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Unforced Variations: Dec 2013

Filed under: — group @ 1 December 2013

This month’s open thread. It’s coming to the end of the year and that means updates to the annual time series of observations and models relatively soon. Suggestions for what you’d like to see assessed are welcome… or any other climate science related topic.


354 Responses to “Unforced Variations: Dec 2013”

  1. 201
    wili says:

    Ed at #195 said: “Nobody should have been evacuated [from Fukushima after the accident]!”

    Does anyone else have an opinion on this? It seems just a tad ‘around the corner’ to me…ok, it sounds freakin’ insane. But I have great respect for much else that Ed says, even when I don’t agree with it. So I would love some perspective from some others here on Ed’s opinion about this.

  2. 202
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Edward Greisch …

    if BAU continues…. You are gambling everybody on your unproven idea.

    You’re not making sense, at all, there.

    Coal is BAU. It’s proven stupid, now that we know it changes climate.
    Coal use has been improved as much as can be. Nobody has a path toward a better future using coal. Nobody.

    The alternatives are the only possible steps toward possible futures that work.

    Read the links I gave you. Better forms of energy storage are being proven — right now; some already built; others are being tested.

    Claiming it can’t be done when it’s clearly being done is — stubborn. Best of luck with that. I’m done with ya on this subject.

  3. 203
    prokaryotes says:

    Correction to my above post, 280 MW can power roughly 280k homes. Though, still much lower than the figure by Edward Greisch. Further is the technology scale-able and mass production means much lesser cost which means a figure of $500 billion seems much more realistic.

  4. 204
    Hank Roberts says:

    > to discuss reliability and security question’s
    > when it comes to nuclear

    As recommended in the sidebar on every RC page, the go-to place:

    BraveNewClimate
    bravenewclimate.com/‎
    “Getting to grips with the brave new world of future climate and energy – notes from a Promethean environmentalist.”

    Already in progress. Different tone than here.
    Recommended: Adjust accordingly.

  5. 205
    Mal Adapted says:

    Steve Fish:

    if the numbers of animals that are raised for human purposes remains relatively constant, the atmospheric greenhouse gas load doesn’t change at all from this source. In contrast, when fossil carbon is used for creating fertilizers and other agricultural purposes the carbon is added to the atmosphere.

    Ah, I see your point now. I still think your reaction to Adler may be a little defensive. His piece drew attention to livestock raising as a source of CH4, which as you point does oxidize to CO2, but until it does it is 21 times more potent a GHG than CO2. He also pointed out that

    Raising livestock contributes to climate change and environmental degradation in other ways as well: it takes far more grain and land to produce a calorie of food for humans by feeding grains to animals than directly to people. That means more destruction of grasslands and forests for farming, more tractors burning fuel, and more pesticides seeping into the groundwater.

    I certainly agree with you that all agricultural practices that release fossil carbon will have to be revised, but the disproportionate contribution of livestock raising to total GHG emissions, relative to non-livestock agriculture, speaks for itself. I don’t see that Adler is promoting any agenda other than that.

    I guess my point is that there’s no need to be defensive about your dietary preference, because anyone who complains about your meat-eating has their own impacts to answer for. The only way to have a zero ecological footprint is never to be born, or if you’re already born, to die promptly and leave no offspring.

    In any case, individual lifestyle changes aren’t going to stop AGW on their own. The only humane “final solution” to the Tragedy of the Global Commons is for humanity to impose limits on itself collectively: Hardin’s “mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon.”

  6. 206
  7. 207
    wili says:

    MA: “CH4, which as you point does oxidize to CO2, but until it does it is 21 times more potent a GHG than CO2″
    Wrong. It’s about 100 times the force of CO2 during the first decade or so, about 35 times over century periods. But ultimately these comparisons are like asking how many times worse it is to have a massive stroke or a major heart attack, or to have loss of liver function versus loss of kidney function. They are just very different processes with different types of patterns of heating. But certainly methane has a larger impact than CO2.

    Good point about need for mutually agreed upon limits. Do you see any progress in us getting there?

    (And do you have any idea what reCaptcha is trying to tell me by: “Esther techPou”??!)

