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Can planting trees save our climate?

Filed under: — stefan @ 16 July 2019

In recent weeks, a new study by researchers at ETH Zurich has hit the headlines worldwide (Bastin et al. 2019). It is about trees. The researchers asked themselves the question: how much carbon could we store if we planted trees everywhere in the world where the land is not already used for agriculture or cities? Since the leaves of trees extract carbon in the form of carbon dioxide – CO2 – from the air and then release the oxygen – O2 – again, this is a great climate protection measure. The researchers estimated 200 billion tons of carbon could be stored in this way – provided we plant over a trillion trees.

The media impact of the new study was mainly based on the statement in the ETH press release that planting trees could offset two thirds of the man-made CO2 increase in the atmosphere to date. To be able to largely compensate for the consequences of more than two centuries of industrial development with such a simple and hardly controversial measure – that sounds like a dream! And it was immediately welcomed by those who still dream of climate mitigation that doesn’t hurt anyone.

Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true. Because apples are compared to oranges and important feedbacks in the Earth system are forgotten. With a few basic facts about the CO2 increase in our atmosphere this is easy to understand. Mankind is currently blowing 11 billion tonnes of carbon (gigatonnes C, abbreviated GtC) into the air every year in the form of CO2 – and the trend is rising. These 11 GtC correspond to 40 gigatons of CO2, because the CO2molecule is 3.7 times heavier than only the C atom. Since 1850, the total has been 640 GtC – of which 31 % is land use (mostly deforestation), 67 % fossil energy and 2 % other sources. All these figures are from the Global Carbon Project, an international research consortium dedicated to the monitoring of greenhouse gases.

The result is that the amount of CO2 in our air has risen by half and is thus higher than it has been for at least 3 million years (Willeit et al. 2019). This is the main reason for the ongoing global warming. The greenhouse effect of CO2 has been known since the 19th century; it is physically understood and completely undisputed in science.

Room for more trees? Sheep grazing on deforested land in New Zealand. (Photo S.R.)

But: this CO2 increase in the air is only equivalent to a total of just under 300 GtC, although we emitted 640 GtC! This means that, fortunately, only less than half of our emissions remained in the atmosphere, the rest was absorbed by oceans and forests. Which incidentally proves that the CO2 increase in the atmosphere was caused entirely by humans. The additional CO2 does not come from the ocean or anywhere else from nature. The opposite is true: the natural Earth system absorbs part of our CO2 burden from the atmosphere.

Conversely, this also means that if we extract 200 GtC from the atmosphere, the amount in the atmosphere does not decrease by 200 GtC, but by much less, because oceans and forests also buffer this. This, too, has already been examined in more detail in the scientific literature. Jones et al. 2016 found that the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere amounts to only 60% or less of the negative emissions, when these are implemented on the background of a mitigation scenario (RCP2.6).

We can also compare the “negative emissions” from tree planting to our other emissions. The 200 GtC would be less than one third of the 640 GtC total emissions, not two thirds. And the authors of the new study say that it would take fifty to one hundred years for the thousand billion trees to store 200 GtC – an average of 2 to 4 GtC per year, compared to our current emissions of 11 GtC per year. That’s about one-fifth to one-third – and this proportion will decrease if emissions continue to grow. This sounds quite different from the prospect of solving two-thirds of the climate problem with trees. And precisely because reforestation takes a very long time, it should be taboo today to cut down mature, species-rich forests, which are large carbon reservoirs and a valuable treasure trove of biological diversity.

There is another problem that the authors do not mention: a considerable part of the lands eligible for planting are in the far north in Alaska, Canada, Finland and Siberia. Although it is possible to store carbon there with trees, albeit very slowly, this would be counterproductive for the climate. For in snowy regions, forests are much darker than snow-covered unwooded areas. While the latter reflect a lot of solar radiation back into space, the forests absorb it and thus increase global warming instead of reducing it (Bala et al. 2007, Perugini et al. 2017). And increased regional warming of the Arctic permafrost areas in particular would be a terrible mistake: permafrost contains more carbon than all trees on earth together, around 1,400 GtC. We’d be fools to wake this sleeping giant.

And there are other question marks. Using high-resolution satellite maps and Google Earth, the researchers have analyzed where there is a suitable place for forests where none is currently growing, leaving out farmland and cities. With the help of machine learning technology, natural areas around the world were evaluated to determine the climate and soil conditions under which forests can thrive. The free and suitable land areas found in this way amount to 1.8 billion hectares – as much as the combined area of China and the USA.

But for many of these areas, there are probably good reasons why there is currently no forest. Often they are simply grazing lands – the authors respond that they have only assumed loose tree cover there, which could even be beneficial for grazing animals. The Dutch or Irish pastures would then resemble a savannah. Nevertheless, there are likely to be considerable obstacles of very different kinds on many of these areas, which are not apparent from the bird’s-eye view of the satellites. The authors of the study also write that it is unclear how much of the areas found would actually be available for planting.

Therefore, I’d still consider it optimistic to assume that half of the calculated theoretical planting potential can be realized in practice. Then we’re talking of 1-2 GtC of negative emissions per year. But that is precisely what we will need urgently in the future. The current global CO2 emissions can be reduced by 80-90 % through transforming our energy, heating and transport systems – but there will remain a rest that will be hard get rid of (e.g. from agriculture, industrial processes and long-haul flights) and that we will have to offset in order to stabilize the global climate.

The study by the ETH researchers has another important result that has hardly been reported. Without effective climate protection, progressive warming will lead to a massive loss of existing forest cover, especially in the tropics. At the same time, the models are not yet able to make reliable statements on how forests can cope with new extremes, fire, thawing permafrost, insects, fungi and diseases in a changing climate.

Global warming threatens massive forest losses (red), especially in the tropics. Fig. 3 from Bastin et al., Science 2019

The massive planting of trees worldwide is therefore a project that we should tackle quickly. We should not do that with monocultures but carefully, close to nature and sustainably, in order to reap various additional benefits of forests on local climate, biodiversity, water cycle and even as a food source. But we must not fall for illusions about how many billions of tons of CO2 this will take out of the atmosphere. And certainly not for the illusion that this will buy us time before abandoning fossil fuel use. On the contrary, we need a rapid end to fossil energy use precisely because we want to preserve the world’s existing forests.

Links

Would a large-scale tree restoration effort stop climate change? Forest expert Marcus Lindner from EFI points to the fires in Russia and the success story in China.

How to erase 100 years of carbon emissions? Plant trees-lots of them. National Geographic shows the importance of indigenous peoples as guardians of the forest.

Restoring forests as a means to many ends The commentary in Science on the Bastin study revolves around the question of how sustainable reforestation can be designed with multiple benefits beyond mere carbon storage.

Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis Guardian

Analysis: How ‘natural climate solutions’ can reduce the need for BECCS Last year Carbon Brief prepared this analysis of how much carbon mitigation potential may be expected from “green” solutions like tree planting or biochar.

222 Responses to “Can planting trees save our climate?”

  1. 151
    Mal Adapted says:

    nigelj:

    there is a third option of reducing population size by just promoting use of contraception and the wisdom of having smaller families, better education of women and promotion of womens rights, and better healthcare and pension systems which makes smaller families attractive. This could make a surprising difference to population size. Even a fertility rate of 1.5 achieved over the next two decades would stop population reaching 10 billion people. Challenging to achieve but far from impossible.

    Indeed, those factors are cited in the decline of total fertility rate globally from 1950-2015. In that interval, a few nations have retained high TFR, but sharp declines are seen in Africa and elsewhere. Globally the fertility rate has been halved, and the average woman has fewer than 2.5 children today. That’s approaching replacement rate, at which population eventually stops growing. The linked site has lots of interesting population graphics, along with a blog post:

    The first section of the entry presents the global empirical perspective on the number of children per woman. The long second section presents the academic research that answers the question why the number of children per woman declined. Particularly important are 1) the empowerment of women in society and in relationships – through education, labor force participation, and strengthened women’s rights – and 2) the increased well-being and status of children.

