Open Thread

Open Thread 18

The previous Open Thread has gone past 550 comments, so it’s time for a fresh palette.

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

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

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


Some possible conversation starters:

  • Here is an interesting lecture on the theory behind nuclear fusion — short, and interesting for a scientifically literate audience
  • A provocative article by John Cameron from University of Wisconsin Madison, entitled: How to ignore data that contradict the LNT hypothesis (on radiation health physics)
  • A comment made on an energy mailing list to which I subscribe, talking about technosolar:

    I am reminded of a Johnny Carson show many, many years ago when he had Dixie Lee Ray as a guest. I think it was around 1973, and she was the new chairman of the US AEC, and Carson engaged her in a discussion about energy. Carson clearly favored solar and wind. She posed a question to him about the value of nuclear energy which went something like this—If you had several hundred freshly cut very tall and heavy trees at the top of a mountain, and you needed to get them down to the river, what would rather have: a couple of bull elephants or several million ants? Which would you chose? He was nonplussed as I recall to say the least. I never forgot that story. For small jobs, the solar/wind sources can be useful. For the really heavy lifting—nuclear is your winner. There simply is nothing else waiting in the wings.

  • The previous quote reminds me of the PBS TV Frontline interview with Dr Charles Till:

    Q: What will be our energy source, then? 

    A: I think that many engineers would agree that there is limited, additional gain to be had from conservation. After all, what does one mean by “conservation?” One simply means using less and using less more efficiently. And there have been considerable gains wrung out of the energy supply and energy usage over the past couple of decades. We can probably go somewhat further. But you’re talking, you know, 10% or 20%. Whereas over the next 50 years, it can be confidently predicted that with the energy growth in this country alone, and much more so around the world, it would be 100%, 200%, or some very large number.

    And so what energy source steps in? There is only one. It’s fossil fuel. It’s coal. It’s oil. It’s natural gas. Some limited additional use of the more exotic forms of things, like solar and wind. But they are, after all, very limited in what they can do. So it will be fossil.

    Now the question, of course, immediately becomes, well, how long can that last? And everyone has a different opinion on that. One thing that is certain, and that is that the increase in the use of fossil fuels will sharply increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Another thing is certain. You will put a lot more pollutants into the atmosphere as well, in addition to carbon dioxide, which one could argue the greenhouse effect exists or doesn’t exist. One can point to natural gas. Well, natural gas has fewer pollutants, and it gives you some considerable factor of perhaps two–more energy for the amount of carbon dioxide put into the air than does coal. But if you’re increasing the amount of fossil fuels by a large number, like five then the use of natural gas is not any long-term answer. It simply somewhat reduces what may be a very serious problem.

    Q: What about Solar and Wind?

    A: No. Small amounts. Small amounts only. The simplest form of pencil calculation will tell you that. But you know, energy has to be produced for modern society on a huge scale. The only way you can do that is with energy sources that have concentrated energy in them: coal, oil, natural gas. And the quintessential example of it is nuclear, where the energy is so concentrated, you have something to work [with]. With solar, your main problem is gathering it. In nuclear, it’s there. It’s been gathered.

    Q: What about the rest of the world? What will it do for energy?

    A: Well, parts of the rest of the world are very much powered by nuclear electricity today. France, of course, is the principal example. But all of the Western European countries. Japan will continue an orderly increase in the amount of nuclear power. There’s no question about that. There will be a tremendous increase in China and in Asia of both the use of coal and the use of nuclear energy. I hope that most of it’s nuclear.

I happen to think Ray and Till are fairly close to the mark, but you may well disagree. Either way, I look forward to the always entertaining conversation that ensues.

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.

653 replies on “Open Thread 18”

re: now off topic EGS on

EL, on 12 October 2011 at 9:16 AM said:

“All the world’s EGS capacity combined adds up to 5 MWe”
(which is quoting from Peter Lang earlier comment)

and then EL commented thus->

“Where do you get this number? MIT independent technical panel estimates EGS resource potential from 3-10km depth in US at 13,000 zettajoules…” etc

I think you are misunderstanding Peter, he is (clearly to my mind) referring to installed capacity of existing EGS plant which is hovering around 5MW-ish. The Geodynamics Cooper Basin 1MW pilot bringing the total up to 6MW-ish (when its finished). Whereas you clearly state “resource potential”, hope that clears up any confusion.

wikip has it in a table:


@peterc, Joffan

yes well written stuff from what I read so far. Thanks for the additional pointer Joffan, this ->

“Understanding how civil nuclear technology is the safe green solution”
a student lecture (May 2007)

Click to access webpptMay07.pdf

am reading now, very good set of slides.

