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.


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?”

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?

No Mr. Lalor. It’s not like that at all.


How is that therefore that the demonstrably unscientific NIST statements on 9-11 are swallowed whole on BNC?

When did 9/11 ever get discussed enough (or at all) on BNC to come to that conclusion?


Peter Lalor,

upthread, Eclipse Now acted as what is known as a left-wing gatekeeper

I’m intrigued. Known as such by whom, and signifying what exactly?

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

Indeed so, thrice daily with blood supplications on feast days.


@Morgan: the term “left wing gatekeeper” has 4,000 Google hits currently; I realise it may be more current outside South Pacific-brand English, so you may like to peruse some of those hits.

As also with Finrod and Brook, your preferred rejoinder appears to be ridicule. Your loyalty to the Great and the Good knows no bounds, does it? Still, your salaries (on trend,) do depend on it, I realise that.

After all, we have the consultant to the Swiss govt. on Peak Oil, Daniele Ganser of Uni Basle. He recentlxy polled ca. 200 fellow pol. scientists across Europe, asking why, if they thought that 9-11 needed a new investigation, they did not publish papers on it. He reported in a radio interview that they all told him they were scared for their jobs.

Suffice it to say, the more Central Asian oil/natgas comes on stream under NATO control, the worse it looks for nuclear in the rich high-C02, i.e. NATO countries, wouldn’t you say?

Unless the deprivation of said resources compels China to accelerate its nuclear programme, in which case that would be a nice irony of the 9-11 false flag attack.

Please mentally add whatever figures (tonnes, MW, cubic feet, km.of pipeline, KWh, etc.) you might find necessary to lend my purely verbal argument that special BNC certificate of approval (humour)


One comment on this 9-11 business (I’ll probably regret this):

That the 9-11 commission was a whitewash is probably or flat out true. It does not follow that 9-11 was an “inside job.”

Read James Ridgeway’s book, Five Unanswered Questions about 9-11, a very good book, and compare it with a conspiracy theory book by Chossudovsky or Michael Ruppert (I read them all–and many others as part of a research project part of whose purpose was to analyze the difference between good explanations and conspiracy theory explanations–which are usually, though not always, bogus).

Especially look at the way RIdgeway and Chossudovsky handle the U.S. ISI (pakistani intelligence service) connection. The latter simply assumes that the ISI is a CIA “asset” pure and simple. As R shows, it was not simply this but was divided, containing both U.S. allies and U.S. enemies.

Figures in the ISI almost surely knew about 9-11 and the ISI chief of Intelligence was meeting with u.s. congress people the day of the attack.

Conspiracy theorists assume that they were “all in on it.”

But this is false. The ISI chief who met with congresspeople, Ahmed, on the morning of 9-11 did apparently fund one of the 9-11 bombers, but the U.S. (including those who met with Ahmed that morning like Joseph Biden, Bob Graham and George Tenet) did not know about it until later (perhaps they should have known).

Ahmed was REMOVED FROM HIS POST 3 WEEKS AFTER 9-11. Chossudovsky, the conspiracy theorist, FAILS TO MENTION THIS AND UNFORTUNATELY, THESE DETAILS MEAN EVERYTHING. They mean the difference between a declining power that cannot control former “assets,” and paranoid assumptions about a totalitarian u.s. government, that is somehow at once all knowing and incredibly incompetent.

I think the 9-11 truth people have gone off the deep end, which they perhaps wouldn’t have done had there been a more serious investigation of 9-11. On the other hand, it really is hard to see the conspiracy theorists as more out to lunch than people who just take the government’s word for granted. WHAT’S REALLY DISTURBING IS THIS DICHOTOMY BETWEEN ACCEPTANCE OF OFFICIAL STORY ON ONE HAND AND CONSPIRACY ON THE OTHER. But in order to avoid both camps, you have to read a bunch of stuff that ordinary people simply do not have time to do, and read it critically.

As far as engineers for 9-11 truth (1500, whatever), that’s no more convincing than the Oregon Petition. National Geographic actually took 9-11 truth engineer Richard Gage seriously and subjected his claims (demolition etc) to scrutiny. I doubt many have an interest, but you can google this.

Former Nation columnist alexander cockburn, now infamous for his global warming denialism, is a staunch opponent of conspiracy theories like 9-11. George Monbiot had a great piece showing how similar denialist reasoning is to 9-11 conspiracy theory, in order to suggest that Cockburn was off his rocker.

Also: if you’re a conspiracy theorist, think for a damn moment. why have your “asset” in the ISI pay off someone to fly a jet into the twin towers while also paying off “insiders” to do controlled demolition? Talk about damn Ockham’s Razor?!!!

Peter Lalor: you don’t know what you’re talking about when you claim the NIST analysis is demonstrably false, do you?


BTW, David Benson has mentioned Pigliucci’s very interesting book (got it on kindle) Nonsense on Stilts numerous times.

While it does discuss–subjecting to true skepticism– both creationism and global warming denial, I wish it had actually gone into the “scientific” debates around 9-11, as it would have been educational.


@Meyerson: concerning my mention of NIST, it has to do with the WTC 7 collapse and free fall, among other things, but as you are a self-educated nukie coming from Humanities, I am sure you know all about that, so why ask me? Scared of the answer?

The rest of what you wrote is classic Straw Man. As if Prof Jones, Kevin Ryan, Chandler et. al. and David Griffin did not exist and the correct interpretation of 9-11 turns on Pakistan alone.

Next thing you’ll be saying that the misguided Truthers who claim no plane hit the Pentagon are the “essential” Truthers, so all WTC controlled demolition evidence is “irrelevant.” Hint: WTC were in NY; the Pentagon is not, how about that?!

You cite National Geographic? its role as US cheerleader in the Vietnam war? Now quote me Michael Chertoff’s cousin “debunking” 911 Truth in “Popular Mechanics” as well, and make my day.

Still, it is probably true that the entire destruction of a war effort justified by a false flag attack, in this case Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan, is needed before the US gullible, in this case left-wing gate keepers, will admit it was a false flag attack.

That is, if Germany had not been defeated and taken under US tutelage as anti-Soviet bulwark in 1945, Germans would still believe that live Poles, and not carefully-arranged corpses in Polish uniforms, had attacked the radio mast at Gleiwitz/Silesia in 1939, this being Hitler’s casus belli to invade. But at Nuremberg, the Nazi general who had set up the Gleiwitz show spilled the beans during his trial, so it became quite OK for ex-Nazis to see Gleiwitz as “false flag”, provided they kept loving Harry S. Truman and Ike and dancing to Glenn Miller, etc.

The relevance to nukies is as I said before:

9-11 has enabled many to feel moral about attempted NATO control of Central Asian oil/natgas. This can occur either through direct occupation by NATO armies or mercenaries, or by inserting nearby military bases vis-a-vis China/India, at a time when those commodities should be going offline rather than becoming more plentiful. The reason is called global warming.

