Climate of Failure: how alternate energy dreams are pie in the sky solutions for emissions

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Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. had a worthwhile guest essay in Foreign Policy titled: Climate of Failure published last year that Dr. Judith Curry has made a post about today that she calls a “good topic for Sunday discussion”. I agree. While I see many of the same things she does, I also see a different path forward. Her last takeaway point is:

… focus on goals that can actually be accomplished and  getting people who think differently to act alike.

We have the technology to do that in our hands now, all we need is the will. If it weren’t for the need to make nuclear bombs (of which uranium based nuclear power is a spinoff), we might already have been there. Few people know this, but the demonization of coal didn’t start with environmentalists, it started with nuclear power advocates, but that is a story for another day.

Here are some excerpts from Pielke Jr’s essay in FP:

Environmentalists are just now waking up to the reality that if we’re going to stop global warming, we’re going to have to be a lot more politically savvy.

So what’s the next step? For years — decades, even — science has shown convincingly that human activities have an impact on the planet. That impact includes but is not limited to carbon dioxide. We are indeed running risks with the future climate through the unmitigated release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and none of the schemes attempted so far has made even a dent in the problem. While the climate wars will go on, characterized by a poisonous mix dodgy science, personal attacks, and partisan warfare, the good news is that progress can yet be made outside of this battle.

The heady days of early 2009, when advocates for global action on climate change anticipated world leaders gathering later that year around a conference table in Copenhagen to reach a global agreement, are but a distant memory. Today, with many of these same leaders focusing their attention on jump starting economic growth, environmental issues have taken a back seat. Leaders’ attention to climate policy is not coming back — at least not in any form comparable to the plans being discussed just a few years ago.  A rising GDP, all else equal, leads to more emissions. But if there is one ideological commitment that unites nations and people around the world in the early 21st century, it is that GDP growth is non-negotiable.

Stabilizing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would require more than 90 percent of the energy we consume to come from carbon-free sources like nuclear, wind, or solar. Policymakers often discuss reducing annual emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels. But emissions today are already more than 45 percent higher than in 1990, so that higher level implies a need to cut by more than 90 percent from today’s levels. Put another way, in round numbers, we could keep at most 10 percent of our current energy supply, and 90 percent or more would have to be replaced with a carbon-free alternative. Today, about 10 percent of the energy that we consume globally comes from carbon-free sources — leaving a long way to go.

Consider this: If the goal is to stabilize the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a low-level by 2050 (in precise terms, at 450 parts per million or less), then the world would need to deploy a nuclear power plant worth of carbon free energy every day between now and 2050. For wind or solar, the figures are even more daunting.

Natural gas is not a long-term solution to the challenge of stabilizing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, because it is still carbon intensive, but the rapidly declining U.S. emissions prove an essential policy point: Make clean(er) energy cheap, and dirty energy will be quickly displaced. To secure cheap energy alternatives requires innovation — technological, but also institutional and social.  The innovation challenge is enormous, but so is the scale of the problem. A focus on innovation — not on debates over climate science or a mythical high carbon price — is where we’ll make process.

The vast complexity of the climate issue offers many avenues for action across a range of different issues. What we need is the wisdom to have a constructive debate on climate policy options without all the vitriolic proxy battles. The anger and destructiveness seen from both sides of this debate will not be going away, of course, but constructive debate will move on to focus on goals that can actually be accomplished.

Full essay here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/08/06/climate_of_failure

Notes from Anthony:

“…the world would need to deploy a nuclear power plant worth of carbon free energy every day between now and 2050. For wind or solar, the figures are even more daunting.”

Given the size of the task presented, and the “herding cats” nature of individual sovereign nation economies, it seems to me that the promise of clean energy alternatives as a solution to carbon emissions is essentially stillborn.

In my opinion, Thorium based nuclear power is the way forward. It has all the benefits of zero carbon emissions, plus it has less problematic fissile by-products than comparable Uranium235  based power systems. Plus, the fuel components of thorium based power systems aren’t generally compatible with current fission and thermonuclear bomb making technologies, making such technology less of a terrorist action risk. Thorium is estimated to be about three to four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust.

Surprisingly, the US has already had (and discarded) a Thorium based power plant. The very first nuclear power plant at Shippingport , which converted to Thorium and began operating in August 1977:

It used pellets made of thorium dioxide and uranium-233 oxide; initially the U233 content of the pellets was 5-6% in the seed region, 1.5-3% in the blanket region and none in the reflector region. It operated at 236 MWt, generating 60 MWe and ultimately produced over 2.1 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. After five years the core was removed and found to contain nearly 1.4% more fissile material than when it was installed, demonstrating that breeding had occurred

It was decommissioned in 1982 and dismantled, the former site has been cleaned up and released for unrestricted use without any radioactivity issues.

Just think of the good people like Bill McKibben could do if they got behind ideas like Thorium power, rather than wasting their efforts trying to tear down existing energy supplies and replace them with impotent alternatives.

Here are two videos on Thorium based nuclear power, the first is  30 minute documentary,

The second is a 5 minute intro into LFTR reactors for the time-challenged.

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144 thoughts on “Climate of Failure: how alternate energy dreams are pie in the sky solutions for emissions

  1. If only McKibben were actually concerned about energy infrastructure and not remaking humanity in his own image

  2. Thorium sounds great.
    But the truth is it has never been developed economically.

    Can anyone explain why the Shippingport plant was abandoned?

    I want it to work but I also want to know why it hasn’t worked so far.

  3. The BBC is running a number of programmes on tv and radio this week focusing on future energy needs and production. Time will tell if it’ll all be unicorn farts and fairy dust.

  4. Roger Pielke, jr., “For years — decades, even — science has shown convincingly that … We are indeed running risks with the future climate through the unmitigated release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

    His statement would be correct if and only if climate models made falsifiable predictions. They do not, have not, and will not for the foreseeable future.

    Roger reads and posts here often. So I’d like Roger to publicly summarize here the scientific evidence he has to support his strong, positive, zero-doubt averral that human CO2 emissions have had or will have an impact on climate.

    I claim no one knows what they’re talking about as regards any relation between human CO2 emissions and recent climate warming. Prove me wrong, Roger.

  5. “Can anyone explain why the Shippingport plant was abandoned?”

    Basically, it was too expensive. The aftermarket breeder core was costly to make (the way they went about it), and the rest of the plant wore out – it was too expensive to replace the outdated parts.

  6. Man’s effect on climate has not been shown to be in any way a concern, whether it’s from CO2 or anything else. It therefore should not, and must not be in any way part of the discussion about energy. Soot is only a concern because it is an air pollutant, nothing more. Methane is in no way a threat.

  7. In a very similar way to the corruption of science that has been associated with the cAGW saga, and starting around a similar time, the scientific establishment (probably with a little political help and a lot of help from the media) buried the observations of Fleischmann and Pons in 1989 through falsified data and ad hominem attacks. Sound familiar? If genuine scientific curiosity had followed their observation of excess heat generation (based on five years’ carefully constructed experiments) as it should have done, possibly, by now we would have a CO2-free, very cheap, local source of energy. Instead, in a matter of weeks the topic was discredited.

    It is interesting to follow both “debates”. The cold fusioneers (still going today!) rely on observations and data (and freely admit that the theory is not understood). The sceptics of cold fusion rely on theory (does not follow the established laws of physics), despite well-constructed experiments and good data being produced over the past 24 years. In the cAGW debate it seems to me to be the other way round – the “believers” rely on their (not-well-understood) theories and computer models, the sceptics prefer the observational data. Also Wikipedia’s approach to cold fusion (LENR) research is “Fringe topic with insufficient coverage in mainstream sources”. Wikipedia’s approach to climate scepticism seems to me to be similarly played down.

    The corruption of science in both cases, in my view, has resulted in a world that is a poorer place.

  8. Re: pat says:
    September 1, 2013 at 11:12 am

    “EPA To Regulate Water Vapor Emissions.”

    I think you’ve “been had” on that one, Pat. The piece looks to me like an obvious spoof. I certainly hope so.

  9. A couple of points:

    “In my opinion, Thorium based nuclear power is the way forward.”

    You mean power from Uranium-233.

    “It has all the benefits of zero carbon emissions, plus it has less problematic fissile by-products than comparable Uranium235 based power systems.”

    No. The fission products are largely the same. Anything that fissions is going to produce highly radioactive fission products. The advantage of using U-233, instead of U-235, is that reactors relying on U-233 don’t have the U-238 (the main component of both natural and “depleted” uranium) in the fuel. This other isotope, which doesn’t fission often enough to support a chain reaction, is the main isotope in natural uranium. Even uranium enriched to about 5% U-235, which is used as fuel in today’s nuclear reactors, is 95% U-238.

    The problem with U-238 is that it readily absorbs a neutron and becomes a heaver nucleus. Sometimes this is good (depending on the application), because U-238 can be transformed to Pu-239, which is useful as both nuclear fuel and bomb material. Sometimes when it absorbs a neutron, U-238 eventually becomes other actinides, which are (slightly) radioactive materials that have half-lives of thousands of years or more. Whenever someone talks about needing to store “nuclear waste” for tens of thousands of years, it’s because of the actinides.