    Whatever their causes, if current fertility trends continue, global population should top out around 11-12 billion early next century. That’s still a lot of people, and of course a lot can happen between now and then. The impact of AGW on global TFR, especially, could be complicated. Regardless, population-growth alarmists who ignore current demographic data are more easily exposed as racist.

  2. 152

    Quoth mike:

    Hey, go conduct a month long study at Fukushima. Can you do that or are you all just talk?

    I thought about taking a year in the exclusion zone and blogging about it, but I had responsibilities here and didn’t have the funds.  Possibly GoFundMe or KickStarter would have gotten me the money, but I would have had to apply for a visa and what would I say was the purpose of my visit, prove that Japanese government policy about radiation is silly?  That would be a real winner with the conformity-oriented Japanese, I’m sure (not).  Then there was the chance of being caught and thrown out, the difficulty of living where most services were not available (likely including electric and certainly internet), etc.

    Now I am free of those responsibilities but most of the former evacuation zone is fully open to residency again.  The time is past.

    OTOH the beach at Guarapari is still as radioactive as ever.  If you want to pay me to go there this winter and heap myself in radioactive thorium sand, I’ll be happy to do so.  I’ll set up a GoFundMe and plan a trip for as long as the money you all chip in holds out.  I’ll be sure to video my dosimeter readings a la bionerd23, though I can guarantee you that I am not nearly so photogenic as she.

  3. 153
    zebra says:

    #141 engineer-poet,

    You people always give yourselves away.

    zebra: “establish a free market for electricty

    ep: “Stop RIGHT THERE. This is about WAY more than just electric generation…If you fail to consider these AS SYSTEMS, you are going to miss synergies and will come up with a much more expensive solution than is necessary.”

    So, the free market will come up with “a much more expensive solution”. Got it. Because competitive, internalized, markets never discover synergies and reduce costs, right? But monopolies are always looking out for the consumer….

    It’s obvious that you are simply dodging the issue and propagandizing, rather than trying to deal with climate change, because:

    -If you have your disincentive carbon pricing, and nuclear is the cheapest way to produce electricity, and heat if you like, then that’s what people will choose in a free market. Duh.

    -If people are “freezing in the dark” because other options are so ineffective, as you and the Denialist trolls claim, then they will be happy to have one of your nuclear units next door…it will be ‘safe enough’. Duh.

    It’s just that simple.

    I think you’ve demonstrated my original hypothesis well enough. Denialist/Russian troll, or just someone whose incoherent thought process aligns with the standard memes they put on line, and copies them. Certainly not a creative thinker. (And I have worked with a few engineers who were, but then they had jobs and didn’t have the time to deluge comment threads.)

  4. 154
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @138

    “nigel: There is nothing stopping Africa broadening its export base to include more manufactured goods ”

    “AB: Uh, maybe you should look at the data. The west promoted dictators and destruction while signing contracts that indebted Africa at usurious rates. As if Africa could climb out of that trap.Obviously you have NEVER had to concern yourself with debt.”

    That is true and it was despicable, and an interesting related book is “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” on how America economically manipulated and indebted Africa and Latin America, but its all mostly IN THE PAST. Many of Africa’s economies now have lower debt and reasonable growth, but are still very reliant on raw materials exports. They could change this with better education, stopping tribal squabbles, some government support, stop doing dumb things, stop the corruption, and if their people stopped electing fools. Im not taking the blame for Africas incompetence.

    I agree with you Ray Ladbury is getting a bit too bluntly personal in some of his comments.

  5. 155

    Quoth Adam Lea:

    When it comes to renewable energy, the issue is not fluctuation and storage, there are solutions to thoise issues

    Can you show me where they have been SOLVED?  It would be a huge load off my mind if I could be relieved of the idea that “renewables” are deliberately unworkable in order to keep the fossil-fuel companies in business.

    Back-of-the-envelope calculation:  A Tesla Gigafactory can build about 30 GWh of cells per year.  Average US electric load is roughly 450 GW.  So every year, 1 Gigafactory can make 30 GWh/450 GW = 1/15 hour = 4 MINUTES of storage for the average electric load of the USA.

    There are other things we can store.  We can turn electricity into ice and use it for A/C later.  I’m in the patent process right now with an idea to turn excess electricity into storable chemical energy (not reversible, not a battery).  But “simple” and “cheap” are two words that seldom apply to these things.

    What is needed is for someone to come up with a roadmap showing how we get from out current situation, to the zero carbon future, using whatever methods are possible, and taking into account public cooperation (which nothing will happen without).

    Too true.  Drawing a map doesn’t mean a sufficient number of people are going to vote to follow it.

    On the other hand, without a map nobody is going to have anything to vote FOR, and skepticism about wasted effort is entirely justified.  That’s why I’m trying to work up a sketch of an all-nuclear USA.  I’m starting with 3.3 TW(th) of nuclear heat and working from there.  So far the numbers look quite achievable and 3.3 TW might be a substantial overbuild.

    I can’t afford to pay for help on this but if anyone would like to volunteer, I have a couple of pieces of data drudgery that would really help get this thing off the ground:

    1.  A list of industries using process heat ranked by energy consumption and required temperature at point of use.  Starting point:  EIA table 5.2 and table 5.3.

    2.  A list of urban areas in the US and Canada, listed by heating degree-days, population and per-capita heating fuel consumption.  Basically, seeing what fraction of the continent can be served by district heating before trying to deal with the rest.  I don’t know where to start on this yet.

  6. 156

    Quoth Michael D. Sweet:

    My precious post should read “zero national organizations that oppose LRNT”.

    Again, try Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information, https://radiationeffects.org/.

  7. 157
    nigelj says:

    David B. Benson @142, thanks for the information on effects of low level nuclear radiation. I dont know about health spas, it could be the placebo effect. Conversation has strayed off topic, but sometimes when it gets interesting its best to just go with the flow. There is nothing stopping people posting more stuff on trees.

    I’m trying to keep an open mind on the nuclear issue. We may need all possible weapons in the arsenal. If the world really wakes up to the climate problem, and there are signs it might be doing this, any expansion of any one technology will have ‘bottlenecks’ in the supply chain so we would probably need a combination of electricity generation options, and low emissions transport options, and it might lead to a more urgent need for planting trees.

  8. 158

    Quoth Rey:

    You keep saying this. You are intentionally (it appears) misreading and distorting the facts here.

    Irony squared!

    The immune system’s stepped up response to radiation is not proof of its safety.

    The immune system is not involved in DNA repair.  OTOH it is involved in targeting of mutant cells uncovered by radiation-stimulated DNA integrity testing.

    Rather, it’s evidence the exact opposite.

    Even in high-radiation environments, most of the DNA damage in your cells comes from free radicals produced by aerobic metabolism.  (If I can ever get Tagsieve running again I will post links to presentations.)  If a small dose of radiation doubles DNA repair activity, MOST of the damage repaired will be from free radicals.  That’s pretty easily proven in vitro and explains the in-vivo effects observed.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370950/

    I recommend a class in basic biology.

    That links to something about Salmonella.  The only appearance of the string “radi” in the entire page is the word “paradigm”.  Who needs basic biology again?