(Let’s see if Brook, who is a gatekeeper alright but not a left wing one, now “bans my arse”, on this topic, as he threatened to do months ago. That would be cute, given the intricate link between 9-11 and NATO access to fossil fuels in Central Asia.)


You don’t read sources carefully. You judge their politics before you look at evidence–rampant guilt by association.

I’ve read David Griffin, three of his books (so your name dropping makes no sense as usual). I was open to the argument but it’s not convincing when you read Manuel Garcia or the latest NIST or natl geo.

M. Garcia is a leftist but he agrees with National Geographic. if you condemn the latter in knee jerk fashion because they supported the vietnam war, what to do with Garcia, who did not?

You reduce evidence to political interest in a way which makes you look like a parody of a bad poststructuralist.

Incredible that you take yourself seriously. Instead of looking at the multi part series by National Geographic that responds directly to Gage, you pull the Vietnam war line?

would you like it if I smeared you ala guilt by association with some of the truthers racist views about immigrants (not Griffin but alex jones, say)?

or associated you with Charlie Sheen?

The pakistani example is no straw man: it’s a clear indication that the conspiracy theorists are either dishonest or lack care.

Don’t pull your B.S. with me. I’ve actually read Ruppert, Griffin, Chossudovsky, Loehr, etc. etc.

and their critics.


Everybody knows 9-11 was a Nazi conspiracy. There, the thread is officially a Godwin now, and this is the end of it.


////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 arrive?////
Ha ha ha!

On no, what have I done? I see a “Great White Lalor” closing in for the kill!

///The correct spelling for this usage is “troofer”.///
Ha ha ha, the ripping and tearing and munching begins.

@ Tom Keen,
I think I like where that paper is probably heading.

@ John Morgan
///Indeed so, thrice daily with blood supplications on feast days.///
I toss around chicken entrails to appease the lesser gods of 9/11, but each to their own.

@ Barry Brook
///What is C02? Some new NATO code word?///
Ha ha, it’s like some James Bond code word sequence.
Bond: “What is Co2?”
Contact: “Only a product we exhale”
Bond: “So, what is it you contacted me about?”
Contact: “The troofers are on to us!”

@ Barry
Peter Lalor said:
///(Let’s see if Brook, who is a gatekeeper alright but not a left wing one, now “bans my arse”, on this topic, as he threatened to do months ago. That would be cute, given the intricate link between 9-11 and NATO access to fossil fuels in Central Asia.)///
Dang, Barry, he’s onto us! Call Central Asia and Nato and tell them the whole game is off — we can’t even ban Lalor now or we will confirm his hypothesis. By the way, when is our next cheque due to come through from Nato? I’m broke!

@ Finrod
///Indeed, all history has been unfolding towards this epic moment of the banning of Peter Lalor from BNC. It’s a pivotal element of God’s plan.///
The sharks Finrod, the sharks!

@ ALL,


Vaguely on topic, though admittedly parochial…. The UK government is proposing to dispose of our ~100 tonne stockpile of reactor grade plutonium by converting it to MOX fuel, at a an estimated cost of $8-10 billion, according to a WNN article. They have invited public comments, in particular answers to a set of questions, the fist of which is

Do you agree that it is not realistic for the Government to wait until fast breeder reactor technology is commercially available before taking a decision on how to manage plutonium stocks?

Is there any interest – particularly from the rest of the poms-in putting a reply in? Even if we won’t do any reactor development ourselves, and giving the Pu to India, where they are desperate for fast reactor start charges, is politically impossible, building another MOX plant seems a particularly bad idea. The US facility will only be used for downblending weapons Pu, after that it will have nothing to do. Paying them to keep the plant running to deal with our Pu must surely be cheaper..


As Mike Williamson said, I tipped this.

In Nature today, Mark Serreze does a News & Views piece ‘Rethinking the sea-ice tipping point’ on work by Tietsche et al just published in GRL. In a nutshell, it’s good news – the Arctic sea ice is not quite the climate ‘tipping point’ it had been thought to be. Here’s Serreze as to why:

The crux is winter. Initially, with ice-free summers, the ocean picks up a great deal of extra heat, delaying autumn ice growth. If there was a tipping point, this summer heat gain would lead to ice cover the following spring being thin enough to completely melt out over the following summer. Instead, so much ocean heat is lost during the darkness of the polar winter that enough ice grows to survive the next summer’s melt.

Compare with what I wrote on the A catastrophe in slow motion – sea ice updates thread back in 2008:

…there’s another parameter I’d like to throw into a back-of-envelope calculation – the thermal conductivity and other insulating properties of ice w.r.t. open water. Everyone goes on about the positive feedback effects of the albedo drop from ice to water, but what about the half of the year when there’s little or no sun? Presumably the ocean will give up more of its stored heat more readily during the polar night without an initial ice cap than with one. Surely this constitutes a significant negative feedback process?

Remember, you read it on BNC first!


Hi Gordon,
You forgot to look under “False flag” operations.

Where it says:
Many 9/11 conspiracy theories[citation needed]
And the link takes us to

Whereas all it says for “Peak Oil” is:

Peak oil

///There are theories that the “peak oil” concept is a fraud concocted by the oil industries to increase prices amid concerns about future supplies. The oil industry is aware of vast reserves of untapped oil, according to these theories, but it deliberately refuses to utilize them in order to maintain the illusion of scarcity.///
and then has a poor comparison to the diamond trade and a bit about ‘abiogenic oil’.

All of this flies in the face of the peer reviewed geologist literature by the hard-nosed old boys of the industry. In other words, the wikipedia ‘peak oil’ conspiracy is to geology as the Ian Plimer is to real climate science. It’s denialism, pure and simple.

Now *that’s* food for thought.


Even past Labor Government ministers recognise that the Carbon Tax is a dud. Here Gary Johns, Minister in the Hawke-Keating government, explains why:

For those who do not wish to read the article but would like a few snippets, see below:

For droughts we build dams, for floods we build levees, for cyclones we rebuild stronger houses and replant crops. We have no option but to do these things. Indeed, when non-climate tragedies occur, such as earthquakes, we have no option but to rebuild. All of these things require energy. All of these things become more difficult if the price of energy rises.

For the carbon tax to work, the price of carbon emissions will need to continue to rise, which means future governments will have to raise the tax. This is unlikely to occur. Certainty cannot be delivered under these circumstances.

I sympathise with economists that a price on carbon emissions would deliver the electricity industry and their customers secure power generation.

