James Hansen is worried about CO2 and realistic about solutions

Dr. James Hansen is perhaps the world’s most famous and stubbornly insistent climate change activists. He bases his concerns on several decades worth of intensive research. During part of his career, he served as the director of a large laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Center, so it was not just his own research that he reviewed.

Hansen is a hard scientist — vice a political or social scientist — with a good facility for numbers and measurable reality. He recognizes the difference between a good engineering solution and a marketing department-created presentation.

On March 13, 2014 he testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and received a couple of take-home questions from Senator Robert Menendez. His responses are worth reading closely. I recommend using them as discussion openers for people who are fans of Hansen’s science and political participation.

The document is hosted on his Columbia University web site.

Here is a sample quote:

Frankly, a clean energy future in the United States requires that the Democratic Party recognize that its position on nuclear power, ranging from neglect to outright hostility, is in part responsible for that situation and is a major threat to the well-being of young people and other life on our planet. My criticism of your party is constructive, and I hope you will take it that way.

Here is another important thought.

The second major reason that the cost of nuclear power plant construction in the United States is high concerns the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As noted in my previous written testimony to your Committee, reforms of the NRC are badly needed. The NRC does a good job of regulating. They have a capable technical staff, and their resident inspectors do a good job at nuclear plants, including reporting on incidents and keeping the nuclear plant operators on their toes.

In contrast, the nuclear reactor permitting process has become a lengthy bureaucratic lawyer-laden paperwork process that causes delays of years and cost growth of billions of dollars. We must fix the permitting process. This probably requires removing the permitting function from NRC, and starting over with a new organization that is given guidelines and procedures the better serve the nation’s needs.

A sensible energy policy for the United States would not have us blowing through new-found gas resources in a few decades and moving to increasingly polluting and destructive mining. Instead we would honestly treat gas as a transition fuel to a clean energy future. That future would include the improved safe nuclear power that is possible with today’s technology.

(Emphasis added.)

I know that there are people who are skeptical and continuously repeat — often to themselves or in an echo chamber — that worries about climate change are overblown. Sometimes they insist that we should not take mitigating action until we are sure exactly what is happening and have highly reliable models that predict effects with great precision.

We should ask the skeptics how they intend to answer questions like these from their children and grandchildren.

  • “Did you ever think about what would happen if you were wrong?”
  • “Did you have a plan B – like some other earth-like planet within reasonable reach?”
  • “Did you leave us any options?”
  • “Did you leave us any valuable methane for raw materials that helped to make your lives so pleasant?”
  • “Even if you never trusted a money-motivated politician like Al Gore, why did you dismiss people like James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Tom Wigley, and Ken Caldeira?”

Additional Reading

From the New York Times Editorial Board (May 1, 2014) The Right Lessons From Chernobyl. It’s a refreshingly mature recognition of the risk to reward ratio associated with using nuclear energy.

About Rod Adams

71 Responses to “James Hansen is worried about CO2 and realistic about solutions”

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  1. SteveK9 says:

    Another attempt to introduce reason into the climate-change debate:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/04/attention_to_al_gore_is_getting_in_the_way_of_climate_change_adaptations.html

    I really liked the title:
    Can We Please Stop Talking About Al Gore, What people ask you when you’re on a climate-change book tour.

    By McKenzie Funk

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      I have noticed that the troll accounts like “goracle” on Green Car Congress have stopped commenting.  Al Gore is not news any more.  If he tries to make a run in 2016 it’ll be a different matter, but right now the denialists are flailing at the climate scientists (which do not make nearly so good targets).

  2. James Greenidge says:

    The best advocate for CO2 reduction would’ve been Walt Disney. Baffles me that people seem so amazed that Walt was ardently pro-nuclear! Junior-High me knew this even before the 1964 World’s Fair where Disney did a lot of the pro-nuke pavilion props and films where he hawked nuclear ships and trains, drilling and tunneling machines and having cities with smokeless skies and no pollution and the Epcot City (a REAL city) he wanted to build would be all electric/nuclear powered with heated sidewalks and all. The GE and Travelers Pavilions had such stuff, and I think GM and CocaCola did too. (If you missed the GM Futurama you don’t know what you missed!). I THINK the original CA Disneyland also had background nuclear power themes in souvenirs and brochures but these had evaporated before the Fair, I assume because of the Cold War hysteria then. It’s a damn shame his heirs never took up the banner! Unverified off the grapevine; supposedly the artist-creator of “Astroboy” had so admired Walt’s work and beliefs which inspired him to cartoon that he not only made Astroboy nuclear-powered but gave him the Japanese name of “Mighty Atom” — quite a gutsy trick in a time and place where anything nuclear was total anathema!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    • John T Tucker says:

      Our Friend the Atom 1 of 5 – The Fisherman and the Genie ( http://youtu.be/ByZ1AyDEGSk )

      “Today that story has come true. This is a model of the real nautilus…”

      Great stuff, James. 1957 too. I never looked at it. The color is really good. Watching the rest of them.

  3. mjd says:

    When I was at B&W Lynchburg in mid ’70s for training it was a pretty well confirmed hallway rumor that B&W had a team working on a proposal for Disney to power “World Orlando” with a B&W nuke plant. Never heard if it was solicited or marketing, but it fell by the wayside. Might be interesting to hear more history of that if any B&W old timers are here. Just imagine if Disney World were powered by a nuke today! I’d like to see the evac plan, if anyone were actually there to evac in today’s public perception environment. But it does show just how much perception has changed since that era.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @mjd

      I can’t remember where I heard this, but I have a dim memory of learning that Disney World in Orlando has a specific mention in its charter regarding a nuclear power plant option.

