Kerry Emanuel – Puzzling Commentary on Climate Change and Nuclear Energy

Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Atmospheric Science in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science at MIT recently published a short, accessible book titled What We Know About Climate Change. It provides a good summary of the state of our knowledge about the issue, but the final two chapters of the book illustrate a what I believe is a significant communications challenge.

Chapter 7 is titled Our options. Emanuel classified the options into three categories, mitigation (curtailing emissions), adaptation and geoengineering. As I studied his description of the mitigation category, I wondered what he was going to say about nuclear energy.

In my optimistic view, nuclear fission can replace coal and natural gas in electrical power production, oil on ships at sea, increased electricity to charge battery powered automobiles, additional power for a growing network of electric trains, and the heat to replace coal, oil and gas in process and space heating applications. If pursued with sustained dedication, it can make a significant difference in the amount of fossil fuel waste that is produced every year.

Though I read the chapter carefully and even used the search feature (I bought the Kindle version of the book) I could not find a single mention of the word “nuclear” in the entire chapter. I even tried my favorite synonym and looked for “atomic”. Nothing. It seemed that Emanuel had decided that the nuclear is a technology that is best ignored when thinking about solutions to producing massive quantities of CO2 to power our technological society.

Then I turned to the final chapter of the book, which is titled The politics surrounding global climate change. In that chapter, Emanuel mentioned nuclear energy several times. Here are the quotes to indicate the context with which he decided to use the ‘N’ word. I think they are illustrative of something worth discussing, but I am not sure yet what path that discussion should take.

One can easily imagine conservatives embracing climate policies that are in harmony with other actions they might like to see. Conservatives have usually been strong supporters of nuclear power, and few can be happy about our current dependence on foreign oil.

Here is the second section that mentions nuclear energy.

But such alternatives as nuclear power are viewed with deep ambivalence by the left, and only a few environmentalists have begun to rethink their visceral opposition to it. Had it not been for green opposition, the United States today might derive most of its electricity from nuclear sources, as France does. Thus environmentalists must accept some measure of responsibility for today’s most critical environmental problem. Indeed, by focusing on solar and wind power sources – whose limited potential and high costs prevent them from meeting more than a small part of our energy needs – the environmental movement is engaged in unproductive theater that detracts from serious debate about energy.

Emanuel apparently recognizes that nuclear energy is one of the more useful tools available, but I remain confused about why he did not include any mention of the technology in his own section on solutions. Why did he choose to only discuss it in the political context? Please share any thoughts you might have that would help explain Emanuel’s puzzling choice to ignore the future potential of nuclear energy and only to discuss it as an historical political controversy.

I fail to understand why some people who favor the use of nuclear energy refuse to discuss it as a way to reduce CO2 production. I also fail to understand why people who profess a strong concern about climate change choose not to acknowledge that nuclear fission is a powerful tool that can be used to address their issue.

Additional reading

Keith Kloor – Slate (Jan. 14, 2013) The Pro-Nukes Environmental Movement:
After Fukushima, is nuclear energy still the best way to fight climate change?

About Rod Adams

60 Responses to “Kerry Emanuel – Puzzling Commentary on Climate Change and Nuclear Energy”

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  1. Josh says:

    If one views the global energy solution critically, its obvious that we need nuclear power. I suspect that Emmanuel and others ignore its potential or skirt around it because its fashionable to do so.

  2. Josh says:

    Correction: global energy situation

  3. Joris van Dorp says:

    ” It seemed that Emanuel had decided that the nuclear is a technology that is best ignored when thinking about solutions to producing massive quantities of CO2 to power our technological society.”

    lol, I think you mean ‘energy’ rather than ‘co2′. ;)

    “I fail to understand why some people who favor the use of nuclear energy refuse to discuss it as a way to reduce CO2 production. I also fail to understand why people who profess a strong concern about climate change choose not to acknowledge that nuclear fission is a powerful tool that can be used to address their issue.”

    I fail to understand this as well, which is why I ask this a lot, when discussing nuclear with people thinking about energy issues. Here’s what I’ve learned:

    – Nuclear fuel is thought to be limited. This is a major one. I have still to meet a person who does *not* believe the common myth (in my country) that nuclear fuel “is as scarce as fossil fuel”. And if nuclear fuel is as scarce as fossil fuel, that means that using nuclear fuel to substitute for fossil fuel will only work *in the short term*. For most thinkers on energy, this is not enough and they will decide that the political hassle of getting a society to accept nuclear power is not worth it: i.e. rather spend that bother and cost on subsidising wind and solar “which we will need within a few decades anyway”

    – nuclear costs. Another ubiquitous myth. Without fail, people I talk to believe that nuclear power has a very high necessary cost of the total lifecycle. Typically, they believe that fossil fuels are cheap, and everything else is expensive. Moreover, wind and solar are often thought to be cheaper than nuclear. So while they may accept that nuclear can help with climate change, etc, they think it is just as expensive as wind/solar, or worse! In other words, they think that if wind and solar are inadequate to solve climate change due to their cost, then nuclear will also not be, so why even considering nuclear? They don’t think nuclear changes the equation.

    – only baseload, only electricity, only large scale. The thought is that nuclear power can only supply baseload, continuous power, and only electricity, and only at large scale. This does not go well with the increasingly popular myth in my country that “we are moving towards a distributed wind/solar energy system”. In such a hypothetical (fantasy) system, there is no place for large, continuous power sources, so why bother with nuclear?

    – resource shortage/import dependence. People believe that the increasingly popular half-myth of impending resource shortages impacts all industries equally, particularly industries that ‘use fuel’. So these people have more or less correctly understood that ‘(cheap) oil is running out’, but they wrongly expand that concept to all other resources, including uranium. Additionally, these people have understood the vulnerability of a country that imports most of it’s fuel, and they believe that switching to ‘dependence’ on import of nuclear fuel would not improve anything.