These things are not going to happen with a pricing mechanism that requires future governments to change the tax or the cap. Even with a carbon tax and a successful transition to a cap and trade system and future lowering of the cap, the likely medium-term changes to the Australian economy will be one or two power plants fired by gas and the de-commissioning of one or two coal-fired plants. Some reform, some abatement.

I sympathise entirely with economists that a price would work best, in lieu of subsidies for renewables. Linking solar and wind generation to the grid is proving a real headache. But a pricing mechanism will not solve the inadequacy of these technologies.

Australia’s mitigation strategy has no hope of doing other than lining the pockets of gas and nonrenewable energy producers and risking any number of Australia’s internationally competitive producers. The impact on global temperature will be nil.

There are no benefits in adopting low-emission energy production early, because we can easily pick up on what others do at a later time.


Tony Abbott’s promise to overturn a carbon tax means a price mechanism is no longer an option. Of course, it never was an option because for the tax and-or the cap and trade to work effectively future governments would have to continue to raise the price of carbon emissions, which is a bit like asking them to raise the GST on a regular basis. It simply will not happen.

But do not despair. There is an economically rational solution to cutting emissions. It is explained in numerous comments on the BNC “Alternative to Carbon Pricing” thread.


Who are the real “deniers”? I’d argue many here are displaying just that trait. They deny the economically rational arguments without making an attempt to understand them. And by so doing they cast doubt on whether they have the capacity to be objective about any of their beliefs.

In earlier discussions on other threads the same people who are warmists also argue that the Australian government should encourage (i.e. subsidise, mandate, regu;late) industries to force more ‘value adding’ in Australia. (e.g. uranium processing and many other examples). However, they also argue for a carbon tax which will have the exact opposite effect. Here is one example.

Another example of the effect of a carbon tax is that Australian grown foods would be impacted and their price would increase, but the cost of imported foods would not increase. So adding a carbon price would favour imported foods over Australian grown foods. The effect would be to drive more Australian food growers out of business.


Peter Lang starts off on a rant about economic Denialism and then says:

////who are warmists////

“Oh the humanity!”

You’re as consumed by dreams of a Laissez-Faire state as Peter Lalor is consumed by nightmares of NATO conspiracies controlling BNC and Barry through the use of Martian wacky tobaccy… or something, I could never quite tell WHAT Lalor was on about.

//// You mean getting nice safe Gen3 nukes approved in Australia?

My bad, I was being ironic only. I should have said something like:

“You mean the solution might actually have something to do with NUCLEAR POWER? What kind of suggestion is that — isn’t this your economics blog? Why on earth would we discuss ENERGY SYSTEMS here at Brave New Capitalism?”

See, I think the problem here is that you thought I cared what you thought? I don’t. And I think you knew that.

Any excuse to point to your favourite thread on BNC hey? (Nudge nudge wink wink)

The reason I said “nice safe Gen3 nukes” is of course — and you knew this — in contrast to your “cheaper, crapper, less safe nuclear power for Australia!” Why, I didn’t know you were a protagonist for the Greens? That’s a bumper sticker even Bob Brown would be happy with!

No, I’d rather see us choose the RIGHT kind of nuclear power. If it needs a little subsidy, Carbon Tax or whatever, I don’t really care. Fossil fuels are already subsidised to the tune of $10 billion a year in Australia!

SMH says:

///Subsidies to fossil fuel energies, worth close to $10 billion, result in a serious market distortion, create an unfair disadvantage to renewable energy, and help increase greenhouse gas pollution, says the report, written by the institute’s research principal, Chris Riedy, and commissioned by Greenpeace.///

Check out the EU!

///Conventional energies are politically privileged everywhere in the world by large amounts of public money for research and development; by military protection costs; by 300 billion Dollar of subsidies annually and by the energy laws tailored on them. In contrast to this, Renewable Energies are politically discriminated. Less than a total of 50 billion Dollars public money worldwide were spent in the last 20 years to promote Renewable Energy.
(Footnote 5: Herman Scheer’s ACRE address point 11.)////


Perhaps we need a new thread ‘why gas may not replace coal’. Here’s why I doubt the world’s dirtiest power station Hazelwood will ever be fully replaced by combined cycle gas, carbon tax or not. The reasons are
1) gas will soon be needed to replace oil
2) key States don’t have long term gas.

Australia consumes about 50 Mt a year of oil now mostly imported. We consume about 20 Mt of domestic gas and export another 20 Mt or so. Thus oil is currently ‘bigger’ than gas though allowance should be made for heating value after conversion and suitability for various chemical feedstocks.

Several mature gas basins supply Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. While reserve to production ratios look OK there are hints of long term plans. Adelaide is connected both to Queensland via Moomba and to Victoria via Pt Campbell. Tasmania has an undersea gas pipe to Longford Victoria. Conceivably then after a flow reversal in the SA-Vic segment Queensland gas could augment dwindling resources in the other three States.

Thus replacement of Hazelwood with combined cycle will enormously increase electricity costs not just now but particularly into the future due to competition for distant gas. Either the pesky carbon tax will be watered down or we will pretend that baby trees and less flatulent sheep have fixed the problem. Most likely Hazelwood will still be there puffing away in 2030. Whether this applies to new baseload stations in NSW is less clear.


Zdenek P. Bazant, Jia-Liang le, Frank R. Greening & David B. Benson,
“What Did and Did Not Cause Collapse of World Trade Cneter Twin Towers in New York?”,
ASCE J. Engg. Mechanics v. 134 #10 (2008 Oct), 892–906.


Fossil fuels are already subsidised to the tune of $10 billion a year in Australia!

I think this is baloney. As I’ve written elsewhere, the lion’s share of those apparently huge fossil fuel subsidies is in the form of various rebates and exemptions from fuel taxes and excises. But surely the fact that we have fuel taxes and excises at all counts against the ‘subsidies’. This isn’t taken into account by the ‘$10 billion’ figure.

The other reason I don’t trust Greenpeace’s figures on this is exactly illustrated by the last part of EN’s post @ 10:14pm. They are interested in inflating fossil fuel ‘subsidy’ figures so that they can put them against the (genuine) subsidies received by renewables, then use the (spurious) comparison as an excuse for the woeful underperformance of the latter.


I don’t care what *form* the subsidies are in Mark, and I’m not using it the way Herman Scheer was in recommending renewables. I’m just pointing out that I’d rather see some of those subsidies going to something that would WORK such as Gen3 nukes! I should have quoted Scheer with a clarifying comment to that regard. But still, 300 billion worldwide in subsidies to DIRTY fossil fuels is not a statistic to sneeze at. Just imagine what we would be getting if they put that kind of money into assembling a few state of the art S-PRISM modular factories to shoot S-PRISMS’s off the assembly line!



See, I think the problem here is that you thought I cared what you thought? I don’t. And I think you knew that.

Why, then, are you persisting with this fruitless exchange?