  8. 208
    Fred Magyar says:

    prokaryotes @200,

    “And the best way to reduce emissions is to end fossil fuel driven transportation. Can we reduce emissions? Yes, ofc we can do it. So this possibility gives me hope.”

    I’m about to go out and ride my new bamboo bicycle… and no I’m not being facetious, I really do have a bicycle with a bamboo frame which I picked up in Brazil. BTW, the commercial cultivation of bamboo for multiple products is great carbon sink.

    Unfortunately I don’t see many people with bamboo bicycles on the road where I live. They’re still stuck in the car culture. To add insult to injury someone recently complimented me on my bicycle’s paint job saying it looked like real bamboo… When I told them it was bamboo they kinda laughed.

    I’m also the sales manager for a solar energy company and I talk to a lot of people, very few of them get it! The problem is their expectations are simply not realistic.

    With 7 billion plus humans on this planet and a still growing population most of whom aspire to a first world lifestyle of eating meat, driving cars and having access to 24/7 cheap fossil fuel energy slaves, well, forgive me for not sharing your general optimism!

    As the late great George Carlin once said : “The planet is fine! It’s the people who are f@cked! Pack your sh!t folks, we’re going away!”

    Cheers!

    Fred

  9. 209
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Mal Adapted — 17 Dec 2013 @ 2:28 PM

    Again I agree, but I believe that if, like it has been suggested for other polluters, the agricultural community were required to cover the external costs of their practices, the subsequent increased cost of their products would greatly reduce meat consumption relative to veggies. I think that this is the appropriate way to view the problem and the whole cow burp business is just an unimportant distraction.

    Steve

  10. 210
    Edward Greisch says:

    202 Hank Roberts: Read your comment 129 at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/12/a-failure-in-communicating-the-impact-of-new-findings/comment-page-3/#comments
    https://www.google.com/search?q=“energy+density”+storage+trend
    downloaded and read this 2013 report
    How much lithium total can be mined on earth? That is the question. Not what is the trend.

  11. 211
  12. 212
    Mal Adapted says:

    wili:

    Good point about need for mutually agreed upon limits. Do you see any progress in us getting there?

    Not enough, nor do I have a realistic plan to make it happen. I’m just glad I don’t have offspring.

  13. 213
    Hank Roberts says:

    Edward, flip to slide 6 of that report, then look into the alternatives. You’re describing obstacles from the past, already surpassed, and claiming you found the end of the road.
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n5/full/ncomms2812.html
    http://arpa-e.energy.gov/?q=arpa-e-news-item/fluidic-grid-scale-batteries-wind-and-solar

    Science: state a hypothesis; state how you can disprove the hypothesis; then test your hypothesis. You say nothing will come along better than coal? Ask yourself, how would you know if you were wrong?

    Done. Really.

  14. 214
    Hank Roberts says:

    Numbers, some remarkable, all cited to sources:
    http://blogs.nicholas.duke.edu/thegreengrok/50-years-since-jfks-assassination/
    “A lot has changed since. What about our environmental footprint? Let’s take a look.”

  15. 215
    Edward Greisch says:

    Hank Roberts: You have given me a clue about GW communication. I think it has been said before. The “small” minded don’t get it because they can’t think in terms of large spans of time or galactic distances, etcetera. Not an insult, I believe it to be true. Is small mindedness intentional at times? As in, are they trying to get my goat?

    So, to RC: How can we increase the span of imagination of the average person? More science fiction in English class? Or more math and science class? Why didn’t movies like Star Trek, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica do it? That is the part I don’t understand.

  16. 216
    Radge Havers says:

    Ed,

    re: “…why didn’t movies…”

    There’s a lot of clamor out there, pretty intense competition for your attention. In art, for instance, it’s usually refered to simply as visual clutter. More like it’s a jungle.

    And there are a lot of ways to communicate. Money is speech, if the supreme court is to be believed, and so on.