      There’s something about it in this wiki entry:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reedy_Creek_Improvement_District

      “The Improvement District has far-reaching powers. Through the District, Disney could construct almost anything within its borders, including a nuclear power plant (which it never built, opting instead for a more traditional plant that supplements power from outside of the District).”

      • mjd says:

        Yes, I’ve seen that one before too. Just goes to show how a local government can give away the farm when they have short term $ blinding them. That RCID entity about had a total free reign inside the fence. But nothing new there either, just look all over the south at the cities that gave away tax rights, environmental concerns, and union labor rights to northern union busting companies, just to get the jobs. When I lived in St Marys before the paper mill S/D, that place was peeling the paint off houses. And every so often the company offered free car washes to anybody who showed up. The local resident joke was “I can’t smell anything but money.”

        When you figure Disney’s electric bill, the place is a natural for a Disney owned SMR. Nothing quite like a company with that power and money to speed up the SMR process. Somebody like you should explain it to them (wink, wink).

        • BobinPgh says:

          Would Disney World have received much of its electricity from Crystal River when it was operating? That might have been what was meant by their nuclear plant.

  4. Jeff Walther says:

    Hansen’s full response (linked to in Rod’s article) is well worth the few minutes to read it. He really gives the senate an earful. He makes no bones, yet manages to sound respectful and avoid ranting. I’d probably be up on the desktop frothing at the mouth and shouting.

    I hope folks listen to Hansen and don’t manage to do the sidelined heretic thing.

    • John T Tucker says:

      Yea, just reading that in context to that fist question he is responding to is worth it. S L A P. He doesn’t waste anyones time and lays down the law by example when it comes to being reasonable and in correct perspective in this conversation.

      • Rod Adams says:

        Can you see why my admiration for James Hansen has steadily increased. The man is a serious, questioning, responsible scientist. He does not appear to be motivated by a desire for wealth and power, but by a desire to do what is right for his children, grandchildren and the rest of society.

        • BobinPgh says:

          Kind of related to doing right by his children and grandchildren is family planning: Stop having so many kids! People should consider child free and maybe 1 child lives and not be trying to be like the Duggars. So many of these problems can be solved in the family planning aisle at Rite Aid.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @BobinPgh

            You wrote: Stop having so many kids!

            Warning – I will not tolerate that kind of commentary or discussion here. It is sourced directly from the elitist Zero Population Growth/Paul Erlich/Rockefeller philosophy that is the real reason we have not developed amazing atomic energy products that would make coal, oil and gas worth less.

            I have good friends with zero children and good friends with 9 children. I even had a good friend at one duty station with a dozen children – only 8 of which were his natural children and the other four were adopted from disadvantaged homes.

            Human beings are wonderful creations and some people are wonderful parents. We get to make our own choices. It is fine with me that you have apparently chosen to limit the size of your own family, but in this forum you — and anyone else who brings it up — will not tell others to limit the size of their families. There are plenty of resources to go around.

            If you do not adhere to this guidance, you will suddenly find it very difficult to say anything here.

          • George Carty says:

            Most of the world (except for benighted sub-Saharan Africa) has already got its birth rates under control. And in much of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, birth rates are so low that these countries are at risk of turning into glorified old people’s homes.

          • John T Tucker says:

            Bob its a little late for the family planing aisle.

            There is more than enough energy, space and matter in this universe for everyone. There is more than enough things for them to figure out for us and/or stuff to enjoy and appreciate.

            In art classes it always amazed me that each person has such a distinct individualized and identifiable style. Each was always completely different from anything I had ever seen.

            Everyone needs to feel welcomed at the table.

  5. Paul W Primavera says:

    “Frankly, a clean energy future in the United States requires that the Democratic Party recognize that its position on nuclear power, ranging from neglect to outright hostility, is in part responsible for that situation and is a major threat to the well-being of young people and other life on our planet.”

    Amen! This is one of many reasons for which I shall NOT ever vote Democrat!

    Democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Republic – rule of law based on the Judeo-Christian tradition, sanctity of the family, respect for and protection of God-given (NOT government dispensed) human rights – the right to life, liberty and property (the ownership of the fruit of the sweat of one’s brow).

    Democracy – the autocracy of the majority where 50.001% of the vote can abrogate the God-given rights of the rest. Wonder why nuclear power is not resurging? This ultimately is the reason.

    • Eino says:

      “Wonder why nuclear power is not resurging?”

      There are reasons other than ideology. I think cheap natural gas is the prominent one. A co-gen plant can be built more cheaply than a nuke, require fewer people to operate and be much easier to license.

      Believe me if there was more money in nukes, they’d be built. Money is what ultimately controls what happens in America and not either political party.

      • jmdesp says:

        Let’s be honest, currently the unit price for one reactor is horrendously expensive.
        Given how cheap it is to run after it’s built, it’s still possible to demonstrate that the cost of electricity ends up affordable after a very long amortization period, but that initial cost is probably the highest hurdle nuclear needs to overcome.

        More reactor are built in China because the cost is much more competitive. Yangjiang has been incredibly cheap, 6 reactors built for only $10 billions, but they’re also selling two 1.1GW reactors to Pakistan for $9.7 billion, and the two AP1000 at Haiyang would also cost just $5.1 billions. This kind of price makes it much more easy for nuclear to have a future.