I don’t know that you’re fully grasping my point, EN. I’m saying that, to the extent governments derive revenue from fossil fuel taxes, excises and the like, figures for fossil fuel subsidies like ‘$300 billion’ (EU) and ‘$10 billion’ (Australia) are way overstated. Some sort of net figure would be a truer indication, IMHO. It might even be negative.


I share Mark’s concern that the subject of subsidies has been hijacked by ACF and others. Even the Wikipedia entry has been totally rewritten
so that it no longer includes direct mention of the diesel rebate for example.

On which I could point out the OECD has asked Australia to drop the rebate. From the top of my head the rebate is 18c/L but the fuel tax is 38c so the govt still pockets 20c net. Note if they did drop the diesel rebate a sudden switch by truckers to CNG would make gas prices uneconomic for stationary generation with or without carbon tax. The quantities are given in an earlier post.

If ACFs new tack is that feed-in tariffs are peanuts compared to fossil subsidies it’s not only a porky but both Gillard and Garnaut have said carbon pricing should mean renewables don’t need subsidies. Make it the same deal for everybody, say carbon pricing plus loan guarantees but not subsidies or mandates.


@ Meyerson:

You order me there not “to pull b.s. on you”.

Extending your rural metaphor, you and fellow Coincidence Theorist Manuel Garcia are cherry-pickers (NB: please do not spread your own bullshit under cherry trees, Sanitation Dept. don’t like it; rough mulch is better, but do a soil pH test first and please practise no-till; as they say in your Deep South, “chop and drop”

Your coincidence theorist National Geographic, which you cite as some sort of “refutation” of 9-11 Truth is 67% owned by Fox Newsman Murdoch, never mind what it did as cheerleader in the Vietnam War. Like all NATO-aligned State and private commercial media in Anglo countries (USA, Aust., UK; NZ; Canada) it is gatekeeping for US power, cf. Project for New American Century PNAC; Brzezinski, Feith, Perle, Zelikow etc..

The Nat. Geog. hit piece, as also the BBC one, has been admirably dissected already, as you are well aware.

Then we have the hundreds of 9-11 evidence discrepancies which are not directly in the realm of natural science eg Newtonian physics/engineering and which you “debunkers” suppress, e.g. COG, Continuity of Government planning by /Rumsfeld/Cheney, as described by Peter Dale Scott.

Call yourself a Marxist of some sort, do you, Meyerson? Hell’s Teeth, at least your country has Michael Parenti and James Petras. Better you stick to your favoured Stewart Brand and his paeans of praise to GMO.

Concluding, 911 was a false flag attack by persons/States unproven but suspected (by Pres. Cossiga, Gen, Hamid Gul) which is making the prospects for nuclear worse and worse by bringing more fossil fuel under NATO i.e. high carbon, state control via Iraq/Pakistan/Afghanistan. Unless China speeds up its NPP programme as a result of NATO occupying Central Asia and cutting it off from, or threatening to interdict, natgas and oil.

But apparently the Kremlin has the majority stake in BP which is the main oil supplier to the US army, so we live in hope.


Here is a short comment I had published in The Advertiser today, and sums up my position in <300 words:

The largest source of Australia's emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases is coal combustion to generate electricity. As long as coal represents the cheapest source of energy, it will continue to be used. There are only two real options for altering this current reality. One is to put a price on carbon emissions, to drive up the cost of coal and other fossil fuels. The other is to drive down the cost of alternative energy sources through new technology and more targeted investments to bring scale and focus to energy planning.

I'd argue that both approaches are necessary and vital.

A steadily rising carbon price, either via a simple tax or a more elaborate emissions trading system, is critical for triggering change and driving novel strategic planning. If it is certain that energy costs will rise under a business-as-usual scenario, then governments, markets and individual consumers will all seek lower-cost alternatives. Without it, we will simply default to the devil we know (coal and gas). The starting carbon price need not be high, but it must form a long-term commitment and it must be known that it will rise over time.

With a carbon price in place — or indeed before, if possible — we must clear the floor for all alternative energy technologies to compete, on a fair and level playing field. This means including nuclear power in addition to renewables, in the commercial portfolio of options. With a price on carbon in place, it is essential that we seek lowest-cost abatement, and have available to us proven energy sources for delivering low-carbon, baseload electricity.


It’s amusing that Australia can introduce a value-added tax (the G&ST) of 10% and not be down the toilet 10 years later, but a similar style of charge gathering a quarter of the amount of the G&ST for possibly 3 years, with compensation in a period of a tight employment market and with full compensation will lead to ruin, according to resident let-the biosphere-be-industry’s-free-sewer activist Peter Lang.

Why is he more bothered by a small rebated VAT than a large unrebated biospheric sewer?


I prefer the term ‘FCOAD fee’ as comprehensively discriptive:

Fossil Carbon Open Air Disposal

I suppose regualrs here already know about my preference, so I’ll try not to repeat it again, at least not in the near future.


Hi Fran, that sounds like a good question for *his* thread over here. I’ve copied and pasted it for you already

I’m boycotting that thread. Anything that takes more than 3 minutes to load is too cumbersome to deal with. Last time I loaded it, I made a cup of tea, arranged my son’s orthodontist appointment and and got through the first couple of sips before it displayed.


Wow — you must not have a cable modem! OK, that’s *another* reason to build an NBN! ;-)

(Ducks for cover as a *new* storm breaks in the Open Thread! Ha ha! Sorry about the shark attack that mentioning 9/xx. caused.)


David Benson said:

I prefer the term ‘FCOAD fee’ as comprehensively descriptive: Fossil Carbon Open Air Disposal

Someone a few years back coined the phrase “living tissue sequestration” for the contemporary system of dealing with industrial pollution. I regard that as apt.


I personally take heart that with the rise of all our silly iPad styled toys, we are slowly seeing a new breed of e-toys that might actually help monitor the worldwide environment. Imagine every future iPad/iPhone operates as a Star Trek Tri-corder, sniffing the air for pollutants, temperature, humidity, Co2 levels, and whatever else you can think of. Think of really cheap Tri-corder chips being planted in trees and running off the ambient energy there. (I can’t quite grasp it but there’s a tiny voltage or something in trees they’re looking at using?????? Sounds like something from Avatar, but there you are.)

Now image this kind of environmental monitoring going global, and reporting to new interacting net based databases.

I also take heart that Tom Blees Plasma burner technology — or ‘atomic recycler’ that recycles all old landfill into useful products — is finally looking economic.

That is AWESOME news!


New battery double the power and 10 times cheaper by 2015? Imagine EV’s that can go twice as far but instead of costing $4000 per battery only cost $400?

