David MacKay asks his audience to use arithmetic to understand energy challenges

After posting a couple of videos with Amory Lovins providing his energy mirage, several commenters indicated they would like to hear and see a different point of view.

Unlike Amory, David MacKay is a physicist who likes to use real numbers and simple arithmetic to illustrate the scale of the challenge of replacing the power that human society has given its members through the action of digging up the energy stored by natural processes over millions of years in the form of easily burned hydrocarbons like coal, oil and natural gas. He is the author of Sustainable Energy – without the hot air and maintains a blog of the same title.

MacKay does not wave his hands and expect magic; he carefully observes reality, records data, and puts that data together with simple equations to draw pictures that help his audience understand so that they can choose a viable path with full knowledge of the obstacles they will face in achieving their goals.

It would be great to someday watch a discussion between Lovins and MacKay.

Should anti-fossil expansion movement align with pro nuclear movement?

On April 11, 2014, Roger Annis, a member of the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group, gave a talk at the University of California Santa Barbara. The talk was titled Oil, tar sands, coal, natural gas: What’s behind the expansion drive of Canada’s and North America’s fossil fuel industries? It is a fascinating talk with some excellent slides […]

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Effective government involvement essential for many innovations

The Breakthrough Institute has published a thought-provoking piece titled Reinventing Libertarianism: Jim Manzi and the New Conservative Case for Innovation It is highly recommended reading. Here is a comment that I left on the piece, focusing on my particular interest area of clean nuclear energy development. Interesting observations. I agree with just about everything other […]

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Fuel resiliency will be part of quadrennial energy review

During his speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, February 19, Energy Secretary Moniz made a comment about fuel resiliency that is worthy of discussion, especially as it might provide another opportunity for nuclear energy advocates to make the case for the importance of continuing to operate, develop and deploy our technology. Dr. Moniz […]

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Smoking Gun research continuing in earnest

In 1993, after I had made a decision to resign my active duty commission and design a small atomic engine, a colleague warned me that “the oil companies will never let you succeed.” At the time, I was pretty naive, so I didn’t heed his warning. Over the years, I have gradually learned more about […]

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McMurdo Station – the New York of the Deep Freeze South

(Note: If you are impatient and do not want to watch cute photos of penguins, skip to 19:06 to learn more about the reasons why the PM-3A, a 1,500 kilowatt nuclear electricity generator and process heat supply system, was such a valuable contributor to sustained Antarctic research.) Nearly all of the images that are used […]

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Importance of nuclear energy from perspective of developing world

This post originally appeared as a comment in response to an Atomic Insights post titled Global corruption in natural resource industry. It discusses energy issues from the perspective of someone deeply engaged in action to improve conditions for people in the developing world. It is too important to be buried in a comment thread. By […]

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Tina Gerhardt thinks Obama Administration likes nuclear energy – Huffington Post

Tina Gerhardt has published an almost sadly amusing article on the Huffington Post titled Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Nuclear Energy? in which she tries to make the case that President Obama’s climate action plan is an undeserved endorsement of nuclear energy. Gerhardt is apparently unaware of all of the barriers that the current administration has […]

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Pandora’s Promise – bullseye against wrong target

I had an experience this weekend that reinforced my growing understanding that pronuclear advocates have been distracted by the wrong target. Instead of focusing our fire against the people — both outside and inside the industry — who have successfully driven up the cost of nuclear energy to a point at which it is unable […]

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Atomic Show #202 – Atomic Earth Day 2013

Many nuclear professionals have been attracted to the technology because of its inherently light footprint when compared to all other alternative power sources. It uses less land, less metal, less concrete, and a tiny volume of fuel when compared to producing a similar quantity of energy from other sources of reliable power, especially when the […]

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Dieter Helm – Nuclear saga cannot go on (Leaders must push to a happy ending)

Dieter Helm has generously shared an April 2013 article written for Prospect Magazine titled Stumbling towards crisis. In that article Helm points to US energy decision making as a good example that serves as a contrast to UK energy policy making. He sees chosen path in the UK as almost guaranteeing a crisis. In his […]

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Switch II Fission, the Sequel

Last night I drove to Lexington, VA where the sustainability program was hosting a screening of Switch (to a smarter future). There was a decent crowd; perhaps 100 or more students, faculty and townspeople. It is an impressive documentary, with inside views of facilities that people rarely see. It also does a good job of […]

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