  9. 159
    Rey says:

    David B. Benson. I’m no expert, but my understanding of the anecdotal positive effects of radiation hormesis, and other cases of hormesis and the body’s “stepped up immune response” to low dose toxins and the benefits accrued therefrom, is that they are an indication of physiological stress, something that should not be maintained longterm, and that the temporary heightening of health is because while the body routinely allows certain non-critical things to slide without majorly triggering the system (due, possibly, to the energy required), when the system is activated, those things that were allowed to slide before because they weren’t deemed serious enough by the body to deal with at the time, are now addressed by default. So little ailments will suddenly clear up leading to the mistaken conclusion that the toxin itself was a positive. Again, a heightened immune system or response should always be a cause for concern and investigation. It should not be always ON as in a state of warfare. That generally indicates the presence of toxin(s) or pathogen(s) that need to be dealt with asap.

    https://www.nap.edu/catalog/11340/health-risks-from-exposure-to-low-levels-of-ionizing-radiation

    There’s no doubt that all kinds of industry would absolutely love it if their particular toxins were considered hormetic.

    https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-secret-science-20190219-story.html

    Whether there is an actual positive effect from smoking, or breathing in paint fumes (“huffing”) or getting doused with hideous chemicals or radiation exposure etc. etc., the lesson should be to reduce or eliminate exposure to these things, not increase it.

    I might point out too that the allowable minimum exposure to radiation, as indicated by EP, is already being legally met, 0.1 rem (1 mSv) a year. There’s your beloved hormesis. We don’t need, don’t want more simply because it would be more convenient for the nuke industry. It’s outrageous to ask people to accept that.

  10. 160
    Rey says:

    David B. Benson at 142. Fine. But I wouldn’t test out hormesis by adding a little bit of strychnine to your cereal.

  11. 161

    nigelj, prepare for brutal fisking without lube:

    You suggest low levels of radiation are harmless and would actually stimulate the immune system to improve resistance, and you use Colorado as an example where there are higher than normal levels of natural background radiation, but they have better than average health. There are so many obvious problems with this, because the differences in radiation are smallish

    EXCUSE ME?  Did you miss where I cited the 1958 BEAR report which included (on pp. 30-31 starting at para. 14) an observation that 0.8 rad/day of Co-60 gamma radiation EXTENDED THE LIFESPAN OF SPRAGUE-DAWLEY RATS BY A MINIMUM OF 25%?  That same report notes (on p. 30 para. 15) that similar results were observed in mice and guinea pigs.

    That’s MINIMUM 25% greater mean lifespan under substantial gamma exposure, and you call these differences “smallish”?  The highest background radiation in greater Tokyo is at Edogawa, at 0.0454 μGy/hr or about 0.4 mGy/year (roughly 0.4 mSv/yr).  Humans in Colorado receive about 11.8 mSv/yr from natural sources, about 30 times as much as the maximum in Tokyo.

    I would prefer NOT to have to beat you over the head with these 61-year-old publications, but apparently I am forced to in order to disabuse you of disinformation and align you with reality.

    Coloradian’s good health could be due numerous aspects of lifestyle and environment.

    If their excess radiation was a negative, they would require exceptional lifestyle compensations.  There are no such compensations in evidence.  Either document some, or admit that radiation at Colorado levels is NOT a negative influence upon human health and may be positive.

    Even if it’s simply non-negative, it means that most of the Fukushima and Chernobyl evacuations were wrong.  They uprooted people (harming them) to avoid harmless radiation doses.

    There is good empirical evidence for the linear no threshold model, as below:

    http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11340

    Let me quote your own cited report back to you:

    The committee’s risk models for exposure to low-level ionizing radiation were based on a sex and age distribution similar to that of the entire U.S. population, and refer to the risk that an individual would face over his or her life span. These models predict that about one out of 100 people would likely develop solid cancer or leukemia from an exposure of 0.1 Sv (100 mSv).

    The post adds:

    About 42 additional people in the same group would be expected to develop solid cancer or leukemia from other causes. Roughly half of these cancers would result in death.

    Coloradans are receiving about 0.012 Sv/yr, 0.84 Sv over a 70-year lifespan.  Per said model, about 8.4% of Coloradans would develop solid cancers over a lifetime versus unexposed controls.

    What do the cancer pros think?  The American Cancer Society estimated 26,800 cancers for Colorado in 2019 vs. 67,150 for Ohio.  Based on 2015 populations, that’s 4.91/1k for Colorado vs. 5.78/1k for Ohio.  (I hesitate to look at low-radiation Florida because it’s a big retirement destination.)  Regardless, over 80 years that’s a reduced lifetime chance of cancer from roughly 46% to about 39%, the precise opposite of what the LNT model predicts.

    Radiation pros keep coming up with these things which go the exact opposite of LNT predictions.  How many observations contrary to theory did it take to throw out the idea of phlogiston?  LNT should have been on the ash-heap of history decades ago if it was ever adopted in the first place, but it continues because it is POLITICALLY useful.  Know what else was wrong but politically useful?  Lysenkoism.  Not exactly good company to keep.

    the nuclear industry’s best plan in America looks like it would be a fresh start with new generation technology that is not associated with melt downs. You are unlikely to sway public opinion on water cooled reactors.

    We can’t wait to have an entirely new technology before we start building; we are already 30 years too late.  NuScale is a water-cooled reactor that is specifically designed so that it cannot melt down.  The way to prove this is to build a few and demonstrate it, just as was done with the loss-of-cooling demonstration at EBR-2.  After a few very PUBLIC demonstrations, the nay-sayers won’t be taken so seriously any more.  I hope.

    S-PRISM has no water at all, no water-zirconium reactions possible, and is air-cooled for emergency cooling.  Walk-away safe.  The way to prove it is to build a few and do public demonstrations.

    we have to be careful that we are very sure low level radiation is harmless before the industry is deregulated. If its harmless why doesn’t the industry write some peer reviewed science on it?

    I keep linking you to the science, and you deny that it exists.

  12. 162
    nigelj says:

    Adam Lea @145

    “I detest these appeals to emotion non-arguments, and judging things by the absolute worst possible scenario, ignoring the probability of that scenario happening, or whether on average it is less destructive than the status quo over the long term…..I always believed that this blog was different, being maintained by world class scientists trained in logical thinking, and contributions from similar, one could have a logical constructive debate…”

    So do I. Frustrates me as well.

    “When it comes to renewable energy, the issue is not fluctuation and storage, there are solutions to those issues. The main issue as I see it is that to power a country on 100% renewables, a huge surface area is required to build enough renewable energy generation facilities…..”

    Does this matter, provided renewable energy is not crowding out other uses? I have seen good quality calculations that converting America to a combination of solar power and on shore wind power uses less than 1% of the land area. There is therefore likely to be enough waste land, and the places most suitable for wind turbines are generally hillsides on farms where cattle can wander beneath the pylons.

    Of course wind power can also go offshore, and then the wind tower problem is solved for all practical purposes, and the cost of such wind farms are coming down fast. I do realise this might be an issue because America has such a vast interior to reach but just thinking in general principles.

    The following is relevant:

    https://www.freeingenergy.com/how-much-solar-would-it-take-to-power-the-u-s/

    Your links are interesting. There doesn’t look like enough of a gap between energy demands and what renewable energy can provide to be a huge problem, however I have only read the chapter one in the link. The article makes a good point that we cannot do everything, so for example massive areas of land in forests AND biofuel crops, AND BECCS, and regenerative agriculture AND solar farms (these are admittedly quite space hungry). Some plan that prioritises things is required. You could start with determining the minimum area of land required for sustainable and efficient food production, and put a stake in the ground no more deforestation. What is left then can be divided up between new forest sinks, crops for biofuels, and solar panels. In reality the market will decide a lot of this on a gradual basis, but it would be good to have some red lines, so we know if for example if the market is doing absurd things, eg if planting trees is crowding out growing food. Make no mistake it is possible.

    I think leave the development of renewable energy largely up to market forces, and let generating companies decide what they want to build. So the government has some basic environmental regulations to protect health, like scrubbers on coal fired power plants and for structurally sound wind towers, etc. Have a carbon tax that penalises fossil fuels, and possibly subsidies for renewable energy (I include nuclear in that group with solar and wind power, so be even handed). Countries that have already done such things are seeing a shift to renewable energy, often because its cheaper even without subsidies. The problems in this whole climate issue seems more a lack of political will, than to do with a lack of land or technology or sensible policy options.