    “Plus, the fuel components of thorium based power systems aren’t generally compatible with current fission and thermonuclear bomb making technologies,”

    No, it is no easier to build a nuclear bomb from Pu-239 generated from U-238 in the spent commercial fuel from today’s nuclear reactors, than it is to build a bomb uses U-233 generated from Th-232 in a thorium reactor. The reasons are quite technical, but anyone who is claiming that spent nuclear fuel from today’s commercial reactors can be used as bomb material is selling snake oil.

    “Thorium is estimated to be about three to four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust.”

    It’s more abundant overall, but it is less concentrated in ore and not as easy to mine.

    “Surprisingly, the US has already had (and discarded) a Thorium based power plant.”

    In addition to Shippingport, the Fort St. Vrain reactor in Colorado used a uranium/thorium fuel cycle. The Thorium High-Temperature Reactor (THTR-300) in Germany also used thorium as fuel.

  10. Is this a piece from the Onion? What next, bottles we have to exhale into to collect both CO2 and water vapor?
    OTOH, if true then they could ignore CO2 completely, but how are they going to stop water vapor from 70% of the earth’s surface?

  11. Thorium is probably the long term solution. The problem is, we have several hundred years worth of power tied up in spent fuel rods. There are a several proposal that use molten salt fuel that are designed to burn up our current and future spent fuel rods. One is the proposal out of MIT and the other is the DFR out of Germany. We should be looking at how to reduce our current stockpile of spent fuel.

  12. Good topic. Needs parsing.
    First, parse into liquid transportation fuels (gasoline, diesel, jet kerosene) and other, which is mainly natural gas or electricity from various sources.
    Second, parse into short term (10-20 year horizon) and long term.
    Now, liquid transportation fuels are a short term potential problem that nuclear does not solve, because hydrogen for fuel cells isn’t practical (storage and logistics). Without any new invention, some blend of conservation (e.g. Hybrids like Prius or Fusion, PHEV, smaller vehicles, more efficient drive trains like DCT transmissions, intermodal long haul freight) and biofuels (e.g.the KIor process, perhaps) buy decades to get to more inventive solutions. But that needs to start soon given lead times on full fleet changes. Most places outside Europe it isn’t in any meaningful way.

    If one has a concern about coal fired electricity, the immediate short term solution is off the shelf CCGT. Combination of greater efficiency (about 61% for latest and greatest CCGT versus about 41 for SCS coal) plus nat gas as fuel reduces CO2 emissions by 2/3. That is why Muller suggested helping China learn how to tap their shale gas reserves. That is one way the US xceeded Kyoto targets despite itself.
    The long term electricity solution is obviously nuclear. Hubbert said that in 1956. But we perhaps have a few decades to develop better engineering solutions, of which thorium is only one. Modular non-refueled units (like the Navy), traveling wave “breeders” like Bill Gates is investing in at TerraPower, and a host of other ideas deserve development before committing to massive construction programs with 50 year plant lives.
    The sad part is that with focus on general CAGW cap and trade, or carbon taxes, or ‘renewable’ but unfortunately irredeemably intermittant and therefore costly electricity,none of these things are getting the attention they merit, and on which a lot of common ground could be found–except among diehard greens such as those opposing fracking in the UK.

  13. Thorium is the way forward in a Molten Salt Reactor. It can’t blow up, melt down and is walk away safe. Actually Thorium is 500 times more prevellant than the Uranium Isotope needed for power plants and it is found in high quantities with rare earth elements. It’s presence is why China has a monopoly of REEs, EPA regulations force Thorium containment. Thorium burns 99% of its fuel in a Molten Salt Reactor, while. Light water reactor burns 1-3% or so, with 300k years of needed storage versus decades for a MSR waste stream.

  14. “For years — decades, even — science has shown convincingly that human activities have an impact on the planet. That impact includes but is not limited to carbon dioxide.”

    There is little doubt that human activities over the past 100 years have increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I fail to see any clear evidence to show those CO2 levels have changed global temperatures or climate. Nor am I convinced that the impact of the extra CO2 is harmful in any way. It might be beneficial for much/most of the planet and its inhabitants.

  15. Energy policy for the future is easy. Everyone makes it out as if this is a hard choice, but the reality is this:

    Only power sources that are on demand (put out 100% capacity when it’s needed) are worthwhile. Anything that does not do that is by definition obsolete.

    Nukes, coal, ng, hydro, and even biomass are what we have to work with. Anything else is obsolete and not worth even exploring. Tidal is a terrible idea because its not in demand. Funny enough geo can work like this, but I doubt it’s a very large solution to energy needs.

    if you believe carbon is pollution your only option is nukes. Otherwise, you must advocate research and development for other sources of power whether that be thorium as Anthony says, or fusion power or yet some undiscovered technology such as sim city microwave power.

    Wind power for instance became obsolete the second The modern power grid came into being and solar is just a tad better than wind. Those and other green advocated power sources should be relegated to special circumstances such as islands that are off the beaten path that don’t mind spending the extra money for those sources.

    I would actually argue Antarctica wouldn’t be a bad place for a combination of wind and stored power. No flying animals to kill, very few mammals including humans to be effected by ulf sounds, an best of all the gravity winds are nearly constant making it actually feasible.

    In any event, either promote what we have or advocate for research and development. Any other advocacy is a waste of time and money that will accomplish nothing in the end and you will have only yourself to blame for advocating obsolete technology,

  16. OK some people have fallen for the spoof on H20. That is sad but the article does make the point that H20 is the major GHG both in quantity and effect.

    Climate sensitivity is the extra GHE caused by the extra H2O in the atmosphere due initially to CO2 warming the place up a tad (warmist and skeptic theory). Atmospheric H2O has shown it is entirely governed by the Gore Effect and has gone seriously the other way of late despite increasing CO2.

    Gizza link somebody….

  17. Just think of the good people like Bill McKibben

    deserves a comma between the word good and the word people

    unless you were intending to describe Bill McKibben as a good person.

    OK the could do after it almost rescues it, but by then one has already misread it to mean that Bill is a good chap.

  18. I am getting sick of jnr’s fence sitting. He is playing both sides against the middle at every opportunity in order to maintain his ego and funds in good shape. Give me dad any day.

  19. New forms of nuclear power, like thorium, are the solution to the energy problem. Why are we not full speed ahead busy developing that? There is support for developing new nuclear power sources by someone you would least expect to agree with Antony Watts. I am talking about James Hansen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZExWtXAZ7M
    So when both Watts and Hansen have a lot of agreement about the new energy we need in the future, how come the world is wasting enormous amounts of money on very expensive, unreliable ineffective and inefficient windmills and solar panels, a bottomless pitt? That is not the answer to our need of abundant and cheap energy, whether you believe in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (like Hansen) or not (like Anthony Watts).

  20. Some comment that Thorium is abundant but dispersed. It has become much more readily available with the recent rapid development of demand for rare earth elements (lanthanons: 15 metals La to Lu+ yttrium) with which Th occurs. Indeed, many excellent rare earth deposits are shut in because of the abundance of Th contained in them (because of hysteria over radioactivity yet it is readily fixed and removed virtually 100% before separation of the individual rare earth metals). If many knew that natural beach sands around the world tend to have a significant content of monazite sand, a rare-earth thorium mineral, they may abandon their tans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monazite

    “Thorium content of monazite is variable and sometimes can be up to 20–30%. Monazite from certain carbonatites or from Bolivian tin veins is essentially thorium-free. However, commercial monazite sands typically contain between 6 and 12% thorium oxide.”

    Monazite bearing-sands are produced in Australia, India, Brazil, and even in the USA (Florida and South Carolina beaches). They get a number of products like titanium and zirconium minerals, garnet, etc. along with monazite.

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/1390/report.pdf

    Go to Thorium and the rare earths for magnets for windmills and other electric generators and motors would become considerably cheaper, too. How’s that for green?

  21. Why do we need to “stabilize” CO2 in the atmosphere at 450 ppm or any other figure, when it ebbs and flows quite naturally and had done for millions of years? Any proposition to stabilize CO2 in the atmosphere is not talking anthropogenic emissions, but talking all emissions – and 97% of that is caused by nature. How are they planning to control nature? What are they going to do, ban it? We can’t even take charge of our measly 3% – how the heck do they figure we can do anything about all of it?

  22. J Martin says:
    September 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Just think of the good people like Bill McKibben

    deserves a comma between the word good and the word people

    Better would be a that.

  23. “If China’s dash for thorium power succeeds, it will vastly alter the global energy landscape and may avert a calamitous conflict over resources as Asia’s industrial revolutions clash head-on with the West’s entrenched consumption.

    China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s, but the US has long since dropped the ball. Further evidence of Barack `Obama’s “Sputnik moment”, you could say.