    All of these reasons to ignore the nuclear option are wrong, and I much enjoy discussing why with intelligent people that have an open mind.

    Aside, I recently bought a popular ‘atlas’ book called the ‘BosAtlas’ that is used on Dutch schools and education in my country. This book has a long history and sits on the shelves of virtually every Dutchmen. This time, the Bosatlas chose ‘Energy’ as it’s theme. So of course I quickly skipped to the section on nuclear power. I was dismayed to find a large graphic depicting the size of the global reserves of various fuels as smaller or larger discs, based on energy availability. Dismayed, because the disc called ‘Uranium’ was much smaller than the disc called ‘Fossil fuels’. That is what passes as education in my country: never mind the details, never mind the nuance, just produce any old rubbish, because: who cares?

    Just my two cents,

    Joris

    • Joris van Dorp says:

      One more thing. I suspect that Kerry Emanuel may also be laboring under the misguided assumption that nuclear energy ‘won’t come in time’ to mitigate much climate change. This is a myth I run into often as well. The thought is that since a nuclear plant “takes 10 years to build” it will “take too much time” to use nuclear as an effective technology for mitigation at this late hour. Especially since a rooftop-solar installation can be up and running within a few weeks or months, and a wind turbine can be connected within a year, the thought is that nuclear is ‘far slower to ramp up’ than wind and solar, which is why it is assumed that nuclear might as well be ignored.

      • George Carty says:

        If the problem with nuclear power is that it “takes too long to build” to prevent catastrophic climate change, surely the answer is to forbid any legal opposition to nuclear plant construction, and to gun down any direct-action protestors who try to get in the way…

        • Joris van Dorp says:

          I agree, it should be forbidden. I’m reminded of the scandalous way the European EPR projects are now for years being sabotaged by anti-nuke groups. They use despicable tactics. First, they remain silent throughout the painstaking public consultation and review period leading up to the decision to build a plant. Then, after construction is well underway, they unleash a no-holds-barred, completely fact-free sabotage campaign out of nowhere! It makes my blood boil. We have so many problems we need to take care of, and here are a bunch of frauds and liars sabotaging our best efforts to deal with some of these problems. Causing the burning through of massive public and private funds. Delaying and frustrating the work of some of the finest engineers, technicians and scientists. Delaying the handling of the carbon emissions crisis. Like Rod said in another post, it makes me mad as hell, and I don’t want to take it anymore. But of course: I must take it, whether I like it or not. I’m not a very active Christian, but getting older and learning more, I’m increasingly reminded of the Biblical: “For in much wisdom is much grief; for he that increaseth knowledge increases sorrow.” To me, these words mean that the more you understand of the world, the more you are risking loosing your joy, as there is so much that is horrible and impossible to solve if only because it is too complex to explain it and have people rally around and solve it. If you would not have known all about these intractable problems, you would not have the sorrow.

    • George Carty says:

      Is it just coincidence that it was a Dutchman (Storm van der Leeuwen) who started the whole “peak uranium” scare in the first place? I’m aware that he has a fairly high-up position in the Club of Rome, but I wonder if he’s also been taking money from Royal Dutch Shell too?

      • Joris van Dorp says:

        AFAIK, he is not with the Club of Rome anymore. And at least in the Netherlands, his work is fairly well known as being bunk these days. whenever I see his work referenced in serious papers written by Dutch parties (if it happens at all), there is always some kind of caveat about the conclusions being ‘controversial’. I guess even anti-nukes in the Netherlands have realized that relying on Van Leeuwen is no longer credible.

        • Plolov says:

          It’s not just in the Netherlands that van Leeuwen lost credibility. I noticed the anti’s stop referencing him several years ago. He’s too easy to debunk. All you have to do is draw attention to the two orders of magnitude that separate his estimates of low-grade uranium mine energy requirements from the published figures for existing mines. It also rather explains Sovacool’s laundering of van Leeuwen in his paper. A meta-study of ‘hundreds’ of papers is easier to sell than one mustachioed crank.

        • Plolov says:

          Um…to clarify for no particular reason: moustaches and cranks are not strongly correlated and the inverse should not be inferred from my previous post….Just wanted to clear that up!

      • Cyril R. says:

        Is it just coincidence that it was a Dutchman (Storm van der Leeuwen) who started the whole “peak uranium” scare in the first place?

        Hey! I’m Dutch, and now you have insulted me.

        • John ONeill says:

          He’s slagging off moustaches too Rod. Ban him.

        • George Carty says:

          I didn’t mean that as an insult to your countrymen, just suggesting that a charlatan like Storm van der Leeuwen may have gained more traction in his own country.

  4. Daniel says:

    I sugest that we follow the money and see where most of his research funds comes from. That could give an idea as to why he is nuclear shy.

  5. Brian Mays says:

    Rod – If you are interested in some background on Emanuel, you might enjoy reading this piece in The Boston Globe from a couple of years ago.

    • Daniel says:

      @ Brian,

      I glanced over the article and Emmanuel was complaining about results from a study done by a certain Richard Lindzen that he could not reproduce.

      Last year, a certain fuzz was made about studies whose results cannot be replicated and the fact that it hurts science’s image. This lead to a scientist being demonized and the birth of the Reproducibility Initiative !

      Here is a bit on that topic :

      Can you repeat that?

      It’s a dirty-little secret that many scientific results can’t be reproduced. In 2006, Elizabeth Iorns, a geneticist at the University of Miami, tried to replicate a study about a cancer gene and couldn’t. She found that few scientific journals wanted to publish her findings and that she got blowback from colleagues. That lit a fire in her belly to ensure that more scientific results are rigorously tested. To that end, she created a startup based in Palo Alto, Calif., called the Reproducibility Initiative. The goal of the fledgling nonprofit is to have third-party researchers replicate important scientific experiments. If the startup can make headway, it may help scientists know which results are real.

