1. Rod – So you’ve taken to getting your information from comic strips. That explains a lot. It certainly explains your depth of knowledge in this area.
    With public gullibility plummeting in recent years, I suppose that the alarmists are getting desperate to push their message. I can almost feel sorry for them, especially since their latest attempts, as evidenced by this cartoon, are so pathetic. Claiming that everything is the fault of a vast “right-wing” conspiracy might sound good to the choir, but it’s not going to attract many new converts, and it tends to fortify the resolve of the opposition. You would think that they would have learned this by now, but changing their opinion in light of new evidence has never been their strong point.
    “I’d like to point out that more than 80% of the professional geologists in the world make their living by providing information to the coal, oil and gas extraction industries.”
    According to the estimate from the (highly flawed) study cited by your cartoon, more than 97% of the professional climate scientists in the world make their living by providing information to support the IPCC narrative.
    While I am reluctant to denigrate an entire branch of science, I have to ask: if you think that professional geologists have compromised their objectivity because of possible conflicts of interests arising from their jobs, what are we supposed to think about the objectivity of professional climate scientists? 😉

    1. @Brian – I assume that most people in the world are for sale at the right price. Perhaps that is merely old age and cynicism.
      My analysis is that there is FAR more money to be made in continuing to sell fossil fuels without paying for waste disposal services than there is in publishing scientific work about the state of the climate, no matter how alarming it might be.

      1. “My analysis is that there is FAR more money to be made in continuing to sell fossil fuels without paying for waste disposal services than there is in publishing scientific work about the state of the climate, no matter how alarming it might be.”
        A lot of good that means to the individual researcher who is hoping to make tenure or who is hoping to pull in that much-needed research grant.
        By the way, how much “scientific work” have you published? How much do you know about the process involved?

        1. @Brian – I am not an academic. I have published just a handful of peer reviewed articles and none of them were scientific. I have, however, taught at the university level a few times and been involved in the process of tenure selections since I was the associate chairman for an engineering department.
          Many geologists also do not spend much of their time worrying about peer reviewed publications because there are so many interesting and lucrative opportunities to actually apply their knowledge of rocks and sediment in a money making enterprise.

    2. For the record, I am not an alarmist. I do not think the world is in any danger of ending. I do think it is short sighted to poop in your own bed and to insist that dumping 30 billion tons of waste products into the atmosphere every year is sustainable. That is ESPECIALLY true since we have a creator given alternative that does not produce any gaseous waste products that cannot be tightly sealed and contained in a place that is not our shared atmosphere.

    3. @Brian:
      While I am reluctant to denigrate an entire branch of science, I have to ask: if you think that professional geologists have compromised their objectivity because of possible conflicts of interests arising from their jobs, what are we supposed to think about the objectivity of professional climate scientists? 😉
      I do not think that the geologists have any conflict of interest – the main purpose for their profession has always been finding valuable materials in the earth’s geology. Exploiting rocks, minerals, and stored organic materials has always been their reason for being. I do not hold that against them, but they are stepping outside their area of expertise when they make pronouncements about atmospheric chemistry or tell us not to worry our little heads about the ultimate end of combustion waste products.

      1. “… they are stepping outside their area of expertise when they make pronouncements about atmospheric chemistry or tell us not to worry our little heads about the ultimate end of combustion waste products.”
        And are you stepping out of your area of expertise when you make pronouncements about the ultimate end of combustion waste products?
        By the way, the neutral position is, “We don’t know.”

        1. @Brian – I guess that depends on your philosophy of life. If you are a cautious, risk-averse person who realizes that there is no such thing as a risk free activity, the best response when you wonder if there is something dangerous ahead is to slow down and pay close attention. (Think about the way that a good, cautious, nuke would drive in a dense fog or snow storm when he or she is not sure what is ahead.) I fall into this category – I am not certain that dumping CO2 is having a negative effect, but I am also not certain that it has either no effect or a beneficial one.
          The response that some people seem to want to take when they profess an attitude of “We don’t know” if dumping CO2 in the atmosphere at our present and growing rate is dangerous is similar to that of a less than cautious SUV driver in the rain or snow – they never slow down, confident that their four wheel drive will get them out of any trouble they might experience.
          If your advice is the former, we can agree.

        2. Brian – just a quick question – if you don’t know whether your core is xenon precluded, but theory suggests it is, yet you’re skeptical of those calculations, do you start inserting reactivity at a rapid rate of speed so as to find out whether or not, indeed, your core is xenon precluded?

          1. You can formulate as many flawed analogies as you want. They don’t change anything.
            Let’s look at what the theory “suggests”:
            Simple theory says that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration should lead to about a 2 degree Fahrenheit increase in global surface temperature (which is not evenly distributed, of course, and which is observed when the system returns to equilibrium). This is the “no-feedback sensitivity” to CO2 and is the direct response of the surface temperature to radiative forcing by the increased CO2. This result has been known for quite a long time, and almost nobody disputes it. Perhaps this is a case of over-confidence, however, since this topic can still generate some interesting discussion even today, but let’s stick with it.
            So starting with our theory, we note that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is about 390 ppm, and it is currently increasing at a rate of 1.9 ppm/year. Thus, extrapolating this out another 90 years means that CO2 concentrations will be about double the “pre-industrial” level of 280 ppm in 2100. That translates into a 2 degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures over the current century, and note that this is an increase, not over current temperatures, but over the temperature from an atmosphere with “pre-industrial” CO2 levels.
            Since the IPCC reports that the global average temperature increased by 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit over the twentieth century without the sky falling down, one might ask: what’s the big deal? We’re already one-tenth of the way through the twenty-first century without any statistically significant warming.

            1. The case for alarmism relies on positive feedbacks to amplify the amount of warming. However, now we have left what basic theory tells us, and most of everything from here on is just guesswork. The predictions for warming in excess of the no-feedback sensitivity are the results of computer models. I’ve been doing computer modeling since I was 15, and I can tell you that the results of a computer model depend on what you put into it. It is very easy to have a computer model tell you what you want to hear.
              Real scientists know that data are more important than computer models, which is why the computer models used in the nuclear industry are rigorously benchmarked against real data before they can be used for serious calculations. Even then, the uncertainties are carefully evaluated and published, and no credit can be taken for computer predicted values without the uncertainty added in.
              Unfortunately, the uncertainties in General Circulation Models (GCMs) have been typically understated, probably to make their results seem more solid than they are. The best evidence that the modelers can give to support their work is that the models produced by different groups of researchers tend to produce the same results. Nevertheless, this is only evidence that the assumptions used in the different models are consistent (and many are exactly the same). It does not mean that these assumptions accurately reflect the real world.
              Climate models suffer from several problems. The two that are probably the most serious are the effects of aerosols and clouds. Aerosols have historically served as a convenient “dial” that can be adjusted by researchers to get their models to agree with historical data when trying to model past climate. Clouds are an important feedback (nobody disputes this); however, nobody has a good understanding of the magnitude of this feedback or even its direction — whether it is positive or negative. All modern GCMs assume that this feedback is positive, which is a significant contributor to the model results that predict a climate sensitivity to CO2 that is higher than the no-feedback sensitivity.
              Given this, I’m very wary of calls for “urgent” action against climate change. Stepping away from the “science,” when I look at who is making these calls for action and what their interests are — whether political, financial, or fundamentalist belief — I become even more skeptical. Personally, I stand to gain professionally from such alarmism, but there’s an old-fashioned concept called integrity that keeps getting in the way.

              1. Brian – let’s approach this from a different angle. Let’s pretend AGW was irrevocably and absolutely disproven as of now.
                Do you think that new nuclear build would be competitive in the present day and the present regulatory climate at present coal and natural gas prices without the possibility of a stiff price on carbon?
                Do you think that the potential of a price being put on carbon might influence the decision of regulated utilities between the options of new advanced nuclear power plants and new, advanced, pollution controlled pulverized coal power plants? Do you think the same might apply to merchant generators?