///The new battery uses sodium-containing substances melted at a high temperature. The technology has been around for decades, but existing molten-salt batteries require keeping the electrolyte in a liquid state at a temperature higher than 300 C. Sumitomo Electric worked with researchers at Kyoto University to develop a sodium material that melts at 57 C.

Having roughly double the energy density of a typical lithium ion battery, the new battery would let an electric vehicle travel twice as far as a lithium ion battery of the same size. Automakers would be able to reduce the space taken up by batteries in their EVs. Molten-salt batteries also boast high heat and impact resistance and are said to be less susceptible to igniting than lithium ion batteries.

Sodium is cheaper than lithium because it is in abundant supply. The new battery is expected to be priced at about Y20,000 per kilowatt-hour–about 10% as much as domestic lithium ion batteries and one-fifth as much as Chinese products.

But unlike a room-temperature lithium ion battery, the new battery must be kept at 80 C to output power. So for the time being, Sumitomo Electric envisions it being used in applications where it is operating continuously, such as homes and electric buses. The company and the university have applied to have the battery patented.////


@Richard Smart (1152 5 March) linked us to a Wikipedia map of non/nuclear countries , saying soon Australia will look like it is the only non-nuclear country on the planet.

In fact there are many other non-nuclear countries on the map including Nepal, Laos, Chad and Burkina Faso, so we would hardly be alone. However it is the map which is in error, because it should show Australia as one of the very few countries where nuclear is ILLEGAL.

There is a single Act of Parliament which must be set aside before conservative business planners can put nuclear on their list of options. Similarly Chambers of Commerce could then lobby their various state governments for nuclear as a reliable power supply which will never suffer from escalating carbon tax.

Perhaps someone is in a position to advise Wikipedia, with a respectable reference?


FB my satellite internet gives me 4 Mbps with say 99% availability. Therefore if the NBN saves a lazy $20 bill on fibre cables we could buy some AP1000s. That thread you mention now seems immune to reasoning and perhaps is best avoided anyway.

EN what if the sodium car gets T-boned? Worse still the fire brigade hoses water over the wreck. Adelaide’s Tindo bus which I presume is still running must be either in discharge or recharge (ie not simply parked) so the Zebra batteries don’t freeze.



ARE fossil fuels given $300 billion or not?

When you put it like that, no, they absolutely are not, nor anything like it.


Really? So when our little nation of 21 million people has a government that ‘gives’ them $10 billion annually in various rebates and tax discounts, why don’t you think that the world total of rebates and discounts to big oil, gas, and coal could read $300 billion?


@ John,
///EN what if the sodium car gets T-boned? Worse still the fire brigade hoses water over the wreck. Adelaide’s Tindo bus which I presume is still running must be either in discharge or recharge (ie not simply parked) so the Zebra batteries don’t freeze.///
We already drive cars full of explosive petroleum. Is that a good idea? It seems we’re more addicted to the car than common sense. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’d rather buy a nice pair of shoes than a nasty car — IF I lived in a walkable city.

But check out the stats for that battery again. If it’s true, does a battery system twice as powerful and 10 times cheaper than today’s make renewable energy possible? Think of massive battery banks near wind farms and that sort of thing.


PS: I’ve already thought of Barry’s earlier comment on the giant ‘gravel battery’ story about a year back. If any new super-batteries are only incrementally better, they would probably best be used to store energy for peaking power on a baseload nuclear grid. But are *these* batteries cheap enough to make renewables baseload with roughly today’s / tomorrow’s electricity prices? Now that would be interesting, especially if we did the Ian Lowe / Diesendorf ‘mixed grid’ analysis of multiple sources of electricity… say third wave, third wind, third solar thermal.


@EN “‘gives’ them $10 billion annually in various rebates and tax discounts”

Ah, but when you put ‘gives’ in quotes and put it in terms of rebates and tax discounts, then you’re talking about something different to what you said further up, at least in my book. My point is that if you want to count rebates, tax discounts etc. as ‘gives’, then in this instance (talking about government assistance to fossil fuels) you also need to take into account governments ‘takes’ in the form of fuel taxes, excise etc. The ‘$10 billion’ and ‘$300 billion’ estimates do not.


EN as it happens the ever reliable Mythbusters have covered both sodium fires and petrol fires. If I recall a petrol fire from a collision was fairly difficult to simulate.

Sodium batteries would have to be at the wind farm or transformer station to reduce accidents. To understand the economics we’d need to know how big the batteries would need to be and how often they would need backup. It would be weird if nuke critics said IFRs were bad because of sodium coolant but wind farms with sodium batteries are OK. Kinda like granite geothermal; fission is bad but radioactive decay is good.


@ Mark,
I’m still struggling to understand what you’re saying. Are you really trying to justify the government ‘discounts’ to fossil fuel companies? Are you trying to assert that they pay more tax on their fuel than the rest of us? Are they taxed at a higher rate or something? Do they pay the same rate of tax that we do on a per litre basis? If not, why not? Why do THEY qualify for a discount when I don’t? I’d love someone to explain that to me.


There’s an absolutely delicious article just put up on Climate Spectator by Italian ‘renewables’ snake oil salesman Carlo Ombello, mourning the immanent demise of the Italian solar industry:

Long time BNCers may recall Ombello’s prior boasts about how much the cost of solar power was coming down so quickly, and how nuclear power had absolutely no future because it was much too expensive, or something.

I’ve made a comment on the article, but I’m not confident it will be there very long, so I’m placing it here for posterity.

Well that certainly is bad news for the ‘renewables’ sector, Carlo. It looks like the mass outbreak of common sense about energy policy which has swept across Western Europe in the last year or two is intensifying, and developing into a full scale epidemic in Italy. You’d better hurry up and rally all your midgets, jugglers, elephants and dancing girls, and do it quick, or there’s no telling how bad things could get.


@EN, no to pretty much all your questions. In fact, I’m on the record as saying the removal of indexation from fuel excise was a massive mistake. I’d like to think that I’m merely interested in the truth about the level of effective, net government assistance to the fossil fuel industry, and let the chips fall where they may.

Since fuel taxes, excise etc. are a direct impost on that industry, it seems to me they are an ‘anti-subsidy’, and should be taken into account as such when assessing just how much assistance fossil fuels are getting.

My other motivation for pointing this out is what I mentioned above: the use of grossly over-inflated fossil subsidy figures by renewables advocates to argue that similar amounts should be genuinely given to them.


Well that didn’t take long. By the time I’d published my second comment, they’d already deleted the first. No doubt the deletion of the second will follow swiftly. So here it is!

Cheer up, Carlo. With the glut of unsaleable PV panels resulting from this episode, you can go back to claiming that the firesale prices bankrupted manufacturers will be flogging these baubles off for represents the long-prophecised drop in manufacturing costs you lot keep amusing the rest of us with, just like you did after the Spanish debacle.


