in light of the Fukushima disaster.

    292, Walter Pearce: But that’s OK — just keep pretending that those non-insured costs don’t exist — the only way you can continue to assert that nukes are competitive.

    No one is pretending. The goal is to compare all costs and all subsidies of all methods of generating electricity. In 40+ years of operating nuclear power plants in the U.S. there was one enormous disaster, and now 3,000 reactor years without such a loss; coal, oil and natural gas cause loss of death and property loss yearly, perhaps daily. What’s the fairest comparison of all of them? What’s the proper comparison of possible benefits of new reactor designs to the possible disasters involved in handling the accumulating nuclear waste?

  299. CM:

    Septic Matthew, re: subsidies per TWh,

    It’s a bit old, but Goldberg 2000 (http://www.repp.org/repp_pubs/pdf/subsidies.pdf) made some interesting points about US federal subsidies for nuclear compared to wind and solar:

    * Wind, solar and nuclear power together got ~$150 billion cumulative federal subsidies over ~50 years, of which ~95% for nuclear.
    * in its first 15 years of federal support (1947–61), nuclear received $15.30/kWh; in theirs (1975–89), solar got $7.19/kWh and wind $0.46/kWh, quite a bit less. (The energy production from nuclear and wind in their respective first 15 years was the same order of magnitude.)
    * Cumulative subsidies over cumulative energy production through 1999 came to $0.012/kWh for nuclear, $0.51/kWh for solar, $0.04/kWh for wind.

  300. Didactylos:

    SecularAnimist: Please don’t misunderstand me. I want people to hold nuclear power to the highest standards, and I am all in favour of absolutely rigid, over the top safety precautions and overengineered redundant systems.

    The “idiot protesters” term is reserved for those who just don’t want to live near a nuclear power station, and have failed to get their facts straight (and would ignore them if they did). You know these people exist. They are very loud. They don’t campaign for safer nuclear power, they just campaign blindly against anything with the word “nuclear” associated with it.

    I haven’t painted you and others here with that label, but some people are making it very difficult, since you really aren’t saying enough to distinguish yourselves from those crazies. You spend more time insulting me than you do in coming up with valid points.

    As for me, I’m learning that taking a rational position somewhere in between two stupid extremes simply gets you toasted by both sides. Poor Obama must feel like this all the time.

    P.S. Walter Pearce, civil liability for nuclear accidents is agreed by international treaty. Look it up, since you seem to think it important. And do stop taking guesstimates of the cost of Fukushima seriously. We probably won’t know the final figure for another decade.

  301. Edward Greisch:

    1. Coal fired power plants should be regulated the same as nuclear power plants. If they were, coal fired power plants would have been shut down long ago, and we would not be at 390 ppm CO2 yet. We would be back where we were a few decades ago. Same for liability. Coal causes 26000 deaths every year in the USA and 1 Million deaths every year in China. Why isn’t the coal industry paying for those deaths? So far in the USA, nuclear civilian power has killed ZERO people.

    2. Coal fired power plants put 100 to 400 times as much radiation into the air and environment as nuclear power plants are allowed to. NO American nuclear power plant has Ever exceeded the local natural background radiation. Even the hundreds of nuclear bomb tests in the atmosphere never made even a 1% difference in the natural background radiation.

    3. Why has nobody ever sued Nature for causing cancer by natural background radiation? Why has nobody sued or regulated oil refineries for putting millions of gallons of the true cancer causer, BENZENE, into the air? Cancer rates are highest near oil refineries and lower in Denver. Denver is far from refineries but gets more cosmic rays due to its altitude. In Denver, Colorado, the natural dose is over 1000 millirem/year. Denver gets more than 2.56 times as much radiation as Chernobyl! Calculate your annual radiation dose:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    Average American gets 361 millirems/year. Smokers add 280 millirems/year from lead210. Radon accounts for 200 mrem/year.
    http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs10bkvsman.htm

    http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/around-us/doses-daily-lives.html
    http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/bio-effects-radiation.html
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9753369

    4 Fukushima: 28000 people were killed by the tsunami. Who is suing the dead for having built their houses below the stone marker that says: “Do not build houses below this point.”? Why are you worried about reactor liability when the area was cleared of people by the tsunami? The trigger level for radiation warning is a small percentage of the background level. So far, the radiation injuries have been limited to sunburns of the ankle on workers who had been told to get out of that area if their radiation badges buzzed. Their radiation badges buzzed and they kept working.

    Reference:
    OUR NUCLEAR FUTURE:
    THE PATH OF SELECTIVE IGNORANCE
    by Alex Gabbard
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    Oak Ridge, TN
    Selections from the 19th Annual Conference
    SOUTHERN FUTURE SOCIETY
    March 14,15,16, 1996
    Nashville, Tennessee

    Published by the
    SOUTHERN FUTURE SOCIETY
    1996
    Edited by Jack D. Arters, Ed.D.
    Conference Director
    The truth is, all natural rocks contain most natural elements. Coal is a rock. The average concentration of uranium in coal is 1 or 2 parts per million. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. Coal also contains the radioactive decay products of uranium. A 1000 million watt coal fired power plant burns 4 million tons of coal each year. If you multiply 4 million tons by 1 part per million, you get 4 tons of uranium. Most of that is U238. About .7% is U235. 4 tons = 8000 pounds. 8000 pounds times .7% = 56 pounds of U235. An average 1 billion watt coal fired power plant puts out 56 to 112 pounds of U235 every year. There are only 2 places the uranium can go: Up the stack or into the cinders.
    Since a reactor full fuel load is around 11 tons of 2% U235 and 98% U238, and one load lasts about 10 years, what one coal fired power plant puts into the air and cinders could fully fuel a nuclear power plant.
    Compare 4 Million tons per year with 1.1 tons per year. 1.1 divided by 4 Million = 2.75 E -7 = .000000275 =.0000275%. Remember that only 2% of that is U235. The nuclear power plant needs ~44 pounds of U235 per year. The coal fired power plant burns coal by the trainload. The nuclear power plant consumes U235 in such small quantities yearly that you could carry that much weight in a briefcase.

    See the rest of Alex Gabbard’s article. U238 can be bred into Plutonium and Thorium can be bred into Uranium. We can fuel our nuclear power plants for CENTURIES just by extracting uranium and thorium from coal cinders and smoke.

  302. Patrick 027:

    Re 278 Septic Matthew The experience to date, however, has been fewer deaths per TWH from nuclear than from gas, wind, solar, coal, or hydro. So to me they should continue to build new nuclear plants until nothing in wind, solar or hydro requires an external source for its manufacture.

    Why can’t energy sources be interdependent for a while? (I recently visited a website on Th power (a link from Brave New Climate) suggesting Nd byproduct of nuclear power could be used for wind turbines. What if mining for some PV materials produced something used in the nuclear industry? We need to get off of fossil fuels, or at least reduce it to a trickle, but during the transition why not use some of that energy to produce whatever other energy infrastructure we’re going to use?

    Re 290 Edward Greisch The federal way to regulate is to put a legal limit on the CO2 into the air per kilowatt hour and allow the electric companies figure out how to do it. That is what I propose doing. The problem is that coal companies and people who think that they can get rich building wind or solar do not want to allow the electric utilities to have that freedom.

    Or a tax on CO2eq emissions? (For fossil fuels, tax assessed preferably at the mine or well, to reduce paperwork and make enforcement efficient (as opposed to the exhaust pipe) – but then a compensating credit for fossil C used in materials unlikely to be oxidized, etc, with compensating tariff/subsidy for trade between nations with differing policies; attempt at least approximate CO2eq tax for other sources so as to not distort the market (don’t encourage too much deforestation for biofuels, don’t forget about cement production, don’t forget about cows, etc.)).

    It would surprise me to find out that pro-solar/wind/etc people (like me) would be generally against such a thing. Then again it’s possible the industry leaders and their consumers are of different mindsets, but … (PS McCain is pro-nuclear and he might not be for cap-and-trade now – or is he? I guess it depends on the season.)

    PS U3O8 is an oxide of uranium. PS maybe solar PV could benifit from coal ash, too. PS I’d be curious to find out what you think of Thorium-based nuclear power. If the moderators don’t intervene before that happens. (It sounds like a good idea, though I’ve only read about it from one source which could have been biased. And maybe it’s just the ‘new car smell’? I would support government R&D in new nuclear technologies – for that matter I wouldn’t want to stop R&D on fusion – but I would like more R&D in solar PV, etc, and I would also support public investment in actual deployment of fledgling energy technologies, which still includes solar and wind as of now, among others. If Th-power proves itself (relatively) safe and (potentially) economical, then go ahead with that too. (Logical basis – mass market advantage, experience, overcoming habitual practices – costs could come down as industry grows and matures and becomes an integral part of the economy and society) Etc.)

  303. Patrick 027:

    PS about getting off fossil fuels – I said something earlier about the increased economical benifit if renewables of some mix of solar+wind+etc replaces some mix including petroleum (such as via (PH)EV’s). But that brings up the question – how will we get our vaseline and WD-40 and plastics and asphalt? What about jet fuel (if algae biofuel doesn’t suffice)?

    Eventually we could (I would think) make hydrocarbons from renewable sources,

    …but in the meantime, how flexible is petroleum refining, in terms of the relative proportions of gasoline, jet fuel, and non-fuels? If use of (PH)EV’s caused a drop in gasoline price than perhaps all other petroleum products would rise in cost with no net economic benifit. Once upon a time gasoline was a waste product dumped into rivers.

    On the other hand, mixing just enough biofuels into jet fuel and maybe some new chemical processes applied to petroleum refining (hope it doesn’t need HF)… Or maybe would could try to strip the H from the C in the ‘waste’ products (might be economical if gasoline, being waste, only costs a penny(?) per gallon?)

    So this may be OT here but if anyone knows a good source of information on that…?

  304. Septic Matthew:

    302, Patrick 027: We need to get off of fossil fuels, or at least reduce it to a trickle, but during the transition, [ use] some of that energy to produce whatever other energy infrastructure we’re going to use [.]

    I hope that is a fair translation of your question into a statement. As a statement, I agree with it. And I am glad that you explicitly addressed the “transition”. There is no reasonable expectation for a transition away from coal and eventually to 100% renewables, that is quick, effortless, painless or cost-free. The transition will be labor and capital intensive, and therefore slow. But it is possible: the US already is reducing its reliance on coal, and is reducing its total CO2 emissions. The full panoply of what is already being done is hard to comprehend: there are coal-fired plants that are being supplemented with solar collectors to help boil the water during daylight hours; that extends the life of the plant, and reduces coal consumption, and does so at a lower cost than shutting down the plant and building something new in its place. The transition to a coal-free electricity supply will be full of half-measures like that.

  305. sidd:

    I would like to ask the realclimate team a question:
    If the world cut all fossil CO2 emissions to zero today, would west antarctica still destabilize, a la Pollard, DiConto ?
    sidd

  306. David B. Benson:

    Ok.alternatives to fossil fuels for generating electrity.

    I have tried to find actual contract prices, and failing that, estimated build prices, for four alternatives in the lower 48 states of the USA. These do not include any of the various forms of subsidies or tax incentives. The result is the busbar (generation) cost (LCOE) in US cents/kWh

    Solar PV: 23.4 @ CF=25%
    Solar thermal: 21.7 (Mohave desert with 4? hour thermal storage; without storage CF=25%)
    Nuclear: 11.8 for Vogtle 3&4 Gen III+ Westinghouse AP-1000 @ CF=90%
    Wind: 9.15 @ CF=30%+

    so on cost alone to the retail utility company, just now wind [in windy locations] seems best. But alas, to provide on-demand power requires backup for the wind turbines; around here combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs) are being increasingly used for that purpose — not fossil fuel free.

    Of course, there is nothing which requires society to prefer the least costly solution. Using newly constructed pumped hydro as backup for the wind resource results in an estimated levelized cost of 14.572 cents/kWh to the retail utility.

  307. Patrick 027:

    Re 304 Septic Matthew Patrick 027: We need to get off of fossil fuels, or at least reduce it to a trickle, but during the transition, [ use] some of that energy to produce whatever other energy infrastructure we’re going to use [.]

    I hope that is a fair translation of your question into a statement.

    Yes. I was not suggesting leniency in use of fossil fuels but rather that there isn’t a reason to avoid using fossil fuels and fossil fuel-produced electricity in the production of solar, wind, hydroelectric, nuclear, geothermal, etc, efficiency, etc, infrastructure and products, except and when it becomes more economical to use alternative inputs, assuming good pollution policies are in place (such as a CO2eq tax, and also Hg emissions, addressing mountaintop removal mining, spills, etc.).

    If we ramp up new industries without reducing other things, we could see a short term increase in fossil fuel consumption and consequent CO2 emissions (relative to BAU), but if that is the start of a larger and permanent reduction of CO2eq emissions, then it’s worth it (or in other words, much better to get 100 kWh per kg coal than 3 (or whatever much smaller number it actually is) kWh per kg coal).

    Re 301 Edward Greisch

    Re 1. Coal fired power plants should be regulated the same as nuclear power plants.Re Why has nobody ever sued Nature for causing cancer by natural background radiation?

    Not knowing the numbers, I think part of the danger-perception issue is large event vs continuing accumulation of injury. It may be psychologically easier to accept a population-wide increase in asthma and some early deaths from continual pollution output than some similarly-valued injury amount packed into a smaller population in a single event. (Of course this framing of the issue sets aside oil spills, ash spills, and pipeline explosions, and the potential danger of HF (?) etc., and maybe some issues with nuclear that I haven’t realized.) But – although misunderstandings and false perceptions of reality should not simply be accepted – human nature is what it is and if something truly hurts more than something else (even once all the facts are understood in context), perhaps we have to recognize that. Aside from which, it should tend to be more economically efficient to deal with a continuous rate of injury than to deal with the same total amount packed into small unpredictable clusters, since the later requires episodic adaptation to temporary changes.

    Maybe this isn’t a significant part of the danger of Fukushima and Chernobyl(?), but some radiation sources also have chemical toxicity. Cosmic rays and solar UV don’t have that. Radon is a noble gas (maybe that doesn’t clear it of chemical toxicity – I’m not sure). I’ve heard that U is chemically toxic – that wouldn’t be an issue if it is locked in rock with only the radiation escaping.

    You can (at least in principle) find out if a house has a radon issue; you can avoid buying the orange Fiesta-ware (they’ve got a lot of other nice colors! I like blue); you can to some extent choose whether or not to live in Denver, fly in a plane, or spend time in the sun (good example of how hormesis actually works (as I understand it) – a small amount of sun exposure may make you feel good and give you vitamin D, to an extent that is worth the increased skin cancer risk). You can’t know that there’s going to be a nuclear accident (or an HF release from a petroleum refinery, or an ash spill, or, to cover all the bases (with no intended implication of equivalence of probabilities and magnitudes!) a silane explosion at a particular type of solar PV factory, or an ice-chunk throwing event at a wind-power farmn) near a house when you buy it, you can only know that it could happen, or might not (okay, so it becomes a risk management issue, which isn’t entirely different from the sun-tan example since, for some range of exposures, you don’t know it’s going to or not going to give you cancer, so the point of this paragraph isn’t as strong as I thought it would be, but I’ll leave it in).

    I support regulating coal and coal power more stringently then it is (ash, mountaintop removal, and GHGs – I don’t know how strong the Hg regulation is; haven’t kept up with the acid rain issue as much). I don’t know enough about nuclear power to say whether regulations regarding new power plant construction should be stronger or more lenient (but is that what’s been holding back nuclear power? **), but from what I’ve heard about existing power plants, regulations need to be more stringent than they are – or enforced more stringently (and maybe the same at chemical plants, etc., not to mention Wall Street :) ).

    ** To repeat an earlier point in different form, I could support some public funding of new nuclear technology, not just R&D but also in deployment – as with wind, solar, etc. – to the extent that it is justified by the technology’s potential and safety (and in the case of nuclear, to the extent it is different from the existing mature industry***). I had earlier thought that what McCain and the like wanted was (more) public funding, and my reaction to that was – okay, sure, but ramp up public funding of solar PV and wind, etc, too. But if it’s simply a matter of clearing roadblocks – well, okay, let’s cut some red tape and make it efficient, but let’s still make justified regulations effectively enforced. And the same for solar and wind, etc – let’s not put solar power plants in the middle of wildlife sanctuaries, let’s protect birds and bats, but maybe we devote resources to identifying places where solar and wind can go that have the energy resource and are not too ecologically sensitive, and give the industry a roadmap sooner rather than later so that it can make plans.

    ***- or maybe this isn’t justified. When the solar PV industry is mature, would it’s experience and technology not transfer to the development and scaling up new technologies within the PV field? Would multicrystalling Si expand into thin c-Si utilitizing TIR? Would CIGs manufacturing companies expand into CZTS and zinc phosphide (I’m guessing they might be similar in manufacturing processes etc, – maybe not, though, I’m not sure)? (but maybe dye-sensitized TiO2 and semiconducting polymers and luminescent concentrators and CPV gallium aluminum indium arsenide (?) would be somewhat seperate industries, although with overlaps)? And wouldn’t the existing nuclear industry have some existing ability to make Th-based liquid-fuel power plants? Which isn’t to say that public R&D should then be cut-off and publically-funded deployment be avoided, but perhaps it needn’t be as great in those cases, in proportion to the technology’s potential and safey?

  308. Ron R.:

    News
    http://enenews.com/

    Here’s what we are getting.
    http://transport.nilu.no/products/browser/fpv_fuku?fpp=conccol_I-131_;region=Pacific

    I believe that it is completely useless arguing with pro-nuclear cultists, one might as well be arguing with a brick wall. I say cultists because like cult members they will simply never be able to see your point (though in reality nobody can be that stupid). They will forever split hairs and dig up lies, damned lies and statistics in an attempt to confuse and gleefully toss deaths around as if it were all a big numbers game. I’ll see your 10 deaths and raise you 20 more. Or war. 50,000 to take that hill.

    They utterly refuse to acknowledge the slightest negative point about their religion. It’s like arguing with CEI, Heritage Foundation or the Marshall Institute spinmeisters about climate change. No matter what you say, they will continue to assert that there is no issue here, it’s all a hoax, that in fact the extra carbon is actually good for earth (echoes of radiation hormesis), but not acknowledge the overwhelming bad news about climate change.

    Nukees will completely fail to see the distinction between 6 people falling off a roof installing solar panels and land that is too contaminated to live in for the next 10,000 or 10,000,000 years. They will continue to assert that one banana peel will give you more radiation than standing inside of the Fukushima meltdowns for next 1000 years ever could. They will willfully fail to understand science’s judgement that there is no safe level of radiation exposure, the less the better (And By God never reveal that nuke plants emit routinely release radiation into the unsuspecting surrounding communities). So some people will die horrible deaths. It’s worth it.

    They will continue to show absolutely no empathy whatsoever for the victims of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and the coming Fukushima cancers by low balling deaths or acting like those people, men, women and children, families that lived and loved together, people who had no choice in their early demise, like they never existed. Who cares?

    In the face of Fukushima they have the gall to stand on top of a mountain and sing nuclear’s praises.

    There is something about that kind of hard, soulless calculation that leaves me cold.

    “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” J. Robert Oppenheimer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f94j9WIWPQQ

  309. JiminMpls:

    Want reliable cost estimates for new nuclear power plants in the United States? How about the license application filed with the NRC? See page 13

    http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/DocContent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^pbntad01&LogonID=731e7ac683dfa12e5464524480ed18ee&id=110060365

    Turkey Point Nuclear Units 6 & 7 Cost Estimate Range (2010 Dollars)
    Total Estimated Project Cost
    Total Dollars $12,854,294,106 – $18,746,643,845
    Cost per kW $5,843 – $8,521

    Keep in mind that the average cost overun for all nuclear plants build in the USA is over 200%. For those plants completed after 1978, the average cost overun is 600%. It is reasonable, therefore, to double or triple the above estimates to arrive at a believable estimate.

  310. JiminMpls:

    Perhaps you’d like to know the projected costs of the Volgte 3&4 plants that are getting more than $12 billion in federal subsidies. Sorry. That’s proprietary information.

    Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 & 4
    COL Application
    Part 1 ⎯ General and Administrative Information
    1A-1 Revision 3
    APPENDIX 1A
    ESTIMATED TOTAL CONSTRUCTION COST FOR VEGP UNITS 3 AND 4
    The estimated total construction cost for VEGP Units 3 and 4 is considered proprietary
    information and was provided with Revision 0 of the COL application under separate
    cover (Reference SNC letter AR-08-0436, dated March 28, 2008).

    http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/idmws/DocContent.dll?library=PU_ADAMS^pbntad01&LogonID=e67440849285fbd910709e24a1248701&id=110420163

  311. David B. Benson:

    JiminMpls @310 — Starting from
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/
    it took only a few minutes to find corroborating articles regarding the estimated cost of Vogtle 3&4, which includes the actual build cost and the finance charge.

    As for over-runs, every large construction project is subject to those but in recent years better methods of construction management have been imposed and the overall record has considerably improved.

    I stand by my estimates in comment #306.

  312. Hank Roberts:

    Ron R., it’s a nice animation.
    Note from the caption it appears it’s a hypothetical worst case.
    Purple to blue looks like 2 to 6 Bq/m-2
    (2 to 6 Becquerels per square meter, as I read it)

    How much would that add to fallout from other events?
    Look around and you can find many records.
    Here’s the first Google hit for what’s described as “the most comprehensive record of yearly fallout (column 1 of the following table) and cumulative fallout (column 2) for radiocesium available in the public domain….”

    Compare that 2 to 6 Bq/m-2 to these historical levels: http://www.davistownmuseum.org/cbm/Rad5a.html

    It gets harder if you try to compare that to the output of coal plants in normal operation, but it’s worth looking into.

  313. Edward Greisch:

    302 Patrick: 1. Please actually read and understand before replying.
    Thorium and plutonium are fine fuels, and necessary to stretch the fuel supply. Both require breeding. Thorium has to be bred into U233 before it will fission.

    307 Patrick: Radon decays into Polonium, a super-poison. Do you want the whole decay chain?

    \large event vs continuing accumulation\ Wrong. Chernobyl was a minor event compared to the chemical spill at Bhopal, India. It is just that it is easy to drive most people into a frenzy over nuclear because most people don’t understand it. Journalists get a lot of mileage out of nuclear because of irrational fears.

    \It may be psychologically easier to accept a population-wide increase in asthma and some early deaths from continual pollution output than some similarly-valued injury amount packed into a smaller population’

    Nonsense. It isn’t a similarly-valued injury. The injury from coal is infinitely greater because there have been zero deaths from civilian nuclear power in the US. But many people don’t believe in asthma. People are still driving cars in spite of the huge death toll from cars. Are you still driving a car? The average human is innumerate and therefore irrational.

    \small unpredictable clusters\ What small unpredictable clusters?

    \HF\ Hydrogen Fluoride? \HF release from a petroleum refinery\ Are you talking about benzene? Benzene is C6H6 in a ring.

    \I don’t know how strong the Hg regulation is\ You also keep avoiding the issue that mercury is a minor concern compared to the uranium and arsenic released from coal fired power plants.

    \I don’t know enough about nuclear power to say whether regulations regarding new power plant construction should be stronger or more lenient\

    A nuclear power plant is allowed to give its neighbors a dose of 15 millirem/year, similar to a dental X-ray. Any more requires the plant to shut down. Living near a coal fired power plant gives you 150 to 400 millirem/year. If coal fired power plants were limited to 15 millirem/year, they would be forced to shut down. Coal fired power plants cannot meet the radiation limit.

    Please Calculate your annual radiation dose of radiation at:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    The Average American gets 361 millirems/year. Smokers add 280 millirems/year from lead210. Radon accounts for 200 mrem/year.
    http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs10bkvsman.htm

    \but is that what’s been holding back nuclear power?\ NO! Coal industry propaganda has been holding back nuclear power.

    \but from what I’ve heard \ Yes, that is the problem. Quit hearing and get a degree in a hard science or nuclear engineering. Journalists get a lot of mileage out of nuclear because of irrational fears. Do not believe them. The fossil fuel industry does likewise because most people don’t know enough science to know that they are lying.