                1. Okay, let’s leave science behind. My opinion is that, if you’re relying on a price on carbon to get nuclear power revitalized, then you’ve already admitted defeat.
                  Let’s take a realistic look at the politics. Today, nobody believes that any kind of price on carbon in the US is coming in the next several years. There was a brief window of opportunity recently, but that window has come and gone.
                  Public support for urgent action against climate change has plummeted. The reasons for this are complicated, but a couple of major factors are the economic downturn and the recent scandals in the climate-science community. I suspect that an additional contributing factor is what I call “crisis fatigue.” Most people simply get tired of hearing that the world is going to end. They’ve got better things to do than wait for the sky to fall down.
                  If, however, a price on carbon were implemented tomorrow, I can see where it would have some benefits, but I’m rather skeptical that it would have any serious benefits. Look at what has already happened. Europe has long gone along with the objective of reducing carbon emissions, including trying to set a price on carbon. What has been the result? New reactors are being built in France and Finland, two countries that would have built new nuclear plants anyway. Instead of spurring a large nuclear build (Europe is still on track to see a reduction in nuclear power generation in the coming decades), the European effort to reduce carbon emissions has resulted in unproductive “renewable energy” schemes, which have been rife with corruption, and an increase in the use of natural gas to produce electricity.
                  The majority of the new nuclear plants in the works today are in the so-called “developing world,” which under the Kyoto Protocol would be exempt from serious restrictions on CO2 emissions. Obviously, something is going on here that has very little to do with CO2 emission reduction.
                  Thus, I have to say that trying to scare people into accepting nuclear power is a strategy of dubious worth. The parts of the world that will dominate the twenty-first century have recognized the value of nuclear power based on its own merits, not because of a climate-change bogeyman.
                  So you can beat this dead-horse all you want to. I’ve never objected to using carbon emissions as a reason for building new nuclear plants. If that floats your boat, nuclear plants might be your cup of tea.
                  Personally, however, I have concluded that this strategy is counter-productive. It wastes a lot of energy and credibility, while the returns are marginal, at best. Maybe you’ll get some people talking about nuclear power, but talk doesn’t build new plants. In the long run, I can see this strategy helping only natural gas interests.
                  Instead, take a look at why the developing world is showing interest in nuclear power (hint: it isn’t global warming), and understand their reasons. Then explain these reasons to the public. If you want, you can borrow France’s reasons for adopting nuclear power, when it made the decision a generation ago:
                  (1) Energy independence
                  (2) Technical excellence
                  (3) Environmental cleanliness

                  1. Mr. Mays, that encapsulates so many of the best arguments for nuclear energy, and why it can and SHOULD stand alone from global climate this-or-that. Excellent comment. Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Adams, for hosting it.

                  2. Why is the developing world developing nuclear power? I’m guessing the reason China is going nuclear is that they have a massive air pollution problem probably worse than late 19th century Great Britain and they want to pursue something, anything, other than coal; India didn’t have much coal or other fossils to begin with but has the world mother lode of thorium; and the Russians – whom you didn’t mention – are weird, they’re kind of like the US in more ways than we want to admit, they probably pursue nuclear, like we do, for the prestige and mastery of high technology – their nuclear program, being like ours, is a very, very distant military spin-off. Also, like ours, they have a lot of half-finished plants. They also have nuclear plants under perpetual construction.
                    As for the developed world: France, rather than the three reasons mentioned, let’s get to the real three reasons: no coal, no oil, no gas, no choice. Finland and Sweden didn’t have much coal to begin with, have hydro, but needed more power, preferably without an unreliable Arabian supply chain. Japan is in a situation very similar to France – utterly dependent on energy imports. The UK’s nuclear program never developed to full fruition because they discovered oil in the North Sea – would have been interesting if they had, bringing a gas cooled reactor to near perfection. Korea would have been coal based if it wasn’t split in half, as the world’s largest anthracite deposits are in North Korea, if I do recall. Unfortunately, there are deposits of nothing, zilch, and zero in the southern half of that peninsula, meaning you’ve got another France-mimetic situation. The UAE has lots of money, and their oil and gas are more valuable if sold, rather than burnt.
                    Basically, the moral of the story is that if a nation is running out of coal, is hopelessly polluted by coal plants without emissions controls, or doesn’t have any coal to begin with, nuclear is a hands-down excellent choice. And, indeed, I suspect nuclear can beat coal – the higher capital cost of nuclear has the potential to be compensated for with the much lower fuel cost of operation – if the nuclear plant is built in a reasonable regulatory environment.
                    But, as Mr. Mays is surely aware, the US is not a reasonable regulatory environment, and there is little hope of that being changed in the foreseeable future, no matter which party is in power. The NRC and the paradigm that it embodies is perpetual and eternal, eternal as the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River.
                    And as Mr. Mays is also surely aware, the US has been described as the Saudi Arabia of coal, and our oil shale reserves are untouched – and are like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Russia, and Canada’s oil reserves combined.
                    So, if we leave carbon and the risk of a carbon price to the side, I don’t see the financial argument for wholly new nuclear plants – greenfield build – being compelling at the present time and the present regulatory climate, barring dramatic increases in the cost of coal.
                    Of course, this does not include present day already built nuclear plants, which are practically money printing presses, being fully depreciated and not being dependent on large quantities of fuel being delivered every day, day in and day out.
                    Does Mr. Mays disagree?

                    1. For all of the talk of “no oil, no gas, no coal, no choice,” France still gets roughly half of its primary energy from oil (31%), gas (15%), and coal (5%). It gets 42% of its primary energy from nuclear, by the way.
                      Obviously, getting fossil fuels is not a problem. The only question is from where, which is why I classify the French decision to invest heavily in nuclear a matter of energy independence. Even Germany, which is usually thought of as a coal producer, imports coal from Poland, Russia, and even as far away as South Africa to burn in its plants. Yep, the Germans ship coal half way across the world. The French could do that too if they wanted.
                      The US has a lot of coal and burns a lot of coal, but coal is not as large a threat to new capacity as many people make out. Capacity of US coal fleet has essentially remained stagnant since 1990 (increasing by less than 3% from 1990 to 2007). The past decade has seen plenty of delays and cancellations of new coal plants. One big reason for this is that the coal industry is struggling with escalating costs, just as the nuclear industry has been. Recently, both natural gas and wind have had plans in the works to bring online more new capacity than coal in the coming years.
                      Consider the numbers. In the decade prior to the recent economic downturn (1997-2007), electricity generation in the US increased by 19%. The part of this that was due to coal is roughly the same as the part that was due to nuclear — both contributed about 5%. Meanwhile, natural gas’s contribution was 12%. The relative growth of these three fuels provides even starker contrast. During this decade, electricity generation from coal increased by 9%, nuclear by 28%, and natural gas by 87%.
                      The US still gets almost half of its electricity from coal, so coal is not going to go away anytime soon. Nevertheless, the US has hundreds of very small, very old coal plants. The average age of these plants is pushing 50 years. The only reason why these plants are still operating today is that they were “grandfathered” into new regulations. Thus, you could close hundreds of coal plants overnight by requiring them to meet modern emission standards, like everyone else, which would open up the need for a substantial amount of new capacity.
                      The question is what would replace these old coal plants. Today, most would likely be replaced with natural gas plants. The company that Rod works for, however, is hoping to sell a design for a nuclear reactor that would be a good fit for replacing these small coal plants.