@Mark Duffett: if you want to be fair, you’d also note that the taxes & fuel excise are 100% passed on to customers (i.e. us), while the rebates & tax breaks are 100% kept by the fossil fuel industry…

I don’t doubt that, if those rebates & tax breaks ended, that prices would immediately go up to maintain the profitability of the fossil fuel companies.

In some respects, that would be a good thing, much like pricing carbon. I don’t doubt it might have some economic impacts, though (like banks cranking up fees & interest rates in the midst of the global financial crisis so as to maintain their profits, while the rest of the economy was struggling).


Reminder if you’re in Adelaide, don’t miss this event tomorrow night!

Ben Heard is really great – I a good chat with him about the event over coffee on Friday, and he’s got a great slideshow lined up (I’ll also be speaking).

If you didn’t see the media release on this, here it is:

Have we been Misled about Nuclear Power Benefits

Calls for Australia to embrace a low-carbon nuclear energy future are escalating, with two South Australian environmentalists shining a light on the issue and calling for a change in Australia’s energy policy. Professor Barry Brook of the University of Adelaide, and Ben Heard, Director of Adelaide-based consultancy ThinkClimate, announced today that they will deliver presentations to raise the profile of nuclear power as a solution to climate change.

Earlier this month an update by the federal government’s top climate change adviser Professor Ross Garnaut revealed nuclear power is a proven source of clean energy and that there is evidence overseas that the cost of nuclear power is falling. This was in contrast to the Greens’ nuclear spokesman Senator Scott Ludlam who says the government should not only rule out nuclear power but also uranium mining, which he said threatened mine workers, local communities and water courses.

So who is right and why is nuclear power such a hot topic in 2011?

TIA CEO, Steve Adcock commented today on the huge swing towards cleantech initiatives in South Australia and how this has ignited interest in the nuclear power debate. “Cleantech issues have become increasingly important to South Australian technology companies who aim to reduce their carbon footprint,” stated Mr Adcock.

“Parallel issues such as the benefits of nuclear power are therefore of extreme interest to the South Australian technology industry from a business sustainability point of view,” added Mr Adcock.

For TIA member Ben Heard, supporting nuclear power is something new. “I was a long time opponent of nuclear power, believing it to be costly, dirty and dangerous. But my work exposed me every day to the massive scale of the climate crisis, and it demanded a rethink on nuclear power,” said Mr Heard.

“I challenged all my preconceptions, and what I learned astonished me. Nuclear is not just acceptable. It’s a vastly preferable way to deliver energy, and the only solution that can be rolled out at a meaningful national scale,” explained Mr Heard.

Professor Barry Brook is a prominent nuclear advocate, and also holds the position of Director of Climate Science at the University’s Environment Institute. For Professor Brook, current 3rd generation nuclear power is a critical stepping stone to the introduction of generation 4 technology, which provides the promise of inexhaustible, clean and sustainable energy for the whole world.

“For too long Australia been an energy production backwater, satisfied with old-style technology based on burning cheap coal and natural gas,” said Professor Brook.

“But as societal concerns over pollution, climate change, price of electricity and future energy security rise, nuclear energy – the only proven and most cost-effective baseload low-carbon energy source – is now looking like a really sensible option. And rightly so. If we are really serious about addressing Australia’s future clean energy needs, we need to rationally consider all the alternatives, nuclear and renewable,” Professor Brook added.

For these two environmentalists, the obstacle to nuclear power in Australia isn’t scientific or economic, it’s social and political. “I think a lot of Australians are beginning to suspect that we have been misled on nuclear power by the traditional environmental movement,” said Mr Heard.

“However shifting position from anti nuclear to pro-nuclear is a big ask! That’s why I’ve created this presentation. It’s to show people that nuclear makes sense for the environment, and that it’s ok to change your mind,” Mr Heard went on to say.

“Nuclear power is employed by over 30 countries worldwide, with several nations pursuing nuclear power for the first time. But in Australia, with some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, we are stuck debating about whether or not to open a debate! This has to change, and change quickly.”

“Public understanding of the technology is now absolutely crucial” Brook adds. “Only that way will a groundswell of support for nuclear power emerge, and in doing so give politicians and other key decision makers the confidence to put this critical issue firmly on the policy planning agenda.”

Those interested in attending this stimulating and controversial seminar (Powering a Cleaner Australia) can book online at the TIA website via Powering a Cleaner Australia will be staged at the Education Development Centre, Milner Street Hindmarsh, Tuesday 8th March, (off Port Road) from 4.00pm to 6.00pm for a nominal attendance fee of $10.00.


Today in Ontario one out of two homes, schools, hospitals, farms, factories and businesses is powered by nuclear. Ontario’s energy plan is counting on nuclear for half of our province’s power – now and for decades to come.

One of the biggest issues on the minds of people in Ontario today is electricity. With Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan released last November the issues of our electricity supply mix, infrastructure renewal and the cost to consumers is bringing this important policy issue to the forefront.

That’s why a coalition of organizations from across Ontario, who have all be instrumental on the renewal of the Bruce Power Site over the last 10 years, are coming together to launch a major communications effort in the coming weeks and months on the critical role nuclear power and specifically our site plays in the province’s Long Term Energy Plan to provide dependable, affordable power.

A website http:// and an extensive radio and print advertising campaign have been launched to ensure continued strong public support for the significant role identified for the Bruce Power Site in providing affordable, dependable electricity.

The communications effort is focused on simple, yet factual, messages we believe are important so people understand our story, from us, about what we do everyday and plan to do for many decades to come. It also builds on our previous efforts to communicate more effectively as an industry directly to the public.

The communications effort will also involve an extensive social media outreach effort with the goal of attracting people to the website allowing people to view the facts for themselves.


Many BNCers will disagree with most of what appears at Jennifer Marohasy’s blog, but there is much (not complete, but much) truth here:

Reading between the lines, there’s a fair bit of low-hanging efficiency fruit to be picked, but the magnitude of retrofitting required to allow anything like the demand reductions, er, demanded by renewables advocates must not be underestimated.


Reading articles written by non-experts on the subject of baseload, (or anything else about the electric power network) reminds me of listening to someone that has no idea of the intricacies of a complex game like baseball, or cricket hold forth about yesterdays game. The shallowness of their understanding, to which they are oblivious, is glaring to any true fan, or student of the game, but often, to the group these idiots are addressing, what they are saying sounds plausible.