  17. 217
    Aaron says:

    In the English Department where I teach, at a mid-sized Midwestern university, we have just voted virtually unanimously (there are about 40 of us in the department–there was one abstention) for our university endowment to divest from fossil fuel interests. A number of these lovely and often brilliant people are functionally innumerate. They don’t necessarily understand the science at the level this blog regularly engages (though I wouldn’t say that is true across the board), but their comprehension and imagination is easily sufficient for the task of grasping the global threat. IMO the problem at scale is cultural, and any simple appeal to our cognitive abilities is going to fall well short of the mark. This is a very large ocean liner we’re trying to turn around. Science, which is what this blog is about, is part of the necessary friction to get that done, but it is far from sufficient.

  18. 218
    Hank Roberts says:

    Posted without comment other than “Aieeeee ….!!”

    The Coming ‘Instant Planetary Emergency’
    How will climate change affect the future of the planet? Scientists predict it will be nothing short of a nightmare

    McPherson, who maintains the blog Nature Bats Last, added, “We’ve never been here as a species and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.”

    While his perspective is more extreme than that of the mainstream scientific community, which sees true disaster many decades into our future, he’s far from the only scientist expressing such concerns. Professor Peter Wadhams, a leading Arctic expert at Cambridge University, has been measuring Arctic ice for forty years, and his findings underscore McPherson’s fears…..

    British scientist John Nissen, chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (of which Wadhams is a member), suggests that if the summer sea ice loss passes “the point of no return,” and “catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks” kick in, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency.”

    McPherson, Wadham and Nissen represent just the tip of a melting iceberg of scientists who are now warning us about looming disaster ….

  19. 219
    Jon Kirwan says:

            wili:
            Good point about need for mutually agreed
            upon limits. Do you see any progress in us
            getting there?

        Mal Adapted:
        Not enough, nor do I have a realistic plan to
        make it happen. I’m just glad I don’t have
        offspring.

    I find myself in very substantial agreement with Mal Adapted, it seems, looking back over prior posts here. His reference, in particular, to Hardin’s (in)famous paper(s) is something that is ever on my mind, as well.

    The only solution won’t happen, though. Smart enough as individuals, we are collectively no smarter than bacteria. And those willing to curtail children (such as Mal Adapted) will simply remove those genes from the pool, leaving only those genes which select for more births than fewer.

    In 1944 the US Coast Guard introduced 29 reindeer onto the remote St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea, in order to serve as the backup food source for the 19 men stationed there. When World War II ended, the base closed and the men left. David Kline, a biologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visited St. Matthew in 1957 and found a thriving population of an estimated 1350 reindeer. They were feeding on a 4″ thick mat of lichen that covered the 332 km² island. (There were no predators.) In 1963, he found 6000. And then, in 1966, he discovered an island strewn with reindeer skeletons and very little lichen. 42 reindeer survived: 41 females and 1 male in poor health. No fawns. The remaining reindeer all died by 1980.

    We must come to grips with the idea of finding out how to run civilizations that have stable populations. It’s never been done before on a regional, let alone global, scale.

    All currently successful societies depend upon age distributions distorted by an exponential growth curve. No one really knows how to run one over the long term that has zero or negative growth. There are countries, like Italy for example, that experience periods of negative growth for periods of time but even then they import youth labor or else experience difficulties.

    The world’s population has almost tripled in my short life. The sheer mass of humans and their domesticated animals is perhaps now some 99% of all land vertebrates. We are consuming renewable resources substantially faster than rate at which earth replaces them. Add fossil fuels to that.

    It simply cannot continue. We will either figure a way to handle it intelligently and more gradually or else the problem will seek it’s own solution precipitously.

    Worse, we can’t discuss the subject on a scientific basis. There are some who want to “purify” their race. We can’t even open the door to a discussion. Even if that door were open, how does one decide that a gene or trait is “bad?” Is sickle cell anemia bad? It depends. So how do we research or otherwise find the necessary knowledge required to make informed choices about limiting our own populations, even assuming there we could enter into a rational discussion about the whole idea?

    In the meantime, the resources will be exponentially tapped and species die-off will continue on a geometrically driven decline, as we “climb on their backs” to survive. Destroying all the more rapidly the very diversity that otherwise might help protect us from environmental changes we are also making, or support us more generally.

    It can’t continue, yet it will. Ultimately, we are no more intelligent than deer or bacteria in a petri dish. Indistinguishable results, anyway.