  13. 163
    Al Bundy says:

    Intermittent fasting is very good for longevity. Radiation could have a similar effect, and folks who holiday in areas with higher radiation might benefit. I’m not so enamored with constant fasting and if your house has SIG ificant radon I’d recommend abatement, but that’s just an opinion.

    One of EP’s points about safety is true: future nukes have to be walkaway safe to be considered. EP should apply the same future-thinking to renewables, eh? Wind tech has reached about 80% availability and 50% capacity factor. Intermittance is about as “old news” as using Chernobl’s design flaws to “prove” that walkaway safe is impossible.

    EP, you forget that other regions won’t agree with your vision of limiting access to electricity to “us”. ” They” will be electrified and if ” we” forego renewables “we” will have to sell “them” nukes. Or do you have a solution?

    And remember, black swans don’t just happen. Humans tend to breed them. It wouldn’t take much fertilizer to do a Tim McVeigh that would erase the value of a city. Just drive the truck into a spent fuel pool.

    EP, thanks for the definitions explanation. Perhaps “nuclear battery” is a better term? Subcritical and staying that way.

    I think you’ve brought value, but please remember that we’re stretching the limits and running on the tolerance of the mods.

    Killian, please. I asked you to explain what Jan did. You refused/refrained. So either explain or apologize. (And while I’m asking the impossible, flap your arms and fly) and if you disagree that you are literally unable to ever apologize to anyone for anything, cut and paste an example.

    While you’re at it. Cut and paste where I supposedly defended EP from you. It didn’t happen yet you’re obviously convinced that you can spout lies and nobody will scroll up and find out that you hallucinated the whole scene

    Nigel,
    NZ sure seems like an island of sanity. I salute you and your homeland.

  14. 164
    t marvell says:

    The only chance that planting trees could help much is if someone develops genetically modified trees that grow much faster than trees currently do and that can grow in adverse conditions. Genetic modifications (including modifications by cross breeding and by gene manipulation) have radically changed food and fiber crops. There should be a massive effort to do the same for trees.

  15. 165
    Rey says:

    Adam Lea. “Alas, it is disappointing to see that even on here, a discussion will go down the toilet eventually, like matter falling into a black hole.”

    You’re right, of course. I apologize for allowing myself to get involved in this argument and for the distraction away from Stefan’s excellent post. Consider my contribution over.

    Anyway, I’ve wondered about the issue of where trees should be planted. Speculated that it should be mostly in the deciduous belt. India has embarked on a massive tree planting program. If one of the poorest countries in the world can do it, the rest of us certainly can. Let’s not wait for Arbor Day.

  16. 166
    David B. Benson says:

    Rey @150 — The immune system has nothing to do with the cell’s response to low dose ionizing radiation. The DNA repair is the same as the highly frequent redox damage repair. See the description under the title “Molecular sensor scouts DNA …”

  17. 167
    David B. Benson says:

    Michael D Sweet @147 — Organizational support for this or that is meaningless in science; it is whether the interpretation of the data is correct. Or not. In the case of BEIR VII there are many errors; see the papers by Siegel et al. and by Cardarelli & Ulsh. Full citations and links can be found towards the end of the Wade Allison thread at the BNC Discussion Forum.

    Anyone who is civil and on topic can post there. As there is a threaded per topic, one doesn’t find misdirected threads the way that happens here. I prefer it as a place to put links to a variety of topics.

  18. 168
    David B. Benson says:

    Here are some ISS space station photographs of Siberia burning:
    https://www.google.com/amp/amp.abc.net.au/article/11344646
    The second one is especially important, showing multiple point sources of the fires.

    For the effects on communities, see
    https://siberiantimes.com/ecology/others/news/more-than-two-million-hectares-on-fire-in-siberia-with-turndra-on-fire-destryoing-the-permafrost/

    I suppose that the pollution will eventually reach Washington state, as it did last year.

  19. 169
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Al Bundy,
    There is a difference between lack of intelligence and stupidity. Stupidity is using whatever intelligence you have to reinforce your prejudices–so the stupidest people are often quite intelligent.

    If someone embraces racism, it’s pointless to argue with them. It shows they are lazy, and dishonest with themselves. The fact that he is willing to make arguments about intelligence based on IQ shows he is innumerate–or would you be willing to drive on a bridge built by someone who uses “averages” for random subsets of the data to make specific arguments about individuals.

    Never wrestle with a pig in filth–it’s dirty and disgusting, you won’t win, and the pig enjoys it.

  20. 170

    And before I forget, here is the almost-30-year-old shipyard radiation worker study from 1981.  Note the typo in the abstract; the study was powerful enough to detect a 5x increase with 99% likelihood, so the “84” number had to mean 84%.

    Two facts stand out:

    There was no dose-response relation with radiation or any increased mortality in radiation over non-radiation workers.

    Eyebrow-raising because of this fact:

    7615 workers with radiation exposure of 0.001 to 91.414 rem (mean 2.779 rem, median 0.545 rem)

    Note that an acute dose of 0.7 Grays (70 rem) is enough to induce acute radiation sickness.  One worker accumulated 30% more than that over time and apparently suffered no ill effects.

  21. 171
    Al Bundy says:

    EP,

    I’m currently reading the brand new book “Manual for survival” subtitle “A Chernobyl guide to the future” by Kate Brown. It’s well-written and researched better than any other book I’ve ever read. She speaks multiple languages, including Ukrainian and Russian, and spent years digging through the archives and then tracking down the sources and the survivors, literally walking and driving with her research assistants to wherever the records pointed. For example, in ONE wool washing plant hundreds of women who sort and wash wool died over the years (all but 10). The truckers who delivered the wool are ALL dead. And Chernihiv (the plant’s town) wasn’t hit with any significant fallout. The wool killed them, just like food killed others.

    The reports often went like, “35% of births are either stillborn or died within a year.” Then, in the conclusions they say stuff like, “We conclude that there is no danger to the populace except through the spread of hysteria, which is what is killing these kids (but don’t drink any milk and don’t go in the forest [bioaccumulation] and if your town is above 40 Curies/km2 we’ll eventually relocate you).

    I’m coming to realize that the fall of the USSR had nothing to do with the USA and everything to do with Chernobyl and how it intersected with perestroika (openness) and food (much of the Ukraine and Belarus, the USSR’s rural breadbaskets, were instantly turned into areas where no local food could be safely consumed or exported). Right when people were given the right to speak everything went to Hell. So folks started digging up all of the other skeletons in the USSR’s closets and the rest is history.

    A really enlightening book. Read it. (Chernobyl is not a model for a current system or problem, but your comments on Chernobyl seem to be based on USSR and USA official data, which can be distilled down to, “It would be political suicide to admit the truth and since the evil US (A or SR) will nuke us unless we stay the Patriotic Path, 35% infant death rates (for non-Russians and non-Americans) are a necessary cost.”

  22. 172
    David B. Benson says:

    Ethiopia ‘breaks’ tree-planting record to tackle climate change
    2019 Jul 29
    BBC News
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49151523

    According to the article, they intend to plant 4 billion trees. At 1000 trees per hectare, that’s 4 million ha. But the Siberian fires have already consumed 27 million hectares of tiaga and tundra. So another 6 Ethiopian sized efforts are required just to keep even.

  23. 173
    Nick O. says:

    Slightly OT, but the new record highest ever temperature in the UK has just been confirmed by the Met. Office. Top part of the report on the Beeb. reads as follows:

    “- The UK’s highest-ever temperature has been officially recorded in Cambridge, the Met Office has confirmed.
    – Cambridge University Botanic Garden measured 38.7C (101.7F) on Thursday [25th July] beating the previous UK record of 38.5C (101.3F), set in Kent in 2003.
    – A Met Office official was sent to check the equipment before verifying the new record on Monday.
    – Staff working at the garden on Thursday tweeted: ‘No wonder we all felt as if we’d melted.’
    – Daily temperatures have been measured by the weather station at the site in the south of the city since 1904.”