    The earth’s crust holds 80 years of uranium at expected usage rates, he said. Thorium is as common as lead. America has buried tons as a by-product of rare earth metals mining. Norway has so much that Oslo is planning a post-oil era where thorium might drive the country’s next great phase of wealth. Even Britain has seams in Wales and in the granite cliffs of Cornwall. Almost all the mineral is usable as fuel, compared to 0.7pc of uranium. There is enough to power civilization for thousands of years.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/8393984/Safe-nuclear-does-exist-and-China-is-leading-the-way-with-thorium.html

  24. @Brian

    I have a number of quibbles because in general your comments seem to offer a conclusion that is unexpected (to me at least).

    >>“In my opinion, Thorium based nuclear power is the way forward.”
    >You mean power from Uranium-233.

    No, the energy comes from the transmutation of Thorium into U233. If your comment was correct, then it would also be correct to say that a U238 reactor derives its energy from Plutonium, which is not correct. Some of the U233 and P239 fission and give heat, but is it not the main energy source.

    >>“It has all the benefits of zero carbon emissions, plus it has less problematic fissile by-products than comparable Uranium235 based power systems.”

    >No. The fission products are largely the same. Anything that fissions is going to produce highly radioactive fission products. The advantage of using U-233, instead of U-235, is that reactors relying on U-233 don’t have the U-238 (the main component of both natural and “depleted” uranium) in the fuel.

    Both of these statements are incorrect, the first less so. U235 systems like the CANDU produce a very different profile of elements from either Thorium 232 or U238. I think there is confusion about how U235 5% reactors work and the high concentration U238 fuel reactors.

    >This other isotope, which doesn’t fission often enough to support a chain reaction, is the main isotope in natural uranium. Even uranium enriched to about 5% U-235, which is used as fuel in today’s nuclear reactors, is 95% U-238.

    This confirms the confusion. U235 5% runs in heavy water reactors and U238 is concentrated to 95% for light water breeders. They are completely difference approaches to generating power. U235 goes into CANDU’s which are also inherently safe in terms of shut-downs but still waste a lot of the fuel. Thorium can be used in a CANDU reactor if it is mixed with some U235. Chalk River has done that for years in experiments.

    “…and reduced plutonium and actinide production” confirming better and easier final handling of products. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle

    >>“Plus, the fuel components of thorium based power systems aren’t generally compatible with current fission and thermonuclear bomb making technologies,”

    >No, it is no easier to build a nuclear bomb from Pu-239 generated from U-238 in the spent commercial fuel from today’s nuclear reactors, than it is to build a bomb uses U-233 generated from Th-232 in a thorium reactor.

    It is very, very difficult to make a fission bomb starting with U233.

    >The reasons are quite technical, but anyone who is claiming that spent nuclear fuel from today’s commercial reactors can be used as bomb material is selling snake oil.

    That is different from ‘could be used’. There are other more efficient methods so they use them. They certainly to not use U233 or TH232.

    >>“Thorium is estimated to be about three to four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth’s crust.”

    That is true, but it is not evenly distributed.

    >It’s more abundant overall, but it is less concentrated in ore and not as easy to mine.

    There is no shortage of Thorium. There are about 100,000 tons available in Canada alone and that is without looking hard. That would power the entire planet for decades. There are millions of tons elsewhere. If people want to burn spare U235 they can mix some into the fuel. Waste products from all reactors can also eventually be consumed this way.

    If the US doesn’t get its Thorium act together they will be importing containerized plants by the hundred from Germany, France, South Africa, India and China. It reminds me of the mindless resistance to seat belts and car headlights that were not round.

  25. Thorium reactos may win out, but there is no advantage in terms of fuel availability – using fast reactors allows for a estimated 5 billion years’ worth of uranium energy – this because the cost per kWhr is so low that esentially all of the uranium in the sea, etc can be extracted and fuel costs will never increase. They are trivial as it is – less than one cent per kWhr. I’m not sure what the costs of Thorium are, but it could not be enough to make a difference if lower but might be if greater.
    Take a gander at Pandoras Promise – a documentary of formerly anti-nuclear types who came to beieve that nuclear is the ony path to low carbon energy. As for non-profilferation issues, it makes no difference which technology we choose. Other countries will choose what they want. China and India are the two countries with the greatest nuclear ambitions and India wants to go closed cycle route, which means Thorium. China expects 400 reactors by mid-centuy, 1600 by turn of century.
    I think most of those in the business see fast reactors as the future, along with conventional Gen 3 3 reactors.

  26. As for solar, solar farms makea lot more sense economically than solar rooftops, not that they make much economic sense either. The one new nuclear plant per day figure, if changed to all solar, would mean each day another 80,000 acre solar farm would have to be created.

  27. DrJohnGalan says:
    September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am
    “In a very similar way to the corruption of science that has been associated with the cAGW saga, and starting around a similar time, the scientific establishment (probably with a little political help and a lot of help from the media) buried the observations of Fleischmann and Pons in 1989 through falsified data and ad hominem attacks. Sound familiar? If genuine scientific curiosity had followed their observation of excess heat generation (based on five years’ carefully constructed experiments) as it should have done, possibly, by now we would have a CO2-free, very cheap, local source of energy. Instead, in a matter of weeks the topic was discredited.”

    Puhleeese… What nonsense. I helped organize the MIT experiment at the Plasma Fusion Center to test out Fleishmann and Pons’ claims. We were quite excited by the initial claim. Quite frankly, a lot of people hoped it was true because it promised a new cheap source of energy and there was going to be a ton of gold in them thar hills (Don’t kid yourself, there was a lot of greed stimulated by the initial reports).

    F&P got exited because they were doing an experiment that involved the electrolysis of deuterated water. They came back one morning after leaving the experiment running overnight to find the experiment vaporized and a hole burned in the concrete floor of their lab. This got them so fired up that they went and got equipment to look for nuclear by products. Not knowing what they were doing, they were chemists who did electrolysis for a living, not nuclear chemists or physicists, they completely botched the measurements. The neutron counts were at natural background levels and the gamma ray spectra were artifacts due to saturated electronics and no idea how to run a pulse height analyzer. These bad results were reported with enormous hype to a very receptive press. At this point, no one outside their lab had ever looked at what they’d done. Once we got the faxed pre-prints, it was very obvious how bad it all was.

    What they should have done is ask themselves if there was a more ordinary explanation for what caused that hole in the concrete floor. The experiment they were doing was

    D2O + electricity -> 2D + O

    The inverse of this is

    2D + O + a spark -> D2O + very loud bang

    This is the most powerful chemical reaction there is. If you’re old enough to remember the Saturn moon rockets, they used liquid hydrogen (instead of deuterium) and liquid oxygen as the propellents. [Be very careful if you do this at home with ordinary H2O]

    Their claims of 1 W of nuclear power generation were nonsense too. Just for comparison, CP-1, the very first nuclear reactor, was deemed too dangerous to operate within the Chicago city limits once it reached 1 W of output. It was surrounded by tons of graphite and paraffin shielding. If F&P had been generating any kind of nuclear power they should have been dead of radiation poisoning shortly after they gave their news conference.

    As for calorimetry, we learned that it very hard to do even a 1% measurement of energy-in, energy-out in an electrolysis experiment with a controlled environment . This is not for the faint of heart because of all the different effects that have to be taken into account and requires very careful experimental design. [This experience makes me laugh every time I see the Trenberth diagram of the earth's energy balance and numbers quoted to several decimal places and no errors at all.]

    ==========================================

    Back on topic, Pilke’s comment “We are indeed running risks with the future climate through the unmitigated release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere” is nonsense. There is absolutely no evidence to prove this. All we know is that human land use affects the local environment and that’s puny compared to the size of the earth.

  28. DrJohnGalan says:
    September 1, 2013 at 11:27 am


    In a very similar way to the corruption of science that has been associated with the cAGW saga, and starting around a similar time, the scientific establishment (probably with a little political help and a lot of help from the media) buried the observations of Fleischmann and Pons in 1989 through falsified data and ad hominem attacks. Sound familiar? If genuine scientific curiosity had followed their observation of excess heat generation (based on five years’ carefully constructed experiments) as it should have done, possibly, by now we would have a CO2-free, very cheap, local source of energy. Instead, in a matter of weeks the topic was discredited.

    Yes, isn’t it interesting that all those high-powered labs came back in TWO weeks with “difinitive proof” P & F were wrong when it takes FOUR weeks to load the Pd cathode with heavy water before the reaction can even start.

    Apparently, they couldn’t wait to toss the baby out with the bath water.

    Also disconcerting is the fact that NONE of the labs trying to confirm the experiement even bothered to contact Pons and Fleishmanm and ask about their methodology. I’m not sure if the reason was they though it was beneath them, they wanted to discover “cold fusion” their own way, or their only objective was to uncategorically deny any and all positive results.

    Whatever the reason, it ranks right up there with the most egregious example of laborator science ever undertaken, especially when a few of these labs were later caught hiding positive results. At least a few have since recanted and pursued the science, notably MIT.