  6. Peter Geany says:

    Rod The questions you ask are not surprising to me, or to many likeminded people as what we see is that you haven’t come to grips with what is happening politically in the West. The same forces that have convinced the majority of people that any and all radiation is bad have used the same tactics to convince everyone that CO2 is endangering our environment. Both assertions are wrong. As indeed where the DDT scares and banning (all that was wrong was its over/miss-use) and the hullabaloo and eventual banning of cfc’s. I could add the banning of lead in petrol without any thought to the effects of Boron, one of the common substitutes. The common factor in all this is that none of these changes have been based on sound science, and the list of such instances would fill all the volumes of encyclopaedia Britannica.

    But his does not stop a long list of establishment figures and scientist coming out and producing incoherent and confusing books papers and articles. Its politics. And it has been a profoundly un-democratic form of politics. If you can reconcile yourself to this, it suddenly become easier to understand why and how an otherwise respected and intelligent individual can write some that would get a fail in a grad school exam.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      The same forces that have convinced the majority of people that any and all radiation is bad have used the same tactics to convince everyone that CO2 is endangering our environment. Both assertions are wrong.

      Coming from someone who claims that there’s no such thing as a greenhouse effect (despite its quantification by Samuel Pierpont Langley with his newly-invented bolometer in 1886), this is really ironic.

      • Peter Geany says:

        This is getting boring but here goes again. There is no proof, no experiment, or any measurements that demonstrate the greenhouse effect. Further there is even less of a case linking CO2 as being the major climate driver. If you have comprehensive proof, and given that its been over a hundred years of trying, please provide it for you will be the first.

        Correlation is not causation.

        However there are many natural cycles and the activity of the sun that both correlate and can be measure in relation to changes in the climate. At some point you will wake up and open your mind and get in line with the majority of thinkers rather than tell the rather narrow range of visitors here that you hold the majority view. Your view is only a majority amongst those of the ruling elite who hold them solely due to their vested interests. This is why I advise Rod that it is dangerous and unrewarding to align with this group.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          This is getting boring but here goes again.

          You shamelessly repeat the Big Lie.  Again.  Who’s paying you to embarrass yourself like this?

          There is no proof, no experiment, or any measurements that demonstrate the greenhouse effect.

          Garbage.  IR fluxes, both up from the ground and down from the atmosphere, have been measured since Samuel Pierpont Langley in the 1880’s.  There is greater IR radiation from Earth than net solar input, balanced by IR radiated downward by the atmosphere; the downward flux is the essence of the greenhouse effect and proves that it exists.  Even the spectra were measured back then (which is how Svante Arrhenius made his calculations for his 1896 paper, this pre-dating QM).

          It’s trivial to show that the Nikolov and Zeller hypothesis (to which you give credence) is wrong, because Earth is some 30K warmer than even a blackbody with perfect convective heat transport would be.  To be that much warmer with no greenhouse effect, the surface would have to be “light colored” in the thermal IR, emitting much less efficiently than a blackbody.  Where’s the observation of this, Geany?  Langley measured otherwise almost 130 years ago.

          If there was a greenhouse effect, you’d have a near-blackbody spectrum from the surface, a radiant spectrum with absorption bands measured from space, and a substantial IR flux downward from the atmosphere at the surface.  This is precisely what is observed.  If you’d spent even 1 month studying the matter you would have encountered this; if you’ve spent 15 years on anything, it’s been sophistry.  Perhaps even sophistry is too kind a word; maybe it’s pure dogma.  I’ll give you a hint:  re-arranging your prejudices has nothing to do with science.

          Back in December you wrote

          Wrong and I suspect you know you are wrong or is it you just can’t accept that something you have believed in all this time lies in tatters.

          No person of intelligence could honestly say that.  The question is, in which trait are you deficient?

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Oh, I almost forgot:

            Your view is only a majority amongst those of the ruling elite who hold them solely due to their vested interests.

            Pure projection.  The “ruling elite”, including the Saud dynasty, are resolutely opposed to anything that limits profits from fossil fuels.

          • DV82XL says:

            I always ask the same question of anyone that asserts that CO2 (or GHG in general) have not impacted climate: Are you also asserting that the atmosphere can server as an unlimited sink for these gasses without any impact whatsoever? Because that is the real issue. Even if an argument can be made that there has been no impact to date (and I don’t believe this is true) can we say with any confidence that we can continue to dump these gases into the environment in ever increasing amounts without creating some imbalance given that there are well established models that suggest otherwise.

          • Rich Lentz says:

            The problem I have is that the AGW’ists never include in their models the effect of the heat created by the big nuclear reactor (and/or the radiation decay – whichever theory you believe so there are no arguments) in the core of the earth. At 100 Km it is 1200 degrees C, at 300 Km it is over 5000K. At 4 Km it is about 50 C at 1 meter it is about 15 C and at the surface it is close to the air temperature. Looking at the graphs of this temperature gradient, it changes rapidly near the surface. That tells me that this is adding heat to the so called “global” temperature. How much is this heat?
            The second factor ignored is that the atmosphere on the earth – regardless of what it is made of – will retain some of that heat. Just like the fur on an animal retains heat by preventing the cold air from reaching the surface, the surface effect of the air will add some insulating qualities. How great is this effect.
            Third where is the heat of pressure?
            And finally why is the logarithmic nature of additional CO2 ignored? For example: 1. put a white glass box and a medium gray glass box out in the sun. 2. Accurately measure the temperature for several days. 3. Establish the “green house effect. 4. Select a gray paint that is 10% darker than previously used. Repeat 2, 3, & 4 five or more times. You will quickly observe that the temperature increase for the 10% darker paint is not 10% greater. And for CO2 we are talking about changes of percentages that are out in the several decimal points. Draw your own conclusions.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            The problem I have is that the AGW’ists never include in their models the effect of the heat created by the big nuclear reactor (and/or the radiation decay – whichever theory you believe so there are no arguments) in the core of the earth.

            They don’t include it because a flux of 60 milliwatts per square meter is negligible compared to the other forcing functions.

