Greenjacked! The derailing of environmental action on climate change

Regular BNC commenter and my friend Geoff Russell (@csiroperfidy) has published a new book. It’s called “Greenjacked!: The derailing of environmental action on climate change“. The blurb:

Today’s anti-nuclear movement began as the anti-atomic weapons movement in the late 1950s. At this time, DNA repair mechanisms were unknown and there was only one known cause of cancer … radiation. Then, during the next half century, DNA repair mechanisms of immense power were discovered along with many more causes of cancer. We now know radiation is a minor player compared to cigarettes, alcohol, red meat, processed meat and obesity; to name a few. We now know why Japanese people moving permanently from Tokyo to either Paris, New York or Sydney would experience a much bigger rise in cancer risk than if they moved into the area currently evacuated around the Fukushima reactors.

Nevertheless, despite growing and increasingly sophisticated knowledge about cancer causes, the anti-nuclear movement kept nuclear power hamstrung using obsolete notions of the risks posed to DNA by radiation. This paved the way for our fossil fuelled world and kept our cleanest most potent energy source off the table as a response to climate change. GreenJacked explains, in lay language, the progress in our knowledge about cancer and shows that nuclear power is our best hope in the battle against a deteriorating climate and why we have to overturn long held but obsolete fears.

Nobel Prize winning biologist Peter Doherty has endorsed GreenJacked, along with climate scientists and activists. If you are an anti-nuclear environmentalist concerned about our planet, then you need to open your mind, prepare to be amazed and read this book.

You can buy it as a Kindle book (which is readable on Kindle devices, iPads, PCs, Android readers, etc. all with free software, so no excuses) and it less then the cost of a couple of cups of coffee. Get it! (Australians must buy it on the Amazon AU electronic store, here).

I have to say, Geoff has come a long way on the issue of sustainable nuclear energy since I first persuaded him to look at the issue seriously back in 2009! The next post on BNC is a new critique by Geoff of a recent Catalyst TV program on the Fukushima aftermath, so read on…

 

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22 Comments

  1. Australian’s can get GreenJacked! at either the US or the AU Amazon stores. If you login via the AU store, then fine. But you can switch back to the US store anytime (which is useful, because some publishers don’t make titles available on the AU store).

  2. Wow! When I saw the subject of the email I received about this book, I thought it might be about the way the large enviro not-for-profit corporations have bought into the capitalist paradigm (cap-and-trade, trade in pollution credits, support for fracking vs. coal (as if those are the only two options), and the like).

    So what we have here, apparently, is reminiscent of others who have fallen for and promoted the pro-nuclear power hype, projected as the solution to the planetary energy crisis (fossil fuels, coal, mountaintop removal) leading to climate catastrophe. The book appears to be reminiscent of British commentator George Monbiot’s and NASA scientist James Hansen’s short-sighted support for the nuclear power industry. Too bad.

    Nuclear power is an extremely dangerous and false “solution” to the very real planetary ecological crisis we’re facing. Just to keep the fuel rods from melting, millions of gallons of water must be used everyday per power plant! How is that eco-friendly? Plus all the other problems with storage of radioactive rods, and many other ecologically disastrous problems.

    Nuclear power is all about the concentration of energy production into the hands of a small consortium of powerful corporations.

    One answer is the development and application of decentralized, publicly owned and controlled solar, wind, tidal and geothermal power — as David & Peter Schwartzman’s “SolarUtopia.org” and Harvey Wasserman’s “Solartopia.org” advocate, among others — and not the extremely dangerous nuclear power whose radioactive emissions even when functioning normally — to say nothing of the emissions during catastrophic events like Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and others — are disastrous to human health and the surrounding environment.

    Mitchel Cohen
    Brooklyn Greens / Green Party

  3. @MitchelCohen: Have you got any points of substance you’d like me to respond to? I couldn’t help noticing the lack of facts in your comment.

    Personally, I’m not keen on power residing in the hands of a small number of multinationals, but if they get the job done, then I’d rather that than a whole lot of really nice people with terrific intentions but no serious expertise. In any event, solar isn’t a some touchy-feely cottage industry, it’s serious technology in the hands of relatively few multinationals … but it’s not very effective and it’s also far more environmentally destructive at utility scale (e.g., Ivanpah) than nuclear per GWh.