  29. DrJohnGalan says:

    In a very similar way to the corruption of science that has been associated with the cAGW saga, and starting around a similar time, the scientific establishment (probably with a little political help and a lot of help from the media) buried the observations of Fleischmann and Pons in 1989 through falsified data and ad hominem attacks. … It is interesting to follow both “debates”. The cold fusioneers (still going today!) rely on observations and data (and freely admit that the theory is not understood). The sceptics of cold fusion rely on theory (does not follow the established laws of physics), despite well-constructed experiments and good data being produced over the past 24 years.

    The problem I have with “cold fusion” is the lack of neutrons. Tritium / deuterium fusion produces a blizzard of neutrons, approx. 100x more neutron flux for the amount of energy produced than an equivalent fission reaction.

    If you consider the nuclear criticality accident of Louis Slotin, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Slotin , in which he accidentally brought two masses of plutonium together, producing a burst of supercritical radiation – the metal which killed several people in the room (including Slotin) from massive radiation poisoning, barely got warm to the touch. Slotin pulled the metal apart by hand – he didn’t receive thermal burns. He did receive a monstrous dose of radiation which led rapidly to his death.

    Compare this blizzard of radiation from a momentary fission accident, to “cold fusion” experiments which purport to show substantial calorific gain. Fusion is known to produce around 100x the neutron flux that fission reactions produce – one of the key remaining problems with the construction of a viable fusion reactor, is to find a material which can withstand the blizzard of neutrons without crumbling into dust.

    Production of a calorific gain of the magnitude claimed by cold fusioneers, with a nuclear reaction which is known to produce 100x the neutron flux of an equivalent fission reaction, should flood the demonstration hall with enough radiation to kill everyone witnessing the experiment, and possibly any people passing in the street outside.

    This glaring hole in cold fusion “results” contrasted with our position on AGW – its not that we disagree with the theory that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, its just we disagree with one of the assumptions of catastrophic AGW – that water vapour will automatically amplify the admittedly weak CO2 forcing. We postulate that instead of producing a warming blanket, any excess water vapour will simply form clouds. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/11/air-conditioning-nairobi-refrigerating-the-planet/

    As evidence, we cite the disagreement between alarmist theory and observation – for example, the fact that a key prediction of alarmism, the equatorial tropospheric hotspot, has never been observed.

    We don’t try to turn the known physics on its head, the way the cold fusioneers seem to want to do, invoking “mysterious” unknown reactions to explain the lack of radioactivity, we simply disagree with the application of the known physics – we think they’ve got their sums wrong.

    Until cold fusion find an adequate explanation for the lack of radioactivity, I believe it is reasonable to remain highly skeptical.

  30. Paul Linsay says:
    September 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm


    If F&P had been generating any kind of nuclear power they should have been dead of radiation poisoning shortly after they gave their news conference.

    That would be correct if the nuclear reaction were based on the strong forces, but that’s not how LENR works–it works within the realm of weak forces and doesn’t generate the levels of radiation of which you speak.

    You’ve demonstrated the basic falacy of trying to discredit LENR by applying the wrong theory to the reaction–as the name LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction) implies, it doesn’t follow the same reaction pathway, hence no significant radiation. Reactions are implemented in a crystal latice with peculiar characteristics and invoked by particular frequencies.

    And while it sounds too good to be true, LENR is a up-and-coming field where serious physicists aren’t limiting their theoretical explanations to the nuclear strong forces. Too many detractors are trying to discredit LENR with this completely unrelated theory, but don’t expect to be taken seriously.

  31. Brian,
    Thorium can be used with a variety of other fissile’s. So your straw man is bs. There is a current test of Thorium with plutonium which would otherwise have to be stored. If this test works out it should produce a very nice fuel which helps solve long term waste problems without adding to them. If that is the case, it will be a very good day for the world. Check it out:

    http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/160131-thorium-nuclear-reactor-trial-begins-could-provide-cleaner-safer-almost-waste-free-energy

  32. Keitho says:
    September 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    It is a most wonderful concept. Will the greens allow them to be built though?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    There is a bumper sticker in Australia that says “Fertilize the Bush, bulldoze in a Greenie”

  33. Brian

    No. The fission products are largely the same. Anything that fissions is going to produce highly radioactive fission products. … No, it is no easier to build a nuclear bomb from Pu-239 generated from U-238 in the spent commercial fuel from today’s nuclear reactors, than it is to build a bomb uses U-233 generated from Th-232 in a thorium reactor.
    =========================
    I’m by no means an expert, but I think you’re mostly correct. I do have the impression that if you had your choice or U233,U235, or PU239 for a nuclear weapon you were going to develop from scratch, that you’d probably pick one of the latter two, but that a U233 bomb is by no means impossible. I believe that India has in fact detonated a single very low yield U233 device.

    As for whether Thorium-U233 is the best reaction material for nuclear power. I can’t help thinking that it is being oversold, but that it might well really be a better choice than the other options.

    That said, as Fukushima has demonstrated, the nuclear industry has been less than candid about nuclear safety in the past. For example, they neglected to mention that boiling water designs require forced cooling even during shutdown. What else do nuclear power proponents neglect to tell the public?

    IMHO, we need to forget Pu vs U235 vs “Thorium” for a while and first design and proof unconditionally safe nuclear reactors that natural disasters, TEPCO, crazed Russian technicians, less crazed technicians following faulty procedures, or knowledgable individuals deliberately attempting sabotage can not convert into disasters. I don’t care if they are pebble beds or something else. Until that is done (and I think it probably can be done), nuclear power is probably going to experience catastrophes every decade or so, and is going to be a terribly difficult sell.

    • Crispin – The energy comes from the fission of U-233. You are terribly confused when it comes to using uranium in reactors. Light water reactors use fuel that is enriched to between 3 and 5 weight percent U-235. Heavy water reactors, such as the CANDU’s, can operate with natural uranium (which is 0.7% U-235). That is one of the reasons why heavy water reactors like the CANDU were originally developed, to save on having to build an infrastructure to enrich uranium.

      David Riser – I have presented no straw men. I have merely clarified a few points.

      Don K – U-233 is perfectly good material for a nuclear weapon, assuming that it is pure enough. The difficulty in bomb making comes from contamination by U-232, which also appears as a result of the nuclear processes in a thorium fuel cycle. Nevertheless, if bomb making is your objective, then it is quite possible to chemically separate out the protactinium (the precursor to U-233 after Th-232 absorbs a neutron) during production and prevent the formation of too much U-232. It’s all a matter of timing.

      It’s the same deal with building a bomb with plutonium. Short fuel cycles (on the order of a month or less) lead to the production of Pu-239 without the production of too many of the other plutonium isotopes that make bomb-making difficult. This has been known for about 70 years now. It’s one of the reasons why a plutonium production reactor is very different from a commercial power reactor.

      Speaking of what is already known, you are completely off-base when you claim that the nuclear industry has been “less than candid.” Bulls-t. If anything, the nuclear industry has been more than candid; you simply haven’t been paying attention.

      If it were really true that the industry “neglected to mention that boiling water designs require forced cooling even during shutdown” then why, please tell me, has the industry been paying a fortune to install Emergency Core Cooling Systems in all of their reactors? What do you think that these expensive pieces of equipment were for if not to provide forced cooling after shutdown?

  34. (corrected)
    Eric Worrall says:
    September 1, 2013 at 1:59 pm


    The problem I have with “cold fusion” is the lack of neutrons. Tritium / deuterium fusion produces a blizzard of neutrons, approx. 100x more neutron flux for the amount of energy produced than an equivalent fission reaction.

    As a continuance of my reply to Paul Linsay, you call it “cold fusion”, which is a misnomer–it creates fusion products but not the way the sun or “hot fusion” creates it–by squeezing atoms together beyond the Coulomb barrier until they become one.

    Instead, LENR cheates the strong-force realm and utilizes the weak forces, which haven’t been studied as much as their strong-force counterpart. Researchers are now studying it and find remarkable results–so much that it wouldn’t surprise me if the panacea to our energy future is largely if not completely LENR.

    But to require characteristics of a reaction that isn’t that reaction only means you don’t understand what LENR is.

  35. It is interesting to see comments concerning my post which demonstrate the very issue I suggested. The fact that excess heat (beyond any conceivable chemical explanation) has been generated in literally hundreds of experiments in many different laboratories around the world is somehow trumped by “there are no neutrons”.

    Excess heat has been measured. Helium and tritium have been detected. Transmutation has occurred. Observations trump theory. While the mantra in 1989 was that the calorimetry was faulty, that can no longer be trotted out after many different experiments by many different people demonstrate the phenomenon (some closely scrutinised by sceptics who then had to accept that the excess heat was real).

    My comparison between the two fields was not to disagree with the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but to marvel at the ability of climate scientists to convince gullible politicians that they can model the earth’s climate in a way which can predict the future. And then, when the models fail to conform with observations, to go through endless contortions to try and make the data fit. Climate observations do not match the models. “Cold fusion” – LENR does not conform to established physics.

