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Open Thread

Open Thread 9 – technosolar catastrophe?

This is the first Open Thread of 2011.

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 broad theme of the blog (climate change, sustainability, energy, 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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Technosolar’s Chernobyl?

I like to kick of with a conversation starter on these threads. One ‘argument’ that is often pushed when anti-nuclear activists protest against the deployment of nuclear energy is that there is a risk, however minute, of some catastrophe. A recent example comes from the painfully unoriginal regurgitation of memes that was posted on Climate Spectator last week, “Behind’s Nuclear’s New Face“, where the author said:

One 1000 MW reactor generates about 20 tonnes of spent fuel every year. This is enough to poison millions of people, and will remain deadly for over 100,000 years.

One can only presume that she imagines this might occur via some magical intervention that allows for the complete aerosolation and dispersion of the fuel — a super-Chernobyl perhaps? The mind boggles…

But what caught my eye was one of the comments in response, where commenter “Maxwell Smith” said:

Julie is happy to put all eggs in the one basket, or maybe two baskets (solar and wind power). Another volcanic explosion the size of the Tambora (Indonesia) volcanic expolsion would virtually shutdown solar power generation for 2-3 years.

It’s an interesting take — especially because it’s a sound bite, and in debating situations, they are very useful. After all, if we relied largely on nuclear energy and intensive food production via mega-greenhouses etc. in the future (powered by nuclear heat, electricity, synthetic fuels and desalinated water), we’d have a much greater chance of getting through another such ‘supervolcano’ event with most of the human population intact.

Anyway, look forward to the comments on this, and just about anything else you want to raise, on climate change or sustainable energy…

By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

385 replies on “Open Thread 9 – technosolar catastrophe?”

@ Roger
Good point. Not only that, imagine all the solar PV and wind farms busted up by Cyclone Yasi. Nukes are in concrete bunkers and if I worked in one, would probably be where I sheltered my family when threatened by Cyclones/Hurricanes/Typhoons.

After the storm tropical areas would just have to replace the much smaller, more robust powerlines, and you’d be back on line.

I mean, how many KM’s of high-power transmission lines had to be replaced in Queensland?

Maybe after Yasi we need “Nukes are Yasi-proof” posters everywhere! ;-)
(NO! It would be seen as political advantage of disaster. I was joking.)

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Maybe after Yasi we need “Nukes are Yasi-proof” posters everywhere! ;-)
(NO! It would be seen as political advantage of disaster. I was joking.)

It would be true nonetheless.

In the wake of Katrina, the nukes were available immediately to support the recovery of the region.

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Tom Keen,

The source of your paper is Greenpeace with contributions from Mark Jacobson. So, that is where you draw your authoritative info from, eh?

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge Amy Larkin of Greenpeace, who commissioned Kevin Eckerle, then an independent consultant, to perform work similar to this that is currently unpublished, and subsequently gave permission to make use of their work for this report. We would also like to thank James Hansen, Mark Jacobson, Jonathan Levy, John Evans, and Joel Schwartz for their helpful comments throughout the course of this work.

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Peter,

I did not read the acknowledgements. I did go back and have a look at the paper though and found this information about the authors in the PDF version:

Paul R. Epstein,1 Jonathan J. Buonocore,2 Kevin Eckerle,3 Michael Hendryx,4 Benjamin M. Stout III,5 Richard Heinberg,6 Richard W. Clapp,7 Beverly May,8 Nancy L. Reinhart,8 Melissa M. Ahern,9 Samir K. Doshi,10 and Leslie Glustrom11

1Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. 2Environmental Science and
Risk Management Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
3Accenture, Sustainability Services, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 4Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia
University, Morgantown, West Virginia. 5Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, West Virginia. 6Post Carbon Institute, Santa
Rosa, California. 7Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. 8Kentuckians for the Commonwealth,
London, Kentucky 9Department of Pharmacotherapy, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington. 10Gund Institute for
Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. 11Clean Energy Action, Boulder, Colorado

Looks like a fairly academically robust team, and the paper is published in a reputable journal. However, I don’t think it matters who wrote the paper. Rather, the content is what is important. So if you’re going to criticise the paper because you don’t trust the source, play the ball and criticise the findings (it is open access, after all).

Note that even if you omit climate damage costs, their estimates for total cost still range from 8.3 (low) to 16.19 (high) US¢/kWh, or 14.69 US¢/kWh for their best estimate.

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@Eclipse Now, you are so right!

No one seems to comment on the essential fragility of the renewables technology.

It is ironic that a community claiming to most understand the environment are themselves most vulnerable to it.

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Another instance where NP helped in disaster relief was when the USS Carl Vinson supplied desalinated water after the Haiti earthquake
http://www.rdwaterpower.com/pipelines/portable-nuclear-power-desalination-plants/

Some very large desals may have to be on the coast since local brackish groundwater won’t be enough. A standalone NPP might need diesel generator backup if it is off the national grid. See the discussion of electricity and water supply to Prominent Hill mine.

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@ Greg Meyerson:

Ah, yes, the old conspiracy theory that there was actually an enormous amount of radioactivity released into the environment at TMI but there was actually a big conspiratorial coverup.

That doesn’t get discussed very much; basically because it’s absolutely nuts.

You simply cannot ever, in any context, release a very large amount of radioactivity into the atmosphere and cover it up or keep it quiet.

Look at Chernobyl for example. The Soviets didn’t tell the West about it immediately – they didn’t even tell their own nuclear scientists. Soviet nuclear experts found about it when radiation sensors at nuclear research sites and nuclear power plants (eg. the Ignalina plant in what is now Lithuania) across the eastern USSR started going off, and the West found out about it when radiation sensors at Sweden’s Forsmark NPP and other Swedish nuclear engineering facilities started going off. (For more on this note, see the first chapter of Richard Rhodes’ “Arsenals of Folly”.)

Nuclear power plants and other facilities that use radioactive materials are all over the place in our society, and they all have sensors and instruments to make sure everything is safe and radioactive contamination does not occur. If a Chernobyl-style event occurs, you will detect it at any such site. Any nearby NPP. Any nearby molecular biology lab working with radiolabels. Any nearby physics lab. Any nearby clinic working with X-rays or medical imaging. Anyone nearby developing photo film.

If a person who has recently had a radiopharmaceutical medical imaging procedure walks into a nuclear power plant or physics lab, or a radiation detector installed at a border crossing or port around the USA, they’ll set off alarms.

Radioactivity is so easy to detect that in 1896 Becquerel discovered it accidentally.

I remember that there was a case, last year I think, where a little bit of radioactive xenon was vented from the ANSTO Lucas Heights facility… this was quickly detected in Melbourne by the atmospheric radiochemistry monitoring station used by the UN for NNPT verification… one of a large network of such sites, which are extremely sensitive, all around the world which are used to detect any possible nuclear weapon test.

How many nuclear power stations are there in the United States that are located relatively close to TMI, in the states geographically around TMI? What did their radiological monitors show? Anything? Photographic films from everyone around the area was collected and looked at – no radiation was recorded.

When significant amounts of ionising radiation exposure occur, that radiation is recorded in common building materials like concrete, glass, ceramic and stone. These materials trap energy in displaced color centers in their crystal lattices – just like makeshift ad hoc MacGyver versions of thermoluminescent dosimeter crystals – and you can collect the samples later and analyse thermoluminescence in the materials to see if there has been any radiation dose. Not sure if anything like this was ever done at TMI, though.

Basically, the whole idea of such an enormous cover up is just an enormous, impractical conspiracy theory – which would need to involve the state government, the federal government, the nuclear energy industry, and huge numbers of the public and huge numbers of scientists and industries – like an Apollo hoax conspiracy theory.

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Regular BNC contributors have made comments in the past that the economic aspects of AGW policies and of electricity generation alternatives, e.g. nuclear power, are not important; one contributor said “never have been and never will be”.

The response to PM Julia Gillards’ announcement of a carbon tax shows this is not the case. A sample of articles in today’s Australian shows it is the main argument the government is using to justify implementing a carbon tax and the main reason the voters are concerned. The economic consequences (the hip pocket nerve) is alive and well. Online voting on web sites and talk back radio responses, including on Left leaning sites like ABC, are overwhelming against the carbon tax. Of course, it is recognised this is early days and it is recognised the government can spend virtually unlimited funds on advertising and public spin campaigns to try to convince the public to support its policy.

