1. You could also mention China’s ‘New Silk Road’ … their plan to introduce HST networks throughout Asia, across Russia and into Europe. This is what we did after World War II, now we are looking for people to bomb.

  2. I’m curious about the source of your claim that this is saving 1.2 million lives. If that’s true, then the other 97% of China’s power is going to kill 40 million people over that timeframe just from emissions. That’s a much more staggering figure.

    1. JD,

      I ended up calculating that figure by using the expected deaths per terawatt hour for coal (assuming this is the capacity that the Three Gorges Project is producing) and predicting the lifetime production based on capacity and capacity factor. Simply put, millions of people will die in the coming decades from ailments attributed to coal emissions.

      1. You should get an “A” for effort. However, your efforts are, for the most part, an OpEd and wholly speculative. Presenting gross assumptions, as is repeatedly done in your article, and making speculative and declarative statements, again, as is done in your written effort, without substantiation and peer review, is a truly unacceptable process. Had this been captioned as an OpEd, then it would have been more appropriate. I have accessed this article via a SmartBrief from ASCE. I have seen more and more of this type of offering in these vignettes of supposed valid engineering news. It is unfortunate. Speculation, when tossed out to the public in a format that is supposed to represent truth and science, is often more damaging than pure error.

        1. Eric,

          This is a blog, not a peer reviewed journal. This blog looks at the science of energy production, specifically nuclear energy, but also discusses the economics, politics, and regulatory environment in America and around the world that influences said energy production. Evan reports some facts, does some basic analysis, and does not make any grandiose claims unsubstantiated by those facts and analysis. I see more scientific basis for the claims here than I do in most peer reviewed literature written by Mark Jacobson or the like.

          1. I appreciate your position. However, where I encountered the article was not at this venue, but via ASCE, and in that venue it should have been more closely monitored. Therefore, I will bring it up with the editors of ASCE SmartBrief. I stand corrected and admit my ignorance in commenting on the conditions whilst in this venue/format as non representative of real science.


        2. @Eric

          Atomic Insights is not a peer reviewed technical publication and has never portrayed itself in that manner. We chose to include the word “Insights” in our name as a way to warn readers that this is a publication with an opinion and a point of view. We make every effort to be accurate – in our opinion – but we do not shy away from controversial positions.

          Did you happen to read Evan’s biographical blurb?

          Our open commenting policy provides the opportunity for interested people, whether peers or not, to participate and to respond with their own thoughts and research.

  3. “… China’s Three Gorges dam is a marvel, officially capable of generating 3% of all China’s energy needs … ” From email broadcast

    “… This capacity is enough to supply 3% of the power in China.”

    These conflict: the perpetual confusion, even among ASME professionals who should know better, between “power” and “energy”. No wonder the USA public is confused about energy policy needed to “Run the World on Renewables”, as we eventually must.

    1. Bill,

      You’re fully correct. That was a minor mistake on my hand. Regardless of my mixed terminology, the main point I was attempting to convey was that the Three Gorges Project provides a significant amount of the electricity consumed in China.

  4. Great job Evan !!

    From my study of Chinese history, the idea of an educated elite governing is traditional. They were called the Mandarins. China developed the Civil Service exam system which the British discovered when they first made contact with China.

    1. And Chinese mercantilism also has a long history — it was after all the reason why Britain fought the Opium Wars…

  5. Evan,

    Thanks for putting the Three Gorges Dam in context with China’s energy needs and other energy policies. Very thoughtful and informative!

    One thing I have noticed is that the title “Engineer” is given far more honor in other countries. For example, at a geothermal meeting in Mexico, the professional engineers (P.E holders) were introduced as “Engineer Hernandez,” in parallel with the introduction of people with Ph.D.’s as “Doctor Gonzalez.” I think this country could have some more respect for engineers. Such respect might lead to more respect for science and engineering analysis, and better decision-making all around.

    1. “I think this country could have some more respect for engineers”

      Many in construction or the auto mechanics industry might strongly disagree with you. An engineer with field experience can be a real asset to a construction project. And an auto engineer that has spent a lot of time turning wrenches understands that ease of repair can be as important as operational function. Unfortunately, such engineers are rare. And it seems the most incompetent of engineers usually end up employed by the government in the role of inspectors.

      1. Yet, without those engineers, your mechanics and steelworkers would be operating a short-handle shovel out in the sun for a living….and wishing some smart person would come along and design something for them to work on.

        “The braying in the background gets a little old though.” (POA, post on Three Gorges Dam, 4/1/15 @ 8:45pm) Yes, it certainly does.

        1. I see. So, merely by the merit of a label an individual has earned my respect.

          There’s good engineers, and there’s bad engineers. If you’ve ever been involved in construction you’d cringe at the incompetence of far too many building inspectors claiming to be engineers.

          I respect anyone thats good at what they do. But just because your label says you can do something doesn’t mean you can do it well.