    We are too arrogant to admit that there are things we simply do not understand. To dismiss observations simply because they do not conform to established theory does not wash with me.

  36. I am very pleased that Anthony has cited the Shippingport reactor, which uses a fuel-element design.

    There is so much hype over the molten fluoride reactor design that it is refreshing to see the benefits of the fuel-element design pointed out.

    Why introduce severe metallurgical risks of a corrosive and radioactive melt into the engineering? The experience of breeder reactor programs have been that engineering for molten sodium cooling systems is harder than it looks on paper – much harder. And molten fluoride systems are worse (you cannot use the methods which aluminium smelters use because of the radioactivity – and they don’t attempt to pump the molten salt around).

    I think the thorium option is the most promising proposed long term energy source on the books of the human race. But not the molten fluoride design. What happens when when leaks develop and a pool of very hot very radioactive very corrosive stuff pours out all over everything? Try selling it to voters after that. Buckley’s chance.

  37. Anthony, the reason nuclear power doesn’t at this point have much of a future (that could change if small modular reactors are approved and turn out to have lower costs than current technology) is for the same reason that wind and solar at current prices are causing EU electricity bills to skyrocket, helping kill jobs and taxes over there. It is way too expensive at current costs.

    The US economy is exceptionally lucky for visionaries such as George Mitchell, responsible for the fracking revolution. If it weren’t for cheap natural gas and lots of domestic oil from fracking, how much worse would our economy be? And how much higher would our electricity prices be, with EPA causing existing coal plants — our cheapest domestic source of electricity other than the big hydroelectric projects of the 1930s — to shut down?

  38. Thorium offers great promise… say the same people who promised us that the original designs were safe. I distinctly remember, when the earthquake/tsunami first hit Fukushima, several commenters here who clamed to know all about it assured us that it would all be over in 12 to 24 hours. I wonder what they say now, with increasing leakage reported nearly every day? “Just another 12 to 24 hours. Sorry, I meant 12 to 24 centuries.” Heaven save us from experts! Give me CO2 any day!

  39. While on the subject I can also say that vast amounts of thorium are presently mined and thrown away.

    Heavy mineral sands (HMS) are the main source of titanium oxide pigment which is the base material in all paint. Many million tonnes of heavy mineral sands are extracted each year. The monazite and xenotime minerals which mainly contain the thorium are concentrated then discarded back to the pit from whence the HMS was extracted. This is done becase there is no market for thorium to speak of and being slightly radioactive it represents a red and green tape hazard of the first order, so mineral sands companies don’t want to know about it. Its easiest to put it back where it came from.

    Unlike uranium, thorium is much easier to recover into a high grade concentrate, because monazite is so easy to recover by gravity separation. No chemicals are needed during primary extraction. No problems with the radiactivity decay chains arise, which does in wet uranium processing. So you just have to take the monazite concentrate to a refinery and turn it into ThO2, thereby restricting the environmental issues to a single small site instead of in mines all over the place (which is the case with uranium).

  40. There seems to be two themes here, (i) that the energy planners (aka: US politicians & military?) have made a monumental cock-up in not developing Thorium/LFTR decades ago, so no surprise there, governments are the always the worst at choosing winners, and (ii) that the claims that our CO2 emissions have any effect on the climate are unmitigated nonsense, a point which has been repeatedly made by a significant number of skeptical scientists, but repeatedly slapped down with no justification, i..e. supportable argument or evidence to back it up, by the ‘luke-warm’ skeptics.

    The upshot of this is that thorium/LFTR solution is a good answer but to the wrong question, i.e. as an emissions reduction solution. LFTR is a good answer to the long-term economic and secure energy generation requirement for all the world’s nations, but the CO2 emissions question is a non-entity – there is no issue with it, and no evidence has been presented that supports any causal linkage between CO2 and global temperature. Quite the reverse, the last 17 years and the comparison between the IPCC models and real observational data have amply demonstrated that the claimed link is falsified – which is how science is supposed to work.

    I note the US and EU government have asked the UN IPCC for more explanation about the global temperature hiatus, i.e. why they have no idea why the temperature trend shows no rise of any significance (even a fall, depending on data set), yet the full expectation is the next IPCC report and SPM will claim 95% certainty that the continued warming (which isn’t) is man-made. How can they not have a clue, yet be 95% certain at the same time???

    There are increasing numbers of papers and reports being produce citing lower than expected ‘climate sensitivity’ levels, but no-one has yet stood up and properly examined and tested the ‘zero sensitivity’ scenario. This needs to be done, and without the assumption “that CO2 must cause some warming” denial.

  41. RockyRoad says:
    September 1, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    … As a continuance of my reply to Paul Linsay, you call it “cold fusion”, which is a misnomer–it creates fusion products but not the way the sun or “hot fusion” creates it–by squeezing atoms together beyond the Coulomb barrier until they become one.

    Instead, LENR cheates the strong-force realm and utilizes the weak forces, which haven’t been studied as much as their strong-force counterpart. Researchers are now studying it and find remarkable results–so much that it wouldn’t surprise me if the panacea to our energy future is largely if not completely LENR.

    But to require characteristics of a reaction that isn’t that reaction only means you don’t understand what LENR is.

    Given that the weak nuclear force has an effective range of 1% of the diameter of an atomic nucleus, this explanation is utterly ridiculous.

    To create a weak nuclear force interaction, you would need to squeeze not just the atomic nuclei together, but the components of the nuclei would also have to be squeezed with a force comparable to the forces exerted when a neutron star forms, to bring the quark components of protons and neutrons close enough together to produce a weak nuclear interaction.

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/638203/weak-force

    We’d all like cold fusion to be true – but fantasies about imaginary interactions is junk science.

  42. ………science has shown convincingly that human activities have an impact on the planet. That impact includes but is not limited to carbon dioxide. We are indeed running risks with the future climate through the unmitigated release of carbon dioxide,/b> into the atmosphere, and none of the schemes attempted so far has made even a dent in the problem……

    What risks this century? A greening biosphere? We are at the low end of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere geologically speaking. The net benefits of more co2 pumped into the atmosphere this century outweigh any imagined or real problems.

    I doubt whether there will be “unmitigated release of carbon dioxide” in 2080. Not because of a danger from our co2 output but because of human innovation. What did we have in 1890? Compare that to what we had in 1990. What do we have since 1890? Nuclear power, cars, land on moon, land on Mars, smartphones, BigDog (US Robtics), PCs, airline passengers, microscopic genetic engineering, nuclear bombs, machine guns, keyhold surgery?, gas fracking, and so on. France gets over 70% of it’s energy from nuclear. The US has seen its co2 output fall for shale gas. And we are only in 2013.

  43. Interesting comments, but presently there does not appear to be a strong case for not using coal, and coal is both abundant and cheap. China is rolling out a couple of new coal fired power stations every week and that does not seem to have caused rapid runaway warming these past 17 or so years.

    Why look for other means for energy production when we have a tried and tested method that will see us through for thousands of years.

    Of course, I am not suggesting that research into other systems for energy production should be abandoned, but merely that coal should be the main producer until something better comes along which it will in its own time.

    It appears to me that we are unnecessarily switching away from cheap and reliable energy production.

  44. Sorry, I made a mistake in my list. The Maxim (machine gun) was invented in 1884, but I hope I’ve still made my point. Let me replace the machine gun with cruise missiles. ;-(

    [Machine guns have killed more people though. Mod]

  45. It’s not about reducing man’s co2 output. It’s about shutting down the world’s industrial complex.

    If co2 presents us with the most serious problem we have ever faced then adopt thorium nuclear reactors and shale gas as an intermediate energy source.

    We are dealing with a bunch of people who wish to achieve their aims via scare stories and not the democratic process. Al Gore, the president that never was comes to mind.

  46. Thorium looks good on paper, but violates my Second Rule:
    “if it is that easy, someone would have done it.”
    (my first rule is “it always costs more and takes longer”)

    Or, to quote Heinlein: TANSTAAFL

  47. Gnomish says:
    September 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Oh, has somebody demonstrated that CO2 is a problem?

    Exactly! They speculate about the future. That’s it. The rest is biased and imagined problems of amphibians etc. But when they look to their boots they see the problem – it’s them spreading disease to amphibians. Most of them are suffering from the outrageous Declining Effect. It has often lead to consternation among dedicated science researchers.
    (PS. I not that the author of the declining effect piece wrote a follow up attacking sceptics of CAGW when he realised that his article was being used by sceptics against Warmists scientists. He wants to have it both ways I suppose.)

  48. Retired Engineer says:
    September 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Thorium looks good on paper, but violates my Second Rule:
    “if it is that easy, someone would have done it.”

    Greenpeace et. al? France gets over 70% of its energy from nuclear I have been told.

  49. The JET/MIT NANOR device or the Rossi E-Cat device are better than any nuclear plant. If we put as much time and energy into LENR devices as we do into talking about nuclear, wind, solar etc it would be a done deal… In certain LENR devices the energy seems to come from the process of ionization and recombination(bond energy)..