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Frankly, a clean energy future in the United States requires that the Democratic Party recognize that its position on nuclear power, ranging from neglect to outright hostility, is in part responsible for that situation and is a major threat to the well-being of young people and other life on our planet

    This seems a bit schizo to me, as the bulk of global warming denial comes from the right side of the aisle.

    I trust neither side, as partisan stances presented to the public are often far different than the actual agenda being pursued by the power brokers handling the strings of thier congressional and media connected minions.

    Regardless, it bothers me seeing the kind of specious non-specific accusations bandied forth, as contained in the paragraph I cite, no matter what party it is aimed at. Such empty non-specific partisan trash talk has a way of becoming part of the mainstream discourse, if only to cast partisan animous, rather than forward a message founded in reality. Lord knows, even here, there is no shortage of those willing to offer partisan drool merely because they’ve heard some party pundit or media mouthpiece tell them what they are supposed to think.

    Sometimes it seems to me that we live in a society of idiots, unable to voice an opinion unless some loathsome creature like Limbaugh or Mathews, Reid or Cruze, has told then what thier opinion oughta be.

    (BTW, Paul……would still love to read your opinion about evolution. I mean, hey, with your great respect for science and all.)

    • John T Tucker says:

      So you are saying he is wrong? The right doesn’t seem to be whatsoever involved in anti nuclear activity save some fringe elements. All the major organized anti nuclear power activity seems exclusively associated with the political left.

      Did you read the question that was posed?

      • PissedOffAmerican says:

        “So you are saying he is wrong?”

        John, I’ve participated here long enough to figure out that you know how to read. Please put that skill to use, before asking absurd questions based on your desire to get into an argument.

        But just in case you’ve misplaced your reading glasses today…..

        I’m not saying he’s wrong. I’m saying he’s making a general accusation without offering anything specific to qualify the accusation. Seems both sides of the aisle like to employ that cowardly manner of discrediting each other. One would hope, on a blog that deals with science, such generalized and unbuttressed crap would be given the ho-hum response it deserves.

        Of course, if you wanna wave the flag about, and impress us with what a great patriot and Christian you are, there are plenty of well known mouthpieces representing both sides of the aisle that will provide you with a script, free of charge. Pick an issue, any issue, and they’ve got a script for ya. Best part is, you don’t even gotta think.

        So yeah, lets make this nuclear energy thing a partisan pissing match, pointing fingers accusingly while mumbling partisan talking points by rote. Might as well, thats what everything else has been reduced to by these dirtbags in DC and the ignorant gullible public that dances perfectly to that tune.

        “The right doesn’t seem to be whatsoever involved in anti nuclear activity save some fringe elements”

        Well, so much for the allegations of a great conspiracy; that the fossil fuel folks are working dilligently to derail the employment of nuclear energy. I mean, you can’t get much more “right wing” than the proponents of coal and oil, can ya?

        • John T Tucker says:

          Incidentally I have misplaced my glasses but lets re emphasize the question that this was a answer to:

          Menendez question #1 :
          Given that a new nuclear power plant would probably cost more than
          $12 billion, it seems few companies are willing to take the risk to build new plants here. This reluctance occurs despite the fact that new nuclear plants receive a production tax credit, and that the federal government has agreed to foot some of the bill in the case of a catastrophic accident. What makes you so bullish on nuclear power when other technologies, with less carbon emissions, are
          attracting much more investment in the United States than nuclear power?

          That wasn’t even a scientifically valid question, also it was so weighted with political anti nuclear talking points as to be almost comical in its absurdity.

          • PissedOffAmerican says:

            So…your point is that if a Democrat asks an absurd question, or offers an absurd premise, then one can naturally assume that he speaks for the entire “left”, and therefore it must be the “right” that is on the correct side of the issue.

            See, John, I can take my reading glasses off too. But, if thats not your point, I fail to see what, exactly, your argument is. Frankly, the stances here are beginning to confuse the hell of me.

            The fossil fuel folks are the enemy, but hey, thier greatest political proponents are allies. Huh? Hows that figure? Is it reverse psychology of some kind, this sinister plot by the fossil fuel folks to derail nuclear energy while thier benefactors in DC work to light us all up with a nuke plant in every red county and state?

            Its those nasty libs that stand in your way, while the conservative crusaders ride the trusty steads of science to the rescue of a nuclear utopia??

            Horseshit. You’ve been punked. By both sides.

          • John T Tucker says:

            Jheez its not like im endorsing Republicans carte blanche. Ive never even voted for one I think. Republicans however do support nuclear power. Its actually written into their platform. Dems are at best silent on the matter to extremely annoying anti nuke. While the right has softened on some offensive culture war stuff in recent years this issue at the same time has become much more important to me. Land use, food and habitat issues with renewables and biofuels too as well. All republicans are not climate change deniers either.

            So who knows how I will vote in the future. Im not too keen on fossil fuel promotion but that seems to have elements on both sides of the aisle as well. I certainly use them and dont want to seem them made punitively expensive. FF advocacy occurs more on the right perhaps but if dems are promoting a perpetual fossil fuel de facto position AND promoting large habitat destructive policies elsewhere, with no real practical future alternative, then what does it matter?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @John T Tucker and POA

            One of my biggest problems with the way that the ad supported media reports and “informs” the public about controversial issues is that there are too many journalists that cover the issue like they would cover a game-type sporting event. There are exactly two sides to the issue, just like there are two teams on the field at any one time. Everything is an either-or. My team or your team.

