Realists, Not Hysterical Hypocrites

The evidence for human induced global warming is less conclusive than proponents say, but it is impressive. Some argue that we need not act until the threat is imminent, but if we wait for it to fully and perhaps suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations may come too late. So what do we do?

If you look at the literature and even entries on other parts of this blog, you will see that a common response to the politics of global warming is to indignantly claim that it is the fault of Bush, Republicans, the U.S. or big corporations. The subtext is, "If only THEY weren’t so greedy, WE could address this problem." The idea seems to be that if we would just sign on to Kyoto, or legislate properly, the problem would go away. It won't.

Proper regulations and government incentives will be required. But these are means, not ends. Legislations by itself will do nothing. What is it that we want the legislation to do? There are several things that are required.

Raise the price of energy. Why do we depend on oil? We use oil because it is cheaper and easier to use than the alternatives. If there was a cheaper alternative, we would already be using it. One of the pernicious effects of cheap oil is that it preempts development of alternatives. Worse, the price of oil tends to drop as soon as alternative look promising and the would-be alternative producers are driven to bankruptcy. We need to guarantee a high price for oil and gas.

A high energy price is the fastest way to encourage conservation. We saw that historically. Energy efficiency increased when prices were high in the 1970s and 1980s and flattened in the late 1980s and 1990s when oil was cheap. The presidents' policies seemed to have little effect. We saw it recently when the prices went up after Katrina. Suddenly SUVs were out and hybrids were in. Price succeeds. Politics fails.

Go nuclear. It is a paradox that so many environmentalists oppose nuclear power. Nuclear power produces no greenhouse gas and no pollution. It is safe (nobody has ever been killed in an American nuclear power accident). And we don’t need to import anything from the Middle East. We can solve the waste problem or at least not using nuclear power is a greater risk.

Beyond that, a revived nuclear industry can be a growth and export industry for us.

Share technologies. The big polluters of the future are China, India and other developing countries. We need to partner with them to make sure they don’t go the dirty route. President Bush’s proposed deal with India and the Asia Pacific Partnership are good steps. Kyoto addressed the problems of the past and was outdated the day it was negotiated and the sooner everybody figures that out the better.

Encourage and protect biotechnology & nanotech. Biotech may make it easier to process cellulose (wood chips, switchgrass etc) into methanol. It may produce other forms of energy. Biotechnology and nanotechnology are the future. Don't let a misguided precaution strangle innovation in the cradle. If/when climate change does occur, biotechnology will allow the rapid development of new varieties of crops suited to the new conditions.

I didn't mention research into alternatives, because I don't have to. If we do the things above, price and the market will encourage the changes. If you insist on putting some government money into R&D, that’s fine. Just don't expect much.

So let's cut the foolishness and get to work. The solution is not easy, but it is simple.

BTW - some of you might recognize the cadence in my initial post. I think the situations are parallel.

Posted by Jack at April 13, 2006 10:29 PM
Comments
Comment #140562

Jack:

I’m all for the higher prices, the higher the better, but ONLY if the difference goes to the budget and NOT the oil companies. And at least a portion of it is used to create/deliver alternatives. Bush being so oil oriented, in spite of his claims to the contrary, I just have to doubt that he is willing to try to do what it takes.

The oil companies admitted in testimony to one of the committees that they didn’t need the incentives that they have been awarded. We need to take them back and use them for other purposes, like bringing down the deficit and as I posted above.

I saw an article somewhere (old age creates memory problems) about a process that exists to burn garbage for energy, and is non-polluting. Surely we could diversify and not just go to nuclear. I am one of the ones who worries, not so much about accidents (although I can’t get Chernobyl out of my mind), but of the waste problem. We need to look into that just as aggressively.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 13, 2006 10:54 PM
Comment #140563

Woman

I would take away all incentives to oil. Let the price rise.

We can burn garbage. We can make diesel out of vegetable oil. We can do lots of things, but we cannot currently run our economy with these things.

These are small solutions: not bad ones, but not sufficient.

Chernobyl was a Soviet problem. The Communists could screw up anything. There is no comparison to anything we did and certainly to nothing we do today. Never in America has anyone died. By comparision, people die each year mining coal or producing oil. No energy form is completely worry free. Nuclear is good relative to the others.

Posted by: Jack at April 13, 2006 11:01 PM
Comment #140571

Jack,
Nuclear energy is good and all, however Americans are currently too afraid to rely on it. It’s not only Chernobyl, which was a Soviet problem but affected every country on how nuclear energy should be handled, but it was also the incident of Three Mile Island.
Three Mile Island was the location of a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, the plant almost had a meltdown, but was narrowly adverted. This event occured in 1978, every since that year, no nuclear power plant has been built on U.S. soil.

Posted by: greenstuff at April 13, 2006 11:49 PM
Comment #140572

Jack:

There’s going to be a heavy transition period whatever we do. The smaller methods can help. We need to give more tax credits for alternative energy use by individuals and small groups. Every little bit helps until another system is in place and ready to go.

I’m fully aware that they cannot be used to run the country, I thought that was understood. Perhaps not.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 13, 2006 11:53 PM
Comment #140573

Jack,

It can be argued that thyroid cancer rose because of Three Mile Island. NAVLAP has a lot of info about the health isssues resulting from above ground atomic testing in the 50’s and 60’s.

I too am a proponent of Nuclear Power,as a former physics major, it is the least polluting and most promising of the technologies available now. The issue of one design (from another thread) seems somewhat uninformed. Structures are designed for the site they are located. Nature isn’t uniform. Industry standards do need to be followed and verified. I work in the geotechnical/ civil engineering field. Yes, the radiactive waste is dangerous and long lived, but volumetrically are miniscule to the waste of other sources of energy for the same amount of power. The waste issue can be handled safely.


Technology is the best chance we have of resolving these issues without substantive economic distortions.

Oil is going to rise all by itself, Jack, we don’t need to help it any. I would just rather see us go nuclear, biodiesel, clean coalfuels, ethanols,and other sources like the windfarm off the Kennedy estate rather than go to war over a bunch of rotted dinosaurs.

Where is exactly that infamous energy policy of the Bush administration, Jack? I don’t blame Bush, but he has gutted the EPA, and is the worst, most ineffectual executive since Reagan. Why can’t I ever find out what is being released by the Petro-chemical companies here in Houston until months later? Why do they not get fined until they have a major problem that they can’t hide? The mayor here is saying he’s on the problem, but I still haven’t seen much change.

I know POTUS doesn’t control that directly, but he used to live here and his dad still does. What was so ridiculous was the conclusion a few years ago that dealing wih car emmissions would solve the air quality problems in Houston. It won’t alone. Gov. Bush even set up new emmisson testing and funded a company to exclusively begin enforcement. It was gutted a few months later after millions in taxpayer dollars funded it, when taxpayers started asking why they were being penalized while the petrochem industy went on their merry way releasing nearly at will.
I’ve not been surprised by the lack of performance from Mr. Bush.
Bush only befriends those who have the dough to be “pioneers.”

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 13, 2006 11:56 PM
Comment #140575

Not to be the internationalist on this issue.. as I usually find myself in this position. But obviously this is a global problem that needs a global solution. In this manner I think the US, and yes the republicans, should be the leaders. The environmental credit program that is used for domestic industries can would also be a huge incentive for reform in the international scene as well. Rather than the Kyoto-Protocol approach, a more comprehensive economic based environmental credit program that holds individual businesses accountable, not governments, may be a better mechanism

-Xander

Posted by: Xander Jones at April 14, 2006 12:15 AM
Comment #140576

“We use oil because it is cheaper and easier to use than the alternatives. If there was a cheaper alternative, we would already be using it.”


What about ethanol? The Brazilian gov’t did that back in the 70’s and it’s certainly cleaner and less expensive than oil.


http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/003032.html
“ethanol usually sells at somewhere between a third to half of the price of gas.”

Posted by: rahdigly at April 14, 2006 12:16 AM
Comment #140595

Subsidies and incentives for Oil?!!
The oil industry is booming!
This is a prime example of “money talks” politics.

Finally, now solar is getting a fair shake. This did not happen over night. It didn’t really become such a political winner until big business really got involved. Sure many people and businesses solarize their homes and save on their utility bills but the political support is a recent thing.
Take a look at who makes the solar panels:

BP
Shell
GE
Sharp
Sanyo
Mitsubishi
etc…

Make it profitable and the “flies” are suddenly swarming.

Solar is environmentally sound but it’s not coincidence that the biggest solar markets are some of the places where electricity is most expensive. Higher utility bills result in a better return on investment in alternatives.

You can see this “Economics 1A” phenomonon being encouraged and operating in other areas:

“Technology is the best chance we have of resolving these issues without substantive economic distortions.”
It is more economically viable to profit from solutions to the problems than to avoid the damage.
“I didn’t mention research into alternatives, because I don’t have to. If we do the things above, price and the market will encourage the changes. If you insist on putting some government money into R&D, that’s fine. Just don’t expect much.”
This demonstrates the “moving foreward” approach. Why bother hashing out the blame and counter productive lawsuits and such? By messing things up you create new markets. Right?

