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  1. Excellent article.
    Lew Hay and NextEra know how much they can make from “renewables.” His article reinforces my opinion that if the push for “green energy” was all about carbon reduction and “foreign oil” that Nuclear Energy would necessarily be a big part of the mix. There is no logical way that wind, solar and the needed backup power will reduce carbon emissions by any significant amount in the next 50 years. There is no way that wind, solar and whatever they dream up next (H2,etc.) will be more economical in the next 50 years. I am definitely an “all of the abover” as far as what the mix of wind, gas, solar AND nuclear should be, as each, used to it’s specific advantage has great potential. However to much of an intermittent, unreliable energy source will cause more problems than it solves. Further, if the mix excludes nuclear, there is an ulterior, hidden, motive to the “green energy, green jobs” agenda. Which makes me think the whole AGW CO2 hype is a scam. Look at the chart of the ocean level in the most recent National Geographic (August 2010) in the “Bahamas Blue Holes” article. Note the cyclical, 125,000 year change in ocean level. Note the previous high levels. Note the average global temperature that would be associated with these levels. Draw your own conclusions.

    1. The true conflict is ideological. Instead of rationally looking at the CO2/greenhouse hypothesis, most politicians in favour of cutting CO2 are “romantic” environmentalists and believe that techological advances and industry are the wrong way forward. Thats why they like wind turbines – it’s so simple to understand, it doesn’t require much of a scientist, and existed long before our time. They also like taxing schemes that encourage conservation, which in most cases means a reduction in the standard of living traded for alleged environmental gains. Denmark with all of its wind turbines has a retail price of around $0.40 for a kWh of residential electricity. While politicians there praise the high price for “stimulating efficiency” the reality looks quite different: sky high electric bills are lowing the living standard massively, making it impossible to have any industry (except subsidized manufacture of wind turbines) and among others is discouraging reproduction so that the Danish population is shrinking.
      One area that I’ve been watching in particular is electric cars: To me it seems this is a true “test” of which side someone is on. Aside from the technical challenges of storing electricity, shortage of rare earths, costs, etc., those that really are concerned about climate change will support the idea of using electricity as “fuel” for automobiles (comparable to the introduction of the catalytic converter that eliminated toxic gases) so that the living standard is preserved while fixing environmental problems. There are a lot of green (and anti-nuclear) groups however, namely Greenpeace, that campaign against electric cars calling them a “waste of energy” – exposing them as romantic environmentalists. They don’t want a solution, they want the problem so that they can create a new “low energy” (rather than low carbon) society in which we are supposed to be happier “with less”.

      1. @Jerry – Isn’t it just as likely that companies in the energy business would be supportive of government policies that increased the prices of their products so that their profits increase?
        Of course, the energy companies work very hard to convince consumers to pressure the government not to raise prices directly through taxes since that price increase would NOT benefit energy companies. It would increase energy prices to slow down consumption – which is a good thing for chemical fuels whose waste products can be produced at a rate high enough to overcome the ability of our common atmosphere to cleanse itself and which will be harder and harder to find and extract long before they are no longer useful to people.
        Energy companies want us to be happier with less at far higher prices because they know that finding additional supplies is getting more and more difficult. Their interests are not served if there is a new, abundant source that can be affordably produced at costs per unit of energy that are far below that of traditional fuels. Their capital is tied up in the specific equipment necessary to produce, transport and use those traditional fuels.

        1. When it comes to energy taxes, i could imagine that Big Oil/Gas is regarding them as inevitable – since government needs more money all the time – so they go along with them in most cases, even though they cut into their revenue. I agree fully that the motive behind energy companies encouraging conservation and efficiency (and there are lots of examples of it, just take Chevron’s “leave the car at home” ad..) is that they want to keep their customers even though they KNOW prices are going to increase (due to scarcity and/or taxes). So basically they want to avoid an OPEC=style energy crisis, which gave nuclear and electrification a boost, and instead have a smooth transition into an age of scarcity, where customers still give THEM all the money they got left, even though it doesn’t buy them a good standard of living anymore (like in Denmark).

          1. About the relationship between green groups and the energy establisment, I think it’s an unholy alliance. There are true romantic environmentalists out there, but they couldn’t have as much impact without the funding of energy giants and support by people in power, politicians etc. Groups such as Greenpeace are merely a front for an agenda, but to fight them we have to point out what is wrong with their message, which is romantic environmentalism.

          2. @Jerry – do you really think that people who pay themselves tens of millions of dollars per year see themselves as passively accepting the inevitable? I worked as a supporting staff officer for the executive level people in the US Navy; few of them portray that kind of passive attitude. I am pretty sure that the top leaders at other organizations are not much different – they look ahead, think of ways to influence events, plan, and implement plans to shape the future to their own liking.
            Have you ever worked in a marketing driven organization? Do you think that Apple just accepts that people like to buy gadgets or do you think that they carefully encourage them to buy more?
            When it comes to OPEC – don’t you think that the heads of multinational oil and gas companies have at least some influence on the decisions that the cartel makes? Do you think that they have no idea what the cartel will be doing?
            Please.

            1. By “inevitable” i didn’t mean to suggest Big Oil is naive and letting things happen. But I think their strategies include making small sacrifices in return for larger benefits down the road.

