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Climate Change Emissions

Kurzgesagt on climate-change mitigation

They’re German. And they make sense on climate-change mitigation!

This animated video is one of the best summaries I’ve seen on the prospects for, and impediments to, cutting greenhouse gases. It’s factual, balanced and entertaining (as in all their work, the presentation is superb).

They note the following: This video is part of a series about climate change supported by Breakthrough Energy – a coalition founded by Bill Gates, that is working to expand clean-energy investment and support the innovations that will lead the world to net-zero carbon emissions.

I look forward to future installments. Please, do watch it, and encourage others to do the same! It’s 10 minutes well spent.

(Bonus points for anyone who picks up the funny error I noticed…)

P.S. They’ve also done a 4-part series on nuclear energy, outlining it’s history/status, for arguments, against arguments, and considering fusion.

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.

9 replies on “Kurzgesagt on climate-change mitigation”

Marvelous. A great deal of reliable and well-organized information is presented here in a very enjoyable fashion. The makers of the video apparently have a magic wand.

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I wasn’t able to spot a funny error (not the stylized bridge-hugging train?) but there was a view of subsidies to fossil fuels three times larger than those to renewables, and of the same sign. If that were true, government could gain by rationing fossil fuels. Rationing would go into effect instantly.

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In the absence of any transcript, here is some text from the fourth In-a-nutshell video on nuclear, “Is nuclear energy terrible?”. It gives three reasons against.

Proliferation. The path to nuclear weapons is always paved with nuclear reactors. It is almost impossible to develop nuclear weapons without access to nuclear technology.
Reprocessing used nuclear fuel can be used to build nuclear weapons. A milligram of plutonium can kill you, a few kilograms makes a bomb. It cannot be reused in reactors because we don’t build the type of reactor that burns it.
Nuclear accidents on the scale of Chernobyl and Fukushima will occur every 30 years even if we don’t expand the share of nuclear electricity. Thousands of people died at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Large areas of land in Russia, Ukraine and Japan were rendered unfit for human habitation for decades to come. How much sacrifice can the environment make before we stamp out the use of this fuel?

I couldn’t find any reference table quoting the sources of this er, information. However, reassuringly, the comments list is derisive and renders many of the assertions as nonsense.

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Australian Energy Update 2020 is an interesting read

Click to access Australian%20Energy%20Statistics%202020%20Energy%20Update%20Report_0.pdf


In Table 3.2 it says we consumed 264 Twh of carbon heavy electricity in 2019 of which about 34 Twh came from wind and solar. Next to Figure 4.3 it says Australia exported a subdued 7,571 tonnes of uranium. According to Euratom a kilogram of U308 produces 45 Gwh of electricity. I presume that’s in light water reactors net of enrichment effort. Multiplying I get 341 Twh in uranium exports. That is we tie ourselves in knots to produce 264 Twh carbon heavy domestic electricity while helping other countries achieve a near zero carbon 341 Twh. I guess Aussies can’t be taking emissions seriously.

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Hi John Newlands. It is a little clearer if we cancel out the “hours per annum”. Thus 264 TWh/a is 30.1 GW. Considering that 1 GW of nuclear electricity fissions 1 tonne per annum of uranium, it would seem that in selling 7571 tonnes per annum we are exporting 7571 GW of potential power. Current PWR reactors burn only ~0.5% of raw uranium, so the immediate value to the rest of the world is 38 GW, similar to our own consumption. And yes, I quite agree, 38 GW of carbon-free power is a lot more virtuous than 30 GW of high-carbon power, even if injected with noise from wind and solar.

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