Some readers might be interested to look at the contents of this link: sim/2050 sim.aspx

It is, admittedly, a UK relevant exercise, but could still be of interest. There has been an “expert led” ongoing debate about possible energy and supply side pathways that could achieve 80% emissions reduction by 2050. The energy calculator itself can also be accessed such that one can make one’s own pathway. Currently, the economic costs of the possible pathways have not been addressed – all that is currently claimed is that the choices are, at least, theoretically possible in the technical sense were money to be no object. Apparently the calculator is going to be developed and enhanced so that the economic implicationsof the competing choices involved in the differing pathways can be considered. It would seem that this whole exercise is an extension of the approach laid out in David MacKay’s book, “Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air”

PS: I have copied my own link to this source but have noticed spaces between 2050 and sim in two places which may need eliminating. However, it works for me as I have written it.



nice going. Maybe we can get a similar program going in North Carolina.

I’m going to email a local Mayor who I know to check this out.


David Benson: thanks for the engineering article on the tower collapse. wonder if Lalor read this before he got banned.

I have a question. A portion of the abstract is as follows:

“The air ejected from the building by gravitational collapse must have attained, near the ground, the speed of almost 500 mph (or 223 m/s, or 803 km/h) on the average, and fluctuations must have reached the speed of sound.

This explains the loud booms and wide spreading of pulverized concrete and other fragments, and
shows that the lower margin of the dust cloud could not have coincided with the crushing front. The
resisting upward forces due to pulverization and to ejection of air, dust and solid fragments, neglected
in previous studies, are found to be indeed negligible during the first few seconds of collapse but not insignificant near the end of crush-down. The calculated crush-down duration is found to match a
logical interpretation of seismic record, while the free fall duration grossly disagrees with this record.”

My question is just a vocabulary question. does “crush front” refer to the start of the process (near impact point) and “crush down” to the collapse as it unfolds, with “end of the crush down” referring obviously to the …end of the collapse?

i also assume that the demolition thesis would expect the “lower margin of the dust cloud” to coincide with the crushing front…?

But your article shows this to be not just false but clearly false.

To banned Lalor: I teach Parenti and Petras and have cited them in articles.


David Benson:

Thanks once again for that Collapse article. It ‘s really interesting, though I’ll need some assistance with the math–my science/math for dummies reading has paid off but … still.

Since you have mentioned “Nonsense on Stilts,” it strikes me as a good idea to discuss the demarcation line between science and pseudo science using the “demolition thesis” as an example of the latter.

For one, most of the “demolition” people just take for granted that a collapse like that of the towers required temperatures near the melting point of steel. But your article shows that the “initial speculation” that the collapse required very high temperatures does not hold up to further scrutiny.

And you cite a recent study (fire tests) “which showed that structural steel columns under a sustained load of 50% to 70% of their cold strength collapse when heated to 250◦ C.”

It simply does not occur to the conspiracy theorists to test some of the cardinal assumptions about temperature that were important to the conspiracy narrative in the first place. The above experiment utterly demolishes (pun intended) all that david ray griffin (a theologian, not a structural engineer) has written.

anyhow, in this particular example, you can see how the “theory” depended upon taking out of context a taken for granted scientific assumption about temperature.

This was all the science that was needed for the conspiracy theory to “look scientific.”

Anyway, David, you have the makings of a good philosophy of science article.

Btw, I got my doctorate from Northwestern (the article comes from NU’s civil engineering dept) where I did a dissertation critiquing the postmodern stuff that is the focus of Piggliucci’s last (or near last) chapter.

P.S: in above note, I did not appreciate yet the “crush down” “crush up” distinction. Haven’t read far enough and am, as usual, grading papers.


@ DV8,
////Reading articles written by non-experts on the subject of baseload, (or anything else about the electric power network) reminds me of listening to someone that has no idea of the intricacies of a complex game like baseball, or cricket hold forth about yesterdays game. The shallowness of their understanding, to which they are oblivious, is glaring to any true fan, or student of the game, but often, to the group these idiots are addressing, what they are saying sounds plausible.////
That’s all probably true DV8 — I wouldn’t know as I’m one of ‘them’. This is all the more reason for being able to debunk the Diesendorf sound-bytes with 10 word sound-bytes of our own and create catchy, self-propagating meme’s that move both throughout the internet and also spread in the real world via eye-catching posters.

(Although I admit, to my shame, that I haven’t put any up since before Christmas. I must get back on that — especially at Epping library where High School and Uni kids hang out).


Gregory Meyerson, on 10 March 2011 at 2:15 AM — See Figure 2. In mid-crush-down-collapse, Portion A is still undamaged, portion B is crushed and portion C is riding down on top. Eventually portion A is all crushed (the mass then being considred part of portion B). At that time crush-down ends. Now portion C is descending at a good clip and crushes up against the rubble below; that phase is crush-up.

The crushing front is the border between portion A and portion B during crush-down. It was never observed because the flow of dirty air out of the tower occurs before the impact, i.e. from the story or stories immediately below the crushing front.

Since that paper it has become clearer that the collpase of WTC 1 (North Tower) ought to be intuitively viewed as a vertical avalanche; different resistive force than in the cited paper but the distinction probably only matters to specialists.

As for a philosophy of science paper, be my guest; I’ll not write it. But if you have further questions, do ask.


Mark, I was also passed this paper. It gels with what Allekett and others have been saying, but I think the coal story is more complex, especially when new underground gasification methods are considered — this is the potential monster lurking in the shadows. But either way, when it be motivated by climate change mitigation or energy security, the path of nuclear + renewables to replace fossil fuels as soon as is feasible remains a critical end goal.


FWIW, I agree with Barry, particularly with regards to coal. As I’ve written before (possibly in these very pages; can’t find it now), I think there is still great global scope for more coal discovery, which the assessments canvassed in the Ward et al paper don’t adequately allow for. Let alone the new extraction technologies that Barry mentions.


I’ll re-read the U of SA paper which could do with some graphs. Every region seems to have large low grade outback coal deposits. SA for example has Arckaringa Basin north of Olympic Dam.

However the energy return (on energy invested) doesn’t merely have to be >1 but perhaps >8 about where Brazilian cane ethanol and Canadian tar sands sit. On The Oil Drum commentators like Euan Mearns and Ugo Bardi argue that primary energy sources need high EROEI to keep services happening like restaurants and recreational travel. Therefore these big deep remote coal deposits may be irrelevant. Clearly NP with EROEI of say 80 is more reward for effort.


@Barry: “new underground gasification methods… lurking” Lurking is a good term for it.

More than 30 years ago, the British tried to extend their coalfields downward with experiments in underground gasification. As I remember the NS reports, when their air injections did actually manage to maintain a fire underground, all they got out was nitrogen, minority of methane and traces of CO2 etc. Basically, all they were getting back was the air they had put in, minus its oxygen. The methane arose from the collapse of the cavities, the fresh fractures leaking pre-existing methane into the extraction lines.