            Can you do even trivial algebra?  Earth’s albedo is roughly 0.325, so for a total insolation of 1360 W/m^2 over the disc we get an average of (1360*0.675/4)=230 W/m^2.  Do you think 0.06 W/m^2 figures in this?

            The second factor ignored is that the atmosphere on the earth – regardless of what it is made of – will retain some of that heat.

            Are you admitting that the greenhouse effect exists?  Hallelujia!  Oh, wait… you’re going to deny that once it’s pointed out to you, aren’t you?

            Third where is the heat of pressure?

            Exactly what do you mean by that?  Do you even know?  I can calculate adiabatic lapse rates based on the ideal gas law.  Can you?  Do you even know why you need to?  Hint:  it has to do with the greenhouse effect!

            And finally why is the logarithmic nature of additional CO2 ignored?

            If you could spell out the purported vs. measured implications of your hypothetical example, you might have a point.  Let me give you a clue:  you don’t.

          • Joris van Dorp says:

            How much is this heat?

            This is a trait most climate change deniers share: an underestimation of the expertise and intelligence of scientists. They are always ready to assume that some or another elementary aspect was never grasped, let alone studied, even by the thousands of PhD’s working it through decades.

            This trait is shared by many environmentalists as well though. Commonly, environmentalists underestimate the expertise and intelligence of engineers. Just this morning when driving to work, I listened to a discussion on the radio about the fact that biofuels turn out to be inadequate to satisfy the need for liquid fuels.

            (Only recently have I noticed this starting to be discussed on mainstream channels. For years, the assumption was that the ‘biobased economy’ was only a matter of political will. But now, realization is growing that it is not so easy.)

            So the particular environmentalist in this radio broadcast was finally asked what should be done about the air transport sector, which needs to have lots of liquid fuels. The astonishing response was that since airlines don’t pay tax for their fuel they have not been pushed to improve the efficiency. According to this environmentalist, if only taxes would be raised on kerosine, then airplane will become far more efficient.

            This was another typical example of the underestimation by environmentalists of engineers and scientists. They assume that airplanes and turbines would be far more efficient, if only the fuel was made more expensive. While there is a grain of truth here, it should be obvious that there is *not* a lot of scope for further improvement in efficiency. So after the public discussion is finally coming round to appreciate that biofuels are *not* a panacea for climate change or oil shortage (after this has already been clear for decades in the scientific literature) I guess now we are going to spend another ten years before we realise that increasing taxes on kerosine will *not* actually vastly improve the efficiency of combustion turbines or airplanes. Sigh.

            Note that I consider myself an environmentalist as well, and I generally agree with the arguments and proposals of environmentalists. But when environmentalists try to argue or propose about technical or physical matters, too often i find myself groaning or sighing.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Joris

            Boeing has been working very hard to produce a more fuel efficient aircraft because there is already substantial motivation in the form of high priced fuels. For most airlines, fuel costs can represent as much as 40% of their total operational budget – and it has been worse than that in the recent past (2005-2008).

            The Dreamliner is the result of that effort.

            Though I hope that I am wrong, I am starting to think that doing everything that creative people can think of to shave weight and improve fuel economy has led to some of the technical issues associated with the plane. There are many measures of effectiveness that engineers need to consider when making their design choices. I believe that if they are pushed too far in the direction of weigh savings, they might give up a little redundancy or reliability to achieve the goal.

            (As a backpacker, I have seen that kind of behavior among some of my friends who will give up a lot of potential comfort in order to shave a few pounds from their packs. I always tell them if I was that concerned about carrying weight, I would shed a few pounds around my own belly and keep carrying that extra water, pillow, knife, and food.)

            I guess part of the reason for my suspicion about the Dreamliner decision process is that I have heard Amory Lovins speak very highly of the plane and its lightweight, fuel efficient design. I cannot say for sure, but I think he told his audience at one of the talks that I attended in DC that he and RMI had done some consulting work on the project. That is scary to me; I’ve never been able to duplicate Lovins math because I make somewhat different assumptions; including the fact that I acknowledge the limitation of the laws of thermodynamics.

            http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/01/04/lovins.weaning.us.off.oil/index.html

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Commonly, environmentalists underestimate the expertise and intelligence of engineers. Just this morning when driving to work, I listened to a discussion on the radio about the fact that biofuels turn out to be inadequate to satisfy the need for liquid fuels.

            This engineer has only been hammering on that point for the last six years (at least).  If the environmental movement is only just catching on, what does this say about their brainpower and leadership?  Nothing good, nothing good at all.

            All of these organizations need to restrict their executive boards and top positions to people with science degrees.  They’d immediately become more credible and effective.

          • Jeff Walther says:

            Engineer-Poet
            January 17, 2013 at 10:12 AM
            “All of these organizations need to restrict their executive boards and top positions to people with science degrees. They’d immediately become more credible and effective.”

            They’d immediately go out of business. Well not immediately, but it’s hard to sell FUD and panic, when you stick to the facts. And FUD and panic seem to be what keep their subscribers contributing.

            Still, I agree with your sentiment. I also recognize that these NGOs have every motivation to keep on lying to the public and to look for new things to lie about. After 40 years of lying about nuclear energy, I don’t understand why anyone takes their word for anything.

            That is not to say that everything that comes out of them is untrue, but if one wants reliable information on any topic, one should seek it somewhere other than environmental NGOs, and most especially the UCS. It’s too much work to sort the nuggets of truth out of their lies.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            They’d immediately go out of business

            Science degrees and ecological organizations can go well together; Patrick Moore holds a science degree, the problem is that he was just one person and the Greenpeace charter allowed ignorant ideologues to take control.  That can be fixed.

            it’s hard to sell FUD and panic, when you stick to the facts.