    \When the solar PV industry is mature\ We will be EXTINCT by then. As Bart Levenson said, under BAU, agriculture will collapse some time between 2050 and 2055. We must act now with technology we have now. There is no point in doing anything in 2049.

  314. Edward Greisch:

    David B. Benson: Thank you.

    Hank Roberts: The important thing is to compare with natural background radiation and any radiation you may be getting from medical X-rays. One CT scan gives you 600 millirem. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_background_radiation and the links at the bottom of the page. The United Nations web site should be reliable. In addition, it is book length. Remember that we date ancient egyptian mummies with the radioactive carbon they ate 3000 years ago.

    Beware what you find on the web. Reference: “Web Dragons” by Witten, Gori and Numerico 2007.

    The search engines do not understand the web pages they find for you. They are just machines. They have no idea of whether or not the web pages they find tell the truth. In the US, we have “freedom of speech,” which means that nobody has to prove that anything is true before publishing it.

    We also have a coal industry that has a gross income of $100 BILLION per year. That $100 BILLION per year could be easily sunk by the nuclear industry unless you can be persuaded that nuclear power is dangerous. [The truth is that a coal fired power plant puts 100 to 400 times as much radiation into your environment as the nuclear power plant. The truth is also that natural background radiation is 10 times what you get from a coal fired power plant.]

    Do the coal companies have an incentive to lead you astray? Yes. Is $100 BILLION per year enough incentive? Yes. Can the coal industry afford to hire doctors, economists, environmentalists, website designers, computer scientists, psychologists, advertising agencies, and lots of other people on $100 BILLION per year? Of course. Can the coal industry afford to set up hundreds of web pages on hundreds of computers in hundreds of locations and “game” the search engines on $100 BILLION per year? Yes. And they do.

    How hard is it to find the truth on the web? Very hard. Most web sites have a monetary reason for existing. People who know the truth and are willing to tell you the truth don’t have much economic reason to do so. It is hard to make money by telling the truth.

    Nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence or overestimating the gullibility of the average person. So how are you going to find out the truth for sure? There is only one way. You have to become a scientist. You will have to spend a minimum of 4 years in college to get the minimum degree, the B.S. You should really spend more like 15 years and get a post doctoral degree.

    THERE ARE ZERO HUMAN AUTHORITIES.
    Scientists do not vote on what is the truth. There is only one vote and Nature owns it. We find out what Nature’s vote is by doing Scientific [public and replicable] experiments. Scientific [public and replicable] experiments are the only source of truth. [To be public, it has to be visible to other people in the room. What goes on inside one person’s head isn’t public unless it can be seen on an X-ray or with another instrument.]

    Science is a simple faith in Scientific experiments and a simple absolute lack of faith in everything else. Do not trust any human, not even yourself. Trust only the experiments that you personally perform. Otherwise, you will be misled. Of course you can’t do all of the experiments personally, but your degree program will lead you through the important experiments in your field.

  315. Ron R.:

    Hank. Point taken about coal. Yes it’s awful. Coal is worst of the comparisons however which makes it an easy target. I don’t like comparing one bad with another in an attempt to make one bad look better (Presidents anyone?)

    Thanks for that link. This is the only real time map that is also current that I could see. It’s from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU). Every other one I saw strangely stopped on the day radiation entered the US. What’s going on?

    As we all know the thing with radiation is it’s cumulative. What’s coming out of Fukushima is not a one off. They are talking months, maybe years. So that supposedly small amount (and it’s not all small either) will add up to a lot of exposure. If you happen to ingest or breathe in a particle of that then it doesn’t matter if the levels outside your body go down.

    I suspect that many of the lung cancer deaths of the past half century are attributable to fallout from the 900 or so atmospheric nuke weapons tests the US endured. That plus proximity to nuke plants which release radiation. Even if you release it a little at a time, to those continually breathing it in, the surrounding community, it adds up. Besides thyroid I expect there will be a big upsurge in lung and perhaps stomach cancers as well.

    If I were anyone smoking right now I’d stop immediately then wear a dust mask until those cilia grow back (six months I hear).

  316. JiminMpls:

    David,

    I’d like to see the documenation you say is on the World Nuclear site. I can’t find it. I’ve seen quotes in various press releases of $6 billion and up, but no indication of whether they are true “all-in” estimates or just “overnight” cost projections.

    In any case, the Vogtle plants are being built in Georgia, which ranks among the bottom five states in energy efficiency. $1 billion invested in weatherization and other energy efficiency improvements would save far more electricity tham these power plants will produce. Consumers are also being gouged. They will be paying out $1.5 billion in construction costs before the plants go online. This reduces financing costs (or transfers financing costs to consumers) but many of the people paying for the construction will move or die before the plants are complete.

  317. JiminMpls:

    I’d just like to clarify that I am NOT anti-nuclear power, but I am a realist. China’s nuclear program is part of a balanced energy strategy, as is India’s. It probably makes sense in Austrialia, too, given Australias huge reserve of high quality uranium ore.

    There *might* be justification for a handful of new nuke plants in the USA, but I’m not convinced. The costs are too high, they take too long to deploy, and I am VERY concerned that we are FAR more dependent on foreign sources of uranium fuel than we are for oil. Becoming more dependent on nuclear power will dramatically reduce our energy security.

    The US has abundant wind, solar and geothermal resources and we should subsidze the development of these resources. IF private investors want to build multi-billion dollar nuke plants, fine, but the nuclear lobby has been feeding at the trough for far too long.

  318. CM:

    Hunt (#293), re: national sea-level adaptation plans in developed countries,

    My loose impression is you’ll find more local and regional planning than national, and that sort of makes sense. (When developing countries are churning out NAPAs, it’s probably partly because that’s what’s eligible for GEF funding.) As a last resort, if you can’t find an overview, you might comb through the national communications of Annex I countries to the UN FCCC; they are also supposed to report on adaptation policies (and if those sections are no help, you might find things of interest in the sections on vulnerabilities, anyway).

    http://unfccc.int/national_reports/annex_i_natcom_/items/1095.php

  319. jiminmpls:

    #311 David,

    According to the World Nuclear Association propaganda wing, the projected cost for Vogtle 3&4 is $14 billion, not $11 billion as you claim.

    “The total cost of the new 2234 MWe plant, including financing, is expected to be $14 billion, with secure cost recovery in a state-regulated market.”

    It is not clear if this figure includes required upgrades to the transmission grid or decommissioning costs. For Turkey Point, the transmission upgrades will cost $1.5 billion.

    BTW, citing the World Nuclear Assocation as a reliable and unbiased source is absurd.

    “The World Nuclear Association is the international organization that promotes nuclear energy and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry.

    WNA arose on the foundations of the Uranium Institute, established in London in 1975 as a forum on the market for nuclear fuel. In 2001, spurred by the expanding prospects for nuclear power, the UI changed its name and mandated itself to build a wider membership and a greater diversity of activities. The goal was to develop a truly global organization geared to perform a full range of international roles to support the nuclear industry in fulfilling its enormous growth potential in the 21st Century.

    Since WNA’s creation in 2001, the effort to build and diversify has born fruit. WNA membership has expanded three-fold to encompass (i) virtually all world uranium mining, conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication; (ii) all reactor vendors; (iii) major nuclear engineering, construction, and waste management companies; and (iv) nearly 90% of world nuclear generation. Other WNA members provide international services in nuclear transport, law, insurance, brokerage, industry analysis and finance. “

  320. Ron R.:

    Any of this sound familiar?

    “Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato has expressed anger at the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., saying both ‘betrayed’ the people of Fukushima Prefecture with repeated assurances about the safety of nuclear power plants. ‘We feel we were betrayed [by the central government and TEPCO],’ Sato said during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday, nearly a month after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the outbreak of a series of accidents at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. ‘The central government and TEPCO repeatedly told us, ‘Nuclear power plants are safe because they’ve got multiple protection systems,’ and, ‘Earthquake-proof measures have been taken,‘ Sato said. ‘TEPCO used the term ‘beyond our expectations’ [to describe the natural disaster], but they can’t establish effective policies for nuclear energy safety unless they take into account things that are beyond their expectations,‘ Sato said.”
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110408005027.htm

    “‘They told us over and over again that it was safe, safe, safe,’ 70-year-old evacuee Fumiko Watanabe told The Daily Mail last month.
    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/568925/201104121859/Faster-Japan.htm

    “‘You never know what is going to happen,‘ said the slight 31-year-old. ‘Everyone told us we would be okay—that the plant was safe. I want Americans to think whether they really want to risk the dangers of nuclear power plants.‘”
    http://yorktown.patch.com/articles/indian-point-opponents-how-many-lives-is-the-plants-energy-worth

    TEPCO claimed that the nuclear reactors would safely stop, then automatically cool down and tightly contain the radiation in the event of an earthquake, and that there would therefore be no danger that earthquakes would cause any serious nuclear accident…. The anti-nuclear movement has been warning of the dangers of a devastating nuclear accident for years, but those efforts have always been met with dismissive assurances both by electric power companies and the government about the safety of the reactors. The Fukushima accident has brought to fruition all the fears and predictions previously expressed. And just as the atomic bomb indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of civilians, this nuclear reactor accident, albeit on a smaller scale, will be responsible for indiscriminate suffering and lives cut short; the consequences are likely to play out over the next several decades due to radiation pollution and the resulting economic costs.
    http://www.npr.org/2011/03/23/134788478/foreign-policy-japans-unlikely-nuclear-affair

    Articles about conditions in Japan right now.

    A Month After the Shock, a Different Japan
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/opinion/14iht-edmakihara14.html

    Detour to disaster: A reporter’s firsthand account of the crisis in Japan
    http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/top/2011/03/20-46/Detour-to-disaster-A-reporters-firsthand-account-of-the-crisis-in-Japan.html?ne=1

  321. John E. Pearson:

    Ron R wrote: They will willfully fail to understand science’s judgement that there is no safe level of radiation exposure, the less the better

    I hadn’t realized that science recommends keeping it so chilly.

  322. Walter Pearce:

    Jim@315. I went through the same process you did with David Benson’s sources. As in this thread, lots of cheerleading, little dispassionate analysis and even fewer hard numbers.

    Those interested in an independent look at where to get the most energy and climate bang for the buck might want to download the following from RMI: Forget Nuclear.

    The report contains plenty of cost figures to dig into and either verify or dispute.

    The summary:

    “This non-technical summary article compares the cost, climate protection potential, reliability, financial risk, market success, deployment speed, and energy contribution of new nuclear power with those of its low- or no-carbon competitors. It explains why soaring taxpayer subsidies aren’t attracting investors. Capitalists instead favor climate-protecting competitors with less cost, construction time, and financial risk. The nuclear industry claims it has no serious rivals, let alone those competitors—which, however, already outproduce nuclear power worldwide and are growing enormously faster.”

  323. Ron R.:

    John E. Pearson — @ 9:23 AM said “I hadn’t realized that science recommends keeping it so chilly.”

    Of course there is a certain amount that is unavoidable and which we have evolved to such as sunlight (manufacture of melanin). But even here we have to be careful due to the posibility of skin cancers. The idea is to avoid extra ionizing radiation, especially the kinds coming from nuke plants and nuke weapons and medical xrays, when possible because there is always the chance that they can cause DNA damage.

    Ionizing radiation:

    Radiation of sufficient energy to displace electrons from the atoms of cells and produce ions. Ionized cells are damaged and must repair themselves to remain alive. Generally, normal cells are better able to repair themselves than cancer cells.
    http://www.protons.com/glossary.html

    Radiation of such high energy that it can remove electrons from a struck atom, leaving positively charged particles behind. High doses of IR can cause cellular damage.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reaction/etc/terms.html

    No safe level.
    http://www.nas.edu/gateway/foundations/jul05.html#2560

  324. Ron R.:

    On other points I’ve seen mentioned repeatedly:

    About TMI:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1469835/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harvey-wasserman/people-died-at-three-mile_b_179588.html

    About Chernobyl:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/10/chernobyl-nuclear-deaths-cancers-dispute
    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-chernobyl-cancer.html

  325. Rod B:

    David B. Benson (306), contract construction or build estimates usually refer to capital expenditures and relate to power (kW, MW, etc) capacity, not usage (kWhr); Would you clarify how you treated this?

  326. Ray Ladbury:

    Ron R.,
    If you want to limit ionizing radiation, then might I suggest:
    1)Don’t fly anywhere.
    2)Move to a deep, low valley as close to the equator as possible.
    3)Avoid any medical diagnostic procedures such as Cat-scans, chest x-rays, and mammograms (yes, in some cases, guys get them, too)
    4)Ensure that the above which you live is not granite, pegmatite, etc.

    And then, you will still get a significant dose of radiation from the food you eat, for cosmic radiation, etc., and this will be more than you would get living right outside the fence of a nuke plant. It does not make sense to speak of a “safe” level of radiation exposure. Any exposure at the wrong time in the wrong place, could carry risks. It also doesn’t make sense of discussing zero exposure as that doesn’t exist. We must speak in terms of increased risk–and for small enough exposures, increased risk is negligible.

    Ron, there are risks to any radiation source. The key to minimizing the risks is to understand them. Fearmongering won’t help you do that.

  327. Patrick 027:

    Re 313 Edward Greisch
    302 Patrick: 1. Please actually read and understand before replying.
    Thorium and plutonium are fine fuels, and necessary to stretch the fuel supply. Both require breeding. Thorium has to be bred into U233 before it will fission.

    Well, about the Th, I had already read as much. But that’s not a real big impediment, is it?

    307 Patrick: Radon decays into Polonium, a super-poison. Do you want the whole decay chain?

    No need, and yes, rather dumb* of me to forget the decay products (*or perhaps just evidence of lack of time on my part), although the broader point I made still stands, which is that some sources of radiation are otherwise chemically benign and others are not, though I admit much ignorance on the relative importance of chemical toxicity and wouldn’t be surprised to find out it is generally quite small in such incidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl – but I don’t actually know it; I thought perhaps it deserved clarification (and maybe – note that I’m not justifying this – that’s why some people may see radiation from a pollutant as worse than radiation from natural source?). Whereas depleted U is chemically toxic to an important extent (not an issue with nuclear power per se), right?

    \large event vs continuing accumulation\ Wrong. Chernobyl was a minor event compared to the chemical spill at Bhopal, India.
    I never said Bhopal was small.

    Nonsense. It isn’t a similarly-valued injury.
    I didn’t say it was, I was making a general point.

    The injury from coal is infinitely greater because there have been zero deaths from civilian nuclear power in the US.

    The U.S. is only one country, but it is a good point that not all countries have equal risk (from what I’ve read, Chernobyl was a poor design with political pressure leading to poor management, while Fukushima had design issues that the U.S. ordered fixed (?) on the corresponding plants here.

    What small[I meant concentrated] unpredictable clusters?
    I was making a general point – not just about direct physical injury but societal and economic disruption in general. I was thinking that it may be easier to deal with the same total spread out over space and time than in concentrated packets, such as when a tornado rips apart a whole town, for example (even if nobody dies) verses a building here or there being damaged in every town. (Consider for example that when a single building is damaged in a town, economic and social infrastructure in the same town may be available to help rebuild and provide temporary shelter, etc.)

    In addition to that there may be some irrational amplification of concentrated disasters relative to same total-valued dispersed troubles; I was suggesting that there could be some rational basis in addition to that irrational part.

    \HF\ Hydrogen Fluoride? \HF release from a petroleum refinery\ Are you talking about benzene? Benzene is C6H6 in a ring.
    No I’m talking about HF. There hasn’t been an accidental release that I know of but it is a potential danger.

    \I don’t know how strong the Hg regulation is\ You also keep avoiding the issue that mercury is a minor concern compared to the uranium and arsenic released from coal fired power plants.

    I keep avoiding? Well others brought it up, I figured I’d let others deal with that one. And my bringing up Hg is hardly a point against nuclear power or pro-coal.

    But many people don’t believe in asthma. People are still driving cars in spite of the huge death toll from cars. Are you still driving a car? The average human is innumerate and therefore irrational.

    I believe in asthma, etc, and am willing to look at numbers.

    A nuclear power plant is allowed to give its neighbors a dose of 15 millirem/year, similar to a dental X-ray. Any more requires the plant to shut down. Living near a coal fired power plant gives you 150 to 400 millirem/year. If coal fired power plants were limited to 15 millirem/year, they would be forced to shut down. Coal fired power plants cannot meet the radiation limit.

    Well that is very interesting, thank you. (PS I could imagine that an increase in radiation from a nuclear power plant that itself would still be safe could be a justification for action if it is taking as a warning sign that a problem has developed which could worse. Or is that completely different than what’s going on here?)

    Please Calculate your annual radiation dose of radiation at:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    Thanks but I’m already familiar with that.

    NO! Coal industry propaganda has been holding back nuclear power.

    So the regulatory hurdles in place are not too stringent? Would nuclear power grow as desired if only a proper CO2eq tax and other pollution controls were in place and enforced? (If so, why would McCain only support such policy only if given expansion of nuclear power? – not to suggest McCain is the go-to-guy for these issues.) I realize I skipped over NIMBYism, which I’d guess would be more severe for nuclear than for wind turbines and coal power plants.

    \but from what I’ve heard \ Yes, that is the problem. Quit hearing and get a degree in a hard science or nuclear engineering. Journalists irrational fears.The fossil fuel industry does likewise because most people don’t know enough science to know that they are lying.

    I should clarify, I was not refering to a rumor, I was refering to an episode of NOW on PBS – maybe you would think it was an unfair piece but it’s hardly FOX news or (insert left-leaning equivalent here). I think the case was a power plant in Ohio. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if nuclear power plants were not being sufficiently regulated, as it may be a general problem with all industry, including coal, oil, and also Wall Street. It can be either an issue with insufficient law, or lack of enforcement, or both. (And I’m not necessarily being anti-nuclear for suggesting it should be regulated better.)

    \When the solar PV industry is mature\ We will be EXTINCT by then. As Bart Levenson said, under BAU, agriculture will collapse some time between 2050 and 2055. We must act now with technology we have now. There is no point in doing anything in 2049.

    Well I’m not going to ask you to get a degree in science because it’s not necessary. We have commerical solar PV technology now. By mature I mean having realized most of the potential for mass-market advantage and gains in experience, NOT the time at which we can start to deploy on a larger scale.

  328. Ron R.:

    Ray, I agree with your comments. They can be applied to other things toxic as well. Arsenic in drinking water for example.

    “Most arsenic enters water supplies either from natural deposits in the earth or from industrial and agricultural pollution. Arsenic is a natural element of the earth’s crust. It is used in industry and agriculture, and for other purposes. It also is a byproduct of copper smelting, mining and coal burning. U.S. industries release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every year.”
    http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/qarsenic.asp#getin

    But just because it may be naturally found there does not mean we should just throw up our hands and pretend that no hazard exists right? Just claim that it’s unavoidable so get over it and start drinking. In this case we do our utmost to get it out of the water if we intend to drink it. If we want to stay healthy that is.

    About radiation and nuke plants, here’s some major recent studies that indicate a relationship between proximity to nuke plants and cancer.
    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2007/07/20/27840.aspx
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18082395
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757021/

    The problem is that cancers can be hard to attribute due to the fact that they tend to occur years after exposure. The industry takes advantage of that fact by pointing to every other possibility while downplaying their own role. That’s just not honest. If there is a threat we do ourselves no favors by denying them.

    The key to minimizing the risks is to understand them. Fearmongering won’t help you do that

    That pretty close to what I tell my 10 year old. I tell her that if you have knowledge you do not need to fear (whatever it is) because you can then either find a way to defang the threat or adjust your response to it so as to minimize its effect on you. Knowledge is better than blind fear. That’s true most (but not all) of the time I think.

  329. David B. Benson:

    JiminMpls @319 — I never wrote what the estimate for Vogtle #7$ was. As I mentioned I also went to other sites besides WNN to check their accuracy. (on this and many another matter, WNN has consistently demonstrated the reliablity of their reporting, although there are very occasional unclarities.) Finally, I only used Vogtle 3&4 because it was fairly easy to obtain the cost estimate and the finance charge. I’m not promoting Vogtle 3&4 in any sense, just attempting to find cost estimates that seem (approximately) applicable in the USA.

    Rod B @325 — The (estimated) payments to the contractor are only part of the costs which have to be known to determine the Levelized Cost of Electricty (LCOE), which is what I gave in comment #306. Working this out, especially for nuclear, is a non-trivial exercise, even when one has
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html
    as a computational aid.

    Edward Greisch @314 — You are welcome, although I’m puzzled about what the thank you is for.

  330. David B. Benson:

    jiminmpls @319 — The Vogtle 3&4 costs do not include transmission upgrades; I don’t know if that is necessary since it is never mentioned in connection with that project. In any case, new transmission also requires (separately) doing an LCOE calculation. Since it doesn’t matter what form the generation takes the cost of new transmission lines is the same for all power sources. (I should had that the cost of collectors for a wind turbine farm are included in the contracted busbar price.)

    All nuclear power plants (NPPs) include in the LCOE calculation the payments into a fund to be used to decommission the NPP at the end of its useful life; an NRC licensing requirement in the USA.

  331. Ron R.:

    My apologies for getting carried away with this topic on RC. I realize that it’s better suited to other venues. But Fukushima and this open thread conspired to tempt mention.

    About the “fearmonger” moniker, that’s something I think that most people in the pro-‘warming is happening’ camp are used to. I hope I’m not just an unthinking fearmonger.

    As I’ve said before, I am not absolutely and forever opposed to nuclear power. Perhaps in the future, as a last resort where other alternatives are not viable. Mini nukes buried deep underground. Right now though we need to think clean alternatives. There is so much untapped potential there. After we’ve done all that we can clean energy-wise, then, maybe. This “incident” and the Gulf spill underline that in my mind. I just think that now, at this point in our evolution, we are not ready for it. With few exceptions nuclear has been a curse to us. Oppenheimer and Einstein regretted it. We are too unstable a species to handle something this potentially devastating, and that requires so much long term care. A lot of waste for a relative moments worth of energy.

    To close I’d like to quote Edward Teller, inventor of the hydrogen bomb c. 1965: “In principle, nuclear reactors are dangerous. . . In my mind, nuclear reactors do not belong on the surface of the Earth. Nuclear reactors belong underground.”

    I will now endeavor to get off of the subject.

  332. Patrick 027:

    Re my 327 By mature I mean having realized most of the potential for mass-market advantage and gains in experience, NOT the time at which we can start to deploy on a larger scale.

    Actually I think I had originally meant reaching a significant fraction of whatever size it would eventually achieve, though there’s an element of both ideas in what I was thinking.

  333. John E. Pearson:

    Ron R: On page 46 of the NAS document you cited as No safe level.
    http://www.nas.edu/gateway/foundations/jul05.html#2560

    it says:

    Below that dose, the statistical power of the data was not sufficient to exclude the theoretical possibility of a dose threshold for radiation effects.

  334. Patrick 027:

    Re 313 Edward Greisch – I was surprised when the serious problems began at Fukushima, because I figured, well, it’s Japan, they’re prepared for earthquakes and Tsunamis (granted this was near the top of the scale), and well, it’s not the U.S.S.R., etc, so they know what they’re doing at the power plant – I just figured there was a(nother?) backup system in place and everything would run smoothly enough.