                    2. I posted a followup, as I didn’t think that you were going to respond to my question, but then deleted it when I saw that you did, Mr. Mays. I am aware that the mPower is now being marketed as a replacement for grandfathered sub-critical coal-fired boilers, and I think that in this area it certainly has the potential to clean things up significantly at a moderate cost without imposing the price variability of gas on the owners of those plants.
                      As far as AGW goes, I think the hypothesis is valid, and the evidence supports the conclusions, but the more I think about it, I realize the Third World is going to pull themselves up from poverty using carbon whether we rich nations like it or not, and I don’t think it’s right to try and stop them. This remains the case, even if we could, using advanced technology, try to decarbonize First World economies, which would likely be futile as Third World economies would not be decarbonized and would soon be First World sized ones anyway. Thanks to Rich, I also realize how small a part the electricity industry plays (less than 25%) of man-made greenhouse emissions, and how much is due to a plethora of other man-made factors. Since the problem is systemic, the measures used have to be systemic – nuclear will only get us so far – personally, I’m leaning towards stratospheric sulfur aerosols to reduce insolation. Far more cost-effective, anyway, to treat the problem rather than the cause of the problem.
                      As far as the position of the nuclear industry with relation to AGW – rather than talking about “beating a dead horse” (the horse ain’t dead) – an old saying comes to mind about horses, mouths, gifts, and close examinations that I think you ought to be mindful of, Mr. Mays. There are a lot of infamous “warmers” like Dr. Hansen and Dr. Lovelock who appreciate the value of nuclear technologies in combating AGW, and seemed to be ready to go all out for totally mobilizing our society to implement Gen III+ technologies very widely, even to develop GenIV technologies such as the IFR that really don’t have any financial justification within the near-to-mid-term future (around 50 years) without AGW being a factor. Thus, I find it amusing that certain people in the nuclear industry take it as their personal mission to loudly call the theory of AGW baloney; this seems to me to make about the same amount of sense as shooting oneself in the foot. Perhaps I can quip about “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Further, without a carbon tax as a factor, and given the present regulatory climate, which I don’t think will change at any time in the foreseeable future, I have serious doubts about the financial optimality of new large nuclear build within the US.
                      This might not apply in specialty markets like replacement of grandfathered sub-critical coal boilers, in which I wish B&W and Rod luck, or in replacing fuel oil to power cargo ships, in which I wish Hyperion luck.
                      But – as far as I’m personally concerned, chemistry has always interested me more than physics, and chemical engineering interests me more than nuclear engineering. AGW might have changed that for a time, but the time might be changing back. All of the chemical transformations and processes that you can do to coal, carbonaceous substances like oil shale, or even biomass – turning them into petroleum, synthetic natural gas, syngas, plastics, etc, intrigue me. If anyone ever gets the gas-cooled fast reactor working – or even the very high temperature reactor working – then call me.
                      Until then, I believe I shall exit this debate stage left.

                    3. “As far as AGW goes, I think the hypothesis is valid, and the evidence supports the conclusions, …”
                      Dave – You are welcome to your opinions. I have looked at the same evidence and have come to different conclusions.
                      “personally, I’m leaning towards stratospheric sulfur aerosols to reduce insolation.”
                      Wow! And to think, you asked me about doing something without fully understanding the consequences. So let me get this straight: it’s bad to keep dumping CO2 in the atmosphere because we think, but don’t know for sure, that it will have negative effects, but it’s OK, even advisable, to dump sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere, even though we definitely don’t know what the effect would be?
                      “As far as the position of the nuclear industry with relation to AGW – rather than talking about “beating a dead horse” (the horse ain’t dead)”
                      As an issue, it’s pretty much a dead horse, coming in dead last in a poll of social and economic issues earlier this year. As a policy matter, it might not quite be dead, but it ain’t kicking very much.
                      If you don’t believe me, then perhaps you should put your money where your mouth is and bet on it. I see that, at Intrade, the contracts for cap and trade being established before the end of 2012 is at 11 points, which is almost at its all-time low of 10. If you’re so sure that cap and trade is not dead, then you should bet. You could make a killing.
                      “There are a lot of infamous “warmers” like Dr. Hansen and Dr. Lovelock who appreciate the value of nuclear technologies in combating AGW, and seemed to be ready to go all out for totally mobilizing our society …”
                      Hansen and Lovelock can’t even get cap and trade or a carbon tax put into law. What makes you think they’ll have any influence getting nuclear reactors built?
                      Besides, Hansen’s knowledge of nuclear technology is abysmal. It’s as if he’s repeating something he heard at a cocktail party, which I wouldn’t be surprised to find out was the truth. You’d think that a guy with a PhD who so desperately wants to influence energy policy would do a little homework to understand what the options are, but everything he says about nuclear shows a serious lack of knowledge. Furthermore, he always puts nuclear last in his list of options, after renewables and other stuff that we know don’t work. Frankly, I don’t have any confidence in Hanson as a nuclear energy advocate.

                    4. Of course cap and trade won’t be introduced by 2012. That’s just a political reality. If I had my way, cap and trade would never be introduced, it’s a giveaway for Enron Sachs. If we have to do something, a carbon tax is indicated.
                      As far as stratospheric sulfur aerosols, they shouldn’t be used right now. They’re a very credible option when things get bad. We know they’ll work.

                    5. You’re right.
                      A carbon tax isn’t happening; all it would cause is pain – no one would benefit, except for the climate and future generations; it would also work. With cap and trade, you’ve got all kinds of giveaways of carbon funny-money certificates to bankster bailees to use at the casin…no, I mean the trading floor – they probably would not work, as they do not impose cost on externality; they grant windfalls to externality.
                      I think political intervention to reduce carbon sources is, at this point, too little, too late. The developing world will industrialize; the industrialized world wants to continue as is. Reducing CO2 emissions is a very low-level – and thus less effective – intervention into the climate system. Plus, it is painful.
                      Direct geoengineering measures that affect insolation are adjusting the feedback loops of the system, which is a very high efficacy intervention, rather than the input parameters of the system, like the rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere. Stratospheric sulfur aerosols – think of them as sort of a “chemical shim” for the climate.

                    6. @Brian – the point is that France’s energy supply balance has shifted far more dramatically than almost any other country. Yes, you can say that “energy independence” was the motive – the phrase “no oil, no gas, no coal, no choice” was talking about their own resources inside the boundaries of France as their colonial empire broke apart throughout the period after WWII.
                      There was a major difference between France and the US in terms of pressing forward through a transition that certainly does not come without effort, dedication and some amount of cost, compared to maintaining addiction to burning up natural resources imported from distant lands. Multinational petroleum companies that started their life in the continental US were quicker to move to overseas production and to make incredible concession deals with very poor dictators. Those deals – like the one signed in 1933 at a time of incredible poverty around the world with Ibn Saud, the warrior who united a vast set of tribal lands into a place that he named after his family. That piece of paper gave Standard Oil of California virtually complete ownership of 360,000 square miles of Saudi Arabian resources for a period of 60 years at the cost of $175,000 worth of gold up front, a promise to pay another $100,000 in 18 months, and a loan of $500,000 upon the actual discovery of oil. The king needed cash, and SOCAL geologists were pretty confident that there was oil under the sands and rocks.
                      That was not the only “concession” that “American” oil companies owned, but that ownership of an incredible resource in a place that only major oil companies given nearly complete support from the strongest military in the world could afford to explore set us onto a course of action that continues to dominate our foreign policy and our economic and energy choices. Most historians point to Yalta as the key meeting to establish a new world order at the end of WWII; energy historians point to a meeting held on the USS Quincy while it was at anchor in The Great Bitter Lake. That meeting, held in February of 1945, included more than five hours of intense discussion between FDR and Ibn Saud. Though the transcripts of the meeting were never released, one observer wrote the following:
                      “The immense oil deposits of Saudi Arabia alone make that country more important to American diplomacy than almost any other smaller country.” (Daniel Yergin, The Prize. The Quest for Oil, Money and Power Simon and Schuster, 1991, page 404-405)
                      Though the concession ended a long time ago, the wealth and power that the deal – and others like it – produced has made a lasting difference and continues to influence our energy policies in a way that is not beneficial for either most Americans or the rest of the world.
                      I disagree with your statement that “getting fossil fuels is not a problem.” Getting them and maintaining access to them is an enormous problem that has required nearly continuous attention from government and corporate decision makers ever since the industrial age began. In addition to the attention paid to those resources, maintaining the flow has created an enormous river of resource flows and distorted human society based on the accident of geography.
                      Among the many reasons that I like fission is that it has a tendency to bring better long term results in terms of technical training and a wider distribution of income when compared to burning petroleum products imported from distant lands.