            There is a lot of room for near-panic and anti-panic while sticking strictly to the facts.  For instance, a truly conservative ecological organization would be arguing fervently for the elimination of Federal flood insurance on all new construction, for both ecological and fiscal reasons.  Nothing should be built in flood plains unless the owners can self-insure, period.  We should probably not rebuild in the Rockaways, either.  Anti-panic would include dispensing good information about radiation and the fact that the Fukushima Dai’ichi meltdowns are a public health non-event.

          • Peter Geany says:

            Engineer-Poet No one is paying me I’m just spreading the message that climate science is the biggest pile of poo in all of science.

            I keep saying one simple thing that you can’t get into your head.

            There is not one scrap of proof that the greenhouse effect exists. I’m not going to repeat myself with links but anyone with an open mind will look for themselves. The fact that you cannot find the publication with real world measurements rather proves my case. And the longer the charade goes on the more Climate science gets caught out.

            As we know science is useless unless all data is transparent and any and all calculations are provided so that others can replicate the work. This is not possible with most climate science and the dear old useless Met Office in the UK has been caught out yet again. This particular incident makes ALL the climate models completely useless. Back to the drawing board I would say. The Met office is a laughing stock in the UK, despite a new £30million pound super computer. A complete waste of tax payers money

            As I have repeated, those in the know are seriously questioning the whole idea that the greenhouse exists. You Mr Engineer-Poet can stay where you are with you head in the sand if you like, and feel warm and cosy preaching to a limited friendly audience, and one that will dwindle as the message gets through.

            For me I’m looking for the scientific truth and that means understanding the real numbers, not the make believe from climate models. And right now with the temperature falling it sure does not look like we have CO2 induced global warming.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            I keep saying one simple thing that you can’t get into your head.

            Of course.  I refuse to believe things I know to be lies.

            There is not one scrap of proof that the greenhouse effect exists.

            Proven since 1861 (h/t Don Cox below):

            http://tyndallconference2011.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Tyndalls-1861-Lecture.pdf

            And right now with the temperature falling it sure does not look like we have CO2 induced global warming.

            2012 was the 10th hottest year on record worldwide, and the #1 hottest year on record in the USA.

            I will no longer mince words:  you are either too stupid to understand plain evidence shown to you repeatedly, or so totally dishonest that evidence does not matter to you.  Either way, I hope that Rod bans you.  You have nothing to contribute here.

          • Rod Adams says:

            Either way, I hope that Rod bans you. You have nothing to contribute here.
            @Engineer-Poet

            I hate to disappoint a loyal contributor like you, but I am unlikely to ban Peter for his stubbornrepetition of false statements. i put this forbearance in the category of providing a forum for people who refuse to accept the advice of the old saw:

            “Tis better to be thought a fool than to open mouth (or click keyboard) and remove all doubt.”

          • Jeff Walther says:

            Engineer-Poet
            January 17, 2013 at 2:12 PM
            “Science degrees and ecological organizations can go well together; Patrick Moore holds a science degree, the problem is that he was just one person and the Greenpeace charter allowed ignorant ideologues to take control. That can be fixed.”

            I see the solution you’re aiming for, but I do not believe that simply requiring a science degree will do the trick. Consider the credentials of the two most recent chairpersons of the NRC.

            You need some touchstone which will identify people committed to the scientific method and also honest enough to stick to that commitment even when it is inconvenient for them personally or for the organization.

            All or most of the major producers of lies in scientific journals about energy policy have advanced science degrees. Caldicott. Lovins. Jacobson. et. al.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Jeff Walther

            All or most of the major producers of lies in scientific journals about energy policy have advanced science degrees. Caldicott. Lovins. Jacobson. et. al.

            At that, I must take issue.

            Caldicott has an advanced medical degree – admittedly, the curricula for medical programs includes a large dose of selected science classes, but medical doctors are not generally scientists, they are healers. http://www.helencaldicott.com/about/cv/

            Lovins has no earned degree from any institution on any topic. He dropped out of both Harvard and Oxford. Here is a link to an article I wrote quite a few years ago about what I had learned by research and by contacting the one school that gave him a credential that sounds like a degree here in the US – http://atomicinsights.com/2006/05/amory-lovinss-academic-career.html

            Jacobson has an advanced degree in atmospheric science. http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            I do not believe that simply requiring a science degree will do the trick. Consider the credentials of the two most recent chairpersons of the NRC.

            I never said it was a sufficient condition.  It might not even be necessary.  On the other hand, weeding out those lacking the ability to read technical material and do math would at least leave the potential to embarrass those who have to falsify facts or numbers to reach an ideologically-required conclusion; people who don’t understand those things can’t be embarrassed, because it requires a grasp of why something is right or wrong.

            Then again, we have our own immediate example of Geany.  <sigh>

          • Jeff Walther says:

            Rod Adams
            January 18, 2013 at 2:37 AM
            “At that, I must take issue.

            Lovins has no earned degree from any institution on any topic.”

            Mea culpe. Ironically, I didn’t do enough research before I typed. Sigh. Apologies all around. Must be my lowly engineering degrees instead of actual science degrees. :-)

            Nevertheless, I believe there are enough counter examples to the idea that a science degree instills reliable scientific methodology in a person’s work.

          • Peter Geany says:

            @Rod I’m not really interested in what Engineer-Poet thinks of me other than he needs to stop throwing around insults. That nonsense from 1861is not proof, it’s a hypothesis. I’m definitely not stupid, far from it; I’m a go to person when everyone else has failed to sort things out. So I tend to be quite sure footed and unshakeable and that is something Engineer-Poet and indeed you need to understand. “Stubborn repetition of false statements”. I’m stubborn for sure, because to succeed as an application engineer you need to learn how to bat the rubbish away, and 99 times out of a hundred you have to do this to solve the real world problems you are given. False statements; Rod why would I bother?