Here is a sample from today’s Australian:

Tax could double price of power
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/tax-could-double-price-of-power/story-e6frg6xf-1226012256075

Calculations by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal reveal the carbon tax floated by the government in 2008 would more than double the price of power within three years.

The federal Treasury claimed at the time that households would pay just $6 a week more in electricity and gas for a carbon tax set at $23 per tonne, or $7 a week more for a $32 per tonne tax.

The NSW modellings — which have been requested by the federal Treasury — are based on a carbon tax of $10 per tonne in the first year, rising to $28 per tonne. They show the annual power bill for a typical small business would rise from $9432 per year to $15,091.

Full cost would cripple companies
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/full-cost-of-carbon-would-cripple-companies/story-e6frg6xf-1226012257813

Airwaves fill with sound of fury
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/climate/airwaves-fill-with-the-sound-of-fury/story-e6frg6xf-1226012253791

TALKBACK has erupted in fury at Julia Gillard’s broken promise on a carbon tax.
Media Monitors Australia reports that just 38 per cent of the talkback calls nationwide on the subject, made by mid-afternoon yesterday, were favourable.
“Anything below 43 would generally be considered highly unfavourable,” group communications manager Patrick Baume explained. “It’s roughly equal to about the lowest point in Kevin Rudd’s personal standing.”
But Mr Baume points out that the talkback response measured by Media Monitors includes calls made to ABC shows with a very different demographic to Jones’s.
“While they aren’t as heavily unfavourable, they are still unfavourable overall,” Mr Baume said. He said 53.2 per cent of ABC callers opposed the Prime Minister’s plan.
An online poll on the Left-leaning Melbourne Age website showed opposition for a carbon tax running at 57 per cent late yesterday.
A YouTube video of Ms Gillard telling television during last year’s election campaign, “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, posted by Liberal senator Scott Ryan, clocked up close to 4000 views.
Also circulating was a second YouTube recording from the campaign with Wayne Swan denying carbon tax plans as “a hysterically inaccurate claim being made by the Coalition”.

It is pretty clear to me that the economics is the fundamental issue in voters mind. For many it is the short term economics, but don’t dismiss the many thinking people who are just as concerned about the long term future as the single issue, CAGW alarmists say they are.

Gillard facing double trouble
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/gillard-facing-double-trouble/story-e6frg75f-1226012270932

Gillard has been branded a liar for breaking a forthright and unambiguous election undertaking. Her declaration that there would be no carbon tax under a government led by her — a declaration endorsed and underwritten by Wayne Swan — has been ditched.

Gillard now faces the double trouble of trying to argue she is not a liar, hasn’t broken a promise and has a mandate to introduce a new tax, while defending a complex system that is going to push up power and energy prices.

Carbon tax a pledge of suicide
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/carbon-tax-a-pledge-of-suicide/story-e6frg9if-1226012230545

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Tom Keen,

However, I don’t think it matters who wrote the paper. Rather, the content is what is important.

Based on your many previous comments it would seem that your statement only applies if the article supports your beliefs. If it doesn’t, then you are more interested in who wrote it, what is their background and where was it published.

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Barry,

Garnaut report is certainly not due dilligence. Nothing like it. To suggest such shows a lack of understanding of what due dilligence involves.

Furthermore, Garnaut is a political appointment by the Labor government. He was appointed because he would give the answer wanted by his client. His work cannot pass as impartial.

He didn’t even analyse alternatives to carbon pricing:
https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-111936

Also see: “Climate Adviser misses the point”
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/climate-adviser-misses-the-point/story-e6frg6zo-1226003951163

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He was appointed because he would give the answer wanted by his client. His work cannot pass as impartial.

That is your opinion, but it is not backed up by the facts. He stated that a simple carbon tax would be preferable to a heavily compromised ETS — which is exactly what the CPRS turned out to be. Then Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, when asked about his report, tried to avoid commenting (who would have guessed, eh?) and when pressed, dismissed Garnaut and his report as ‘just another opinion’. So it’s hardly a matter of delivering the answer his client wanted…

More here, from Giles Parkinson:
http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/02/15/parkinson-garnauts-inconvenient-truths/

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////Garnaut report is certainly not due dilligence. Nothing like it. To suggest such shows a lack of understanding of what due dilligence involves.////
Ha ha ha! He’s got the gall, doesn’t he Barry?

Anything that is not laissez faire right wing isn’t ‘due diligence’ to this character!

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Luke: thanks very much.

question: it is commonly admitted that there were 13 million curies of noble gases released after TMI (and that this was harmless).

We know that this registered here and there in soil samples (the local community college’s soil samples for example). what amount of radioactivity would be required to leave traces on film etc? 13 million curies did not obviously.

(I’m giving a talk soon which partly involves anti nuclear falsification so precision is useful to me!)

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Barry,

Give me a break. How can your statement possbly be objective? Garnaut was Senior Economic Adviser to Bob Hawke, ex Labor Prime MInsiter of Australia. He is clearly partisan (perhaps Labor supporters cannot recognise this). He would not have been appointed by the Labor premiers and Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to do the job if they had not been confident he would give them the answers they wanted. It was pure politics. Just as Stern was appointed by Tony Blair, Labour Party Prime Minister of UK.

And as for Giles Parkinson, give me a double break. Just look at waht he argues for – incessantly. That is hardly the sort of reference you’d want to give if you want to get through to people outside the Alarmist camp.

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Barry,

By the way, my recollection (without going back and finding supporting references) was that Garnaut was doing exactly what the Labor Premiers and Labor Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, wanted leading up to the 2007 election and throughout most of the period Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister. It was only near the end when the public perception was turning against the CPRS that Wong then started back tracking.

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Peter, as usual you are just blowing hot air. Indeed, I detest your constant accusations, leveled at me and just about everyone else on this website and beyond, about our ‘political motivations and biases’. How the hell do you know what people think, or on what basis they make their judgements? Your unjustified arrogance is simply breathtaking. There is an old rule of thumb: the scoundrel constantly accuses other of that which he is most guilty. Why? Because he understands what his motivations and actions are, and cannot believe (or imagine) that anyone could (or would) act any differently. Which is of course why you’ll probably just get angry and offended by my comment. Reality bites. But frankly, I no longer give a toss.

These days the majority of your comments come across as either juvenile taunts, repetitive ideological rants, or and highly unimaginative ‘motive probes’. What a bland and blinkered world you live in. No wonder virtually everyone has stopped listening to you. You manage to offend everyone at some point. Well, for as for me, you are now on my ‘ignore list’.

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As a final bit of once-friendly advice Peter. I really enjoyed your comment yesterday about EGS rock fracturing issues. It was great to have this sort of geological insight. I strongly suggest you stick to what you are good at, and people might actually start to listen to you once again. As it stands, you managed, over the last year, to erode a huge amount of intellectual capital you once had with readers of this site. Time to start mountain building again, methinks.

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@John Newlands: “the nuclear waste fund levy is 0.1c per kwh. Here Hazelwood can dump 17 million tonnes a year of CO2 into the communal atmosphere with absolute impunity”

Allow me to agree solidly. However, when rolling John’s sharp poetry over in my mind, it strikes me that our soundbites would be more powerful if the word “waste” in the bogey phrase “nuclear waste” were reiterated in “waste CO2”. Thus:

“Each tonne of nuclear waste has to pay whereas a million tonnes of waste CO2 gets dumped for free.”

As such it might be a useful retort when the fearful are invoking the bogey:
“What about the waste? Wha’ abaht t’ nuclear waste!

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It’s a rare person who does not on occasion allow their political views to color their interactions with the world, via net or other means. And it’s an even rarer person who, upon recieving an ideology-based critique, will do anything other than blank it out and put it down to the political motives of the attacker.