          Tehachapi is attempting to build a new hospital and it has been one delay and cost over-run after another for close two years now, due in no small part to poor engineering.

          So, do these engineers deserve our kudos? I mean hey, after all, they’re “engineers”, right?

        2. And by the way…..

          As we continue to price a quality education out of the reach of all but the elite, you can count on the quality of our engineers to reflect that trend.

          We are competing with countries that recognize the benefit of educating their youth. Its an investment we seem to be unwilling to make. In the end, it will ruin us.

          1. The USA attempts to achieve “equality”, so public schools shortchange the education of the best in order to try to shrink “the gap”.

          2. @poa

            We are competing with countries that recognize the benefit of educating their youth. Its an investment we seem to be unwilling to make. In the end, it will ruin us.

            With the exception of your pessimism, I agree with your assessment of our current situation. The solution is recognition and change, not acceptance. We must recall how the almost universal access to affordable education created a vast middle class that had useful skills and broad understanding.

            (This is personal for me: My dad grew up in a family headed by a bus driver but went to college to study engineering on the GI bill. My mom was raised by a single mother – admittedly a well-educated lady with excellent accounting skills – who managed to send both of her daughters to college without loans because of the affordable prices for state universities.)

            Despite the desire of the elites to remain in charge, we have the power to alter our trajectory. Modern communications tools can do wonders by providing an alternative way to distribute information and by converting passive observers into a large, distributed body of active participants. One of the best features of social media is that it occupies time that might otherwise be filled by watching commercially sponsored TV entertainment masquerading as “news.”

            I was heartened by a story on Democracy Now! this week. (Yes Brian and David, despite their antinuclear blinkers, I enjoy the diversity of that program’s coverage and guests). It talked about a effort to take citizen recording of improper police action to a completely different level by asking people to openly inform officers that they are being watched and recorded.

            The story was accompanied by a lawyer who carefully explained that there is no legitimate, constitutional law that prevents taking photos and videos in public places. The “authorities” have no right to confiscate cameras without a warrant or to erase files, destroy film or remove tapes.

          3. Rod……

            I’m intriqued by your stance here, in regards to education and the elite. It seems surreal to your stance on undisclosed donors pouring huge amounts of money into the campaign coffers of our politicians.

            I see that as just one more dynamic be enabling “the elites to remain in charge”. Try as I might, I just can’t see it as a “free speech” issue.

            1. @poa

              Unless people are actually selling their votes, which may rarely happen, more money in politics simply buys more ads.

              Few of the people I talk to enjoy watching political ads and even fewer admit that those ads or robo calls have any impact on their voting decisions.

              The groupthinking politicians and advisors – along with the media companies that make their living SELLING ADS – may believe that wheelbarrows full of cash sway elections, but I don’t buy the theory.

              Sure, a candidate needs enough money to cover travel and a moderate media effort to get the word out, but after that, there are low cost ways to convince enough voters to allow victory in some elections.

              I know, I’m opening myself to charges of idealism.

          4. Rod….

            Sorry, but your position baffles me. This campaign cycle will require viable presidential candidates to spend over a billion. If this is not required to achieve high office, then why are they spending it?

            And I do believe that our politicians ARE selling thier votes on policy decisions. Certainly the sway that AIPAC holds over our congress critters is reflected in policies we pursue in regards to Israel that are completely polar to what we claim to be.

            Are you actually of the mind that a donor that contributes millions to a politician’s campagn coffer does not expect a return on their investment?

            1. @poa

              Many people waste money. Political animals are especially good at it.

              Congressmen probably do sell the vote they are supposed to use to represent the best interests of their constituents. The cure for that is exposure.

              Investors ALWAYS want a return on their investments. Our job is to apply pressure on our representatives to remind them who they are supposed to work for. The money will slowly disappear as the investments prove to have a low ROI.

              The isn’t any law saying a winning candidate has to spend many mega bucks. James Webb might be the guy who shows that money is a tool, not a measure of human worth.

          5. Actually Rod, Ron Paul showed good results raising grass roots funding, dimes at a time. Yet he was pretty much blackballed from participating in the debates and the process.

            I think you have imagined a few more decibals to the volume of the people’s voice than actually exist. Its very hard for me to imagine we will regain the podium in time to save this nation, without major civil unrest.

            The percentage of our young that actually vote is beyond dismal. Our politicians have squandered their credibility to the point that an entire generation has given up on them. And the middle agers and boomers that vote are unwilling or unable to admit how far we have strayed from what the founding fathers intended, so they’re still buying the con that the DC criminals are running.

            Make no mistake, this country is in dire straits, and the window for saving it is closing rapidly.

            1. @poa

              Yes, Ron Paul made a step forward. However, he wasn’t exactly the kind of candidate I have in mind. He had many obstacles in addition to funding.

              Webb is just one example of the kind of leader who might have a chance. For example, his campaign wouldn’t need to spend much on speech writers or campaign book ghost writers.