              1. @Jerry – I agree that Big Oil has a strategy that includes making small sacrifices for big gains in the future. For example, I think they have no real problem giving donations to groups that appear to be attacking oil and gas development – as long as those groups also work very hard to oppose all nuclear energy development.
                Neither effort to limit energy supplies actually hurts Big Oil, though it might APPEAR on the surface that the groups are fighting oil and gas interests.
                I know – it all sounds so deceptive. I happen to know that many o&g executives, like many military officers, include the works of Sun Tzu on their bookshelves and studied him while in school.

      2. @Jerry
        Is “romantic environmentalism” the real problem, or is the real problem the belief that nuclear fission is no more sustainable than fossil fuels? (Damn you StormSmith motherf***ers!)
        I don’t think anyone actually views a low-energy society as desirable, but a lot of people view it as inevitable. There’s a major difference…

    2. Quoth Rich:
      The chart included indicated that CO2 has been much higher and as recently as just 200 million years ago!
      And the solar constant was about 2% lower as recently as 200 million years ago. That’s a difference of almost 30 watts per square meter. The current heat-flow anomaly is on the order of 2 watts per square meter.
      It would take a lot of CO2 to make up for a 30 W/m^2 deficit. Did it ever occur to you that so much CO2 would be damaging today? Didn’t think so.
      The primary, completely, illogical attitude of the majority of the AGW believers is their adamant anti-nuclear attitude.
      You go from climate science to interest-group positions without realizing that these are two extremely different and almost unrelated things. You will also refuse to acknowledge e.g. James Lovelock’s pro-nuclear position because it doesn’t fit your black/white narrative.
      Burning natural gas (NG) does little to lower CO2 concentration. (TVA has years of data on one of its WebPages indicating that even the best of the NG combined cycle turbines does NOT achieve the hyped 50% reduction in CO2 per KW over coal. Google should find it for you.)
      You’re full of it. Natural gas has about half the carbon per BTU as coal. CCGT plants can hit 60% efficiency, compared to 45% for the best new ultra-supercritical coal-steam plants and 33% average for the current US coal fleet.
      There is no logical way that wind, solar and the needed backup power will reduce carbon emissions by any significant amount in the next 50 years.
      Yeah, right. Wind power is zero-carbon (at 100 meters, Texas alone can supply twice the total US consumption of electricity). The compressed-air storage systems under construction do use NG for reheat, but they hit 80% thermal efficiency and they allow wind to supply base load. The NG can be replaced by bio-methane or pyrolysis oil (both burn very well in gas turbines). Both would be carbon-neutral. Of course, nuclear heat (e.g. from a LFTR) would work just as well, albeit with longer planning horizons and higher capital costs.
      The problem, Rich, is that you don’t have a leg to stand on.
      (damn! the list of allowed HTML and character escapes here is obscenely small. Not even blockquote!)

  2. As far as nuclear economics, many energy technologies require strong government support. Hoover Dam was built with government money. The Alaska Oil Pipeline required an Enabling Act by Congress. The private sector does not do well with projects that, though they will pay off significantly during their economic life, require substantial upfront investment.
    Even Bill Gates who is supporting new reactor research is not giving Southern Company a billion dollars toward Vogtle 3/4. 😉

  3. The 50% default rate also came from the CBO’s analysis of the S.14 in 2003. This following entry in the CBO Director’s blog explains the difference between the 2003 proposal (never passed) and the current loan guarantees. http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=478

    1. @Paul – thank you for the link. I have added information from the CBO Director’s blog to the main post. It is excellent supporting information for my assertion that we must resist those who claim that the CBO has predicted a 50% default rate.

    1. @Kit – I did not miss the NG capacity. Carbon taxes would be applied to natural gas as well as to coal and petroleum. What is such rubbish about requiring payment for disposing of waste? Solid waste already has a fee; so does used nuclear fuel. There is a cost to society – the exact value is debatable, but dumping stuff into the air should not be free. No one owns the air, but everyone owns the air. It is common property that should be protected.

  4. Hi Ron,
    I would love to see nuclear become more prominent, and as an investor, I am voting with my money. However, I am not a fan of many in the nuclear industry cheerleading a carbon tax – it seems disingenuine.
    We know that nuclear is cost efficient – it would be nice though if government were more streamlined to the task. Furthermore, I don’t think they need loan guarantees – they need policy guarantees that some later dingleberry won’t change policy on them mid build – that’s the real risk.
    Warmly,
    Chris

    1. Cris you are correct on all counts especially in Florida where the PUC has nixed coal and has no coal mining.
      FPL has a history of double standards. FPL wants to be protected from competition inside Florida by IPP. However, the IPP part of NextEra Energy wants different rules when it competes against regulated utilities in other states.
      If NextEra Energy had plans to build new nukes as IPP outside of Florida that would be a different matter.

    2. @Chris – what is disingenuous about a fee assessed on people that dump waste products? Why do processes that happen to produce a gaseous waste product get a free pass on waste disposal just because they can build a pipe that dumps into the atmosphere? Does a company that produces a liquid waste get to just dump it into rivers and oceans? Does one that produces solid waste get to dump it on land they did not purchase?
      With regard to loan guarantees, I am pretty sure you are correct – the companies would not need them and would probably not even want them if there was other means suggested for consistent policies that do not unfairly disadvantage nuclear. As you point out, one of the scary things for any nuclear investor is the knowledge that the US government can change the rules well after you have chosen a specific path and begun to spend major dollars. The government has proven that time and time again with decisions like outlawing recycling, changing design criteria after TMI, canceling the CRFBR, and implementing aircraft impact criteria after certifying the AP1000, System 80, and ABWR.
      As I understand it from talking with industry leaders, they want the government to somehow be on the hook if future congresses or administrations decide to get loose with rule changes in the future. They believe that being able to point to the billions in additional, not budgeted costs will help discourage the rule changes. That might be a good strategy; up until now, most of the costs for the changes were born mostly by the affected companies.