    A problem with nuclear power (by problem I mean something which might potentially be solved or worked-around or be a cost that might be acceptable if other things are done well; this is not an argument about fatal flaws) is that the ‘fire’, once started, just doesn’t want to stop, it seems. Solar and wind don’t have that issue (the energy isn’t stored there – well, except CSP – eventually we’ll want to be able to store it, but that would appear to be an issue with energy across the board); even a coal-powered furnace will run out if left on it’s own; except at the well, a gas or oil pipeline fire can have it’s fuel supply cut (right?). Hydroelectric dams can burst and cause flooding, but that’s not quite the same thing, although a potential danger nonetheless (one that hasn’t happened for some time so far as I know, but you need to inspect dams, you need to take safety precautions, right?). Earlier I had suggested using a sort of ‘fuse box/fire sprinkler’ method to prevent meltdowns – a temperature-sensitive sacrificial component designed to fail before everything else does, and stop the chain reaction. But those spent fuel rods pose a meltdown danger too (I didn’t realize that before). Since the original U fuel doesn’t just meltdown until it’s packed with other U to achieve a chain reaction, I presume this tendency to meltdown comes in part from a build up of other isotopes. So I was wondering if this can be avoided with the Th-type power plant, or perhaps more generally, the concept of fuel used in a liquid state as suggested in the link from the Brave New Climate site (I think it’s under Blogroll – just look for Thorium) – which allows easier processing of fuel and removal of some isotopes. Alternatively, couldn’t there be a way of just allowing the meltdown to occur if necessary and contain it? Like just have a really thick plate of lead down there, designed to conduct heat (without need of water) to the rock at a sufficient rate such that it can’t totally melt with the rate of heat supplied to it? (Oops, low melting point. Well try some other high density stuff then, or am I focussing too much on the density…)

    And before the moderators catch us, that’s the last I’ll speak of it here. Maybe next Unforced variations (or the one after that) I’ll post an attempted summary of the fluid mechanical aspects of the atmosphere (or of planets and stars in general with a focus on Earth’s atmosphere and also maybe the ocean) – because there have been summaries of how the greenhouse effect works but not so many of fluid-mechanical aspects of climate and weather. I think it would be really cool to have a summary that is some balance of easy to read and yet has enough depth that it could be used as a review sheet at the college level.

  335. Patrick 027:

    Since the original U fuel doesn’t just meltdown – oops, I don’t actually know that. Maybe the enrichment …? I’m out.

  336. Edward Greisch:

    329 David B. Benson: The thank you is for working out the levelized costs.

    327 Patrick 027: Breeding Thorium into U233 is not a big impediment to me, but it could be another psychological impediment since the word “breeding” is involved, and that reminds people of how the US and the USSR used to make Plutonium 239 to make bombs. To make U233 out of thorium, You have to have a reactor that runs on uranium and/or plutonium and is designed to breed thorium into uranium. You can’t start with just thorium. A “thorium” reactor is a uranium233 reactor because thorium isn’t fissionable.

    “Whereas depleted U is chemically toxic to an important extent”
    I wouldn’t eat uranium, but I don’t have a toxicology reference that I am sure of handy. The important distinction is that depleted uranium is not the same as spent fuel. Depleted uranium is the leftover from the enrichment process. Depleted uranium is pure U238, the non-fissionable uranium. “Depleted” is as opposed to “enriched.” Enriched uranium has more than 0.7% U235, the fissionable portion of uranium. Natural uranium has 0.7% U235 and the remainder is U238.

    Spent fuel has both U235 and U238 plus plutonium240 plus the fission products such as iodine131, cesium137, strontiom90 and other elements and isotopes that are in the neighborhood of half as heavy as uranium, etc. Spent fuel is something you definitely don’t want to handle, but it is OK to handle depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is called DU. DU used to be available by mail order. I almost bought some, just for the fun of it. People get upset about DU because they confuse it with spent fuel.

    When will nuclear power grow? As soon as people try to run some town on wind power only or solar power only and find out that wind and solar are intermittent. So please do go for wind and solar power if you must learn from your own mistakes. Americans always do the right thing, but only after they have tried every possible wrong thing. As David B. Benson told you: Once you get it all added up, you will find out that nuclear is the cheapest way to make electricity without making CO2. As I have said many times, it is better to let the engineers do the engineering and it is better to let the scientists do the science. The electric generating industry has plenty of engineers and the other people required to figure out how to make the cheapest electricity. So let them do it. As the story goes: Some people understand it when they read about it. Some people understand it when they see it happen to somebody else, and some people have to piss on the electric fence for themselves.

    334 Patrick 027: Those problems are solved by the FOURTH generation high temperature gas cooled reactor. It eats so-called nuclear “waste” and it can’t melt. Do not assume that all reactors are alike. Remember that Israel used pirated fissionables and spent fuel to fuel their breeder reactor to make Pu239 to make bombs. Spent fuel is recyclable in more than one way. Pu240 from spent fuel is not for making good bombs. You have to put the spent fuel back into another reactor to make Pu239.

  337. John E. Pearson:

    Patrick, google around for the integral fast reactor which was developed at ANL over a period of about a decade. The same month that Chernobyl happened they did experiments in which they shut off the coolant to their 50 MW reactor. Reaction stopped. Nothing happened. They turned it back on later that day. As I recall they ran several loss-of-coolant experiments all without incident.

  338. Vendicar Decarian:

    A nice summary

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO_WC0FINmA

  339. JiminMpls:

    #330 David Benson
    Transmission upgrades are ALWAYS required for large power plants. The switching systems required to handle such enormous loads is extremely expensive – much more so than for widely distributed wind power.

    I know the transmission upgrade costs for two large power plants, because both are publich infomration: $1.5 billion for the Turkey Point project and $450 million for the 600MW Big Stone II coal plant that has now been cancelled.

    The Vogtle project is roughly the same scale as the Turkey Point project, so it is reasonable to assume that required transmission upgrades will be comparable. It is irrational to make any other assumption.

    This is a prime example of how we can’t debate nuclear power openly and honestly when cost projections are declared proprietary and not disclosed to the public.

    I can think of no better example of corruption than the financing of the Vogtle 3&4 project. Georgia Power is assuming NO RISK. If there are cost overruns, consumers and taxpayers will pick up the tab. This is particularly alarming since the Vogtle 2 came in 1238% over budget.

  340. Hunt Janin:

    For CM (re # 318)

    Thanks for your useful advice, CM.

    I have the impression that the Netherlands is far out in front of the pack when it comes to planning for sea level rise.

    What do you (or any other reader) think?

    Best,

    Hunt

  341. Ray Ladbury:

    Ron R.,
    There are no risk-free energy options, just as there are no risk-free decisions in life. Take a cross-country flight–you’ll get nearly a chest-x-ray’s worth of radiation.

    Unfortunately, the fact that people have been in denial for 2 decades about elementary science has left us with few good options. It is likely that in order to meet our minimum requirements, we will have to include some risky energy sources into the mix.

  342. J. Bob:

    #339 jim in mpls
    seems I’ve felt safer in the Prairie Island nuclear plant, then on 494 at rush hour. Maybe you could petition Washington to send the “waste products” to Yucca, for which it was build & mostly paid for, in part by Ecel.

  343. JiminMpls:

    #322 Walter

    Yes, I’m very familiar with Amory Lovins. He had an earlier paper titled “The Nuclear Illusion” that was extremely enlightening. Unlike some others, I actually checked on his sources and figures and found that he was right on the mark every time.

    The nuclear denialists are no different from the climate denialist zombies that pop up on this blog time after time. No amount of data will change their minds. They’ve been brainwashed by the nuclear lobby and rendered uncapable of rational analysis.

  344. JiminMpls:

    #306 David

    What is your cost basis for uranium fuel? Uranium fuel prices have been kept artificially low by an enormous supply from the Russion reprocessing of decommissioned nuclear weapons that is sold at far below market prices. This operation will be finished sometime between 2015 and 2017 – right when several new plants will be coming online. Pricing will increase at least 3-fold and probably 5-10 fold. For every doubling of fuel costs, the cost to generate nuclear power goes up by 5%.

  345. John E. Pearson:

    uranium prices:

    http://www.uxc.com/review/uxc_PriceChart.aspx?chart=spot-u3o8-full

  346. Edward Greisch:

    344 JiminMpls: The price for uranium is irrelevant because so little of it is needed. And you forgot about 4th generation reactors and recycling. The price of coal is relevant because coal is burned by the trainload. See: In-situ leach from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-situ_leach

    In-situ leaching (ISL), also called in-situ recovery (ISR) or solution mining, is a process of recovering minerals such as copper and uranium through boreholes drilled into the deposit. Uranium can be dissolved with a water and baking soda solution. The fracking part needs to be avoided.

  347. David B. Benson:

    JiminMpls @339 — Transmission upgrades are required if the needed capacity is not already in place; for the Vogtle site it might be. Transmission certainly is required for wind power. In the Columbia Basin there is currently ~3.3 nameplate GW of wind; that is about the same as 3 NPPs at peak generation. Since the wind farms are in windy locations, not usually near the existing infrastructure, transmission lines are needed to bring the power to the main trunks, although the power lines are usually called collectors, I think.

    It is certainly possible to learn the basics of civil nuclear power generation. One only needs keep at it and I’ve found the TCASE threads linked on the sidebar of
    http://bravenewclimate.com/
    quite helpful; other threads as well. The experts who comment there are willing to be helpful for those who ask polite questions but have little tolerance for uninformed opinion in my experience.

  348. David B. Benson:

    Edward Greisch @336 — Actually, right now wind is the least expensive way to deliver raw kilowatt-hours and the next round of construction nearby here will be even less expensive; I’m anticipating contracted LCOE of around 7.5—8 cents/kWh. Moreover it is widely anticipated that solar PV prices will decline to about the same. So planners (economists, engineers and others) are trying to figure out how to integrate as much as possible and still maintain that which nuclear is quite good at,

    reliability.

    One can build a reliable power grid with essentially no coal burners and about 75–80% nuclear; the French have demonstrated this. By the way, the French retail cost of electricity is comperable with most other European countries. In contrast, both Denmark and Germaqny have lots of wind power backed by coal burners; their electric rates are quite high, ~30 UScents/kWh for Germany and more in Denmark. The Germans are going to attempt to aim for 100% wind and solar PV it seems. Perhaps so with enough pumped hydro as backup.

    More realistic is California paln for 1/3 wind+solar+hydro. That still means a considerable amount of natgas burning.

    I suspect that 20–30% penitration by wind+solar and the rest NPPs is feasible for the USA although more storage via pumped hydro will be required.

  349. Walter Pearce:

    Jim@343: LOL both denialist camps continue working hard to prove your point.

    Why so little appetite among the pro-nukes crowd for picking the cost-effective fruit first?

    For example, Gavin referenced Lovins and the concept of negawatts back in December. Faster, cheaper, less risky: Negawatts align much better with economic growth and CO2 abatement than gigantic nuclear projects, with their open-ended financial and environmental risks.

    Chris Harries at post 18 in the fracking thread puts it this way:

    “And that brings us to an obvious conclusion, virtually any technology or behaviour changes that reduces energy consumption has much clearer signals as to its effectiveness. To save a kwh is almost invariably worthwhile doing. To produce a kwh of energy, by whatever means, invariably is a less worthwhile enterprise, because there are always significant hidden costs associated with energy production – whether that be bird strike on wind turbines or fugitive emissions from coal seam gas.

    Motto: Always look to abatement measures as first priority, and only then look to alternative means of production.”

  350. David B. Benson:

    Walter Pearce @349 — Around energy eneergy efficiency is certainly being pushed. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s sixth power plan places the cost of avoidance, that is, efficiency, at about 1/3rd that of the least costly power generation alternative.

    Fine, but a TNYT article awhile back stated that such schemes typically save but 1–2% although Kansas managed an impressive 5%. In at least northern California and around here so-called smart meters are being installed; mine was put in just this past week. The idea is to move towards variable pricing for demand management. We’ll have to see how much that removes peak load, when generation is most costly.

    In the nonce, the population keeps growing and old equipment has to be replaced. So new generation is still required.

  351. Patrick 027:

    Re 337 John E. Pearson – interesting, thanks

    Re 336 Edward Greisch – interesting, thanks

    When will nuclear power grow? As soon as people try to run some town on wind power only or solar power only and find out that wind and solar are intermittent. So please do go for wind and solar power if you must learn from your own mistakes. Americans always do the right thing, but only after they have tried every possible wrong thing. As David B. Benson told you: Once you get it all added up, you will find out that nuclear is the cheapest way to make electricity without making CO2. As I have said many times, it is better to let the engineers do the engineering and it is better to let the scientists do the science. The electric generating industry has plenty of engineers and the other people required to figure out how to make the cheapest electricity. So let them do it.

    And you and I would agree, I’m sure, that if the proper externality taxes and policies on safety (all energy sources, etc), power plant siting, mining, the electric grid, agricultural emissions, etc, were put in place, with maybe some public investments directed toward pre-mass market technologies, etc, then whatever mix of sources develops should be good.

    Until, if ever, storage becomes really cheap and easy, I wouldn’t generally advocate a small town relying solely on it’s own wind and solar power (even with CSP, which has storage).

    However, good storage sites such as AA-CAES, some hydroelectric plants (output could vary on short time scales at least), etc, could be available regionally (CAES has already been done in some places; AA-CAES is still under development so far as I know); solar and wind resource fluctuations may both be smaller and more predictable over larger spatial scales (consider synoptic-scale weather patterns, and then later on, interhemispheric HVDC could help with the diurnal and seasonal cycles – but smaller scale, consider how many time zones and climate zones are in any one continent); also, smart appliances of certain categories could turn on or off in response to weather data about cloudiness, etc, – maybe with GOES visible satellite imagery, this could go down to the smaller mesoscale (this could apply to air conditioners, refrigerators, heat pumps – where it needs to run for some fraction of a larger period of time but not at one particular minute or another). Reminder: CSP can have storage on the hourly-daily time scale (and can be used for heating; a significant fraction of industrial heating is at sufficiently low temperatures that it could be supplied with parabolic trough concentrators (see \Cool Energy\). And people are even working on producing C (or CO, I think) from CO2 using solar power (I’m not sure but I think this might be a sort of battery/fuel cell, but perhaps the CO could also be fed into renewable hydrocarbon production). The waste heat from rooftop solar PV can be used in residential water (and space?) heating, which in cooling the PV devices can tend to increase electrical output; don’t forget about passive solar lighting and heating and thermal storage and building efficiency in general. As far as unstored, untransmitted electricity goes, rooftop solar PV and other local PV sources have greater value per kWh in that they require less transmission (at least on average – of course grid connected rooftop PV could sometimes be used elsewhere) (this is after the inversion, so inverter costs have to be factored in – unless a house has both AC and DC outlets – perhaps air conditioners in particular could run on either and switch to DC to reduce use of the inverter when possible?). Aside from that, solar power can be a nice fit for daytime, especially summer time, peaks – not all energy sources need to be competitive at all hours to be competitive over-all.

  352. Patrick 027:


    I can picture a scenario where solar, wind, and nuclear are all growing (and maybe C seque-stration, and maybe H is stripped from what would have been gasoline and some other fuels, whose supply is driven by demand for other petroleum products). I can also picture a scenario where nuclear doesn’t live up to promises and stalls, or where costs of solar and wind (and geothermal,

  353. Patrick 027:


    some b-i-o-fu-els (algae, food sc-r-aps (banana peels, coffee grounds), yard waste, b-y-p-r-o-d-u-cts (olive pits, peanut sh-e-lls, sawdust, lint? – actually lint might be a benificial addition to soil…), crop residues, spoiled and damaged crops and food, used paper pr-odu-cts, sewage, landfills and manure – it’s probably impractable to hook up a pipeline directly to a cow but maybe we can feed it B-e-a-n-o or something :) ) come down so much that they cut the nuclear renaissance short, perhaps before it ever takes off (given the time it takes to plan and build a nuclear power plant, unless that changes too). What I don’t really expect is a future where nuclear completely overwhelms everything besides the hydro already in place (but if that happens and it’s done safely, okay). I’m still not entirely comfortable with nuclear but I admit ignorance there and thus don’t really advocate directly against it (PS somewhat the same position with GM foods/crops); what I know enough to be afraid of and advocate against is a BAU future of coal, oil, and gas, especially one without CCS or other sequestration, with mountaintop removal mining, with tar sands, with fracking (you may already be aware of the radioactivity associated with that), Hg, escalating prices, etc (and you would be against this too, I’m sure).

  354. Vendicar Decarian:

    “It’s true that governments by and large have been politically paralyzed because the energy companies, the coal companies, the oil companies, the coal-burning utilities, they have spent enormous amounts of money and they have succeeded in many countries in paralyzing the political process,” the former vice president said.

    “There are four anti-climate lobbyists on Capitol Hill in this city for every single member of the House and every single member of the Senate,” Gore said Friday night at the opening of the April 15-18 conference.
    “What is the answer for this?” Gore asked. “It has to come from you. It has to come at the grassroots level. It has to come from young people, and I believe that you are up to it and that you can do it.”

  355. CM:

    On making projections: http://xkcd.com/887/

  356. SecularAnimist:

    Edward Greisch wrote: “As soon as people try to run some town on wind power only or solar power only and find out that wind and solar are intermittent.”

    Because batteries, flywheels, compressed air, pumped hydro, thermal storage and hydrogen don’t exist and cannot ever exist. Because we have never had, do not have, and can never ever have any means of storing energy, either thermally, chemically, or kinetically. Check.

    Because the wind always stops blowing at night, exactly when the sun is not shining. Check.

    The fact is that we have multiple methods of storing energy.

    The fact is that there are very few “towns” in America that are powered solely by their own energy sources, whatever those might be — most “towns” get their power from the grid, which distributes power from multiple sources — and studies in both the USA and Europe have found that a diversified regional portfolio of renewable energy sources can provide 24×7 power that is at least as reliable as coal or nuclear.

    These are the basic realities that nuclear power proponents willfully ignore.

  357. Kevin McKinney:

    #356–

    It was rather amusing, a couple of years back, when we had the “unreliable” Danish wind power backstopping the “reliable” (but out-of-service) Finnish nuclear reactor as well as “reliable” (but drought-hobbled) Norwegian hydropower.

    Stuff happens. Diversity helps keep it from happening “all at once.”

  358. Walter Pearce:

    David Benson@350. Thanks for the info. There are a million stories in the naked city; here’s one: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20037-efficiency-could-cut-world-energy-use-over-70-per-cent.html.

    Put whatever percentage you want in place of the 70 percent; it’s still going to be a gigantic number. My earlier point was not to say we could avoid the necessity of new supply through negawatts, but that the ROI and avoided risk make efficiency and conservation the first things we should try — faster, cheaper, less risky should be the mantra.

    Speaking of nuke risk, I wonder what those who’ve been downplaying it have to say about this:

    “‘Chernobyl is definitely not a haven for wildlife,’ he [biologist Tim Mousseau] said in a phone interview.

    ‘When you actually do the hard work, of conducting a scientific study, where you rigorously control for all the variables, and you do this repeatedly in many different places, the signal is very strong.

    ‘There are many fewer animals and many fewer kinds of animals than you would expect.'”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/18/25-years-on-chernobyl-fallout-still-an-eco-hazard/

    Here’s one of his earlier studies on radiation effects on Chernobyl-are barn swallows from the Journal of Animal Ecology: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2005.01009.x/full

  359. SecularAnimist:

    The nuclear debate is beating a dead horse.

    Here’s something much more interesting:

    Duke Energy Corp., a U.S. utility that operates 986 megawatts of wind-energy capacity, selected Xtreme Power Inc. to design and install the world’s largest power-storage system linked to a wind farm.

    The 36-megawatt storage system is expected to cost $44 million and will go into operation in the third quarter of 2012, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke said in an e-mailed statement.

    The system will retain power generated when demand is low and can be tapped when electricity consumption is highest or the wind is not blowing. It will make the 153-megawatt Notrees wind farm in west Texas a more reliable source of energy, according to Greg Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables.

    Storage technology will “help our wind projects, and potentially down the road solar projects, interact with the grid, making sure that any of the potential negatives from an intermittent wind resource or a peak solar resource can be managed,” Wolf said in an interview.

    Xtreme Power manufactures dry-cell battery systems for use with wind farms and solar projects, which cannot consistently deliver electricity.

    Carlos Coe, the Kyle, Texas-based company’s CEO, said storage is beginning to catch on with renewable energy developers. The Notrees project will be the largest storage system in use with a wind project, and more are in the pipeline.

    “We have a few projects of this size awaiting to be announced later this year or into next year that are related to either renewable integration on a large-scale or renewable integration under challenging transmission and distribution circumstances,” he said in an interview.

  360. David B. Benson:

    SecularAnimist @356 — I’ve looked into those studies of the USA and Europe which propose so-called renewables only. I don’t find them credible in that those schemes would be extremely expensive. The issues are the costs and losses in extensive transmission and the lack of a sufficiently low cost method of storage. If the latter can be solved then the excess transmission is not necessary, I think.

  361. Didactylos:

    SecularAnimist: That story is more than a little ingenuous. “the world’s largest power-storage system linked to a wind farm” can be parsed two ways, and only one of them is true. The headline “Duke Builds Largest Storage System With Xtreme at Wind Farm” promotes the wrong one.

    Here’s a clue: this new system is 36 MW. Yet Wikipedia lists 62 pumped storage power stations with capacity in excess of 1000 MW. There are so many smaller ones that they aren’t listed.

    This stuff isn’t new.

    What is new is using not just metaphorical batteries, but actual batteries on a massive scale. It doesn’t strike me as the most cost effective solution. Plus it creates a huge maintenance and recycling problem. Dry-cell batteries contain all sorts of nasty stuff, and have a limited lifespan. Molten salt batteries and flywheel storage make much more sense to me.

    Finally, placing storage at the point of generation doesn’t make sense for wind power. It makes total sense for solar power, with its guaranteed on-off cycle, but wind isn’t usually so predictable. Wouldn’t it make more sense to allow the grid to handle storage? Normally that would be the case, unless, of course, you were to over-rely on wind power, forcing you to use a less efficient storage solution. Which I believe was what David B. Benson was saying.

    Walter Pearce: Yes, I think I will go on ignoring you. Much easier than paying attention to the cherry-picking and rigid bias.

  362. David B. Benson:

    Walter Pearce @358 — Yes, the built environment is continually being replenished; greatly increasing prices of energy, not just eletricity, will further encourage energy efficiency. That may change ultily companies plans well out into the future but has little bearing on new construction needed to maintain power supply reliability in the near term of the next decade or so.

    Didactylos @361 — The electrical grid itself has no ability to store energy; it simply transmits and distributes in accordance with physical law. To store requires building storage devies with pumped hydro being one of the better choices for most (but not all) applications. If the price of wind power falls far enough and my estimates of new pumped hydro costs are correct, then by the end of the decade, for CF=32% wind sites near suitable land to be sacrificed for pumped hydro, such wind+storage solutions will become price competative with nuclear. Unfortunately, such sites are rare.

  363. David B. Benson:

    NIMBY Protests Threaten Germany’s Energy Revolution
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,757658,00.html
    Other reasons as to why extensive transmission lines are problematic.

  364. Rick Brown:

    Kevin McKinney @ 48 in the Fracking Methane thread (I’m trying to re-direct our OT comments here). There’s no debating that N. American forests are at risk from many insults, and that climate change looms large in the list of threats. However, Mike Roddy made a specific claim that “North American forest mortality has doubled since 1970.” I googled that phrase and the first link that came up was to a blog post titled “Climate change has doubled forest mortality,” and that post was based on the van Mantgem et al. paper, which Mike Roddy had previously cited inaccurately.
    Notwithstanding the many problems faced by N. American forests, I though it appropriate to point out that relying on the van Mantgem paper to make the claim that N. American forest mortality had doubled was a stretch. That’s all.

    [Response: Rick, thanks once again for being on top of these issues and generally knowing your stuff without over-simplifying complex topics. van Mantgem et al’s analysis dealt with a relatively small component of western forests (old growth not under epidemic, biotic attack, nor rebounding strongly from recent disturbance) and the approximate doubling they document is relative to a low background rate (~0.5 % annually). These effects are utterly swamped by the recent mortality due to bark beetle outbreaks, in which mortality rates are vastly higher, and over a vastly larger area. Their episodic nature, which has both definite climatic and non-climatic components, combined with the fact that the climatic changes themselves have an uncertain relation to global climate change, complicates any statements about changes in mortality over time that are due strictly to climate change.–Jim]

  365. Scientific American:

    A question for RC hosts and other actual climatologists: according to a Feb. 2011 survey in Massachusetts, although 77% of respondents say global warming is “real”, only 33% believe is is caused at least partially by human activity and is very serious, while another 26% believe it is real, at least partially caused by humans but do not see it as a serious threat. (17% said they do not believe it is real at all.)
    My question concerns that “partial” word: what portion of global warming can be attributed to natural causes? It is my impression that if known, it is low, while most attribution studies (and the laws of physics) indicate only that it is largely caused by greenhouse gases, the increase of which are from known quantities of fossil fuels burned by humans plus human land clearing, animal agriculture etc.