  4. Mitchel Cohen, another victim of purple prose, goes full scientific illiterate on us:

    just to keep the fuel rods from melting, millions of gallons of water must be used everyday per power plant! How is that eco-friendly?

    If you didn’t pump water through the towers at Ivanpah, the central collectors would melt within seconds.  That’s exactly the same problem, but you don’t get upset about it.  As in the nuclear plant, the water is required for the plant to carry out its purpose:  it transfers heat, to make steam, to run the turbines that generate electricity.  Without generating heat, the plant does nothing useful.

    One answer is the development and application of decentralized, publicly owned and controlled solar, wind, tidal and geothermal power

    Strange, is it not, that you ignore the publicly-owned nuclear fleet of France and its sterling performance in de-carbonizing the French grid (almost by accident, as this was a decade before Kyoto was even negotiated).  Instead, you propose a host of technologies that have not eliminated fossil fuels from any grid, anywhere (“green” Denmark burns an awful lot of coal).  You just assume against all evidence that your magic buzzwords, which are yet to be proven useful, will do the job.

    Or perhaps that’s not your goal.  Perhaps you just want to shut down Indian Point to increase the profits of the competition.  Tell us, Mr. Cohen, do you hold any stock in or options on Pennsylvania fracking operators or pipeline companies?

    as David & Peter Schwartzman’s “SolarUtopia.org” and Harvey Wasserman’s “Solartopia.org” advocate

    Oh, Harvey Wasserman.  He’s the nutcase who claimed that emptying the Fukushima fuel pools would end life on earth.  The #4 pool is almost empty.  I haven’t noticed that I’m dead yet, have you?  Maybe if Wasserman was dead, the amount of hysteria in the world would go down a notch.

    And speaking of hysteria:

    not the extremely dangerous nuclear power whose radioactive emissions even when functioning normally — to say nothing of the emissions during catastrophic events like Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and others — are disastrous to human health and the surrounding environment.

    Nuclear power, when functioning normally, emits less radioactive material than coal or even natural gas plants (which dump radon into the atmosphere).  Save the base-load technologies of hydro (scarce) and geothermal (scarcer), all the “renewables” require coal or gas as backup.  The climate consequences of even small amounts of fossil-fuel use will be devastating, the Aral Sea disaster multiplied a thousand-fold.  Chernobyl?  The whole area is habitable now.  Fukushima?  Not one area outside the town has radiation levels higher than the monazite sand beaches of Guarapari.  People have been going to those beaches for their health, for centuries.  If radiation was deadly, you’d think they would have noticed, wouldn’t you?

    The twin secrets to longevity are supposedly red wine and radiation.  I note that Passover wine is red wine.  I have to wonder if, in the privacy of your home, you are practicing what’s good for you rather than what makes good press.

  5. I (and a lot of others)believe that the UN standard for radiation is set at an artificially low figure in line with a “linear no threshold” base line. People in the Ramsar area of Iran live with 260mSv /pa and have been doing so for thousands of years. Folks come to the ‘BlueZone’ of Ikaria in Greece to drink and bathe in the radioactive hot springs and that goes back even earlier with more positive than negative benefits. The key work is ‘hormesis’ a word that Helen Caldicott doesn’t want to know about.

  6. Mr Cohen,

    You are a seriously disturbed person, with concepts widely displaced from reality. You mention emissions from Fukushima – well the Japanese people were participants in “…the most cynical experiment ever carried out in biology…”

    Listen to Melvyn Bragg introduce Hiroshima into his “In Our Time” broadcast – “Genetic Mutation” at 14:40. Then set your brain straight by listening to an impartial geneticist – Steve Jones – who will educate you about the outcome of this ‘cynical experiment’. He will then go on to warn you that you and yours should be far more concerned about what other carcinogenic substances might be in your local environment – some of them will undoubtedly be from forms of energy generation other than nuclear.

    :Listen and learn: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b008drvm

  7. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-are-the-most-dangerous-threats-to-air-quality/

    Suspended particulate matter is the worst threat to air quality and human health. Radioactivity outside the reactor is less than natural one and is not injurious to health.
    Windmills are huge bird killers and bad for environment. Some different technology, perhaps compressed air rather then conversion to electricity, has to be implemented.
    Solar PV panels are best used with storage as 12 or 24V systems, directly for most electronics and LED lighting.

  8. Windmills are huge bird killers

    Compared to domestic cats and window crashes they aren’t.

    and bad for environment.