Nowadays, UG operations in Australia inject oxygen, rather than air, and their yield is mainly methane. By calling the method “underground gasification”, the public is already being misled. The impression being cultivated is of a dry, insulated retort where coal would be raised to high pyrolysis temperatures, yielding hydrogen, carbon monoxide and traces of methane. Instead, they are burning a highly oxidised, cold fire in water-saturated coal, leaving a halo of pyrolysis products (smoke) of tar and acids. CO2 and water from the heart of the fire absorb into the wet coal. Since the cavity collapses inevitably include the roof, the freshly created chemicals convect with the heated water into the aquifer or groundwater above.

It also follows that “underground gasification” is a particularly carbon-inefficient method of extracting old gas. The CO2 created is unlikely to remain underground.



I have to say I’m going to miss Peter Lang’s informative posts (contrasted with his other posts on low cost nuclear, etc. that tend toward the ad hominem).

Did you consider limiting his low cost nuclear posts to once a week? or once a month (probably a better idea)? This way, he won’t disrupt the functioning of the blog–which is to attract people who want to inform and be informed on energy and environment questions.

Funny thing is I agree with Peter Lang that a carbon price won’t work–not without a global enforcement mechanism so powerful that it would hardly be different from just plain ole regulation. Except that plain ole regulation has been heretofore only at state and national levels, never at global scales where capital as a whole–intrinsically competitive, intrinsically connected to competitive nation states–would have to be regulated like it never has been: and probably cannot be.

Rod Adams had an interesting post on John Hofmeister’s “why we hate the oil companies.” Rod highlighted chapter seven, whose title is “the industry is parochial, surprised?” i.e. ruthlessly competitive (so competitive they cannot solve the energy crisis), as are oil’s competitors. This suggests that the only firms or nations that would agree to a carbon price are ones competitively positioned to do so already.


GM perhaps a new thread is needed on arguments for and against carbon pricing. Frankly what went on before was more like Monty Python’s Argument Booth. If you say there are reasons A, B and C for carbon pricing all you got was ‘no it’s not’. Given that eminent scientists and Noble laureates support carbon pricing perhaps the arguments were incomplete. These people invoke concepts like first mover advantage but it never got to that level here.

However logic may not come into it. It struck me watching some street interviews on TV that the stronger the evidence for CC the greater the denial. If 2013 is unambiguously hotter than 1998 vast numbers of people will convince themselves there is no problem.


I think Garnaut has seriously blundered in suggesting not only nice green farming but now 60s era hydro should earn carbon credits
Note that renewables built before 1997 are excluded from the RET. It makes more sense to assume there is zero entitlement to emissions. On that basis a coal fired generator can’t buy credits from a hydro because they haven’t used their presumed entitlement. There is no entitlement. Sale of the credit then excuses continued coal burning which we want to reduce. Perversely coal burning could increase because it has been ‘cancelled out’ whereas that was not the case before carbon credits.

IMO Garnaut is undermining his credibility by flogging the offsets horse. If hydro can sell credits then so can nuclear. I could have driven to the shop to buy a newspaper but I’m reading BNC on the interwebs instead, Therefore I have a carbon credit to sell also.

I suggest Garnaut puts it to Bob Brown that nuclear power should earn carbon credits.


I suggest Garnaut puts it to Bob Brown that nuclear power should earn carbon credits.

I can see that backfiring with ‘carbon credits’ being claimed against uranium exports.


Finrod: I agree, carbon credits for uranium exports is one of those ideas that, on the surface, sounds quite reasonable, and as a result would be relatively easily ‘sold’ to those without a thorough understanding of the issues (well, if you can get past the “nuclear is bad” bogeyman…)

Personally, I still think all offsets are bad. Carbon emissions are bad, whether they’re offset or not!


I seem to recall Alexander Downer a minister in the Howard years saying we should get a carbon credit for uranium exports. It all starts to get complicated; if yellowcake had a CO2-avoided credit it assumes the overseas customer was entitled to burn coal instead whether they have coal facilities or not. Some customers like Japan do consume both Australian coal and uranium. We’d have to subtract a carbon debit from the credit. Anything is possible when there are no rules.


what’s the first mover argument, John? I assume it refers to a firm that makes the first move to cut carbon emissions and capture carbon credits, yes?

Of course, one irony with that is that there would be an incentive to create barriers to entry against other firms so that the first mover can continue to pocket the profits. Without such barriers, the advantage of moving first would be lost: or counterproductive since the sizeable investments undertaken to get there first would be devalued when rivals decided to enter that market at a later time when the technology had come down in price.

I’d like to hear what David Walters has to say on this. I’d also like to hear from Tom Blees. I on the one hand really liked his idea for coordinating nuclear technology transfer: GREAT.

But I don’t think the powers that be on a global scale can bring their divergent interests into coordination to the degree required by the plan.

I know GREAT isn’t a carbon price but to me the two things are related. They both require a global regulatory environment, one with a very different effect on large capitals compared to global regulations that major players can agree on: WTO trade rules concerning capital mobility, etc. The latter rules work to their advantage; the former decidedly do not, which is why, with all the talk of carbon pricing going on for years, we’ve got little in the way of results, to put it mildly.


Moreover John:

M: (Knock)
A: Come in.
M: Ah, Is this the right room for an argument?
A: I told you once.
M: No you haven’t.
A: Yes I have.
M: When?
A: Just now.
M: No you didn’t.
A: Yes I did.
M: You didn’t
A: I did!
M: You didn’t!
A: I’m telling you I did!
M: You did not!!
A: Is this a five minute argument or the full half hour?
M: Oh, just the five minutes.
A: Ah, thank you. Anyway, I did.
M: You most certainly did not.
A: Look, let’s get this thing clear; I quite definitely told you.
M: No you did not.
A: Yes I did.
M: No you didn’t.
A: Yes I did.
M: No you didn’t.
A: Yes I did.
M: No you didn’t.
A: Yes I did.
M: You didn’t.
A: Did.
M: Oh look, this isn’t an argument.
A: Yes it is.
M: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.
A: No it isn’t.
M: It is!
A: It is not.
M: Look, you just contradicted me.
A: I did not.
M: Oh you did!!
A: No, no, no.


Senator Ludlam is loosing the plot completely. He’s becoming a complete joke.

Senator Ludlam’s knowledge of nuclear energy is just like Senator Fielding’s knowledge of evolutionary biology.

“Without nuclear power stations – there can be no nuclear weapons…”

“…no possibility of fuels being stolen to build ‘dirty bombs’…”

“…no possibility of a nuclear power station being hit by a conventional bomb and setting off a nuclear explosion.”


Senator Ludlam’s knowledge of nuclear energy is just like Senator Fielding’s knowledge of evolutionary biology.

I have a suspicion Ludlam knows considerably more about nuclear power than his public utterances suggest. He very likely knows that his contentions are nonsense. He’s counting on his intended audience not knowing this. This is a real race between education and propaganda.


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