            That is, of course, completely unrealistic. Most controversial issues have an enormous number of facets and perspectives.

            Whether it is left and right, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, labor and management, business and environment, the press cannot seem to understand that they are leaving a whole lot of important people and information out of the discussion.

            There are nuclear energy supporters on both left and right. There are also nuclear energy opponents on both left and right. Republicans might say or write nice things about nuclear energy, but do they really DO nice things for the technology? Menendez was correct to point out that nuclear energy qualifies for a production tax credit, magnanimously added to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by the other guys. Hansen was also correct to point out that there is a PTC in name only for nuclear and that it has not resulted in any actual money going to nuclear power development.

            In fact, it was cleverly structured so that the ONLY time it ever would go to nuclear energy, it would be going to exactly the same Establishment interests as have always received government money to help them make a big profit. It would not help a Kirk Sorensen, a Jose Reyes, a Kevan Weaver, a Jeff Halfinger or a Rod Adams to develop any kind of innovative product that would actually disrupt the status quo.

            When Southern Co, SCANA and their partners manage to complete the four units under construction at Vogtle and VC Summer and get them started before January 1, 2021, they will each be eligible to receive $125 million per year per reactor for 8 years. If there had been one more reactor started and completed, they also would have received the same amount of money. However, if there had been any more reactors than that, the operators would have had to start splitting up the pot. The EPA of 2005 limited the total number of nuclear MW eligible for the PTC to 6,000 and limited the amount of money going to any one reactor to $125 million, but if there were more than 6,000 MW the Secretary of Energy would be forced to come up with a formula for equitably sharing that money.

          • PissedOffAmerican says:

            “There are exactly two sides to the issue, just like there are two teams on the field at any one time. Everything is an either-or. My team or your team”

            Yes, this is the way we are presented with issues by the media, and by thier handlers in DC. But that is JUST a presentation. Are we a nation of idiots, willing to accept at face value the credibility of such absurd black and white premising?

            It certainly seems so. Especially when we read, see, or hear the extremely partisan rantings coming from the devoutly partisan rank and file man on the street, such as…well…I won’t mention any names of Atomic Insight participants.

            But our society is so purposely divided, by design, into this black versus white manner of perception that we have been rendered entirely impotent to institute change. We have highly paid, and widely respected, media mouthpieces whose task is to sow that division with thier every utterance, leaving no issue untainted by the stench of partisan division. There can be no more despicable a calling than that of a Rush Limbaugh, or a Rachel Maddow. They make a mockery of the whole concept of a “Fourth Estate”. Rather than serving as a check to power, they serve as vassals to power.

            What I find so disconcerting, and discouraging, is our seeming willingness to be goaded into participating in this purposefully cultivated division. It is as if we delight in becoming convinced of our superiority over our fellows. This divide, so carefully nurtured, is destroying this country. How is it that such great numbers of us seem so eager to participate in that process?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @POA

            How is it that such great numbers of us seem so eager to participate in that process?

            Perhaps you should not despair too much. What are the combined ratings of Rush and Rachel? How many people are there in America that are registered to vote?

            Those are not rhetorical questions. I don’t have the numbers at my fingertips, but I would guess that less than 1 out of 100 even listen and of those, most are not sheep, no matter how much the media and politicians would like us to believe they are.

            Have you ever had a friend or colleague that recited someone else’s commentary by rote? Were they in the minority in a discussion group?

          • PissedOffAmerican says:

            “Have you ever had a friend or colleague that recited someone else’s commentary by rote? Were they in the minority in a discussion group?”

            That depends on the issue, Rod. Sit down and talk to a large group of Americans about the Israel/Palestine cluster, if you want a lesson on widespread ignorance sown on the seeds of a false narrative.

            Your optimism surprises me. You are accusing Paul of being an anomoly? I would venture to say he would be in the majority were you and he to sit down with a tablefull of Tea Party Republicans.

            Can you get anymore “by rote” than the opinions expressed by Paul? Egads, they’re right out of the Ann Coulter Handbook of Partisan Blather.

          • John T Tucker says:

            Rod, its sad the way it turned out. Yes. I agree. But there are some realities here without alternatives we should acknowledge and make the best decisions we can when it comes to electrons.

            This is a comparatively simple issue to navigate. Both parties are crud on some things, yes, but that shouldnt stop anyone from trying to figure things out.

          • John T Tucker says:

            Menendez also left no possibility of reconciliation in his comments. His argument ran along the lines of its unfair AND completely useless. He certainly would not advocate for future innovation in NP from that position. Dont trow him any bones. He is completely unreasonable. There is nothing of value to recover there.

  7. mjd says:

    POA: “This seems a bit schizo to me, as the bulk of global warming denial comes from the right side of the aisle.”
    Respectfully, this is not “schizo” at all. If GW is accepted as real, the only solution can be forced by regulation i.e. a government. So while these folks sit in the Dr office waiting for their Medicare checkup, while wondering how they can spend their SSI check on the next vacation along the Interstate Highway System to their favorite National Park, they just can’t even imagine how a government could have a solution that works. Go figger!

    It’s the Dems I can’t figure out, unless if the other side wants it “We’re a’gin it.”

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    HUH???? WTF are you talking about?

    “So while these folks sit in the Dr office waiting for their Medicare checkup, while wondering how they can spend their SSI check on the next……blahblahblah….”

    Egads.