    What are the “natural”(non-human)causes and what proportion? Who looks at this? Does AR4 address this? Thanks for all you do.

    [Response: It depends on time period etc, and is inevitably an estimate due to uncertainty in the forcings (particularly aerosols), ocean heat uptake and climate sensitivity. My estimate is that between ~80% to 120% of the observed trend in recent decades is human-forced – i.e. which allows for 0.1 to 0.2 degC/dec either way for internal variability – natural forcings are a slight cooling factor on these timescales so that would imply a higher attribution to human causes. You could formalise this better – and indeed people have (Chris Forest’s work, IPCC Chapter 9 etc.). – gavin]

  366. Septic Matthew:

    361, didactylos: What is new is using not just metaphorical batteries, but actual batteries on a massive scale. It doesn’t strike me as the most cost effective solution. Plus it creates a huge maintenance and recycling problem. Dry-cell batteries contain all sorts of nasty stuff, and have a limited lifespan. Molten salt batteries and flywheel storage make much more sense to me.

    As in other energy-related issues, I think the best approach in the long run will be to continue to research, invent, and develop as many alternative storage technologies as we can, and not bet too soon on which exactly will be cheapest and most reliable 20 years from now. Electrically-powered catalysis of water and CO2 into H2 and syngas/fuel might be the best solution; or vanadium batteries; or pumped water storage; or sulfur-iron batteries; or lithium-air batteries. All of these exist already, all have been tested at sufficient scales to provide reasonable estimates of costs in the next few years. But no one can now tell which will benefit the most from economies of large scale and improvements in manufacturing technologies.

  367. Kevin McKinney:

    #364–

    Fair enough, and definitely more appropriate here.

    [Response: You had a number of good points there too Kevin–and thanks for including some good ref links. I just don’t have the time to get into it in detail right now.–Jim]

  368. Patrick 027:

    Re 361 Didactylos Finally, placing storage at the point of generation doesn’t make sense for wind power. It makes total sense for solar power, with its guaranteed on-off cycle, but wind isn’t usually so predictable.

    Except one interesting idea I’ve read is to have wind energy mechanically put energy into a (AA?)CAES, so that the conversion of mechanical to electrical energy would only occur once.

  369. David B. Benson:

    Wind is sufficiently predictable according to this (long) IEA Wind Power Study
    http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/tiedotteet/2009/T2493.pdf

  370. Vendicar Decarian:

    Carsey Institute

    Climate Change – Partisanship, Understanding, and Public Opinion

    Key Findings
    A series of regional surveys conducted by Carsey
    Institute researchers in 2010 and early 2011 asked
    nearly 9,500 individuals about climate change. Key
    findings include:

    • Most people say that they understand either a
    moderate amount or a great deal about the issue
    of global warming or climate change.

    • Large majorities agree that climate change is
    happening now, although they split on whether
    this is attributed mainly to human or natural causes.

    • The level of understanding and specific beliefs
    about climate change vary from region to region.

    • Beliefs about climate change are strongly related
    to political party. Republicans most often believe
    either that climate is not changing now or that
    it is changing but from mainly natural causes.
    Democrats most often believe that the climate is
    changing now due mainly to human activities.

    • Political polarization is greatest among the
    Republicans and Democrats who are most
    confident that they understand this issue.
    Republicans and Democrats less sure about their
    understanding also tend to be less far apart in
    their beliefs.

    • People who express lower confidence also might
    be more likely to change their views in response
    to weather.

    The high levels of understanding reported by New Hampshire
    residents in Figure 1 translate into general agreement
    that climate is changing now (88 percent), but disagreement
    remains about its main cause (Figure 3). A slight majority attribute
    current climate change to human activities, but more
    than one-third believe instead that it has mainly natural
    causes. Only a small fraction of the New Hampshire respondents
    believe that climate is not changing now.

    Figure 4 shows results on this same question from the six
    CERA surveys. Across all of the surveys, only 4 percent to
    11 percent believed that climate is not changing.

    Figure 3
    What do you personally believe about climate change?

    DN 5%
    Not Now 6%
    Now Natural 35%
    Now Human 53%

  371. Vendicar Decarian:

    Percentage of TeaPublicans who claim that anthropogenic Climate Change isn’t happening…. 92%

  372. Ron R.:

    David B. Benson — @ 11:02 PM

    A couple of quotes from that article:

    Such an ambitious objective will not be possible without huge new power lines, running primarily from the north of Germany to large conurbations in the south. According to calculations made back in 2005 by the German Energy Agency (DENA), 850 kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines will have to be built by the year 2015. Only 100 kilometers of this extended grid has been built so far. In its latest study, DENA anticipates that an additional 3,600 kilometers will be required by 2020.

    Although there is a long way to go before construction can begin on the high-voltage transmission lines, the “regional resistance” that the experts colored on their map has already begun to materialize. There are now 19 citizens’ initiatives against what are being dubbed “monster masts” and “mega power lines.” A total of 137 different communities, agencies and initiatives in Lower Saxony alone registered their opposition to the project during the review process. Thousands of people have signed petitions. Just the summary of the objections is nearly 2,100 pages long.

    Frustrating. Probably the biggest reason that companies and governments insist that if we are going to go large -scale alternatives then they’ll have to be these gigantic centralized infrastructure projects is because they want to own them, to make sure that they hold onto the public’s purse strings. They want to keep people paying them for forever their electricity. So they thrash about as if their were just no other possibility.

    I hate to seem a nut about it but I keep saying that we need to go easiest, simplest, cheapest, cleanest, most low-profile first and foremost and that’s everyone owning their own small system whatever single or combination of clean energies that may be. I’m tired of people saying it can’t be done. It’s being done, individually, all over the world.

    If it can’t work everywhere (let’s say a series of apartment complexes in the cold north which has wind but not much sun) then the next step would be small scale community-sized collecting/generating systems that are community owned and operated.

    We need to seriously assess where the technology is. Have a major alternative energy summit. There are all kinds of alternatives out there and coming along all the time. Giant, centralized, dirty energy power plants are obsolete. Let’s acknowledge that and get the new show on the road. What’s that famous saying? “Lead, follow or get out of the way!”

    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/4095

  373. Ron R.:

    One other related point. Is there a reason why cages cannot not be built around wind turbines to keep birds out, kind of like we have around fans to protect fingers. They don’t need to be ugly. If not that we certainly do need to find some way to keep birds away. Perhaps coloring of the blades, sound, vibration something so as not to harm them.

    Meanwhile: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/305386

  374. JCH:

    Alexander Harvey mention this Hansen draft on another thread. Very interesting. Karina von Schuckman, ARGO below 700m, is a co-author.

  375. David B. Benson:

    Ron R. @372 — One thing which would be helpful is for homes to have a solar hot water heater which the existing electric resistance heater suppliments on occasion. This will happen, I suppose, when the price of electricity rises far enough. Similarly with all other unsubsidized decentralized schemes. Alternatively, use feed-in tariffs as in Germany where many residences are installing ever more rooftop solar PV which make some money when the sun shines and also helps to fend off the ~30 UScents/kWh power costs. (Incidently, Germany has quite a few CHP projects.)

    I’m certainly in favor in solutions which are as localized as possible but for reliable power we are forced to have utility scale connected grids. These cost and are only now tending to become sufficiently pricey that people choose more decentralized (partial) solutions.

  376. Edward Greisch:

    356 SecularAnimist: “These are the basic realities that nuclear power proponents willfully ignore.” WRONG.
    But I looked up the price of batteries. I can’t afford an extra $10,000/year for batteries.
    The joke is those de-nuclearized countries in Europe where “the grid” means French nuclear power.
    “The fact is that we have multiple methods of storing energy.” Yes we do. But an efficiency of 5% is typical. I can’t afford it. If you can, go for it.

    357 Kevin McKinney: “Diversity helps keep it from happening “all at once.” True. No dispute. But the highest up-time is 90%, and it is for nuclear. Reference: “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007 Finally a truthful book about nuclear power. This book is very easy to read and understand. Gwyneth Cravens is a former anti-nuclear activist. ” American nuclear power reactors operated that year around the clock at about 90 percent capacity, whereas coal-fired plants operated at about 73 percent, hydroelectric plants at 29 percent, natural gas from 16 to 38 percent, wind at 27 percent, solar at 19 percent, and geothermal at 75 percent.”

    358 Walter Pearce “Chernobyl is definitely not a haven for wildlife”
    EVACUATE DENVER!!!!
    If you live in Chernobyl the total radiation dose you get each year is 390 millirem. That’s natural plus residual from the accident and fire. In Denver, Colorado, the natural dose is over 1000 millirem/year. Denver gets more than 2.56 times as much radiation as Chernobyl! But Denver has a low cancer rate.
    Calculate your annual radiation dose:
    http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/

    The Average American gets 361 millirems/year. Smokers add 280 millirems/year from lead210. Radon accounts for 200 mrem/year.
    http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs10bkvsman.htm

    http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/around-us/doses-daily-lives.html

    359 SecularAnimist: $44 million/36-megawatt = $1.22/watt
    Woops! We needed megawatt HOURS.
    So this 986 megawatts of wind-energy capacity gets a 36-megawatt second battery? But wind power up-time is 27%. So the battery has to store 986 megawatts/.27=3652 megawatt HOURS to be up for a whole calm day. But you better give yourself some leeway for longer calm spells. And that will cost, who knows? You didn’t give us the cost for megawatt hours.

  377. Edward Greisch:

    Fracking methane 46 Susan Anderson: Do you happen to have the case number? We need to file a “Friend of Court” brief. I think it might be No. 05-1120. The Supreme Court webmaster is at http://www.supremecourt.gov/contact/contact_webmaster.aspx
    but I don’t know if that helps.
    RealClimate should have made a Friend of Court brief. Some other group of scientists did 5 or 6 years ago.

  378. adelady:

    David@375 “… decentralised partial solutions.”

    The great advantage of such decentralised partial _solar_ solutions is that they are most effective at times of peak demand. Wider adoption would therefore lead to decreasing the capacity required for the centralised generation and distribution systems. This is certainly true in places like Australia and the southern USA for air conditioning and cooking. Esp if we could ensure that schools, churches and sports stadiums were kitted out with extensive solar – they’d be producing at times when they have minimal requirements, or none, for their own needs.

    Whether this comes from near universal rooftop solar water heating or village sized wind systems doesn’t matter too much. What does matter is that the gross capacity of central systems can keep on being reduced by the combination of negawatts and decentralised generation.

    With technical advances moving as they are, I can see building requirements in advanced economies being adjusted so that roofs _must_ produce power in some form, preferably with commercial and industrial buildings also being required to have a proportion of windows with solar generating capacity. In not many decades time, it’s entirely possible that new residential developments could impose Nil burden on an existing grid (even if there are switching complexities).

  379. Edward Greisch:

    248 David B. Benson: I am a reliability engineer. But I thought your full levelized price for wind was higher. Do you have an efficiency for storage via pumped hydro?

  380. Ron R.:

    David B. Benson — @ 11:04 PM

    Exactly. Our solar water heater allows us to turn off the gas for seven months out of the year. That’s a huge savings to us. If we lived in an area without a marked winter we might be able do without gas all together (since we only use it for heating water).

    If everyone did something like that to start or even started out smaller with just a tankless water heater the savings in fuel nationwide (and money in family bank accounts) would add up fast. It would take the pressure off dependency on foreign oil and other dirty energies. The issue of peak oil would evaporate. Oil and gas would last much longer and could be held in reserve for special reasons (say the launching air of space craft?) and the price would plummet. With that energy pressure off I think the entire world morale would change. Maybe not so pitted against each other. Maybe not so much haves and have nots.

    Dirty energy has been horribly destructive to the world. From bloody wars and huge disasters like the Exxon Valdez and other vast pollutions like the Gulf oil spill, Chernobyl and Fukushima and the resulting cancers and ruined lives (human and other species) to other hideous environmental destruction such as mountaintop removal to climate change to the Culture Of Fear that pervades almost every aspect of our lives today because of all of these.

    To now society in general has not been serious about changing this nasty habit of ours. We’re pale, we cough, we’re on oxygen, we’ve got the shakes. It looks like we’re going down. The doctor has warned us over and over again that we need to stop smoking and start treating ourselves better but we haven’t been listening. Too stubborn to.

    Perhaps we’ve been given our final notice.

  381. Edward Greisch:

    Take a look at:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/Story/story/print?guid=F4B90BDE-69C6-11E0-8CAB-00212804637C
    How does this relate to climate?: We live in a plutocracy, not a democracy. Forget about getting our message out.

  382. kevin mckinney:

    “Is there a reason why cages cannot not be built around wind turbines to keep birds out, kind of like we have around fans to protect fingers.”

    Well, a modern turbine is very, very large in relation to the birds that we’d be trying to screen out. That means less efficiency, an engineering headache due to a lot of dead weight, and a large additional expense which would make wind less competitive.

    Perhaps more to the point, there’s no good evidence that there is even a significant problem. Skyscrapers, power transmission lines, vehicles and other existing human artifacts/activities are much more lethal to birds than are wind turbines–at least, since small turbines sited on migration routes have become a thing of the past. (“Much more,” as in (IIRC) three orders of magnitude.)

  383. Vendicar Decarian:

    “One thing which would be helpful is for homes to have a solar hot water heater which the existing electric resistance heater suppliments on occasion. This will happen, I suppose, when the price of electricity rises far enough.” – 375

    Even in temperate climates solar water heating works, and in winter standard refrigeration compressors can be turned off and heat pumps or direct external heat exchange can be used to provide refrigeration.

    For a family of 4, solar water heating will reduce consumption by approximately 2,000 Kwh per day and refrigeration by 200 Kwh per year.

    This alone would free up more energy consumption than 18 one gigawatt nuclear power stations or their coal powered equivalent.

    Significantly more energy savings can be had by storing heat in thermal reservoir’s and extracting it during fall and the early part of winter for home heating.

  384. Vendicar Decarian:

    In order to foster the utilization of passive energy sources, building codes should be adjusted so that new home construction requires the largest surface area of the roof to face south, and kitchens be designed such that refrigerators be normally placed against exterior walls in order to provide access for direct thermal exchange with cold winter air.

  385. Walter Pearce:

    Edward Greisch@376 — Thanks for the info.

    Do you dispute Mousseau’s findings? Or just unfazed by their implications?

    Most of the arguments I’ve heard here (and made myself) against nukes are based on economics and the risk and effects of catastrophic failure, not small doses of radiation.

    Other than David Benson’s interesting points, I’ve yet to see a single cogent response to the RMI paper I referenced on the economic side, nor to the biological effects cited on Chernobyl, nor to the papers on risks and subsidies.

    If nuke advocates can offer competing papers or other evidence in these areas, then I for one have an open mind on nuclear’s efficacy for CO2 abatement and energy needs. But the vitriol is as tedious as it is unenlightening.

  386. Kevin McKinney:

    #376, “evacuate Denver!” paragraph–

    Ed, surely one can’t equate a whole-body dose received radiatively (which is what all critters including humans get in Denver) with ingested radioactives which concentrate in the food chain (which is what we’d be talking about wrt Chernobyl wildlife!)

    I’m speaking (as I so often do) from ignorance here, but this really seems not to be an apples-to-apples comparison.

  387. Hunt Janin:

    If I’m doing my sums right, in its 2007 Assessment Report the IPCC estimated that about 3.51 million people living in world’s deltas and megadeltas will be affected by sea level rise by the year 2050 (source: IPCC, “Coastal systems and low-lying areas,” p. 327.)

    If anyone has reason to believe this estimate is not in the ballpark, please let me know.

  388. Ron R,:

    adelady — @ 11:42 PM

    Well said! I suspect there would be some (with egging on by dirty energy) who would cry “government interference” due to new regs. I suspect for the most part though that that would evaporate when people discover that government is paying for it and that every bit of dirty energy saved is money in that stays in their pockets.

    kevin mckinney — @ 7:00 AM

    Ok. I wasn’t thinking though of bulky cages but thin wire, perhaps chicken wire sized, attached to a fine structure of braces. If not a major problem generally then save it for those few areas that are. If it doesn’t work I’m confident that people can come up with something. Plastic owls, bird scare tape, whatever.

    Vendicar Decarian — @ 7:14 AM

    And again, as you said upthread, even if it does not cover all of our needs 100% of the time right off the bat, “Every watt of energy obtained by the sun is a watt that is not obtained from non-renewable sources.” If we cut, let’s say, 50% from our demands that would be a BIG improvement. And don’t stop until we’ve maximized the use of clean alternatives. Even then always looking for improvement.

    Next up after that is decreasing our demand and our footprint by halting then reversing human population growth. Overpopulation is at the root of most of today’s major problems. Education is a good starting place. Don’t leave the issue to NGOs that few people listen to. People need to realize the impact we are having on this still beautiful planet and on our future.

  389. Ron R,:

    According to Wikipedia the 2010 defense budget (that’s just ONE YEAR’S worth) was over $700 billion!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States#Budget_for_2010

    Does the DOD really expect us to believe that they can’t get by with last year’s weapons or the year before that or the year before that…? Ok, a lot of that money also goes to personnel and defense in other countries, but those wars are seen by many as wrong and unnecessary anyway and often because we are trying to appropriate the dirty energy that belongs to another county.

    Greenscissors identifies another $200+ Billion in wasteful and environmentally harmful subsidies and other spending.
    http://www.greenbiz.com/sites/default/files/GreenScissors2010.pdf

    We’re closing on a trillion dollars that can be diverted to helping us get off this deadly merry-go-round. Why not do it?

  390. Ron R,:

    Kevin McKinney — @ 9:26 AM

    Did you see this? If you follow the links through on the Peer site it’s pretty galling.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/305386

  391. Septic Matthew:

    Here is another interruption in California’s Ivanpah solar project.

    http://www.pe.com/localnews/stories/PE_News_Local_D_brightsource20.28e9be9.html

  392. Edward Greisch:

    386 Kevin McKinney: “Ed, surely one can’t equate a whole-body dose received radiatively (which is what all critters including humans get in Denver) with ingested radioactives which concentrate in the food chain (which is what we’d be talking about wrt Chernobyl wildlife!)”

    Again: WHAT concentration in the food chain? You are confusing iodine131 [half life 8 days] with dioxin, a complex industrial chemical that lasts a very long time. Iodine131’s short half life means it is gone too soon to do any concentrating. Even the hundreds of bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s failed to give me cancer, and I drank a lot of milk. People in Iran get a NATURAL background dose of 12000 millirems every year. Iran doesn’t have a high cancer rate. What about the radioactive Carbon14 created by the action of cosmic rays on nitrogen in the air? Surely C14 comes to us through the food chain, as it always has.

    Again: If you have cancer, look for the BENZENE that caused it. Radiation didn’t. Benzene comes from petroleum and from coal. DO NOT BURN SCENTED CANDLES. Scented candles make Benzene when they burn. Benzene is an “aromatic” hydrocarbon, which means Benzene smells good. Benzene causes cancer.

    Several people: Solar power on house roofs and efficiency: OK except for 2 problems:
    1. You are fighting an extra industry. We have to fight the coal industry. Fighting the electric generating industry when we don’t have to is picking an unnecessary fight that squanders your anger.
    2. We need to put an end to the coal industry quickly and completely. Solar power on house roofs and efficiency leave the coal industry alive and well.
    Solar power on house roofs and efficiency are “scattering” ideas. They scatter your efforts, making you combat ineffective. What we have to do is KILL KING COAL. COINCENTRATE on killing the coal industry.

  393. kevin mckinney:

    #392–

    No, Ed, I’m not confusing iodine with dioxin.

    Radionuclides from Chernobyl included:

    137Cs, 134Cs, 131I, 140Ba, 95Zr, 95Nb, 103Ru, 106Ru, 141Ce, 144Ce, 125Sb

    http://rpd.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/1-2/69.abstract

  394. David B. Benson:

    Edward Greisch @379 — If the price of wind turbines falls as expected, then it appears that wind with pump hydro will have a slightly lower LCOE than nuclear; not currently the case. The standard efficiency for pumped hydro is 80% and that hasn’t changes in many decades. I used costing from
    http://www.dotyenergy.com/PDFs/Doty-90377-Storage-ASME-ES10.pdf

    The combination of wind with pump hydro requires rather special geography; unlikely to be useful in Texas, for example.

  395. adelady:

    Sorry Edward, perhaps you misunderstand me. In Australia as I am, I think we could do the whole lot with CSP and wind.

    My argument above was that with distributed generation and sophisticated storage, the total centralised wind + CSP installed would not need to be as large as people think. Here in South Australia, palpitations arise because our coal power station at Port Augusta will both wear out and run out of coal in not-so-many years. Whatever will we do?? What about the jobs?!?

    Just have a look at the map. Pt Augusta is a hot, dry place at the tip of a gulf. You’d be hard-pressed to argue against building CSP here. After all, the distribution network is already based here, no need to build or extend a network. Several millions saved right up front.

    And building and maintaining a CSP has gotta be good for jobs. No? No. At least I’ve not heard anyone talking sensibly about this.

  396. kevin mckinney:

    #388, Ron R.–Even fine braces amount to a pretty fair challenge when they must span a diameter of up to 128 meters and be pretty rigid. The geometry of a typical upwind design makes mounting the safety shield a challenge, too.

    I’d say if we’re concerned about bird mortality, structures such as power lines and skyscrapers would be better candidates for safety engineering than wind turbines, since they kill far more birds than the turbines do.

  397. adelady:

    Whoops! Omitted the vital detail.

    Pt Augusta is at latitude -32.3. So it’s marginally closer to the equator than Sydney and Los Angeles for those who need some help visualising just how sunny the place is. Though it’s hotter than both of them.

  398. Ray Ladbury:

    Kevin McKinney, Actually radionuclides will not increase in concentration as you go up the food chain. In fact, some plants tend to really take up some radionuclides (e.g. tobacco and Po-210). Moreover, we tend not to eat the portions of animals where you will get the most radionuclides–e.g. Iodine in the thyroid, Sr-90 in the bones…

    Note that this is not necessarily good news. It means you have to be as worried about eating contaminated spinach as contaminated beef. That said, the most serious hazards are those that we breathe. If we eat radionuclides (other than Sr-90 or Iodine), it will tend to pass through us. Passage into the lungs, though is one way–it never gets out and is almost assured to cause a cancer (the Po-210 is a major source of the lung cancers from smoking).

  399. John E. Pearson:

    Kevin, I’d say if we’re concerned about bird mortality we should all kill our house cats.

  400. kevin mckinney:

    #399–Good info, Ray, thank you. Interesting tid-bit about the Po-210. Aren’t there similar considerations around coal combustion?

    If I remember, though, we were originally talking about the wildlife at Chernobyl, so different diets than human would have to be considered, too–canids chewing bones full of Sr-90, deer munching contaminated leaves, etc.

  401. Ron R.:

    kevin mckinney — @ 6:49 PM

    Thanks Kevin. I like wind power etc. Obviously. I like birds and wildlife too. One hopes our projects will have as small a negative effect of the environment as possible. But technologically I think the fix wouldn’t be too difficult.

    There’s always bumps on the road to change.

  402. Edward Greisch:

    393 kevin mckinney: My table of isotopes gives the following half lives:

    isotope half life comment
    137Cs, 33 years bad
    134Cs, 3.5 hours too radioactive to be of concern
    It decays before it builds up
    131I, 8 days too radioactive to be of concern
    140Ba, 12.8 days too radioactive to be of concern
    95Zr, 65 days
    95Nb, 90 hours ->95Mo stable
    103Ru, 39.8 days
    106Ru, 1 year
    141Ce, 32.5 days
    144Ce, 290 days
    125Sb 2.7 years 125Sb->125Te stable

    The worst one is cesium137 because its half life is comparable to a human lifetime. The rest have decayed by now. They are too radioactive to be of concern. But cesium isn’t in the list of minerals that animals need. The only one that is a mineral needed by animals is iodine. Your turn: Figure out all of the decay chains to make sure you know the stable end product and whether or not there are any radioactive intermediates. Example: 125Sb->125Te + Beta, stable.