      1. Rod you are deluded if you think putting a tax on carbon is anything different than tax that will be passed on to consumers just like every other tax on producing electricity. Big government loves big taxes on energy because they can blame big energy companies when rates go up.
        If you really care about the environment, go back to school and learn how to protect it.
        It is really easy to spot a phony like Rod. If you are interested in the carbon content of making electricity, you are for all the solutions not just nuclear.

        1. HI Kit P,
          What other solutions are there to carbon content? (If that is a concern). By the way, I am persuaded that burning coal dumps many pollutants into the air that we would best to move away from. If the modeling for CO2 has is backwards, (as that the warming occurring is releasing CO2 and that as DocForsight has linked, has a logarithmic relationship to warming (CO2 warms a great deal at first but that levels off as amounts increase), then for the sake of plant growth we SHOULD release CO2 into the air. It is plant food not poison. But, that does not mean that the rest of the “stuff” coming from coal burning should continue to be released, or that we should not progress toward a cleaner solution than coal, natural gas, or other fossil fuel.
          Why should we be for all the solutions? If there is a solution that outweighs the others by multiple factors why waste time, effort, energy, and money on less effective solutions?
          So, I don’t agree with carbon taxes, but I do agree with strict emission standards for coal burning power plants. In the long run, Nuclear can leave our children with inexpensive abundant energy that everyone is happy with. Wind and Solar cannot do that. It is just physically impossible, not a “technical” challenge that we “might find the solution to with research,” but a physical impossibility.
          My focus is not homes, but factories. You cannot power factories on solar or wind, especially large scale factories. You need vast amounts of power available to do that, that is available all the time. You can run a factory on a geo-thermal plant, on hydro, on coal, natural gas, or nuclear. But you cannot run a factor – large scale – on wind or solar as the exclusive source of power.
          So, why continue with the past? We have enough inertia to keep using fossil fuels for the next many decades. Why not build a real future for our children? I live in a country where the birthrate adds about 2 million new people each year to the population. Currently a modest home will consume only .7kwh per person per day in an urban setting. With 2 million new people each year just to stay even we need a GWe each year. Adding that much capacity – new capacity with fossil fuels seems foolish at this point, especially with the cost of a new coal plant close to the cost of a new nuclear plant.
          Why the USA insists on making developing nuclear power difficult and slow in order to protect us from a very minimal risk (according to Ted Rockwell) is beyond me, and places undue restraint on other countries that need this power.

          1. @David – I take a little exception to your dismissal of the importance of reducing the amount of CO2 that we are dumping into the atmosphere. Though it might be “plant food”, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to selectively feed the plants that you want to grow faster rather than generally raising the level of “food” for all plants that consume CO2? Being a southerner, I am not so sure I want to fertilize the kudzu, the weeds that often take over in my garden, or the trash trees that seem to spring up overnight. I have also heard from my biologist friends at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation that excess “nutrients” are a major problem in estuaries since they end up fertilizing oxygen depleting algae. My friends who study the ocean ecologies are also quite concerned about algae blooms and about the dangers of acidification that results when water absorbs CO2 and forms carbonic acid.
            As we should all know, “the dose makes the poison”. The dose of CO2 that humans are releasing into the atmosphere every year exceeds 20 billion tons. It might be a small percentage of the total released, but it is apparently the percentage that shifts the differential equation from one that is roughly balanced with a constant concentration of CO2 to one where the production terms are higher than the destruction terms so that the concentration inexorably rises every year and has for the past 100 years. People can legitimately argue about the temperature effect of that rise, but you would have to be a really self deceptive person to argue with the fact that CO2 concentrations have increased over time.
            The effects of that increase are not just temperature and do not just affect the climate. I am always worried by those people who ONLY focus on one effect and cannot look around for the unintended and less discussed consequences of even relatively minor forces acting in the same direction over a very long period of time.

            1. I have heard from my “scientist friends” at Greenpeace that excess radiation and radioactive materials are a major problem in the environment since they end up causing cancer. My “friends” who study exposure pathways are also quite concerned about the deposition of radioactive materials (e.g., I-131) on pasture grasses, followed by the ingestion by cows or goats and the subsequent consumption of contaminated milk and fresh dairy products by humans.
              As we should all know, “the dose makes the poison”. The dose of radioactive I-131 (just this isotope alone) that humans have released into the atmosphere since the process of nuclear fission was discovered less than 75 years ago exceeds 20 billion curies, and has exceeded 50 million curies in a single year from just one accident at a nuclear power plant. It might be a small percentage of the total amount of background radiation in the environment, but it is enough to produce an indisputable increase in local thyroid cancers — particularly in children — which have resulted in at least one documented fatality.
              See, I can use big numbers and scary words too. 😉
              “… it is apparently the percentage that shifts the differential equation from one that is roughly balanced with a constant concentration of CO2 …”
              A “constant concentration of CO2?” When exactly has the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ever been constant?
              You would have to be a really self deceptive person to argue with the fact that CO2 concentrations have always changed over time. 😉