  9. Jim Hopf says:

    I’m encouraged by the fact that Hansen had the courage to talk about the over-regulation problem in front of Congress, and how he even had the courage to talk about starting over, from scratch. As you may know, I’ve believed for a long time that it’s not an inadequate technology problem, but a political, regulatory, and public prejudice problem, the vastly unlevel regulatory playing field being the biggest barrier to nuclear.

    Perhaps the most comical example of all is the amount of time and money NRC is asking for to review even “S-COL” applications. Many, many years and hundreds of millions of dollars for permission to build a carbon copy of the AP-1000 plant, at a site that already has existing reactors and has therefore already been thoroughly evaluated. This, even though the reactor has already been thoroughly evaluated and licensed; having already recieved a COL (i.e., the reference COL (or “R-COL”) at Vogtle, as well as Summer).

    This is a joke! What are they even reviewing? What issues are left? NRC should be required to perform S-COL reviews in one year, for $50 million. Better yet, no review at all (much as Hansen is suggesting). Let the state handle any remaining issues as part of their power plant permitting process (that fossil plants have to go through, and nuclear plants go through as well, in addition to NRC). But instead we have a review process, even for S-COLs, that is so expensive and onerous that the review itself is a significant cause for political opposition to projects, and sometimes requires state-level legislation just to authorize the spending on the review process (not even plant construction). This has to change!

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Jim Hopf

      If you’ve already done the research, can you share the information about the length of time the NRC intends to use to review “S-COL?”

      Have they provided any basis for their estimates? I’d love a guest post on this issue.

      • Jim Hopf says:

        I’ll look into it to get a better estimate, although I’m away on business all next week (flying out tomorrow).

        It’s a bit complicated, as many of the reviews were going on in parallel. NRC was making statements about reviewing issues only once, for all applicants. But based on all the various news stories I’ve read, it seems pretty clear that ALL applicants were spending hundreds of millions of dollars (which just ain’t right). As for the time involved, they were/are all taking many years, but in some fairness many of them were proceeding in parallel with the R-COL application.

        I think new, interested applicants had all but dried up by the time the Vogtle R-COL was complete. Will the review time for new, S-COL applicants in the future be much shorter, and less expensive. Will the remaining review time and cost be much less for restarted applications (i.e., many of the original ~30 projects)? Can’t say for sure, but I’m not holding my breath.

        One reason for my skepticism comes from some more courageous remarks by a member of Congress (linked below). He makes some interesting points about how NRC is continuing to increase staff and overall fees despite what one would think would be a falling level of review scope, within the overall industry (less applicants, new reactor issues supposedly being resolved).

        http://shimkus.house.gov/media-center/opeds/all-of-the-above-includes-nuclear

    • Eino says:

      Well said Mr Hopf – Appropriate regulation is needed and not unnecessary regulation.

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Poll: Majority of Republicans believe global warming a hoax

    Apr 3, 2013 … Fifty-eight percent of Republicans say that global warming is a “hoax,” compared to 11 percent of Democrats, according to new polling that …

    http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/291601-poll-majority-of-republicans-call-global-warming-a-hoax

    ++++++++++++
    Scientists, Dems, Independents Accept Global Warming. But Republicans…

    March 18, 2014

    Earlier this month, Gallup released its annual environmental poll which showed 65 percent of Americans believe “the effects of global warming” are happening today or will during their lifetimes.

    That is true for 83 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of independents.

    But Republicans … for them only 42 percent accept the reality of global warming.

    http://ourfuture.org/20140318/scientists-dems-independents-accept-global-warming-but-republicans

    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Need I list more polls? So how do you think the republican man on the street forms his opinion about global warming? Might it have something to do with Fox News, and the narrative that the “leaders” on the right put forth?

    • George Carty says:

      As I see it, the leaders of the global warming denial movement are indeed people who profit massively from the continued domination of fossil fuel energy, while the rank and file global warming skeptics are primarily motivated by fear of Malthusian environmentalism.

      This difference is comparable to the difference between white Western Holocaust deniers (who are almost always racists and fascists seeking to rehabilitate the Third Reich) versus Muslim Holocaust deniers (who generally have no truck with Nazism, but are emotionally motivated by resentment of the way in which Israel and its supporters exploit the Holocaust for propaganda purposes).

      • PissedOffAmerican says:

        “who generally have no truck with Nazism, but are emotionally motivated by resentment of the way in which Israel and its supporters exploit the Holocaust for propaganda purposes”

        Its heartening when one reads the occassional comment that exhibits actual knowledge. Particularly when it concerns an issue that has been so carefully framed around the purposeful propagation of ignorance.

        “Hasbara”; the most effective, (and dishonest), marketing campaign known to man,.

    • Eino says:

      “Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

      Richard P. Feynman

      Fits don’t it?

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Fifty-eight percent of Republicans say that global warming is a “hoax……”

    And, uh, so is evolution, right?

    Yep, that ‘ol right wing, the last bastion of science. God save us from the heathen left!

    • John T Tucker says:

      March 8-11 2012 – Gallup – Public support for expanding the use of nuclear energy : 64%Republicans, 41% Democrats. For someone above the political fray you sure seemed to have gotten bent out of shape by all this POA.

      • poa says:

        Bent out of shape? Actually, no. In fact I enjoy these kinds of exchanges. Sorry, John, you’ll have to work a bit harder to start an argument tonight.

        And yeah, I’m a bit bent to the left when I’m bent at all. But like Rod has commented, things ain’t exactly black and white out here in the real world. Left or right, I think we all want to find the truth. Trouble is, not all of us want to offer it.