              It occurs to me, poa, that you might have tossed in the towel. Personal question – do you have children?

          6. Rod….

            I have a daughter that is 30 years old. I raised her as a single parent from the time she was in diapers. I went to work for a private school in Calabasas CA, as I could not afford to simply pay high tuition while plying my trade. The public schools were so bad that I felt I had to do it. She did not go on to college, although the opportunity existed.

            Don’t believe this crap about vouchers. I know what a private school education costs, and even with vouchers it would be out of the reach of most young parents. It would still be priced out of the reach of most Americans, even those of the middle class.

            And yes, I have kinda thrown in the towel. I don’t see any of these posturing scumbags I’d want as a nieghbor, much less as a president or representative. Vote for what? More of the same? Because thats what we are going to get from these people being paraded across our TV screens. Or worse. Some of these guys are batshit crazy, and could easily posture us into WWIII. I’m not thrilled that the neo-conservatives, held unaccountable for their crimes, are now being bandied forth as “experts” and potential cabinet choices of our crop of RW candidates. And Clinton is just as bad, having aided these crooks in their march to perpetual war.

            It will be Clinton or Bush, Rod, because thats who power wants in power. And meanwhile the effort to divide us will continue unabated, because as we squabble along carefully scripted partisan lines, these despicable bastions of unfettered corruption will continue to sell us down the river. We are headed to a caste system of governance, a democracy in name only.

            1. @poa

              My experience with public schools was quite different. Both of our girls attended public schools throughout their education. I was fortunately in a position where my income was sufficient and my wife didn’t have to work for the first 10-13 years of their young lives. That also meant that we had some flexibility to seek a home in the best available school districts wherever the Navy assigned us. We were both active in the schools as volunteers.

              There are some terrific teachers out there and quite a few good administrators. (My mother, two uncles and two aunts were all teachers and/or administrators.)

              I freely acknowledge there are also many of the opposite.

              Some on the right always blame the unions and fail to recognize that a severe lack of respect and resources is also to blame.

              Not a fan of vouchers.

              Don’t agree that we are fated to be ruled by hereditary dynasties.

        3. “Yet, without those engineers, your mechanics and steelworkers would be operating a short-handle shovel out in the sun for a living…”

          That would be true if innovation and invention were skills limited to engineers. But history tells a different story, doesn’t it?

          1. @poa

            Agreed. Many of history’s most famous inventors were tinkerers with good manual labor skills, but lots of ideas about reducing his own effort.

            “A good engineer is a lazy cheapskate.”

            That doesn’t mean cutting corners or using inferior materials.

      2. Hi POA

        I understand what you are saying. There are good, bad and indifferent engineers. However, all registered Professional Engineers have taken difficult certification tests and have to keep their credentials up to date. And American society gives very little respect to this effort. Meanwhile, a person with a Ph.D. in the equivalent of underwater-basketweaving can write a paper about nuclear energy economics. This person will be addressed respectfully as “Doctor” in every context.

        I was at a meeting of an entrepreneur’s club at Dartmouth a few years ago. I went there with a woman engineer who was considering starting her own company. I was next to her when she gave her card to the meeting organizer, a man from the Business School faculty. “Hmm…” he said, looking at her card. “P.E.? Does that mean that you are petroleum engineer, then?”

        Not all engineers are stellar. And the rules for being in a government bureaucracy don’t necessarily encourage competence in any field. However, I would like to see Professional Engineers given some of the same respect as Ph.Ds., and I would like to see business people aware of what a P.E. means.

        (By the way, I am a chemist. I don’t have a P.E., and I am not even remotely eligible for one.)

        1. Thanks to those that gave a courteous response to my comments about engineers and education.

          Some here seem to think I’m the enemy.

          I’m not.

  6. Energy is the foundation of economies. It is the ultimate source of nearly all wealth. Oil companies and coal companies, of course, have been exploiting this fact to make fortunes for over a century now.

    China sees that the combination of hydro, nuclear, and maybe to a lesser extent, renewables, is the new fountain of long term wealth. While the US is largely still focused on drill baby, drill, and still making money off of that, China is laying the foundation to severely disrupt the energy industry. 50 years from now, money will be made more by selling electricity, than by selling fuel, and by selling the infrastructure to generate electricity, and China will be dominating that market.

  7. Rod,
    I didn’t see any reference by you about China’s astonishing progress in its space program, both manned and unmammed.
    It seems they’re fully committed to retrieving Hemium3 from the moon soon enough, and using it here on Earth to develop and use fusion power for electrical generation and a variety of other uses that serve human needs. Also, I think they’re planning on a viable Moon colony by around 2030!
    Any comments, sir?

  8. In my prior comment, I made a typo, and printed Hemium 3, when I intended to print Helim 3, which is an ideal fuel for thermonuclear fusion in the opinion of many nuclear physicists.

  9. In my last, I erred again; it should be Helium 3! Mea culpa, old age and diminished vision cause such blunders!

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