    That said, inaction is unacceptable. The only option is significant and rapid action and even then there are no promises. Just hope.

    I do have children and grandchildren, though.

  20. 220
    wili says:

    To each his own “Aieeee!” ‘-)

    Now this:

    “Dozens of Sailors From USS Ronald Reagan Suffering From Cancer After Japan Earthquake Assistance”

    “Over 50 Sailors who served on the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) are Suffering from Thyroid Cancer, Leukemia, and Brain Tumors after participating in Humanitarian assistance during the Japanese earthquake of 2011.

    During the Fukushima Nuclear rescue efforts, sailors onboard the USS Ronald Reagan and apart of the battle group that responded to the disaster, were exposed to high levels of radioactive material while afloat off the East coast of Japan….

    …Crew members in their mid-20′s from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan are coming down with all sorts of radiation-related illnesses after being deployed less than 3 years ago to assist with earthquake rescue operations off the coast of Japan in 2011. It looks as though the onboard desalinization systems that take salt out of seawater to make it drinkable, were taking-in radioactive water from the ocean for the crew to drink, cook with and bath-in, before anyone realized there was a massive radiation spill into the ocean.”

    http://americanlivewire.com/12-15-2013-uss-ronald-reagan-sailors-cancer/

    Thank heavens and Ed that we know that not one of these poor souls will die, since, by official decree, no one anywhere can ever die from nuclear radiation from a nuke plant! /sarc

  21. 221
    prokaryotes says:

    Jon Kirwan: the problem will seek it’s own solution precipitously.

    And that is what is going to happen. Any meddling by other means will just make the situation worse for everybody in the long run. But what could possible go wrong even now? We booby trapped the globe with nuclear plants and that is going to haunt us, even if you are on the other side of the planet.

    There will be more large earthquakes, higher storm surges, more tsunamis, more flooding, more storms which cut electricity etc etc. Basically it will get progressively worse and slowly we pass the short window of opportunity to turn our energy infrastructure or transportation technology, in order to reduce emissions. We are doing the opposite of what would be required. Yes, there is some progress and it’s not to late yet, but seriously i don’t see this happening. We will probably go down while fighting each other about the last nice spots and resources. Just like bacteria in a petri dish.

  22. 222
    Hank Roberts says:

    > progressively worse
    That’s actually the optimistic scenario, remember.
    Worse possibilities are still open, e.g from Catton’s Overshoot as he charted here:
    http://www.greatchange.org/images/catton-3.gif

  23. 223
    David B. Benson says:

    wili @ 220 — American Live Wire is not know to be an authoritative source of information. This story, in particular, contains many improbable elements. In particular, I am certainly under the impression that detectable cancers require many years to develop. You might contrast this story with the known cancer developments from various surface A-bomb tests conducted in the 1950s.

    Color me highly dubious.

    — A moderately knowledgeable skeptic.

    [Finally, just what do these non-facts have to do with climatology?]

  24. 224
    Mal Adapted says:

    Jon Kirwan:

    The only solution won’t happen, though. Smart enough as individuals, we are collectively no smarter than bacteria. And those willing to curtail children (such as Mal Adapted) will simply remove those genes from the pool, leaving only those genes which select for more births than fewer.

    My own thinking about this has “evolved”. I had assumed that the Darwinian imperative to reproduce meant the global human population would inevitably increase until it hit a Malthusian limit. Lately, though, I’ve found reason to wonder about that.

    For example, there’s the well-documented demographic transition that’s taken place throughout the “first world”, and in much of the old “second world” (former Warsaw-pact nations) as well. Now it appears that fertility is falling rapidly in countries such as Brazil and India, while their economies still have a lot of developing to do. The following is from a 2011 National Geographic article:

    In industrialized countries it took generations for fertility to fall to the replacement level or below. As that same transition takes place in the rest of the world, what has astonished demographers is how much faster it is happening there. Though its population continues to grow, China, home to a fifth of the world’s people, is already below replacement fertility and has been for nearly 20 years, thanks in part to the coercive one-child policy implemented in 1979; Chinese women, who were bearing an average of six children each as recently as 1965, are now having around 1.5. In Iran, with the support of the Islamic regime, fertility has fallen more than 70 percent since the early ’80s. In Catholic and democratic Brazil, women have reduced their fertility rate by half over the same quarter century. “We still don’t understand why fertility has gone down so fast in so many societies, so many cultures and religions. It’s just mind-boggling,” says Hania Zlotnik, director of the UN Population Division.