    • David says:

      POA,

      Most Democrats think that any level of radiation is dangerous and that Nuclear power has killed millions of people. So Evolution is right! The democrats prove it!

      • PissedOffAmerican says:

        “Most Democrats think that any level of radiation is dangerous and that Nuclear power has killed millions of people”

        Hmmmm. I wonder how you came by that tidbit of wisdom. Care to share your source?

        Hear ya go….

        Most Republicans think that poverty is just the result of laziness, and that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs.

        See, two can play the game called “Ignorant Stereotyping”. But as much as it pains me to express a partisan opinion, the right seems to be faaaaar better at this game.

        You win.

        • David says:

          POA,

          I am replying to your tendency to falsely group people. You have been playing the “Ignorant Stereotyping” game and it is getting a bit old. Guilty by association or by broad stereotyping is not a discussion or even an argument.

          The source for my reference is Hansen himself, though I expand his point with hyperbole.

          • David says:

            Hansen’s comment from the linked article.

            Response #1: Your question about cost requires addressing both the cost of current nuclear power and recognition of how we have reached the current high-cost situation.
            Frankly, a clean energy future in the United States requires that the Democratic Party recognize that its position on nuclear power, ranging from neglect to outright hostility, is in part responsible for that situation and is a major threat to the well-being of young people and other life on our planet. My criticism of your party is constructive, and I hope you will take it that way.

  12. Tim W. says:

    Reading many of the comments on this thread is really Exhibit A on why few issues of substance are addressed, let alone solved by our government. Many wish to run around in circles blaming those around them instead of doing the hard work of learning about the complexity of the problem, developing and testing courses of action, and creating a working solution that can be further refined over time.

    As a school trained (but not PE licensed) engineer and an Army officer, I have spent most of my adult life in organizations that seek workable, common sense solutions to complex and multifaceted problems (though admittedly we don’t always find them). A government that did the same would be a huge step in the right direction for America.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Tim W.

      Welcome. We share a common educational and professional history, though I was USN, not USA. I did room with an Army guy for a semester back at the boat school and have several career Army relatives (father-in-law, step father, cousin, brother-in-law (Guard) and nephew) so I respect and like Army types 364 days per year. (I suspect you can guess which one is different.)

      Let’s keep talking and figuring out effective ways to solve problems.

  13. John T Tucker says:

    As a general critique of many of the comments/arguments here:

    Remember you are going for more nuclear. If you are pro environment and pro energy you are advocating for more nuclear. Your arguments should convey that. Politicians should think you value the nuclear question above all others and the outcome of an election could even hinge on that. They should fear hard lefters going right or hard righters going left unless they vocally support more NPPs and research. You want to make them work of your vote. Your arguments should include a lot more carrot and a lot less stick. You want real progress on environmental and/or more reactors and/or nuclear technology and/or nuclear business fronts.

    You should not seem decided no matter the outcome. Why would anyone do anything different or even slightly difficult for someone or something they cant change? As a matter of fact with respect to maintaining constituents and maintaining the political status quo it makes the opposite argument of change from the current situation. Right??

  14. Brian Mays says:

    Sorry, but “NASA Goddard Space Center” is too ambiguous to be meaningful or accurate.

    There actually are two NASA centers named after Goddard. The one that Hansen worked at before his retirement is the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is associated with Columbia University and is located in New York City.

    The other, much larger, older Goddard center (which I was once loosely associated with in grad school) is NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), which is located in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    Although GISS is the NASA facility that is most known for climate-related research in the popular press, GSFC does a substantial amount of research into GCM’s (General Circulation Models), which are used to study Earth’s climate.

    • John T Tucker says:

      Oh my god. What was the point of that. Of all the things you could provide unique and valuable insight on here.

      Are you about to make a brilliant professional argument on why we really dont need more nuclear power?

      • Brian Mays says:

        What was the point of that.

        Er … accuracy? I thought that was obvious.

        Are you about to make a brilliant professional argument on why we really dont need more nuclear power?

        Considering that I work professionally as a nuclear engineer, you’ll have to wait a very long time before I render such a “brilliant professional argument.”

  15. John T Tucker says:

    Just a couple of things thinking about the negative space around this. Its occurred to me how much the pro nuke arguments post fuku are dependent on opinion pieces and to a good part climate science, that you also have to show some effort for and are rendered almost exclusively in English. And I considered the efforts of what “big” pro nuke advocacy there is.

    So that has got me worried about current nuclear (and anti) efforts in the non english countries.

    India is particularity worrisome as there is so much important investment in NP including new technology NP. The AAP which touts itself as a people’s party has taken a decided anti nuclear position. A priest that has been involved in considerable anti nuclear efforts has emerged as a leading candidate. He was also recently suspended from the church. [this is all part of that same group that non Indian anti nuke NGOs were mixed up in and have been associated with other groups recently it seems.] Cutting to the chase I dont see, beyond the hardball political efforts, a scinece based anti pollution nuclear advocacy effort in India especially rural India. Doesnt mean it isnt there, it just has me concerned.

    Indian anti-nuclear priest sees ‘conspiracy’ in Church suspension ( http://www.ucanews.com/news/indian-anti-nuclear-priest-sees-conspiracy-in-church-suspension/70796 )

    Taiwan also has me worried as I dont know of pro nuclear/science efforts and the country and as china is activity pursuing nuclear power it seems tripe to be exploited by anti nukes.