            Rod I like your site, it’s a wonderful resource on nuclear energy, of which my knowledge is below where I would like it to be. I share your views on radiation, and happen to share your views that it is criminal to waste our hydrocarbons (you have to stop calling all hydrocarbon fuels fossil fuels) burning them for electricity when we have a far better and cleaner solution. The hydrocarbons are a much more valuable resource as a base for our chemical industry and as mobile fuels until we perfect alternatives which we will in the future. And yes they do pollute, especially in the developing world, but it’s something we can effectively control to levels that are not damaging to health. But I’m with GalloppingCamel in that I don’t believe in destroying our industrialised base in order to pander to the false gods of Climate change.

            Our difference comes down to CO2. I started by warning you that the very same people that block Nuclear, mainly via the unreasonable fear of low dose radiation, are the very same who are CO2 alarmists. Indeed my original interest was as a result of being worried about global warming. Why I am not worried now and why do I say the informed debate is now about whether the greenhouse effect is real or not. Because there is not one single tiny bit of empirical evidence, not one modern experiment, and no modern instrumented proof that CO2 causes catastrophic global warming. I suspect you and others have convinced yourselves that it’s the oil companies that always undermine nuclear in order that can feel comfortable cosying up to those who are your real opposition. That some these so called “environmentalists” have come to view Nuclear as a way of stopping CO2 emissions just demonstrates that there are no limits to what they will do to achieve their ends, and you have even written recently about these people.

            I’ll not bother listing all the references, because I have already listed the best starting point, on a site that is consistently voted best science blog site, yet one you instantly dismissed. This is running against the majority of informed opinion Rod. Of course it is your choice, but I don’t believe that someone as articulate and aware as you obviously are, this site being ample evidence, can dismiss real scientific data and evidence for ever. Blind faith will lead you to the margins and that would be a shame.

            I will link you to an article explaining why all the climate models are no longer valid. This is because the MET office in the UK has done some very sloppy science. This is not an isolated instance, and over the last 10 years or so scores or indeed hundreds of papers written in support of AGW have been shown to be deeply flawed, many as a result of relying on other false papers. At some point Rod even you are going to have to come to terms with this situation and accept that climate science is a sham as I and many other have had to do. And remember that this is the same Met office that has reported no global warming for 15 years (the one you told me was wrong and had it pointed out to you I was right) and just recently sneaked out on Christmas eve (so no one would notice) that Global warming was on hold until 2017.

            Doug L. Hoffman comments on a paper in Nature (so peer reviewed) pointing out the sloppy work of the Met office, work that is relied on in every climate model.

            http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/science-gets-stratosphere-wrong

            Not only this, but no less a person that James Hansen, is admitting Global warming is at a standstill. Read David Whitehouse’s commentary as Hansen finally admits what many have been saying for quite some time. The link to Hansen’s paper is within this discussion. This is just the tip of the iceberg Rod, and it’s up to you to and your readers to become informed rather than parrot poor science.

            http://www.thegwpf.org/hansen-admits-global-temperature-standstill-real/

            As I said at the beginning whist the vast majority of climate realists have concentrated on showing the manipulation and fraud that has been occurring over the temperature record, I have sort to understand more about CO2. Now that it has been demonstrated to all but the blind or agenda seekers, that the temperature record cannot be relied on in the way it has been used and presented in support of AGW, more commentators and scientists are now starting to concentrate on CO2 (or atmospheric behaviour) and we are now finally getting to the nitty gritty of the issue, something that has been ignored for 15 or maybe 20 years. Now that even the great man has had to admit that warming is on hold, more focus still will be bought to bear on actually how CO2 is able cause all this dangerous warming. And the likely hood is that by 2020 AGW will be but a distant memory.

            The industrial revolution was the age of reason. Post WWII has been the age of stupid, and I like to think we are on the cusp of the age of enlightenment.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            I’m not really interested in what Engineer-Poet thinks of me other than he needs to stop throwing around insults.

            You insult us by asking us to believe total nonsense.  It’s easily proven to be nonsense through several independent lines of evidence.  Why don’t you stop it?

            That nonsense from 1861is not proof, it’s a hypothesis.

            Again you insult us by mis-characterizing what you have been given to read.  Tyndall’s 1861 work was experiment, not hypothesis.  You don’t use tubes of polished tin with rock-salt windows on the ends to create hypotheses, you use them to make measurements.  He distinguishes between tests using laboratory air and air dried with CaCl2, for pete’s sake.

            I’m definitely not stupid, far from it; I’m a go to person when everyone else has failed to sort things out.

            And you’re such an authority on everything that you can overpower the measured thermal emissions spectrum of Earth from a balloon-borne spectrometer by pure say-so.

            The essence of being in a stupor is failing to recognize what’s blatantly obvious.

            I started by warning you that the very same people that block Nuclear, mainly via the unreasonable fear of low dose radiation, are the very same who are CO2 alarmists.

            James Hansen, George Monbiot and James Lovelock are individually enough to disprove your assertion; together they are proof that you have no interest in evidence, only your dogma.

            That some these so called “environmentalists” have come to view Nuclear as a way of stopping CO2 emissions just demonstrates that there are no limits to what they will do to achieve their ends

            They took a position based on incomplete information, and changed it when they realized it was (a) wrong and (b) at loggerheads with what they were trying to do.  This is a good and honorable thing to do.  It is the opposite of what you are doing.

          • Peter Geany says:

            @ Engineer-Poet. You quote George Monbiot as an authority!! He is a journalist at best, and someone we can’t stop laughing at. That you drag him out means you are desperate, and I have hit the nail on the head. I guess we now have to wait until 2020 to see if global warming has started again seeing as the Met office has said there has been no warming for 15 years and there will be none for another 5. Just how long do we have to wait for this AGW to kick in??? Long enough to destroy our way of life I guess. How do you explain the zero warming????? that will be 20 years of ZERO warming by 2017.

            I have said my piece and Rod I hope will open up and check what I have said rather that blindly accept the AGW dogma. If he doesn’t then so be it. It will cause me no bother. However he will find himself on the margins as the real world moves on.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Peter Geany

            Long enough to destroy our way of life I guess.