    Link to the full report on the BBC is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

  24. 174
    James Charles says:

    Propaganda?

    “Nuclear power ‘seven decades of economic ruin’, says new report

    ‘ ‘ ‘ New research has found that almost all nuclear power plants built since the nuclear industry’s inception have generated large financial losses.
    The report by the German Institute for Economic Research examines 674 nuclear power plants built since 1951. Its authors found that typical nuclear power plants averaged 4.8 billion euros in losses.”
    https://www.pressenza.com/2019/07/nuclear-power-seven-decades-of-economic-ruin-says-new-report/

  25. 175

    E-P 161: If their excess radiation was a negative, they would require exceptional lifestyle compensations. There are no such compensations in evidence. Either document some, or admit that radiation at Colorado levels is NOT a negative influence upon human health and may be positive.

    BPL: Why don’t you gather the data and do a multiple regression? Then you’d have a case. “Prove I’m wrong” is not a case.

  26. 176
    zebra says:

    #169 Ray Ladbury,

    I’m addressing this because it fits with a theme I’ve been following here and in a couple of other threads.

    The issue is not statistical reasoning, but causal reasoning. I see a tendency for people to get sucked in to “debating” by these people (in climate as well) because they throw out lots of numbers and correlations without ever explaining underlying mechanisms. See Victor, for an obvious example.

    The only thing that matters is what IQ tests measure, which is, of course, performance on IQ tests. Ask racists to explain what genetically determined physiological differences would give that result, and they will say…. crickets.

    Same thing if you ask Victor to give a physical basis for why the data should do what he says it should do… he runs away to come back another day.

    Anyway, I think it would be better not to get into the back-and-forth factoid stuff with them; that’s what they want. EP wants to repeat the memorized radiation statistics to avoid discussing the underlying inability of nuclear to compete in a free market. And responding in kind just creates the illusion that it is a relevant issue.

  27. 177

    Quoth zebra:

    Denialist/Russian troll

    There’s 15 years of material on my blog, perhaps you can find some denialism or Russian influence there.  (One thing you blinkered ideologues are good for is laughs.)

    or just someone whose incoherent thought process aligns with the standard memes they put on line, and copies them.

    So, tell all of us:  who is spreading the “standard meme” of an all-nuclear USA?  Got some examples?  I see quite a few memes and I’ve never seen one anywhere close to that subject except in German (“Atomkraft?  Ja, Danke!”).  Maybe I should try creating some.

    Certainly not a creative thinker.

    The USPTO thought I was creative enough to award patents to me, not just once but twice.  Can you say the same?

    I know it’s not what you meant to do, but thanks for the chuckle to start my morning.  And on to substance:

    So, the free market will come up with “a much more expensive solution”. Got it. Because competitive, internalized, markets never discover synergies and reduce costs, right? But monopolies are always looking out for the consumer…

    Electric and water distribution and sewer systems are natural monopolies.  There’s almost never a free market in them.  Oftimes even electric systems are municipally owned.  We tried the business model with bunches of different companies stringing telephone wires and concluded that landline telephony was a natural monopoly too.

    We have ways to deal with monopolies.  It’s called regulation in the public interest.

    District heating (or at least the distribution thereof) is another natural monopoly.  With even two competitors, either they share pipes or the one which gets more customers forces the other to raise prices to cover its fixed O&M and the smaller one goes out of business.  Having even two competitors assumes that there’s enough space under the streets for 2 sets of pipes, which there may well not be.  Just a fact of life.

    I don’t have an opinion about the “right” way to structure the business of district heating.  All I can do is tell you that I don’t see any feasible way to get to net zero carbon without it, so unless you do, talking about the business-level “how” as well as the technical “how” is something we should be doing now.

    FWIW, the utility bill I just grabbed out of my files shows a total gas price of 63.4¢/CCF.  Hot water at 2¢/kWh would represent a savings even absent a carbon tax.

  28. 178

    Quoth Rey:

    There’s no doubt that all kinds of industry would absolutely love it if their particular toxins were considered hormetic.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if many of them are… at doses well below what people are exposed to right now.  Anything in excess is toxic, including water and oxygen.

    The only question of merit:  Where is that hormetic exposure window?  All the evidence says that the hormetic region for radiation in humans is well above normal background levels.  The hormetic region for aspirin starts at a fraction of a tablet per day.

    BTW, the BEIR assumption of LNT is based on refusal to acknowledge contrary data.  This is the call for reconsideration.  A few quotes:

    Specifically, in experiment 1, Lloyd et al. found the numbers of dicentrics per 100 cells to be 0.17, 0.11, 0.12, 0.11, 0.19, 0.24, 0.24, and 1.28, for nominal doses of 0, 3, 6, 10, 20, 30, 50, and 300 mGy, respectively (Figs. 1 and 2). Relative to the control (zero-dose) value, Lloyd found actual reductions in dicentrics at the nominal doses of 3, 6, and 10 mGy, followed by small increases at the higher doses of 20, 30, 50, and a significant increase only at the much higher dose of 300 mGy. In Lloyd’s experiment 2, fewer doses were used, but the data support this initial reduction in dicentrics from the control value. Nevertheless, they dismiss the values below 20 mGy as subject to too much uncertainty based on the small numbers of damaged dicentrics, saying that the apparent reduction at the 3 lowest nonzero doses most likely, “is not of biological origin but may be an artefact of the higher-than-expected frequency of spontaneously arising [zero-dose] aberrations.”

    Lloyd et al. rejected the “higher-than-expected” zero-dose value as valid….

    In fact, the data are not compatible with a “linear initial slope.” There is no initial linear rise; rather, there is no measurable increased dose response from 3 to 10 mGy and all these initial values are no greater than the zero-dose value. Above 10 mGy, there is a less-than-proportional (i.e., nonlinear) rise and possibly a second plateau from 20 to 50 mGy (Figs. 1 and 2), in the range where Lloyd regards the data as less uncertain and more reliable. These data, in contrast, appear more supportive of a threshold.

  29. 179

    Quoth nigelj:

    The following is relevant: https://www.freeingenergy.com/how-much-solar-would-it-take-to-power-the-u-s/

    I found it cringeworthy.  From the first page:

    Given the U.S. consumes about 4 petawatts of electricity per year….

    There’s an enormous difference between petawatt-hours and petawatts.  But even worse is what they state right up front:

    So, ignoring practical constraints like storage and grid technology….

    Like that’s ever going to work.

    Nuclear power can easily put 6 GW(th) or more on 1 square mile, and most of it is un-paved buffer zone that becomes a wildlife refuge by default.  That’s 550 square miles to emplace 3.3 TW(th).  You can’t do things like biomass farm and tree-based CCS on the same land, but you can do it with nuclear.

  30. 180
    Rey says:

    sigh

    EP: “The immune system is not involved in DNA repair.”

    I didn’t say it was. I said that the presence of above normal radiation triggers an immune response, and that if unrelenting, such stimulation becomes a stressor for the body. Thats pretty much uncontested. I gave the link to salmonella because I earlier used it as an example in #137 that a stepped up immune response to something is an indication that something is wrong, not right.

    As per your comments in #152. Hey, they could use you in the cleanup of Fukushima. Maybe you can do the work that even robots can’t get to!

    https://www.cnet.com/visual-stories/we-visited-the-fukushima-daiichi-nuke-plant-to-see-how-the-cleanup-is-progressing/

    Chernobyl can use you inside their crumbling containment structure too, shoring things up.

    It’s not a surprise that people prefer clean alternatives.

