Atomic Show #183 – Discussion with Dr. Arjun Makhijani
This evening I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Arjun Makhijani, the President and Senior Engineer at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) of Takoma Park, MD. The conversation is available at Atomic Show #183 – Arjun Makhijani Explains Carbon Free, Nuclear Free Strategy
Dr. Makhijani is the author of Carbon Free, Nuclear Free (PDF download copy). That book is dedicated to Helen Caldicott and S. David Freeman. Makhijani claims that they were the inspiration for the effort.
Our conversation abruptly ended when Dr. Makhijani realized that I was not accepting his answers. He seemed disturbed that I wanted to ask more probing questions than he was ready to answer.
As I wrote in an earlier comment in another thread, those that do know the subject and do not support nuclear energy (fission) know better than to cross swords with pronukes in public, or have their ideas subjected to any scrutiny by the same.
Great peg-down! Hope the door didn’t slam on his way out! Do always hang this expose somewhere on the front page (and it behooves other nuclear blogs to do same!) like a trophy of fact and critical inquiry, doing the job the media won’t do! May Arnie and Helen step up at bat!
An excellent testament to just how “willing” the anti-nukes are to publicly discuss their ideas in an environment where the audience does not simply unquestioningly accept their assumptions. (In other words, not very.) This kind of visible engagement (and in particular, the petulant response of the anti-nukes) needs to be done often and in highly public fashion.
Folks like Makhijani aren’t used to getting a forum where they actually have to answer directly to criticism – instead they’re used to be coddled inside of a bubble. It’s useful to see how quickly they crumple under probing.
Dedicated to Caldicott and Freeman? That sounds quite funny to me, I must say.
I also couldn’t help but laugh when he talked about people going to discos. That really gives me confidence that Arjun is up-to-date on things.
Powering discos with solar isn’t going to happen.
I have repeatedlu pointed out the ways opponants of nuclear power avoid pr back our of devates with the spporters of nuclear poqwr. This is the latest example of the dishonerable nature of the anti-nuclear stance. I have also pointed our on several occasions that I have had arguments with several pro-nuclerar bloggers. We do not back off frpm these arguments.
As I was listening to this, I was struck by what I call “Grid Illogic,” these being the self-contradictory statements that Greens often make.
First, they will criticise the present grid for it’s inefficiencies, and somehow apply the shortcomings of the grid to the entire technological field of power generation, which seems a bit like criticising a race car for having to drive slowly on a dirt road. I’ll admit that the grid has many issues, but none of them are technically insurmountable. They will then turn around in the very next sentence and claim that solar from the Mojave, and wind from the Midwest can be shipped to the eastern states (the infrastructure for which does not exist, and the cost of which is certainly not included in their delivered cost estimates) as if the grid that ships their treasured unreliables magically would have none of the shortcomings of the grid that presently carries “evil” “dirty” baseload.
Another fallacy often made by proponents of unreliables is that “residential electrical consumption can be replaced by ‘renewables,’ therefore we don’t need baseload for any sector of our enconomy.” This completely ignores the fact that residential demand is subsidised by the industrial sector. Meaning that residential demand is kept deceptively low (in electrical consumption) because it steals energy from the industrial sector in the form of manufactured products like gasoline, food, furniture, appliances, etc.
Always remember that in a public debate your goal is not to convince the person with whom you are debating, but the spectators who are listening in. Rod I think you did a keen job at keeping the logical fallacies and filibusterers to a minimum.
-The other S. David Freeman
I am glad that there is “another” (and different) S. David Freeman.
The rally cry for renewable energy lately is: Spend until it’s affordable!
I’d like to see what an Artist/cartoonist do with that idea…..
Of course I do admit that any new/developing technology operates on the same mantra,
The onion did a pretty good job:
The issue with renewables isn’t that they’re too expensive, at least that’s not an argument you can win so long as the greens continue to claim the moral high ground of environmental protection. You have to focus on the real human suffering that would occur if we go to a renewable society. Even if unreliables were free, they would be intermittent by nature. You can’t make lifesaving drugs and medications on intermittent power, you can’t run a hospital on intermittent power. You can’t run a subway, you can’t purify water, you can’t refrigerate food on intermittent power.