    Clashes as anti-nuclear protests hit Taiwan ( http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-27184298 )

    The good news is that in Japan there seems to be a very long term commitment to nuclear emerging on the government side of things (deal to be announced officially soon) despite the slowness to restart reactors:

    Japan, France to announce joint research on fast reactor ( http://japandailypress.com/japan-france-to-announce-joint-research-on-fast-reactor-0148010/ )

    • Eino says:

      John – side point. Much discussion about global warming here. Nuke plants to replace coal plants in the USA. Will it make much difference if it happened? Look at the pictures of the air in China. Think of all the coal burned there. Other countries are not far behind. India and China have half of the world’s people. They will be the ones who ultimately decide if global warming is a problem to be solved.

      • John T Tucker says:

        Every journey starts with a few steps E. And as the second largest GG producer emitting more than the entire European Union, Yes I think it would actually make a significant difference.

  16. John T Tucker says:

    You guys might be somewhat interested in this report from calf:

    Total wholesale electric costs increased by 31 percent. This increase was primarily driven by a 30 percent increase in natural gas prices in 2013 compared to 2012.

    After controlling for the gas price increase, wholesale electric costs increased by 5 percent
    , primarily as a result of implementation of the state’s greenhouse gas cap –
    and – trade program.

    Over 3,500 MW of new gas – fired generation was added in 2013. Most of this capacity was added as part of the California Public Utilities Commission’s long term procurement
    process . However, this increase in capacity was mostly offset by over 2,900 MW of thermal generation retirements in 2013, including both units at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
    ( http://www.caiso.com/Documents/2013AnnualReport-MarketIssue-Performance.pdf )

    So it looks like SONGS was ALL already replaced by gas off the bat. Despite green media claiming otherwise. Claf is looking to see some major electricity price increases as well. Its going to be interesting to look at their emissions, while factoring economic downturns and the hydro issues. Obviously they are failing there too as they are using MORE FF (gas). Im pretty sure however they will attempt to cook the books to conceal it.

    • John T Tucker says:

      6 of the 10 worst air polluted cities (ozone) are in Calf. Not only does NG combustion (VOCs and NOx Rx) produce ozone but so do fugitive emissions from various well and delivery operations.

      – Based on a three-year average of the number of days measurements exceeded federal health standards for ozone.
      ( http://www.latimes.com/science/la-top-10-most-polluted-cities-20140430-html,0,3083737.htmlstory#axzz30OAKFu88 )

      Worth reading also:
      ( http://www.epa.gov/groundlevelozone/health.html )
      ( http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090118_ozone.html )

    • John T Tucker says:

      God reading up, the whole NG “bridge fuel” concept thing is looking in reality like another environmental fail. I should have been following the numbers more closely. Look at this from the clean air task force:

      Both new diesel and new CNG buses have significantly lower emissions of NOx, PM, and HC than the older diesel buses that they replace

      According to EPA’s MOVES emissions model a 2012 model year diesel bus emits 94% less NOx per mile, 98% less PM, and 89% less HC than a model year 2000
      (12 year old diesel bus. )

      A model year 2012 CNG bus emits 80% less NOx, 99% less PM, and 100% less HC than a model year 2000 diesel bus.

      For some reason I believed CNG had better PM and NOx reduction. They actually emit more NOx than new diesel!!! But the kicker is CH4 life-cycle emissions.

      wells – to – wheels GHG emissions from new diesel buses total
      3,981 g CO2 – e per mile.

      wells – to – wheels GHG emissions from new CNG buses are higher than per – mile GHG emissions from new diesel buses, at 4,643 g CO2-e per mile. </em
      ( http://www.catf.us/resources/publications/files/20120227-Diesel_vs_CNG_FINAL_MJBA.pdf )

      Remember this is also likely a lowball estimate for CNG emissions because it uses a lowball estimate for leakage rates!!!! But I was wondering about tailpipe methane emissions specifically as its looking like they would also affect local Ozone levels like NOx.

      For some probably not so bizarre reason getting a straight answer about direct CH4 emissions form CNG or any kind of NG vehicle is almost impossible.

      I found this ( P 12 of the PDF ): ( http://rael.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/very-old-site/Climatic_Change.pdf )

      So anywhere form a couple of TIMES the amount of CH4 from gasoline to over 20 !!??

      So now I am also totally disgusted by not only the issue itself but the poor accounting as well. I will try to find better numbers and if it even matters for local pollution levels.

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        The NOx emission specs for CNG buses appear to assume no NOx aftertreatment, which the diesel buses would have.  That’s why the numbers are higher.

        The atmospheric photochemistry is complicated, and I recall reading an analysis which shows that reducing NOx can sometimes increase smog.  I’d be more concerned with NG leakage.

        • Wayne SW says:

          Me, too. Fugitive emissions of NG are a real problem. Just the leakage during the extraction step dwarfs the carbon footprint of all the nuclear plants in this country. Methane, on a per molecule basis, does much more damage to the atmosphere than CO2. Its residence time is shorter (by a lot) but during that time it really tears things up.

        • John T Tucker says:

          My understanding was it was both new buses. I didn’t know (if) the specific mechanism was fit-able to both systems.

          to be honest EP I believe you and agree but I would like to understand the chemistry better and be able to say its “Its not an issue becasue …” and perhaps be able to at least give a semi competent range like we did with wind integration, no matter which way it goes – As opposed to “I think…. “

        • John T Tucker says:

          Believe me too I am still extremely concerned with NG leakage, still looking for stuff and have no clue as to the firm reality of the situation. I think this is part of understanding that as well.