The only thing missing from the pure free market system is that there is no incentive to do the right thing, only what is profitable. Why would an investor be interested in a company which blew their dividend cash on somthing that they could not account for in returns?

Sure, some people chose to invest in companies with environmental responsibility but this is a choice for those who make the effort to find them. Compare this to the mass who make their stock purchases to maximize their profit.

There comes a time when “big brother” needs to step in and keep the smaller “siblings” from getting themselves and the whole household into trouble.

I hear the Constitution adress this in the part about “…promote the general welfare…”

This sounds absurd in light of our current “anything socialist is evil” perspective.

“Of the people, for the people, by the people.”
or
“Of the money , for the money, by the money?”

The world is what you make of it. Choose our public funded incentives wisely.

Posted by: SolaRevolution at April 14, 2006 2:38 AM
Comment #140596

I point upwards to my previous post! You can make environmental responsible decisions economically viable if you utilize the credit system to endogenize the exogenous costs of pollution.

Posted by: Xander Jones at April 14, 2006 2:43 AM
Comment #140597

The system allows companies that do not pollute to sell their credits off to companies that do need to pollute, and the credit progam as a whole, raises enough money to fund the clean-up needed to ensure that environmental damage is not sustained.

An international program would be very beneficial to the environmental cause.

Posted by: Xander Jones at April 14, 2006 2:45 AM
Comment #140602

rahdigly i like ethanol also . i just was in las vegas and the e 85. 85% ethanol, 15% gas, was only 35 cents a gallon less than regular unleaded. the octane rating is higher than gas so you get a tiny bit more performance with a stock engine, but the btu content is much lower at 81,000 btus per gallon . while gas is about 113,000 btus per gallon net effect you lose about 15% to 30% miles per gallon. i was amazed the price of e85 was that high in las vegas.also the ethanol used for fuel is the denatured type it is about as poison as gas is.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 14, 2006 3:13 AM
Comment #140610

How about the shale oil in the Rocky Mountains. I read a post that states the government has opened up the Nations National Forests for exploration, and that we have enough shale deposits, that can be used to make oil, that rivals the oil deposits of all the mideast producers combined. Also that Mr. Bush is in the process of rewarding the contracts to three oil companies to see who can come up with the best system, and the least expensive system to produce this system that could make oil imports stop all together. There is enough shale deposits to last over 500 years of use at our current consumed quantities. It seems that the oil barrens will gain again, and that is what drives the citizens nuts. In a situation like this, where this can be utilized to free us from the mideast exporters, why is not being discussed in the media. This is our country’s own resources, which could put a total change in our energy prices and if used could make life in America somewhat livable. Any comments on this?

Posted by: Ken at April 14, 2006 6:56 AM
Comment #140624

Jack,

Excellent article. I don’t say that often but allow me to tip my hat to you on this one. For a change you are showing how intelligent you can be instead of trying to rile up the left. This is an area that both the left and the right agree is a problem and I think a bipartisan effort to resolve this problem can be obtained.

Xander,

Although this is certainly an international problem I think we should get our own house in order before we begin solving world problems. Did you know that we provide only 28% of our energy from nuclear power? France provides 78% from nuclear energy and India is surpassinig us in their nuclear power output.

Solar, wind, water, nuclear, natural gas, and hydrogen (fuel cells) seem to be the cleaner future for our power output. Can they provide enough energy for us? Sure they can. However, we will need coal in the interim. As Jack pointed out we tend to use the cheapest technologies. Currently those are oil and coal. Incentives and tax credits will help the other technologies along with regulations. Mass production of the other technologies will also help there costs come down. Naturally, the oil and coal industries will lobby against the other technologies and try to maintain the costs high in those areas.

Posted by: Tom L at April 14, 2006 9:35 AM
Comment #140642

Jack, While I agree with most of what you said, I can’t agree with raising and keeping energy costs high. This is unfair to the middle and lower classes until there is an affordable alternative available. We still have to heat our homes and drive to work, etc. High energy prices affect the trucking industry especially, resulting in increased prices for everything we purchase, especially food. Everything goes up, except our “real income”.

It’s been over 30 years since our first “oil crisis” and we’re still in the same boat-“talking” about alternatives. I’m still putting gas in my car and heating with oil. At age 52, I don’t expect to see any significant change in my lifetime. I hope I’m wrong.

Posted by: Tim at April 14, 2006 11:32 AM
Comment #140644

Jack:

I once went out with someone who turned out to be a diehard environmentalist and she drove me crazy with her concerns for the environment. As she was talking, I looked around and I saw the white linen on our dinner table and I wondered how much water would be required to wash it and what sorts of chemicals are used to clen it. I wondered where these chemiclas ended up. I noticed that she barely ate her food and I wondered where that garbage ended up. I also wondered about the chemiclas and water needed to wash all our china. How did we get here? A car… How much pollution and refuse was created to produce it before I purchased it and proceeded to consume gasoline with it. Then it hit me, Unless you live out in the woods like Native Americans once lived, you have no right to call yourself green. By the way, she was clearly dissatisfied with this observation but we still remain friends.

By the way, unless radioactive waste can be neutralized or disposed of in a manner that does not leave thousands of generations to care for it, there is very little that will make it a viable source of energy for many Americans.

Posted by: Roman at April 14, 2006 11:46 AM
Comment #140669

Tim

You can’t have low energy prices and efficient use of energy. That is the problem. We use oil because it is cheaper than alternatives. Cheap energy is the basis of all our problems.

There seems to be an “energy budget” in people’s minds. They will use energy until it reaches that level. Then they will try to conserve or look for alternatives.

If we are serious about CO2, real incomes WILL go down. Some environmental champions try to hide that.

You recall the reason Kyoto was dead on arrival is because it would raise prices. Some people try to pretend we can make a painless transition. They are mistaken.

I wrote this post because I was always hearing that we should so something, but that something seemed to be awarness, concern and voting against Bush. These things do nothing. Real world problems require real world solutions and those solutions cost time and treasure.

Roman

I agree with your point that we all are consumers and so none of us should be “greener than thou”. That is why I am talking about real solutions. Your friend is not so bad. Think of the Gulfstream environmentalist celebrities, who fly around on their private planes to castigate the masses about their ungreen habits.

BTW - Our country could not support a Native American lifestyle for all 300 million of us. These guys required a very large area to hunt and farm inefficiently. They burned the forests and generally made a mess. What kept it from being a problem was the low population. If the U.S. had a population of about 10 million, we also could do whatever we wanted.

Posted by: Jack at April 14, 2006 1:52 PM
Comment #140681

Roman,

You think about much different things than I do on a date. :0

When natural gas gets high enough, nuclear energy will be viable again. Disposing of waste is an engineering problem, very solvable. I don’t see Coloradans running away from the naturally occuring Uranium that is is in the ground there. Radioactive materials are a natural condition: like the Sun for example. We wouldn’t exist without it. Your fear is unreasonable.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 14, 2006 2:56 PM
Comment #140683

Jack, I dunno, If us eco-commies evenly distributed the population (aproximately 2 square miles(1300 acres) /person) and provided 19th century medicine and sanitation, the population would reduce rapidly, and create utopia through attrition.

Geez, that stat is depressing. Let’s annex Canada.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 14, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #140720

rahdigly:

What about ethanol?

The net energy production from ethanol is negative: it takes more energy to grow the raw materials, convert it to ethanol, transport it to distribution points and sell it than you get out of burning the ethanol. Stop and think about it: why would we still be burning anything else if ethanol was economically preferable?

Nuclear energy has a similar problem and it’s not even that clean if you count the waste materials from production and fission reactions. Sure it’s clean while it’s safely ensconced min the reactor making steam, the problem comes in before and after the reactor part.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 14, 2006 6:28 PM
Comment #140736

Jack-
Clean? Only if you’re judging by 19th century standards. Nuclear waste is far worse than the chemical wastes are. The radiation it produces are invisible, its actions irreversible.

I think we should have more nuclear plants, but we should not kid ourselves that its safe, any more than we should kid ourselves that fossil fuels are that way anymore. We should be strict about how they run, and go over designs with a fine tooth comb. If a coal-fired plant blows up, you got trouble for a few days, perhaps pollution for decades, if you’re unlucky. With a nuclear plant, you could have whole areas of land rendered unfit for human inhabitation. That’s not to be taken lightly. If we can get fusion working on a paying basis, that might be better, since we’re dealing with fuels that pose less of a danger.

As for SUV’s it wasn’t fuel prices that made them marketable, it was exceptions made in the CAFE laws. Had the vehicles been regulated as cars, the low gas mileage SUV might have never shown up.

As for biotech and nanotech, I’d say we should set up systems in place to be cautious. These are new technologies that are bound to give us some nasty surprises. I think we should mandate some standards for testing, if nothing else to both reassure people that the products are safe, and to actually make them so. biofuels may sound nice, but we have to remember that we’re still dealing with hydrocarbons there. As for Nanotech, that’s where I think most of the potential is. That said, there’s a lot that’s still blue sky about it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 14, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #140746

Wana

Your solution is what then? Do you believe global warming is a threat? If not, you are fine. I think the evidence tends to support the theory and we should do something more about it than complain that nothing is being done.