    395 adelady: If you are in Australia, I believe you. I live in Illinois now, but I grew up in western New York state where sunny days are very rare. The cloud layer averages 11000 feet thick over my home town.

    David B. Benson: Thanks for the standard efficiency for pumped hydro.

  403. CM:

    Ray #398,

    > other than Sr-90 or iodine … tend to pass through us

    Cesium, too. Gets taken for potassium, distributed around soft tissues, only gradually excreted, passed up through the food chain in the meat of grazing animals. Scandinavians were dumping lots mutton and reindeer meat for a long time after Chernobyl (reindeer like lichens, lichens like Cs).

  404. Ron R.:

    “Iodine-129 (129I; half-life 15.7 million years) is a product of cosmic ray spallation on various isotopes of xenon in the atmosphere, in cosmic ray muon interaction with tellurium-130, and also uranium and plutonium fission, both in subsurface rocks and nuclear reactors. Artificial nuclear processes, in particular nuclear fuel reprocessing and atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, have now swamped the natural signal for this isotope. Nevertheless, it now serves as a groundwater tracer as indicator of nuclear waste dispersion into the natural environment. In a similar fashion, 129I was used in rainwater studies to track fission products following the Chernobyl disaster…. it is highly biophilic, and occurs in multiple ionic forms (commonly, I− and IO3−) which have different chemical behaviors. This makes it fairly easy for 129I to enter the biosphere as it becomes incorporated into vegetation, soil, milk, animal tissue, etc.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_iodine#Iodine-129_as_a_long-lived_marker_for_nuclear_fission_contamination

  405. ccpo:

    “Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run.”

    Only if you don’t understand distributed systems and make the invalid assumption the goal is to replace current use levels. If, instead, one assumes massively distributed systems, then solar and wind both perform just fine since the source is then essentially constant. If one also understands all the other issues we face in terms of resource constraints, environmental issues, climate change, etc., then one also understands we must ultimately use a fraction of the resources we do today, thus must replace a much smaller percentage than we are using today.

    When your cost comparisons include all costs (decommissioning, deconstruction, true environmental impacts), then you can talk about comparing costs. Not until. How much more expensive is nuclear when you add in decommissioning (at least equal to building), nuclear accidents, illness and deaths from exposure, subsidies, long-term storage of waste, Hiroshima, etc, e.g.?

  406. ccpo:

    “If we went 100% renewable, what happens when it is dark and there is no wind?”

    We don’t glow in the dark?

    Please go read all you can find on nuclear power at http://www.theoildrum.com/

  407. SecularAnimist:

    “Wind power is simply too unreliable and too expensive to replace a significant portion of fossil fuels in the long run.”

    That’s a talking point that is wholly unsupported by facts.

    The US Department of Energy conservatively projects that wind power can supply 20 percent of US electricity demand by 2030.

    A March 2010 study by the US National Renewable Energy Lab found that “the maximum potential to generate wind power in the United States is more than three times greater than previously estimated”.

    A February 2011 report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that wind power is already competitive with coal in some regions, with the per-megawatt price of wind turbines dropping 19 percent since 2007.

    Worldwide, 68 gigawatts of new wind generation capacity was installed in 2010, an all-time record.

  408. Edward Greisch:

    405 ccpo: “the invalid assumption the goal is to replace current use levels.”
    Just try and sell that to the public. I double dare you. Wait! NO don’t! We already have enough trouble with people trying to sell that idea. Or go ahead if you are feeling suicidal.

  409. Didactylos:

    “Wind power is simply too unreliable”

    Nonsense. As others have observed, wind can fill a very large fraction of the electricity demand in most areas. 100%, in some cases.

    To those still waffling about radionuclides: please remember that as with everything else, the dose makes the poison. Until you start talking in terms of Sv/yr, I will know that you are making it up as you go. Bananas are radioactive, after all — but you don’t see anyone living in fear of fruit, do you?

    ccpo said: “Only if you […] make the invalid assumption the goal is to replace current use levels”

    And that’s a very good point. Current use levels are going to increase. Significantly. Because we will have to rely on renewables for heating, transportation, manufacture, and all the other current big consumers of fossil fuels. So, total demand is guaranteed to increase even in the face of efficiency measures.

  410. Didactylos:

    ccpo: Levelised costs for nuclear power include decommissioning and long-term waste management costs. Nuclear power companies in the US also have to pay into a fund to cover potential civil liabilities in the case of an accident.

    So, when you add in all the “costs” you dreamed up, nuclear power costs exactly the same, because you really aren’t the first person to think of end-of-life expenses.

    The only one not usually covered in levelised calculations are subsidies. But these aren’t included for other energy sources either. You will have to consider subsidies separately.

    What irritates me is that I have said all this before. Please don’t be a denier-goldfish.

    Hiroshima? Really?

  411. Rod B:

    [edit–completely OT]

  412. Ray Ladbury:

    At this stage it is simply silly to prejudge what the next energy economy will look like. Way too much depends on unresolved technological issues. If energy storage and conversion become easier, then renewables will likely win. If the issues of idiot-proofing, waste recycling/storage/abatement and proliferation are resolved, but storage remains an issue, nukes probably demand the least changes to our current infrastructure. We simply cannot say whether either of these will happen. We have a helluva long way to go before we have any idea what things will look like. That’s one reason why the denialist’s delaying tactics aren’t just stupid, but criminal.

  413. Brian Dodge:

    I just saw a PBS show on innovations to combat global warming (NOVA; Episode- Power Surge). One scene was in a museum in China dedicated to alternate energy; they have one of the solar panels from the installation that Carter put on the White House, and Reagan removed. The visitors would come up, read the exhibit description, then start laughing.

    According to Bjorn Lomborg-
    In 2009, China invested $34 billion, twice as much as the US, in green tech.
    They produce half the worlds solar cells.
    In 2009, it put up about a third of the world’s new wind turbines.
    China leads the world in the production of solar heaters, which provide four times more energy in China than wind turbines. and earn $6 billion from exports.

    No wonder they’re laughing.

  414. Patrick 027:

    Re 410 Didactylos – subsidies – When I look at Lifecycle costs (and emissions, landuse, etc.) (PS not that I’m well versed in those; I’ve looked at a few abstracts/summaries and browsed some), I tend to assume that the monetary costs listed are the actual monetary costs, and subsidies would reduce the costs realized to private agents from there. Subsidies in R&D already done thus far are a done deal and immaterial to the economics of future choices (except in lessons learned about subsidies).

  415. Edward Greisch:

    407 SecularAnimist: Your USDOE web site title is “20% Wind Energy by 2030″. I agree that 20% wind energy is possible. It just isn’t enough. We need 100% non-CO2 producing electricity generation.

    409 Didactylos: “wind can fill a very large fraction of the electricity demand in most areas. 100%, in some cases” True, in some cases. For installation on Kodiak Island, Alaska, wind is the way to go. For Australia and Arizona, solar is great. There are places where high temperature geothermal works well. But there are other places where wind, solar and geothermal don’t work. The point is that it is best to let the engineers do the engineering. Each case is different, but our goal remains the same: to stop GW.

    I think ccpo was trying to say that everybody should use a lot less electricity. I agree with you that usage of electricity can only go up, or you have a very angry public.

    RC: See http://climateprogress.org/2011/04/20/supreme-court-dismiss-global-warming-lawsuit
    I think that is the one Susan Anderson was talking about. So now we must concentrate our efforts on congress and the president to make sure the EPA gets to do its job. RealClimate’s job is to inform everybody of the latest climate science, but it is very difficult to submit a friend of court brief every time there is a new research result. Neither the judges nor the politicians understand the terrifying seriousness of the situation. There is debate at climateprogress.org over whether the court should pressure the politicians to act.

  416. Nick Gotts:

    Levelised costs for nuclear power include decommissioning and long-term waste management costs. – Didactylos

    Erm, they include nuclear industry estimates for such costs. Given the nuclear industry’s long record of absurd underestimates of construction costs, not to mention outright lies, no-one should take these figures seriously for a moment.

  417. Snapple:

    That Marc Morano is claiming that some Catholics are claiming that Easter is being hijacked by global warming. Then he links to an article that cites an astroturf Catholic organization called “Real Catholic TV” that is really a front for denialists.

    Morano linked to this:

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/04/21/earth-day-instead-of-easter/

    The Vatican, not fake denialist “religious” organizations cooked up by denialists, decide the position of the Catholic Church.

    Morano is using a fake organization to attack the Vatican position that climate change is happening and that man is causing it.

    This is a typical Bolshevik anti-religious tactic–creating a fake opposition to undermine the legitimate leaders.

    The TV program makes a lot of claims that I can’t verify. The information was allegedly sent in by an anonymous person in a parish.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8ZAHQscmtw

    He attacks the Bishops and suggests that the Catholic Church be abandoned because it is not really Catholic.

    He says not to give any money to the Church if they talk about Earth Day.

    Some posters claim that churches are anti-science, but you should notice that the Catholic Church is being attacked by Marc Morano and this fake “Catholic” organization which claims that global warming is a scam.

  418. Snapple:

    That hack Marc Morano is beneath contempt, and he should know that the Vatican knows how to fight anti-religious propaganda.

    If you listen to that so-called “Real Catholic TV,” they tell people not to give to the Catholic Church if the priest discusses climate change. They claim that climate change is really about promoting abortion; however, the Catholic Church says there is climate change and is opposed to abortion.

    The “real Catholic TV” even has a “shadow priest” instead of an actual priest. Check this fake priest (a cartoon shadow) out. Probably they used a cartoon because no real priest would say these things.

    http://www.realcatholictv.com/

    Marc Morano is undermining legitimate scientific and religious authority. This is what communists do. They undermine, subvert, and persecute legitmate authority and infiltrate their own operatives and ideology.

    The Vatican has a Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and they just had a conference on the melting of glaciers on April 2-6.

    Dr. Mann has attended a Vatican-sponsored workshop, in the past.

    Cucinelli is a Catholic, yet he attacks climate science and scientists who are recognized by the Vatican as experts in their fields. I think this is because his dad is a lobbyist for the gas industry.
    Cuccinelli has hijacked the Attorney General position in order to persecute Dr. Mann under the color of law.

    The great Russian scientist Roald Sagdeev is a member of the Pontifical Academy.

    Years ago, the KGB smeared our Pentagon scientists by climing that they made AIDS. Dr. Sagdeev denounced this lie right in Izvestia on behalf of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Russia’s great scientists (except some very old ones) are not generally stooges—that’s why Kommersant has to quote Andrei Illarionov, an economist. Illarionov worked for Putin and Gazprom before he popped up as the Cato Institute’s expert on climate change.

    More recently, Dr. Sagdeev was one of the members of the American Academy of Sciences who denounced the attack on climate science. He moved to Maryland, but he is still a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences as well as the American Academy of Sciences, and the Pontifical Academy.

    Marc Morano uses the communist technique of inciting the mob with his shrill propaganda.

    MANY of the people/organizations who wrote those petetions to the EPA (Cuccinelli was only one) cited propaganda from the Kremlin-friendly business daily Kommersant. That paper is owned by a Gazprom operative, Alisher Usmanov. Still, Kommersant could only quote Andri Illarionov, a Gazprom/Putin operative.

    In all of Russia, that’s all Kommersant could get.

    Usmanov used to run a so-called “Peace Committee.” Usually such people are affiliated with the state security.

    He has his newspaper and his billions because he supports the Kremlin.

    All those people and organizations who petitioned the EPA are spouting the propaganda of Alisher Usmanov, a very disreputable Gazprom thug who reportedly handles sensitive foreign operations.

  419. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “At this stage it is simply silly to prejudge what the next energy economy will look like.”

    Google is prejudging what the next energy economy will look like by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy and smart grid technologies — not only into R&D but into actual deployment of today’s powerful, mature wind and solar technologies, from which they expect to profit in the short term, not decades from now.

    And other high-tech companies and venture capitalists all over the world are doing likewise.

    Are they “silly”? I don’t think so.

  420. Edward Greisch:

    Politics on RealClimate: RC must do politics because politics is the only road to mitigation. Sorry. Scientists should run for political office. RC people, from Jim Hansen on down, should run for the US senate. I am trying to figure out how to run for the US house. Political power, and lots of it, is required to shut down the coal industry or to do anything else that reduces GW.

  421. Sphaerica (Bob):

    I just noticed, while over at Nature, that they have just launched Nature Climate Change (Vol 1, Issue 1, April, 2011).

    At $112 the subscription is a bit pricy, but I’m considering it.

  422. Sphaerica (Bob):

    420, Edward Greisch,

    Interesting. I was recently musing over running myself (if I could afford to quit my job), not necessarily with the intention of winning, but rather simply elevating the debate in the public eye, and making sure that it’s argued by someone who understands it rather than someone who is parroting points they don’t truly understand.

    I think there’d be huge value in that — running purely with the intent of making it more of a public, high-profile political issue, getting the truth out there, and making any denial-politicians (or even those ignoring the issue) suffer embarrassment for their own misunderstandings or ill-founded positions.

    I don’t believe any such candidate would win, because of the current public climate (i.e. a general “wait-and-see” apathy, IMO), but it would serve an important purpose in moving people from that attitude towards a more concerned, and educated, position.

    On the other hand, actually winning would be a great sign of public awareness and involvement, and would take the debate to the next level (i.e. it would make Republican denial McCarthy-style show hearings a lot harder to execute).

    One could probably get the signatures, and some funding, just from those who are engaged in the issue. All it would take is some organizational skills, energy, and the one thing I currently lack — time to do it.

  423. Didactylos:

    Nick Gotts, as I understand it, decommissioning costs are based on past experience with decommissioning. Levelised costs are not typically calculated using rose-tinted guesses – but there are varying estimates out there. Find some you trust.

    And for construction costs, please don’t confuse major overruns on major new designs with costs for off-the-shelf builds. It’s the economy of scale – build lots, it’s cheaper.

    A strategy that works equally well for wind, solar and nuclear.

  424. Ray Ladbury:

    Secular Animist, Yes, and Warren Buffett is investing in tar sands, while T. Boone Pickens is investing in wind and buying up as much ground water as possible. Your point? At the present time it is unclear just how smart our smart grid will be. It is unclear how energy will be stored to meet demand in down times. It is unclear how the \smart grid\ will level out surges and troughs.

    It is also unclear how you idiot-proof a nuclear reactor, how you deal with nuclear waste and whether you can make a reactor that is truly proof against terrorism and proliferation.

    There is a difference between investing in technology and prejudging winners in the energy game. At present, most people are so deep in denial, we may do nothing at all and simply run our civilization into the ground fueled by high-octane petroleum.

  425. fcs:

    @ Edwin Greisch… I agree, scientists and RC people SHOULD run for the US Senate. We need to people who understand how this whole thing works and not just the “public popular marketers” we vote into office..

  426. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury — I guess my point is that I don’t really understand what “don’t prejudge what the next energy economy will look like” means.

    My point is that next energy economy will “look like” the result of the choices, decisions and investments that we make now, today. It’s not something that will just happen according to mysterious and inscrutable causes and conditions while we stand by and watch.

    What should the next energy economy look like?

    What do you want the next energy economy to look like?

    What can you do to make that happen?

  427. JiminMpls:

    #423 Off the shelf builds? Like the Toshiba AP1000/1100/1200? Modular, mass produced plants that will make nuclear power more affordable than ever?

    It was all propaganda and lies to bilk US taxpayers out of tens of billions in subsidies. The AP 1000/1100/1200 will cost 6-9 times more than Toshiba claimed.

    You really need to stop drinking the koolaid didact and educate yourself. You are exactly like the climate denilist zombies. Just parroting the same old fossilist/nuclearist propaganda and lies.

  428. Nigel Williams:

    All these prevailing low-energy or ‘sustainable-energy’ options suffer from the blind spots wherein issues of resource co-dependence, mean time before failure etc hide waiting to pounce.

    These alternative energy sources and systems are only of genuine utility to mankind if they provide a future at least as long as the history of oil, and preferably of several millennia.

    Every one of these alternatives relies on manufacturing methods and materials that are at the upper limits of our technical abilities, and which rely on resources such as rare earths which are difficult and expensive to extract, and which are controlled by only a few nations who may or may not be inclined to export such materials when push comes to shove.

    The resin and carbon fibre of wind turbine blades, the microchips in the controllers, the steel in the hold-down bolts of the towers; the lithium in the EVs batteries, the titanium in the body shell. All very cute and nice for the shareholders (briefly), but impossible for a soon-to-be-simpler world to maintain let alone create.

    Mean-time-to-failure of wind turbines is perhaps 20 years if they are properly maintained, less if the oil in the gearboxes is not regularly replaced. What is the point in promoting a new energy system that will die before we do, and leave us with nothing to fill the gap? Why bother?

    We are going to get a sustainable, low energy future whether we ‘plan’ for it or not! We have a pretty good idea ‘what things will look like’.

    The immediate benefits of more energetic climate on wind or wave generation, for example, will have to be balanced against the need for increased robustness in the mechanisms to cope with higher loadings.

    As things stand future generations will have absolutely NOTHING to show for our ignorant consumption of the worlds best energy and mineral resources. In 100 years time (Heck! Possibly 100 days time!) the mineral energy era will be all but over. The odd sputtering fire, the rare heat engine coughing away to remind us of what we have done.

    The least we can do is use the time and resources we have available to us today to come up with genuinely sustainable and smart ways to extract energy from the environment and convert it to useful forms to power a future civilisation. We have to ensure that our great grandchildren will say of us “Hey, these people in the year 2011 saw this coming, and gave us this really wonderful energy conversion system. Thanks guys!”

  429. Didactylos:

    JiminMpls: I’m sorry that you can’t see beyond the borders of the United States. Since, in the case of the US, it’s pretty much a story of How Not To Do It.

    For costs to come down, you have to actually build lots of reactors. It’s not enough to talk about it, or have a few doomed plans on the go. Economies of scale only work with actual scale.

    Ask France.

    And don’t be so parochial.

    Despite all this, I still don’t have a clue where you got your “6-9 times more” figure. If you want to make claims, please source them. If you don’t, and they aren’t credible, then I’ll just conclude you made them up or took them out of context.

  430. Didactylos:

    Nigel Williams: big rant.

    Are you offering an answer, or are you just sticking with “we’re all doomed!”?

    You ask “Why bother?”

    And that’s an easy question, because humanity, for all its faults, has always striven, always aspired, always looked forward. Yes, we may screw it up. But we’re going to try anyway.

    As for wind power – we had that long before we had electricity. I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon.

  431. Nick Gotts:

    “major overruns on major new designs with costs for off-the-shelf builds. It’s the economy of scale – build lots, it’s cheaper.” – Didactylos

    But “off-the-shelf builds” are pure vapourware: every nuclear enthusiast has their own pet type of reactor – “4th generation”, thorium-fuelled, fast breeder… which will (supposedly) solve the fuelling, safety and proliferation problems of previous designs, but we have no “off-the-shelf builds” for any of them.

    WRT decommissioning costs – and even more so, long-term storage costs – I certainly wouldn’t trust any estimates from nuclear industry or enthusiast sources: they have every incentive to under-estimate costs, and a long record of doing so.

  432. Ray Ladbury:

    Secular Animist,
    The minimum requirement for the next energy economy is that it cannot depend on petroleum and natural gas, for the simple reason that petroleum and natural gas are running out. This means it could be coal, oil shale, tar sands, nukes or renewables, and if you want to move into fantasy land, fusion.

    The fact that the fossil fuel options lead to climatic disaster does not preclude the possibility that we’ll be stupid enough to choose them. This has the advantage that we’ll probably bring an end to human civilization before we have to develop yet a third energy infrastructure, but I don’t take much comfort from that. [note: this is sarcasm]

    Nukes pose some very difficult problems, but all of those problems are at least in principle technically solvable. A nuclear option would be capable of producing a lot of power for a long time. It is still finite, though, and eventually, we would need to develop another energy infrastructure–while facing opposition from an interested class that is even more entrenched than our fossil fuel interests.

    Likewise, the problems of renewables may be technically solvable at least in principle. A system based on renewables is in principle sustainable–although it can be badly managed and degrade over time. This would of course be the most desirable outcome.

    Note that one of the biggest problems with any of these solutions is that they don’t touch what to do about transport. Right now we simply have no solution on the horizon that can resolve this problem.

    The problem is that we do not know which set of technical issues will be resolved first. And we have no societal infrastructure in place that can undertake resolution of such long-term problems. Industry is dedicated mainly to short-term profit and we have “starved the beast” of government that it doesn’t even know whether it will survive to next year.

    So, there is always the option of doing nothing–in effect letting civilization crumble due to the loss of our energy infrastructure. And while some claim this would resolve the problem of climate change, I am not so optimistic. I merely picture 9 billion people burning whatever they can lay their hands on in an inefficient last gasp. This seems to be the option we are choosing.

  433. Ron R.:

    Nigel Williams — 22 Apr 2011 @ 8:03 PM said:

    These alternative energy sources and systems are only of genuine utility to mankind if they provide a future at least as long as the history of oil, and preferably of several millennia.

    Hopefully the sun will keep shining and the wind will keep blowing for a long tome to come.

    Every one of these alternatives relies on manufacturing methods and materials that are at the upper limits of our technical abilities, and which rely on resources such as rare earths which are difficult and expensive to extract, and which are controlled by only a few nations who may or may not be inclined to export such materials when push comes to shove.

    True. China has 97% of the rare earths necessary to make magnets etc. However a recent survey by the USGS found 13 million metric tons in the US.

    Rare Earth Elements Not So Rare in US
    http://www.solarnovus.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1721:rare-earth-elements-not-so-rare-in-us&catid=52:applications-tech-research&Itemid=247

    And there are alternatives coming along. I’m not a big fan of unfixed nano materials, especially in personal items such as food (to make them taste better) or socks to keep them from smelling). That use of nano, which GWB decided did not need regulating or labeling because we don’t need to know about them in our environment even though they readily cross the blood/brain barrier is an absolute scandal. However nano in fixed applications where they wont leak out (hopefully) has promise, in this case as a replacement for rare earths.

    New Nano Material Could Replace Rare Earth Minerals In Solar Cells and OLEDs
    http://inhabitat.com/new-nano-material-could-replace-rare-earth-minerals-in-solar-cells-and-oleds/

    A rare-earth alternative
    http://www.raremetalblog.com/2011/03/a-rare-earth-alternative.html

    From the article “Such fears may be misplaced, however. Various researchers are working to develop new materials that require much smaller quantities of rare–earth materials, and for some applications, such as wind turbines and electric vehicle motors, alternatives already exist.”

    Finally, there is recycling of rare earth materials that can and should be done.

    New Push to Recycle Rare Earth Minerals
    http://blog.cleantechies.com/2011/03/14/new-push-to-recycle-rare-earth-minerals/

    The resin and carbon fibre of wind turbine blades, the microchips in the controllers, the steel in the hold-down bolts of the towers; the lithium in the EVs batteries, the titanium in the body shell. All very cute and nice for the shareholders (briefly), but impossible for a soon-to-be-simpler world to maintain let alone create.

    Excellent point, which is a good argument for recycling. We have so much already sitting in landfills that has been accumulating for decades especially in old appliances, computers etc. Instead we have been just tossing junk in big holes in the ground year after year Idiocracy style. Earth’s finite resources on a one-way trip to the dump. It’s crazy. Solar water heaters though are made of materials that we have in abundance in landfills. And they don’t use rare earths. If every home had just one of those the savings in energy left in the earth (for a future rainy day or not used at all) would be large.