              1. Brian – I happen to understand the difference between a ton and a curie as units of measure, so your “scary numbers” do not scare me much.
                When it comes to economic motives for spreading misinformation about the effects of CO2, please do not believe that scientists working for grants have a GREATER motive than oil, coal and gas marketers trying to maintain their control over a 3 trillion dollar per year market. (Yes, I am once again using a scary number, but I happen to have a pretty good feel for the size of a trillion. Fill ten Rose Bowls full of people – that is a million. Give each one of those people a check for a million dollars. That is one trillion (10 raised to the 12th power). Now repeat three times, that is three trillion and roughly the size of the world fossil fuel market.)
                The idea that so many people seem to believe that climate scientists have a larger motive for propaganda than the fossil fuel industry is almost laughable – except for the fact that one place where fossil fuel pushers have spent billions over the years is in the advertiser supported media. Anyone remember “Put a tiger in your tank”, or the “Texaco Star Theater”? How many large and colorful ads from ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP show up in your weekly news magazines or in papers like the New York Times, Washington Post or Wall St. Journal? The fossil establishment has also purchased political clout through campaign contributions and service in key roles within the local, state and national government and within international alliances.
                I will agree that CO2 concentrations change even within single years with the change in seasons. However, I cannot agree that they have always changed when smoothed over short periods of time – like hundreds of years. The scale of the graph that you linked to is in thousands of years (kyrs); every inch represents 100,000 years. It cleverly does not show anything about the last 1000 years.
                For those who are not fooled by such nonsense, the current number is off of the chart provided since it is about 392 parts per million. Your chart has a top line of 310 ppm that was not even approached during the 400,000 years of measurements.

                1. Brian – I also know that the half life of I-131 is just 8 days, so I am pretty sure that does not build up in the environment.

                  1. Heh … must have hit a nerve. 😉
                    My point: environmental groups and activist scientists make all sorts of claims, many of which do not stand up to careful scrutiny. Pick your poison, because there are many things that such groups claim are “poisoning the planet.” Carbon-dioxide is one; radiation is another. You like to pick and choose between them based on prejudices resulting from some sort of intense hatred for fossil-fuel companies. For example, your reply was almost entirely a rant against the advertising/lobbying decisions of BP and ExxonMobil.
                    Other people like to pick and choose based on an intense hatred for nuclear companies. I’m starting to find it difficult to tell the difference between these two types of people. However, I have always found it curious that the loudest voices beating the AGW drum are also the most stridently anti-nuclear. If you want a correlation, that’s a strong one.
                    “However, I cannot agree that they have always changed when smoothed over short periods of time – like hundreds of years. The scale of the graph that you linked to is in thousands of years (kyrs); every inch represents 100,000 years. It cleverly does not show anything about the last 1000 years.”
                    You cannot agree? Why not? Where’s your evidence? You yourself have just pointed out that the scale of the data in the Vostok core is too course to tell you anything about what happens between measurements. The spacing between points is typically on the order of 1000 years. How have you determined what has happened between these points?
                    “For those who are not fooled by such nonsense, the current number is off of the chart provided since it is about 392 parts per million. Your chart has a top line of 310 ppm that was not even approached during the 400,000 years of measurements.”
                    My “nonsense” was simply to point out that CO2 concentrations vary and have historically varied, something that is indeed true. The ice core data show that the historical “constant concentration of CO2” has varied by about 40% of its high value and a whopping 60% above its low value, not once, but several times.
                    “Brian – I also know that the half life of I-131 is just 8 days, so I am pretty sure that does not build up in the environment.”
                    And I also know that the average “lifetime” of a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere is less than five years.
                    Both of these factoids are largely irrelevant, however, when it comes to assessing what is dangerous and what is not. A very small amount of I-131 can do a lot of damage in a couple of weeks if it is in the wrong location. Sufficiently high concentrations of CO2 can kill a person. In both cases, the source of danger is very real and well understood.

                    1. Here is a graphic of CO2 and temperature over a period of 800 million years. This is from a page from a geologist.
                      http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/stomata.html
                      Here is another geologist, not beholding to either gas, oil, or nuclear and appears fairly non-biased. Over the last few years, he has started leaning toward nuclear, yet he still feels “renewables” have a place. His book has several charts/graphs for millions of years for CO2 and temperature.
                      http://theresilientearth.com/
                      His book can be downloaded in PDF format.

                    2. Rich – the pages you linked contain claims thoroughly disproved by science. In particular:
                      > The notion that CO2 drives temperature is disproved by the ice core record,which shows that temperatures rise first, then CO2 follows later.
                      Common misconception stemming from misunderstanding how climate works. If someone says so, it is a sure sign they are either a) knowingly misleading, or b) mislead by the former group.
                      What science says: http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature.htm
                      > While CO2 has risen steadily over the last decade, global surface temperatures have not increased.
                      Demonstrably untrue: http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm
                      > Temperatures in the mid troposphere (5 km up), where signals of greenhouse warming should be strongest, have actually declined since 2000. According to greenhouse theory, this should not be happening if CO2 increases are the primary cause of global warming.
                      The “greenhouse theory” says nothing about such short time scales – the author is either misleading or misled. The GHG induced warming is corroborated by multiple independent lines of evidence, most notably by observed changes in absorption spectra of atmosphere (exactly as predicted by the “greenhouse theory”); increased heat trapped by Earth as measured by surface temperature anomaly, ocean heat content, and by satellites which measure heat in versus heat out – and by **quantitative** agreement of all these independent measurements among each other, and quantitative agreement of these measurements with mathematical models. See papers referenced here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm
                      Concerning changes in atmosphere, there is a crucial prediction unique to GHG induced warming: the upper layers of atmosphere will cool down, which is experimentally verified. http://www.skepticalscience.com/its-not-us.htm