Stephen

You can make your rules all you want. If you ban all SUVs, you still have a problem. During the cheap oil 1990s, people got in the habit of driving even more.

I am ready to take the harder choices. You guys seem to prefer making laws. But ask yourself what they laws will do. The law itself is nothing. Effective laws will raise energy prices. That is what happens in Europe. We will have to rely more on nuclear energy. That helps France reduce its CO2. We will need to develop alternatives and we should not cut out the most promising technologies when doing so.

This is the problem the left will soon face. Once we are convinced of a problem, conservatives will want to take action and even figure out how to profit from it. You have enjoyed taking the high rhetorical high ground knowing many conservatives would not go along. When the bluff is called, you are left with real choices.

Posted by: Jack at April 14, 2006 8:21 PM
Comment #140750

I didn’t say ban them. I said apply car efficiency levels to them. You read absolutism where it doesn’t exist.

I’m not for setting prices, I’m for setting laws. The free market, to me, is about not trying to centrally control prices. Now we can say, we’ll accept a fuel efficiency level no less than this, and whoever can best meet that goal will win. Leave it in place long enough, and manufacturers will adapt, come up with cheaper ways to manufacture better technologies.

If you conservatives do manage to take action and figure out how to manage these problems, more power to you. Then you will rightfully be able to compete on even ground with Democrats, perhaps even surpass us. That’s Democracy. So call our bluffs. Please. It’s in the interest of the Republican party to start doing substantive good for the American people rather than persistently taking the side of industrial special interests whose instructions are basically to preserve and raise company profits.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 14, 2006 9:01 PM
Comment #140751

Tom L

When we can get the environmental lobby to stop blocking construction of new nuclear power plants, we’ll have new nuclear power plants. But I wouldn’t bet the farm on that happening anytime soon.

Stephen

The ultimate solution is staring us in the face: The horse and buggy. Oops, that won’t work either. Animals, including humans and horses, produce methane as a bi-product of the digestive process.

Okay, I give up. Name one source of energy that doesn’t produce some kind of harmful bi-product or that doesn’t require 100 million acres of solar panels or wind turbines?

No matter what we do, there will be trade-offs. It’s just a matter of what we’re willing to accept.

Posted by: ulysses at April 14, 2006 9:08 PM
Comment #140754

Jack Mohammedoff

What wind farm off Ted Kennedy’s estate?

A recent article (April 14th) in the Vineyard Gazette, a Martha’s Vineyard publication, spoke in depth about the PROPOSED project on Horseshoe Shoal off Cape Cod.

According to the article, the “Cape Wind plan to build 130 wind turbines on Horseshoe Shoal deserves the highest scrutiny, especially for its potential impact on the environment.”

The article futher stated that an ammendment to the Coast Guard Authorization Bill now under consideration by Congress would give the state of Massachusetts veto power over the project.

Doesn’t sound to me like the good folks of Massachusetts are too eager to have the country’s first commercial wind farm built near them.

And, FYI, Ted Kennedy is on record as being opposed to the project because of “environmental concerns.”

Posted by: ulysses at April 14, 2006 9:27 PM
Comment #140759

Jack,

a revived nuclear industry can be a growth and export industry for us
Really? An export industry? Then why are you so upset with Iran?

Posted by: ElliottBay at April 14, 2006 9:30 PM
Comment #140766

Stephen

I know you were not for banning SUVs. My point was that EVEN if there were NO SUVs, it would have not solved our problem.

We have need for laws and markets. Markets are preferable when possible because they give people choices and let them see, feel and pay for the tradeoffs and consequences of their actions.

Cars and trucks have become much more efficient. BUT the greater number of miles people now drive has offset that. People have an energy budget. Some people explicit; others not, but they all have them. If I have $25 a week for gas and I get better mileage, I am temped just to drive more. That is in fact what happened all over our country.

If man A drives an SUV that gets 15 MPG, but he drives only to work and he chooses to work three miles from home, he is a better environmentalist than Man B who drives a hybrid that gets 50 MPG but works 25 miles from home.

The price can see the difference. At $3 a gallon Man A pays $6 a week; man B pays 15 because he is more wasteful. The law makes the wrong distinction.

Keep the price high for a shorter time than the law and the market will come up with better alternatives.

Elliot

The world is trying to make a deal with Iran. It is not the power that bothers anybody; it is the enriching uranium. You know that Russians offered to do it for them and they rejected the deal.

Posted by: Jack at April 14, 2006 10:04 PM
Comment #140771

Jack:

Your solution is what then?

You’re not going to like my solution, as usual. But if you’re sure you want to hear it, I’ll post it. Let me know.

What is your solution? Raise the price of energy? How do you propose doing that without (Horrors!) raising taxes? Or do we all just double the price we pay to big oil? The devil’s in the details, right? I don’t know why I’m wasting my time asking you these questions since you never answer.

Ethanol is not a solution. Nukes are not a solution. Nuclear energy is the energy equivalent of the budget deficit in terms of the problems that it causes and leaves for generations of our children’s children’s children to solve, just so we can have cheap energy. I’ve noticed that people who have no problem passing on huge budget deficits for future generations so they can pay lower taxes are the same selfish, arrogant people who think nuclear energy is such a peachy idea. Why is that, Jack? I really want to know.

Do you believe global warming is a threat? If not, you are fine. I think the evidence tends to support the theory and we should do something more about it than complain that nothing is being done.

I absolutely, positively believe that global warming is occurring and that it is a threat to survival. I do not necessarily believe that global warming is occurring as a result of human activities such as combustion of carbon. There is a lot of evidence that Co2 is causing it but there is also a respectable amount of real, scientific evidence (not like the “evidence” supporting creationism) that climate change is something that just happens on this planet as well as on other planets.

Having said that, I do make a point of conserving both natural resources and my own cash by avoiding use of energy when possible. I encourage my family and others to do the same. But that’s hardly a market solution, is it? And if it’s not a market solution, then by God, it’s just not worth the electrons it takes to post them on a blog, is it?

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 14, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #140782

europe and france recycles most of there nuclear waste for reuse. 1. check out waste management in the nuclear fuel cycle. at www.uic.com.au/nip09.htm 2.please read back to the future by bill walker. at www.lewrockwell.com/walker/walker14.html he tells why we are behind europe in the recycling of the waste. and also has a great source of nuclear info. 3. please check out advanced reactors. at www.uic.com.au/nip16.htm it is a great source of info about the newest designs of advanced reactors. like the new ap 600 and ap 1000. reactors they are a modular design also they have a core damage frequency 1000 times less than is required by the N.R.C.! and have a rated lifespan of 60 to 80 + years.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 14, 2006 11:27 PM
Comment #140785

My solution is to raise prices. I advocated a floor on prices and that the Feds should tax as necessary to keep oil from dropping below about $40 in today’s dollars.

I explained why and you can read the details. Higher prices create incentives for alternatives. Our “friends” lower the prices to bankrupt alternatives before the next price rise. Don’t let them.

I also advocate nuclear. There is nothing else that in the short or medium term can take up the slack. I have said these things above and before.

I agree that the evidence is not 100% conclusive on human induced global warming, but the risks are such that we should take action. You may have noticed in the original post I used the same language President Bush used in his 2003 SOTU when he described the threat of Iraq. I feel (felt) the same way about that.

I would like to hear your solution on condition that it is arguably workable with technologies that we have today or can reasonably expect to develop in the next decades. A real world example would be useful. Conservation, BTW, is useful but can never be sufficient.

And - BTW - almost any system you can devise, people like me can figure out how to game. The more complex, the better. So keep it simple.

BTW 2 - I own a hybrid. I take the Metro or my bike to work. So don’t bother talking to me about SUVs etc. Not my business.

Posted by: Jack at April 14, 2006 11:31 PM
Comment #140789

So the tragedy that befell the Soviets with Chernobyl could never happen to America. We are so much more advanced and our checks and balances: Perfect fail safe. Just maybe the free market economy is working, just fine. Is it an inalienable right to drive a Expedition, Suburban, etc…? If you choose to live above your means and cannot make your monthly nut, it must be the fault of the oil companies. We (Americans) pay less for gas than most post industrial countries, and we still cry. (Hell, I think we might even pay less than some countries that actually export crude?) Obviously, it is a commodity that still enjoys a large degree of elasticity. Will not the free market, we prize and proselytise about, correct itself? Will not the commodity reach the point of inelasticity and the market place demand for alternative sources brought online? Sink or swim for those oil and gas concerns: Interpret and meet the message being sent by the market place. Is this not the Republican way? Or is it a matter of, when the brunt of negative conditions is felt by the lower class: That’s life. But, when these conditions cause discomfort among the gated communities and suburban crowd; the government needs to step in. Guess we had better pray that our IOU’s remain in the good favour of the Asians, Arabs and Brits.

Posted by: Eisai at April 14, 2006 11:46 PM
Comment #140790

You want to raise taxes on energy? Unbelieveable. That’s my solution too.