                    7. Rod – Energy independence was the motive. When the French government asked EDF to launch a program of nuclear power plant construction just a few weeks after OPEC’s decision that started the 1973 oil shock, the goal was to attain an energy independence ratio of 50% by 1990.
                      Speaking of “multinational petroleum companies,” France’s Total SA is one of the six Supermajors, along with ExxonMobil, Chevron Corp., and ConocoPhillips. The Total building in La Defense is taller than both the EDF building and the AREVA building.
                      France hasn’t been left out of the international oil game.

                  3. @Brian – I agree wholeheartedly with adopting France’s reasons for pursuing nuclear energy. However, the reasons that you mentioned are not the ones that I have been reading about in the political, business and policy focused books about energy that I have been reading for the last twenty years. The reasons I have most often heard stated for France’s successful focus on building a large infrastructure for nuclear energy are
                    No oil
                    No gas
                    No coal
                    No choice
                    Quote from a 1990s vintage Frontline program:
                    Claude Mandil, the General Director for Energy and Raw Materials at the Ministry of Industry, cites at least three reasons. First, he says, the French are an independent people. The thought of being dependent for energy on a volatile region of the world such as the Middle East disturbed many French people. Citizens quickly accepted that nuclear might be a necessity. A popular French riposte to the question of why they have so much nuclear energy is “no oil, no gas, no coal, no choice.”
                    I generally add one more statement – less opposition (from an entrenched fossil fuel industry).
                    There are countless reasons for liking nuclear power. If you look back through the 1650 posts and uncounted comments I have made here, you will find a small percentage of them mentioning “climate change.” I am also pretty sure that you will not find me claiming that the world will end if we do not do something right away. I do like the fact that nuclear fission power plants are clean enough to run inside sealed submarines and believe that is a standard that should have value – even if there is no official “price on carbon.” Intelligent creatures do not poop in their own bed if they have an option. (They also do not fart in their breathing space.)
                    I feel pretty sure that humans will muddle through and eventually recognize the right answer, but I would really, really prefer to help change our direction – in the United States of America – before we become an energy poor country that has nothing left to trade with the world. If mentioning the emission free nature of nuclear energy helps to capture the attention and energy of at least some activists who have successfully battled against nuclear energy for decades and turns them into activists for nuclear energy, it is worth doing.
                    My primary reason for liking nuclear energy is that can beat fossil fuels on so many measures of effectiveness that it should be able to dominate the market – while providing abundant, affordable power to do valuable work.
                    There used to be people who thought that America would be able to continue our path of growth and wealth by selling financial and legal services to the world, but even that industry is going to have a great deal of trouble bringing in money due to a rapidly tarnishing reputation around the world (deservedly so.)
                    I have children and a grandchild. I do not want them to live in a place where there is simply not enough to go around. I have visited places like that in the world – there is often a tiny slice that lives very well and a vast population of people who do not even have a place to take a hot shower or get a decent meal. I did not spend all of my time with the tiny slice.

                    1. “My primary reason for liking nuclear energy is that can beat fossil fuels on so many measures of effectiveness that it should be able to dominate the market – while providing abundant, affordable power to do valuable work.”
                      Oh, I agree, Rod, I agree that the raw potential of nuclear energy can wipe out every other energy source, except in certain niche applications, hands down, but what about the NRC? The only thing more powerful than nuclear energy is regulation. Until you get the NRC to back off and adopt reasonable regulations to govern nuclear energy, what is there to do?
                      The first type of NRC behavior that needs to be changed is their attitude towards nuclear power that views the risks of nuclear power in isolation, rather than in a broader context of competing energy choices all of which have worse safety profiles than nuclear power. The NRC needs to realize that over-regulation of nuclear allows other energy sources to out-compete it, thus leading to worse outcomes for the potentially impacted population, as other energy sources almost always have worse risks.
                      The second type of NRC behavior that needs to be changed is that their regulation needs to be more retrospective, focused on the propagation of lessons learned, and on the prevention of the repetition of error, rather than prospective and precautionary, focused on preventing the commission of unavoidable learning error in the first place.
                      Without fundamental reform of the NRC, I’m not sure how nuclear has much of a future. So how are we going to get the NRC to change their ways?

                    2. @Dave – I am not so sure that fundamental reform of the NRC is as necessary as you think. There are some exceptional people at the agency and some excellent training programs. The rules are voluminous, but not really all that illogical if properly applied and interpreted.
                      If the chairman was still Dale Klein, we could be making real progress. If any of the current commissioners other than the one who is sitting in the chairman’s seat was in charge, we would be moving forward with more certainty.
                      The fundamental change that we need is to help people understand that a degree in physics earned by writing about the low energy behavior of baryons followed by a brief number of years on Congressional and Senatorial budget staffs does NOT make you qualified to lead a major federal decision making organization at a time of important changes. The corner of physics that focuses on obscure particles like “low energy baryons” and nuclear power plant engineering are NOT the same topic. Service on a political staff DOES NOT provide good management experience. Six years of working after graduating from a PhD program DOES not provide the real world seasoning required to make good decisions.
                      Here is an interesting story that I have not yet written about on the blog. In my summary article about the Nuclear Energy Summit, I mentioned something about how Jaczko’s comments during the summit proved to me why it is a bad idea to put a 38 year old with little job experience in charge of the gate keeper of nuclear power plant licensing. Before noon on the day that blog was published, I had received my first email from the NRC director of public affairs who insisted on correcting my facts. He reminded me that Jaczko had celebrated his 40th birthday in the fall. I responded by stating that my comment was based on the time that the appointment was made, nearly two years ago. The director of public affairs responded quickly by saying that Jaczko was made chairman in May of 2009, not October of 2008.
                      I corrected my article as follows:
                      Chairman Jaczko of the NRC once again demonstrated why it is probably not a good idea to put a 39-year-old (as of May 2009), especially one who has spent his scientific career on Washington DC political staffs, in charge of a key federal agency. That is an important consideration when that agency is the gate keeper for a potentially large nuclear plant construction industry.
                      The whole episode made me wonder – why in the world is the director of public affairs for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, whose portfolio of responsibility makes him in charge of press relations for the chairman, not the whole agency, spending time correcting a one year error about the age of the chairman published on a relatively obscure blog?

                    3. We all know why Jackzo was appointed Chairman: he was the only Democrat on the Commission when Obama was inaugurated, a vacancy occurred in the Chairman position, and the consequences – from that point – are sort of automatic. If John McCain had been elected President, and there were two Democrats and one Republican on the Commission, that one Republican – even if they were a Performing Arts major whose previous experience was as head of the International Arabian Horse Racing Association – would be appointed Chairman.
                      In Washington, to the victor go the spoils; such is the way the cookie crumbles.
                      Now, if you can find a Democrat who would provide the same outcomes as Mr. Klein, and I’m sure there are Democrats out there who understand the concerns of the nuclear industry and the compelling need for nuclear energy, I am certain there are channels through which the nuclear industry can express its preferences as to whom they would like appointed to the NRC.