                    3. @Rich – Okay – I will withdraw my comments about CO2 concentrations being relatively stable, though there is still little here that shows how rapidly they change and what the effects of those changes are.
                      Though CO2 levels have varied over history, even the graph that you pointed to indicates a long term average of 301 ppm. We can reasonably predict far higher levels IF we continue on our present course and speed of emissions.
                      Historical geological records also show that there has been great variability in ocean levels. One challenge for us all is that we live on an earth where we have built a tremendous amount of infrastructure that is not terribly mobile. Sure, we can spend our money reacting to whatever the Earth and climate throws at us and ignoring the evidence that our actions might be part of the cause.
                      If I did not know as much as I do about atomic energy, I might fall into the trap of just muddling along. However, we do have a choice that is more reliable, better distributed, easier to move from place to place, far cleaner, and much less expensive. Nearly every attributed of nuclear energy systems that make them more expensive than fossil fuel TODAY in some circumstances is based on choices that humans have made and can change. In contrast, the attributes that limit fossil fuel and its weather or geology driven alternatives are limited by fundamental features that humans CANNOT change. We cannot control the sun or the wind. We cannot store water in a high reservoir and let it flow to a lower point if there is no geological structure that allows those height differences (think about why there is little or no hydro in Florida or Kansas.) We cannot stop the fact that burning hydrocarbons contaminated with sulfur, arsenic, mercury, uranium, thorium, etc, in an atmosphere with N2 and O2 gases releases certain pollutants. Even when we are able to “scrub” or filter those chemical pollutants, they still go somewhere, often in large and difficult to control volumes.
                      The greenhouse gas attribute of CO2 is just one of many reasons to limit our use of hydrocarbons. If you are dead set that the worry is all a hoax perpetrated by a scheming bunch of grant hungry scientists and their politically manipulative traders or tax hungry government officials – fine. Ignore the motives on the other side of the great climate change debate all you want. I cannot help you if you insist on keeping your eyes, ears and critical thinking skills tied up in ideological knots.
                      However, what are you planning to do to promptly address all of the other limitations of hydrocarbons like the fact that we keep going to war to protect access to certain kinds of useful liquids, the fact that natural gas extraction is moving more and more to a mode that pulverizes the very ground beneath our feet, and the fact that no one knows what to do with coal ash ponds. How many more mountains should we blow the tops off of? How many more deep water spills should we accept as part of the price that we pay to fritter away valuable oil pushing ships around the ocean.

                    4. The lifetime of individual molecule, and a (half) time it takes to lower the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, are different issues. The difference is explained rather well here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-residence-time.htm
                      > However, I have always found it curious that the loudest voices beating the AGW drum are also the most stridently anti-nuclear.
                      This is caused by selective hearing and confirmation bias.
                      > CO2 concentrations vary and have historically varied
                      Indeed they did. Never as fast as they vary now due to anthropogenic emissions. And when the CO2 concentrations were at the level we are going to reach in geological instant, the planet looked very much differently.
                      The issue with climate change is that there is no prior experience with simultaneous changes of this magnitude. The issue is not only CO2 concentration changes and related global temperature changes over decadal time scale. Already now when “very little” seems to be changing, the poleward migration of ecosystem is faster than during the K-T extinction event. Sea levels were exceptionally stable during the last 8 thousand years (due to an accidental compensation in Milankovich cycle forcings), however sea level rise of meters per decade were observed just few thousand years before that, when forcings were fraction of what they are now. Well before the sea level rise wipes coastal cities the droughts are expected to turn large swaths of US arable land to a permanent dust bowl – at least according to the best models we currently have. It obviously does not end here.
                      We can chose to ignore the best available science, at our own peril. What bothers me is that many poeple who actually do suggest to ignore our best science have a history of manufacturing doubt about science, when ever the consequence of science didn’t fit their particular cherished ideology. Worse, people like Brian here are not rejecting the fact that there is unaccounted for pollution from burning stuff: they oppose the science due to the fact that some of the proponents of the bet available science are stinking hippie enviros (among others)! What could be more absurd than that?
                      Here is a book documenting it: http://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Doubt-Handful-Scientists-Obscured/dp/1596916109
                      Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
                      And a detailed, interesting, “a must see” talk of the author: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXyTpY0NCp0