    That’s false. Wind turbines are environmentally one of the most benign forms of energy production.

  9. It depends on location. Vast majority of wind turbines are not problematic, small minority does sometimes kill birds of prey and bats. But since this is not an existential threat and since there are much bigger problems that these birds face (such as habitat loss, hunting, climate change, pollution, disease) wind turbines are a non-issue.

  10. Yes habitat loss is a big problem. Since wind turbines disturb large areas per gwe they are making things worse. Even worse, because wind is unreliable the fossil “backup” (euphemism of the century) will continue to damage ecosystems via pollution and land use.

  11. “Windmills are huge bird killers” – Exactly the sort of thing you read on libertarian blogs decrying wind power. As if they really care about birds or the environment.
    Is the enemy of my enemy really my friend? Maybe not. Maybe they’re just as biased and unrigorous as the rest.

    “To most experts, though, there’s a problem with the bird-mortality argument: The vast majority of research shows that wind turbines kill relatively few birds, at least compared with other man-made structures. The statistics are shocking if you consider just how many people are crying out against wind power for the birds’ sake.”

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/wind-turbine-kill-birds.htm

    BNC MODERATOR
    Your comment has been edited to remove a remark about the motives of others. Please read BNC Comments Policy before posting again. Thankyou.

  12. Seamus, you are quite correct that the underlying reasons for wind opposition are political (be against everything your opponents are in favor of just to annoy them) and that direct bird kill numbers are ecologically perfectly acceptable (with some caveats for bats in senstive locations etc).

    But the main problem with wind still stands: it is a false solution. It only works in a largely fossil grid. So its unacceptable. Its a distraction, a lock in of natural gas and/or coal.

    We all need to realize that even with the best of the best of energy efficiency technology, we are rapidly headed towards a tripling of energy demand and then another tripling after that very likely. So even if we manage to halve our natural gas and coal consumption by adding wind and solar to grids plus some energy storage (very expensive and difficult solution) by the time we’re finished demand has tripled and we’re worse off in terms of total GhG emissions than what we started with!!!

    We need to think about decarbonizing to the extent of 97-98%. The time for 20% or 50% solutions is long past and we simply can’t afford to be bothered by such time and money consuming distractions.

  13. We have not even reached 20% of wind at global levels, so talking about 97-98% solution doesn’t make sense.

    Denmark is the only country in the world that needs some kind of storage. And they figured that they can just dump excess wind power into district heating system (offsetting gas) and reach 50% of wind by 2020 in a cost effective way.
    BNC MODERATOR
    Please check the Comments Policy. BNC is a science based blog and as such it is not acceptable to make statements without peer reviewed links to backup assertions. In future please supply such links. Thankyou.

  14. We have not even reached 20% of wind at global levels, so talking about 97-98% solution doesn’t make sense.”

    That kind of reasoning is completely flawed. Of course we haven’t reached 20% wind on global levels, because wind does not work on global levels. Its not an energy source with which you power the world, which is my point exactly.

    “Denmark is the only country in the world that needs some kind of storage. And they figured that they can just dump excess wind power into district heating system (offsetting gas) and reach 50% of wind by 2020 in a cost effective way.”

    Denmark has among the highest electricity prices in the world with today’s 30% wind or so. It is clearly not cost effective to have 30% wind power, so it will be even less cost effective to have 50%.

    But lets say you are correct PPP251 (whatever that means).

    The Danes were already at 44% renewables in 2012. Despite this their average CO2 emission was 458 kg CO2/MWh.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Denmark.

    What if the world were to follow the Danish example?

    At a modest electricity consumption of 10 MWh per person per year (needed for modern health care, education etc.) and 10 billion people we’d need 100 billion MWh per year. This 45.8 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted in a future civilized world of likely population amount.

    Clearly NOT acceptable. That is the point I’m making.

    And that’s just electricity. Even if the Danes manage to further increase wind power and get to 300 kg CO2/MWh, the global emissions would still be 30 billion tonnes CO2. That is the total amount of CO2 that we emit today, and we haven’t any budget left for transport, land use, non electric energy etc etc etc. so the total CO2 emissions would be multiples of 30 billion tonnes CO2 per year in such a world.

    In the world of the renewables enthusiasts such as PPP251, we will end up with an ever increasing CO2 emission because we fool around only with marginal technologies.