                    4. I wonder if one reason why France so eagerly embraced nuclear energy is that they had first-hand experience of what happened when they lost access to imported fossil fuels.
                      The German occupation devastated the French economy because the country was cut off from fossil fuel imports by the British Navy blockade. Oil was the worst loss (during the Occupation huge amounts of French milk went to waste because there was no fuel to power delivery trucks), but coal (before the war mainly imported from the UK) was also a problem, and severely limited to usefulness of French industry to the Germans.

                    5. You have an excellent point, George. Your comment speaks as to why moving to any form of imported – or even potentially economically importable (e.g. LNG) – fossil fuel for power generation – and trusting the market to deliver that fossil fuel from the lowest-cost source – even if that source is foreign – is a very risky move. (The same doesn’t apply to nuclear fuels, as they last longer, and we have a large stockpile of uranium in reserve.)
                      It’s also why, for instance, maintaining agricultural subsidies provide the United States with non-quantifiable, inchoate benefits, in the form of food security.

    1. After thinking about your post for awhile, as well as the linked illustrated narrative (the word ‘comic’ doesn’t seem appropriate for illustrations which aren’t intended to be funny), I do have a couple thoughts for you:
      1) Nowhere in the Constitution is Free-market Capitalism mandated. The Constitution *does* give us rights and freedoms, and it seems to me that a free market best respects those freedoms, but it is important to remember that capitalism isn’t directly enshrined in the Constitution. Just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t automatically make their ideas Unconstitutional – however, I do realize that quite a number of proposals by the left *are* Unconstitutional on their own merits. That said, for example, even though I think it’s a bad idea, I don’t think a cap-and-tax-and-trade system would be Unconstitutional, just ill-advised and would have bad economic consequences in the near-term, and mid-term (I think nuclear and other alternatives can only be deployed so fast, and a cap and trade system, although it would incentivize investments in low-carbon alternatives, would also drive the price of energy way up for 2 or 3 decades).
      2) “That is what go America off to a good start and what is required to get it back where it belongs.” America has had an inspiring, but not perfect, history. There seems to be an awful lot of nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ – you know, when people worked in very unsafe conditions, being ruthlessly exploited by industries like coal mining which didn’t have much in the way of safety or environmental standards they had to live up to, where the men made fairly low wages, at high risk of disabling injury, death, black lung, etc. Women couldn’t vote, and could only work certain jobs, etc. Where slavery was legal and widespread. Where a few people were very, very rich, and a lot of people were poor, and the middle-class was fairly small (doctors, lawyers, accountants, managers, engineers, owners of stores, hotels, etc – but no one working a job mining, or doing construction, working in a factory, or steel mill, etc. could hope to have a middle-class wage).
      Let’s keep in mind that capitalism hasn’t always produced good, just, outcomes. I’m a believer in Capitalism, essentially because, as I said previously, I think it most respects individual liberty, but I also don’t wear rose-colored glasses about capitalism, and I would encourage others to keep that in mind as well.
      3) The illustrated narrative didn’t so much address politics or national policy, except to mention that there are very rich, very powerful people in the coal and oil industries who (naturally, I would add) wish to protect their investments and operations, and *are* spending money to support groups and individuals who advance an anti-global warming position in public discourse and politics. That is all correct. You, too, are correct that there are also very wealthy individuals and companies on the ‘global warming is a real problem’ side.
      I would take issue with the way the illustrated narrative graphically (and textually) portrays the anti-global-warming people as sinister and malevolent. While the outcome of their position may have bad consequences, I don’t actually think that, for the most part, the players are malevolent – they are just trying to protect their businesses, and probably really don’t think Global Warming is a real problem (however, I think most of them probably don’t look too hard at the issue, either, lest they must confront that what they are profiting from might be bad for many other people, and entire species of animals, plants, etc).

      1. “I would take issue with the way the illustrated narrative graphically (and textually) portrays the anti-global-warming people as sinister and malevolent.”
        But that’s one of the most effective forms of propaganda! (Classic examples here) Surely, you don’t want to deprive these activists of one of their most potent weapons, do you?
        Please don’t try to humanize the targets of their wrath. Otherwise, what would Rod complain about, if he’s not complaining about the evil Koch brothers or the evil executives of Exelon?

        1. @Brian – just out of curiosity, what do you think of the way that the Exelon executives have invested several years worth of lobbying efforts in attempting to benefit from cap and trade?
          Are they part of the evil cabal that is secretly trying to destroy the American economy by pushing global warming alarmism or are they part of the heroic free capital market that believes that we can burn cheap natural gas forever without restriction or uncomfortable market effects?

          1. It wasn’t just Exelon. Several utilities (Duke Energy comes to mind) had been lobbying for cap and trade. That’s why I have always thought that if there were to ever be a price on carbon, it would come from cap and trade. A carbon tax has no natural allies who would profit immediately from it and thus would lobby heavily for it.

            1. @Brian – I guess that is part of the difference between us. I spent more of my time trying to determine what my rational analysis tells me is the right thing to do and less trying to figure out what whets other people’s whistle. Perhaps that is why I do not have that many friends or supporters.

              1. Rod – I spend the majority of my time determining what is most likely to be correct. Until you know what is true and what is not, you don’t have a basis to determine the “right thing” to do. Pretending that you’ve figured it out without really understanding what is going on is just fooling yourself.
                What “whets other people’s whistle” is interesting to observe, but it has nothing to do with physical reality. Thus, I couldn’t care less about claims of “right-wing” conspiracies. No amount of money spent by ExxonMobil or the Koch brothers can change the laws of physics or alter the way the atmosphere-ocean system works. Mother Nature really doesn’t care how many billions of dollars oil companies earn in profits.
                In short, I don’t like it when people try to piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

  2. Rod Adams wrote:
    As an example of the amusing political alignments that the climate change controversy is producing, I recommend reading Budget Hawks Oppose Nuclear Loan Guarantees. Most of the “nukes” I know classify themselves as conservatives and claim that the liberal Democratic party has been source of much of the antinuclear activism that has been prevalent in the United States for the past 40 years.
    However, my theory is that the effective opposition does not come from the vocal critics, but from those who verbally claim to be friendly to the industry. Instead of offering an effective loan guarantee program as a helping hand up that does not cost anything – as long as the government does not make it too hard to build – conservative budget hawks are fighting expansion of nuclear project loan guarantees by citing an out-of-date (2003) CBO assumption of the amount of risk associated with the potential default.

    The loan guarantees are a band-aid remedy made necessary by some really dumb decisions with the force of government behind them. Rather than loan guarantees, I would prefer to see government work to remove the myriad unnecessary roadblock slowing the advance of the nuclear industry. I would have much less of a problem to someone’s opposition to loan guarantees if he (‘he’ in the generic sense of the Latin homo, not vir) could show me how he is redirecting the NRC to process license applications within (say) 25 months and mandating a review of NRC rules to see if they indeed contribute significantly to safety; make reactor licensing costs more reasonable and in line with the overall cost of the plant; ease nuclear plant siting requirements; support development of advanced reactors; make the use of dependable low emissions energy sources national policy; work with industry to develop low cost nuclear power to make it clearly cheaper than coal.
    Our energy situation is a real mess, and there is more than enough blame for it to spread around to the political left and right.

