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24 Comments

  1. Holdren was at it….. his antinuclear game…. when I was still in school, some 30 years ago.
    Curiously, he has never – to my recollection – paid any attention to the closely related issue of biochemical weapons proliferation, as afforded by large-scale deployment of biofuels production capacity.
    And while biochemical weapons proliferation is both technically and economically much less foreboding than nuclear, Holdren has always been single-mindedly opposed to nuclear power.
    Glad that you, Rod, have been able to recognize your misconception of the current US administration’s energy policy, and come to realize it’s misguided character (referring to your previous post).

    As regards biochemical weapons NON-proliferation policy, one may wonder whether, for example, large algae oil plants could be marketed internationally.
    This technology could be readily misused for chemical weapons.

    Some info:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyanotoxin
    Cyanotoxins are toxins produced by bacteria called cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae).
    ……There is interest in the military potential of biological neurotoxins such as cyanotoxins, which “have gained increasing significance as potential candidates for weaponization.”

    There is continued interest in anatoxin-a because of the dangers it presents to recreational and drinking waters, and because it is a particularly useful molecule for investigating acetylcholine receptors in the nervous system.[1] The deadliness of the toxin means that it has a high military potential as a toxin weapon.[6]

    Saxitoxin

    Saxitoxin (STX) is one of the most potent natural neurotoxins known.

    Saxitoxin is produced by the cyanobacteria Anabaena spp., some Aphanizomenon spp., Cylindrospermopsis sp., Lyngbya sp. and Planktothrix sp

    ……Saxitoxin was originally isolated and described by the United States military, who assigned it the chemical weapon designation “TZ”. Saxitoxin is listed in schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.[47] According to the book Spycraft, U-2 spyplane pilots were provided with needles containing saxitoxin to be used for suicide in the event escape was impossible.[48]

    [47] Chemical Weapons Convention: Schedule 1 Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, The Hague, Netherlands. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
    http://www.opcw.org/chemical-weapons-convention/annex-on-chemicals/b-schedules-of-chemicals/schedule-1/

    And so we see that, whilst the Chemical Weapons Convention forbids these things, there is apparently no prohibition on the deployment of biofuel production plants on a global scale.
    Indeed, the US DoE is supporting development and deployment of large-scale biofuel production plants.
    How on earth do they – and Holdren – square this with their nuclear energy policy?

    1. @Jaro

      Nuclear energy is far more disruptive to the hydrocarbon business model than biofuels. It requires a completely different set of core competencies than those displayed by many of the players in hydrocarbons. The main thing is that the hydrocarbon energy business is dominated by fuel and the need to continuously move massive quantities of material long distances. Hydrocarbons and biofuels both need pipelines, tankers, rail, storage tanks, and pollution controls. They need a lot of financing to fund their capital requirements.

      Nuclear energy depends on more widely distributed metals with an incredible energy density once they have been refined. A guy with a backpack can carry as much energy equivalent as a large tanker of either oil or biofuels.

      In other words, the acceptance of biofuels and the potential weapons that could come from the skills developed in the commercial side is analogous to the acceptance of hydrocarbons and the weapons-related skills developed in their commercial production. More Japanese were killed and maimed with painful, long-term injuries and illnesses cause by incendiary bombs than by atomic weapons. The big difference was that those attacks required a lot more planes to deliver.

      1. People shouldn’t be scared.  Compared to ANFO, turning uranium into any sort of explosive is a herculean effort.  Even with the resources of an entire militarized nation-state (N. Korea), it is very difficult to do—the Norks’ first attempt had such a tiny yield it was an obvious failure, confirmed by a big change in the direction of effort afterward.

  2. Geez Rod, do you really gotta post substantiation for your comments and essays?

    Cantcha just give us an emoticon or two?

    Or hey, you might wanna give the ‘ol “Because I said so” a try. It seems to be a real popular argument with some folks around here.