Of course you realize your original post (dated April 13, 2006) doesn’t even contain the word tax…

I also advocate nuclear. There is nothing else that in the short or medium term can take up the slack.

The thing about keeping oil prices high is that, although nukes do become more economically attractive, so do a lot of other energy technologies which could feasibly take the place of oil with a little more development.

Nuclear power always has been and always will be dirty because of a little thing called half-life. You dig uranium out of the ground and process it, everything it touches after it leaves the dump truck is dirty. You put the fuel in the plant and it produces electricity for a while. The spent fuel is dirty. Finally the plant gets too old to economically maintain and it has to be decomissioned. Most eveything in it is dirty.

And when say dirty, I don’t mean dirty like dirt, I mean dirty like radioactive. And because of half-life, it often stays that way for hundreds or thousands of years, capable of causing cancer. Maybe if we had a sure-fire cure for cancer it wouldn’t be as bad. I know, I know - you’re a conservative; nothing causes cancer, it just happens, right?

So you want to use the cheap energy out of those things then hand the waste off to my kids to deal with. That is really selfish.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 14, 2006 11:50 PM
Comment #140792

It just occurred to me why a free marketer like yourself would be in favor of raising taxes on energy and advocating nuclear to replace oil: we’ll have so many more cases of cancer due to the nuclear waste produced that there will finally be enough of an economic incentive for someone to discover a cure for cancer caused by radioactivity, that could be sold at premium prices to those who can afford insurance thereby solving the budget deficit from tax revenue generated. Brilliant!

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 14, 2006 11:57 PM
Comment #140797

Wana

Read my post in the link from January 11. The title is “raise taxes”. Taxes are a tool. A dangerous tool that is easily abused, but it must be done sometimes.

All forms of energy are dangeous. I would like to develop alternatives. A higher price will do that. (You really should read the original Jan article.) But we are currently looking at the trade off of global warming versus nuclear, which in all its history in America has been a safe and clean form of energy.

If your solution is some alternative that we don’t have that will solve our troubles, tell me more about it. I have looked into it and still not found one that delivers energy inexpensively and cleanly over a large enough scale.

You can’t reject all the solutions to the problem and still claim you want a solution.

Don’t give that pass off to your kids crap either. I have three kids. I want to pass them a good world in real world, not the vague promise of something they cannot get.

Posted by: Jack at April 15, 2006 12:09 AM
Comment #140866
Read my post in the link from January 11(You really should read the original Jan article.)
I did. What’s your point? I’m in favor of alternatives too, just not nuclear. No other form of energy (hydrocarbons, solar, wind, hydro, steam, etc. etc.) is nearly as dangerous as nuclear. None of them. And conservation, contrary to your opinion, can make a huge difference if there is an economic incentive to conserve.
You can’t reject all the solutions to the problem and still claim you want a solution.

Show me where I rejected “all the solutions…” I rejected your selfish, arrogant proposal to use nuclear to replace oil, that’s it. It looks like we agree about taxing energy use.

I want to pass them a good world in real world, not the vague promise of something they cannot get.

Then what you call a good world includes widespread disease and death due to huge amounts of nuclear waste we cannot economically deal with now. See, this is why nuclear is not economically viable: if you include the massive costs of dealing with nuclear waste, it costs more and takes more energy to use nukes than they produce - the net energy production is negative. If you decide up front you’re just going to sling the waste hither and yon, let the chips fall where they may, then nuclear is economically viable, but then your kids and my kids get to clean up the mess caused by our cheap energy production. You can’t have it both ways.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 15, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #140872

Interesting article:

http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article357783.ece

The Brits are hoping to set the example for the rest of the world. It’s a nice attitude, but hopeless. A lot of the pollutants causing Global Warming come from the US, China, India, and Australia. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal. China also plans to rely heavily upon coal for its economic growth.

The Bush administration is in the pocket of energy companies, just as the Australian government is in the pocket of Big Coal. Tough luck for the rest of us. The Bush administration will do everything in its power to avoid action addressing Global Warming.

If we got on it right now, despite Bush, atmospheric C02 would hit 550 ppm and maybe, maybe, level out there, resulting in an increase of a little over 5 degrees fahrenheit by 2100. It would be disastrous.

That’s the best case scenario. Maybe we can institute a crash R & D program once Bush is gone, and find new technologies, some innovations not even currently on the radar.

Hybrid cars and versions of that scenario would help. Replacing coal with other methods of generation would be huge.

Nuclear power plants? Currently it takes roughly 10 years to prepare, & 5 years to build.

I don’t see anyway around all this. It will take a horrendous climate related disaster to spur us to save ourselves, something unmistakeable and awful.

That’s really sad, and I don’t like putting such gloomy pessimism into writing, but it’s an honest, & I believe realistic, assessment.

Posted by: phx8 at April 15, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #140884

Wanna_be_jack,

As a former physics major, I’d like to hear you defend your statement that nuclear energy is more dangerous than any other form of energy. It’s news to us here in the real world of non-hysteria. How many people has nuclear energy killed?


You say net energy output is negative. If we’re talking fusion I’d agree, fission I’d have to greatly disagree. The numbers you tout just don’t add up.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 15, 2006 3:29 PM
Comment #140888

the new ap 6000 and 1000 reactors, have received final design approval from the N.R.C. after 6 years of reviews, the ap 6000 is the most thoroughly reviewed plant in N.R.C. history .due to the modular design of it, most of it is factory made and shiped to the site complete ready to install and could be prepared and built in 7 years. on line in 8 years.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 15, 2006 3:50 PM
Comment #140893

Phx8

Higher prices are the only thing that will encourage conservation in the short run(and long run for that matter).

BUt you need to pick up both ends of the stick. What do higher prices do? They make people use less. ALL people, not just the rich or the Republicans. I still get the feeling that you think there is a painless way to do this. If you want to cut carbon you WILL lower the living standards of everyone. If we are lucky, maybe we can produce enough economic growth to offset some.

If you take nuclear out of the equation, you can’t do anything. Even in the U.S. nuclear energy is 20% of electicity. Replace that with what? The big alternative to nuclear is coal. After that oil shale.

Wana
The same goes for you. YOu get to choose between the CO2 and the nuclear power. If you work it right, we can go into somee alternatives, but not soon.

Look up the numbers on energy growth. Driving less and taking the bus won’t do it. Hybrids won’t do it.

I know this must be uncomfortable to you guys who like to have the high moral ground, but you have lost it when you start getting into fantasy solutions. Even if you click your heels three times, you still need energy to get you back to Kansas.

Posted by: Jack at April 15, 2006 4:11 PM
Comment #140894

Rodney,
Permits and red tape would cause deployment to take more than eight years. Few people would want plants in their back yard, and the waste problem remains. It will take agreement and even popular demand on a national to do it. The length of the approval process could be cut dramatically, but again, the public would have to be strongly behind the program.

Until something castrophic happens, people will refuse to recognize the need. It’s all too abstract, and climate change can happen too slowly to be perceived. Doing anything about it could be expensive. Meanwhile, the most profitable corporation in the world, Exxon, finances opposition to recognition of Global Warming.

While climate models developed in Britain, the Lawrence Livermore labs, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany might give us pause, it only takes one Exxon lackey like Steve Milloy to muddy the water by suggesting the Hadley climate model and the climate models from the Lawrence Livermore Labs & the Max Planck Institute are ‘junk science.’

Posted by: phx8 at April 15, 2006 4:12 PM
Comment #140905

Correction:
In an earlier thread I mentioned the “Montreal Accords.” They’re known as the “Montreal Protocol” for addressing CFC’s.


And, “changes happen too slowly to be perceived” until something terrible happens. For example, someday Katrina might be looked back upon as a clear sign of Global Warming. Yet, given the background noise, and the accepted story line that this is just of consequence of natural cycles, it might take some time for the perception to be widely accepted.

Jack,
You write:
“I still get the feeling that you think there is a painless way to do this.”

No, I don’t think that way. What I’ve been reading and what you’ve been writing have convinced me, replacing coal with nuclear is preferable. It’s not because I believe nuclear is a great choice. It’s because I believe it’s the best choice available for power generation, and we must choose, and soon.

My fear is that, if we wait for market forces, making the change will not be painless, but just the opposite; if we fail to act collectively, through our government, recognition of the need to act by market forces will come too late; as a result, the delay will make changes excruciatinginly painful.

In 1989, 50 large corporations formed an industrial lobbying group, the Global Climate Coalition. Their purpose was “to cast doubt on the theory of global warming.” In 1997 DuPont left, followed by British Petroleum. Most corporations left, as Wikipedia puts it, “as part of their move to acknowledge global warming.” When Texaco departed the group in 2000, it disbanded, because only a few corporations remained, including:

Exxon, Mobil, and Chevron

These, Jack, are the market forces we must contend with if there’s any hope. These are among the most profitable companies in the world, in the history of the world, and they are financially committed to opposing any action. They are joined by other international corporations, particularly Australian coal producers, the largest exporters of coal in the world. (It’s called the Lavoissier Group. Someone linked one of their sceptics in the thread. Mission accomplished for Australian coal!). In the US, The Western Fuels Association represents US coal producers, and also opposes action.