Science and engineering details provide a much more solid footing for our respective cases, far more difficult to dismiss or ignore, far more likely to make inroads into the thinking of the opposition if they are deilivered in understandable terms. But a political diatribe directed against an opposing faction will most likely just reinforce them in their ways. Shifting a battle over engineering and science to the realm of politics is a really bad idea if the engineering and science is on your side (the converse, shifting a battle over engineering and science to the realm of politics when the science is against you being a good idea is also true, of course).

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Well said Finrod! I left this site for months because of Peter’s constant diatribes. They’re just plain BORING!

You guys won me over on the science but that seems to have indicated to Peter that everyone here is also fair game for his politics.

But as you suggest, political viewpoints become more emotional and entrenched than even scientific preferences such as where our energy comes from!

I am proud to be in the “Social Liberalism” army: Civil rights, Social Justice and State funded welfare in a Market Economy. That allows the tax-dial to go up and down across a variety of industries in a very flexible way. Social liberalism is such a broad term I’d apply it to half of Europe. But as America’s system crashes increasingly towards the right, they are looking further and further like a failed state. It won’t be long.

Laissez-faire sounds like a light and fluffy mousse, but rather than being a desert it is a disaster.

“This political rant was brought to you by Peter Lang: political diatribes that alienate activists. Peter Lang, the name you can trust to deliver alienating arguments.”

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Thanks for the endorsement, EN. I would however point out that I mentioned no names in my post, and intended it to be general advice on how everyone could best proceed.

Given his excellent contributions in the past, I am sure it lies within Peter’s capability to return to a more successful formula for getting his views accross.

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Jeez, Eclipse. I don’t why you’re complaining about my country. Just because today a representative from south dakota proposed a law decriminalizing the shooting of doctors who perform abortions.

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Wow Gregory… have you got a link for that one?

The frightening zealousness of the Christian right in America scares me. I have a church background and hate the idea of abortion in my personal life, but public policy is a different thing. I wish more Christians could see that.

@ Finrod: agreed. I too hope Peter can take a few deep breaths and contribute more solid work without all the boring political lectures. I’m sick of him attacking everyone’s character — especially Barry’s — all while Peter demonstrates his own character flaws in the process. But hopefully he’ll get back to the science of things, but even here I have trouble. I don’t trust him any more. Having seen how strong his interpretive grid is, I’m just not sure of his personal objectivity any more. I don’t trust him.

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Barry,

Peter, as usual you are just blowing hot air. Indeed, I detest your constant accusations, leveled at me and just about everyone else on this website and beyond, about our ‘political motivations and biases’. How the hell do you know what people think, or on what basis they make their judgements? Your unjustified arrogance is simply breathtaking. There is an old rule of thumb: the scoundrel constantly accuses other of that which he is most guilty. Why? Because he understands what his motivations and actions are, and cannot believe (or imagine) that anyone could (or would) act any differently. Which is of course why you’ll probably just get angry and offended by my comment. Reality bites. But frankly, I no longer give a toss.

These days the majority of your comments come across as either juvenile taunts, repetitive ideological rants, or and highly unimaginative ‘motive probes’. What a bland and blinkered world you live in. No wonder virtually everyone has stopped listening to you. You manage to offend everyone at some point. Well, for as for me, you are now on my ‘ignore list.

I think that is pretty rude coming from someone who continually uses ‘name calling’, derogatory comments and juvenile comments like “Denier”, “Crock of the Week”, “silliness” and more to abuse all those who do not hold to the same views or ideologfical persuasion as you do.

You made this comment a day or two ago:

Energy ideologies can be every bit as fervent as those of religion,

This is equally true of the ‘catastrophic climate change’ ideology. But you don’t even realise it.

Here is some advice in return:

A lot of what you say and are doing is excellent, except for the silliness about catastrophic consequences of global warming. I’d urge you to tone down your message on this part so it is more balanced rather than coming across as extreme, alarmist spin and hype. The excesses turn me right off and makes me question the objectivity and veracity of all following statements.

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Barry,

I am wondering why you chose to provide what seems like a silly answer to one of the quotes in my post to John Newlands but did not answer the questions I put to you @ https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-112962 ? You would understand that this looks like obfuscation. Which is what you accuse me and others of. The questions I put to you were:

1. How high will the carbon price have to go to achieve the 2020 emissions targets (5% below 2000 emissions levels, which amounts to a cut of 160 Mt/a)?

2. What would be the effect on the economy?

3. Where will the emissions cuts come from (e.g. 12 Mt/a from replacing Hazelwood Power Stations with combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT) and wind power from the total cuts required of 160 Mt/a to achieve the 2020 target)?

4. By how much would world emissions be cut if Australia achieved the 2020 targets?

5. By how much would this change the climate?

6. Would our trajectory of emissions cuts (and other benefits to society) be better served (i.e. deeper emissions cuts attained by 2030 and beyond) by taking the policy decision to remove the impediments to low-cost nuclear now, so we can rollout nuclear earlier, faster and cheaper?

7. Should all potentially viable alternatives be analysed, in a proper option analysis, before deciding on and committing to a policy and legislation?

These are intended to be sensible, responsible questions, not intended to be rhetorical. I suggest, and I presume you would agree, it would be negligent to support carbon pricing if you cannot answer these questions quantitatively.

I hope you will answer these, sensibly and without obfuscation and with supportable answers.

Preferably on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

By the way, one of the reasons people are not discussing the alternative to carbon pricing is because of the many comments showing you are not supportive of getting into this. This was the case from the very start of that thread. Yet it is clearly the most important issue this year, and the policy that is legislated will set the agenda for decades ahead.

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Eclipse Now,
Your opinion about the USA could not be further from the truth. I was born in Wales and worked in over 50 countries before relocating to the USA in 1982.

This is what you said about the USA:
“I am proud to be in the “Social Liberalism” army: Civil rights, Social Justice and State funded welfare in a Market Economy. That allows the tax-dial to go up and down across a variety of industries in a very flexible way. Social liberalism is such a broad term I’d apply it to half of Europe. But as America’s system crashes increasingly towards the right, they are looking further and further like a failed state. It won’t be long.”

The USA that accepted me in 1982 was still afflicted with the quaint idea that the government serves the people. The personal freedoms that flow from this made USA the best country in modern times; maybe the best country that ever was.

You may be right when you say that the USA is in danger of becoming a “Failed State” but you are wrong to suggest that “America’s system crashes increasingly towards the right”.

The USA is actually becoming a “Welfare State” comparable with the European democracies. Individual freedoms are being surrendered in exchange for a “Safety Net”.

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@ Barry,
make sure you keep up the good work on the known physics and chemistry and probable consequences of climate change! Peter obviously thinks you’re putty in his hand the way he doles out his anti-left theology. It’s beyond politics with him. The way he speaks down to you about climate science reminds me of the way an old bard or magician like Merlin might speak down to an apprentice. All that was missing was “there’s a good boy” when he was done!

Peter, please head your own medicine!
//// The excesses turn me right off and makes me question the objectivity and veracity of all following statements.////
Ya think?

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Galloping Camel:

if what you said about the U.S. was true, the gini coefficient (index of inequality) would be heading downwards; unionization rates would be high; and there would be no movement among governors to eliminate collective bargaining among the few strong unions left in the U.S.

The gini coefficient is high (likely higher than any European country and far higher than Aus); unionization rates are lower than any European country; collective bargaining is under siege.

The right wing fantasy that liberals will use the “global warming hoax” to impose business destroying carbon taxes–on top of business destroying social safety nets– is clearly not playing out.

The main safety net is the safety net bailing out the banks. And feeding the pentagon–all in all, military keynesianism and socialism for the bankers, who are sitting on their money, not loaning it out as the theory is supposed to go

The flipside of the bailout is that, for example, my state of N.C. is cutting its University budgets by 15-20 %, leading to hiring freezes, pay freezes and massive layoffs. This is happening in many states across the nation.

So I don’t know what Nation you’re living in. The safety net is being surrendered and has been surrendering for 30 years. and individual freedoms are being lost. both.

Eclipse: you can find links yourself about the South Dakota controvery. Here’s one. This bill won’t pass, he says confidently.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/939189–bill-would-make-killing-to-save-fetus-a-justifiable-homicide

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Greg Myerson,
You missed the “Big Picture”; I was talking about personal freedoms. In that context, coercion from the Right is as obnoxious as coercion from the Left. Governments, regardless of the Left/Right labels attached to them, inexorably extend their control over us, on the pretext that it is “for our own good”.