Am also reading Monbiot’s nuclear section very good too, e.g.

The Caldicott exchanges are particularly interesting too in his other articles.


bryen wrote:

I think you are misunderstanding Peter, he is (clearly to my mind) referring to installed capacity of existing EGS plant which is hovering around 5MW-ish. The Geodynamics Cooper Basin 1MW pilot bringing the total up to 6MW-ish (when its finished). Whereas you clearly state “resource potential”, hope that clears up any confusion.

Thank you … it does, but “hovering” for a period of 2-3 years (with up to 500 MWe in development) hardly seems like a stalemate to me, and with lots of 2008 and 2009 research dollars working their way through the pipeline.

We can thank the oil and gas industry (and research support at Sandia National Labs and elsewhere) for new drilling techniques that removed many of the obstacles that held back EGS development in the 1970s: high temperature instrumentation and seals, use of well logs as diagnostic tool, thermal expansion of casing, surface “mud coolers” to reduce temp of drilling fluid, drill bits for harder crystalline and granite formations, aerated drilling fluids to minimize lost returns, and directional drilling with real-time steering tools and downhole motors (detailed in MIT report). “In the 1970s, directional equipment was not well-suited to the high-temperature downhole environment … multilateral completions using directional drilling are now common practice for both oil and gas and geothermal application” (p. 6-8).

With oil and gas booms just starting to use these temperature sensitive directional drilling and fracturing techniques in a cost effective and widespread basis over the last 5-10 years, it’s not surprising to me that an embryonic industry like geothermal (EGS), with much more stringent temperature related issues, is just starting to put these approaches to use in pilot projects and has only 5 MWe in operation (and 281 – 593 MWe planned for near future according to Wiki article). In 2008, the US government made 21 research awards (at $43 million) for next generation geothermal technologies as part of it’s renewable energy opportunity grants (many to first time recipients): for high temperature borehole televiewers, seismic interferometry, micro-earthquake monitoring tools, high temperature submersible pumps, high temperature electronic systems, fracture stratigraphy, geomechanical computer simulations, fluid flow tracers, proppants, and research support for existing wells at on-going field sites in California, Nevada, and Utah. Recovery Act in 2009 boosted this investment to $400 million. Based on the rapid and recent development of these cost effective directional and high temperature drilling techniques, and new developments in fracture stratigraphy and EGS reservoir modeling, I think it’s far too early to suggest (as Peter Lang has done based on one pilot project), that “EGS geothermal is likely to be another dud renewable like wind and solar.” If he has evidence to the contrary, that technological and engineering obstacles are widespread and endemic to industry (and contradict the finding of independent technical and engineering experts claiming no “major barriers or limitations to the technology,” MIT 2006, p. 1-4, and DOE 2008), this would be well worth looking at and evaluating.



I think it’s far too early to suggest (as Peter Lang has done based on one pilot project), that “EGS geothermal is likely to be another dud renewable like wind and solar.”

2011 US DOE Blue RIbbon Panel report on Geothermal

Click to access brp_draft_report_june_17_2011.pdf

IMHO Having read the report ‘Dud’ is too strong a phrase…unresolved challenges is probably accurate.

Recovery Act in 2009 boosted this investment to $400 million.
My community built a $20 million bicycle overpass with recovery act money(previously bicyclists had to dismount and use the pedestrian overpass or use the bicycle underpass 3/4 mile down the road).
The only requirement to get ‘recovery act’ money was that you had to be in a position to spend it quickly. There were no evaluations as to ‘wisely’. Obviously $400 million in R&D money spent ‘wisely’ might make a difference.


I’d love to see geothermal work out, but it’s too early to place much reliance on it for future plans. Holding it up as an alternative to nuclear power at this stage is highly premature.