In the election of 2000, the Democrat wrote a book entitled “Earth in the Balance.” The Republican represented Big Oil. As a result of that election, the issue of Global Warming will not be addressed by the US until at least 2009.

I really, really, really don’t like Bush.

Posted by: phx8 at April 15, 2006 4:58 PM
Comment #140907

Why does Jack like that word “hysterical” so much??? Is it the only way he can get attention??

Posted by: Lynne at April 15, 2006 5:14 PM
Comment #140915

Jack Mohammedoff:

How many people has nuclear energy killed?

You seem to have missed my point, creating the favorite rep/con debate tool: the strawman.

I made no claims about nuclear energy killing anyone. If nuclear energy became more prevalent than it now is, i.e. nukes were responsible for close the the same percentage of electricity generated in this country as say coal, there will be serious accidents which will result in release of radioactive material. I mean, obviously that has already happened, right? It was called Three Mile Island.

Here’s my point: compared to other forms of energy production, the results of a nuclear accident have far more serious impacts to surrounding areas than a corresponding non-nuclear energy production accident, not only in terms of the number and severity of casualties but also in the amount of time in which the affected area will be affected.

Name one other form of energy production in which mere exposure to the waste material exposes the workers to serious injury for 10s, hundreds or thousands of years… There isn’t one.

Here’s an example: earlier this year a hydro dam in southeast MO (google ameren tom sauk) supplying a 440MW power plant collapsed, flooding the area downstream, nearly killing a park ranger and his family. The apparent cause: some numbnuts with the energy company either did not receive or slept through an alarm telling him the impoundment was getting too full and he needed to manually release some water. Now a state park is destroyed and the power plant is out of operation for probably two years but that’s about it for the downside. The area is safely inhabitable. What do you think would have happened had it been a similar situation at a nuke plant?

Another example: in 1999 a Kansas City Power and Light 500MW plant blew up (google KCPL hawthorne) in a densely populated area. This plant is located about 30 miles north of where I live and I didn’t even know it happened until I read it in the paper the next day. We never lost power and I know for sure we didn’t have to evacuate. What do you think would have happened had it been a similar situation at a nuke plant? I wouldn’t be living where I live now, that’s for sure, IF I was still living.

The only reason nukes haven’t killed more than they have is because they contribute a relatively small percentage of the entire electricity production. I suspect that if somehow nukes had gained a larger market share before TMI and Chernobyl, we’d be having people die every year from accidents but people would get used to them like auto accidents.

You say net energy output is negative. If we’re talking fusion I’d agree, fission I’d have to greatly disagree. The numbers you tout just don’t add up.

Well I didn’t tout any numbers but then neither did you. How much do you think it costs to produce uranium pellets from ore? You seem to be the expert - I’m talking about getting the ore, refining it, producing the uranium metal and cladding it as needed - you tell me. Seems to me like really precise work that might be really expensive for the total cost of production. Then how much energy do you get out of that pellet you’ve spent all that money on? Oh, and don’t forget the cost to build the fuel production plant and the electricity production plant, with their expensive, complicated safety systems and backups, their sensors and backups, their pumps and backups. Oh, yeah, then what does it cost to deal with all the dirty waste water and maintenance materials? The protective suits and parts that have been irradiated? What about when the fuel gets crapped up with plutonium? What’s it cost to put that somewhere safe where it won’t get into the water supply AND some raghead nation won’t try to get hold of it to produce a dirty bomb. This is all what I mean by net energy negative - the propeller head proponents of nuclear power want us to believe the nuke power plants just sit there and produce electricity day in and day out with no cost and no waste. Its just not that way at all. They never own up to the front-end and back-end costs and unsolved problems that nukes entail.

Here’s what I don’t understand: you guys think nukes are such a great deal - why aren’t there more of them? I know, I know, you’re conservatives - you’re going to blame liberal commie treehuggers who stop the utilities from doing what they want by filing frivolous lawsuits that are found in their favor by liberal commie treehugging judges.

But here’s the thing I’ve noticed: utilities almost never lose in court when it comes to building necessary facilities which adhere to generally accepted safety practices and that includes nukes. If the utilities thought they were such a great deal, they would be clamoring to build them. I believe the reason they aren’t is simply because nukes are not the great deal they’re cracked up to be.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 15, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #140920

Jack:

Wana The same goes for you.

Who do you think you are? Jimmy Stewart?

YOu get to choose between the CO2 and the nuclear power.

All hail Jack, the god of energy. First Commandment: Thou shalt have no strange energy sources before nukes.

If you work it right, we can go into somee alternatives, but not soon.

I didn’t realize it was your decision to make, but OK. I guess we ignore those alternatives already successfully being used.

Look up the numbers on energy growth. Driving less and taking the bus won’t do it. Hybrids won’t do it.

Not at current prices, no. But if the tax you proposed in your original April 13 post (with which I wholeheartedly agree) were to be implemented, driving less and taking the bus will become attractive alternatives as will hybrids.

The reason growth in the use of energy is so high is because it is so cheap. Putting a big-a$$ tax on carbon-releasing energy will make it less cheap and will encourage both reduced growth and use of alternatives. For a so-called conservative you sure don’t seem to understand much about economics, do you?

I know this must be uncomfortable to you guys who like to have the high moral ground, but you have lost it when you start getting into fantasy solutions.

You don’t know jack, Jack. Safe, clean nuclear energy is the fantasy.

Solar power is no fantasy; hydro is no fantasy; Conservation is no fantasy; wind power is no fantasy.

Even if you click your heels three times, you still need energy to get you back to Kansas.

No, I can and often do walk or bicycle there. It’s less than a mile from here.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 15, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #140922

If there is global warming it’s not man made. people forget we have been through ice age we warmed back up and that was before the suv. Mount saint hellen puts out more pollution than all cars,trucks and suv’s ever on the planet. I remember about 30 years ago all the so called experts were saying we would be in another ice age about now. so i think this global warming is a way for the experts to cover there butts. Besides we have only went up one degree in onehundred years. which i think thats bull too. If you ice that is 50 degrees below zero so if it’s 45 degrees it’s not going to melt. They say the water will rise. well if the ice is in water and it melts the water will be the same level. to say that humans are the problem is crazy. We were made in Gods image were not God. Besides if you spend your hole life worring about somthing you can’t control you wast so much life for nothing. Remember the skys not falling.

Posted by: Thomas Reber at April 15, 2006 7:18 PM
Comment #140932

>>Besides if you spend your hole life worring about somthing you can’t control you wast so much life for nothing. Remember the skys not falling.

Posted by: Thomas Reber at April 15, 2006 07:18 PM

TR,

Actually posters here are talking about things that we can control, and if controlled will likely slow the warming trend.

I don’t believe it, but if there is a GOd in a place called Heaven, and he witnessed us pumping greenhouse gasses into His atmosphere and not trying to contain it, even though we believe it is harmful to us and our life…would He look upon us with favor?

Posted by: Marysdude at April 15, 2006 8:30 PM
Comment #140935

Thomas,

This is from the article I linked earlier in the thread:

“The world’s temperature is on course to rise by more than three degrees Centigrade despite efforts to combat global warming, Britain’s chief scientist has warned. Sir David King issued a stark wake-up call that climate change could cause devastating consequences…”

What does Sir David King have to gain by deceiving anyone?

Here is a headline from the NYT, 1977:

“Scientists Fear Heavy Use of Coal May Bring Adverse Shifts in Climate”

Naturally occurring periods of warming and cooling have happened. We agree on this. Changes happened for a variety of reasons; Malinkovitch cycles (changes in the shape of earth’s orbit, precession, tilt, also sunspot cycles and other solar cycles) come close to matching previous periods of warming and cooling.

Currently, those cycles place us in a period of slight cooling. Do you agree?

Changes in atmospheric concentrations of C02 can change temperature. Do you agree that C02 is a greenhouse gas? Do you agree that it can be accurately measured? Do you agree that measurements can be correlated with temperature?

Ice and sediment core drillings give a record of atmospheric C02 concentrations going back hundreds of thousands of years. These concentrations reflect the variations in earth’s climate. Low concentrations match ice ages, and high concentrations match warm periods.

We can measure the amount of C02 in the atmosphere. Do you agree?

The atmospheric concentration of C02 is @ 380,000 parts per million (ppm), and it is rising at the rate of 2.54 ppm per year. The current concentration is the highest in over 400,000 years, perhaps even in 20 million years.

Thomas, if you dispute anything I’ve said, let me know. If you agree, can I presume you are convinced that Global Warming is occurring?

Humanity is producing the C02. It’s measureable, and the rise in C02 matches the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. If you’re not sure humanity is the cause, let me know, and I’ll go into more detail.

Water levels will rise for two reasons: 1) as the water heats up, the water itself expands. This will cause a rise of 3 feet. We’ll locked into this already. It cannot be avoided.