                    5. The chart included indicated that CO2 has been much higher and as recently as just 200 million years ago! Look at any other graph of your choosing for more than 100 million years. 1. All show that over the last 600 – 1,000 million years that the Earth NEVER exceeded 25C (average global) regardless of the CO2 level. 2. All graphs that I can find anywhere showing the Earth’s temperature indicate that the Earth has been at an average temperature of 22C for most of the periods that man can determine its temperature. 3. All graphs will show that, presently, we are STILL recovering from an ICE AGE. 4. 200 years is the effect of a bucket of water into the ocean on the time scale of the Earth.
                      The primary, completely, illogical attitude of the majority of the AGW believers is their adamant anti-nuclear attitude. Secondly, all proposed solutions to the CO2 problem ignore that nuclear power plants should be built. Third, “poor” countries can burn as much dirty coal as they want, receive “GHG retributions” from the “rich” countries, build the “poor” nations “green” power stations, and, Finally, by their own (IPCC) projections, the level of CO2 will continue to rise, at the present rate, for the next 100 years! Isn’t that well past the supposed “tipping point” projected by the model?
                      Burning natural gas (NG) does little to lower CO2 concentration. (TVA has years of data on one of its WebPages indicating that even the best of the NG combined cycle turbines does NOT achieve the hyped 50% reduction in CO2 per KW over coal. Google should find it for you.) Burning NG in motor vehicles does little to lower CO2. Charging battery operated vehicles with power produced by NG does little to lower CO2 concentration.
                      Many studies have shown that implementation of Wind and Solar does little for reducing CO2 levels as most gains are offset by increased NG use, use of the least efficient NG turbines, and, again no reduction in CO2. The data supporting the use of wind and solar is fuzzier than that of either the AGW or the skeptic groups. They constantly scream nameplate data – which is never achievable and completely ignore the “hotel” loads of the process. A lot of this sure increases the demand for NG. All of this pushes the price of NG up. NG suppliers are waiting for this era of higher demand and higher profits which does little to lower CO2 levels. So ask yourself why are we doing it?
                      The most illogical idea is classifying biomass (scrap from harvesting trees and in some areas garbage) as a “renewable” energy source and then burning it. Look at the stuff that goes up the stack and into the atmosphere in the process of burning this “renewable” trash. If you think coal is bad you have a surprise in store. Even the worst of the coal is better – and it can’t be burnt in the USA anymore. Replacing all coal fired power stations with nuclear power would have a Significant effect – but is shunned and demeaned!
                      More radioactive byproducts are given off, per year, by one coal plant than all of the radiation anyone has ever imagined was released (to the environment) by the TMI-II accident, and no one cares! (Slight exaggeration, but not much.) And again, who is worried about all of the poisonous byproducts that will be given off by the manufacture, and then repeated charging/discharging of all of these batteries on solar panels, wind mills, automobiles, etc., etc., etc. the chemicals in the electrodes will be given off during each of these processes. Also, dig out you chemistry book. It is nearly impossible to make the electrodes of a battery “pure” and they will contain other elements from the same column of the periodic chart contaminating the electrodes. These will also be given off when charged. If you thought lead in gasoline was bad this is an even worse time bomb – with a lit fuse!
                      I strongly believe that we should not be “Polluting” our air with the combustion byproducts of Oil, Gas, NG, and even biomass. There are many other valid reasons regardless of your take on AGW. If nothing else, in 50 years we will need the oil/gas to convert into a nutritional base to feed the population.
                      It does not take a genius or even a rocket scientist to come to the above conclusions. So why no strong vociferous demand for “More Nuclear Power?”

                    6. Wow, as recently as 200 million years ago! How many of today’s cities were around then? In fact, can you tell me what the environment was like in the places that are now populated with human society a mere 200 million years ago?
                      I roger that the earth is going to survive, no matter what the atmospheric chemistry is. The question I have is what will be the cost to human society of failing to slow down the experiment of dumping massive quantities of waste products into the only atmosphere that we have. The models are not perfect by any stretch (I have done some modeling of far simpler systems and realize how limited models can be) but they indicate a cause for concern.
                      All of the AGW “believers” that you wrote about in the early part of your comment are not scientists – they are simply marketers trying to hook their product to a trend. They obviously are not very accurate in their sales literature – after all, they have something to sell so truth is often a casualty.
                      Who says there is “no” vociferous demand for More Nuclear Power. Haven’t you been paying attention as you read here? What about on Brave New Climate, Nuclear Green, and Energy from Thorium. Sure, we are not yet mainstream, but there are plenty of people who recognize that we have a problem and a creator provided solution. We need to make more and more use of it and we need to keep working on ways to make it better.

                    7. “The lifetime of individual molecule, and a (half) time it takes to lower the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, are different issues.”
                      Of course I know that. You apparently are simply too dense to catch my point. Please go back and read it again.
                      “This is caused by selective hearing and confirmation bias.”
                      Let’s see. My “confirmation bias” has names like
                      Greenpeace (Alexa rank 6,930)
                      Climate Progress (Alexa rank 41,804)
                      The Union of Concerned Scientists (Alexa rank 146,948)
                      (And I could go on and on.)
                      All three are big alarmists when it comes to AGW and all three are unapologetically and consistently anti-nuclear.
                      Feel free to chime in anytime with all those highly popular sites out there that are stridently pro-nuclear, deeply AGW-alarmist, and that can compete with these voices in terms of volume.
                      None of Rod’s examples (Brave New Climate, ranked 1,207,106; Nuclear Green, ranked 2,041,618; or Energy from Thorium, ranked 807,760) is even on the radar.
                      My “selective” hearing is based on objective, quantitative data.
                      “What bothers me is that many poeple who actually do suggest to ignore our best science have a history of manufacturing doubt about science, when ever the consequence of science didn’t fit their particular cherished ideology.”
                      And what exactly is my particular cherished ideology? Please tell me, because I would really like to know what it is. Frankly, I didn’t even know I had one. 😉 Believe me, if I have a conflict of interest that would lead to a bias, it would be in favor of the alarmist view.
                      Meanwhile, you’re the one spewing tales of Armageddon and doing a good impersonation of the guy on the street corner proclaiming that the end of the world is nigh.
                      “Here is a book documenting it: Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming”
                      Pathetic. Such a typical tactic of alarmist types. They arrogantly claim to represent “science,” but they argue like lawyers:
                      When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, attack the plaintiff.
                      When did smear campaigns and hysterical speculation become substitutes for sound scientific reasoning and critical thought?