  50. Brant Ra
    September 1, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    The JET/MIT NANOR device or the Rossi E-Cat device are better than any nuclear plant. If we put as much time and energy into LENR devices as we do into talking about nuclear, wind, solar etc it would be a done deal… In certain LENR devices the energy seems to come from the process of ionization and recombination(bond energy)..

    if Rossi E-cat actually worked, it wouldn’t need any money “put into it”. The demonstration units could be hooked up to the grid on a household scale, generating clean energy, collecting feedin tariffs, which could be used to fund more house scale e-cats, until everyone was using them.

    The excuse that Rossi is based on “weak nuclear interactions” (as an explanation for the lack of radiation) is junk science. The true explanation for the lack of radiation is the lack of nuclear activity in the Rossi magic cauldron.

  51. Crispin in Waterloo says:
    September 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm
    …>No, it is no easier to build a nuclear bomb from Pu-239 generated from U-238 in the spent commercial fuel from today’s nuclear reactors, than it is to build a bomb uses U-233 generated from Th-232 in a thorium reactor….

    My understanding, from reading several papers by Henry Sokolski, is that spent enriched uranium fuel containing Pu239 can be run through the Purex process resulting in material that contains inconvenient isotopes of Pu (Pu-240 I think is the problem), but which can be used directly in a bomb. The needed assembly time is very short because of these other Pu isotopes, but the sort of technology used in the July 1945 Trinity bomb would result in a device that had about 30% probability of producing 5KTons. I’d call it a bomb. The only impediment to building a bomb from reactor material of any sort is timely accounting for the material.

  52. I don’t think the “environmental” minded leaders intend to solve the problem by replacing that 90% with something more green. I think they intend for that 90% of demand to go away, meaning 90% of us have to go. They are very diabolical. Those who are left will use power when there is power available and those in power deem such use is in the accord with their central planning.

  53. If we are bound and determined to eliminate fossil fuels as energy sources, it will take a lot of investment, leaving less for other needs, and a long time. I don’t see how we will abandon diesel engines for construction, or farming, for a very long time, maybe five decades as there aren’t good alternatives at present. I once calculated that to convert the electric grid in the U.S. entirely to wind energy in twelve years (I did the calculation because of a claim by Al Gore) would take about half-a-trillion dollars investment per year. Solar would be even more expensive. I doubt the resulting grid would be reliable or stable without some fossil fuel or nuclear plants included, but the point is that we cannot afford to concentrate investment in this manner to the exclusion of other needs–hence it may take five or more decades for the transformation.

  54. arthur4563 says:
    September 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    “Thorium reactos may win out, but there is no advantage in terms of fuel availability..”

    Arthur, there is indeed an advantage in that it is a by-product of beach sands mining for titanium and zirconium minerals and they have had to basically throw away the thorium (mineral monazite). But much greater an issue, and this is the point of the post, is we already have a lot of the AGW folks on side for thorium. The anti-nuclear bunch are going a bit soft on thorium and the fact that we can burn up the uranium tech wastes in the thorium reactor is an added bonus. Having said all this, Pielke Jr. is wrong about CO2, and nature itself is demonstrating this, but I don’t have any problem capitalizing on the sunnier face for thorium – it is the way to go.

    Retired Engineer says:
    September 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    “Thorium looks good on paper, but violates my Second Rule:
    “if it is that easy, someone would have done it.”
    (my first rule is “it always costs more and takes longer”)”

    R.E., you appear to be unfamiliar with the history of the rejection of Th. The pentagon didn’t want Th precisely because it didn’t produce weapons grade plutonium. Oak Ridge had a good concept but the US Atomic Energy Commission ordered all Th research to be stopped in 1973. I apologize for using Wiki but I knew this from other sources many years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium-based_nuclear_power

  55. I advocate donating to land trusts and restoring watersheds in order to make a more resilient environment. That way we hedge against warming or cooling, natural or man made. Promote more entrepreneurial solutions. When people moaned that expensive mainframes would only allow the rich and governments to access computing power, in less than 2 decades the entrepreneurs put even more computing power on a telephone and into the hands of most people. Separate capital gains taxes from all others. That will create a better risk/reward ratio and encourage more investments in green energy and solutions that are not forced on the public by unmindful politicians.

  56. Jumbo:

    Very good find with that New Yorker link (above) about Declining Results. He is writing about medical studies in particular, and (deliberately ?) choice not to bring up anything about CAGW dogma in our Science presses, but every paragraph related directly to the mime and memo’s used for promoting CAGW and the energy denial policies it demands be placed on the public.

    Hundreds of interesting quotes in the 5 page article, but these paragraphs are especially interesting.

    Leigh Simmons, a biologist at the University of Western Australia, suggested one explanation when he told me about his initial enthusiasm for the theory: “I was really excited by fluctuating asymmetry. The early studies made the effect look very robust.” He decided to conduct a few experiments of his own, investigating symmetry in male horned beetles. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the effect,” he said. “But the worst part was that when I submitted these null results I had difficulty getting them published. The journals only wanted confirming data. It was too exciting an idea to disprove, at least back then.” For Simmons, the steep rise and slow fall of fluctuating asymmetry is a clear example of a scientific paradigm, one of those intellectual fads that both guide and constrain research: after a new paradigm is proposed, the peer-review process is tilted toward positive results. But then, after a few years, the academic incentives shift—the paradigm has become entrenched—so that the most notable results are now those that disprove the theory.

    Jennions, similarly, argues that the decline effect is largely a product of publication bias, or the tendency of scientists and scientific journals to prefer positive data over null results, which is what happens when no effect is found. The bias was first identified by the statistician Theodore Sterling, in 1959, after he noticed that ninety-seven per cent of all published psychological studies with statistically significant data found the effect they were looking for. A “significant” result is defined as any data point that would be produced by chance less than five per cent of the time. This ubiquitous test was invented in 1922 by the English mathematician Ronald Fisher, who picked five per cent as the boundary line, somewhat arbitrarily, because it made pencil and slide-rule calculations easier. Sterling saw that if ninety-seven per cent of psychology studies were proving their hypotheses, either psychologists were extraordinarily lucky or they published only the outcomes of successful experiments. In recent years, publication bias has mostly been seen as a problem for clinical trials, since pharmaceutical companies are less interested in publishing results that aren’t favorable. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that publication bias also produces major distortions in fields without large corporate incentives, such as psychology and ecology.

  57. Frank Kotler says:

    Thorium offers great promise… say the same people who promised us that the original designs were safe. I distinctly remember, when the earthquake/tsunami first hit Fukushima, several commenters here who clamed to know all about it assured us that it would all be over in 12 to 24 hours. I wonder what they say now, with increasing leakage reported nearly every day? “Just another 12 to 24 hours. Sorry, I meant 12 to 24 centuries.” Heaven save us from experts! Give me CO2 any day!

    A plant that was supposed to be shut down the year before due to age related safety concerns, that was designed decades earlier, was hit by a natural disaster beyond any imagined scenario that was considered during design, or, indeed, considered by anyone in the time since, and the result is: 0 deaths. That is an astonishingly safe technology! Normally operating coal plants have deaths from time to time, and deaths in the mining, and as for the health impacts of wind farms and wildlife death, heaven help us! What on God’s earth do you expect from nuclear technology? What result could possibly satisfy you?

  58. If I were a utility looking at future power generation, right now I could NOT accurately project more than 5 years in the future (because of financing changes and expected load changes!) but I’d have gamble – literally l gamble my future on assuming that a nuclear plant 9800 Megawatt to 1200 megawatt) “might” be built in less than 10 years – IF i could get approval and ALREADY HAVE an existing “utility” nuclear economic baseline and security group and training and QA group and “attitude” in my nuclear division. the two – nuclear and fossil are so different, so extraordinarily economically non-competitive and take such extraordinary different management attitudes that you CANNOT run a nuclear plant inside a utility that is not already running a nuclear division.

    Thorium cannot compete until it is simpler and as easy to get up and running as a simple 600 megawatt dual gas turbine and heat recovery steam secondary 3-way plant. If I can go from open field to running power plant in two years, and I am going to need 5 years to just get a design of a thorium plant off of the computer screens – never mind approval and licensing and material purchase! – thorium has no chance.

    No. Thorium may be the best power supply, but no one can gamble on it until they see it running for 5 years of local recycling and refueling. And, if I were not the first operator, I’d prefer 10 years run time before committing my company to 10 years of construction and funding and licensing nightmares.. And even after 10 years will the first operators really “know” what in-core damage is going to turn up in the new metals and carbon dividing walls and recycling/refueling unknowns and poison buildups.

    How long was asbestos being used as insulation before the lawyer-driven hysteria of lawsuits put that industry in the grave?

    Build a reactor. Build a recycling unit that is running pounds of fuel every day, not a laboratory unit trying to put through micrograms once a year. get the molten salt through several startup and shutdown cycles – let’s see if it can be repaired at all.