    Feel free to have the last word.

    quack

  31. 181

    Quoth Al Bundy:

    EP, you forget that other regions won’t agree with your vision of limiting access to electricity to “us”. ” They” will be electrified and if ” we” forego renewables “we” will have to sell “them” nukes. Or do you have a solution?

    There are lots of people out there who can’t even operate a coal-fired steam plant very well, let alone build one.  Just stop selling anything that burns fossil fuels and they’ll be forced to stop.  Sell them all the wind turbines and PV they can afford, which won’t be much.  Low-emitting lifestyle, here they come (as long as we don’t let them come here).

    And remember, black swans don’t just happen. Humans tend to breed them. It wouldn’t take much fertilizer to do a Tim McVeigh that would erase the value of a city. Just drive the truck into a spent fuel pool.

    SFPs are very “hard” targets.  They sit inside buildings which are rather well guarded, and the fuel itself sits under something like 30 feet of water; a truck bomb could collapse a building but wouldn’t touch the pool itself.  Dry casks are even harder targets, being made mostly of reinforced concrete.  Transport casks are the hardest of all.

    In the AP1000 site plan given on p. 22 of this document, the SFP is inside the “auxiliary building” which is sandwiched between the reactor shield building on one side, the turbine building on the opposite side, and the annex building on a third side.  Getting a truck anywhere near the SFP looks to be a daunting task all by itself.

    I would LOVE it if terrorists would go after a nuclear plant.  They’d be the real-life Judean People’s Front Suicide Squad.  Nothing would deflate their cause like being shot to smithereens without accomplishing a thing.  Crashing a light plane full of aviation gas into a packed football stadium would be much easier, cheaper and certain to get results.

    please remember that we’re stretching the limits and running on the tolerance of the mods.

    Agreed, but as long as people have questions/misconceptions I am happy to hand out information (and of course editorialize a bit to put it in context).  The mods can say “enough” if they please; they’ve got my e-mail.  But I suspect they’re pro-nuclear as well.  As Dr. James Hansen said, the successful decarbonization cases all did it with hydro and nuclear.  We know HOW to do it, we just need the will.

    I’m currently reading the brand new book “Manual for survival” subtitle “A Chernobyl guide to the future” by Kate Brown. It’s well-written and researched better than any other book I’ve ever read.

    It’s also 33 years after the fact.  A great many of the people working at the time would be retired or dead anyway.

    your comments on Chernobyl seem to be based on USSR and USA official data, which can be distilled down to, “It would be political suicide to admit the truth and since the evil US (A or SR) will nuke us unless we stay the Patriotic Path, 35% infant death rates (for non-Russians and non-Americans) are a necessary cost.”

    Why would Ukraine continue covering up for the imperialist Russians?

    If people had been dying from radioactive fallout, this would be detectable after the fact.  The remains would no longer have any I-131, but traces of Cs-137 and Sr-90 would still be there and still be almost half-strength compared to the day of the event.  If no testing was done to confirm this, I’m going to have to dismiss it as more anti-nuclear propaganda.  Remember, a resurgent nuclear energy sector slashes the value of all fossil fuel reserves.  Those reserves form the bulk of the wealth of many powerful people.  Promoting a few authors to write propaganda is very cheap insurance, as many of the targets will pay for it themselves.

  32. 182

    Quoth James Charles:

    Propaganda?

    “Nuclear power ‘seven decades of economic ruin’, says new report

    That’s the way I would bet.  From the DIW paper (which is in English, BTW) referenced at your link:

    Specific investment costs
    4 000–9 000 euros/kilowatt

    Seems overblown.  The French built out their current PWR network for a lot less than that.

    FROM THE AUTHORS
    “Nuclear power was never designed for commercial electricity generation; it was aimed at
    nuclear weapons. That is why nuclear electricity has been and will continue to be uneconomical.
    Further, nuclear energy is by no means ‘clean.’ Its radioactivity will endanger
    humans and the natural world for over one million years.”
    — Christian von Hirschhausen, Coauthor of the present study —

    Both borderline hysterical and historically false.  Nuclear weapons came first, and the whole world was radioactive long before there was ever a fission chain reaction at Oklo.  The hysteria is easy to explain.  Germans are mired in energy poverty due to high electric prices, while German GHG emissions remain stubbornly high even as their remaining old-growth forests are chipped up for “biomass”; they are losing their heritage and don’t even have the promised benefits to show for it.  The Energiewende and de-nuclearization are under threat.  Worse, by 2025 the estimated cost of the Energiewende reaches €520 billion.  Let’s compare that to the FOAK EPR at Oklilouoto.  The final cost of Olkiluoto Unit 3 is estimated to be €8.5 billion, or a little over €5300/kW.  Had Germany spent that €520 billion on EPRs, even at FOAK prices it could have built just shy of 100 GW of them… and then sat back and stopped paying.  (Germany generated 646.0 TWH in 2018, an average power of 73.7 GW.  100 GW would be a moderate overbuild.)

    I am betting that the hysteria is an attempt to forestall a massive case of buyer’s remorse.  With the Fukushima evacuation zone shrinking to nigh-nothing, Germany is on the verge of throwing all the pols out and declaring Greens the new Nazis.  The murder of the 8-yr-old and the attempted murder of 2 others by an Eritrean at a train station the other day isn’t going to improve the Green reputation any.

    The press release turns out to be from Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a UK anti-nuclear group which doesn’t distinguish between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.  They have their hands full with the Hinkley expansion getting under way despite their best efforts and need help.  Hysteria.

  33. 183

    Quoth Barton Paul Levinson:

    Why don’t you gather the data and do a multiple regression? Then you’d have a case.

    Because I’m not going to accept a reversal of the burden of proof.  The radiophobes insist that every dose of radiation is dangerous but wish me to ignore the fact that Colorado, the Naval shipyard workers, and so many others have demonstrably lower cancer risks when they insist those risks MUST be higher.  It is not up to me to debunk LNT before we stop using it; it is up to them to PROVE LNT or we stop using it.

    Nuclear energy has saved on the order of 1.8 million lives already, by displacing coal.  The hysteria over radiation suggests that eating a potassium-rich banana or a bowl of strawberries is a suicidal act.  That’s gone beyond wrong to ridiculous.  I’m fed up the the liars.

  34. 184
    Arup Kumar Chattopadhyay says:

    @stefan R.
    Sir, As I’m from India, I beg to differ with you in some segments of understanding. Everywhere you talked about CO2 emission and stock taking of that in atmosphere, which is visible enough through your easy way of explaining, as, everything on planetary system is measurable through logical matemetics, 4/3πr3 x molecular wt. Will be the easiest way. But nowhere Methane released from Arctic shelf (permafrost), Siberian Tundra are in the discussion. We have several gases in our atmosphere in different concentrations regionally, and an average is taken granted for estimation, but due to the unique property of gas molecules to mix up most homogenously within a shortest time makes it universal. There are mainly three types of gases mixedঃ a) Inert gases viz. N, Argon etc b) Heat trapping gases viz. CO2,CH4,NO & H2O (vapo), & c) Pollutant & toxiftoxifires: SO2, CO, SO4 etc. Now, among heat trapping gases Nitrogen Oxide & CH4 are more potential than CO2. CH4 can trap (absorb) 14 – 84 times heat than CO2 with a shorter self-life, but as CH4 is lighter than CO2 keep itself in Stratosphere level until it releases the acquired heat at that level which is quickly blown to the other part of the globe through rough air. The heat trapped at stratosphere is responsible for swelling up of that zone and pushes the layer upward & downward. The mesosphere through its layers act like a shield for trapped heat. This cascading effect should be counted for immediate heating of atmosphere, regionally, what we find in Arctic circle this year. Nitrogen Oxide is with more self heated life around 100-400 years.Thus reducing only CO2 through Food-Forestry can’t mitigate even 2/3 of global heating. 5-10 gigaton methane apprehended to have been released from permafrost this year alone may have changed the normal composition of air immediately after its release is supposed to be the root cause of Circular Spinning heatwave in Europe, which will transmit to tge other parts of the globe within next 60 days. During coming Sept-Oct-Nov-Dec -January, when the atmosphere over Northern hemisphere will shrink due to Sun’s location, the trapped heat pushed downward will be transmitted to Ocean and will start travelling for aggravating the situation in Mediterranean region through thermohelinetion.
    Now, coming to my point, you have missed India to consider the most suffered nation in spite of high precipitation. 1.4 billion human load on 2.8% of global land surface & 2-3% stock of fresh water, doesn’thave the adequate infrastructure to store the only freshwater delivery system of Nature (rain) and with very little scope to increase forest, will wash away the top soil and sequestered Carbon at rhizosphere for dumping in non-available sites. So the degraded soil will produce less plants to survive and less food. The other factors like glacier melting, Nitrogen & Phosphorus toxification are never told due to unavailability of data, which is taken in to granted that, there is no problem. Please discuss taking the culminative effects all togather. As the result will contain everything as per physics at the end of the day.