    1. “The loan guarantees are a band-aid remedy made necessary by some really dumb decisions with the force of government behind them. Rather than loan guarantees, I would prefer to see government work to remove the myriad unnecessary roadblock slowing the advance of the nuclear industry.”
      I agree with this, and I think that most conservative think tanks (e.g., the Heritage Foundation) would agree with this as well.
      That said, I don’t believe that a competent technical review of license applications is one of those “roadblocks.” The real risks that necessitate loan guarantees result from two things: (1) government interference in the license application from the actions of intervenors (i.e., activist environmental groups) or local or state governments, and (2) government interference that artificially biases the energy market (e.g., toward coal, natural gas, or so-called “renewables”).
      Either of these factors could make a new nuclear plant uneconomical, and since their effects are unknown, this imposes real risks that the loan guarantees are meant to compensate for.

    2. “The loan guarantees are a band-aid remedy made necessary by some really dumb decisions with the force of government behind them.”
      I’ve been meaning to ask about this (I may have asked a related question at some point in the past, and if I have, forgive me, but since you guys are discussing this, it might be good to have in the record in this thread as well:
      Is the thinking behind the loan guarantee program, and your statement about it being a necessary band-aid) as far as people who would otherwise be mostly conservative/private capital sorts of folks, that we need the loan guarantees on a temporary basis to restart the nuclear industry, because it’s come to an almost complete stop, and will not be able to re-launch (at least, not in a timely fashion, and we want to get the ball rolling quickly to hopefully prevent the likelyhood of bad economic and environmental consequences in the next 20 or 30 years?
      Put another way, is the thinking that because of past problems, and the *very large* costs to startup the nuclear industry (the first batch of plants will likely be very expensive, but once you can get a few built and get the industry going again, costs will come down fairly quickly(?)), private capital does not have confidence, but if you can get loan guarantees to build 10 or 20 new reactors, and presuming they get built without too much hassle/delay, and get operating and generating revenue, private capital will once again become available to the industry, and govt money no longer needed (or perhaps a reduced need – maybe instead of providing 80%, the government drops to 40% or 33%, perhaps a ramping down over time to none, eventually)?
      I know the above was, perhaps a very good example of how badly the English language can be abused, but I’m not sure exactly how to simplify all that. I hope you understand the question. I suppose the most simplified version, without extra explanation, is “Are the loan guarantees necessary just to get the industry going, because it can’t get started with just private capital, but not permanently needed”?

      1. While the loan guarantees will certainly help somewhat, I don’t think that much progress will be made even with those guarantees in place. Being able to construct a nuclear power plant (using load guarantees) in spite of regulatory hurdles, actions of intervenors and government-induced market biases (as Brian Mays has so correctly pointed out) only overcomes these stumbling blocks by shear force of money. The stumbling blocks remain in place, even if they are shaved down a bit. Structural reform of government policy so that it encourages the use of nuclear energy is what we need.

  3. Taxpayers for Common Sense, one of the organizations who signed the letter opposing the loan guarantees for nuclear power ( http://www.npolicy.org/files/OPPOSE_WASTEFUL_10_BILLION_INCREASE_FOR_DOE_NUCLEAR_LOAN_GUARANTEE_PROGRAM_IN_CONTINUING_RESOLUTION.pdf ), is unlikely to ever have anything positive to say about nuclear power plants. They ally with groups fighting the Vogtl plant, and FOE and Green budget Germany. Look at the chair and members of their board of Directors: http://www.taxpayer.net/about.php?action=board_of_directors . On the staff side, the senior advisor and co-founder’s bio touts, “… elimination of the $8 billion Clinch River Breeder Reactor program and the $3 billion Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor, … and the prevention of a $20 billion bailout of the nuclear industry’s Uranium Enrichment Program …”

  4. I’ve always thought that nukes should understand climate change a bit better than the average citizen.
    After all, what is CO2 but the biosphere’s Keffective? And what happens if a reactor that has lots of neutron leakage starts leaking less and less? Neutron overpopulation might not be a tremendously big problem compared to other problems, but the neutron population growth rate being too high, and indeed, increasing, as in a positive feedback loop, a positive coefficient of reactivity, might very well be a gigantic problem.
    For instance, if the temperature goes up, permafrost could melt. A lot of methane – a potent greenhouse gas capable of radiative forcing with 20 times the efficacy of CO2 – could be released from melting permafrost. This factor, in which an accelerating rate of change causes further acceleration of the rate of change, almost reminds me of something called a “positive void coefficient” that is present in certain types of reactors known as LWGRs or RBMKs.
    Luckily, there are no “dollars” when it comes to the biosphere, so the top ain’t going to blow off the planet, but things could certainly get uncomfortably warm uncomfortably quickly. But there is also no reactor trip, and some folks absolutely need to withdraw the control rods – their salaries – paid for by the petrochemical industry – depend on it.

  5. I would like to add an abbreviated “3-sigma” view to the discussion.
    I feel that the significant resources that are poured into discussion of climate change take away attention that is better spent elsewhere. Specifically, I believe that the problem of energy scarcity is a more significant issue that shortens and limits the lives of many more humans than sea level rise or any of the other measured consequences of global warming. Fully two billion people today have no regular access to electricity. This has real, practical, and immediate effects and enormous human impact. We need to plan to generate at least an additional 10 Terawatts of power to provide for the yet unborn billions of new members of the human race that will join us by 2050. To generate 10 Terawatts of additional power would require building 10,000 new 1 GW(e) nuclear reactors by 2050. I observe that to date the most affluent nation on the planet appears to be on track to perhaps build just about the number of new reactors as are currently being retired because they have reached end of lifetime. This would amount to perhaps one to two dozen reactors in the span of the next 40 years. Clearly, the performance of the world

  6. One stupid question.
    If there really is a verifiable correlation to global warming CAUSED by CO2 and a Nuclear Power plant generates ZERO, bone, nada, 0.0 (or very close to that) CO2 per KWHr, then why is there no demand for more nuclear power, why is there no government mandate for nuclear power, why isn’t the UN pushing nuclear power?
    Instead they (anyone that could make it happen)are all pushing AGAINST nuclear power, by every means and method possible. Where is the environmental protection study of the depth and scope of that required to license a nuclear power plant for any wind farm? for any solar farm? THERE IS NONE! We had to justify how many birds would impact the cooling towers to get a NPP licensed. We had to describe the impacts of mining the uranium ore and processing it. When you bring up that birds, eagles, condors, bats, get killed by wind mills, you are po-pawed and told “just as many die from hitting large buildings!” When you inform these nuts that wind mills and solar panels use exotic toxic chemicals, again you are told “it is for the greater good.” How many people are allowed to die from the impacts of these exotic chemicals so that we can have “green” power? I seriously doubt that any wind farm or solar farm could pass the requirements of an EPA study of the quality required by an NPP.
    When there is a fire you put water on it (assuming it is a wood fire), you do not put a chemical on it that has a lower flash point, but still burns. Wind mills, solar panels, CCGT natural gas plants, electric cars, etc. do not eliminate CO2, they just make less of it, and not enough less to justify the true expense and true environmental impact.
    Who are we helping? What are the REAL tradeoffs?
    If there is a REAL problem and the REAL solution is Nuclear Power, and we are not using the REAL solution, logic tells me that there is no real problem.