Governments that try to serve the people are very rare indeed as Lincoln reminded us when he closed his Gettysburg address:
“….. and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Thus it is that the 10th amendment to the US constitution has been overwhelmed by the “General Welfare” and “Commerce” clauses, allowing the power of the federal government to grow at the expense of the states and the people.

Turning to the “Small Picture”:
The bailouts for banks and large corporations that occurred here is socialism for capitalists, which I prefer to call “Crony Capitalism”. It rewards failure and reckless behaviour, while stealing from the thrifty.

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GC:

EXCEPT THAT VIRTUALLY ALL THE CAPITALISTS CONNECTED TO FINANCE WERE CRONY CAPITALISTS. check out Fool’s Gold and All the Devils Are Here. these are mainstream books on financial crisis.

I merely wanted to suggest that posing a significant “safety net” for ordinary people against personal freedom was a bit of a false dichotomy. In the u.s., both have declined.

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Come on Luke: don’t interfere in our game of hurling insults at one another just because it’s some guy’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, young man. I have more hair than you.

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////Give me a break. How can your statement possbly be objective? Garnaut was Senior Economic Adviser to Bob Hawke, ex Labor Prime MInsiter of Australia. He is clearly partisan (perhaps Labor supporters cannot recognise this). He would not have been appointed by the Labor premiers and Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to do the job if they had not been confident he would give them the answers they wanted. It was pure politics. Just as Stern was appointed by Tony Blair, Labour Party Prime Minister of UK.////

As the nurse in Cuckoo’s nest kept calling:

“Medication… Medication… it’s time for your medication….”

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Happy Birthday Barry.Have a good one.
As for PL – I suggest we all, henceforth, ignore him and his diatribes (as Barry is apparently going to do). We are just lowering the tone of BNC by continuing to engage with him.

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Thanks everyone, I’m having a great day. About to have a ‘debate’ on nuclear power as a solution to climate change with Ian Lowe at the Green Cities conference in Melbourne. I will of course win, since it’s a birthday boy’s prerogative!

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Ms Perps, on 28 February 2011 at 12:04 PM — Yes, I’ve been ignoring for many-a-day now. I did appreciate the analyses of single source-type power; those were well done.

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Luke Weston, on 28 February 2011 at 1:01 PM — Not directly. Indeed, at great expense, the claim is true in a way. However, Peter Lang has rather amply demonstrated just how great that expense is in a series of threads here on BNC. I’m not sure where to find them, but I suggest beginning with the TCASE threads, linked on the sidebar.

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@Luke Weston: rebuttal… of “renewables can do everything!”

Curiously one of the most powerful rebuttals was by renewables campaigner Mark Diesendorf himself, saying that renewables will prevail “with a little help from gas”. Coming from that source, the comment amounted to an admission that renewables is nothing more than a smile on the face of the tiger.

More comprehensively, John Bennett (in Crikey threads at least) has demonstrated that everywhere renewables contributes, it is always backed up by a conventional source of the total capacity required. In this analysis, renewables can only offset the cost of fuel.

You will find a wealth of no-go analyses if you browse for a combination of “renewables” and “storage”, where conclusions repeat that you would have to have either massive investment in idle renewables when their input does not renew, or in idle storage when it does.

Requiring renewables to pay for their power lines to the main grid is avoided by their proponents and often forgotten by their critics. Similarly carbon sequestration proponents neglect the cost of thousands of kilometres of corrosion-resistant pipelines from the power stations to the many candidate reservoirs.

In the thread above, EclipseNow (26 Feb, 16:25) points out that the fragility of renewables adds significantly to the cost of recovery from a climatic disaster.

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Roger Clifton, on 28 February 2011 at 2:26 PM — Quite good, except for ‘corrosion-resistent’.. Carbon dioxide is already fully oxidized and won’t corrode anything. There is already some sort of pipeline out to the Sleipner oil field in the North Sea and also anothr from southwest Colorado to west Texas both of which carry carbon dioxide without any problems (so far).

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@David B Benson challenged the need for corrosion-resistant pipelines for CO2

The two pipelines quoted carry CO2 which has been separated from gas (methane) extractions, so that it is clean of pretty well anything else. However the gas extracted from the exhaust of coal-powered stations is going to contain an unknown proportion of all the other constituents of that exhaust, including water, SOx and NOx, fly ash and traces of the solvent used for the extraction.

I hardly need to point out the corrosive capacity of water saturated with more than 5 atm of CO2.

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Geez Barry, thank goodness you weren’t born on the 29th Feb. Otherwise you’d be only 9 years old. Anyway, happy birthday. I hope you cream Lowe but I’m not putting money on it. Cheers,Terry who is now exactly double your age.

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Anyone ever wonder how we’re going to produce the volumes of steel we need once we’ve burnt through all the fossil fuels? Where’s all that carbon going to come from in the volumes we need it? I guess biochar will have competition for agriwaste!

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@David B Benson: “to economically sequester CO2…”

Thank you for the link, it shows an energy penalty of between 10 and 20% and a cost penalty of around two cents per kilowatt hour. That implies a ballpark of 2 c/kg, or $20 per tonne on-site. It also shows their “economic” customers as oil recovery, production of soda ash, and water carbonation etc, not a carbon price. However, even if a stream of pure liquid CO2 could be produced for no on-site cost at all, CCS would still need a special pipeline. Currently the mass produced pipelines for the relatively inert methane cost about four million dollars per kilometre. Thousands of kilometres would be required! That gigabuck cost does not appear in the CCS promotional literature.

@Eclipse asks: how are we going to make steel without carbon?

Electrolysis of iron oxide (perhaps via chloride in a “pyro” process) would not essentially need carbon. Theoretically at least, you could plate out solid iron. If an electrolytic process was required to produce liquid iron, melting would be assisted by the presence of almost any of its additives. Cast iron with 4.3% carbon has a eutectic at 1147°C . That isn’t much carbon.

We ain’t gonna run out of hydrocarbon. We’ve already run out of anywhere to dump its waste.

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John Newlands,

This article addresses some of the points you’ve been making on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.

unilateral action creates costs without benefits
“HAWKE and Keating floated the dollar; we will price carbon,” Julia Gillard said just prior to last week’s deal with the Greens.

The comparison is inaccurate, however, for floating the dollar, like cutting tariffs, was desirable even if Australia acted alone; in contrast, a carbon tax can only yield benefits if major emitting countries do the same.

Moreover, the Hawke-Keating reforms, including floating the dollar and reducing protection, enhanced our long-standing comparative advantage, which is based on our resource wealth. So did those of the Howard government. This policy undermines it.
Indeed, in terms of Australia’s national interest, it is difficult to think of a policy more harmful than such a unilateral tax.

This is because a high share of Australia’s emissions are accounted for by export-oriented activities: some 33 per cent, compared with 8 per cent for the US. These activities include mining, where large fugitive emissions occur as resources are extracted.

Given the ready availability of alternative sources of supply, including Canada, the US and Brazil, a unilateral tax on these exports cannot cut global emissions: it merely alters their location.

But it would reduce Australian incomes, transferring overseas gains we would otherwise obtain from the resources boom. This policy therefore imposes costs without any obvious benefits.

and

Given how pronounced our comparative advantage is in mining, shifting resources to other activities must make us substantially poorer. The claim that jobs tending windmills or speculating on emissions permits could offset those losses is implausible.

It is especially implausible as our pattern of comparative advantage is becoming more pronounced: in the nine years from June 2000, the net present value of Australia’s mineral assets more than trebled. With the world placing ever higher value on our natural resources, relative to our other factor endowments (such as capital and labour), the income loss from unilaterally taxing mining exports must rise.

and

The third claim defenders of the tax make is that by acting now, we increase the prospects of global agreement. That claim is also implausible. It accords Australia an influence at odds with the experience of international negotiations, not least at Copenhagen. Additionally and importantly, it ignores the fact that by undermining our own exports we make preventing agreement even more profitable for our rivals.