  35. 185
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @161

    “EXCUSE ME? Did you miss where I cited the 1958 BEAR report which included (on pp. 30-31 starting at para. 14) an observation that 0.8 rad/day of Co-60 gamma radiation EXTENDED THE LIFESPAN OF SPRAGUE-DAWLEY RATS BY A MINIMUM OF 25%? That same report notes (on p. 30 para. 15) that similar results were observed in mice and guinea pigs.”

    This appears to be a couple of rather old studies, and were they quality studies? Wasn’t it you pooh poohing old flawed studies that claimed all fats were harmful? But replicate these radiation studies with today’s better methods and you might be onto something.

    “Regardless, over 80 years that’s a reduced lifetime chance of cancer from roughly 46% to about 39%, the precise opposite of what the LNT model predicts.”

    Firstly thanks for the preceding explanations and I’m not questioning the maths. But the bottom line is this is not a huge difference . It could easily be explained by different lifestyles, or mistakes in the data or both. Coloradians look like outdoors people who enjoy plenty of clean air etc. I agree with BPL, I think the onus is on you guys to do a more in depth analysis not on me to prove you wrong.

    I’m no expert on any of this, but it seems it’s not disputed that low level radiation has at least got “low risk”. Many things in life are cancer risks as you would know from sunlight to red meat but moderate exposure is extremely low risk. So hopefully policy is accepting that we cannot eliminate all risk, but I’m a bit dubious that radiation has actual health benefits, or it would be short term and illusory as others have indicated.

    “We can’t wait to have an entirely new technology before we start building; we are already 30 years too late. NuScale is a water-cooled reactor that is specifically designed so that it cannot melt down. The way to prove this is to build a few and demonstrate it…. S-PRISM has no water at all….”

    Fine, I have no problem with that. It’s different enough. This is what you need to consider.

    “I keep linking you to the science, and you deny that it exists.”

    Sorry I missed it, and haven’t had time to read it. I do acknowledge there are some studies suggesting low level radiation is totally harmless and / or a benefit. I really don’t want to get into a huge technical discussion anyway because I’m not an engineer, I just wanted to point out how you need to look at the issues if you want to prove your case and sway public opinion.

    I dont have time to read even a fraction of the studies. The scientific institutes that do read this sort of evidence on both sides of the debate keep holding to the LNR model. Maybe they just find the studies you quote are flawed or unconvincing.

    The main point I wanted to make is its hard shifting public opinion on safety, even if the scientific studies would be compelling in your favour, although this is not to say you shouldn’t try, but the more workable answer looks to me like 1) new technology, or as you say at least modified technology, and 2) improving how the market operates like Zebra says, and I also commented on @140. Of course an improved market structure alone might not be a magic answer, because people still worry about the safety issue even if costs favour nuclear power, but it would go a long way to shift the odds in your favour.

  36. 186
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy

    “Nigel, NZ sure seems like an island of sanity. I salute you and your homeland.”

    Thank’s. To be honest I’m probably putting a bit of a gloss on it. We are doing electricity generation ok, and have a workable market, and an emissions trading scheme although the settings are modest. My point was really just that someone somewhere is solving problems.

    We do have some pretty terrible social and environmental problems. The sane answers are obvious to me but for every step forwards there’s a step backwards.

  37. 187
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @177, way to miss the point! Clearly electricity lines companies are natural monopolies, but an electricity market is about much more, such as generating companies, and making sure they have easy access to the lines network, cultivating competition between them, stopping generating companies forming huge monopolies, and ensuring laws and subsidies are applied evenly, and ensuring consumers have a choice of electricity retailers regardless of geographical area as much as possible etcetera. We have done it in New Zealand, refer my comment at 140.

    Such a system may help nuclear power. If nuclear power can attract investors in this environment fine.

  38. 188
    zebra says:

    #177 engineer-poet,

    I see we’ve reached the make-stuff-up stage.

    I never said there should be a free market in electrical distribution; I said there should be a free market in generation.

    But, you don’t have a memorized response to that, so you are panicking.

    Grid operators, whether private or government, can be mandated to act as common carriers and facilitators of transactions, but prohibited from involvement in generation. They must treat all buyers and sellers equally.

    That means I can buy electricity from your nuclear plant, or from my neighbor’s rooftop solar installation, or from the dairy farmer down the road with some wind turbines on her land, or from some other form of generation.

    If there’s a disincentive in place for producing CO2, and you are correct about how great nuclear is, and how bad all the alternatives are, there’s no further need for discussion… you win.

    Now, I’ve stated this as clearly as possible, so you can’t pretend to “misunderstand”. But I predict that you will find a way to avoid addressing this obvious approach, because you are not really interested in solving the climate problem.

  39. 189
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @185 — Both Cardarelli & Ulsh are health physicists, associated with the Health Physics Society. They are the authors of the long paper, published in 2018, pointing out errors in LNT that I mentioned earlier.

    LNT has all the scientific validity of Ptolemaic epicycles; long since time to abandon it.

  40. 190
    Kottissois says:

    Could someone explain why glaciologists are calling the media when a heatwave is forecast over Greenland?
    If the concern is global warming (it is), why don’t they wait for the end of the season to do an accurate attribution study which could be peer-reviewed and presented to the media at the end?
    We can not wait anymore? no need of publishing with peer-review anymore? Scientists and journalists should report in real time on potentially-climate-change-linked forecast events?

  41. 191

    E-P 182: The murder of the 8-yr-old and the attempted murder of 2 others by an Eritrean at a train station the other day isn’t going to improve the Green reputation any.

    BPL: Why do you suppose he brought that up? Any guesses?

  42. 192
    Michael D Sweet. says:

    Stefan,

    I have seen on several scientific sites I read that many people who try to be informed think that it will be difficult or impossible to generate most or all energy for society using renewable energy. You stated in the OP

    “The current global CO2 emissions can be reduced by 80-90 % through transforming our energy, heating and transport systems – but there will remain a rest that will be hard get rid of”

    After a comment you linked a paper that described the policies required to convert to renewable energy but provided no details of required equipment. From my reading I think the consensus of energy researchers is similar to your statement. Engineerpoet and David Benson claim it is impossible to generate even a fraction of energy using renewables. Other readers express doubts about renewable energy. Connelly 2016 Smart Energy Europe suggests using electromethane (from renewable electricity) for the last 10% of power.

    I think an OP from RealClimate would go a long way to identifying the current consensus on renewable energy systems. Since none of the primary writers in your group research energy supplies you could ask someone who is expert in energy to write a guest OP.

    I have no doubt that you would choose a good person to write the article. Then we would all have a basis for discussion and would not need the long waste of time seen on this thread.