    I served the USS Seawolf, – Rickover’s second reactor design. It failed. Serviced the Nautilus reactor decontamination and defueling, and qualified on its prototype (S1W.) It worked. Qualified a couple of other reactors, serviced and engineered a couple dozen other light water reactors of various types and vintages.

    There are too many failure modes out there for me to champion thorium this early. Am I cynical enough to say “Let the Indians and Chinese find out the mistakes” then we’ll buy what works? That also is stupid. But do i trust Obama’s DOE to fund Oak Ridge National Lab or INEL or any college or laboratory to make a working thorium reactor right now?

    Yeah. Right. Sure. OK. (Does 4 positives imply a negative?)

  59. 72.
    Ron House says:
    September 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    What result could possibly satisfy you?
    —————————————————–

    Hi Ron,

    It isn’t so much what result would satisfy me, as what the “experts” promise us. Does “electricity too cheap to meter” sound familiar? I really should chase back to the first couple of days after the earthquake/tsunami (NOT a nuclear accident!) and “name names” of the self-proclaimed experts who claimed “all over in 12 to 24 hours” and ask them “what do you say now?” Unless you were one of them, this doesn’t apply to you. Rather than “all over” or even “getting better”, it appears to be “getting worse”. You’re quite right that no one has died, and I hope no one will. France seems to be having good success, and they don’t seem to be dropping like flies. Coal miners die “all the time”. We need to conduct a risk:benefit analysis for any method of producing energy. The benefits are quite large. They are reaped by people living now, or within 40 years (or however long we wind up licensing the things for). The risks, however small they may be, are imposed on people for… how long would you say, Ron? Thousands of years? Less? More? It seems to me that the number of people put at risk is much larger than the number of people reaping benefits – conceeding that the risks/benefits are quite assymetrical. I hope you’re not claiming that the risk is zero – that would set my bs-meter beepin’! I don’t know how to do a risk:benefit analysis on that basis. If you do, clue me in (please).

    I have observed (perhaps not here) that we only need to swap two letters to turn “nuclear” into “unclear”. I have a friend – a “shroud waver” – who claims that children are dying in Japan (from radiation) in droves but it’s being covered up. Is this true? How the snip would I know? It’s being covered up! :)

    We know (pretty sure) that many people have been evicted from their homes, and don’t know when (whether) they will be allowed(!) to return. This must be quite distressing! You don’t have to die to be “at risk”.

    My point was not that nuclear (fission) is “too dangerous”. I’m quite hopeful about thorium and/or fusion (any temperature is okay with me). My point was that the “promises” being made for thorium/fusion may or may not be more believable than “too cheap to meter” and “all over in 12 to 24 hours”. “nuclear unclear”, that’s all.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to hijack the thread…

  60. I haven’t held out much hope that solar or wind would be able to significantly contribute to the terrawatts of energy needed to power modern civilization. But I came across this video about a new approach to solar based on photosynthesis. The technology is well beyond theory but I don’t know whether it can provide an economical solution or if so how soon.

    The technology isn’t discussed until 40 or 50 minutes into the video but the background information is good, essentially exploring the options for generating the additional terrawatts of energy needed to raise all countries to the standard of living of Spain by 2050.

  61. Jimbo says:
    September 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Retired Engineer says:
    September 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Thorium looks good on paper, but violates my Second Rule:
    “if it is that easy, someone would have done it.”

    Greenpeace et. al? France gets over 70% of its energy from nuclear I have been told.

    =================================================================
    A question. What does France due with its radioactive waste?

  62. I’m a skeptic about AGW, but that skepticism is nothing compared to my skepticism about Cold Fusion. Many things, but let me just address the idea that a conspiracy of academic physicists has suppressed the truth. I have no problem with de facto conspiracies to suppress truth, which I think has happened with climate change.
    However, in the case of cold fusion, it doesn’t make sense. There would have been Nobel prizes, million dollar consulting contracts, billion dollar startups for people who could support the theory. There has been really nothing for those who debunked it, because they have simply applied pre-existing theories.
    So when mainstream particle physicists have uniformly discarded the idea, despite the enormous advantages to showing it to be true, I’m led to believe the simplest explanation. That it’s in fact not true.

  63. The Integral Fast Reactor, had it not been canceled by the likes of Clinton and Kerry, would have put us in a much better situation than at present. The biggest obstacle we face is those politicians who thrive on crisis and will do everything in their power to kill anything that has a chance of being an actual solution. It is not surprising they are behind wind and solar – they aren’t real solutions.

  64. thallstd;
    But I came across this video about a new approach to solar based on photosynthesis.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I watched this video from the 40 minute mark. It is garbage. For starters, he yammers on about photosynthesis but the system he proposes has precisely zero to do with photosynthesis. His entire “system” works by electrolysis of water which I for one did as an experiment in junior high several decades ago. At best he has come up with a more cost effective electrode, other than that he has developed absolutely nothing. He powers the system using solar panels, and presents it as a system cost effective enough to power homes in the third world. If only people in the third world had homes to put the solar panels on! Then he says he can build it for $85K per home….ooops he left out the cost of the fuel cell… and there’s no compressor station in his diagram, so I assume he left that out too…. and he also left out the maintenance costs over the life of the system.

    Stunningly, he presents this system as solving third world energy supply problems, conveniently forgetting that energy supply to homes is only a fraction of the problem that needs to be solved if standards of living or going to rise those of “Spain”. You’ll never run a semi-trailer with a reefer on this system, nor a large hospital, a manufacturing plant, or a waste water plant…or any of the many other things that require energy to run and bring up standards of living. He also attempts to position nuclear and fossil fuels and hydro as being impossible to scale to support the energy needs of the third world, and manner in which he does so is pretty much drivel.

    He’s out there looking for investors. This is a promotional video and in my opinion rises to the level of snake oil.

  65. Back to the CO2,
    Pulling arbitrary limits for CO2 out of one’s behind seems to really excite some folks, in spite of ample evidence that not only is it a fool’s errand, it is also an expensive and counterproductive misdirection, and has caused all kinds of mischief that has only lowered people’s standard of living.
    I would postulate that if it were possible to burn every carbon atom that could be mined, drilled or fraced, the atmospheric CO2 concentration would still be far lower than prehistorical levels that have been estimated at 7000 ppm, due in no small part to the cubic miles a carbonate now sequestered as rocks of various forms. Apparently levels of CO2 nearly 20 times present didn’t upset the apple cart, so get off it already. The “CO2 is death” crowd has given us insanely stupid wind farms, cap and trade, numerous clean energy boondoggles, federal bureaucracies empowered to dictate rules based on false premises no matter the consequence, Diesel engines
    that have been rendered needlessly complex, unreliable and less efficient than their 15 year old predecessors, utilities that worry more about offsetting gimmicks than generating electricity and nearly a generation of people who are convinced that their world is about to end in a steaming, mosquito infested, hurricane caused swamp that’s catching fire due to drought.

    If you’re going to make a pitch for nuclear power (which I think is long overdue) do it on its own merits.

  66. It’s important to realize that the reason Thorium reactors have not been built and commercialized is that it’s very hard for the nuclear industry to make money off them.

    The nuclear industry doesn’t make money building nuclear plants. They make money selling fuel rods and pellets made from Uranium (and Plutonium). Those are really expensive, and hard to refine. It’s like the shaving industry – they sell shavers at cost, in order to sell blades at high mark-up.

    The problem with Thorium is that it’s a really cheap and plentiful fuel to use. The nuclear industry couldn’t make much money selling the fuel. And they probably couldn’t make all that much building the reactors either. So, they have used their power to suppress not just any commercial development of Thorium plants, but even most research on it. Industry lobbyists have kept congress from approving anything which might threaten their bread and butter.

    That’s why other countries are getting way ahead of us. They’ve come to realize that it’s in their interests to invest in this energy tech, and so they are. China has big plans to exploit Thorium, and probably to build and export Thorium reactors and maintenance contracts and so on. Plus, they have huge Thorium deposits that they are just setting aside as a by-product of their rare-earth mining industry.

    To get Thorium R&D going in America would mean breaking the back of the nuclear indu

  67. Daunting indeed. Reality also dictates nuclear will never fly because public perception is impossible to overcome. Alternatively, assuming CO2 is ever a problem, I like the Ivanpah solar mirror array.

  68. Rob Spooner says:
    September 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm
    I’m a skeptic about AGW, but that skepticism is nothing compared to my skepticism about Cold Fusion.

    Another interesting comment. I was perfectly happy lapping up the mainstream media story about global warming for several years. Then curiosity prompted me to look a little more deeply and very quickly I became sceptical of AGW. However, it needed me to probe the topic myself. I was interested in cold fusion right from the start and did not swallow the mainstream media tack that it was junk science (I knew Martin Fleischmann and found the “charlatan” label inconceivable).

    Scepticism about AGW comes from, in essence, accepting that the data says more than the models. I agree. However, when scepticism about cold fusion comes from accepting that “pre-existing theories” mean more than the data, it seems to me to be the opposite of scepticism.