                    8. Brian:
                      You did not claim that groups with the highest traffic to their web sites are both worried about CO2 emissions and still adamantly opposed to nuclear energy. What you wrote was:
                      However, I have always found it curious that the loudest voices beating the AGW drum are also the most stridently anti-nuclear.
                      My list of web sites was just to make a point about the use of the word “no” as in Rich’s question “So why no strong vociferous demand for “More Nuclear Power?”
                      Here are a few very loud and often quoted voices from scientists and other observers who are concerned about CO2 emissions and also strongly pro-nuclear:
                      1. Alvin Weinberg – obviously no longer loud, but one of the first that I know of who started warning about the dangers of greenhouse gas increases several decades ago.
                      2. Jim Hansen
                      3. James Lovelock
                      4. Stewart Brand
                      5. Tim Flannery
                      6. Mark Lynas
                      7. George Monbiot
                      I again roger that there are some folks who are using fear about the potential effects of CO2 emissions to sell certain products or political agendas. That is not a matter of dispute. That fact does not necessarily negate the fact that there are people who have genuine concerns and who have studied the issue in far greater depth than I have.
                      I will not accuse you of any ideology. I will ask, however, what do you do for a living? Is your employer a large emitter of CO2 that might be negatively affected by any taxes or fees associated with dumping CO2? That obviously would not limit your right to hold and share whatever opinions you have, but it would be useful to know if there is any potential bias.
                      My bias for nuclear energy is obvious. I have a significant portion of my personal portfolio invested in companies that will prosper as nuclear energy grows. I plan to transition into a new career associated with nuclear energy. I do not have a hatred of fossil fuel or fossil fuel companies – in fact, I own shares in some of them as well. I do have a very strong and visceral dislike of exceedingly wealthy people who market their product by supporting groups that fight nuclear energy and who cause American public officials to go to war to protect their access to extract and transport their product. It makes me very angry to know the effect that our addiction has on our foreign policies and the lives that have been not only put at risk, but sacrificed during the past 54 years since President Eisenhower rightly told King Saud that America no longer needed his oil because we had learned to control the atom.

                    9. Rod:
                      First of all, I wasn’t responding to you; I was responding to ABison. You seem to be confused about this minor point. (I realize that this web comment tool is a little unclear in signaling who replied to whom.) If you would read the quotes that I replied to, you will see that ABison’s various “points” are subject of my comment. Thus, I merely used your list of web sites as a convenient starting point for ABison’s rebuttal.
                      “Here are a few very loud and often quoted voices from scientists and other observers who are concerned about CO2 emissions and also strongly pro-nuclear: Alvin Weinberg …”
                      I could list various “voices” who disagree to various degrees with the orthodoxy that is climate alarmism, while simultaneously endorsing nuclear power, starting with Dr. Weinberg’s old colleague Freeman Dyson, who has managed to live long enough to see what a travesty much of the field of climate science has become, where (in his own words) “the whole livelihood of all these people depends on people being scared.”
                      I could then move on down the list, but you quickly wouldn’t recognize the names. These people prefer to live mostly anonymous lives, because they have better, more productive things to do. They are not gadflies like the people in your list. These are the sensible people who are intelligent enough to understand the inherent value of nuclear power (this group would include only one person from your list, who is now dead; the rest have jumped on the band-wagon only very recently, and some have even more recently jumped off, e.g., Tim Flannery), but who are savvy enough to avoid being taken in by the politically driven junk science that is mainstream climate alarmism.
                      “I will ask, however, what do you do for a living? Is your employer a large emitter of CO2 that might be negatively affected by any taxes or fees associated with dumping CO2?”
                      Please excuse me while I laugh (or cry or both), but I have told you before what I do for a living, and I have made it no secret here who I work for.
                      Frankly, I’m a little insulted that — as an intermittent blogger and regular commenter at NEI Nuclear Notes, who has been listed as a contributor there for the last half decade that the blog has been in existence — I should be asked whether I work for fossil-fuel interests.
                      I guess I should try to blog more often.
                      For the record, I work as a nuclear engineer, and I have been promoting nuclear energy as part of a grass-roots effort since I first encountered NA-YGN (North American-Young Generation in Nuclear) at a Virginia ANS meeting almost a decade ago. At the time, I was a graduate student who was funded by NASA grants to improve the numerical methods that are used in GCM’s … yes, climate models. (I’ll be happy to send you a copy of my dissertation, if you don’t believe me.)
                      Seeing no future for myself in the climate modeling world (for good reasons), I managed to snag a job in nuclear engineering analysis, despite having no training in nuclear engineering. I have worked on many projects since then, initially on SMR’s (which are all the rage now … they were also quite popular when I presented a paper at ICAPP’04) but I have done other interesting work as well.
                      My employer is a company that is a “global leader in nuclear energy and major player in renewable energies.” I suppose that my company’s recent excursions into “bioenergy” probably will eventually result in CO2 emissions, but I wouldn’t classify them as large.
                      Thus, as a major player in the global energy technology market, my employer will most likely benefit greatly from any costs associated with dumping CO2, which will most likely benefit my career.
                      Nevertheless, some of us have integrity and refuse to be bought and sold so cheaply. I reserve the right to speak my mind.