The 2008 MMA report on geothermal stated

AGEA’s views of the key findings of the report include: The emerging Australian Geothermal Energy Industry can be expected to provide at least 1,000 MW and potentially up to 2,200 MW of base-load capacity by 2020 into the National Electricity Market…/AGEA_Final_Report.pdf;range=5y;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=;

Yet how do you reconcile this claim with Geodynamics share price falling from a high of $2 to the current price of 27 cents, despite $100M in government funding, with an investor commentary noting

A recent management presentation to investors shows no shortage in superlatives: “Geodynamics offers the only available, base-load, low emissions, large scale geothermal project available in Australia” it reads on page one of the presentation. Elsewhere it states “world-class resource in the Cooper Basin”, and “global leader with most deep hole, high temperature geothermal drilling experience in granites”.

Clearly, something’s missing in between the company’s self-promotion and action in the share market.

Morningstar points out the company has now been loss-making for ten consecutive years, a statement that comes with an exclamation mark from the analysts. Judging by their forecasts, there is no prospect for positive earnings whatsoever.

This does not mean that geothermal will never work, but simply suggests that investors and enthusiasts should treat some of the optimistic claims with caution. It is clear that the “prospective geothermal industry”, including the consultants that provide the optimistic outlooks, have little incentive to emphasise the challenges when government largesse is being sought, and employment is secured by investor and government funding in what is probably an interesting area of research.



I’ve just realised that you writing all the comments on BNC, calling yourself and academic, and do not understand the most basic concepts of power, energy, capacity, availablity and capacity factor. I’d urge you to start at the beginning of the TCASE series here: and read through the articles to get an understanding of the basics.


MMA is “notoriously biased” (to use Seth’s words from another thread.) MMA has long had a pro-renewables anti-nuclear bias.

Treasury, the Australian Greenhouse Office (now DCCEE), and ABARE used MMA to provide another perspective – the Green perspective – when modelling energy issues.

I have very little faith in anything that MMA produces. Martin used their modelling results because they forecast the largest renewable proportion by 2050. Tis is a conservative assumptions for Martin’s analysis, as he explains in the paper.


Sorry, Z@Z, I’m tired of playing your game. I was in the control room during the acceptance tests at Liddell, including the final day. I know the history. My point remains: Areva have chosen not to release their results and analysis publicly. Until this is done, then the data field is bare, as far as I am concerned.

Any comment, whether from you or any other party regarding the tests on the Liddell plant must thus be treated as being unreviewed – preliminary, at best. Assertions based on these purported test results are even less reliable.

End of exchange. Don’t bother having another chop at me regarding this – I will not respond.
Z has now been warned against further violations of the BNC Comments Policy and is on moderation.


@EL, and in this country (Australia), they still have to get it to the grid, which is not a small / cheap job & happening in this decade ?? hmm.

e.g. Graham Palmer said:

“RE : network extension costs for Cooper Basin

Click to access 0400-0005.pdf

Provides a range of AC/DC/routes, refer page 7, for 500 MW, $0.3 to $1.5 B, and for 5 GW, $2.3 to $6.1 billion”


And now for something completely different – new videos by Gordon McDowell are on YouTube. They’re about thorium and feature Kirk Sorensen, so they may not be right “on point” for Barry and the IFR, but the long one does address all of the issues around nuclear power. I think they’re great.

The teaser/trailer is What is THORIUM and the 2 hour documentary is LFTR in 5 minutes.

Beware! If you watch the whole thing you might just understand more about LFTRs than you do now! Kirk does say that if he could find something better than the LFTR he’d go after it instead. But IMO he’d need a lot of convincing.


@ Andrew Jaremko:

Many thanks for your link to the inspiring presentation by Kirk Sorensen.

My last 2+ hours have been very well spent.


In response to Gavin Mudd’s ridiculous article about the Olympic Dam expansion over on The Conversation, I wrote a lengthy comment in response. It’s posted over there but I will also copy it here for interested readers.

Contrary to the usual tendentious nonsense from anti-nuclear activists, Olympic Dam is not really a uranium mine. Olympic Dam is a copper mine. Following the expansion, the total copper production at Olympic Dam will be 730,000 tonnes per year, up from about 220,000 tonnes per year at the present. (Copper smelting is, incidentally, what requires most of the energy input to the Olympic Dam site, nothing to do with uranium.) After the ore is mined and milled, the copper minerals are separated and processed and we’re left with powdered mineral waste – the so-called tailings which seem to be a cause for great concern amongst environmentalists.