  3. The nuclear energy/proliferation rhetoric makes my blood boil. Because it is hypothetically possible to make a weapon out of spent fuel, it is treated as an actuality by many antinuclear fanatics. Possible does not necessarily mean actual. In the case of the proliferation issue, possible is far, far, far from actual. If it were more than a remote possibility, nuclear nations all over the world would be doing it, but the numerical total of nuke plant spent fuel-based bombs is zero. It is exceedingly difficult to separate the weapon’s isotopes (e.g. U-235 and Pu 239) from the considerable amount of weapon-poisoning (neutron scavenging) isotopes also in the spent fuel. Without the poisons almost entirely removed, a bomb is not possible. As for the proliferation buffs, either they don’t know that spent-fuel-made bombs are technically improbable, or they choose to ignore the truth in their monomaniacal crusade.

  4. Rod, in order to establish that a conspiracy existed you would have to establish two more things. First that nuclear proliferation specialists communicated with agents of the fossil fuel industry engaged in communications concerning the conspiracy. Secondly the the conspiracy benefits both parties.

    Actually the anti-nuclear power fossil fuel communications has not been well documented. And until it is the case for a conspiracy has not been established. There were financial and political benefits that flowed to members of the anti-nuclear power community for its championing of deproliferation argument However none of those benefits did not flow to the fossil fuel industry. Thus while both benefited from the activity of one party, there is no evidence that a sharing of benefits took place.

    There is however evidence that that members of the anti-proliferation community engaged in defacto lobbying for the fossil fuel industry, even in the absence of direct benefits in return. Other members of the anti-proliferation community were likely aware that their activities benefited the fossil fuel industry. Anti-proliferation, anti-nucleart power crowd is probably aware that the health and safety risks associated with the continuing use of fossil fuel, as well as the risk that renewable energy poses for human society, and indeed for human well being, as well as the likelihood that renewables will fail to prevent the emission of unacceptable global levels of CO2.

    In addition, the anti-proliferation community has failed identify the actual process by which nuclear weapons have been acquired. A process which has in most cases required the cooperation of legitimated nuclear powers.

    1. @Charles Barton

      Please review the below statement from your comment. I believe there is an extra “negative” that you did not intend to include. As written, I cannot understand what you are trying to say.

      However none of those benefits did not flow to the fossil fuel industry.

      1. Rod, The sentence: “However none of those benefits flow to the fossil fuel industry,” should read: “However none of those benefits did flowed to the fossil fuel industry.”

    2. @Charles Barton

      Of course the fossil fuel industry benefits from nonproliferation efforts, both in increased political power and increased wealth. As understood by Eisenhower, one of the few true leaders who ever occupied the White House, a nation that has nuclear weapons has a much smaller need to support a large standing army or navy. Planes, tanks, and ships require an enormous amount of refined petroleum even during peacetime, but their consumption really peaks during conventional conflicts. One of the many valuable contributions that the US made to the Allied war effort was the massive supply of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana petroleum it brought to the fight.

      Discouraging the spread of nuclear weapons thus contributed to the perceived need for more conventional armaments and their massive fuel consumption requirements.

      Then there is the less direct effect of making all nuclear energy-related materials more difficult to obtain, which means more expense and more schedule uncertainty when compared to fossil fuel power systems. As a self-professed “lazy man” I can completely understand the reluctance of people at the top of companies and countries to look at nuclear energy as a capability that is simply not worth the bother it entails. (About 50-90% of the bother, in my opinion, is artificially imposed by human devised rules. There are challenges that are purely technical in nature, but most of them can be effectively solved.)

      1. Rod, John Holdren’s own view would anticipate a decline of the fossiol fuel industry, due to deminished reserves, thus Holdren himself did not view his activities as benefiting the fossil fuel industry. I would prefer to agree with you on this point and was actually somewhat disapointed that I came to a very different view, once I looked at the theoretical basis of Holdren’s theory. What can we say about a national science advisor who does not believe in the power of sciemnce to solve the basic problems of humanity, and even worse, does not want to find scientific solutions.