That the government has no plan for repealing the tax should international agreement not eventuate in a set time frame makes our rivals’ incentive to delay even greater. To believe altruism will trump self-interest in determining their negotiating stance involves a considerable leap of faith.

Fourth and last, supporters of a unilateral carbon tax claim it will bring certainty.

read the article here:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/unilateral-action-creates-costs-without-benefits/story-fn59niix-1226013133637

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Peter can you take your ‘points’ and ‘shove’ it
(to the thread where it belongs)

There were a number of scientific discussions here and you’ve gone and retarded it with Gillard and politics. You’ll get your chance to vote on this issue with Abbott hypocritically foaming at the mouth about it. Here’s boy wonder recommending a Carbon Tax himself!

At 9 minutes he says sometime like “Why not just introduce a simple tax”?

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AP1000 safety concerns on the wiki? Anyone got an update on these? If it’s verifiable data you’ve obtained from industry sources, why not learn how to edit the wiki?

Safety concerns

The AP1000 design has an unusual containment structure and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is “not convinced that the shield building would survive earthquakes and other natural hazards”.[9] As of June 2010, Westinghouse is doing new analytical work to try to convince the commission staff of its safety.[9]

In April 2010, Arnold Gundersen, a nuclear engineer commissioned by several anti-nuclear groups, released a report which explored a hazard associated with the possible rusting through of the containment structure steel liner. In the AP1000 design, the liner and the concrete are separated, and if the steel rusts through, “there is no backup containment behind it” according to Gundersen.[10] If the dome rusted through the design would expel radioactive contaminants and the plant “could deliver a dose of radiation to the public that is 10 times higher than the N.R.C. limit” according to Gundersen. Vaughn Gilbert, a spokesman for Westinghouse, has disputed Gundersen’s assessment.[10]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000#Safety_concerns

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Eclipse Now, some time ago Barry did an interesting post on the topic of using nuclear thermal generated hydrogen in steel production, replacing coke as the reductant that turns iron oxide into iron. Its a pretty interesting idea, and not insignificant given that steel making apparently accounts for 7% of global CO2 emissions.

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Given that metallurgical coke costs maybe 20c a kg and hydrogen cost perhaps $2 that will change the economics of steel production. I believe steel recycling rates are improving due to recent price increases.

A baseload NPP could turn any excess output to hydrogen production by electrolysis rather than thermal methods. The hydrogen could be transmitted via plastic lined pipes to large gasometer style low pressure tanks. Don’t even think about the Hindenburg. I don’t like the idea of a dusty steel furnace being close to a gleaming NPP but some distance away. This would be a world of very high cost energy and I’m not sure how we would get there from here.

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[1] ’Former Telstra boss and nuclear power advocate Ziggy Switkowski wants broader energy plan’
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/former-telstar-boss-and-nuclear-power-advocate-wants-broader-energy-plan/story-fn59niix-1226013786586

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson … reiterated that nuclear power was off the agenda.

[1]

Switkowski says carbon price would have to rise to well over $50/tonne

Dr Switkowski said …warned that to drive the take-up of alternative energy the price would have to rise substantially from the $20-$30 a tonne being speculated to more than $50 a tonne.

[1]

Switkowski says: government doesn’t have a technological solution.[1]

He also says the correct order to establish policy to cut emissions is:

1. get mandate to cut emissions
2. decide how we can cut emissions (i.e. define the technological solutions)
3. Then carbon pricing

I agree with 1 and 2 and want to wait and see the answer to 2 before I decide if 3 is the optimal approach.

“The first thing we need to do is get a mandate for widespread reductions in greenhouse gases and fossil fuel usage, and then point to how that is going to happen in terms of the sort of technologies that are going to become available over the next several decades,” Dr Switkowski told The Australian.

“Then we can use an emissions trading scheme and a price on carbon to drive behaviour in that direction.

“At this stage, the government is putting in place an emissions trading scheme, but without being clear what people are meant to do if we start discouraging the use of petrol.”

[1]

Industry says: government doesn’t have a technological solution, and the proposed policy, given its timing, threatens Australia’s economy.

[2] ‘Labor loses key carbon supporter’
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/labor-loses-key-carbon-supporter-heather-ridout/story-fn59niix-1226013808402

But Ms Ridout, the Australian Industry Group chief executive, last night declined to back Ms Gillard’s proposal to introduce a fixed carbon price from July 1 next year and an emissions trading scheme three to five years later.

“The jury is very much still out on the introduction of a carbon price in Australia, with industry very concerned about the competitive impacts,” Ms Ridout said.

“In this regard, all options should still be on the table, including that of rollback until the final shape of the government’s proposal is clear.

“While certainty is important for decision-making around major long-term investments, this certainty should not come at the cost of a loss of competitiveness that sends jobs and emissions offshore or risks the continuity of energy supply.”

[2]

Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry economics director Greg Evans said the group’s position was, “We don’t think there should be any action from Australia until there is international movement, as it is conferring a major competitive disadvantage on competitive industry”.

“Until we have agreed action we should not penalise domestic industry and the future government should not be constrained from unravelling any carbon regime that is adopted,” Mr Evans said.

[2]

Business Council of Australia said “We call on the government and Coalition to come together with business to develop an approach that is economically and environmentally responsible, and able to provide a gradual transition of Australia’s economy in the context of international developments.”

[2]

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If the NPP is producing $0.05/kwh electricity, then hydrogen @ ~40 kwh/kg is indeed $2/kg. However, it on;y needs 2 g of hydrogen, rather than 12 g of carbon, to pick up each 16 g of oxygen, so $2/kg hydrogen is equivalent to $0.33/kg coke. Bad, but not as bad as the weight/weight cost comparison would suggest.

Even so, this is clearly something to look at only after coal has been removed from electricity generation, and probably after electrifying transport as well.

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////I agree with 1 and 2 and want to wait and see the answer to 2 before I decide if 3 is the optimal approach.////

Everyone, Peter Lang has approved of options 1 and 2!!!!!

I *must* get this down in case I forget what PETER has said! Oh where’s my diary when I REALLY need it, PETER has spoken!

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I wonder if Ms Ridout is contradicting the views of some of her industry association members. BHP Billiton, AGL, Origin Energy and General Motors Holden have all said they can live with carbon tax. I suspect what the Chamber of Commerce really wants is a stiff tariff on goods made in China and India. If that happened perhaps they’d drop their objections to carbon pricing.

It seems Ferguson has gone back into wind-and-solar-will-save-us mode. Switkowski says all options should be discussed first but it’s been on the table since 2007 and we must do something soon. Carbon tax is still 15 months away and I suspect it will be watered down to near irrelevance.

Apart from metal smelting hydrogen will be needed for synfuel when oil is prohibitive. One approach hydrogenates black sludge from rendered wastes.
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/11/tunable-high-yield-catalytic-approach-converts-pyrolysis-oil-to-bio-hydrocarbon-chemical-feedstocks-.html
I doubt that will replace 90 million barrels of oil a day.

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Hi John,
how about discovering negabarrels rather than megabarrels?

Please watch my favourite New Urbanism video “Built to last” which is more like a music video than lecture. (4 minutes — you’ve probably already seen it)

We could forget energy efficient cars and start building energy efficient cities, but my guess is there will be some electric car clubs where you can hire them on occasion.

Also extremely thought provoking is this fantastic article “My other car is a Bright Green city!.” Grab a coffee! Alex Steffen shows how in just 20 years we could drastically reduce oil dependency by clever city rezoning.
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/007800.html

Lastly, trolley buses go up 5 times cheaper and faster than trams.
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/07/trolleytrucks-trolleybuses-cargotrams.html

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John,

I suspect each of the representative Industry groups would have canvassed their members, discussed policy and received broad support from its members before making the sorts of statements they are making. It is also well recognised that various industries have a lot to gain from a carbon Tax and ETS (eg gas, renewables, banks, financial industry, accountants, lawyers and many more). Also, some businesses are playing politics have other agendas. I answered you often repeated statement about Marius Kloppers (BHP CEO) several times on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread. No point repeating it again, since you didn’t respond to any of the previous times I’ve done so.