            Who here is saying that addressing the risk of climate change and ocean chemistry changes has to destroy our way of life? We have a better energy solution that provides reliable, cost effective, emission free energy that can be used to dramatically reduce human society’s need to burn hydrocarbons for power. We are not facing a catastrophe, but life for human beings on earth would certainly be better in many measurable ways if we replaced as much of our current hydrocarbon power demand as possible with fission.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            You quote George Monbiot as an authority!!

            I didn’t quote him at all.  I cited him as an example.  Your inability to get the distinction shows just how far you are from your self-image of “the smartest guy in the room”.  He switched to pro-nuclear; why haven’t you welcomed him?  Ah… you have another agenda!

            Just to show you the difference, I quote him here:

            Over the last fortnight I’ve made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

            You ought to agree with this statement, because it is true.  If you disagree with it because it comes from George Monbiot, you have used the ad-hominem fallacy.

            If you are unable to distinguish the truth of a statement from the identity of the person issuing the statement, you have neither the intelligence nor the personal integrity to reliably distinguish truth from falsehood for others.

            That you drag him out means you are desperate, and I have hit the nail on the head.

            And Lovelock and Hansen mean what, exactly?  This incoherent point-and-sputter is most amusing, please continue.

            Just how long do we have to wait for this AGW to kick in???

            It’s been continuing in the waters during its hiatus on land.  Eventually water will get warm enough that it won’t be able to absorb heat at the current rate, and the heat will go back to the land; it’s just “one of those things”.

            Long enough to destroy our way of life I guess.

            It won’t take too many more large hurricanes taking left turns off Virginia to destroy the way of life on much of the eastern seaboard of the United States.  This is going on during what you claim is “no warming”.  If anyone is going to be left behind by history, it’s you… and deep down, you know it.

  7. Joel Riddle says:

    Rod, this may be a complete oversimplification but I am going with it anyway.

    The single biggest reason for the seemingly illogical disconnect is a certain Albert Gore Jr.

    While he absolutely did help move discussion of global warming (now: climate change) more into the mainstream than it had been before and got a Nobel Prize for his movie, he has also been no friend to nuclear power. Many legitimate nuclear professionals don’t particularly trust Al Gore. Conversely, many people who would call themselves environmentalists mistakenly dismiss nuclear power with no independent, critical thought (unlike our friends George Monbiot, Stewart Brand, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas, Barry Brook, and Ben Heard). While that dismissal is not entirely attributable to Mr. Gore, his comments in the past of nuclear plants only coming in one size weren’t exactly intended to be spoken glowingly towards nuclear power.

    Disclosure: I spent basically all of my first 28 years of life as a resident of Al Gore’s home state of Tennessee.

    • crf says:

      Someone should ask explicitly ask Gore about this.

      I assume his nuclear skepticism was an accurate mirroring of a slight anti-nuclear opinion common in many mid~1980s to mid~1990s politicians, especially on the centre-left, and explains his votes and policy choices while a Senator and VP, and later public persona.

      While he was Senator, and climate change was not seen as an important issue, his stance on nuclear energy, one way or another, wouldn’t have been seen as notable. It didn’t mean much. In the 1980s and 1990s, whatever way you sat on the nuclear fence was politically defensible. Fossil fuels were cheap, and getting cheaper. Global warming not seen as a problem.

      Gore maintaining political consistency on this issue was an easy default position to take, even as the circumstances changed dramatically with the emergence of climate change as a key political and environmental problem. He needs to be put on the spot, to explain and re-examine his record on nuclear issues, given the ever increasing importance of climate change. He’s not going to do it willingly. It is very psychologically difficult to re-examine your past conclusions. But, as a public figure, who exercised real political power which has shaped our current energy landscape, he needs to give a full accounting.

  8. donb says:

    Rod Adams wrote:
    Please share any thoughts you might have that would help explain Emanuel’s puzzling choice to ignore the future potential of nuclear energy and only to discuss it as an historical political controversy.

    Mr. Emanuel is damning nuclear energy with faint praise.

  9. James Greenidge says:

    Re: “…but I remain confused about why he did not include any mention of the technology in his own section on solutions. Why did he choose to only discuss it in the political context?”

    My gut suspects that he didn’t hawk nuclear energy as a prominent solution for the same reasons none of the recent political campaigners have, not even maverick Ron Paul. The nuclear industry just hasn’t stood up loud and made a name and case for itself in the media or public or Congress. I just can’t blame Emanuel for not sticking up for any industry that barely — and when it does, very lamely — promotes itself and its own superior virtues (anyone recall CBM & the Amiga?). Who wants a pantywaist at your back in a foxhole? The nuclear industry’s (or group, collective, club, or whatever) chronic criminal lack of intelligent ads and PSAs and mass public education since TMI is coming home to roost — all self-inflicted. Might as well have that CUNY professor Kako guy rooting for you for all the more publicity he’ll get you than you yourself! So I’m just happy Emanuel even bother the nuclear mention — unlike his greater academic peers and the media.

    James Greenidge
    Queens, NY

  10. Paul Wick says:

    Old-fashioned cowardice?

  11. Robin Franke says:

    Rod

    I enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks for the good work.

    As an aside, I note that you often pick apart what others are saying (or not saying) about nuclear energy. In the case of Dr. Emanuel’s work, I am sure that the work produced by the good doctor accomplished EXACTLY what he intended. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to interview the man (or at least ask him questions relative to his intent) before you critique it as not having served what YOUR intentions might have been.

    Regards.
    Loyal reader

  12. SteveK9 says:

    The excerpts from his ‘political’ section are right on the money. So, if he believes that,

    …. solar and wind power sources – whose limited potential and high costs prevent them from meeting more than a small part of our energy needs …

    what is actually in his ‘solutions’ section. If not Nuclear, or Wind, or Solar, what?