At Olympic Dam, however, those tailings contain a small amount of gold and uranium, and further processing of the ore (which you’ve already mined and milled anyway) to separate the gold and uranium into saleable products is economically attractive. (If those same relatively low concentrations of U and Au were present in an orebody that was not already being mined for the copper anyway, mining such a deposit would not be economically attractive.)

The gold and uranium are essentially “free” byproducts recovered from what would otherwise be tailings from the copper mine, with no additional mining – no additional hole in the ground – required to extract those resources. In this sense, it would appear that polymetallic Cu/Au/U extraction operations at Olympic Dam are actually a very environmentally friendly way to mine those metals, as opposed to the alternative of having additional, separate mines at other sites mining gold and uranium deposits. Getting the most value that you can practically get out of one single hole in the ground is an environmentally efficient, conscious approach to mining.

As Mudd points out, the Olympic Dam orebody contains rare earths, which are essential for wind turbines, LEDs, electric vehicles, fuel cells and the like, and for which demand is growing rapidly. I’m sure BHP Billiton is well aware of the chemistry of the Olympic Dam orebody, and as the price of rare earths continues to rise over the coming years, I’m sure they will pursue rare-earth extraction at the point when it becomes economically viable. As with gold and uranium, extracting these different elements from the polymetallic orebody is an environmentally friendly alternative to having multiple additional mines. (Incidentally, all other rare-earth mining prospects in Australia also seem to attract criticism from the predictable band of anti-nuclear “environmentalists”, who complain that horrible, radioactive, scary uranium and thorium will also be extracted from these polymetallic ores where it is present along with the lanthanide metals.)

What exactly does Mudd propose we should do with the uranium at Olympic Dam, if the status quo is not the way to go? If we are to mine the copper and gold (and perhaps rare earths too), then of course the ore that is mined contains the uranium as well. Should we simply cease the extraction of uranium from that ore? But that would simply leave all that uranium in the tailings – significantly increasing the amount of radioactivity present in that tailings waste, whilst of course it would not at all decrease the volume of that tailings waste or change its characteristics in any other way. Given the concern expressed by Mudd and other anti-nuclear activists about those scary radioactive tailings, leaving the uranium in the tailings does not seem to make sense at all.

Mudd calls the mine tailings “billions of tonnes of radioactive waste”, calling to mind nonsense fictional mental images of billions of rusty 44-gallon drums full of luminous green goo, but in fact those tailings really are just natural rock that comes out of the ground. The tailings contain natural uranium and the natural daughter-product radionuclides in the uranium series, all naturally created and naturally present in the ground. Mining the ore and extracting the uranium does not create, or add, or change the radioactivity of this natural material in any way – except for removing the uranium from it.

Removing the uranium (well, essentially all of it, not 100% of it) from the tailings removes most of the uranium daughter-product radionuclides (Ra, Rn, Po etc.) that will form in the tailings over the long term, into the future, and will therefore remove most of the radiation dose that workers or the public may be exposed to from exposure to said tailings (a long time in the future). Leaving the uranium in the tailings, as well as the uranium daughter radionuclides that the uranium will become over long timescales, will substantially increase the radioactivity and potential radiation dose from those tailings.

If you live in a part of the world where uranium (and uranium daughters) are naturally geologically abundant, then you’re exposed to natural background ionising radiation dose from that natural geology – from uranium, radium and the other uranium daughters in the soil, in dust, from gamma radiation directly from the ground, from radon in the air, and from uranium and uranium daughters in water. All these background dose pathways are completely natural – they’re a fact of life. If you’re afraid of that, move to a location where the natural geology contains minimal uranium or thorium.

Does the mining by humans of these natural rocks that contain uranium and its daughter products actually cause any real change to the background ionising radiation dose rate that people receive from that natural radioactivity, compared to the radiation doses received anyway when that radioactivity just sits in the ground naturally (and is subject to natural erosion, natural geological and hydrogeological transport) and does not get mined? Good question… perhaps Dr. Mudd could point us to some research or evidence on this subject.

It is a well-worn and predictable rhetoric sound-bite from the likes of Mudd, Ludlam, Diesendorf and Lowe that Australia’s uranium exports, in terms of revenue dollars, are less than Australia’s exports of cheese or lamb. But these people should know better than to simply think about everything in terms of the economist’s bottom line when it comes to science-based ecology and environmental best practice.