John your other points have been well and truly put to bed on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread. Carbon tax is very bad policy for the reasons already stated. It is another bad policy by the same groups who blocked nuclear for 40 years.

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EN, I realise you hate any discussion relating to rational economics and rational policies. But, luckily, not everyone has such a closed mind.

Many people, perhaps most, do try to understand what is motivating those who oppose them. It is good business to understand the opposition. It is good engineering and good practice for developing policy to consider all options. That is something that is not being done, as I have clearly demonstrated over the past year on the “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread, whether you choose to admit it or not. What I have been saying for over a year is supported by the quotes I provided yesterday and today from the leaders of Australia’s business and industry representatives.

I get the impression you are one of those people who would like to say “Now Choir, stick your fingers in your ears and scream La La La La La at the top of your voice”.

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Peter Lang,
you know nothing about me. Many years ago I won the First Place prize in my Advanced Diploma in Political Economy of the Welfare State. We could talk Marx, Weber, Keynsian, Austrian, or even extreme local economies if you want. Not that I’m an economist, but more viewing it from a more sociological viewpoint. Economics does interest me, and I love the creativity of the free market. I also have a mate who *is* an economist and we bat ideas around quite a bit, such as systems for money creation, total employment, price stability, etc. It’s my area of speciality, but it is an area of interest.

So it’s not so much the *subject* but your attitude that turns me off. This blog would frankly improve 500% if simply stopped sulking at everyone in the comments. It’s not as if this is your blog.

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BNCers will be pleased to know that Barry “won” the debate against Ian Lowe yesterday, Result after the debate, on an electronic telephone poll, was 54% of the audience were now for nuclear power. The electronic poll faltered initially and a show of hands gave Barry the win by an even greater margin. Maybe not everyone had their phones with them or turned on to vote when asked.This was a Green conference remember – so a great result! Barry was verycompelling and convincing and instilled great confidence, in the audience,that he knew the subject. I think the tide has turned in the community.

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Awesome! Usually Greens voters follow their bias. Barry must have punched his way through the ruck, stolen the ball, and smashed his way through their defences to score this try!

Hooooruugh!

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Hi all,
this interesting comment in from an American Pastor who was in a nuclear sub when Chernobyl blew.

“I remember when it happened. I was in the Navy. I was stationed on a sub that was in the Med at the time. I remember it set off our air particulate detectors and we were hundreds of miles south and a little west. We actually had to close up the boat in the port because there was more radioactivity in the outside air than the inside air up against the reactor compartment bulkhead. Ha.”

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Government’s carbon plan causing confusion

… the desire to “do something” has been substantially replaced by puzzlement about just why Australia needs to move in the direction of more taxes, especially when its major trading partners are not. To the extent that countries are investing in clean energy — as China so determinedly is, for example — most are closer to the direct action model advocated by the Liberals than to imposing a price on carbon. And the importance of coal-powered Chinese growth to the economy has only reinforced the message that what Australia does is effectively irrelevant to any global change to carbon emissions.

http://m.theaustralian.com.au/OpinionNews/pg/0/fi290499.htm

I think the article is worth reading.

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Look on the bright side Peter. By the time we get the nuclear message out there, people will be so sick of paying so much for their juice and oil they’ll welcome the idea of cheaper nukes. And after taking all that money off us for so long, the government won’t have an excuse to not fast-track a nuke assembly line when the true dimensions of the final oil crisis kick in.

We’ll need abundant clean electricity from nuclear power quick smart as we try to offset peak oil and build up EV’s, fast rail, and trolley buses.

But as you don’t believe in global warming OR peak oil — despite the cutting edge science converging around these topics — then your opinion here is just so much Laissez-Faire ranting. One wonders why you’re even really interested in nuclear power if you don’t give a stuff about climate change? Oh, that’s right, those Lefty Greenie bastards might wreck your precious ‘economy’ if they got their pesky tax through. No wonder you’re ranting. This for you is judgment day.

But don’t worry Pete old boy old chap, it won’t hurt as much as if we let the many climate feedbacks run away. I don’t understand why you foam at the mouth so about a few taxes when Barry’s the one that should be foaming at the mouth about what we’re doing to the climate and he best — on this list anyway — can visualise the hellish pathway we might be on. So again, as you don’t believe all that, why do you keep coming back?

Oh yeah. That silly little tax is going to wreck your whole day.

See, it’s not that I don’t care or think about economic arguments and structures and wonder at the diversity of economic systems across the world. It’s that in comparison to the real world of the physics of global warming and peak oil, it just all seems so *petty*. Who really cares? If the American Joint Forces command is right, we’re probably in for a Great Depression by 2015 anyway!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply

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Carbon Tax = Recession. Much deeper than “The Recession we had to have”

Carbon pricing cannot achieve the 2020 emissions targets without causing a deep, sustained recession – much deeper than Paul Keating’s “Recession we had to have”.

Emissions are dependent on population, per capita GDP, energy intensity and carbon intensity. Population is growing and energy intensity and carbon intensity cannot be cut sufficiently by 2020. Therefore, to achieve the 2020 emissions targets we’d have to cut GDP.

Australia’s targets mean we must cut emissions by 160 million tonnes per year (Mt/a) by 2020. Replacing Hazelwood coal power station with gas would save about 12 Mt/a and may be complete by perhaps 2017. Where would the remaining 148 Mt/a come from? Efficiency improvements cannot achieve much and, with higher electricity prices, electricity will not replace fossil fuels for transport or direct combustion (e.g. gas for heating).

So what is left? The only way we could achieve the targets is with a deep, long depression. GDP would have to be cut back to well below 2000 levels. That is, GDP would have to be cut back far worse than in the depths of Paul Keating’s recession.

More here: https://bravenewclimate.com/2010/01/31/alternative-to-cprs/#comment-112724
and subsequent comments

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It’s all part of a deeply sinister PLAN Peter.

I’m sure Julia has not thought that far ahead. She is just hoping the ‘magic of the marketplace’ will work wonders and come up with ‘something’ once carbon is priced. It will cost more, so something else will replace carbon. And as everyone on this list knows that’s impossible because the only answer is illegal.

It will take some time to break that message out into the community. Barry’s doing a great job, and all you can do is fart in his general direction because of your precious economic theories!

Your post above is foaming-at-the-mouth material. You seem to believe the Labor government is PLANNING on a Depression, and I think that’s as hysterical as some of the 9/11 Troofer stuff! “Big Bad Labor is planning a Great Depression! Peters’ got the numbers! News at 7.”

We’ll probably hit the Greater Depression this decade, but as I said that will happen if the likes of the American JFC are proved right.

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And, if I’m right, it won’t be as a result of any ‘plan’. It will be sheer stupid ignorance that throws us into a peak oil Depression.

Peter, if a carbon tax is coming do you think ranting about it helps? Don’t you think backing nuclear activists like Barry is more important? Can you get off your friggin high horse for once and control your Obsessive Compulsive Disorder need to scream “Laissez-Faire ROCKS and is the ONLY WAY TO GO!” at everyone who pops in here for more than 5 seconds?

Or for another example, how’s your “We need cheaper, far less safer nuclear power plants” campaign going? If people disagree, I Peter Lang will just hit them over the head with my indestructible Nerf Gun of truth until they agree! ;-) Yeah, that was going to sell.

Try being human for once.

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Sorry there’s been no new posts on BNC for the past 5 days – I’ve been pretty flat out on my trip to Tasmania and Melbourne over the last week. I hope to get something up on recent global temperatures tomorrow. No rest for the wicked!

I had a pretty good event here in Melbourne tonight, apart from the opening guy in question time who said (in caricature) that everything I said on the IFR was nonsense and that I should crawl back under my shell and stick to biology!

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@Eclipsenow
Although I agree with most of your political positions, I hope you will refrain from posting them so much on here. It’s bad enough sieving through the manure for nuggets in Peter’s rantings, without further contributions to the BS pile.

Energy is unavoidably political, as it is regarded as too important to be left to the engineers, but it doesn’t have to be a shouting match. We need to do several things in parallel

Convince the climate sceptics, most of whom are on the political right, that pollution in general and CO2 emission in particular are a significant threat to their/their children’s health and prosperity, and that it is therefore in their own interest to pay something towards mitigating it. Some will never agree to pay anything, but many will accept a small cost.