    No doubt there are multiple causes; increasing education for girls and young women is probably one.

    BTW, I can’t let y’all think I’ve forsworn fatherhood out of civic virtue. Truth be told, I just never wanted to be bothered ;^)!

  25. 225
    David B. Benson says:

    In case you were wondering
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-scientist-takes-on-tolkiens-middle-earth
    [Having been through West Texas, I appreciated the subtitle.]

    :-)

  26. 226
    Rick Brown says:

    David B. Benson – this admittedly still has nothing to do with climatology, but since you speculated, leukemia can easily take as little as 2-3 years to develop after exposure to ionizing radiation. I don’t know about thyroid cancer.

    Just a couple of quick citations. (I know that very reliable sources will support the 2-3 year possibility, these are just fell readily to hand.)

    Wikipedia (Radiation-induced cancer): “. . . radiation-induced leukemias typically require 2–10 years to appear.”

    Raidation Effects Research Foundation: “Japanese physician Takuso Yamawaki in Hiroshima first noted an increase of leukemia cases in his clinical practice in the late 1940s.”

  27. 227
    Jon Kirwan says:

    Thanks, Hank Roberts, for mentioning “Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.” I’ll be picking up a copy, ordering one tonight. I also note that I will pick up “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” written a few decades later.

  28. 228
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Benson,
    Actually, a few cancers, such as leukemia and thyroid cancer are fairly quick to develop after radiation exposure. Many others take decades.

  29. 229
    Alexandre says:

    I think Hansen et al. 2013 deserves a post here at RealClimate, since there are no signs of leaving carbon reserves unexplored and buried undergound. They’re even exploring new possibilities in hydrocarbons (like methane clathrate), and looking for new oil reserves (like in the Arctic).

    Man, 20 ºC warming over land?!

    “Climate sensitivity, sea level and atmospheric carbon dioxide”

    Hansen et al. 2013

  30. 230
    Edward Greisch says:

    220 wili: 223 David B. Benson is correct. Go look up “Natural Background Radiation.” I already answered your question. Get yourself a geiger counter.

    WHERE DID NATURAL BACKGROUND RADIATION COME FROM?

    The visible universe [ignoring dark matter and dark energy] started out with only 3 elements: hydrogen, helium and lithium. All other elements were made in stars or by supernova explosions. Our star is a seventh generation star. The previous 6 generations were necessary for the elements heavier than lithium to be built up. Since heavier elements were built by radiation processes, they were very radioactive when first made.

    Our planet was made of the debris of a supernova explosion that happened about 5 billion years ago. The Earth has been decreasing in radioactivity ever since. All elements heavier than iron were necessarily made by accretion of mostly neutrons but sometimes protons onto lighter nuclei. Radioactive decays were necessary to bring these new nuclei into the realm of nuclear stability. That is why all rocks are still radioactive. The supernova made all radioactive elements including plutonium, cesium 137, etcetera.

    Radiation also comes from outer space in the form of cosmic rays. Cosmic rays come from supernovas that are very far away. There will always be cosmic rays.

    Again: 4 Billion years ago, the Earth was a lot more radioactive than it is today. There is no place in or on Earth or in space where there is no radiation. There never was.

  31. 231

    Way, way back upthread, Steve Fish said:

    “All of the CO2 and methane derived from the cow digestive system was just previously captured CO2 from the atmosphere by the growing plants that were used for feed.”

    True to first order, but don’t forget that the plants grown were cultivated carbon-intensively, and that the manure is concentrated, producing considerable amounts of methane:

    http://www1.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/manure-management-and-air-quality/feedlots-and-manure-storage/

    I have no numbers, but it appears that the second order effects might have some climatic bite.

  32. 232

    –And Ed’s “you can’t get there using renewables…”

    If you ask the wrong question, it doesn’t matter how accurately you compute. The premise about month’s worth of storage is incorrect, as shown in the past by peer-reviewed studies linked and thoroughly discussed.