    In a time when we must rapidly get to below 10 billion tonnes CO2/year short term and below 1 billion CO2/year long term.

    This is why we need 98% solutions. Its very curious how not a single wind and solar enthusiast can come to grips with the sheer scale of the problem.

  15. Denmark has among the highest electricity prices in the world with today’s 30% wind or so.

    Yes, and it also has among the highest taxes (possibly the highest, together with Norway), which have nothing to do with wind.

    If you exclude taxes and look only at generation costs then wind power is the cheapest source of new electricity in Denmark, according to a study done by Danish Energy Agency:

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/22/3462852/onshore-wind-cheapest-denma/

    http://www.ens.dk/sites/ens.dk/files/info/tal-kort/fremskrivninger-analyser-modeller/notat_-_2014_07_01_elproduktionsomkostninger_for_10_udvalgte_teknologier.pdf (original, use google translate or something)

    What if the world were to follow the Danish example?

    Denmark has a goal of 100% renewable energy system until 2050 so if the world were to follow it would be a very good thing. That’s 0 g/kWh for all energy (including heating, transport, shipping, aviation,..).

    http://www.ens.dk/en/policy/danish-climate-energy-policy

    But generation mix will be different. Something like 70-80% of world population lives in tropical and subtropical regions, where solar insolation is abundant all year round. Solar power coupled with storage is a perfect solution to provide sufficient energy for all those people (Africa, Middle East, India, southeast Asia, Latin America). They will just leapfrog fossil fuels and go straight to renewable energy.

  16. “Yes, and it also has among the highest taxes (possibly the highest, together with Norway), which have nothing to do with wind.”

    To the contrary, much of those taxes are needed to bridge the gap between the economic value of wind power (about 2 cents/kWh) and the actual cost including profit for investors. Malpolicy costs money so requires more taxes. We see all countries with bad energy policy (Germany as well) having big taxes or zero value adding wealth redistribution schemes from poor to the rich (more politely called feedintariffs).

    “Denmark has a goal of 100% renewable energy system until 2050 so if the world were to follow it would be a very good thing.”

    Oh come on. They do NOT have a plan to get to 100% renewable energy. Plans involve detailed numbers on energy storage, where the biomass comes from and is it sustainable in those amounts etc. Denmark has no such commitments.

    It is one thing to have a goal of becoming a billionaire. Coming up with a solid plan to become one is entirely another.

    I don’t doubt though, that at great cost to the economy, some small countries can be powered by someone else’s biomass mixed with some wind and hydro. And then there’s no sustainable biomass left for the rest of the world.

  17. ” Solar power coupled with storage is a perfect solution to provide sufficient energy for all those people (Africa, Middle East, India, southeast Asia, Latin America). ”

    So tell me, if its so perfect, how come all those countries are powering themselves, and increasingly so, with fossil fuels, unsustainable biomass, and large hydroelectric dams?

    Where are all the energy storage facilities? Where are the solar energy facilities? Why are all those African countries building dirty coal plants when they could have solar?

    Here’s something for those who are seriously interested in the scale of the problem:

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/

    But I doubt PPP251 is interested; he or she has admirably demonstrated the topic of this thread, greenjacking.

  18. “That’s 0 g/kWh for all energy (including heating, transport, shipping, aviation)”

    Biomass is not at all 0 g/kWh. To the contrary the CO2 emissions are huge:

    http://www.pfpi.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PFPI-biomass-carbon-accounting-overview_April.pdf

    In addition there is the problem of supply. Like I said, we need to plan for a world where we use at least 100 billion MWh. If “renewable” plans come with a flexible dispatchable portion of X% biomass and Y% hydro-electric, then advocates of such plan must come up with detailed plans how to generate X% and Y% of 100 billion MWh. They need to come up with detailed environmental impact statements (EIS) and environmental product declarations (EPD) that show this resource exists and has acceptably low ecological, land use, deforestation, carbon etc etc impacts.

    Think big. Convince yourself.

  19. Renewables enthusiasts are such hard working, committed environmentalist.

    Keep up the good work and keep the coal fires burning.

    Sigmund Gabriel, the Energy Minister of Germany – a country I don’t doubt you all much admire – has the answer:

    “We need strategic reserves of gas and coal power for the times when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine,”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/green-living/green-village-to-be-bulldozed-and-mined-for-lignite-in-germanys-quest-for-nonnuclear-fuel-9760091.html

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