Convince those who are concerned about climate change, most of whom are on the political left, that nuclear is already safer than coal, and is unavoidable if you want to make a serious dent in emissions. This seems to be happening already.

Convince the moderate majority in the centre of the political spectrum that if you are going to cut emissions, nuclear is the cheapest supply-side measure available, provided that you don’t tie up the whole process in knots with the wrong regulations. Most important is probably a process that gets all the hearings/appeals over before construction starts, but which can be accepted by most as thorough and fair. Suggestions welcome!

It is always easier to convince someone close to ones own outlook than to reach across the aisle to someone who will likely dismiss all you say as simply serving your evil agenda. Pro-nuclear environmentalists (Stewart Brand, Barry….) make a much bigger impression on anti-nuclear sentiment than anything from industry executives who will simply be dismissed as wanting to make money without regard to public safety. Who is there who can do the reverse job, speak convincingly to conservatives about the economic costs of pollution? That was supposed to be Stern’s job, but if Peter is dismissing him as a stooge, it didn’t work. Again, nominations?

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I would have liked it if there were some more of your typical anti-nuclear greenies in the audience watching that excellent lecture from Barry Brook in Melbourne tonight, because they would just have to sit there and squirm, and there would be nothing they could argue about, nothing they could challenge and nothing they could say.

It’s kind of a shame there didn’t seem to be any such persons there.

I’m certain they would have had no choice but to watch and learn something. Then maybe they would get the point and go off and learn your basic nuclear engineering literacy.

There was absolutely no room for rhetoric or drama or the usual scientifically illiterate nonsense and vapid questions and claims from anti-nuclearists, just a seriously technical discussion that is seriously persuasive, seriously educational, and is pitched at exactly the technically respectable, scientifically respectable level of discussion that we need more of in this country.

Excellent stuff.

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Well, he didn’t actually explain anything of any substance, and didn’t even give us the opportunity to try to take him seriously, because he didn’t present any substance. But he wasn’t your typical anti-nuclear activist.

Barry explained that he should come here and post a comment elucidating his concerns with some actual explanation and detail of what he’s talking about. That would be just fine, I would encourage it.

But I doubt it will actually happen.

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@Luke Uk Well said. And ehhh ,don’t worry Peter , The Labor party and the greens won’ t be running the economy after the next election.

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The term ‘forgetting cycle’ has been applied when countries embark upon yet another unwinnable war. The term could easily apply to oil prices and extreme weather events as well. Both are reasons to replace carbon as soon as possible. It was only 2008 when $150 oil triggered the global financial crisis. It was only 2009 when Melbourne hit 48C and 173 people were incinerated in fire storms. Now we are in a temporary La Nina the presumption seems to be things will remain this way. Melburnians are complaining of the multibillion dollar cost of the desal plant since it is no longer needed they reckon. What if $150 oil and extreme hot weather make a comeback?

I would be gobsmacked by the short term thinking if these conditions returned yet a blinkered minority had decided either it was not a problem or not their problem. The do-nothing camp should worry that the mob will be looking for someone to blame. Even if major carbon mitigation won’t make much difference medium term at least we’ll feel we are making an effort. If Hansen is right that El Nino is returning in the next couple of years and the oil pundits have correctly predicted another price shock in that time then the politics will be charged. The do-nothing camp represented by Tony Abbott would be wise to hedge their bets.

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////That was supposed to be Stern’s job, but if Peter is dismissing him as a stooge, it didn’t work. Again, nominations?////
If convincing Peter is your aim, forget it.

@ John Newlands, so true. How easily we forget!

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Luke_UK.
@ 1 March 2011 at 11:12 PM

The comment you addressed to EclipseNow is a good. I do understand your point, and I hope you and others can understand and accept there is an alternative perspective. I’ll go through your comment bit by bit to try to show there is an equally valid alternative point of view (I realise some regulars will refute most of this just on principle without even considering it).

@Eclipsenow
Although I agree with most of your political positions, I hope you will refrain from posting them so much on here. It’s bad enough sieving through the manure for nuggets in Peter’s rantings, without further contributions to the BS pile.

Several points come out of this first paragraph: The congregation here is almost entirely of the same political ideology as yourself and EclipseNow. The “repel borders” and “don’t blaspheme in our church” type of reaction has been going on and vicious since I started posting on BNC. It is throughout many comments including many by the host. After a while it becomes very tiresome, and I responded. After a while (a long while) and following one of many long Howard-hater rants by Fran, I responded. We’ll the derision and vilification started in earnest after that, and has never stopped. This is an example of how a congregation of zealots behaves when they do not like what is being said by an outsider. As Barry said “the truth hurts”. This statement is typical: “It’s bad enough sieving through the manure for nuggets in Peter’s rantings, without further contributions to the BS pile.

Convince the climate sceptics, most of whom are on the political right, that pollution in general and CO2 emission in particular are a significant threat to their/their children’s health and prosperity, and that it is therefore in their own interest to pay something towards mitigating it. Some will never agree to pay anything, but many will accept a small cost.

… the climate sceptics, most of whom are on the political right,
This statement is correct. The reverse is equally true. The climate alarmists are on the political left. They are economically irrational and their policies and what they advocate have done enormous damage in the past (like anti-nuclear, bio-fuels, renewable energy, DDT ban, etc). The conservatives and climate sceptics are rightly concerned that climate alarmism is based on the same sorts of irrational and irresponsible ideologies that have done so much harm in the past. So the conservatives do not trust what the Left is trying to sell. There is little point in continually repeating the Alarmist mantra. The correct approach should be for the buyer to conduct proper, impartial, due diligence. Due diligence means the buyer does a proper, thorough investigation of what the seller is offering. This has not been done and it is being blocked by the Alarmists. Getting Labour/Labor party supporters like Stern and Garnaut to do economic modelling simply increases scepticism because they are partial. They support the Left side of politics. If Left is so confident that its ideological beliefs will stand up to proper due diligence scrutiny then they should not be opposed to proper due diligence.

it is therefore in their own interest to pay something towards mitigating it. Some will never agree to pay anything, but many will accept a small cost.

This statement is correct. But it is simplistic because it says a “small cost”. That is pure spin. It is the sort of misleading and dishonest statement that discredits the Left’s whole argument. Many conservatives believe that the Left don’t give a damn about cost or economics and basically haven’t got a clue about it. TheLeft do not realise, or do not care, about the consequences of recession or depression for example. So when the Left say “a small cost”, conservatives whjince and think, what would they know; what would they care. The conservatives don’t trust them (and rightly so on economics). EclipseNow’s responses to my comments, about the deep recession that would be needed to achieve the 2020 targets in the absence of technological solutions for fuel switching, are a typical answer from the Left. It is an example of Left denying what they don’t want to hear. Then, when we do adopt the Left’s policies, we get ourselves into serious trouble, as has happened so many times before.

There are several alternatives approachs that could achieve what both the Left and right want but they are opposed by the Left, in principle; some examples are:

1. conduct due diligence
2. allow economically rational solutions
3. Left totally remove its opposition to nuclear and become strong advocates for rapid roll out of low cost nuclear – it is hypocritical for the Left to be blaming the Conservatives for opposing the Left’s irrational policies when the Left has opposed nuclear and blocked development for 50 years
4. remove the impediments to-low cost nuclear
5. remove the requirements that nuclear be 10 to 100 times safer than coal

Convince the moderate majority in the centre of the political spectrum that if you are going to cut emissions, nuclear is the cheapest supply-side measure available, provided that you don’t tie up the whole process in knots with the wrong regulations.

I agree with this. But there is more to it than what you’ve stated here. If we are going to implement the same sorts of regulations as apply in USA, Canada, UK, Europe there is no way that nuclear can be economically viable in Australia. So we need to investigate what are the impediments to implementing low cost nuclear in Australia. That is clearly being avoided by BNCers and by Garnaut and by the Government and by all the government departments. That is another example of the sort of avoidance, spin and mischief that makes the Conservatives distrust what the Left is arguing for.