On unreliable power you have people bleeding out in surgery, you have people dying of infections. Public transport fails, people can’t get to work in the city, the economy crashes. You’ll have sewage leaking into the water supply, people dying of all types of terrible diseases. Lastly, refrigeration fails, the food supply crashes, and people starve to death. Beyond that you have food riots and water riots leading to potential civil war.
Reminds me a bit of these DirecTV commercials:
The difference is that these would be very real consequences of a Renewable Only economy.
The conclusion is clear, the idea that we can live without dispatchable power (ie. Nuclear, Gas, Coal, Oil) is a myth. The only question is what type of power do we want. With a variety of Nuclear technologies (PWR, BWR, LFTR, Traveling Wave Reactor, LSFBR, etc.) We can have low risk baseload power for generations to come while keeping the byproducts safely sequestered, unlike fossil fuels which dump their harmful waste products into our environment as a course of standard operation.
With your permission, I would like to elevate your comment to a guest post under the headline of something like
Risks of Unreliables Dependence from S. David Freeman
I hope that Simeon will be cool with that.
The former TVA Chairman, S. David Freeman, decided to go and show his face at the April board meeting. That jerk almost single-handedly has increased CO2 emissions from power generation in America by untold billions of tons, both directly by the emissions from fossil fuel-fired plants needed after he gave up too early on a few of TVA’s construction projects (although TVA did legitimately get over-extended) and by his role in getting Rancho Seco closed down and indirectly by the residual effects of those decisions.
If the effects of global warming do prove to be catastrophic for some in the future, that S. David Freeman may deserve to have more of that “blood” attributed to his hands than almost anyone else. A case could be made that his effect has been far, far worse than Arnie or Helen C. or Robert Alvarez.
Rod, I’d be honored to have this go up as a guest post.
I am only 30 minutes into the 51ish minute podcast so far. So far, this has been a fairly respectful conversation, but both people seem to be discussing from different realities. Rod’s seems to be a fairly consistent, “Yes we used to have different assumptions, but right now we have …” and Dr Makhijani’s seems to be, as best as I can understand, a mixture of data points throughout history blended as needed. Can anybody either confirm or refute that feeling?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but did all of Dr. Makhijani’s data come from government reports?
To be fair to Makhijani, the internet is not for the thin-skinned. And, Rod is truly passionate about this stuff. I enjoyed the episode, spleen and all. It was like Fox vs. MSNBC, with facts!
Arjun’s words about Germany are pretty well smacked in the face by this World Nuclear News article:
The good Doctor lives in a world of scarcity. I want to live in a world of plenty.
It is sad how many supposed technical experts on energy can’t understand the difference between a flat charge and a metered rate. i.e. “too cheap to meter.”
The telcom example makes this concept very clear. There was a time when every provider was pushing 10c a minute calls, then 9c, then 8c… Now its all about unlimited plans for 59/m then 49/m then 29/m and all the while the limits are increasing.
It is telling how after Rod kept pushing this subject Arjun switched to saying “cheaper than coal.” Then he even made a statement that nuclear was as expensive as wind and solar.
I like how he says he waited 6 years for solar to drop to a good price to purchase solar panels. When solar goes from more expensive than nuclear to as expensive as nuclear then it is a good price to buy. When nuclear cost as much as solar then nuclear is too expensive and will never be cheap enough.
it is a hypocritical statement that for the same price one can be too expensive, and the other can be economical.
He makes many cost arguments that just don’t make sense.
For instance, because the “fixed” costs of the grid make up 80% of the cost of electricity even with free boiler you can’t have non-metered services.
If cost of the boiler only makes up 20% of the electric bill then expensive nuclear is not an option. So, if nuclear were 10 times(exaggeration, worst case scenario) as expensive it would make the rate increase 2.8 times. Nearly tripling the rate in America is never going to be acceptable but it is ok for Germany to charge a rate 3 time that of America?
Its ok for Germany to have triple the rate we do because they use less. Would it be ok to charge people who drive very little triple gasoline prices as long as their monthly bill is lower?
He claims that he hates all subsidies and wants to see them abolished. Yet rather than fight the system and refuse to take the subsidy refund tax credit for solar he takes it because that’s how the system works so he has to take advantage of it. So much for changing the system…
These arguments that Arjun uses are only designed to be unquestionably agreed to, not logically challenged.
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