Ocean ice melts, but it’s not the melted ice itself that causes a rise in sea level; the ice has a high albedo- it reflects sunlight- while open ocean has a low albedo- it absorbs the heat. In addition, ice on land, such as in Greenland & the Antarctic, is is going to make sea levels rise if it melts.

What should we do about Global Warming? First, recognize the problem. Second, consider alternatives to stop making it worse. This includes conservation, alternative energy, nuclear power, and so on. Why care? It’s a matter of shared responsibility. Regardless of politics, we all have this in common; we share the environment.

Posted by: phx8 at April 15, 2006 9:30 PM
Comment #140947

THOSE WHO WANT GOVERNMENT TO TAKE THIS PROCESS OVER ESSENTIALLY WANT THE DECISIONS TO HAPPEN QUICKLY AND BE EASY.
Lets talk about government control for a moment. And think in terms of the relative safety of systems in two different kinds of worlds.

Three Mile Island released almost NO radiation. No one died. It CANNOT be argued that thyroid cancer rose as a result of the accident, at least not by people interested in facts. If you were a frequent commercial flyer who lived inside the fence at Three Mile Island in 1979-80 you would have received more radiation from SPACE than from normal operations and the venting of a small amount of secondary coolant steam that occurred in the accident. There was a leak of primary coolant, but it was kept inside the containment building.
Look also at recent mining accidents in the U.S. In two separate mining accidents fewer than sixteen men died and a considerable number of errors had to be made for those accidents to overcome standard safety procedures. That is the result of hard decision making processes working in a situation in which a conflict between government and the private marketplace mitigates the inherent corruptions of both types of organization. Those who argue for tight and total government control need look no further than Chenobyl to see the fruit of unbridled, total government control. See what the wisest of the wise do when people set their fate unquestioningly in the hands of government? There you get quick, easy decisions. There you also have real death, rampant cancer, loss of whole communities and the use of an entire region as an economic asset. The people become guinea pigs- little better than farm animals for the manipulation of the system.

Total authoritarian control of energy policy and environmental policy is a great idea- well, except for every country in which it has been tried. There, Russia, China, India, Europe it has been a disaster. Governments have a vital role to fill in maintaining the transparency and honesty of free markets. There must be a vital competition, even open conflict, between the marketplace and governmental entities. The nightmare scenario is that government becomes the marketplace, both of products and ideas. Then, with no one to enforce transparency and nothing but budgeting artifice to establish efficiency and fiscal discipline, human corruption reigns supreme.

Only a blithering fool believes the people in government are better people than those in private industry. Today many such fools would hand the most critical decisions in their world to one set of unsupervised people just because they are frustrated at the rate of change in a world where decisions are hard.

For my part I want to continue to live in a world where decisions are hard and sixteen miners dying in two months is big news, rather than the authoritarian world of a place like China where decisions are easy and sixteen miners die EVERY DAY.

Lee Jamison

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 15, 2006 10:26 PM
Comment #140948

Wana

Three Mile Island - the worst nuclear accident in American history - almost killed the nuclear industry but it didn’t hurt any human seriously.

Each year, coal kills hundreds. So does oil. People even complain that wind mills kill bats and rare birds. All energy generation has troubles. Nuclear is among the least trouble.

The solar and hydro work, but they don’t and won’t for a long time supply sufficient cheap energy. I have looked into solar. Even in the sunny place I live, it would cost more than $50,000 to install solar for my house. I don’t know how long that would last, but we have ice storms and wind storms etc. And I would have to have backup anyway. And I could heat with wood, because I have a lot of wood, but wood makes a lot of smoke and most people cannot get it free. And if all this works out, we are still talking only about my house. What about industries, offices etc.

Environmentalists are divided on hydro. Talk to some of them in Washington State. Mention that salmon.

Phx8

Price is the fastest way. You can blame industry for trying to discredit global warming, but the bottom line is that it is politically almost impossible to get raise prices or limit access to cheap fuel.

You must also remember the good old days of Clinton when gas sold for less than $1 a gallon. Did Clinton do anything more than Bush to encourage cuts in CO2? Besides the talk. Nobody does nothin’ but talk.

You probably know that since 1997 (Kyoto) the U.S. CO2 use has risen by 4.7%. The EU has gone up by 5.3%. I figure that extra .6% is hot air from all the talk.

I don’t think we will do much until it becomes a crisis. It is like Social Security. We can all see the diaster on the way, but nobody wants to take the steps really needed to avoid it.

Posted by: Jack at April 15, 2006 10:29 PM
Comment #140951

phx8 ok we get away from dino fuel, say in 15 years what would be the outcome while china ,india, and everyone else keeps pumping it in the air in horrendous amounts? how do we get them on board?

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 15, 2006 10:41 PM
Comment #140952

Jack:

Three Mile Island - the worst nuclear accident in American history - almost killed the nuclear industry but it didn’t hurt any human seriously.

Good example to support my point - is TMI inhabitable or in any way usable to this day, 27 years later? Nope:

Current Status

Today, the TMI-2 reactor is permanently shut down and defueled, with the reactor coolant system drained, the radioactive water decontaminated and evaporated, radioactive waste shipped off-site to an appropropriate disposal site, reactor fuel and core debris shipped off-site to a Department of Energy facility, and the remainder of the site being monitored. The owner says it will keep the facility in long-term, monitored storage until the operating license for the TMI-1 plant expires at which time both plants will be decommissioned.

Had it been any other kind of energy generation plant, none of the very expensive recovery operations would have been required. People would not have had to be evacuated for miles around. And, yes, even though you would have everyone believe that no one’s health was harmed by the incident, there is a lot of documentation that says otherwise.

But don’t take my word for it, google three mile island.

Nuclear is among the least trouble.

Wrong once again. In fact, nuclear is among the most troublesome.

Again, all your comments are based on things as they are now, without the tax you originally proposed, remember? With that tax in place, suddenly a lot of stuff that looked pretty lame with cheap oil and gas suddenly looks promising enough for some serious money to be spent on development.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 15, 2006 10:54 PM
Comment #140953

phx8 and Jack,

For the markets to be clear we must be clear on costs. Costs will make the difference. Oil is subsidized by huge military expenses that go to maintain the “free flow of oil at market prices”. That is a legitmate cost we pay elsewere, off the “books”, as it were, so it can’t properly affect our economic decisions in what energy sources to use.
Other costs for global warming abound, but cooling would be no picnic either. (According to the cycle of warming and cooling mentioned above we should be entering an ice age now. That would have the effect of lowering sea levels by about sixty feet in the course of a century or so. Ice ages are also substantially drier than our comfortable interglacial has been.)
We need to enforce a greater transparency on these costs and associate them with the activities that cause them. Then the markets can work for us in a way that corrupt human decision making processes can’t.
Lee

Posted by: Lee Jamison at April 15, 2006 10:56 PM
Comment #140954

solar was the hype in the late 1970s and early 1980s it was mostly for hot water my friends dad spend $15,000 for hot water solar,in 1979 he braged about how he could make 300 gallons of hot water a day. my friend said dad why now with just you and mom at home? why didint you do it when the nine kids were at home ! a hell of a lot of people were ripped off back then on solar and it did not last the panels would burn out in ten years.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 15, 2006 10:59 PM
Comment #140960

wanna-be-jack,

I didn’t use numbers because you provided none in your analysis.

56 people died at Chernobyl.

There are still nuclear plants operating at Chernobyl.

There are 440 Nuclear plants worldwide. Nuclear Energy costs about the same as coal/kilowatthour. Nuclear power has been produced for aproximately 50 years. Will that vary? yes. But so would the cost of using coal or gas.

The number of people that have died producing fossil fuel power is a number I do not know, but presume it to be larger than 56 for the last 50 years.

Long term storage (cost included in numbers above) is feasible although not well developed. If uranium comes from the ground, why do you fear spent fuel being placed back in the ground?

The point I was making is that nuclear energy is a KNOWN and SAFE technology. I have no problem with seeking other means of energy production. Reality however requires pratical solutions.

You have promulgated a lot of boogeyman theories that just don’t meet up with reality. As someone who has studied and worked with radioactive materials, I undersand the general population’s hysterical fears.

As I point out to many who do not understand the issue, you encounter radiation every day in your life. It’s produced by the computer you are using, the TV, your microwave, your cell phone. If you stand outside you are bombarded with gamma radiation, some of the highest energy there is. As I said earlier some areas of the country eminate radiation from the ground. You just aren’t always aware of it. Whenever anyone measures radiation they have to account for background radiation.

The biological efects of radiation are much better understood than in the times of Madam Curie or even in the fifties

Fossil fuels poison the enviroment in a number of ways that is also permanent.

Please stop spreading myths about the boogeymen in your closet. Oh, by the way, I’m not really a conservative at all. I hate Bush, I hate the Repulican party. I think we need to socialize medicine. How’s that for conservative?

The initial costs of reenergizing nuclear power production will be higher and will drop as more plants are built.

A couple of links if you want info.


chernobyl

Cost Comparison

Nuclear Power Education

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 15, 2006 11:20 PM
Comment #140969

Lee,

I agree that the probability is low that thyroid cancers increased due to TMI. I do not entirely believe that issue is entirely settled with other cancers or even the Thyroid cancer completely.