  43. 193
    Al Bundy says:

    Ray Ladbury: Stupidity is using whatever intelligence you have to reinforce your prejudices–so the stupidest people are often quite intelligent.

    AB: I accept that and so apologize for dissing you.

  44. 194
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: It’s also 33 years after the fact. A great many of the people working at the time would be retired or dead anyway.

    AB: Only if you ignore the 32 years of data the book covers, along with over a decade of intensive on-the-ground research the author did. And “a great many” doesn’t jibe with 90-100%. Again, read the friggin’ book.

    By the way, fallout is relatively harmless as long as it’s external (which is what you’re talking about, it seems). But eat it or breathe it and you’ve got a problem (which is what I and the book are talking about).

    And speaking of trees, look at the red forest:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Forest#/media/File:Red_Forest_Hill.jpg

    It’s kind of like the petrified forest because it’s been preserved. Take a look at the picture. Note how the leaf litter is not decomposing. If you read the book you’ll see how the scientists on the ground AND the Ukrainians AND the Belorussians ARE saying the opposite of what you claim. The folks who are quoted in the west generally have never even been there, and if they have they popped in for a few days and left convinced that all the trees died of fright and the trees’ remains aren’t rotting because insects are too scared to eat.

    “animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning. Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow slower; and fewer spiders and insects—including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there”

    “Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly
    It wasn’t just people, animals and trees that were affected by radiation exposure at Chernobyl, but also the decomposers: insects, microbes, and fungi”

    “Nearly 30 years have passed since the Chernobyl plant exploded and caused an unprecedented nuclear disaster. The effects of that catastrophe, however, are still felt today. Although no people live in the extensive exclusion zones around the epicenter, animals and plants still show signs of radiation poisoning. Birds around Chernobyl have significantly smaller brains that those living in non-radiation poisoned areas; trees there grow slower; and fewer spiders and insects—including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Additionally, game animals such as wild boar caught outside of the exclusion zone—including some bagged as far away as Germany—continue to show abnormal and dangerous levels of radiation.”

    “We have conducted research in Chernobyl since 1991 and have noticed a significant accumulation of litter over time,” the write. Moreover, trees in the infamous Red Forest—an area where all of the pine trees turned a reddish color and then died shortly after the accident—did not seem to be decaying, even 15 to 20 years after the meltdown.”

    “Apart from a few ants, the dead tree trunks were largely unscathed when we first encountered them,” says Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and lead author of the study. “It was striking, given that in the forests where I live, a fallen tree is mostly sawdust after a decade of lying on the ground.””

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/forests-around-chernobyl-arent-decaying-properly-180950075/

    Note that the Wikipedia article says that that photos show how everything is flourishing – yep, ignore data and lay over the Japanese nuclear bomb survey, which didn’t start until 5 years after the bombing and generally measured the effects of a 100 second pulse of external gamma the victims received. Chernobyl is primarily about internal alpha and beta. Totally different animals.

    EP: “0.8 rad/day of Co-60 gamma radiation EXTENDED”

    AB: Irrelevant. Gamma is NOT the issue at hand. Gamma is what air bursts do. We are NOT talking about air bursts, but dirty ground-level fires that mix all kinds of crud together.

    Again, read the book and then comment.

    But then again, perhaps you’ve hit on The Solution. Grow a bunch of trees and then nuke them so they don’t decay!

  45. 195
    Al Bundy says:

    EP,

    And this is NOT primarily about death but quality of life. During the period covered in the book only 10% of the children from heavily irradiated towns were rated as “healthy”. Would you be thrilled if 10% of your area’s kids were healthy? Would you sign your kids up for thyroid surgeries, have a big chunk of their intestines and perhaps a lung removed? What about needing a walker at age 40?

  46. 196
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @188, EP is just fixated on the technical and safety issues. Tunnel vision.

  47. 197
    David B. Benson says:

    Michael D Sweet @192 — Do not attribute to me that which I never wrote. You appear to have a habit of doing so.

    I recommend that you read the definition of libel.

  48. 198
    John says:

    David Benson says, LNT has all the scientific validity of Ptolemaic epicycles; long since time to abandon it.

    Right, because you and ep and a few of the nuclear faithful say so. Most all major scientific societies continue to hold to it. This from Wikipedia:

    “In 2004 the United States National Research Council (part of the National Academy of Sciences) supported the linear no threshold model and stated regarding Radiation hormesis:[42][43][44]
    The assumption that any stimulatory hormetic effects from low doses of ionizing radiation will have a significant health benefit to humans that exceeds potential detrimental effects from the radiation exposure is unwarranted at this time.

    In 2005 the United States National Academies’ National Research Council published its comprehensive meta-analysis of low-dose radiation research BEIR VII, Phase 2. In its press release the Academies stated:[45]
    The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial.

    The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (a body commissioned by the United States Congress).[46] endorsed the LNT model in a 2001 report that attempted to survey existing literature critical of the model.

    The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) wrote in its 2000 report[47]
    Until the […] uncertainties on low-dose response are resolved, the Committee believes that an increase in the risk of tumour induction proportionate to the radiation dose is consistent with developing knowledge and that it remains, accordingly, the most scientifically defensible approximation of low-dose response. However, a strictly linear dose response should not be expected in all circumstances.

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency also endorses the LNT model in its 2011 report on radiogenic cancer risk:[48]
    Underlying the risk models is a large body of epidemiological and radiobiological data. In general, results from both lines of research are consistent with a linear, no-threshold dose (LNT) response model in which the risk of inducing a cancer in an irradiated tissue by low doses of radiation is proportional to the dose to that tissue.”

    Maybe you can at least convince nuke plant workers though…

    https://www.nuclearcarepartners.com/energy-workers

    Some articles for your perusal.

    First this from the National academies.
    https://www.nap.edu/read/11340/chapter/19

    Trump, in his contrarian, passive aggressive, anti-environmental enthusiasm, with help from the nuke industry and hard right-wing policy wonks, is working overtime to inflict as much damage to democracy (and truth) as humanly possible.

    First some articles about his agenda to declare radiation harmless, beginning with an article cited above, but ignored, demonstrating the highly political nature of attempts to delegitimize LNT to help the industry. Doesn’t sound too scientific to me.

    https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-secret-science-20190219-story.html
    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/why-radiation-protection-experts-are-concerned-over-epa-proposal
    https://www.statnews.com/2018/10/02/trump-administration-moves-to-weaken-guidelines-on-radiation-suggesting-some-is-healthy/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/10/08/yes-radiation-is-bad-you-epas-transparency-rule-would-be-even-worse/?noredirect=on

    But hey, Ann Coulter says radiation is good for you, so your in good company!

    https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/ann-coulter-says-radiation-is-good-for-you-2/

    In my area, we have a plant that had a serious accident which was never revealed and only discovered years later by an investigative journalist.

    Check this one out.

    https://www.newsweek.com/secret-russian-nuclear-accident-caused-huge-radiation-cloud-blanket-europe-scientists-claim-1451691

    You might also check out the The HBO miniseries, “Chernobyl”.

    No doubt you’ll decry this a derailment of the thread, however it was you that subtilely tried to steer people to a nuke forum in 18, and ep in 41, which is fine I suppose, but the authors of said derailment are noted.

    Radiation hormesis, btw, is the very definition of a pyrrhic victory. Your reports on the death of LNT have been greatly exaggerated.

  49. 199
    John says:

    Shorter answer. There’s lots of support for LNT in the scientific world. The great majority in fact. You don’t declare something dead until it has been debated and resolved. Otherwise your just using typical contrarian tactics.

  50. 200

    #194, AB–

    But then again, perhaps you’ve hit on The Solution. Grow a bunch of trees and then nuke them so they don’t decay!

    Ah! Someone should get an award for “Most Original Silver Bullet!” I guess it would have to be a shared award with EP, though.

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