    Mean-time-to-failure of wind turbines is perhaps 20 years if they are properly maintained, less if the oil in the gearboxes is not regularly replaced. What is the point in promoting a new energy system that will die before we do, and leave us with nothing to fill the gap? Why bother?

    You’ll be hard pressed to find anything that lasts forever and doesn’t have a lifespan. But you’re right that we need to work on greatly extending that life (yet also make it able to degrade once put back in the ground).

    The immediate benefits of more energetic climate on wind or wave generation, for example, will have to be balanced against the need for increased robustness in the mechanisms to cope with higher loadings.

    That’s if you rely on large scale centralized operations. Smaller scale home-based does not need to continually get larger.

    Besides this there are a lot of other alternatives that we should also be moving on. For example:

    Quote: “One cow can provide enough energy to supply hot water for 19 houses”
    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/07/08/urine-power.html

    Lastly, we need to seriously recognize that the earth is finite. Julian Simon’s belief that we can go on growingf for the next seven billion years, though admired by Libertarians (like of like their other major hero Ayn Rand (was insane. We are already consuming way more then the earth can sustain. Our population is way more than the earth can sustain. That’s been stated in study after study, but we, as a whole keep ignoring that. It’s looking more and more like an Easter Island future for us if we don’t wake up.

  434. Septic Matthew:

    The March 2011 number of The Annals of Applied Statistics is now out in its published version. That is the number that has McShane and Wyner’s analysis of proxies for reconstructing past temperature records, and the debate, including (Gavin) Schmidt, Mann and Rutherford’s critique and McShane and Wyner’s rejoinder.

  435. Septic Matthew:

    432, Ray Ladbury: Note that one of the biggest problems with any of these solutions is that they don’t touch what to do about transport. Right now we simply have no solution on the horizon that can resolve this problem.

    I think it depends on the “horizon”. Catalytic creation of syngas from CO2 and H2 from H2O powered by electricity from solar, or by solar directly, have been demonstrated. From those, fuel for transportation can be made, and has been made. The only unknowns are the rate and cost of scaling up manufacturing.

    We also have biofuels, and the exact limits on those, as well as costs of scaling up the production, are not known.

  436. Septic Matthew:

    432, Ray Ladbury: This seems to be the option we are choosing.

    Why the fascination with the idea that nothing is being done? Production of solar, wind, and biofuels is increasing in all the industrialized countries and in many “emerging” countries.

  437. Ron R.:

    Ray Ladbury — @ 7:50 AM

    Note that one of the biggest problems with any of these solutions is that they don’t touch what to do about transport. Right now we simply have no solution on the horizon that can resolve this problem. The problem is that we do not know which set of technical issues will be resolved first.

    It could be that alternatives can power transport as well electric car style. Still we should solve fixed location energy issues first. Those are the easiest to solve. If every structure using dirty energy right now were outfitted with clean that would take most of the pressure off time-wise and pollution-wise and we could work toward solving the transport issue. Do what we can first.

  438. Septic Matthew:

    392, Edward Greisch: [CONCENTRATE] on killing the coal industry.

    Yes. The time is right — for numerous reasons, including that in the US coal use is declining as alternatives (see Secular Animist’s links) are improving and expanding their penetration.

  439. Rod B:

    Editor (411), you’re both correct and proper. Sorry.

  440. Patrick 027:

    Re 428 Nigel Williams – adding to the point of recycling, more energy (and presumably land, etc) is required to get materials from lower grade ores, but if the service life of those materials could be far longer than the products they are in, we could still continue to accumulate more material from lower grade ores economically.

    Also, some ores are not very much enriched relative to average crustal abundances or some common rock types; this is especially true of Al.

    (PS interestingly, a more immediate constraint for some rarer elements is the finite demand for other elements, as those rarer elements are mainly or exclusively obtained as byproducts from the processing of ores of other elements.)

    You don’t need REEs for wind; they help but you can make-do without. (Using vertical axis turbines would allow placing the generator at ground level; alternatively wind turbines could directly mechanically pump/compress fluid for energy storage with electricity generation coming after that.)

    CIGS and CdTe solar cells require rare elements, but small amounts are used per unit area, and so there is still significant potential for these PV devices. Meanwhile we still have Si, with potentially more efficient ways to use it (light-trapping so that thinner layers can be used, which would allow use of lower-grade material). There are quite a few other potential PV materials without big supply constraints. (See “Materials Availability Expands the Opportunity for Large-Scale Photovoltaics Deployment” – Cyrus Wadia, A. Paul Alivisatos, Daniel M. Kammen) Other materials in PV and solar power in general (glass, mirror – I don’t know a lot about that point) could be of concern (depending on type of glass), although there could be (thin) plastic substitutes in some cases, etc… (which might have a high EROEI from the petroleum, or biofuel input???)

  441. Adam R.:

    The technological arguments against renewables remind me of arguments against steam power by conservative Royal Navy admirals of the early 19th century. They presume no advancements in efficiency and reliability.

  442. Ray Ladbury:

    Septic Matthew asks, “Why the fascination with the idea that nothing is being done?”

    Ah! An easy question. I believe it has to do with the fact that we aren’t doing JACK to solve any of these profits. It’s “business as usual” and “record profits” and slashing R&D in industry and basic research by government. In short, the solution we seem to have developed is to hand out recipes for seed corn.

    Do you guys have any idea how hard it will be to REPLACE an energy infrastructure? It took 60 years to put the last one in place, and that didn’t involve tearing one infrastructure down and replacing it with another WITHOUT disruption! Meanwhile, most people doen even acknowledge any of the problems civilization is facing.

  443. Ray Ladbury:

    Ron R., Anyone familiar with Earth’s history could tell you that the planet’s crust is enriched in rare earths (as well as actinides). Rare earths are “lithophilic”–that is, they tend to dissolve in melts rich in rock-forming elements–Si, Li, Na…. As such more of the rare earths and actinides stayed at the surface. I’ve got a mineral cabinet full of rare earth minerals (as well as radioactives) from all over the world.

    Unfortunately, the same process caused us to lose most of the gold and especially platinum, palladium and iridium–which are all siderophiles and dissolve in molten iron, most of which is now found at Earth’s core.

  444. Brian Dodge:

    “Every one of these alternatives relies on manufacturing methods and materials that are at the upper limits of our technical abilities… The resin[1] and carbon fibre[2] of wind turbine blades…”
    “Mean-time-to-failure of wind turbines is perhaps 20 years if they are properly maintained[3], less if the oil in the gearboxes[4] is not regularly replaced…” Nigel Williams — 22 Apr 2011 @ 8:03 PM

    AAARRRGGGH Recaptcha says response was incorrect. Reposting with new recaptcha says duplicate comment. Which bit of the software is right? They could both be wrong &;>)

    1. “In 1933, Henry Ford replaced a small portion of the rear of one of his automobiles with soy-based phenolic plastic. To display the strength of the material, he took a sledgehammer to the rear panel. The soy-based plastic demonstrated excellent strength and flexibility.” http://www.compositesworld.com/columns/harvest-season-ahead-for-soy-resins
    2. “Rayon is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber.” ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayon
    “Rayon, in either fiber or fabric form, is one of the most common precursors for carbon fiber.”http://www.afma.org/f-tutor/hi-performance.htm
    “Lyocell fibers are successfully carbonized under conditions identical to those for manufacturing rayon-based carbon fibers. The two kinds of carbon fibers are compared by SEM and a Weibull statistical analysis.” http://trj.sagepub.com/content/72/5/405.abstract
    3. Less than 3.5% down time due to failure, including gearboxes, in German wind turbines (assuming a 25% duty cycle; less than 3% if the duty cycle is 30%) Reliability-Growth Analysis of Wind Turbines from Fleet Field Data, Spinato et al. Nuclear power plants are offline for ~105 of the time due to scheduled outages and failures. Gears (and other moving parts) do wear out – but –
    4. Gearless wind turbines – http://ing.dk/artikel/110879-gearloese-moeller-fra-siemens-bliver-solgt-for-foerste-gang.

    What constitutes “appropriate technology” is very much dependent on your resources. If neodymium is relatively inexpensive, PM rotors may make economic sense; if not, one can use an iron rotor and a field coil. A concentrating solar thermal power plant, even with molten salt storage, may work better with computers, nanostructured absorbers, and other advantages of modern technology, but it doesn’t require tech any more sophisticated than 1800’s steam engines.

    I came across an interesting google books reprint of “The Independent” volume 93, published March 9, 1918. It discusses the technology of acid treating corn stover to convert the cellulose to fermentable sugars for the production of ethanol for motor fuel. “The process is perfectly practicable but has yet to be proved profitable. The rapidly approaching exhaustion of our oil fields which the war has accelerated leads us to see what we can get to take the place of gasoline. One of the most promising of the suggested substitutes is alcohol.

  445. Didactylos:

    Nick Gotts: since the estimates of costs that I rely on don’t come from industry sources, I don’t think you are looking very hard for answers. I think you are looking for easy excuses.

    The thing about excuses is they are very easy to find. Not so easy to believe, though.

    For all new reactor designs, the first few are most expensive. This is just a result of a new design. So far, nobody has shown me that they are talking about eventual costs, rather than new design costs.

    In fact, nobody has chosen to talk about actual costs at all, instead preferring to shout “It’s too expensive!”

    If it’s too expensive, why are so many being built? Do you think these companies plan on making a massive loss?

    And just so that we are perfectly clear: the capital costs of building a reactor are very large. This is indisputable. But too large? That’s just posturing. If I hear “But it’s really expensive” one more time, I think I will scream. They are big numbers. Deal with it.

  446. Edward Greisch:

    424 Ray Ladbury “It is also unclear how you idiot-proof a nuclear reactor”
    Simple: Go to 4th Generation. Gen 4 is truly idiot proof.

    “how you deal with nuclear waste”: There is so little “waste” for Gen 4 that you will need it to treat your prostate cancer.

    “whether you can make a reactor that is truly proof against terrorism”: That’s easy: Gen 2 already is. Explaining it would take a whole page. Simply: The containment building is 1 meter thick of 25000 pound concrete with so much re-rod it may as well be solid steel. Inside that, the vessel is 5 inches thick stainless steel. Etc. It takes a robot to get the fuel rods out. You need an 18 wheeler to carry them + the lead shielding. 18 wheelers don’t make fast getaways. Try to think like a terrorist. The terrorist is the one with the impossible job.

    “proliferation.” Power plants make Pu240 not Pu239. Bombs need Pu239. Very few nations have the technology to make plutonium bombs. The proliferation happened when Israel got spent fuel from Numec Inc in Apollo, PA. Israel used it to fuel a short-cycle breeder to make Pu239. Numec was recycling spent fuel. Numec paid a $930,000 fine. Recycling must be done in a GOGO [Government Owned Government Operated] plant because spent fuel is just too valuable to trust a capitalist with it.

    “There is a difference between investing in technology and prejudging winners in the energy game. ” Yes, I know. That is why I keep saying: “Let the electric generating company engineers do the engineering.”

    “Do you guys have any idea how hard it will be to REPLACE an energy infrastructure?” Yes I do. That is why I say nuclear is easier than renewables. You can keep everything as was except the heat source. The new heat source is a module you drop in to replace the coal fire. You should be able to do it while the coal is still burning. There is a short down time for the switchover.

    Transportation: Overhead “third rail” electricity? Cars on railroad tracks for long trips? There is a way to do it.

    Rare metals, etc: We can use alnico magnets if we have to, They just make the alternator bigger, like in the old days. Same for fiberglass: Aluminum or steel would suffice.

  447. Ray Ladbury:

    Edward Greisch,
    On terror-proofing things.

    The Great Wall of China was built to keep out the Mongol hordes. It failed. Do you know why? The Mongols bribed a guard. As with idiot-proofing, the human element is the weak element.

    And Gen4 and waste–suffice to say I’ll believe it when I see it. At the very least these reactors would require a reprocessing infrastructure that does not at present exist, and which no one, at present, is building.

  448. Joe Cushley:

    “Try to think like a terrorist. The terrorist is the one with the impossible job.”

    Fly a large plane into it at high speed. Drop a large conventional bomb on it. There, thought like a terrorist. Now tell me either of those things are impossible or that they wouldn’t inflict a lot of damage, and cause huge repercussions within the country where the installation was sited.

    [Response: This is going too far OT. No more on terrorist thought patterns please. – gavin]

  449. Ron R.:

    Democrats and Republicans Increasingly Divided Over Global Warming, Study Finds

    The gap between Democrats and Republicans who believe global warming is happening increased 30 percent between 2001 and 2010 — a “depressing” trend that’s essentially keeping meaningful national energy policies from being considered, argues sociologist Aaron M. McCright.

    “Instead of a public debate about different policies to deal with global warming, a significant percentage of the American public is still debating the science,” said McCright, MSU associate professor and primary investigator on the study. “As a result, we’re failing to significantly address one of the most serious problems of our time.”

    ….

    McCright said the process has been magnified over the past decade by the emergence of media outlets where citizens can seek out news and ideas that reinforce their values and beliefs. He said citizens at either end of the political spectrum can get daily information — albeit very different information — on global warming that further strengthens their opposing beliefs about what is real.

    “Unfortunately, this is not a recipe for promoting a civil, science-based discussion on this very serious environmental problem,” McCright said. “Like with the national discussion on health care, we don’t even agree on what the basic facts are.”

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110419111425.htm

    You ever feel like just giving up? So much s**t going down meanwhile the nuts cheer.

  450. Septic Matthew:

    442, Ray Ladbury: Ah! An easy question. I believe it has to do with the fact that we aren’t doing JACK to solve any of these profits. It’s “business as usual” and “record profits” and slashing R&D in industry and basic research by government. In short, the solution we seem to have developed is to hand out recipes for seed corn.

    Ah. Well.

    I would recommend that you follow Secular Animist’s hot links.

    I have expressed one “idea” several times. If the present rates of expansion are sustained, and there is no known reason why they can’t be over this duration, world output of solar, wind, and biofuel energy will each double 5 times in the next 5 – 10 years.

    We’ll have to meet in 2020 and compare notes. Even BPL doesn’t believe that civilization will have for sure ended by that time.

  451. Anna Haynes:

    I’d like to ask a variant of “Scientific American”#365’s “attribution” Q above (“What are the “natural”(non-human)causes and what proportion?”) –

    Namely: Is there any peer reviewed, reasonably unflawed research out there, attributing any of the last 50 yrs’ avg warming to a natural cause(s)? (and if so, what cause, & what papers?)

  452. Kevin McKinney:

    #450, and “prequelae”–

    Well, the one thing that is sure is that we don’t know how this will all play out. There are a lot of things you can point to as grounds for pessimism, or even defeatism, but there are also some grounds for hope.

    And actually, there’s another thing we know for sure: despair is not adaptive.

  453. Anna Haynes:

    Probably no need for anyone to reply to my question above (at “24 Apr 2011 at 6:38 PM”, Q re availability of peer reviewed, reasonably unflawed research out there, attributing any of the last 50 yrs’ avg warming to a natural cause(s) ), since I’m reading through IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 9 (link) (detection & attribution)

  454. Edward Greisch:

    uranium from sea water:
    http://sciencelinks.jp/j-east/article/200704/000020070407A0057435.php

    Anti-nuclear cartoon book, 1978 – anything changed?
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/04/25/npfb-1978/
    NOTHING is changed since 1978. We are continuing to increase the CO2 production from coal fired power plants every year AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO as long as people keep on protesting against nuclear power. Remember the DEADline from BPL: The 2050s. Bart Levenson is correct, and so is RC. Ray Ladbury: I could answer your questions if I had your email address. “the ‘do-it-yourself’ bomb kit” still does not exist and never will.

    We could have stopped the manufacture of CO2 by coal fired power plants by 1970, and we could have replaced all Gen 2 reactors with Gen 3 and 4 by now. Read my previous comments on recycling and Numec. The coal industry is clearly winning over the human race. The 2050s is when we go extinct because of GW, and we are on track to do so. Which danger is greater, even if the cartoon book is right, which it isn’t?

  455. Nick Gotts:

    Didactylos@445,

    Can you point me to the cost estimates you are relying on for decommissioning and long-term storage?

  456. JCH:

    I have found a few articles on volcanism and the climate, but so far nothing that really addresses the rebound effect discussed in the James Hansen’s draft paper: see figure 22 on page 40.

    In summary, precipitous decline in the growth rate of GHG forcing about 25 years ago caused a decrease in the rate of growth of the total climate forcing and thus a flattening of the planetary energy imbalance over the past two decades. That flattening allows the small forcing due to the solar cycle minimum, a delayed bounceback effect from Pinatubo cooling, and recent small volcanoes to cause a decrease of the planetary energy imbalance over the past decade. – Hansen et al

    I’ve noticed criticism on this on blogs has concentrated on Pinatubo, but he’s also including small volcanoes since then:

    [Response: The result comes from single forcing experiments that show in the volcanic case, you got a net cooling from the eruption itself, which sets up a negative temperature anomaly in the sub-surface ocean. This lasts longer than the stratospheric aerosols (and other studies support that long tailed response for big volcanoes – i.e. Gleckler et al). Thus once the atmospheric composition goes back to normal, you have a small diffusive flux of heat at the surface of the ocean that is related to the warming of that anomalously cool layer. This would cause an positive TOA heat flux anomaly for subsequent years (getting smaller in time). – gavin]

  457. sidd:

    There is a paper on the PNAS website measuring CO2 burden related to exports and imports by country. CO2 numbers net of trade decrease China’s emissions by 23% and increase the US emissions by 11%, EU nations by 30%. Nice graphs and pictures.

    Davis and Caldeira. “Consumption-based accounting of CO2 emissions”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/12/5687.full.pdf+html?sid=90f0fd67-a376-42c6-a9b3-4c4977b98a0c

    sidd

  458. Patrick 027:

    Re 457 sidd – great info!

    (I don’t know just how detailed the data is, but maybe this could help set CO2eq tariffs to have trade on a level playing field when domestic CO2eq emissions are taxed (at different rates and at different points in the flow in different nations).)

  459. David Miller:

    Ed (454 and many others)

    I think you’ve spent way too much time over at bravenewclimate.com to be analyzing anything about nuclear power any more. I read it too, though more critically, and find it to be little more than an astroturf site for the nuclear industry. I’m not saying Barry is a nuclear industry stooge, but a lot of the posters clearly are.

    Your comments here amount to what they explicitly say over there:

    Conservation is nice but isn’t really going to help
    Renewables can’t be scaled in a reasonable time frame
    It’s nuclear everywhere or it’s climate change. Either/or, there are no alternatives.
    Nuclear is the safest and cheapest form of producing electricity. At least it *could* be the cheapest form if we just did it right with technology
    Proliferation concerns aren’t a problem because the fissionable Pu is mixed with non-fissile Pu.

    They don’t tolerate dissent very well over there. But other sites make it pretty clear that we can get most of the way there much sooner for a much lower cost than with nukes. If we applied the sort of energy and money they claim is necessary for new nuclear to conservation, renewables, and storage we would be repowered with renewables.

    An example of the logic that I find flawed:

    1) civilian plants have no impact on proliferation because of the isotopes of Pu produced.

    A) This is a completely specious argument. It assumes that because countries that have already developed nuclear weapons wanted high yield bombs, not radioactive fizzles, terrorist nations or organizations would want the same.

    Ed, do you really think Al-quida would care that their ‘nuke’ only yielded 10 Ktons if it spread 100 kg of Pu around Manhattan? I don’t.

    2) If environmentalists hadn’t quashed building plants in the 70’s we’d have new, safer designs in place and displacing coal already

    A) Environmentalists didn’t quash a single plant. Economics and a bit of realism killed them. As I recall, one plant on Long Island was built and abandoned when the NRC came to the realization that there was no real way to evacuate the whole island in the case of disaster.

    3) Nuclear is the cheapest way to produce power. Just look at the levelized cost in France or Japan or existing US plants.

    A) The past may not indicate future performance. Using the cost of production of existing plants to justify building new plants is just dishonest. The relevant question, of course, is the cost of electricity produced by new plants.

    I’m not necessarily anti-nuclear, but I want to see the issues honestly addressed, and I want to have real comparisons of cost. I also want to see the unique nuclear issues addressed, including proliferation and waste disposal. I’m not seeing that. If and when I do I’ll consider it more seriously among the mix of alternatives.

  460. Ron R.:

    David, It’s obvious the site is pro-nuclear from the nuke logo on the page.

    I wrote a 3,500 word essay detailing my opposition to nuclear power and asked if they would be interested in posting it as a guest editorial. They weren’t but suggested I post it in bits and pieces on their comment page. I tried but for some reason the comment box would not appear for me. I know this is an issue with my computer as it’s ancient (Windows Millennium) and uses out-of-date browsers (the lastest I can use with this OS). As it is this computer is straining just to download the average web page. ;-)

    I completely understand their decline of my unsolicited essay. They’re probably getting a lot of them in the wake of Fukushima.

    My feeling is anything with as many serious attendant issues as nuclear power has, and there are a lot of them, is best left alone especially as we have better choices available. It’s a waste of valuable time we could be using to outfit the world in clean alternatives.

  461. Kevin McKinney:

    #458-460–

    I’d say, just cost carbon emissions honestly and let the market decide. Based on what is happening already, I suspect that we’d find renewables could scale a whole lot quicker in reality than the nukes–though I think we’d see more of both.

  462. RussH:

    A mini global warming event? Would a sudden increase in air temperature arise after an accidental release of bromotrifluoromethane into a sealed room which contained a very hot heat source like a boiler? Would the high GWP of 6800 slow down the heat loss rate through the walls of the room?

    Thanks in advance

  463. David Miller:

    Kevin in #461

    I completely agree. Level the playing field. Put a real price on carbon and roll back/eliminate ongoing subsidies.

    I disagree about nuclear power in such a case though. I don’t believe investors have a stomach for the risk of construction overruns, and I don’t know if insurance companies know how to price premiums for something with a very small chance of occurring but nearly unlimited liability if it does. And as cool as next generation nukes sound – burning up waste, passive safety, etc – I don’t see private companies willing to underwrite the R&D. I see virtually no chance of getting it developed and into production in enough of the world to do anything useful in lowering CO2 emissions in the required time frame. Having the perfect solution in 30-40 years is of no value, we need to start reducing atmospheric levels a few decades ago.

    But a level playing field, pricing in carbon and health externalities, would be a great place to start. If I’m wrong about the economics of nuclear they’d have everything they need to prove it to me.

  464. Kevin McKinney:

    #463–“Having the perfect solution in 30-40 years is of no value. . .” Amen.

    #462–RussH

    GWP is distinct from specific heat, so no, the GWP of this chemical is irrelevant to the case you describe. The heat source won’t heat the room any more with a GWG present than without, and if it’s “very hot,” then that will be plenty. Convection will be quite significant inside the walls, and will surely trump any decrease in radiative efficiency. (I think it would actually be a negative feedback upon any such decrease, actually, since a temperature gradient will tend to create convective circulation, such as you see in a lava lamp.)

    Unlike the atmosphere, for which radiative cooling is the only ultimate possibility, your sealed room will be cooling mostly NOT by radiation–unless by “sealed” you mean absolutely airtight. (And insofar as radiative cooling might come into play, it would presumably be occurring outside those “sealed walls,” and so would be unaffected by the bromotrifluoromethane.)

    Or so says this musician.

  465. Anna Haynes:

    What’s the status of “Arctic Dipole anomaly” as an explanation for bizarre winter N. hemisphere weather? i.e., is this paper & Jeff Masters’s synopsis still holding up?
    (Zhang et al 2008, http://folk.uib.no/gbsag/Zhang_etal_2008.pdf )

    (and/or what keywords should I be searching for, to find out?)

  466. RussH:

    Thank you Kevin. The room is absolutely airtight. It is interesting that you mentioned that convection will play a part as I am sure it does. Perhaps the bromotrifluoromethane is altering the shape and size of the convectional movements? If a temperature measurement probe is in a certain position within the room then I might be seeing a false increase in temperature of the room? I postulated that the chemical molecules would reradiate the heat that is coming from the heat source randomly thus altering the direction of the heat loss from its surface thus increase the air temperature. Cheers again.