Most important is probably a process that gets all the hearings/appeals over before construction starts, but which can be accepted by most as thorough and fair. Suggestions welcome!

This is important, but comes later. More important, and urgent, is to determine what are the impediments to low cost nuclear, what is their quantum, if they were removed what would be the cost of nuclear compared with new entrant coal, and how could the impediments be removed? What would we have to do to get nuclear cheaper than coal in Australia. That is the first priority.

It is always easier to convince someone close to ones own outlook than to reach across the aisle to someone who will likely dismiss all you say as simply serving your evil agenda.

That is true! That is true! If you and others here would apply that in your writings you would stop the continual stream of venom, bile, name calling, derision, vilification of those who do not share your ideological beliefs. Then you would be more persuasive and less antagonistic. You also need to be prepared to listen to the Conservative’s objections about what you are advocating. And be prepared to acknowledge their concerns and consider how they could be incorporated in a plan to achieve the Left’s and the Right’s objectives. There is little sign of that on BNC.

Pro-nuclear environmentalists (Stewart Brand, Barry….) make a much bigger impression on anti-nuclear sentiment than anything from industry executives who will simply be dismissed as wanting to make money without regard to public safety.

True. But likewise, conservatives and those who understand the economic repercussions of bad economic policy make a much bigger impression on those who do understand the consequences of bad economic polices.

Who is there who can do the reverse job, speak convincingly to conservatives about the economic costs of pollution? That was supposed to be Stern’s job, but if Peter is dismissing him as a stooge, it didn’t work. Again, nominations?

Luke, Wrong question! You are trying to preach your belief instead of asking questions, listening and learning. You believe you are correct and Conservatives are wrong or ignorant. But to those who you are trying to reach, the opposite is the case. The conservatives have a much greater awareness, overall, of all the components that go to make for better and improving conditions for humanity. They are not ignorant about the environmental component. They just see it in balance, whereas the Left doesn’t.

In answer to your question, here is one (but it is more about energy than about CAGW):
http://www.aggreko.com/media-centre/press-releases/speech-to-scottish-parliament.aspx

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////”EclipseNow’s responses to my comments, about the deep recession that would be needed to achieve the 2020 targets in the absence of technological solutions for fuel switching, are a typical answer from the Left.”////
Oooh, please demonstrate:
* That I’m from the “Left” — ha ha! — I’m in the middle. You’re just so far “Right” from the mainstream that anything different looks like it’s from Communist Russia!
* That my comment is typical of the Left. Can you please show where the average Lefty politician says their Carbon Tax is not going to fix global warming without nuclear power, that it will just raise costs to little effect without nukes, and that it is just wishful thinking hoping the marketplace will ‘come up with something’? Please also demonstrate which Lefty politicians accuse Labor of not having a plan for peak oil and that this will probably crash us back to a Greater Depression because they’ve left adjusting too late.

Thanks.

////”The congregation here”////
Why how patronising of you PL, but I guess that’s what we’ve come to expect and why you are on everyone’s ignore list.

////“don’t blaspheme in our church”////
That’s not the reaction at all Peter. Go back and read Barry’s post.He is more concerned about your attitude, not your politics. To paraphrase Barry without any reference to politics at all so you might have a chance of understanding it: “Stop being such a rude, patronising bastard and stop nagging us to death!” There’s a difference between having a polite discussion about political differences and being such a nagging old bitch about it. You’re simply delusional if you think you’ve alienated even Barry with mere ‘political differences’.

////”long Howard-hater rants by Fran”////
Maybe she started something, maybe she didn’t. I wouldn’t put it past you to just flat out *lie* that ‘Fran started it’. Incidentally, where is Fran? Didn’t you alienate her to the point of practically leaving this blog? If Fran has left, why do you still keep on going?

Anyway, due to a severe attack of nausea I couldn’t be bothered reading past the first third of your rant. Give up.

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Pete, I’ve examined the available evidence, and concluded CAGW is real, therefore I am an “alarmist”.
On the other hand I consider myself an economic rationalist and politically a libertarian. Care to tell me which pigeonhole you want to put me in ?

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Why is Peter Lang even *talking* about DDT on this blog? Could it be more off-topic?

Personally, I’m rather surprised that Barry hasn’t already swung the banhammer multiple times – he’s amazingly tolerant of disparate viewpoints on this blog.

Peter, quick question (and I’d like a short answer, please): do you reject AGW because “it’s a lefty plot” you read about on a denialist blog (that seems to be the origin of the ‘CAGW’ acronym you use), or because you’ve extensively reviewed & evaluated the scientific literature and disagree with the findings of the world’s foremost experts in the field?
Ok, well, not such a short question. I’d still like a brief, honest answer.
Because if it’s the former, then I’ll not pay any attention to you again. If it’s the latter, then there’s some scope for serious discussion about what you think the experts got wrong.
On the other hand, I actually left one important option out: that you *do* think AGW is a problem, but you strongly disagree with how it’s being dealt with.

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unclepete,
You can label yourself “Alarmist” but to me you are a “someone with his feet on the ground”.

I like your posts even when I don’t agree with them as they are pithy and brief.

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Economically rational conservatives? Didn’t the previous conservative administration in the US end up spending something likeUS$3 trillion dollars (and counting) on a pointless war?

Imagine how many nuclear plants that amount of money could have bought….

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re: 9/11 and the nuclear movement.

upthread, Eclipse Now acted as what is known as a left-wing gatekeeper by referring contemptuously to “troofers” ie 9-11 truth movement people.

as John Pilger might say, it is indeed a back-handed compliment to the strength of the mainstream (anti-Chinese? anti-Indonesian? post-British Empire?) Americanism in the South Pacific branch office that this gatekeeping persists in the Feral Murdochracy (NB: Murdoch is the owner of Fox News in the USA and 70% of the Australian press).

Three comments are in order:

1. Given the hundreds of discrepancies between the official US govt. version of what happened on 9-11 and observable facts, it was likely a false flag attack designed to justify the subsequent US expansion into Central and South Asia. As Energy is All, Eclipse Now might like to review known and unproven reserves/estimates of fossil fuels in that area, which China or India “must not be allowed” to access uncontrolled by US and NATO. Writings on geopolitics prior to 9-11 by e.g. Zelikow and Brzezinski indicate this strongly. The former then became the fox guarding the hen coop when allowed to whitewash 9-11 in the Commission’s report which he wrote/perpetrated himself.

Actually, all BNC bloggers should be 9-11 Truthers, because exposing Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan as a fossil fuel grab vis-a-vis local Asian rivals can only underpin the case for nuclear.

Unless of course BNC worships at the altar of the US military-industrial complex against which Eisenhower warned in 1961?

2. BNC is a blog conspicuous for its adherents’ claims to numeracy, rationality, objectivity. Now public supporters of 9-11 Truth include, apart from many chemists and physicists, i.e. Superior Beings in the eyes of BNC, ca. 1,500 engineers and architects. If they are all mad for being “troofers”, as implied by Eclipse Now, the construction safety of e.g. many US buildings and the quality of US tertiary education needs to be looked at, because they have been built and designed by people who are graduates of that system. But I do not see any call by Eclipse and his ilk to criticise that tertiary system for not having sieved out such “lunatics”. Why is that?

Incidentally, given that BNC people will likely admire past “humanitarian interventions” eg the one in Yugoslavia against Serbia, note that Gen. Wesley Clark is a public 9-11 Truther calling for an independent investigation.

3. CSIRO is the local Australian equivalent of the US government’s NIST. BNC hosts any and all criticism of CSIRO, as far as I can see – and rightly so in my view – including entries by Geoff, who has published (a) book(s) attacking CSIRO. How is that therefore that the demonstrably unscientific NIST statements on 9-11 are swallowed whole on BNC? Especially given the enormous implications (see above) for global warming once Central Asian fossil fuels come on tap more and more?
If there is one ideology that is paramount on BNC it is the self-proclamation of Non-Ideology. But is is risibly evident that this is hollow.

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Eclipse, noooooo! You said the word “Truther” in a previous comment. Don’t you realise, you madman, that this is akin to tossing a bucket of blood burley in off the side of the boat and then waiting for the triangular Laloric dorsal fin to start circling the Open Thread?

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