In the 2010 calendar year, Australia exported 301 million tonnes of coal, which corresponds to about 7.2 * 10^18 J of thermal energy content. The 7555 tonnes of natural uranium oxide exported in 2009-2010 contains a thermal energy content (ignoring the thermodynamic losses in a heat-engine power station, and assuming inefficient, once-through use of low-enriched uranium in LWRs) of about 3.4 * 10^18 J.

Australia’s three modest uranium mines provide a total energy output which is about 50% of all of Australia’s coal exports (a bit more than 50% of Australia’s total coal output including domestically-consumed coal). And yet this clean energy resource is supplied from three mines which have a total environmental footprint on the landscape which is far, far smaller than 50% of the environmental footprint of Australia’s numerous coal-mining holes in the ground. 15,000 tonnes of uranium oxide would give you the same energy output (in LWRs) as all that coal, and 15,000 tonnes of mineral production is a hell of a lot less environmentally intensive than 301 million tonnes.

Clearly Australia’s uranium exports are not essential for Australia’s economy. But such an enormous resource of clean energy, with such a high energy density, which is abundant in the earth and is available at such a low cost is obviously incredibly valuable and important for the global environment.

Following the expansion of mining operations at Olympic Dam, the mine will produce about 19,000 tonnes of uranium oxide per year, which will generate (in relatively inefficient once-through use in LWRs) about 800 TWh of electricity. Over the coming years, Australia’s clean energy exports (in the form of uranium) are likely to provide enough clean coal-replacement capacity to catch up with, and offset, the greenhouse gas emissions from all of Australia’s coal exports.

When natural uranium is used very efficiently, in the Integral Fast Reactor for example, one tonne of natural uranium oxide (U3O8) will yield about 8 * 10^16 J of thermal energy in the reactor. Therefore, if the 19,000 tonnes of uranium oxide from the Olympic Dam expansion was to be used in this way, the amount of energy produced would be about 1.5 * 10^21 J (thermal) – an amount of clean energy nearly 10 times greater than the energy content (about 1.7 * 10^20 J) of all the coal production on Earth. That’s basically all the energy for all the world. And for all the people that don’t yet have access to electricity. From just one mine!

Given that Australian-Obligated Nuclear Material is carefully safeguarded and watched and is not allowed to be diverted into nuclear weapons (and in fact most of this material, such as depleted uranium, highly radioactive used fuel which contains some reactor-grade plutonium in it, and reprocessed reactor-grade plutonium, is not physically useful as the fuel for nuclear weapons), would Mudd care to explain to us exactly how Australia’s uranium exports are “potentially increasing nuclear weapons risks”?

Depleted uranium, used LWR fuel and recycled reactor-grade plutonium are not a “burden” – they are enormous resources of fuels for clean energy which can be used throughout the world to provide energy, replacing the need to mine a hell of a lot of coal – and indeed, replacing the need to mine lots of new uranium which might otherwise be used.

Mudd lists “massive energy consumption” amongst the mine’s other supposedly negative effects. In fact, Olympic Dam has an enormous “energy gain” – the mine’s clean energy production (in the form of uranium) is far, far in excess of the mine’s total energy inputs. The highly efficient use of uranium, for example in the Integral Fast Reactor, as opposed to enrichment and inefficient once-through use of low-enriched uranium in light-water reactors, will increase that “energy gain” enormously.

Australia is, and will certainly continue to be, a major exporter of uranium, for civilian nuclear energy use under strict safeguards, to the world. This uranium has a very valuable role in providing clean, safe, abundant energy to replace coal and fossil fuel use throughout the world – today and into the future.


Meanwhile in China (the holy grail of wind to some), the death toll from wind turbine construction this year is now 8 people. Three in Jan & five yesterday…

CHINA: Five people, including a Communist Party official, were killed last night after a crawler crane toppled while a Sinovel 5MW turbine was being erected.

So does that mean that China has lost more people to wind than Fukishima to nuclear?


Luke Weston,

That’s an excellent comment.

Unfortunately, it is completely unaccessible in ‘Open Thread 18’.

Barry,Could you post this as a thread so we can easily access it in future and so we can refer others to it and they can comment on it?