    I’m tempted to get into the questions around the scalability of nuclear energy, as these are consistently ignored by some: how many nuclear engineers and other highly-trained professionals would we need to add to the workforce in order to ‘get there’ with nuclear? How would the necessary financing be done, considering that financing nuclear is extremely difficult for nuclear these days? (Companies realize that Fukushima has pretty well broken TEPCO, and really don’t want to be next, should something go wrong.) And what about the truly massive quantities of water needed for cooling–a vulnerability shared by coal plants, by the way? (The Economist noted a couple of weeks back that there is not nearly enough water available in China to cool the thermal (coal and nuclear) plants they want to build over the next couple of decades. And there have been a couple instances now where nuclear plants have had to be run below capacity over monthly timescales due to a drought-induced lack of cooling capacity. That’s going to be a problem in a number of areas around the world.)

    But those really aren’t the right questions to ask, either. Remember what Mark Lynas (a nuclear fan, by the way) has to say about this:

    http://doc-snow.hubpages.com/hub/Six-Degrees-Choosing-Our-Future

    Essentially, there is no magic bullet. Right now, renewables are scaling up in a most encouraging way, and are beginning to have discernible effects on emissions. But as I note in the overall summary Hub for “Six Degrees,” renewables need to keep expanding exponentially in order to possibly ‘get there’–if the present rate of expansion continues, wind would get us one Socalow-Pacala ‘stabilization wedge’–savings of a billion tonnes of carbon–in 38 years, solar, in 49. Those numbers are probably too pessimistic; one study estimates that addition rates for solar PV will hit 70 GW per year by 2020. If that proves out, and that rate were sustained, we’d hit our first stabilization wedge from solar in 2030.

    However, we need eight wedges.

    So–in the larger picture, Ed is both right and wrong. We are not likely to ‘get there’ purely on the back of the renewable revolution (though I think it is both real and vastly underestimated by many.) But we’re not going to ‘get there’ on the back of nuclear energy, either; even if some drastic breakthrough should occur, the timescale is probably too short already.

    We are going to need to build all kinds of ‘wedges,’ not just renewable ones, or nuclear ones, or energy efficiency ones. Or so the numbers say to me right now, anyway.

  33. 233
    Ray Ladbury says:

    FWIW, thyroid cancer is quick because radioactive iodine concentrates in the thyroid, and there’s a lot of radioactive iodine.

    So, Edward Greisch–where did the plutonium in the soil around Rocky Flats near Boulder, CO? Never forget that humans are very innovative when it comes to stupidity.

  34. 234
    Hank Roberts says:

    > cow digestive system

    Also, feedlots:
    Is Corn Ethanol a Low-Carbon Fuel?

    The key factors determining carbon emissions for corn-based ethanol are (1) whether coal or natural gas is used to power the ethanol plant, (2) whether distillers grains are dried or sold wet, and (3) whether expansion of corn acreage comes mainly from reduced acreage of lower-value crops or if idled land is brought into production.

    The first of these factors is largely under the control of ethanol plant owners. Not drying distillers grains is feasible only if large beef feedlots or dairies are located near the ethanol plants…. strategic siting of cattle operations can greatly enhance ethanol’s low-carbon credentials….

  35. 235
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney — 19 Dec 2013 @ 9:31 AM

    Kevin, I have said repeatedly that using fossil carbon to grow human or plant food is contributing to global warming, so I agree with what you are saying (I think). Now if you are saying that the poop from a natural grass fed cow wasn’t made only from previously captured atmospheric CO2, then I disagree. It is bad agricultural practices that should be the focus of concern.

    Steve

  36. 236
    Mal Adapted says:

    Kevin McKinney:

    For some numbers, see OnceJolly’s comment @16 Dec 2013 at 10:56 AM, mine @16 Dec 2013 at 12:45 PM, and links therein.

  37. 237

    wili wrote in 220:

    Thank heavens and Ed that we know that not one of these poor souls will die, since, by official decree, no one anywhere can ever die from nuclear radiation from a nuke plant! /sarc

    I half thought you must be making this claim up, but then I did a quick search:

    Apart from Chernobyl, no nuclear workers or members of the public have ever died as a result of exposure to radiation due to a commercial nuclear reactor incident.

    Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors
    (Updated October 2013)
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Safety-of-Nuclear-Power-Reactors/

    No one has ever died as the result of radiation due to commercial reactors in exactly the same way as no one has ever died of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking. You cannot prove that any individual who got cancer wouldn’t have gotten it without the exposure. The causal association is always statistical.

  38. 238
    OnceJolly says:

    Re- Comment by Kevin McKinney @ 19 Dec 2013 at 9:31 AM:

    “…don’t forget that the plants grown were cultivated carbon-intensively…”

    Sure. However, the FAO’s most recent study offers some perspective on this issue, attributing 5 percent of anthropogenic CO2 emissions to livestock (pg. 15), which includes feed production and land-use change (e.g. clearing forest for cropland for feed and pasture). The same study estimates the sector’s share of overall GHG emissions, using 100-year GWPs to convert methane and nitrous oxide emissions into CO2-equivalent figures, at 14.5 percent. Of the 7.1 GTCO2e attributed to the sector, 2 are from CO2, 3.1 are from methane and the remaining 2 are N20 (pg. 15).

  39. 239

    #235–Steve, we are in agreement (I think.) ;-)

    Mal, Once–thanks.

  40. 240
    Susan Anderson says:

    If anyone is interested in a highly amateur take on what’s important about how we know we don’t know, with some epistemology thrown in, Tobis has kindly given me a platform to invite thinkers about thought to talk about communication in the context of what is not knowledge:

    http://planet3.org/2013/12/14/the-usefulness-of-knowing-what-we-dont-know/

    I wasn’t sure if keeping silence, or putting this on the communication thread would be better. But you all have been surprisingly tolerant of this amateur, so there it is.

  41. 241
  42. 242
    Edward Greisch says:

    237 Timothy Chase: Thanks very much for the URL.
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Safety-of-Nuclear-Power-Reactors/

    Please read this book: “Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear” by Wade Allison. [The Wade Allison in England, not the other Wade Allison at Harvard.]
    http://www.radiationandreason.com/
    Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, a little more than 1000 times the present “legal” limit. The old limit was 5 rems/lifetime. A single dose of 800 rems could kill you, but if you have time to recover between doses of 10 rems, no problem. It is like donating blood: You see “4 gallon donor” stickers on cars. You know they didn’t give 4 gallons all at once. There is a threshold just over 10 rems/month [100 millisieverts/month]. You are getting .35 rems/year NATURAL background radiation right where you are right now if you are where I am.

    Radiation workers were allowed 5 rems /lifetime. Divide 5 rems by your present Natural Background Radiation. For Americans, Natural Background Radiation is at least .35 rems/year. Our Natural Background Radiation uses up our 5 rems/lifetime when we are 14 years old. That old regulation is nonsense.

    Natural Background Radiation is radiation that was always there, 1000 years ago, a million years ago, etc. Natural Background Radiation comes from the rocks in the ground and from exploding stars thousands of light years away. All rocks contain uranium. Radon gas is a decay product of uranium.

    1rem = .01 sievert = 10 millisievert
    milli means .001

    And please get yourself a geiger counter. You can have fun panicking until you realize that you are measuring natural background radiation that has been here for billions of years.

  43. 243
    Edward Greisch says:

    217 Aaron: So what are you going to do besides divest from fossil fuel interests? Remember, we have 40 years to live, not 40 years to act.

    226 Rick Brown 228 Ray Ladbury: Leukemia more likely comes from benzene which comes from petroleum, coal and burning scented candles. Refineries dump enormous amounts of benzene into the air.

    Read this Book “Radiation, What it is, What You Need to Know” by Robert Peter Gale, M.D. and Eric Lax, 2013
    The color plate just before page 115 shows a graphic of some things that cause cancer. From highest to lowest they are:
    Smoking
    Sharing a room with a smoker
    air pollution from hazardous chemicals
    formaldehyde in indoor air
    Dioxins and furans in food
    PCBs in food
    Fukushima
    Current exposure to fallout
    Benzene
    Chromium
    Vinyl Chloride

    Of course, genetics is also a cause of cancer.