                    10. FULL DISCLOSURE: I once had a girlfriend (10 years ago), who worked as an accountant for The Pittston Company (aka. Pittston Coal Co.) and audited various branches of Brink’s (the armored car company), which was owned by Pittston.

                    11. “I have never caught the company that [Brian] works for bashing the fossil industry … When you are focused on improving … your product line, tell your story and let others tell theirs.”
                      You are correct, Kit; they have not. They promote their products as “carbon-free energy solutions,” but that’s as far as it goes. Actually, the big push, both inside the company and out, for the past eight years or so has been Sustainable Development (or “D

                    12. I guess I am just used to competitive enterprises that are a bit more sharp elbowed about the competition. For example, though Kit loves to dismiss me as “just” a bureaucrat collecting a government paycheck (soon to be a pension), I did take six years off during the middle of my Navy career. Part of that time was in the plastic products manufacturing business. I can testify that most participants in that commodity enterprise worked hard to build market share. They even “stooped” to pointing out the weaknesses of competitive products like rust (steel), aluminum taste, brittle fracture (glass), and weight. Of course, we were also the victims of attacks about filling up land-fills with materials that were not biodegradable, about our price sensitivity to energy prices, and about the “cheap” nature of molded toys.
                      From what I have learned here, the energy business is just one big happy family that never stoops to spreading FUD. I am so happy to have learned that. </sarcasm>

                    13. Rod – When your customers own coal and natural gas plants, you don’t attack coal and natural gas. That’s just common sense. Sure, you’d prefer to sell them a nuclear power plant, and you’d really like to keep selling them nuclear fuel and services, but the last thing that you want to do is piss them off.
                      The energy business is also a business that has to continually deal with a large number of kooks who can cause a lot of trouble. (For example, several years ago I had the misfortune to talk to a couple of young men at an Earth Day event who did not believe that people should need electricity. They did not object to electricity from coal or electricity from nuclear, but any kind of electricity. These idiots can protest and vote, which is a horrifying thought.) The smart strategy is to let the kooks do their thing, without joining in the nuttiness. Simply put forward your strengths, and if your product appears to solve their eco-problem du jour, then you’ve eliminated a threat and gained an advocate at the same time.
                      I believe that this is the strategy that is being employed by many companies in the energy business these days.
                      Feeding these freaks is a dangerous strategy, which can come back to bite you. The one constant in enviro-lunacy is paranoia regarding all things corporate. If you’re a company, then by definition, you’re the enemy. Even if you’re currently considered the “good guy,” you’ll eventually be branded evil — if only on a per-case basis — as soon as you become successful enough. The renewable energy companies are only just now beginning to discover this.

              2. Brian, if the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is 5 years, why are more than half of all emissions since 1960 still in the atmosphere? If you’ve got the numeracy that Dog gave an ant, you’d realize that that claim is grossly wrong.
                Of course, if your “tribe” demands you adhere to that position or it’ll throw you out, that’s different, isn’t it? Good thing the other kids in your school didn’t jump off a bridge.
                It’s easy to see how that claim can be just true enough, but still be a lie of omission. If you have an 18000 gallon swimming pool and a filter which pumps a gallon a second, the “residence time” of water in the pool is 5 hours. What “residence time” doesn’t tell you is that water goes right back in as fast as it goes out.

                1. “Brian, if the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is 5 years, why are more than half of all emissions since 1960 still in the atmosphere?”
                  Because they are not “still in the atmosphere,” and the average residence time for a carbon atom in the atmosphere is not 5 years, it’s actually between 3 and 4 years.
                  This is not difficult to understand if you have a little knowledge about the various sources and sinks for carbon in the atmosphere. The natural sources and sinks (the exchanges with carbon in the biosphere and carbon in the oceans) are so large, that individual carbon atoms just don’t stick around too long before they are swapped out.
                  It’s strange, because you have essentially explained how the process works with your swimming pool analogy, yet you still felt the need to state that I’m “grossly wrong.” Oh well. I’m correct, however, and if you think about it a bit, you’ll see why. You’re almost there.
                  What I find amusing is that many people in the AGW alarmist “tribe” are so misinformed about how the atmosphere works that they actually think that carbon atoms that are released into the atmosphere stay there for a century or more. (I’ve heard that claim so many times.) I guess the bandwagon doesn’t require knowledge or comprehension for admission.

  5. Hi Kit
    Glad you found your way to these pages. It proves that many people choose a side without learning the facts.
    I know. It’s too much work. It’s easier to be rude to those who counter your long held beliefs.

  6. Great article it spells out the economic realitiea of clean electric production.

  7. The heads of national environmental groups receive good salaries. If they began to promote nuclear power, the membership rolls would shrink. This was explained to me by a prominent environmentalist who knows these leaders. If the membership dwindles, so does the salary.
    How easy, how pleasant might it be for these leaders to accept donations from the fossil fuel industry or from foundations funded by that industry? How tempting to call natural gas–a major greenhouse gas and a deadly power source.
    News of recent deaths in the US from “clean, safe” natural gas:
    http://newmexicoindependent.com/60468/oil-and-gas-pipeline-fatalities-peak-in-nm-tex-study-finds
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/07/connecticut.explosion/index.html
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2010/06/3-reported-dead-in-blast-at-texas-gas-plant/1

  8. I’d love to try to follow this discussion further, but I don’t see any way to perma-link to a comment or track when new comments are added except by e-mail. I’m not even bookmarking this thread.

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