Peter Lang wrote:


I’ve just realised that you writing all the comments on BNC, calling yourself and academic, and do not understand the most basic concepts of power, energy, capacity, availablity and capacity factor. I’d urge you to start at the beginning of the TCASE series here: and read through the articles to get an understanding of the basics.

Putting the personal tenor of your comment aside …

I’m still looking for any useful or productive input on EGS technological viability and field tests that might support your claim that water flow through in an EGS reservoir “may well be an unsolvable problem.” Your one source is an article on early tests of EGS at Soultz (dated 2001), when Soltz has had an operating power plant with geothermal loops, heat exchangers, and generators providing electricity to the grid since 2008. The NYT has documented several recent setbacks with EGS pilot projects in the States (here, here, and here), but these have largely been anticipated by earlier reports (which recommended additional research on reservoir models and fracture stratigraphy across different geological and environmental conditions). Some have suggested “tremors caused by EGS are not likely to be a major stumbling block to the technology” (here). The US now has new rules in place on seismicity and EGS development (in response to these and other concerns), and models are now being developed to minimize these issues with better reservoir modeling and understanding of geomechanics, but require further field testing (here, here, here, and here). We’re likely going to get a huge assist from oil and gas development on this area (if they decide to start sharing information on a wider basis). In fact, your example of flow-back and rupture of production well casing at Cooper Basin (just prior to commercial operation), would seem to indicate that water flow is no longer a problem (but well casing design and long-term operation at high pressures may be). I still view this as a promising technology that is in the very early stages development, and we are no-where near a commercial large scale plant (in the 100 MW range), and nobody is suggesting otherwise. The DOE’s Blue Ribbon committee on Geothermal Technologies just released it’s preliminary findings on June 17, 2011, and recommended “accelerating the development of enhanced geothermal systems” (p. 3). Among their key concerns: identifying geophysical parameters best suited for EGS reservoir creation, further testing of reservoir models, development of low cost supporting technologies to achieve goal of 10 cents/kWh LCOE (drilling research, generation, alternative fluids, etc.), and long term flow tests on reservoir stability and durability of equipment (p. 6).


bryen said: “So does that mean that China has lost more people to wind than Fukishima[sic] to nuclear?”
Of course it does! You must know darn well that nobody was killed by nuclear at Fukushima. Are you are a troll , asking a 2-minute provocation that costs each of us an hour to answer?


@Luke Weston. I echo Peter Lang’s comment concerning your terrific summary of the Olympic Dam expansion.
Well argued.


Peter Lang — First off and surely the most important is public acceptance of nuclear power. Its about two-thirds favorable in the USA and that seems to be just enough. Second, a responsible but quinkly responding nuclear regulatory agency; the NRC is ponderous beyond ready belief but the British agency seems to do quite well — look there for guidance.

As to cost, having a quickly responsive regulator will bring down costs. So will using small modular units such as Nuscale or Babcock & Wilcoz — both yet to receive NRC type approval but by the time Australia is ready for them (I opine) those units will be there.

Finally, look to the fully internalized costs of burning coal. A recent study is

American Economic Review 101 (August 2011): 1649–1675
Environmental Accounting for Pollution in the United States Economy by Nicholas Z. Muller, Robert Mendelsohn, and William Nordhaus

which seems to be in the open literature. By the way, several have commented that this MMN11 study appears to understate CO2 related costs. But in any case, clearly burning coal is a net loss.


Moderator, would you care to elaborate?
Barry’s instructions:

This is not a forum for cut-and-pasting slabs of text, with no other comment other than a link. Tell people why you think they should be interested in reading this, and what it means for this discussion. Otherwise, you’re not thinking and not contributing. Simple as that.


It is a well-worn and predictable rhetoric sound-bite from the likes of Mudd, Ludlam, Diesendorf and Lowe that Australia’s uranium exports, in terms of revenue dollars, are less than Australia’s exports of cheese or lamb. But these people should know better than to simply think about everything in terms of the economist’s bottom line when it comes to science-based ecology and environmental best practice.

This is based on the current generation of reactors. As we all know, when IFR’s hit the marketplace the economic value of all that uranium goes up because just today’s nuclear waste can run the world for 500 years. I’d love to see some figures that look at the *longer term* economic value of the uranium we are GIVING AWAY because it’s longer term economic value is being ignored.