My father instrumented nuclear test sites in the fifties and sixties. The people he worked with all died young. Several of thyroid cancers and other health issues. I take radiation exposure seriously. Long term consequences are serious and insidious.

You are correct to compare other industrial accident rates to nuclear power. Most are much, much higher.I work in civil engineering and am on construction sites daily. Everyone there knows that construction is one of the deadliest jobs you can have.

I agree that hysteria drives the nuclear scare talk.

I disagree with your analysis that industy does a better job of safety than government can. What allows Authoritarian agencies to perform worse is secrecy and lack of consequence, not that they are publicly run. To compare China or Soviet safety with U S safety agencies is absurd.

Having worked for both the public and private sectors, I recognize that often industry is conflicted between profit and safety. Given no other forces, safety often looses. The 16 miners died because of weak government oversight, and corporate indfference. I don’t want industry running safety alone in the nuclear industry.

It appears your premise is no energy policy at all is best. That doesn’t make much sense to me. All or nothing thinking gets us nowhere.

TMI

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 16, 2006 12:11 AM
Comment #141037

A founder of Greenpeace has written a pro nuclear power piece in the Washington Post. To those environmentalists who fought nuclear power and now are seeing the light, I say, welcome back to the fight. This time I know our side will win.

Posted by: Jack at April 16, 2006 12:03 PM
Comment #141057

Jack Mohammedoff:

I agree that hysteria drives the nuclear scare talk.

You love that word, don’t you? Why is that? Maybe because it is dismissive and demeaning, lowering the level of discourse to name-calling. Good job. Maybe next Lent, if you observe Lent, you could swear off using the word hysteria to shut down discussion of serious topics.

Funny how no one other than you has used the word in this discussion, in two of your posts, yet you “agree” with someone else who didn’t even use the word to describe the situation? What’s up with that? Are you posting under two different names?

As I point out to many who do not understand the issue, you encounter radiation every day in your life.

OK, in the first place I do understand the issue, evidently better than you. In the second place, am quite aware that there is radiation all around us. You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.

It’s produced by the computer you are using, the TV, your microwave, your cell phone.

You, of course patronize me by trying to imply the the radiation that would be and has been released in a reactor accident is in any way comparable to the much weaker, less penetrating, less permanent , altogether less dangerous radiation examples that you give. Tell me, what are the dose measurements of exposure to those sources compared to what was released at TMI and Chernobyl?

If you stand outside you are bombarded with gamma radiation, some of the highest energy there is.

Of course, you fail to mention that the gammas are attentuated by passing through the atmosphere. Once they reach earth they are relatively weak compared to direct exposure to gammas emitted by fission products.

As I said earlier some areas of the country eminate radiation from the ground. You just aren’t always aware of it.

I’m well aware of this too. We tested for radiation from radon before we bought our house. Fortunately, it did not exceed a threshold requiring mitigation.

Whenever anyone measures radiation they have to account for background radiation.

Duh. You tell me all this, but what does it have to do with the danger posed by a nuclear accident? Not one da-n thing, is what.

If uranium comes from the ground, why do you fear spent fuel being placed back in the ground?

What do you know about the poisonous nature of plutonium, which is one of the waste products of the fuel cycle? Nothing, apparently.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 16, 2006 2:20 PM
Comment #141065

Wana

Jack M is not the person who likes the word hysteria. That would probably be me, who thinks it applies well to most liberal. Don’t blame the wrong jack.

Of course Jack M makes some good points in this case. I often disagree with him in othere.

Read the Greenpeace guy from the Post in the link above. He addresses all of your concerns. Read the part about wastes, for example.

You are arguing the past. The future is what counts. Don’t be afraid of new things.

Posted by: Jack at April 16, 2006 2:50 PM
Comment #141084

Jack,
The link you mentioned earlier is a bit embarrassing. The author, Patrick Moore, may have once been a member of Greenpeace. But for quite some time he has worked as a consultant for various industries, including mining, logging, and energy, and now seems to be in the business of doing PR for nuclear power.

“So the question becomes this, and perhaps the much-put-upon Washington Post ombudsman might want to take a crack at this one, too. To what extent are op-eds bought and paid for by the industries funding the editorialists in question?

We all know the answer to that, of course. It’s common practice, and even national papers like WaPo are either unable to identify the connections between the “think tanks” and “experts” and the industry checks that get written to them — or simply don’t care.”

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/4/16/183226/505

You can’t be too careful about sources like the Washington Times or, yes, even the Washington Post. We’re slipping farther and farther into a time when newspapers and tv no longer even pretend to present an ‘objective’ or even ‘fair’ reporting of the news.

Posted by: phx8 at April 16, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #141110

ken about oil shale, at one time they said oil would have to be $35-$40 a barrel to make oil shale profitable! if shale was the only game around we would be the kingpins! the u.s. has about 70 to 75 percent of the worlds reserves. remember the 1970s shale was the answer to the mideast oil fiasco! but the oil valves were opened again.the downside of oil shale is how do we get it from the ground? no1. we can mine it like coal thats messy and dangerous and ruins the landscape. no2. a process called in-situ where they find a big pocket of it bore holes in the ground and heat it up to melt it then they can pump it up, that also very messy the goo can leach in to the water table.and giant sinkholes can occur. they also lose 1 barrel for every 3 gained thats not good, also the current extraction methods produce 4 times as much green house gas as does conventional oil. and the idea is to get away from the oil in the first place! we just would be compounding the problem even more with shale right now. i know it is sad that we have something like 1.3 trillion barrels of oil shale in this country. it is a bitter pill to swallow.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 16, 2006 9:35 PM
Comment #141118

wanna- be- jack

I use hysteria to describe what fits irrational fear.

Again, I ask you where are the bodies dying from nuclear power? Where do they hide the secret stats?
I apologize if informing you about radiation was demeaning. It wasn’t meant to. But to listen to you rant about the death and destruction leads me to believe you have an irrational fear of radiation. You aren’t the first I’ve met who does.

My point is that radiation IS a part of nature. Without fission and fusion humanity would not exist. Yet you create these boogey men about costs and death that aren’t supported by fact. (I’ve used boogey a lot, too)

Yes, inside the core of a reactor is a dangerous place to be. So is a gas turbine and a coal incinerator.

Where is all the contamination from nuclear plant fuels that have been running for 50 years? Why do you think plutonium is impossible to contain? My father grew castor beans in the back yard. Me and my sister weren’t the victims of Ricin poisoning, not that I’m comparing plutonium to Ricin. The world is a dangerous place. Even if you stay in bed all day.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 16, 2006 10:26 PM
Comment #141141
I use hysteria to describe what fits irrational fear.

Well now isn’t that interesting. You call it an irrational fear for someone (who knows first-hand that systems often fail catastrophically in unexpected ways) to be concerned that power generation systems using inherently hazardous materials as a fuel have the potential to cause widespread death and destruction unlike other power generation systems…

I would think you would consider that a rational fear, not an irrational fear. Not to mention the fact that if you look at the definition for hysterical, it makes no mention of irrationality, at least in my dictionary.

I think if you were honest, you (and the other Jack) would admit you like to use hysteria for the connotation of the Latin hystericus and Greek husterikos, suffering in the womb: by inference you accuse your opponent of being controlled by their female reproductive organs. Why don’t you just come out and say that instead of implying a sort of mental illness in your opponent?

Again, I ask you where are the bodies dying from nuclear power?

Do you even read my posts? Again, I tell you (blockquoting my previous post)

Here’s my point: compared to other forms of energy production, the results of a nuclear accident have far more serious impacts to surrounding areas than a corresponding non-nuclear energy production accident, not only in terms of the number and severity of casualties but also in the amount of time in which the affected area will be affected.

How many times do I need to assert that the number of deaths caused by nuclear power to date is entirely beside my point?

Back to your post:

I apologize if informing you about radiation was demeaning.

No, your informing me about radiation was patronizing (i.e condescending); nevertheless, apology accepted. You still haven’t answered my question (blockquoting my post again)

Tell me, what are the dose measurements of exposure to those sources [microwave, cell phone, computer] compared to what was released at TMI and Chernobyl?

Weren’t the doses received by those attempting to mitigate those disasters (including post-event) several orders of magnitude higher than the dose one typically receives from background? See, if you know so much about this stuff, you need to be addressing questions like this, not waving red herrings about me being irradiated by my microwave. Give me a break.

Yes, inside the core of a reactor is a dangerous place to be. So is a gas turbine and a coal incinerator.

Agreed. But, again, my point is that if something goes very wrong in a gas turbine or coal incinerator, people miles away from the accident site aren’t evacuated (such as at TMI) or irradiated (such as at Chernobyl), right? Going back to my examples, which (of course) you never addressed, of the hydro dam failure and the coal power plant blowing up - what do you think would have happened if those same sort of failures had occurred in a nuclear plant? Don’t say that sort of failure could not happen in a nuclear plant because you know it can. It has already been proved that system failures can and do occur, and that when they do occur, they happen in the most unexpected ways and with the most unexpected results.