    1. It’s a good question. On the issue of the environmental impact of wind and solar, I’ve wondered before what the long-term environmental impact will be of manufacturing, and then ultimately decommissioning the stunningly large number of wind turbines (and their accompanying towers, etc), solar panels, solar thermal plants, etc.
      Has anyone done any studies/analysis of the total life-cycle environmental impact for wind and solar? Wind, I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, will need many, many, many tons of new steel made. Doesn’t making steel require the burning of coke along with the iron ore in the blast furnace? Doesn’t the blast furnace then emit huge amounts of CO2? Won’t extensive mining operations be ripping very large amounts of Iron Ore out of the ground for windmills, and coal for the coke? Won’t all that coal and ore then need to be transported to the refineries? What about all the concrete needed for the ‘foundations’ for the windmills or solar farms?
      I realize that Nuclear also requires a lot of steel (and concrete), as well as other materials If you break it down to a per-Gigawatt basis: how much materials, and ‘manufacturing pollution’ is required to build each? That is, what is required to build a gigaWatt of Nuclear, a gigaWatt of Wind, or a gigaWatt of Solar PV?
      Then when you consider capacity factor, which is more environmentally harmful – a GW of Nuclear, 3 GW of Wind, or 8 GW of Solar? (The reason I think it’s fair to to compare 1 of Nuclear to 3 of Wind, and 8 or 9 of Solar PV, is based on capacity factors – Nuclear is about 0.9, Wind is, I’ve read, about 0.3, and Solar is about 0.1 or 0.15 in the US, so to get the same lifetime energy produced, you need 3 GW of Wind or 8 or 9 GW of Solar to equal one Nuclear plant)?
      Anyone know if such a total lifecycle-analysis has been done by anyone?

        1. Unless I am mistaken this document verifies that a NPP has a life cycle CO2 output that is only bested by Fusion – not available, and Wind for equivalent total generation. (see Page 70)
          Note however, that the Fission plant is based upon a once through (non-reprocessed) fuel cycle. What happens to CO2 generation for fission from fuel processing IF we reprocess fuel or move to breeder reactors, etc.? AND there is nothing about the increased generation of CO2 caused by the need for backup natural gas generators. Look at the wind farm in Elk River, Oklahoma. Google it on Google maps (or whatever). In the complex is a multi unit Gas turbine. What is it for? Same for the highly touted “solar panel” system in Florida and the one @ Rancho Seco, CA.
          This is one of the better studies I have seen, but it is not even at the caliber, scope or depth of the average NPP EPA studies needed to get a NPP licensed – and the ones I am familiar with were written more than forty (40) years ago! At one site we paid a college professor $50K a year for 6 to 8 years to assess the avian impact of the cooling towers. The AEC, then required that the study continue for the life of the plant! That is 1970 dollars, they would now want $500K/year, and you ask why does a NPP cost so much? Without a complete analysis it is about like sayong the Nission Leaf emits no CO2, (only the coal fired generation station does an it is not in their report.)

    2. “If there is a REAL problem and the REAL solution is Nuclear Power, and we are not using the REAL solution, logic tells me that there is no real problem.”
      The problem is that not everyone shares your logic. There are a lot of quasi-religious solar and wind worshipers out there. They think that if you believe hard enough, wind and solar will solve the entire world’s problems. I’ve been dealing with them in other forums for some time now. They actually believe their own propaganda. I agree with you that the only real solution is nuclear power, and lots of it, but the problem is that others don’t agree.
      That other people don’t share your assessment of the solution doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t there.

      1. One of the bloggers opposed to nuclear energy who I am in e-mail contact with has this kind of faith in wind and especially solar power. I’ve tried to explain to him that wind and solar are just a gas salesman’s scam, but to no avail.

    3. “Never let a serious crisis go to waste”
      White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, November 12, 2008
      Replacing coal fired power plants with nuclear fission is an excellent way to reduce GHG emissions, but without the need for complex carbon trading and manipulation. There’s also fewer “payments” to third-world dictators by rich Western societies for the right to pollute the atmosphere.

      1. @John – You have apparently bought into the multinational oil company myth that natural gas is a purely domestic fuel source.
        Here is my analysis – companies like ExxonMobil are extremely well situated to understand the complete picture in the fuel supply business. They have been spending tens of billions – probably more in the neighborhood of $100’s of billions – to build Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) capacity in places like Qatar. http://www.exxonmobil.com/corporate/news_features_20081231_qatar_lng.aspx
        They have also spent a large amount of money to purchase some additional domestic natural gas production resources.
        I believe they will work to keep gas prices low for now while they build up additional market momentum, but as domestic resources run short on annual production, they will fill the pipelines with imported LNG. They will also allow the market price of domestic gas to rise to something that allows a higher profit margin from hydraulic fracturing. At current prices, fracked wells just barely break even, especially in a new area without existing processing or piping infrastructure already in place.
        The last time I checked, Qatar was not a first or second world democracy, but it gains far more from trading and market manipulation that most poor third world countries.

        1. 1. After reading this –
          Where is the conclusive, indisputable, proof that the present “global warming” is man made?
          2. If man produces less than 10% of the CO2 released to the atmosphere each year and the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 1 third of 1 percent, why is the Global warming caused by CO2 “Man Made?”
          3. Assuming it is, how do we create negative CO2? Fact – the weight and volume of “sequestered” CO2 will be greater than the product burned to create the CO2. That makes “Clean Coal” and other crazy ideas a waste of time, energy and money!
          4. Watch some of the other shows on NatGeo and Discovery, at least once a month they “discover” new underwater volcanos and vents – ALL releasing CO2. How much CO2 do all of these release? How much heat do they add to the “Global Warming” that is NOT accounted for.
          Etc., etc., etc.
          5. Why arn’t ALL energy producers (and users) held to the same standards of enviornmental stewardship as the NPP?

          1. @Rich – why do you want indisputable proof that there might be a hazard worth avoiding before taking action that is actually kind of painless? Replacing coal, oil and natural gas in many applications with nuclear energy will actually save money and resources in the long run and in the short run it will result in some exceptionally valuable technical training and employment as we convert our energy system.
            Fission fuels produce heat for about 1/3 the cost of cheap coal and about 1/9th the cost of “cheap” natural gas. The comparison to refined petroleum products is closer to a 1:20 ratio of cost per unit heat.
            The big reason that other energy sources are not held to the same standard is that supporters of those establishment energy sources are the ones who wrote the rules that tilted the playing field against nuclear energy. It was not the sandal wearing hippies who held up signs at the gates of nuclear plant construction sites. They were just window dressing.
            Did you know that some of those “hippies” were really firm members of the establishment by birthright? Even Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground was the son of a high ranking utility executive who was firmly entrenched in the established order of things before he “rebelled”. John Rosenthal, an eastern establishment guy who sells solar energy systems, prides himself on the fact that he was an antinuclear protester.
            Your question about the small percentage of CO2 production each year that comes from human activity to dig up long buried carbon and hydrocarbon products and burn them for energy leads me to believe you have never done much in the way of differential equations or neutron lifecycle calculations. Do you know how small a percent of neutrons are born delayed and how important that tiny fraction is to our ability to readily control nuclear reactors?
            If a human eats just 0.1% more calories every day than he burns, how quickly will he become fat?

          2. 1. There is never any conclusive, indisputable proof of anything. All there are – is relations and correlations, and perhaps after a long period of correlations and investigation of the correlations, one can begin to establish a hypothetical causal nexus. But there is always uncertainty.
            2. I will venture to guess that your data is incorrect. Man doesn’t produce 10% of the carbon, it’s a lot more than that. Preindustrial CO2 levels were baselined at around 240 ppm, and had variances of around +/- 40 ppm that have been correlated with temperature increases and decreases. This has been the case for hundreds of millennia. We were at around 280 ppm when the steam engine was invented. Now…we’re at 390 ppm, and rising at the rate of 1.9 ppm per year. See the attached graph.
            3. Installing scrubbers and air pollution control equipment on pulverized coal power plants is somewhat of a waste of time from the perspective of climate change – but not from the perspective of public health and safety. However, reducing CO2 production per unit of energy is not a waste of time. Moving to IGCC – which reduces coal’s CO2 intensity is not such a bad idea. Also, dumping the CO2 directly in the ocean will result in either sequestration or fast absorption. Ocean acidification may be a major problem, though.
            4. I refer you to the graph of CO2 concentrations that I attached to this post. Volcanoes and vents have been going on for hundreds of millions of years. Yet CO2 has been stable throughout a range of values for the past 500,000 years…UNTIL man invented the steam engine and started burning lots of coal. Correlation may not be causation, but some correlations can’t be ignored.
            5. That’s a policy question. I would surmise that nuclear power was – from the start – a creature of the government – and thus was held to much higher standards to begin with, while coal, oil, and gas were creatures of the private sector, and were held to standards of “whatever they’ll let us get away with”. I agree that nuclear power plants are far cleaner than other thermal power plants – but other thermal power plants have big financial backers, i.e. those who sell them the fuel. These financial backers have incentives to ensure that as much of their fuel is burned as possible. As such, they help resist new requirements for environmental stewardship – as this may lead to less of their fuel being burnt.