Then we could wipe this smug expression of Lowe’s off his face by explaining the REAL economic value of what we are giving away; and maybe even suggest that future uranium prices will reflect this?


In that case I will rephrase, apologies. Over on Crikey there is thread running called:

Among the comments, are a few by regular BNCer Mark Duffet. A recent comment has been put up by someone called “Flower” of which the first line is:

“The transnational Barry Brook brigade on the nuclear bandwagon creeps forward with all main political lobbyists on board and unsurprisingly a good number of climate sceptics among them. The idea is that mitigation of CO2 emissions and windfarms will harm them but nuclear energy won’t.”

Along with many other unsupported assertions / comment about nuclear e.g.

“A recent blast at France’s oldest nuclear site in Marcule which killed one person and injured four has reignited the debate on nuclear safety in France.”

“‘Safe’ management of uranium mines in Australia? Oh my…. Don’t even go there – shudder!” etc.

As I am not expert in countering any of the claims made by Flower regarding nuclear issues (& there’s a whole bunch of them in the comment), I suggest that maybe some BNCers have a look at Flower’s comments and reply to them. I would also learn a lot from such replies, as they have more than likely been discussed or countered somewhere here already.

Interestingly, Richard Mackie, from WindLab, is touting his recent “report” on how SA wind is supposedly reducing carbon emissions (this was briefly discussed upthread by John Bennetts)

Click to access 20110915_SouthAustralianWindPower_DO_LHO.pdf

& Mackie also points to the BNC response by Michael Goggins of AWEA here (probably intending this post to support his assertions) ->


@bryen “As I am not expert in …. I suggest that maybe some BNCers …”

Well, no, I’m not a dog to be sooled onto passers by. However, if a newcomer to the thread were to do some earnest study on an aspect and then present a little essay, a few sentences and perhaps a link, I would read it carefully, respecting any naivete.

I believe that is what the moderator means by “contributing”. I know how others on this site can put in a lot of effort responding to such contributions. In the to and fro of intellectual or professional discourse, the rest of us are intrigued and entertained.


Roger, apologies if you are misunderstanding me.

I have seen plenty of comments on BNC over the last couple of years where some of us have pointed to dodgy articles / comments on Climate Spectator / ABC blogs etc. my self included, and I have put plenty in too, especially the Climate Spectator war a few of us had with with Jess during the time we were all hammering away at the BZE ZCA 2020 plan.

Its nothing more than friendly note to the many here to make them aware of it. I used the the words “suggest maybe some BNCers” it wasn’t a command.

Sorry you took it the wrong way.

Moderator, feel free to delete it.


Roger Clifton and bryen – there appears to be a degree of misunderstanding between the two of you. I suggest that the comments about this stop here and you both move on before things become acrimonious. Thank you.


John Bennetts, on 13 October 2011 at 11:25 AM – thanks for taking notice of the video. You might want to check out the rather vigorous comment thread this has spawned on AtomicInsights. Gordon McDowall is doing more remixes of the material, and it’s all open for anybody to work with at thoriumremix. The remixes are all at

I think all this material can support a lot of nuclear education, especially with other video segments added in. It’s all Creative Commons licensed and so could be used for local promotions, screenings and presentations. It would be especially useful to have other presenters that have as much passion and force as Kirk. If anyone has video or presentation chops they should look at contributing and see what the community can develop out of this.

The latest remix is LFTR vs Global Warming – Thorium Energy Solves Climate Change. It makes me want to jump in and generalize to “Nuclear Energy Solves Climate Change” and throw in the IFR and uranium molten salt reactors. Join the nuclear production community and see where we can take things!


@ Andrew J:
I forwarded the link to a friend who maintains an extensive distribution list of coal miners and the wider community. He and I disagree absolutely about climate change and politics, so I expected to receive a negative response or none.

Not only did he take the time to have a look, but he has sent it far and wide with his personal, positive review.

This illustrates that discussion of safe, cheap, reliable energy, in any form, can cut through when discussion of climate meets a very solid brick wall, if done well.


I just got round to looking at the Gavin Mudd article at The Conversation. What a tremendous response in the commentary there from BNC regulars! Well written, intelligent, tightly argued, well researched and factual counters to that nonsense. That is some serious intellectual firepower that has been brought to bear. Well done Luke Weston, Mark Duffet, Ben Heard, Tom Keen, Peter Lang and others!


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