Where is all the contamination from nuclear plant fuels that have been running for 50 years?

The fuel production plants in Washington state and Tennesee are well known for being heavily contaminated, including the groundwater systems surrounding them. As for the spent fuel and contaminated waste, ever hear of a place called Yucca Mountain? I’m sure you have. Ever give any thought as to why it’s so controversial? Here’s something I shamelessly copy/pasted from the wikipedia entry:

The report concluded that the science used to determine the ranges of rainfall seepage into Yucca Mountain mirrored that of similar water studies by other scientists in the region. Water at the site eventually could corrode the waste canisters and potentially spread radiation to sources of drinking water, critics say. Nevada Nuclear Projects Agency chief Bob Loux questioned the credibility of an internal report. “The science itself has always been questioned.”

The simple fact is that they want to move all the nation’s atomic waste from scattered sites around the country to a central site because they aren’t secure and they aren’t protected against natural disasters.

Why do you think plutonium is impossible to contain? My father grew castor beans in the back yard. Me and my sister weren’t the victims of Ricin poisoning, not that I’m comparing plutonium to Ricin. The world is a dangerous place. Even if you stay in bed all day.

I guess you were trying to be humorous here, so I’ll be careful responding. I don’t think plutonium is impossible to contain nor did I ever say or imply such a thing. There’s no question in my mind it is possible to contain plutonium as well as other radioactive fission product. What I question is the committment of both the industry and the government to doing what is necessary to ensure that it is done right.

For what I hope is the last time, I do not fear radiation but I do fear the results of the inevitable release of radioactive material should nukes become as widespread as coal plants. If you want to call me hysterical for that, however you define the word, go ahead. It belittles you, not me.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 17, 2006 12:06 AM
Comment #141146
Jack M is not the person who likes the word hysteria.

Actually, he has used it twice in this discussion. He may not love it as much as you do, but he sure does love it. You can reference my previous response to him about this.

That would probably be me, who thinks it applies well to most liberal. Don’t blame the wrong jack.

I’m not blaming the wrong Jack, Jack. I quoted Jack Mohammedoff using the word twice, while you used it once in the title of this discussion.

So in other words, anything that doesn’t assume the market knows best is hysterical to you, right? If not, what’s your definition of liberal?

Of course Jack M makes some good points in this case.

I noticed you didn’t give an example of one.

Read the Greenpeace guy from the Post in the link above. He addresses all of your concerns. Read the part about wastes, for example.

Here’s the thing about that: when someone whose whole life is devoted to concept “X” then all of a sudden, they’re going around saying “not X”, first I have to hear how it could be he was so wrong in the first place and how, if he was so wrong in the first place, he’s not wrong now. He addresses none of my concerns and I suspect, like phx8, that he’s bought and paid for.

You are arguing the past. The future is what counts. Don’t be afraid of new things.

Since Chernobyl happened 20 years ago and TMI happened 27 years ago, these are hardly new things, right? I mean, the technology is basically where it was in 1979, what’s new about that? Ever hear the aphorism (possibly paraphrasing) “He who forgets the past is condemned to repeat it”? Are you sure you’re really a conservative, I mean, in favor of taxing energy and saying things like “new things are good”?

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 17, 2006 12:29 AM
Comment #141147

here in riverside ca. we had a luxury for many years our city owned its electric utilities and we were not connected with the dreaded edison co of southern ca .70%of the electric came from hoover dam hydro clean power! and the rest came from san onofre nuclear power.more clean power! in 1979 the population of riverside was about 125,000 people the experts said then that with projected growth we would have enough capicity for 40 years wrong! in 2000 we started with the brownouts there answer they installed 5 centralized gas turbines that burn natural gas to produce electric. each unit has a giant 30 inch natural gas main pipe to it. there made in germany and installed by the germans. at $millions a unit. i dont know how many millions of cubic feet of natural gas they burn but the gas company sure is happy.and also how many tons of co2 have been put in the air?we were green before. and the kicker these giant gas sucking hogs have only a 28% thermol efficiency .72% goes out the exhaust pipe! as if we did not have enough smog already .this is just plan assed stupid .

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 17, 2006 12:30 AM
Comment #141178

Wana

I just didn’t want poor Jack M to get blamed for what I did.

He seems to understand the nuclear issue better than I do from the technical point of view. I have read from several posters and articles that nuclear technology has progressed since Three Mile Island. Chernobyl was a completely different design and run by Soviets, so we cannot compare that to anything in our country,

Re conservatives - we have been the party of ideas, new ideas, since the 1970s. The use of market mechanisms to improve society and decision-making has been the great innovation of the past decades. I am not talking, BTW, about party in this case. Democrats also have used these things. Robert Rubin was (is?) a master of the conditional probability and the wisdom of market forces. We also decisively won the welfare argument. With the success of welfare reform, old liberal like Teddy Kennedy were left sputtering.

Liberal thought has been stuck in the 1960s. Ironically, liberals are the ones fighting the rear guard actions against change. Liberals have not had an intellectually innovative politician since the passing of Daniel Moynihan, and he was tacking toward market forces himself. The most innovative and idea rich politician of the last Decade was Newt Gingridge.

So leave the past behind, son. The 1960s are over. The revolution is over and our side won. We eagarly await new liberal ideas, but are not execting too much.

Posted by: Jack at April 17, 2006 9:24 AM
Comment #141219

Wanna_be_jack,

I appreciate this debate.

The problem I have with your position is that you say that a catastrophy could happen. Granted. That is true of many things.

The Sun could become a Supenova (not really) and we’d all be dead. Or another popular boogeyman ( see, I REALLY like that word) is that an asteroid could destroy the world.

But probabilities are the thing that drive non-hysterical analysis.(OOps, there I go again)
A Nuclear Plant is not a bomb. The likelyhood of one or many of them “blowing up” is quite small. The damage, while large, is not world ending.

Yet you choose to ignore the damage being done by fossil fuels. Rather than argue the points of Mr. Moore’s factual and reasonable approach you attack his source of funding. I think maybe he just grew up.

Thank you for acknowledging that nuclear waste is a manageable problem.

You may not like my wording, but I ask you to dispute facts rather than style.

Nuclear Energy, relatively speaking, is clean and safe.

Jack,Puuuleeessse.

Being a liberal(on some issues) does not align me with Ted Kennedy (unless I agree with him) any more than being a conservative ties you to Jack Abramoff. The notion that your still fighting the 60’s is telling. Clear out those cobwebs.

BTW I loved the no nukes concert that James Taylor ,et al. performed. And building a nuke near active faults IS really, really stupid.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 17, 2006 2:06 PM
Comment #141260

Jack M

I was answering Wana, not actually talking about you. I would not want to be associated with Teddy either.

Abramoff wouldn’t cut me in on any of the profits, so I have no association.

Posted by: Jack at April 17, 2006 5:45 PM
Comment #141331

jack m. since san onofre is close to a fault line your point is well taken. built in 1968 i believe. yes reagan was governor another point well taken . its been in use for almost forty years and supplies 12 million people. and its lifespan is just about used up no1 was closed years ago the other reactors have about five years at best. i am open to any of your ideas because after it closes they will need another 200 giant natural gas sucking hogs or centralized gas turbines and that is even more stupid think of all of co2 they will put in the air how much co2 did san onofre spew out btw we have had some big shakers in the last forty years and the kind of quake your talking about who cares were all dead in southern cal. btw i like mr taylor also but his music does not supply the kind of power we really need!

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 17, 2006 9:52 PM
Comment #141372

Rodney, I work in the geotechnical engineering field and realize that many structures can be built to withstand earthquakes. That technology has developed greatly since 1968. I work in Texas and am not familiar with California or earthquake design very much at all. I do not know the parameters of Onofre, either.

I just liked the concert, and do think that design and construction of reactors should be very public and heavily regulated. I remember stories of inspectors being intimidated by Brown and Root (now KBR, a division of ewww Haliburton) workers at the South Texas facility here.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 18, 2006 2:24 AM
Comment #141563

I have nothing more to say on this subject. You guys are comletely unpersuadeable.

Posted by: wanna_be_jack at April 18, 2006 8:46 PM
Comment #141607

Ha! I read that, too. Quite a gap in the numbers. Thanks again, for the debate.

Posted by: Jack Mohammedoff at April 19, 2006 12:48 AM
Comment #142051

wanna you are using chernobyl as a reason for no nuclear power in the u.s.? did you know the soviets never built containment buildings around there reactors? did you know there piece of crap rbmk reactor was a ticking time bomb? get on the web and read about chernobyl and the rbmk reactor for yourself. come to think of it did the soviets fly a space shuttle?. did the soviets land on the moon? our reactors have containment buildings that are 15 ft thick at the bottom. 12 ft thick at the base and the walls are 4 to 5 ft thick .also our reactors are encased in 2 to 3 ft of solid steel. the soviets set there rbmk reactor on a slab and left the rest exposed to the elements. thats what 70 years of there twisted ideology made them believe they were invincible a tragic error on there part.

Posted by: RODNEY BROWN at April 20, 2006 11:59 PM
Post a comment