        1. @Charles Barton

          Diminished reserves by no means implies a decline of fossil fuel industry revenues or profits – at least not in our lifetime.

          It was not that long ago that I was listening to an NPR interview of an OPEC representative talking about how hard his organization was working to establish an oil price band of $20-$25 USD.

  5. Hmmm……..friggin’ phone. Anyone wanna take a moment and do a tutorial on how to grab and post a link with an android?? Often I would like to buttress my comments with links, but am unable to. Just dumb, I guess.

  6. poa, Both Rod and I try to keep up with what each other writes. Both of us attempt to document our arguments, at least the first time we prese4nt them. Rod always list his previous essays, and I attempy to repost previous essays that are relivant to current discussions. If we performed all of our tricks every time we put on a show, the discussion would get tiresome very quickly. Go and learn.

    1. Charles…..

      You misunderstood me. I am perfectly happy with the manner Rod presents his case.

      My facetiousness was directed at others, mainly due to the exchanges on the last thread, concerning Iran and Israel.

      1. Comments on middle eastern politics isw in appropriate for this blogg unless Rod himself introduces the topic.

        1. @Charles Barton

          It is impossible to discuss energy without recognizing the importance of Middle Eastern politics and history. Energy discussions here are not limited to technology.

        2. “Comments on middle eastern politics is inappropriate…..”

          Yes….I know. It makes people very nervous when the accepted scripted narrative is contested. So….any excuse to curtail such uncomfortable exchanges is employed.

          “Inappropriate”. Uh huh. Unless, of course, one sticks to the accepted mainstream media accounts…..

          Say, how’d that “Iraq’s oil will pay for the invasion” thing work out for us???

          Well…..at least we ended up with his yellow cake.

  7. If we dis-empower everyone, Threats to the existing state of affairs disappear.

    Of course such dis-empowerment so impoverishes everyone under our lens that they will soon ignore us, but due to our fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders (not ourselves of course), we must take such action. The revenues over costs are most important only for the next 5 years or so. We can let the 2nd half of the next decade take care of itself. We’ll ignore the fact that “the next 5 years” is a moving window for which we’ve had to heed for the past few decades.

    … So it goes.

  8. I found this quite interesting…..its our governments recognition of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwah…..

    Iran Issues Statement at IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
    Corrected version: added additional material after IRNA update
    IRNA
    Wednesday, August 10, 2005 T11:39:36Z
    Journal Code: 2736 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
    Document Type: FBIS Transcribed Text
    Word Count: 1,962

    Vienna, Aug 10, IRNA — Iran is a nuclear fuel cycle technology holder, a capability which is exclusively for peaceful purposes, a statement issued by the Islamic Republic at the emergency meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) read here Tuesday evening.

    The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has issued the fatwa (religious decree) that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons, it added…

    “Madam chair, colleagues…

    “The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the fatwa that the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took office just recently, in his inaugural address reiterated that his government is against weapons of mass destruction and will only pursue nuclear activities in the peaceful domain. The leadership of Iran has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT and has placed the entire scope of its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and Additional Protocol, in addition to undertaking voluntary transparency measures with the agency that have even gone beyond the requirements of the agency’s safeguard system.

    “Nuclear energy is expected to become once again a primary source of energy, with the rising demand for oil and gas and the ensuing increase in the prices, which incidentally can sharply accelerate for any political provocation. We should add to this the concerns about the environment, and the world will have no alternative but to revert back to nuclear energy, at least for decades to come… ”
    (Description of Source: Tehran IRNA (Internet Version-WWW) in English — official state-run news agency) 

  9. “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s fatwah”

    The problem with that fatwa is that nobody believes a word that scheming old man utters.

    It may be sincere, but there is at least a ten per cent chance that it is deceitful.

  10. “It may be sincere, but there is at least a ten per cent chance that it is deceitful.”

    Ten percent?

    Gads, I guess we better sanction, bomb, send in the drones, and invade. Can’t we at least waterboard a few of those swarthy dark skinned heathens, and find out what they’re REALLY up to?

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