  467. Patrick 027:

    Re 466 RussH – if the walls were transparent to the relevant wavelengths and the GHG were released (starting from zero GHG), they would actually increase the rate of cooling of the air in the room by increasing emission of radiation which then escapes. But with increasing GHG this effect will saturate as the air becomes completely opaque; then, thinner and thinner layers of air around the edge will be opaque enough to block radiation from the center of the room, and as the outer edges cool, radiation from the warmer center (assuming convection is somehow halted – perhaps the air is in transparent blocks stacked on top of each other and side-by-side) will not escape, so the rate of cooling will slow down.

    If the heat source works by radiating heat into the room at the same wavelengths that the GHG absorbs, then (with transparent walls, etc.) adding GHG would at first allow the room to absorb that heat, but then, adding more would concentrate that absorption near the heat source and so a larger temperature gradient would be sustained by the opacity.

    How a GHG works on planetary climate: radiation at other wavelengths comes from a star (or else some other energy is a heat source – or else there is simply residual heat present and the GHG will only slow a cooling rate), and some is absorbed. GHGs block some of the radiation emitted from the surface from reaching space; they can themselves radiate to space, but if the climate system is sufficiently heated from below (as it is on Earth and many other planets), much of the atmosphere has temperature decreasing with height from the surface (or where much of the solar heating occurs), so that the radiation that the GHGs can radiate to space will be a smaller amount, except at wavelengths where the GHGs are so opaque that thin upper layers where temperature increases with height can radiation significantly to space (increasing opacity at such wavelengths can have a cooling effect, but the cooling effect occurs first in those upper layers and then radiative feedback spreads some of that to lower layers. See ‘stratospheric adjustment’). Significant convection/conduction/diffusion may be sustained in a layer, in which case, the temperature of that layer must in some way rise or fall until the emission of radiation from that layer balances absorbtion by that layer, but the temperature distribution within that layer will depend on some additional physics (such as the adiabatic lapse rate). This is what happens in the troposphere+surface – they are generally convectively coupled and tend to respond together to changes in the net radiative flux at the tropopause (which equals the total solar heating below the tropopause minuse the net longwave cooling below the tropopause – geothermal, tidal, and other energy sources being small enough to be ignored for many purposes).

  468. Patrick 027:

    PS stratospheric adjustment can involve stratospheric cooling even if GHGs are not so optically thick and even if temperature doesn’t increase with height in the upper atmosphere, but it depends on the spectra of the GHGs, etc.

  469. Pete Dunkelberg:

    [moved from Schneider thread]

    @ 37 Edward Greisch Here’s a link. Romm has long supported a combination of 14 – 16 methods to stop burning carbon. This is sometimes presented as a pie chart, or “wedges” as Romm calls the slices. Nuclear energy is one of the wedges. He does mention at times that nuclear plants are not often constructed because of cost. You may debate that if you wish.

  470. Martin Vermeer:

    #37 Edward Greisch, if you really believe that selling the people of the world on the safety and cleanliness of nuclear fission power is any less impossible than making power companies change their business plans — stop inhaling :-)

  471. Didactylos:

    Nick Gotts: my favourite source is the UK Energy Research Centre.

    They are completely transparent about what is included and excluded from levelised costs. Levelised costs have their flaws, but the silly complaints about decommissioning are simply negligible compared to other uncertainties such as discount rate. So why use levelised costs at all? Simple. They’re the best comparison we’ve got.

    I’m not using these figures to claim that one power source is cheaper or more expensive than another. I’m just reiterating the point (which ought to be incontestable) that nuclear power is competitive with other power sources, and the most economic power sources vary by region as the result of many factors.

    Ultimately, most complaints about the expense of nuclear power are just sticker shock. We just don’t have the perspective to put such big capital build and end-of-life numbers in context.

  472. Maya:

    Appropos of nothing in the current discussion, I found this paper on clouds and the faint young sun paradox. It’s open-access, so I thought it might be of interest to some other readers here.

    http://www.clim-past.net/7/203/2011/cp-7-203-2011.pdf

  473. Nick Gotts:

    Didactylos,
    Thanks. I’ll look into this further, but the documents I’ve seen so far on the UKERC site say nothing at all about decommissioning or long-term storage. Can you be more specific?

    The following is from “ELECTRICITY GENERATION COSTS AND INVESTMENT DECISIONS: A REVIEW”, which is the top document when “levelised costs” is put into the UKERC site’s search facility:

    “The total annual costs (C) of providing output from a generating plant equal its annualised capacity costs, plus fixed annual costs plus variable operating and fuel costs:
    [Sorry – the equation doesn’t print properly here]
    Where A(n,r) is the annuity rate for a plant life of n years and an interest rate of r, c is capital cost per kW installed, X the installed capacity, m the fixed annual cost (mostly maintenance) per unit of capacity, f the cost of fuel, Q the annual kWh output and η the plant efficiency.”

    Possibly the decommissioning and long-term storage costs are folded into the “fixed annual cost”, but this is not specified. Nor, as far as I can see, would “levelised costs” take any account of the kind of disaster seen at Fukushima, nor of proliferation risk.

  474. kevin mckinney:

    #466–

    “Perhaps the bromotrifluoromethane is altering the shape and size of the convectional movements?”

    Maybe so. If the temperature gradient outward increases due to increased absorption of the heat close to the heat source, then I’d expect more convection. That would (I think) then tend to increase the heat flow outward and bring the temperature gradient back down a bit once again–hence the negative feedback I imagine would exist.

    “If a temperature measurement probe is in a certain position within the room then I might be seeing a false increase in temperature of the room?”

    Again, maybe so. Certainly in actual rooms you can get hot or cool spots depending upon the patterns of air flow.

    “I postulated that the chemical molecules would reradiate the heat that is coming from the heat source randomly thus altering the direction of the heat loss from its surface thus increase the air temperature.”

    I don’t think so. If anything, it might increase *cooling* as Patrick says, because you’ve effectively increased the radiating surface. But as Patrick’s comments suggest, this question is probably not susceptible of a simple qualitative answer. You probably need to know how much BTFM is released and how hot the source is, at least. (Theoretically, that would let you calculate how well the spectra match. Just don’t ask me to calculate it!)

    And I strongly (yet humbly) suspect that convection will dominate for any realistic set of parameters and room dimensions.

  475. Edward Greisch:

    459 David Miller: I am tired of saying the same stuff over and over. “I think you’ve spent way too much time over at bravenewclimate.com to be analyzing anything about nuclear power any more.” Nope. I didn’t even know about bravenewclimate.com until a month ago. I got a degree in physics from Carnegie-Mellon U in 1968. I almost took a job at Numec designing a nuclear battery for a heart pacemaker, but the army offered me more money to do research on nuclear weapons effects. Numec recycled spent nuclear fuel until some of the spent fuel found its way to Israel.

    1 A Al-quida can’t make a plutonium bomb that would have a nuclear explosion. It is beyond their technical capability. Very few national governments are able to make plutonium bombs. Al-quida could make a dirty bomb with a conventional explosive, but they don’t need plutonium for that. So far, Al-quida has been unable to make even a dirty bomb. Al-quida clearly would have if it could have.

    Note that Iran is trying to make a uranium bomb, not a plutonium bomb. That is why Iran is enriching uranium beyond 20%. Reactors require 0.7% to 8% U235 oxide. Uranium bombs require 90% or higher U235, the shiny reduced metal, not oxide. A uranium bomb is a “simple” gun-type device. Plutonium requires an implosion device, where many high speed explosives work in near perfect synchrony. It is very hard to do.

    “The relevant question, of course, is the cost of electricity produced by new plants.”
    From: Jim Jones at hyperionpowergeneration.com

    Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2009 2:27 PM
    Subject: Re: $.05 to .06 per KWh

    Assume HPM costs $30M and plant side doubles it:

    $60M divided by 25,000kw = $2,400/kw
    $2,400/kw divided by 5 years = $480/KWyr
    $480/KWyr divided by 8760 hours = $.0547945/KWhr (Call it 5 and half cents per KWhr)

    OR

    $60M divided by 20,000 homes = $3,000/home
    $3,000/home divided by 5 years = $600/home/year
    $600/home/year divided by 12 months = $50/home/month (How’s that for an electric bill?)

    Jim

    Yes, hyperionpowergeneration is waiting for NRC clearance. That is one of the problems the nuclear industry faces that other power sources don’t. But coal produces 100 to 400 times as much radiation and infinitely more other poisons such as arsenic. Chernobyl is included in that figure.

    463 David Miller: “I don’t believe investors have a stomach for the risk of construction overruns”
    That is the beauty of factory built reactors. There are no construction overruns. See:
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf33.html
    for a list of factory built reactors.

    “they’d have everything they need to prove it to me.” I doubt anybody can prove anything to you. You have already made up your mind.

  476. David B. Benson:

    Pete Dunkelberg @469 — Elsewhere in the world NPP are being constructed, just not so muc h right now in the USA. As examples, India’s power plan includes building 40 NPPs; UAE is starting construction of 4; Vietname will definitely build one and possibly two more; Indonesia, Mayalsia, South Africa and Chile are planning on starting construction as soon as maybe; China is currently constructing 6 NPPs and seems to be planning on about 60 more.

  477. David Miller:

    Ed: 459 David Miller: I am tired of saying the same stuff over and over.

    Then perhaps you should listen more:)

    Nope. I didn’t even know about bravenewclimate.com until a month ago.

    I’ll take your word for that. Nevertheless, what you’ve posted here the last few weeks is very nearly word for word what they’ve been saying there since Fukashima.

    1 A Al-quida can’t make a plutonium bomb that would have a nuclear explosion. It is beyond their technical capability. Very few national governments are able to make plutonium bombs. Al-quida could make a dirty bomb with a conventional explosive, but they don’t need plutonium for that. So far, Al-quida has been unable to make even a dirty bomb. Al-quida clearly would have if it could have.

    This is exactly the kind of cheerleading that turns me off. There are hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive spent fuel in pools and casks all around the world. You, and others, advocate for many times more nuclear plants being built all around the world. In the developing world. And you simply wave off proliferation concerns with stuff like ‘Al Queda doesn’t know how to build a bomb out of plutonium, so no worries!’

    Saying that if terrorist organization could have built a bomb they would have is just silly.

    To address the cost issue I see that you dodge what new nuclear plants actually cost to build, skip past the insurance and loan guarantee issues, and cite nuclear battery projections on a device that at most has had a prototype built. It hasn’t been produced, hasn’t been approved by any government agency anywhere, hasn’t been refueled or decommissioned. It’s 90% vaporware. Once they have regulatory approval and have some in production come back with the next-unit price and we’ll talk. Until then we’re left with AP1000’s and the like and they’re not cheap.

    Lastly:
    I doubt anybody can prove anything to you. You have already made up your mind.

    This is more of the nonsense on display over at BNC. It’s the attitude that if you’re not already convinced that we need to roll out nuclear power asap, and everywhere, you’re closed minded and not looking at the evidence. It seems to be an either-or situation; one cannot honestly have doubts and need proof.

    I don’t accept vaporware as proof of low cost. I don’t accept “Al-Quida can’t build a bomb” as evidence that proliferation is not a problem. I do accept that TMI and Fukushima are evidence that despite the best plans and procedures nuclear power plants are managed by people working for corporations with a strong motive for profit, and that Murphy will make appearances from time to time.

    Prove it to me. Show me a nuclear plant being built on time and on budget today for a price that’s cheaper than wind. Show me a plant built anywhere in the world without government backing. Then I’ll listen.

    Please note that’s a very different proposition from an idealistic “what nuclear power could have been” perspective. Nuclear, built with a fail-safe design burning all its fuel (LFTR, perhaps) could have been great. Perhaps it would even be really cheap. But it’s not here now, and it takes too long to design, test, redesign, and deploy on a big enough scale to do anything about global warming.

  478. John E. Pearson:

    Ed:

    Why are you so sold on Hyperion over the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) designed at Argonne? Hyperion’s reactor is vaporware and not an awful lot is known about it. ANL has designed and built 50 MW IFRs and performed loss of coolant tests on them. As far as I know they can be scaled up to a GW. I don’t understand the appeal of trying to power the country on 50 MW reactors. To replace the current half terrawatt of electric power you’d need 10,000 of them. If you distributed that 10,000 uniformly over the 48 states, the mean spacing between them would be on the order of 20 miles which would mean you couldn’t be further than 10 miles from a reactor. If you don’t go for uniform distributions you’re going to have to distribute them into population centers which puts more people closer to more reactors.

  479. David B. Benson:

    David Miller @477 — A chinese compnay has built their CPR-1000 in China for $1.7/W, using the current exchange rate. That, if done via a 30 year 10.8% loan, provides electic power at a lower cost than wind (in the USA).

    But the situation for wind is actually worse than often considered as one has to have a balancing agent (backup) for periods of low or no wind. So while it appears in the advertising as low cost the necessity of balancing agents means the cost of those agents must be averaged in. There is quite a good series of comments attached to
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/04/21/energy-debates-in-wonderland/
    which tends to demonstrate the poor utility of wind power.

  480. Ron R.:

    Just adding a couple of studies on the costs of nuclear. I have not read them. But suffice to say the “too cheap to meter” PR spin was, well, wildly wrong.

    “Estimates for new nuclear power place these facilities among the costliest private projects ever undertaken. Utilities promoting new nuclear power assert it is their least costly option. However, independent studies have concluded new nuclear power is not economically competitive.
    http://climateprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/nuclear-costs-2009.pdf

    “When the full nuclear fuel cycle is considered – not only reactors but also uranium mines and mills, enrichment facilities, spent fuel repositories, and decommissioning sites – nuclear power proves to be one of the costliest sources of energy”
    http://www.spp.nus.edu.sg/docs/policy-briefs/201101_RSU_PolicyBrief_1-2nd_Thought_Nuclear-Sovacool.pdf

    Out of six of seven studies comparing the costs between the dirty big three (nuclear, coal and gas) Nuclear is the the most expensive.
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Nuke%2C_coal%2C_gas_generating_costs.png

    How much is Fukushima going to cost Japan? It is estimated that the cost for the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns could cost up to $612 BILLION. And that’s “even without accounting for wider issues such as radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.” … “Standard & Poor’s warned that its projections were ‘uncertain’ due to ongoing developments at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where workers are battling to cool reactors and spent fuel rod pools to prevent a meltdown. ‘Much will depend on Japan?s political leadership and its ability to forge a political consensus on how to offset fiscal measures in the future,’ it said. ‘The extent of environmental contamination in northeastern Japan remains unknown.'”

    I don’t know how these costs works out just for the nuke disaster though my guess is if large swaths of land are rendered uninhabitable those costs could go much higher.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gmH-wyCANUy4g3kyZDiZm-Eg7KEw?docId=CNG.12890d5f3796f0ec93e813fed2f0c8c5.701

    Of course not all costs are measured in dollars and cents.
    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2007/07/20/27840.aspx
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18082395
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2757021/

  481. Ron R.:

    My guess is after this disaster, the already high cost of building new nuke plants is going to go through the roof.

    You know, it gets really tiring hearing these eternal promises. ‘Oh’, they say, ‘if we only tried this or if could just do that nuclear power would be SO much better‘. Maybe, but in saying this they are admitting that what we have now is not so safe after all. And what are thry going to say when their next experimental generation suffers a major catastrophe? ‘Oh if only…’?

    Michael Rose wrote an article for Huffington Post called To Cheap to Meter. Here’s a comment he made that I think nails it.

    “It [nuclear power] hasn’t been the panacea he [Lewis Strauss] foretold. In fact, it’s been a train wreck of accidents, cost overruns, nuclear weapons proliferation and an ever-growing waste problem that is always on the verge of being solved.”

    Again, nuclear is a costly waste of time and money that we could be using to finally rid ourselves of dirty energy with all it’s horrible baggage.

  482. David B. Benson:

    Correcting my prior re: India
    India has plans to increase its nuclear power capacity from the present 4780 MWe to 20,000 MWe by the year 2020 with the expansion of capacity to include 2500 MWe of fast breeder reactors and 8000 MWe of light water reactors. from
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Indian_response_to_safety_calls_2704112.html

  483. sidd:

    Mr. David B. Benson wrote on the 27th of April, 2011 at 9:30 PM:

    “A chinese compnay has built their CPR-1000 in China for $1.7/W, using the current exchange rate.”

    Please may i have a reference ? I went to the bravenewclimate URL that you referenced but i found nothing to corroborate this figure. Perhaps I missed it, would you provide a direct link to this number ?

    thanx
    sidd

  484. David B. Benson:

    sidd @483 — You’ll havbe to find the news article on
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/
    where you will find the construction cost given as $1.5/W, but the exchange rate has changed since then. Such low costs may only be possible in China. Elsewhere a more realistic figure is the $3.8/W bid by a South Korean consortium for the 4(?) NPPs just now under construction in the UAE; look for the article in the same WNN site indicated above.

  485. Didactylos:

    Nick Gotts:

    Have you looked at Levelised costs estimates for electricity generating technologies?

    It is a meta-study, so to get into details of where the figures come from you will have to look through many, many papers. But it says explicitly:

    Components that are captured by, or factored into, the calculation:

    # Capital costs
    # Fuel cost (including projected cost inflation) and fuel taxes
    # Operating and maintenance costs
    # Waste management costs
    # Decommissioning costs
    # Site-specific R&D and insurance costs
    # Costs of meeting emissions regulations (including possibly the cost of
    carbon)
    # Plant lifetime (economic)
    # Plant load factor
    # Discount rate
    # Build schedule
    # Shape of the learning curve and it’s impact on future cost reductions

    Payments into civil liability funds will be included in operating and/or insurance costs, depending on the regime.

    Quite a few plants have been decommissioned now, so the cost isn’t a surprise any more. I think you have a point that it was originally a shock when the first reactors reached the end of their life, but now we already know about the expense and factor it in.

    Ron R: I would take an unbiased meta-study over any cherry-picked individual study you can dig up, because for every biased study you can find, there will be plenty biased the other way. This meta-analysis shows the range and highlights both the outliers and the sources of potential bias, by separating out experimental and pioneering designs. Also, the main thesis of the meta-analysis is to show that despite the typically higher levelised cost for wind power, it is still a very good choice. Generally speaking, it’s on your side. The result that nuclear power is competitive is, as I said to Nick, incontestable. We know it’s competitive because it is competitive. It’s a no-brainer.

    Ron R, you should also be aware that your top “study” for claiming that nuclear is too expensive is by some unqualified CPA, is unpublished, and if it were ever published, would appear under Fiction. I have seen it before, and it’s pure fantasy. I picked through its errors once before, so I have no appetite to do so again.

    David Miller: “Show me a nuclear plant being built on time and on budget today for a price that’s cheaper than wind.” That’s a silly question. Nuclear has higher capital costs, and you know it. So do you want to talk about levelised costs, or do you want to waste your time with inappropriate and misleading comparisons? Ask yourself “What would a denier do?”

    This isn’t vapourware. Levelised costs are based on existing installed power – over 200 nuclear plants – so the numbers are not volatile.

    And, for the record (I can’t believe that people here are so paranoid, but what can you do?) I am not employed by the nuclear industry (or even the energy industry) in any capacity, nor do I have any personal or professional connections with either industry.

    I simply agree with James Hansen and David MacKay on the question of nuclear power.

  486. Nick Gotts:

    “A chinese compnay has built their CPR-1000 in China for $1.7/W, using the current exchange rate.” – David B. Benson

    Considering that the current exchange rate is set artificially low to assist Chinese exporters, and that Chinese labour is far cheaper than labour in the USA, the relevance of that claim – even if true – is highly dubious.

  487. Nick Gotts:

    BTW, David B. Benson, taking a bravenewclimate assessment of the cost of wind power seriously is like accepting Rush Limbaugh’s view of Obama as unbiased. Take a look at the site owner’s initial comments on Fukushima: like some here, he’s simply in love with nuclear power.

  488. Nick Gotts:

    Didactylos@485,

    Thanks! That looks very useful. I’ll get back to you when I’ve read it.

  489. M:

    Does anyone know what has happened to the CDIAC website? I was hoping to get a copy of CO2SYS but I haven’t been able to get the website to load for a week (and now it isn’t even appearing in google searches anymore)

  490. flxible:

    M – Find CO2SYS in zip form on the list here

  491. David Miller:

    Didactylos says:

    David Miller: “Show me a nuclear plant being built on time and on budget today for a price that’s cheaper than wind.” That’s a silly question. Nuclear has higher capital costs, and you know it. So do you want to talk about levelised costs, or do you want to waste your time with inappropriate and misleading comparisons? Ask yourself “What would a denier do?”

    Sheesh. Let me rephrase the question so that you can’t parse it to anything other than what I intended to ask:

    Show me a nuclear plant being built on time and on budget that delivers electricity for a lower cost per KWH than wind.

    This isn’t vapourware. Levelised costs are based on existing installed power – over 200 nuclear plants – so the numbers are not volatile.

    Interesting. You call *me* a denier, then claim that “this isn’t vaporware”. This after changing cost estimates from what I did say was vaporware (the Hyperion battery) to nuclear plants built by-and-large some three decades ago.

    The relevant question isn’t “for what price can nuclear plants built three decades ago deliver KW hours today”. The relevant question is “what is the lowest cost way to produce a KWH today and for the next three decades that has a sufficiently low carbon intensity”. To answer that honestly you have to price what new nuclear plants cost to build and compare it to all forms of solar and wind and other renewables.

  492. Didactylos:

    David Miller: I prefer to discuss actual costs, not fantasy costs.

    You are quite right to ignore the optimistic marketing for nuclear power. But you are deluded if you think that the same doesn’t apply to all industries, including wind!

    No, I’ll stick to actual costs and actual performance, thank you. I’m not playing your guessing game.

    PS: the world is bigger than the United States. Many, many reactors came online in the last 30 years.

    PPS: I didn’t reparse your question. I rejected the premise, because it was a really silly question, however you parse it.

    PPPS: You really need to be more careful with your “questions”, because if you followed your twisted logic, then you would have ruled out wind power altogether. On-shore wind was clearly more expensive than nearly all other forms of power until comparatively recently. Off-shore wind still is very expensive. Why can’t you be honest and say that you have ruled out nuclear power for other reasons, and you don’t care how much it costs?

  493. Ron R.:

    Didactylos — 28 Apr 2011 @ 2:31 AM

    Well maybe Severance is just an unqualified plumber (I mean CPA) as you claim, but a lot of serious people cite his study. Too bad they didn’t have you there to set them straight.

    http://www.ipe-berlin.org/uploads/media/Mez__Economics_of_Nuclear_Power.pdf
    http://energyscience.org.au/EconomicsNucsRElecReformatted.pdf
    http://www.ises.org.il/assets/files/News/20100909_cooperStudy.pdf
    http://tinyurl.com/648uzzm
    http://tinyurl.com/69vjkps
    http://tinyurl.com/5wbtlsc

    See also: http://energyeconomyonline.com/GPPI_Nuclear_Conference.html

    And what, no easy dismissal of the Sovacool study?
    http://www.spp.nus.edu.sg/Faculty_Benjamin_K_Sovacool.aspx

    Sorry. I’m not buying it. The cost for adequate insurance ALONE is wildly expensive. Do you really think it’s right to saddle ratepayers and taxpayers with all these costs?
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110421/ap_on_bi_ge/nuclear_power_insurance

    http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter9.html

  494. SecularAnimist:

    Didactylos wrote: “On-shore wind was clearly more expensive than nearly all other forms of power until comparatively recently.”

    And now it is competitive with coal and natural gas fired electricity generation.

    As far as costs are concerned, the problem for nuclear advocates is that the cost of wind and solar technology is dropping rapidly, and is poised to drop even more rapidly as new technologies move from R&D to commercialization to mass production.

    It’s interesting that in these discussions, nuclear advocates tend to emphasize future nuclear technologies that have yet to be deployed commercially, and that in some cases don’t actually exist at all, except as design concepts (e.g. Hyperion has yet to even build a prototype).

    Whereas renewable advocates emphasize today’s mature, powerful wind and solar technologies which are now being deployed at large scales all over the world.