  13. Robert Hargraves says:

    I note that the people who are too gutless to even mention nuclear power never propose an economic, environmentally acceptable, implementable source of power on a global scale that will solve our climate, energy, and poverty crises.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Robert Hargraves

      Of course there is a correlation there. Anyone who fails to mention nuclear power has automatically relegated his or her proposed solution to one that will never work. I am not saying that nuclear energy is a complete solution, but I am saying that it is not possible to achieve a reasonable state that balances prosperity with the environment without it.

      • Engineer-Poet says:

        I am not saying that nuclear energy is a complete solution

        I suspect that it is very close, especially if technologies such as MSR are developed and thermochemical processes can be driven by nuclear heat.

        If you look at the existing uses of fossil fuels, almost everything in residential and commercial buildings can be replaced by electricity (even more with low-pressure steam for space heat), most industrial uses can be replaced by either electricity or high-temperature heat, and even transport can be electrified by a number of different methods (Hanazawa’s capacitive road-to-tire coupling is an exciting possibility IMO).  About all that’s left is air and water transport and products like petrochemicals.  I think those are manageable.

  14. Robert Steinhaus says:

    Rod requested –
    “Please share any thoughts you might have that would help explain Emanuel’s puzzling choice to ignore the future potential of nuclear energy and only to discuss it as an historical political controversy.”

    Dr. Kerry Emanuel did not include nuclear as a potential solution to climate problems because, at current obstructive levels of nuclear regulation, nuclear is not choosable. If no or but pitifully few licenses are granted to build new reactors (In the US but 2 licenses for 4 total units in 30 years) then nuclear is not a real potential solution to AGW (or worldwide poverty caused by lack of fair access to energy).
    No License –> No Project –> No Energy

    If we were to roll back nuclear regulation to the safe levels of our industrial competition and replace the current imbalanced radical NRC structure, which has the single goal of maximizing public safety without any other consideration, with a balanced structure where simultaneously, under one agency roof, the needs of a vital emerging modern nuclear industry are balanced with the protection of public safety, sustained healthy growth of nuclear industry together with the construction of hundreds (thousands) of new reactors and high levels of public safety would both simultaneously be achieved.

    We should change the structure of NRC/DOE to recombine nuclear industry and nuclear technology support with effective public safety all in one agency. Under such balanced arrangements the United States built over 300 nuclear reactors (commercial, research, and military). Why not go back to balanced regulation/industry support as it existed under AEC that allowed substantial numbers of new reactors to be built? If you remove this regulatory chokepoint to the wide scale expansion of nuclear energy, Dr. Kerry Emanuel might include nuclear in the solutions section of future editions of his books.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Robert

      Perhaps if people like Kerry Emanuel would talk about how useful it would be to have a technology with the basic characteristics of nuclear energy (high energy density, virtually zero emissions, and proven reliability) we could encourage legislators to revise the focus of the NRC.

      I do not believe that we need to return to the days of the AEC. There were a lot of problems with that agency; particularly with regard to the way that it was full of talented scientists and engineers who continued to do the bidding of politicians in developing and testing weapons instead of refusing to do that kind of work on the basis of their own personal morality.

      All we need to do is to have Congress make sure that the NRC follows its own mission with the recognition that any power that is not produced by nuclear energy will most likely be produced by sources with a much worse environmental, safety and national security record.

  15. Rich Lentz says:

    Didn’t you hear the president today “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,”

    This philosophy is ingrained in the minds of liberals and does not apply just to guns but to nuclear power, radiation, and CO2. It was applied to DDT, CFC, etc. This brings up all of the debates about “comparative harm,” and “do no harm” etc., etc., … They have saved hundreds of lives (they think) by banning DDT. It makes no difference millions die a year that could be saved by the proper application of DDT. And there are thousands of similar examples.

    • George Carlin says:

      Politicians look for the solution that presents, at first glance and without any further thought, positive results. The problem is, a large portion of the public does not care to look any further either.

      Nevermind that the US’s drug war leads to gang violence over selling illegal drugs which, overwhelmingly, is the source of gun murders in the US, or the fact that commercial nuclear power radiation has not killed a single person in the United States but has likely reduced the number of untimely human deaths, we must ban nuclear power.

      • Jeff Walther says:

        “Politicians look for the solution that presents, at first glance and without any further thought, positive results.”

        I think that they actually look for an action, not a solution, which at first glance and without any further thought **appears* to address the issue which is currently on the public’s mind.

        It doesn’t matter whether there is any factual relationship between the politicians action and the issue at hand, as long as the public thinks that something is being done. Even if there are laws already on the books that address the same issue in the same way, a new law must be passed to give the appearance of doing something.

        It’s always easier for politicians to pass new legislation, regardless of the unintended consequences, than it is for them to fix the government so that it actually enforces rules already on the books in an effective manner. More importantly, the former is highly visible and gets them positive press. The latter is usually quiet and not rewarded with time in the public’s eye.

        • George Carlin says:

          I completely agree. It is political theatre. Results don’t matter because any measurable results take years to manifest and by that time the original legislation has been so tampered with that no one can point to what truly was the root cause. “Unintended consequences” is a popular excuse if any blame is handed out.

  16. Don Cox says:

    “There is no proof, no experiment, or any measurements that demonstrate the greenhouse effect.”

    I suggest you read carefully Tyndall’s paper from 1861. It is clearly written.

    http://tyndallconference2011.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Tyndalls-1861-Lecture.pdf

    There is also some more recent work.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      Oh, great find! Bookmarked.

    • Peter Geany says:

      @ Don Cox

      1) If you heat a gas in a confined spaced (volume remains static) what happens?

      2) If you heat a gas when it is not confined, does the same thing happen?

      3) If the surface of the earth emits long wave radiation (infrared) what happens to the gases?

      4) What happens to the energy absorbed by the gases?

      The tricky bit is how does the gas, having absorbed some IR then transfer it back to something that is of higher temperature, and emitting that same energy. Also how does this square with the answer to question 2.

      These are real world questions.