            1. 1. Did you read the article? I don’t think you had time to read much more than the abstract. READ IT, it provides significant justification that the “global warming” is the aftermath of the Little Ice Age” (LIA), you know the period that the AGW believers are trying so hard to prove did not exist. He provides data indicating that there is NO acceleration in the rate of the demise of the glaciers created during the LIA. Again read it.
              Although I am a Nuclear Engineer, my minor was in applied mathematics, so I know a little bit about differential equations, Laplace transforms, etc. Just like a cue ball just barely touching another ball, the trajectory or path is changed by the event. When something is introduced to a STABLE system, something changes. Every curve or graph I see shows a steady, linear, increase in “Global Temperature” from the end of the LIA (1850 or so). NONE show a logarithmic, or second order change. It is a given that man made CO2 is increasing and has been from his first fire. If this increase causes GW, then the graph of temperature from 1800 to today would curve upward, getting slightly higher each decade. The graphs in the above report do not indicate this.
              2. This site http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html provides US Department of energy data indicating that only 17% of the CO2 is “Man Made”, and my point was that we don’t even know where all of the CO2 is coming from!!!!!
              3. My point is that for every train load of coal going into a coal burner TWO trainloads of CO2 will have to come out (ignoring whatever other medium it is “sequestered” in.) Like the “Snow Flakes” someone is advertizing on TV now. How much more energy will be used moving this “sequestered” CO2? Will they have to prove that they can store it for 100,000 years, like the spent nuclear fuel? Why not, the EPA has deemed it a hazardous substance? Won’t that cause more headaches when the environmental lawyers discover that gold mine (like the Brokovitch suit in CA) and collect millions for not properly storing this hazardous material? (And they will jump on this gravy train.)
              4. Where are the correlations? Which is causing what? We are at the end of an Ice Age! Not in the middle of one. Not in the middle of a warm period. Not in the middle of a stable period. Your graph clearly shows this to even the most casual observer. When is the Ice age going to be over? The graphs you provided indicate SOON.
              5. Look at the included graphs on this site. http://www.skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm Why aren’t any of the other CO2 producers burdened with reducing their numbers. And if they were, the only way to produce all of that energy is from nuclear power! Where is the CO2 tax on the waste you send to the dump instead of recycling? Where is the tax on land use and agriculture?

          3. Rich – leaving the global warming to one side for a moment, let me clarify the situation on carbon dioxide.
            Atmospheric carbon dioxide was at equilibrium, at about 280ppm, for the whole of the history of civilization prior to industrialization. Plenty was happening in terms of carbon emissions, but because the emissions and uptakes were equal, the atmospheric level was constant. This also means that discoveries of other natural flows of CO2 are moot, because they were operating during the equilibrium.
            The increase from 280ppm is due to the imbalance in this equilibrium introduced by human hydrocarbon combustion. No amount of playing with or pointing to the other pre-existing flows in the carbon cycle changes this.
            The idea that the increase from 280ppm CO2 is less than 100% man-made is a lie. Sorry if this seems harsh. But I don’t know any other way to describe this stupidity.

  7. I don’t think we need a spectre of climate catastrophe to promote nuclear energy. Surely all that is needed is to expose the fossil fuel barons’ bought-and-paid-for politicians who came close to regulating nuclear energy to death…
    I’d start with having Gerhard Schroeder put on trial for treason, for selling his country out to the Russians for personal gain…

    1. @George – as emotionally satisfying as that action might be, if it was to ever occur, I think it is not the right direction. Schroeder did nothing that plenty of both already wealthy and “climber” wealthy want to be’s do not do all of the time. He put personal gain ahead of doing the right thing for the greater good.
      If we have any success, it will come from shaming the heck out of such behavior and exposing the selfishness for what it is. It should be remembered that Schroeder claimed the moral high ground by talking about his effort as promoting the expanded use of “green” renewable energy at the same time that he was actually working to expand the market for Russian natural gas.
      By the way, I have written about him on a number of occasions and will continue to place him in the category of money hungry rogue – the same category in which I put John Rowe.

      1. Congratulations, according to your own logic, no one should ever be tried after a genocide happened. After all, the fact that plenty of others did it is vindication that it was a-okay. Oh oh wait, I missed it. It’s okay only because it’s RICH people who are doing it. Yeah, the rich get a free pass on corruption and treason. It’s good to know where your politics stand! Not that it’s exactly a surprise anymore is it, you provincial ass.
        The last time I commented on your utter stupidity on the subject of innovation, I got some replies to my comment. I never bothered reading any of them because I was furious at your stupidity and knew I didn’t want to see anymore of it. Since it seems I can’t read your blog without getting infuriated at just how #$$% stupid you are, I think I’ll just stop.

        1. @Richard – I hope you realize that I do find that Schroeder’s actions were despicable. I have written about that at least four or five times since he took his job with Gazprom. I am not sure that all Germans would agree, however, that doing business with Russia is treasonous. Some of them like looking east rather than west. Remember, about a third of them used to be aligned with Russia.

  8. “gently opinionated” and “thought provoking”? Ugh, it’s propagandistic crap that mindlessly parrots a party line built on a mountain of corrupt data manipulated by $%# with agendas. What makes this so infuriating is that you are completely blind to how much of a %$#@ moron you are outside of your narrow, NARROW field of expertise.
    I’m all for the nuclear industry. More than you even since you don’t give a damn about anything outside the USA. I’m also all for the nuclear industry ruthlessly exploiting the climate change hysteria to expand nuclear power. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just the anti-industrialization eco-zealots hoisting themselves up on their own petard. But I won’t pretend for even a single minute that the doomsaying is anything but shilling, shrilling, fear-mongering lies kickstarted by Thatcher’s cronies to switch the UK from coal to natural gas.
    It’s funny how you condemn one anti-nuclear conspiracy but you approve wholeheartedly of another equally anti-nuclear conspiracy. Ever heard of consistency, Rod?

    1. @Rich – though I think you have told me in another comment that you are no longer coming back, I have edited your comment to bring it more in line with the type of conversation I hope to host here. Note that I did not remove any of your criticisms of me, just the expletives that you tossed in.
      If you think I only care about the US, you have obviously not been reading Atomic Insights for very long. I have written about many other countries and generally attract readers from as many as 105 countries every month. Admittedly, the majority of the readers here hail from the US or Canada.
      Though the UK-Dutch-Norweigian gas industry was quite active in promoting the CO2 advantage that gas has over coal when gas was being produced almost by accident during the North Sea oil boom, people like Alvin Weinberg and Hyman Rickover expressed concerns about CO2 long before that happened.
      As far as consistency goes, I am a complex guy in a complex world. My opinions on any particular issue depend on specifics. I like burning American coal better than burning LNG imported from Qatar. I like fission better than any other power source known to man. I think CO2 sequestration is really, really silly and will never actually occur, but the words “clean coal” seem to be enough to cause some to believe in pixie dust – at least long enough to make a few more quarters worth of profit.

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