2012 BNC stats in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

(Note: about mid-way through the year, the site closed WP comments and moved them to the BNC Forums – this led to a redirection of many pageviews to the new site).

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 430,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 8 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

Open Thread 22

The Open Thread 21 has passed 500 comments and is getting a little bloated, so time for a new one.

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

You can also find this thread by clicking on the Open Thread category on the cascading menu under the “Home” tab.

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There was quite a bit of discussion in the previous OT on radiation levels and the Fukushima evacuation zone. Relevant to this is the recent announcement that Japan will lift the entry ban on some cities within the prefecture. To quote:

In areas where annual radiation measurements are below 20 millisieverts per year, a government safety guideline, residents will have free access to their homes during the day and will be allowed to return permanently at the earliest opportunity post-decontamination. Where readings are between 20 to 50 millisieverts annually, evacuees will also have unrestricted access during the day although their permanent return will come later. In areas where measurements top 50 millisieverts, residents will not have free access and they will not be allowed to return for a minimum of five years.

A past BNC guest poster, engineer Chris Uhlik, analysed the situation a private email distribution list, and I thought his summary with respect to LNT (linear no-threshold hypothesis of radiation damage to living organisms) was very useful. With Chris’ permission, I reproduce it below:

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The official position of every regulatory agency & scientific body, and even the people who will tell you “we don’t know what’s going on under 50 mSv”, the weight of the evidence favors LNT.

Here’s what I think is going on:

Under 50mSv/year we can’t find any epidemiological data to support LNT. There is simply too much noise and other effects to see sub-0.5% changes in cancer rates in populations where the variations from other effects (smoking, stress, chemical exposures, etc) are in the range of 20–45%.

The rates of different kinds of cancers are affected differently by radiation. Some kinds appear to increase while others decrease. Some kinds of cancer are more treatable than others and thus result in different mortality rates, even if the occurrence rate increases. Simple statements like “cancer death rates show a LNT response to radiation exposure” are way too simplistic to be true, but such statements are easy to base regulations around. When regulators feel a need to support a regulation with some math, they’d rather choose simple math than more-correct, but difficult to understand and explain math.

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Open Thread 21

The previous Open Thread has gone past is off the BNC front page, so it’s time for a fresh palette.

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

You can also find this thread by clicking on the Open Thread category on the cascading menu under the “Home” tab.

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There are two very important articles now posted on The Guardian website. The first, by Duncan Clark, is titled New generation of nuclear reactors could consume radioactive waste as fuelThe new ‘fast’ plants could provide enough low-carbon electricity to power the UK for more than 500 years.

It talks about Britain’s options for plutonium (Pu) disposal, and the GEH proposal to build a pair of S-PRISM reactors (311 MWe each) to rapidly ‘spike’ the weapons-grade Pu inventory, and thereafter consume it and spent fuel for energy. The alternative option, a new MOX plant, is far less desirable.

Tom Blees wrote a detailed explanation of this plan on BNC here: Disposal of UK plutonium stocks with a climate change focus

To accompany this piece there is an excellent new essay by George Monbiot: We cannot wish Britain’s nuclear waste awayOpponents of nuclear power who shout down suggestions of how to use spent waste as fuel will not make the problem disappear.

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Saludos desde Mataelpino

I haven’t published an energy or climate-related article on BNC for almost a week, for a good reason:

Damien Fordham, Barry Brook and Miguel Araújo enjoy the cool Spanish mountain air

Yes, I am enjoying myself (but working too!). We (me, and some colleagues from University of Adelaide: Corey Bradshaw, Damien Fordham and Salvador Herrando-Perez) are visiting a research collaborator in Spain (Miguel Araújo). Our workshop is being held at the El Bosque Hotel in Mataelpino, a village located 1,000 m up in the Madrid Sierra.

We’re investigating the shifts in the geographic ranges of over 200 bird species in the U.K. in relation to climate and land-use change, as well as developing a multi-species population viability analysis metapopulation model on the predator-prey-habitat interactions of the critically endangered Iberian lynx, rabbits, disease and climate change.

Although it’s the height of winter here, the region is currently experiencing a drought, and so conditions are very mild for this time of year. As such, the weather is incredibly beautiful, with bright blue skies and crisp dry air. Yesterday we went for a hike (at about 2,100 m elevation) in the Parque Natural de Peñalara. There was some snow about, but not a lot. This is the area where some of the scenes of one of my favourite movies was filmed. It’s just like being in Cimmeria

Barry Brook at Peñalara Natural Park, Spain

I’ll be back in Adelaide in the middle of next week, with some new BNC posts on sustainable energy and climate.Meanwhile, feel free to use the comments list of this post as an especially open “Open Thread” — one not necessarily limited to climate or energy topics! As for me, I’ll sign off with some more photos (taken by Corey): Continue reading

Open Thread 20

The previous Open Thread has gone past is running of the recent posts lists and getting tough to find, so it’s time for a fresh palette.

The Open Thread is a general discussion forum, where you can talk about whatever you like — there is nothing ‘off topic’ here — within reason. So get up on your soap box! The standard commenting rules of courtesy apply, and at the very least your chat should relate to the general content of this blog.

The sort of things that belong on this thread include general enquiries, soapbox philosophy, meandering trains of argument that move dynamically from one point of contention to another, and so on — as long as the comments adhere to the broad BNC themes of sustainable energy, climate change mitigation and policy, energy security, climate impacts, etc.

You can also find this thread by clicking on the Open Thread category on the cascading menu under the “Home” tab.

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A new temperature reconstruction by Foster & Rahmstorf (Env. Res. Lett.), which removes ENSO signals, volcanic eruptions and solar cycles, and standardises the baseline.

I’m currently in Auckland, New Zealand, attending the 25th annual International Congress on Conservation Biology. A 4-day event, it’s a great chance to network and catch up with my colleagues, hear the latest goings on in the field of conservation research, and also give a few presentations (me and my students). I’m talking tomorrow on the impacts of climate change in Oceania — this covers a co-authored paper I have coming out in an upcoming special issue of Pacific Conservation Biology (which was actually the first journal I ever published in, back in 1997), entitled: “Climate change, variability and adaptation options for Australia”.

A conversation starter: George Monbiot has written a superb piece on nuclear power and the integral fast reactor over at The Guardian. It is titled “We need to talk about Sellafield, and a nuclear solution that ticks all our boxes” (subtitle: There are reactors which can convert radioactive waste to energy. Greens should look to science, rather than superstition). My favourite quote:

Anti-nuclear campaigners have generated as much mumbo jumbo as creationists, anti-vaccine scaremongers, homeopaths and climate change deniers. In all cases, the scientific process has been thrown into reverse: people have begun with their conclusions, then frantically sought evidence to support them.

The temptation, when a great mistake has been made, is to seek ever more desperate excuses to sustain the mistake, rather than admit the terrible consequences of what you have done. But now, in the UK at least, we have an opportunity to make amends. Our movement can abandon this drivel with a clear conscience, for the technology I am about to describe ticks all the green boxes: reduce, reuse, recycle.

George’s essay includes details on the integral fast reactor and the S-PRISM modules that GEH hope to build in the UK (to, as a first priority, denature the separated plutonium stocks, and thereafter generate lots of carbon-free electricity). The fully referenced version is here.

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