  44. 244
    Edward Greisch says:

    233 Ray Ladbury: Do you live in Rocky Flats near Boulder, CO?

    232 Kevin McKinney: I have answered all of your questions about nuclear too many times. YES WE CAN do it with nuclear. But rather than repeat myself, you can read most of the equivalent on BraveNewClimate.com.
    Kevin McKinney: Observe the taboo.
    RC: Please enforce the taboo retroactively.

  45. 245
    John Mashey says:

    People who followed the Salby affair may find my review @ Amazon of his 2012 book to be enlightening. Also, read the comments.

    He kicked off his campaign in July 2011, by submitting an abstract “Rebound of Antarctic Ozone” accepted for a stratospheric session, got an oral timeslot at a conference, and with no notice talked instead about his ideas that CO2 rise was a side-effect of temperature rise.
    This is not behavior welcomed by program committees.
    John N-G attended, and commented on it here at RC.

  46. 246
    James says:

    Forgive my non-professional tone and general ignorance. I’m new to this place.

    Recently I read this:
    http://www.thenation.com/article/177614/coming-instant-planetary-emergency#

    And that got me in a rabbit hole of doomsaying near-time-extinction reading, culminating in this post by Guy McPhearson
    http://guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

    Is it really this bad? How bad can it get by 2020? 2030? 2050?

    I am not at all exaggerating when I say that this revelation (well, it’s a revelation to me anyways) has made honestly suicidal. What’s the point?

    Am I just missing something? While we’re on a bad track, is it really this bad? Will the current trend of warming and feedback loops really take us to a world where we’re DOOMED? And doomed SOON?

    Anyone?

  47. 247
    Susan Anderson says:

    James @~246, McPherson takes a pessimistic view which many scientists feel is too extreme. The situation is bad, but it’s likely it’s not quite that bad. Action rather than suicide, pulleaze! I’m a bit of an extremist myself, but not to that point and the guys here are very good at evaluating the evidence and are more moderate. We need to pull together, not give up and your bit like everyone’s is of value.

  48. 248
    Ray Ladbury says:

    James@246 asks: “Is it really this bad? How bad can it get by 2020? 2030? 2050?”

    It depends on what we choose to do about the threats that confront us. If we do nothing, things could get pretty bad. Up to 2020, you can expect more of the trends we are already seeing–increased weather extremes, increased losses due to severe weather, possibly some pressure on food production in marginal areas. By 2030, remember we’ll be dealing with a significantly larger population as well as worsening climate. We may start seeing significant degradation in the oceans, including coral reefs and fish stocks. More drought putting more pressure on marginal agricultural areas. By 2050 or maybe a bit after, we will hopefully see the crest of human population at 9-10 billion. This will exert serious pressure on the capacity of Earth to support us even as the climate degrades its ability to do so. The CIA has looked at this and anticipates a whole helluva lot of unrest. Maybe we should leave a time capsule with a note to posterity: “Sorry!”

  49. 249

    #246, James, do not take McPherson seriously.

    Things are bad in some ways, but nowhere near as bad as he makes out.

    Some of us are trying mightily to avoid a future where there is a period of collapse, which can be defined as mortality-driven human population decrease. If we have such a regression it is likely to be severe and ugly. From most appearances this decline remains avoidable; taking it all the way to extinction is nonsense.

    Why McPherson enjoys scaring people this way is mysterious. Presumably he doesn’t sell enough books to make a significant income from them. They make lousy Christmas gifts!

    His position is entirely baseless, starting from the bogus methane “bomb” scenario which he alleges will kick everything off. It may suffice at a first pass for you to read http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/11/arctic-and-american-methane-in-context/ and http://www.skepticalscience.com/toward-improved-discussions-methane.html .

  50. 250
    Hank Roberts says:

    For James; same TheNation article noted without comment on 18 Dec 2013 at 11:47 AM

    To elaborate: ‘oogle the names and terms thrown up in that TheNation piece, like this:

    site:realclimate.org wadhams

    site:realclimate.org “methane emergency”

    and you’ll find most of that stuff amply discussed here previously.

    It’s a repackaging of old stories. Scary stories, yes. Not news.


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