          From what I understand the EPA raised leakage rates a little on hard science evidence then promptly lowered them again in response to summited gas industry PLANS to reduce them.

          The whole “bridge fuel” push is looking more like a gas marketing plan and a comedy of errors than any real serious environmentalism by the day.

          • Wayne SW says:

            There is a website, I forget the URL and have lost my browser history because of a crash, where they show known gas leaks around major cities. I know I checked mine and there were literally hundreds of “non-dangerous” leaks shown. One was right out in front of my house, where the valve for the feeder line to my meter was faulty. It went unrepaired for over a year. I had the company out here at least five times trying to get them to fix it. It smelled up my front yard, but they wouldn’t repair it. I had to write a formal complaint to the public utilities commission before I got any action, over a year later. Its no wonder we have buildings blowing up on a regular basis.

          • John T Tucker says:

            Washington D.C. gas leaks – 5,893

            Boston 3,356 leaks.

            New York has more leaks per mile than any city. I haven’t seen a number and Id guess they wont be publishing it anyway.

  17. John T Tucker says:

    Delete it if you want Rod. but I cant resist and apologize in advance, this is the rare earthquake warning issued by the USGS:

    Record Number of Oklahoma Tremors Raises Possibility of Damaging Earthquakes

    A new U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey analysis found that 145 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater occurred in Oklahoma from January 2014 (through May 2; see accompanying graphic). The previous annual record, set in 2013, was 109 earthquakes, while the long-term average earthquake rate, from 1978 to 2008, was just two magnitude 3.0 or larger earthquakes per year.

    The analysis suggests that a likely contributing factor to the increase in earthquakes is triggering by wastewater injected into deep geologic formations. This phenomenon is known as injection-induced seismicity, which has been documented for nearly half a century, with new cases identified recently in Arkansas, Ohio, Texas and Colorado. A recent publication by the USGS suggests that a magnitude 5.0 foreshock to the 2011 Prague, Okla., earthquake was human-induced by fluid injection; that earthquake may have then triggered the mainshock and its aftershocks. ( http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/ceus/products/newsrelease_05022014.php )

    The process of fracking itself can trigger at least minor EQ’s under some circumstances. There is no real debate among geologists about it. The whole issue of fracking/disposal related EQs has gone from “impossible” a few years ago to a real and legitimate problem that is also possibly a significant issue of endangerment.

    “approximately 144,000 Class II wells in operation in the United States inject over 2 billion gallons of brine every day. Most oil and gas injection wells are in Texas, California, Oklahoma, and Kansas.” ( http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/class2/ )

    Ill make this my one insulting post for the day by adding: This is SOP fracking stuff – and has NO parallels WHATSOEVER in NP and nuclear safety and never has. Unlike NP also Fracking has NO long term, widespread, established safety record. Yet the NG industry seems to have completely shut you all up about it to the point where you are willing to ignore it like it is some kind of fringe claim that somehow validates the radiation low dose, AT BEST extremely vague, statistical – total quackery.

    I feel that basic truth has been suppressed for far too long and we have already seen the bulk of the strong argument supporting it.

    • John T Tucker says:

      Perhaps its better NP became something of a outsider in the carbon reduction arena. God forbid something bad should happen with respect to seismology (I cant believe I just said that with respect to a energy product), but even if it doesn’t there was too much riding on gas for the sloppy assessments and questionable omissions of the pro gas movement and affiliated technologies. There are now too many highly visible problems that undercut their most basic claims. Too many mistakes passed in hardcore advocacy and a obvious lack of basic truthfulness. As monolithic tech movements go it probably also has too much baggage now to be intellectually sustainable without a major PR rework.

      The “bridge” is in danger of collapsing and taking the whole FF brand with it under. Who knows what else it will suck down, and indeed if people will even start paying attention.

      • Eino says:

        “The “bridge” is in danger of collapsing and taking the whole FF brand with it under.

        It’s all public relations. If the “bridge” story no longer works, they’ll simply tout the low prices and relative cleanliness. Look at the surveys. They can ignore the global warming thing altogether and their sales will not be hurt. People want natural gas to heat their houses. They won’t be changing to geothermal heating unless the price skyrockets. Industry wants the cheapest easiest source of heat. Natural gas is it.

        People in the eastern US are used to natural gas and it will be difficult to arouse Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about gas usage.

        As far as earthquakes induced by frakking, it’ll have to be pretty common to arouse the public.

        By the way, what is the acronym FF, Fluid Fracturing? I hate acronyms.

        • John Tucker says:

          FF = fossil fuels. w/respect to the more recent long term clean, low cost (and dependable) energy movement.

          I could be wrong but I doubt earthquakes will become a real widespread problem w/fracking. They do seem to be occurring, but only in certain circumstances. They probably will be on the growing list of issues with the practice. All it would take is one significant (a moderate one in a populated area) one associated with it and it would become a major issue.

          I forgot that dams/reservoirs and geothermal have seismic inducing issues as well. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_seismicity ). But obviously the possible risk isn’t as widely distributed as with the explosion of fracking and disposal wells recently.

          Subsidence is ignored for the most part too but it is a real geologic issue with FF (Fossil Fuel) removal.

          I guess it could be “fud” in its broadest sense, but geologic issues are traditionally somewhat uncertain and as they are difficult to mitigate and deal with in general, something you probably really dont want to mess too much with if possible.

  18. G.R.L. Cowan says:

    I was slow to notice this, but why is there a “but” in the title? Hansen is concerned about CO2 *and* realistic about solutions.