Off to Russia

Well, I’m just about to hop on a plane to Russia to visit for a week — destination Moscow. This is part of my duties as a member of the International Awards Committee for the Global Energy Prize (see here for details).

Whilst in the heart of the former Soviet Union, I’ll hook up with Tom Blees (President of SCGI) and Evgeny Velikhov (President of the Kurchatov Institute), among others. It’s going to be my first trip to the country, and although I’ll only get to see Moscow this time around, I’m returning to the country in again June (partly for the GEP awards ceremony, after which I go directly to the U.S. for lots of other exciting activities); on the June trip, I’ll go to the wonderful old city of St Petersburg. Lucky me, eh?

Anyway, I hope to be able to post one or two updates on BNC during the trip, provided I can hook up to the internet from time to time.

In the meantime, here is something that will be of interest to many readers, given recent discussions on the blog. Apologies if you’ve seen it before.

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Economic/Business Case for the Pyroprocessing of Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF)

While many still claim that conservation together with wind and solar will solve the world’s energy problems, they are dead wrong. Nuclear power is the only proven alternative source of carbon-free energy that can be developed rapidly enough and to sufficient scale to meet the world’s growing need for energy. This report outlines the actions which must be taken; both to reduce the amount of troublesome nuclear waste called Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) and simultaneously create the fuel needed by Fast Reactors. The authors are certain the use of Pyroprocessing to close the nuclear fuel cycle, and Fast Reactors, particularly in the form of Integral Fast Reactor (IFRs), are inevitable in a fossil fuel-free world.

Read entire article (This is a large file. Please be patient while it loads.)

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

BNC as a resource – call for help

UPDATE

1. I have menus working now — if you look at the top-of-the-blog pages, you’ll see the ABOUT page has a pull-down menu. This can now be expanded to cover many relevant pages (that need to be created).

2. I have posted a PAGE which lists all BNC posts, with a hyperlinked title.

3. Here is an Excel file of the BNC posts, including title, link, author etc. This can be sorted and manipulated in various ways to extract material useful for building index pages.

4. Here is a CSV flat file version of the above.

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The Brave New Climate blog started out in Aug 2008 as a modest affair. But over the course of 333 posts (and counting), it has grown into quite a resource, covering a wide variety of topics on sustainable energy and climate change. It is about to launch into its 4th year on the circuit!

The blog format has a number of terrific advantages — it keeps the website live and active, with regular posted updates, it allows for topical and up-to-date user feedback via comments, and it provides a platform for easily archiving material by date.

A number of problems exist, however.

For new readers, the site can seem daunting and impenetrable. Digging up relevant information is tough. The top-of-the-site pages, such as Sustainable Nuclear, Renewable Limits and Top 10, are one crude attempt to organise material, but they lack a proper structure and end up becoming little more than washing lists. Same deal with the category classifications (see left sidebar, e.g. TCASE). The new F.A.Q. page serves a somewhat different purpose again (but needs work too).

All in all, I think more innovation is needed to better present the source material to new readers, and to aid existing users with lookups.

Continue reading

US Travel update, ‘Argonne West Diaries’ upcoming

Hi BNC folks. I’m currently sitting in Los Angeles airport waiting to board a flight to Sydney in a few hours time — it’s my first time on the internet for a few days. It’s been a fabulous trip to the US, and I intend to post up a couple of ‘diary’ entries in which I detail my visit to California (including the eye-popping lab of Per Peterson at UC Berkeley) and my incredibly awesome visit to Argonne West at Idaho Falls, site of the EBR-I and EBR-II fast reactors and the fuel conditioning facility (with lots of photos, just to prove it!).

Two things to note for now, both on a non-nuclear front.

First, The 6-day intensive workshop in Chicago was terrific, and Corey Bradshaw has done a great job of describing its outcomes. Rather than re-hash this, I’ll quote Corey:

Linking disease, demography and climate

Last week I mentioned that a group of us from Australia were travelling to Chicago to work with Bob LacyPhil MillerJP Pollak andResit Akcakaya to make some pretty exciting developments in next-generation conservation ecology and management software. Also attending were Barry Brook, our postdocs:Damien FordhamThomas Prowse and Mike Watts, our colleague (and former postdoc) Clive McMahon, and a student of Phil’s, Michelle Verant. At the closing of the week-long workshop, I thought I’d share my thoughts on how it all went.

In a word, it was ‘productive’. It’s not often that you can spend 1 week locked in a tiny room with 10 other geeks and produce so many good and state-of-the-art models, but we certainly achieved more than we had anticipated.

Let me explain in brief why it’s so exciting. First, I must say that even the semi-quantitative among you should be ready for the appearance of ‘Meta-Model Manager (MMM)’ in the coming months. This clever piece of software was devised by JP, Bob and Phil to make disparate models ‘talk’ to each other during a population projection run. We had dabbled with MMM a little last year, but its value really came to light this week.

We used MMM to combine several different models that individually fail to capture the full behaviour of a population. Most of you will be familiar with the individual-based population viability (PVA) software Vortex that allows relatively easy PVA model building and is particular useful for predicting extinction risk of small populations. What you most likely don’t know exists is what Phil, Bob and JP call Outbreak – an epidemiological modelling software based on the classic susceptible-exposed-infectious-recoveredframework. Outbreak is also an individual-based model that can talk directly to Vortex, but only through MMM.

Continue reading