    If we were to have a more symmetrical discussion, then I’ll be happy to start posting about the really “disruptive”, ultra-cheap, ultra-efficient photovoltaic and energy storage technologies that will be moving from lab to commercialization within the next few years, which will revolutionize the way we produce and use electricity, much as cell phones revolutionized telecommunications and personal computers revolutionized data processing.

  495. Ron R.:

    Didactylos And, for the record (I can’t believe that people here are so paranoid, but what can you do?) I am not employed by the nuclear industry (or even the energy industry) in any capacity, nor do I have any personal or professional connections with either industry.

    I don’t remember making any such claim, who did?

  496. David Miller:

    Didactylos says:
    You are quite right to ignore the optimistic marketing for nuclear power. But you are deluded if you think that the same doesn’t apply to all industries, including wind!

    Of course it does. There is a huge difference between costing the next wind farm at the price of the last one less the price decreases from the manufacturer and pricing the next nuclear plant at the cost of the last one built (decades ago).

    CSP and thermal storage is still pretty new, and I think it’s a reasonable expectation that prices will come down as it matures. Ditto for offshore wind. I’m all for researching these with both private and public dollars in an effort to bring the price down. I’m not, whatever you seem to think, in favor of building out them out until they’re cost competitive.

    I also think prices would come down with new nuclear power plants designs. The time required to get these designed, tested, redesigned, and deployed, is simply more time than we have.

    No, I’ll stick to actual costs and actual performance, thank you. I’m not playing your guessing game.

    But you are. You’re guessing the cost of nuclear will come down from Areva’s Scandanavian disasters. You’re quoting vaporware to me, talking about what it costs to build second gen plants in China with Chinese labor costs, and fantasizing about what LFTR’s or other gen 4 reactors will cost.

    I notice that you haven’t come back with any plants that produce KWH’s for less than new wind farms. Nuclear fission plants are not new technology. They’ve been here for decades, and operators of current plants have made many billion dollars. Why is it so hard to quote the price of a new plant and what a KWH from it is going to cost?

    PS: the world is bigger than the United States. Many, many reactors came online in the last 30 years.

    Great! So lets have a list of what generation each one is, how much it cost to build, and what it produces a KWH for. Show me this robust industry that I’m naively ignorant of. Please, show me how it’s just the nutty tree hugging environmental nut jobs that are keeping wall street from investing billions in new low-cost nuclear plants.

    PPS: I didn’t reparse your question. I rejected the premise, because it was a really silly question, however you parse it.

    Interesting. Comparing the price of new nuclear power (per KWH) to the production of renewables is “silly, however it’s parsed” ?

    I don’t think we have the basis for a rational discussion here.

  497. Walter Pearce:

    Ron R.@493, David Miller @496. You’ve done a brilliant job of illuminating the sketchy thinking behind the financial arguments for nuclear. One additional troubling aspect is the human element — the tendency for sloth, greed, lax regulators, etc. to amp up risk in unpredictable ways that are bad enough in the context of, say, the 3200 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico — but could prove disastrous in a nuclear context.

    SecularAnimist, symmetry would be most welcome — please elaborate on disruptive energy technologies.

  498. M:

    Thanks, flxible!

    (though… at some point, I’d still like to get my hands on the DOS version in addition to the Excel version. Also… I’m still curious about why CDIAC’s website seems so broken)

  499. Pete Dunkelberg:

    So, are the different costs of Nuclear power in different countries a matter of policies and insurance rates?

  500. David B. Benson:

    Nick Gotts @487 — Actually, Barry Brooks (Brave New Climate owner) is quite sensible about the alternatives. In any case, he doesn’t price wind; I have found (and posted earlier) an actual contracted price for a new wind farm which is just coming on-line.

    David Miller @496 — Up thread I earlier posted a carefully estimated LCOE for the pair of NPPs currently under construction in the USA. I’ve also indicated, yesterday, where on can go to obtain build costs for NPPs in various other countries.

    Pete Dunkelberg @499 — China is a special case because of the artificial exchange rate. That the South Korean AP-1400s being constructed in UAE are so much less expensive than the Westinghouse AP-1000s in the USA (estimated cost) is probably mostly due to the way the financing is done. Leaving out the finance charge the units is the USA will still be more expensive which might have to do with the differences in the sites, different labor rates and maybe also the different designs; after all the AP-1000s have to obtain US NRC approval and the South Korean AP-1400 does not.

    More briefly, I don’t know and the previous paragraph is just suggestions and musing.

    All — One cannot fairly price wind power without considering the balancing agents (backup) employed. Since wind is an intermittent resource, it can only displace other generation in a reliable, on-demand power grid.

  501. One Anonymous Bloke:

    This Nature article on the Agulhas system is quoted by Richard Black as showing that “This could mean that current IPCC model predictions for the next century are wrong and there will be no cooling in the North Atlantic to partially offset the effects of global climate change over North America and Europe,” – he’s quoting a Dr. Lisa M Beal, one of the authors. This will no doubt be seized upon by certain quarters, but I would like to know if the paper supports this conclusion. Please can anyone add anything to this?

  502. Walter Pearce:

    David Benson@500 — Regarding intermittent wind power, my recollection is that, in the U.S., it’s peak power — not baseline — that utilities are bidding on to add to the grid. If you want actual data, I can dig up my sources.

  503. Susan Anderson:

    377 Edward Greisch
    Sorry I missed your request; don’t always keep up and I’m not a scientist. Think it was decided against the states; SecularAnimist had an useful comment:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/04/fracking-methane/comment-page-2/#comment-205410

    NYTimes, 4/18/11: “The case about global warming scheduled to be argued on Tuesday before the Supreme Court is a blockbuster. “Eight states — from California to New York, plus New York City — sued six corporations responsible for one-fourth of the American electric power industry’s emissions of carbon dioxide. ….”

  504. David B. Benson:

    Walter Pearce @502 — The wind farm operators have to generate whenever there is wind to make ends meet, at least here in the Pacific Northwest. Same appears to happen in Europe according to this IEA Wind Power Study
    http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/tiedotteet/2009/T2493.pdf

    To match peak loads requires reliable dispatchable generators such as hydro or natgas; wind cannot be counted upon except as displacing the use of other generators.

  505. Ron R:

    Walter Pearce — @ 3:14 PM

    About that human element. That’s often the weak link isn’t it? And
    given the pathetic track record over the years of major corporations
    to (repeatedly) cover-up and otherwise refuse to level with their
    customers about the risks of their products (e.g. the Brookhaven
    nuclear lab leaks, Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant leaks, Monsanto
    PCB pollution in Anniston Alabama, PG&E pollution in Hinkley,
    California, the many Pharmaceutical cover-ups etc. etc.) nuclear power
    is just too potentially hazardous to leave to blind trust. It’s simply
    not human nature to be honest when there is a valued special interest
    at stake, even if that puts the lives of others at risk. History has
    proven that time and time again. Fukushima itself is a prime example.
    It took a month for authorities there to release the information that
    large doses of radiation had spewed from the plant. Why? According to
    Seiji Shiroya, a commissioner of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission,
    “Some foreigners fled the country even when there appeared to be
    little risk. If we immediately decided to label the situation as Level
    7, we could have triggered a panicked reaction”, not to mention that
    it would have been horrible public relations for the industry! So the
    decision was made to keep quiet – and expose people unnecessarily.

    http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/rert/radiationincidents.html#bnl
    http://www.democracynow.org/2004/5/4/colorados_weapons_of_mass_destruction_the
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Flats_Plant
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Monsanto's_Global_Pollution_Legacy
    http://www.lawbuzz.com/famous_trials/erin_brockovich/erin_brockovich_ch1.htm
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/13/world/asia/13japan.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    And remember that even before Fukushima there was already 200 “near
    misses” to meltdowns in the US.
    http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/press-center/reports4/an-american-chernobyl-nuclear

    If we were talking about a tendency for, say, hammocks to break under
    a certain load that would be one thing. NPPs are a different kettle of
    fish altogether aren’t they?

    I propose that the new logo for NPPs be not the noble atom that we so
    often see but sawdust wrapped in newspapers.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8425719/Japan-nuclear-crisis-workers-using-newspaper-and-sawdust-to-block-pipes.html

    About this costs of nuclear debate thing, this is the kind of argument
    that just never seems to die. Like the debate over AGW it just goes on
    and on, back and forth and … and frankly, I find the discussion
    terribly boring. I really want to get off the subject. I don’t need
    the last word.

  506. One Anonymous Bloke:

    Regarding tornadoes, I’ve been trying (without success) to find out if there is a theoretical limit to wind speed. This implies that atmospheric moisture content and surface temperature are critical factors in tornado formation. This being so, what wind speeds are your American nuclear reactors designed to withstand?

  507. Didactylos:

    David Miller: You haven’t looked at the source I have provided, since it clearly compares levelised costs between different energy sources and different countries.

    I am insulted that you have protracted this discussion so long without once actually bothering to look honestly at any figures.

    As I said before, you have made up your mind and are impervious to facts. And you keep repeating yourself, without actually saying anything useful.

    So, goodbye. Back to your fantasy world. Enjoy it.

  508. Didactylos:

    SecularAnimist: “And now [wind] is competitive with coal and natural gas”

    Exactly! (In most regions at least)

    You suggest talking about revolutionary renewables coming out of the lab. I suggest we don’t, because just as we don’t yet know enough about fusion or IV generation reactors, we don’t know how new wind and solar technologies will cost or perform. Speculation is fun, but ultimately futile. You will note that I have carefully avoided mention of Hyperion.

    I do hope, however, that all these technologies get the funding they need to be trialled properly, and given every possible opportunity to shine.

  509. SecularAnimist:

    David B. Benson wrote: “To match peak loads requires reliable dispatchable generators”

    Not necessarily.

    Peak demand often occurs during the day — especially sunny days when air conditioners are cranked up — which happens to coincide with peak electricity generation from solar power.

    If you look at the major utilities that are installing commercial-scale solar power, they are doing so precisely for that reason: peak solar generation reliably matches peak demand and reduces their need to build other generating capacity that is less cost-effective for meeting peak demand.

    More generally, I reject the basic notion that we have to build new generation capacity to fit the limitations of an aging grid that was “designed” for 19th century energy technologies. That makes no more sense than designing computers to fit the limitations of 1970s data networks based on dial-up modems and dedicated, point-to-point lines.

    The reality is that cheap, powerful, distributed generation and storage technologies are out there, and they are going to get better and better, faster and faster. People are going to want them, for many reasons, and people are going to buy them and install them. And the grid is going to have to evolve to deal with that. Just as computer networks evolved into today’s Internet.

    And of course the grid has to evolve anyway — the one we’ve got is in very bad shape and can barely do what it was designed to do, let alone handle massively distributed generators of all kinds and sizes.

  510. Kevin McKinney:

    And in “power storage and smart grid technology news,” we have this:

    Beacon Power Receives Department of Energy Approval to Proceed on Second Flywheel Plant
    Company Also Positions to Raise Capital as Needed
    TYNGSBORO, Mass., Apr 28, 2011 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) —

    Beacon Power Corporation (Nasdaq:BCON), a leading provider of fast-response energy storage systems and services to support a more stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid, today announced that it has received approval from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under the terms of its Smart Grid Stimulus Grant program to proceed to the second of three phases of funding for construction of the Company’s next 20-megawatt (MW) flywheel energy storage plant, to be located in Hazle Township, Pennsylvania.

    Their first plant is nearing formal commissioning, though I think it’s aleady producing revenue. Good news for Beacon–it’s even stabilized their share prices, which had been slowly but steadily falling up the 8th or so.

  511. Meow:

    There’s a new paper on an unexpected connection between surface winds and eddies that transport “tiny sea creatures, chemicals, and heat from hydrothermal vents over large distances.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110428143157.htm . Does this paper have some relevance to large-scale ocean heat transport?

  512. David B. Benson:

    SecularAnimist @509 — If it is cloudy then the power company cranks up the natgas generators to meet demand. Reliability means solar has to have backup as well.

  513. David Miller:

    David Benson (512)

    I think the implication is pretty clear – if it’s cloudy less power is required for air conditioning. No, it’s not perfect. Yes, it is useful.

    Also, the output vs clouds issue depends on the type of solar. For PV on a house it’s pretty direct. For a CSP it’s much less so.

  514. Adam R.:

    Why are comments closed on the Spencer paper thread?

    [Response: See the note at the bottom of the article.]

  515. David B. Benson:

    David Miller @513 — I don’t doubt it is useful in some sense; it at least emits less CO2 than just using natgas all the time. The point (which should be obvious but many fail to see it until told) is that intermittent generation cannot be counted upon except in a statistical sense; when it fails to provide enough generation then dispatchable reserves have to exist to generate when (wind, solar, take your pick) does not met the demand, peak or no.

    That means that every installation has to be checked for feasiblity as well as meeting whatever political goals are to be accomplished. Some so-called renewable projects make no sense at all. For example, recently a large wind farm near here switched from using hydro as backup to using mostly natgas as backup. The former was senseless in that it didn’t even help to keep more water in the reservoirs while the latter at least means that some modest amount of CO2 is not being emitted.

  516. Edward Greisch:

    Ron R., David Miller, Nick Gotts, etc: Your questions have already been answered. See previous comments. Go to college and get degrees in nuclear engineering. Or Read book: “ENVIRONMENTALISTS FOR NUCLEAR ENERGY”
    purchase from: http://www.comby.org/livres/livresen.htm
    English version 100 Euros.

    Or an easier book: “Power to Save the World; The Truth About Nuclear Energy” by Gwyneth Cravens, 2007

  517. SecularAnimist:

    David B. Benson wrote: “… intermittent generation cannot be counted upon …”

    I really, really wish that folks would read the multiple studies in Europe and the USA which show that a diversified regional portfolio of renewable energy sources, managed through a smart grid, can provide 24×7 electricity that is at least as reliable as coal or nuclear — instead of endlessly repeating these ill-informed generalities.

    I observe that overzealous nuclear advocates consistently do two things:

    First, they wave away the very real, very serious problems of nuclear power as though they don’t exist or are trivial (while serious nuclear propononents like the folks at MIT acknowledge that these problems represent major obstacles to any expansion of nuclear power).

    Second, they exaggerate (or just plain make up) problems with renewable energy sources that are in fact relatively easy to address and/or have already been addressed and portray them as insurmountable obstacles to large-scale expansion of renewable generation.

    So, storing energy from wind and solar becomes an insurmountable obstacle — even though we already have multiple methods of storing energy including chemical (batteries, hydrogen), kinetic (compressed air, pumped hydro, flywheels) and thermal (CSP with molten salt storage) at hand, and even though renewables can meet most of our demand even without storage.

    And storing nuclear waste becomes a trivial problem that has “already been solved” — even though it hasn’t.

  518. Brian Dodge:

    Why does everyone assume that because we (probably most of us) have the LUXURY of electricity (100 amps at 220 volts in my case) available 24/7 that it is a NECESSITY?

  519. Edward Greisch:

    Why Older Nuclear Power Plants Remain ‘Cash Cows’ Despite Fukushima
    New York Times
    The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s main trade organization, ranks current nuclear plants as the cheapest source of US electricity, with operating, maintenance and fuel costs of just over 2 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2009, compared to 5 cents …
    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/04/29/29climatewire-why-older-nuclear-power-plants-remain-cash-c-11850.html
    See all stories on this topic:
    http://news.google.com/news/story?ncl=http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/04/29/29climatewire-why-older-nuclear-power-plants-remain-cash-c-11850.html&hl=en&geo=us

  520. Charlie H:

    Unless things have changed radically since I left the power industry, most electric bills include a “fuel surcharge.” This has the effect of making low-capital-cost gas turbines far more economically attractive than nuclear power plants.

    At the moment, gas is cheap… so producers build gas plants. If, in the future, gas becomes expensive, still not a problem! Pass the higher costs along to the consumer.

    So, for a utility company standing in 2011, cheap gas rules. Why invest $10B in a nuclear plant that takes perhaps 10 years to come on-line, even if power production costs will be $.02 in the distant future, if you can build a plant, produce cheap electricity today and pass any higher costs along to the consumer tomorrow?

    I’d like to see things go differently, for sure. But industry has to be incentivized, somehow, to do something different. And the economics of nuclear vs gas make nuclear a very steep hill to climb.

    In fact, I’d rather not incent industry at all. The combination of solar panels and a $10K battery practically makes a homeowner independent. Why not invest our tax money – The People’s tax money – in improving the economic lot of The People? A new home is $30K and includes such “necessities” as granite countertops. Why? Why not build homes that are self-sufficient and improve the homeowner’s cash flow?

  521. David B. Benson:

    SecularAnimist @517 — Since intermittent generators cannot be counted upon, there is indeed backup, at least in the developed world. I found this IEA Wind Power Study
    http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/tiedotteet/2009/T2493.pdf
    quite educational.

    Your storage options are all rather expensive:
    http://www.dotyenergy.com/PDFs/Doty-90377-Storage-ASME-ES10.pdf

    I don’t know of any so-called nuclear advocates who minimize the various problems. I simply try to determine the LCOE of alternatives; just now natgas is probably the least cost. There is nothing that says that the least cost alternative has to be adopted; after all the USA has a highly expensive method of human transport.

    Brian Dodge @518 — Everybody in the world wants reliable on-demand electric power. In developed countries, the costs of rolling blackouts are studied by economists. The results indicate that reliable power is considerably less of a burden on the economy than the alternative.

    Charlie H @519 — That method of billing depends upon what the state utility commission requires; my bill contains no such surcharge although my power is derived from coal of 26% of it and natgas for 21% of it.

    When the hydro resource could not quite fullfill all demands and class 3 power emergencies started happening, the region’s utilities began acquiring combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs). Just now the major additions going in are wind turbines, firmed by combinations of the existing hydro, natgas and coal generators.

    There are those around here who live completely off-grid. They all have gasoline or diesel powered backup generators.

    I agree that not many new NPPs are going to be built in the USA for the next five years or so, but lots is being added elsewhere in the world, as I have mentioned in several prior comments.

  522. Ron R.:

    *sigh*

    Edward Greisch at 10:27 PM

    Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy. I did a little research. Please. No thanks. They’re kind of like those “grassroots” groups that always spring up around voting time but then turn out to be industry front groups. “Citizens for this or that” I’m not interested in what astroturf front groups have to say.

    Hill & Knowlton, a PR firm hired by the Nuclear Energy Institute to promote nuclear power is behind the so-called “clean and safe” spin. ENF shares people with the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy), another nuke front group. People such as environmental turncoat Patrick Moore and Berol Robinson.
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Nuclear_Energy_Institute#.22Clean.2C_safe.22_pro-nuclear_front_group

    Quote: “CASEnergy was launched on April 24, 2006.[1] On its website, the PR firm Hill & Knowlton boasted that the group is “a national grassroots organization that advocates the benefits of nuclear energy. The CASEnergy Coalition is a Hill & Knowlton campaign run out of the Washington, DC office.”[2]” Sound like grassroots to you?
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Clean_and_Safe_Energy_Coalition#Individuals

    According to the Columbia Journalism Review CASEnergy “has an $8 million account with the nuclear industry”. Columbia Journalism Review, “False Fronts – Why to Look Behind the Label”, Editorial, May / June, 2006. A quote from the article: “Life is complicated. So are front people for industry causes — or any cause, in a world of increasingly sophisticated p.r. We have no position on nuclear power. We just find it maddening that Hill & Knowlton … should have such an easy time working the press”. Note: as the article is no longer archived you can read it here starting on page 14.
    http://www.endgame.org/moore.pdf

    According to ENF’s website Moore is “Honorary Chair of EFN CANADA” and also wrote the preface for that book you mention by EFN founder Bruno Comby.
    http://www.ecolo.org/archives/archives-nuc-en/2006-04-23-Moore-Canad-Aus.htm

    A Moore quote: “In every interview I do the reporter already knows that I’m cochair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and that I work for the nuclear industry.” Sourcewatch though shows that he rarely lets on, or the MSM doesn’t report, that he works for these industries (he’s also big into logging, mining and, some say, will support just about any other major anti-environmental industry out there that will send him a check).
    http://www.sfbg.com/entry.php?entry_id=3718&catid=4&volume_id=254&issue_id=299&volume_num=41&issue_num=35
    http://66.39.128.35/index.php?title=Patrick_Moore

    He’s also doesn’t think people are to blame for global warming. “It [global warming] has a much better correlation with changes in solar activity than CO2 levels”
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/local/wilson_voices_doubts_over_climate_change_1_1874981

    Neither ENF nor nuclear power in general has much support in the environmental community. For example in Australia:
    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/pronuclear-party-runs-out-of-energy/1796166.aspx
    Compare that to this:
    http://www.choosenuclearfree.net/energy/joint-statement/
    http://nuclearnewsaustralia.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/australians-dont-want-nuclear-power/

  523. John E. Pearson:

    Ron R:

    You forgot to mention “environmentalist turncoats” Stewart Brand and James Lovelock along with their fellow traveling co-conspirators: Hans Bethe, Richard Rhodes, Burton Richter, James Hansen, …

    sheesh.

  524. Ron R.:

    John E. Pearson @ 30 Apr 2011 at 8:52 PM

    You misunderstand John. I’m not saying that Moore, or anyone else calling him or herself an environmentalist, is a turncoat just for supporting nuclear power (although obviously I believe that it’s wrong). People can have sincerely differing opinions on a particular topic and still care about the environment. I’m saying he is considered one for having turned his back on almost every environmental value he used to stand for. As I said, he’s now pro-logging, mining, chemical industry, nuclear and biotech foods. And these industries regularly use him and pay him for their propaganda purposes. He now also regularly badmouths environmentalists. He has helped destructive industries cleanse their image through greenwashing.

    While anyone who wants to is free to do so, people should know that they have environmentalists many long hard battles to thank for everything from their air being cleaner to breath, their water safer to drink and their food healthier to eat to the national parks they may visit when they want to get way from the crowds and back to nature. Moore claims to be an environmentalist, kind of like Lomborg, and perhaps there is some window dressing there for PR’s sake but really he’s an industry spokeman.

    “So what do you do if your brand is turning toxic? You hire the Canadian public relations consultant Patrick Moore. Moore runs a company based in Vancouver called Greenspirit Strategies, which has developed “sustainability messaging” for logging, mining, lead-smelting, nuclear, biotech, fish-farming and plastics companies. He is a clever rhetorician, skilled at turning an argument round. He is seen by some environmentalists as the most brazen of the spin doctors they face.

    He has described clear-cut logging as “making clearings where new trees can grow in the sun”. He has suggested that sea lice (which spread from farmed salmon to wild fish, often with devastating effects) are “good for wild salmon”, as the fish can eat the larvae. He has justified gold-mining operations that have caused devastating spills of sodium cyanide by arguing that “cyanide is present in the environment and naturally available in many plant species”. But his greatest asset to the companies he represents is this: Patrick Moore was one of the founders and leaders of Greenpeace.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/dec/02/sumatra-rainforest-destruction-patrick-moore
    http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-050801-2.html

  525. Ron R.:

    Don’t you think it odd that a supposedly environmental organization like “Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy” would have Moore as their “Honorary Chair of EFN Canada” when he says things like the following (unless, of course, they are just an industry front group using him for PR reasons):

    “We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It’s not good for people and its not good for the environment…In a warmer world we can produce more food.”

    Moore was asked who is promoting man-made climate fears what are their motives?

    Moore: “A powerful convergent of interests. Scientists seeking grant money, media seeking headlines, universities seeking huge grants from major institutions, foundations, environmental groups, politicians wanting to make it look like they are saving future generations. And all of these people have converged on this issue”

    Moore says scientific dissent is growing: “There are many thousands of scientists’ who reject man-made global warming fears…It’s all based on computer models and predictions. We do not actually have a crystal ball, it is a mythical object.”
    http://www.climatedepot.com/a/9508/Greenpeace-CoFounder-Dr-Patrick-Moore-Questions-ManMade-Global-Warming-Calls-it-Obviously-a-Natural-Phenomenon