    The “too good to be true” argument is a good one too but, again, it cannot negate the observations that have been made. If you’re interested, Google “Rob Duncan, Missouri” and read page 3, second paragraph, of his CV. He was an out and out sceptic who was invited to look into the phenomenon. He changed his mind.

  69. Rob Spooner says:
    September 1, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I’m a skeptic about AGW, but that skepticism is nothing compared to my skepticism about Cold Fusion.
    =============================
    I you’re talking about Pons and Fleischmann, I couldn’t agree more. The facts seem to point to a combination of experimental error and questionable “science”. One should point out however that there are other approaches to fusion, the best known probably being the Farnsworth Fusor, that do or might achieve nuclear fusion. What they have in common is that no one currently knows how to get a positive energy yield from any of those devices. That doesn’t preclude the possibility, however remote, that sometime, somewhere, someone will come up with a simple, tameable, relatively inexpensive device that somehow takes in Hydrogen and/or Deuterium and/or Tritium and produces Helium and energy. It’s probably not actually impossible. But we don’t currently have the slightest idea how to do it.

  70. On the one side are those that consider CO2 will cause dangerous global warming and on the other that CO2 emissions have no effect and both are extreme positions to take.
    I doubt whether anyone on either side of the argument would disagree that energy efficiency is a good thing?
    The starting position should be to obtain agreement that building regulations and other regulations throughout the developing world are such as to minimse energy use through proper regulation and good design.
    As an example this occurred in the UK where solid walls were used on the outside of buildings, then cavity walls an now cavity walls with insulation. The Scandinavians , US and other countries were far ahead in the game than us.
    The above along with roof and ground floor insulation reduce considerably energy use and hence emissions.
    This should be the starting point?

  71. The smartest words ever to come out of Hansen’s mouth…

    “The hope that the wind and the sun and geothermal can provide all of our energy is a nice idea but I find it unlikely that that’s possible.”

    “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”

    Godfather Of Global Warming Alarmism James Hansen Admits Renewable Energy Is A ‘Nice Idea’ Though Useless http://wp.me/p3Bc8A-4y

  72. Brian
    Don K – U-233 is perfectly good material for a nuclear weapon, assuming that it is pure enough. …
    We agree on that I think. I only pursued the issue long enough to satisfy my self that claims that Thorium(/U233) would solve the nuclear proliferation issue were probably wrong. I did come away with the impression that a U233 weapon might be a bit bulkier or otherwise marginally more inconvenient for the military than a U235/Pu239 device. But it would still be a bomb. I reckon they’d cope with any limitations somehow.

    Speaking of what is already known, you are completely off-base when you claim that the nuclear industry has been “less than candid.” Bulls-t. …
    Thanks for your opinion. I’ll stand by mine which is widely shared. “They” misled us about the safety of nuclear power plants. My evidence … Fukushima Daiichi. You think the public wasn’t misled? Fine. I can’t imagine why you’d think that, but you’re entitled to your opinions.

    There’s a second issue with Fukushima BTW. It’s possibly more important than misrepresentations about safety. The engineering at Fukushima seems actually pretty impressive all things considered. But in the half century since the plant was designed, Geology had come to understand that earthquakes substantially stronger than the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 (magnitude 7.9) were not only possible, but actually likely on Japan’s Northeast (and, I believe, Northwest as well) coast. In an ideal world, that would have been recognized and the nuclear plants in the Tohoku would either have been hardened or shut down. The Fukushima complex would either have survived intact or it wouldn’t have been there. The fact that the problem was not addressed is kind or scary and it’s why I personally think that an unconditionally safe nuclear plant design is essential to fission (or fusion for that matter) power rollout on a wide scale. People are human. They screw up. And nature is unpredictable.

  73. DrJohnGalan
    September 2, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Scepticism about AGW comes from, in essence, accepting that the data says more than the models. I agree. However, when scepticism about cold fusion comes from accepting that “pre-existing theories” mean more than the data, it seems to me to be the opposite of scepticism.

    Back in the old days when cold fusion was based on the idea that the platinum matrix, under electric stress, somehow compressed nuclei sufficiently to initiate fusion reactions, the idea was plausible.

    There *are* low energy fusion reactions which might conceivably lead, one day, to desktop fusion energy production – the Farnsworth Fusor, Muon catalyzed fusion (that one just got interesting – since desktop teravolt particle acceleration was demonstrated – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasma_acceleration ), Pyroelectric fusion, to name a few.

    What they *ALL* have in common, is that none of them violate the known laws of physics. All of them produce fusion neutron flux. None of them make ridiculous claims about mysterious weak force interactions which somehow circumvent normal fusion paths.

    Of course its possible, in fact certain, that Physics has a few quirks that nobody has yet discovered. I loved reading E E Doc Smith’s space opera stories about total conversion nuclear power from burning copper and a mysterious transuranic element, and the surprise discovery that nuclear power spacecraft can fly faster than light. But what I kept clear in my mind is that this is FICTION.

  74. Stacey says:
    September 2, 2013 at 12:55 am
    The starting position should be to obtain agreement that building regulations and other regulations throughout the developing world are such as to minimse energy use through proper regulation and good design.

    Absolutely not. That is Progressive/Socialist thought at work. The impetus for saving energy should always be the free market’s goal of saving money, without government interference.

  75. Well said, Bruce. I’m surprised no-one’s picked up on this snippet of petty-fascism:
    “focus on (…) getting people who think differently to act alike.”
    Was Ms Curry wearing a burka when she wrote that? Or is freedom for me, but not for thee?

  76. Abundant Sustainable Energy
    The Luddites had a dim view of coal. See Luddites to Neo-Luddism, Stephen Jones
    Contrast the vision of William Blake in building a New Jerusalem to replace those “dark satanic mills”. as sung at the Pops

    And did those feet in ancient time
    Walk upon England’s mountains green?
    And was the holy Lamb of God
    On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
    And did the Countenance Divine
    Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
    And was Jerusalem builded here
    Among these dark Satanic Mills?
    Bring me my bow of burning gold!
    Bring me my arrows of desire!
    Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
    Bring me my charriot of fire!
    I will not cease from mental fight,
    Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
    Till we have built Jerusalem
    In England’s green and pleasant land.

    Abundant sustainable clean fuel and energy and benefitting the poor is a worthwhile goal rather than shutting down our economy and killing the poor with burning corn via ethanol mandates, “carbon taxes” or “cap and trade”.

  77. The challenge with most nuclear reactors has never been the reactor part.
    The heat exchanger part and the fuel cycle part are the challenges.

    A heat exchanger in a conventional thermal plant that leaks a little, just leaks a little. A heat exchanger in a nuclear plant that leaks a little upsets people.

    The second problem is fuel cycle costs…you need a 100 nuclear plants that use X type fuel in order to make the fuel fabrication cost effective.

    The entire US market for base load(24X7) is maybe 300GW.

    The problem with deploying new nuclear designs in the US is that someone has to make a decision to build a bunch of them, the only way to insure they will be financially viable is to force the closure of a considerable portion of existing baseload.

    The alternative is to give up our nationalist pride and roll out new nuclear fuel cycle designs in China or India first. They each could build a 1,000 GW of new capacity without having to retire any existing plants(existing plants would just become peakers/intermediate load).

  78. Pat – the article is by my son, but I can respond to your comment

    “the scientific evidence he has to support his strong, positive, zero-doubt averral that human CO2 emissions have had or will have an impact on climate.”

    It is trivial to show that added CO2 affects the climate both radiatively and biogeochemically; e.g. for the former, see

    McNider, R.T., G.J. Steeneveld, B. Holtslag, R. Pielke Sr, S. Mackaro, A. Pour Biazar, J.T. Walters, U.S. Nair, and J.R. Christy, 2012: Response and sensitivity of the nocturnal boundary layer over land to added longwave radiative forcing. J. Geophys. Res., 117, D14106, doi:10.1029/2012JD017578. Copyright (2012) American Geophysical Union. http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/r-371.pdf

    Minimum temperatures certainly are higher when CO2 (or water vapor) is added.

    The question we all have is the magnitude of this effect relative to other human and natural climate forcings. A prudent approach is to limit how much we alter the climate unless we know with certainty that there are no negative consequences.

    The global climate models clearly are failing to quantify these effects.

  79. rpielke:

    Although I agree with the substance of your post at September 2, 2013 at 7:19 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1406041

    I write to dispute an opinion which you assert.

    You say

    Minimum temperatures certainly are higher when CO2 (or water vapor) is added.

    The question we all have is the magnitude of this effect relative to other human and natural climate forcings. A prudent approach is to limit how much we alter the climate unless we know with certainty that there are no negative consequences.

    The global climate models clearly are failing to quantify these effects.

    I disagree, and state my opinion as follows.

    Minimum temperatures certainly are higher when CO2 (or water vapor) is added.

    The question we all have is the magnitude of this effect relative to other human and natural climate forcings. A prudent approach is to avoid precipitate actions intended to reduce these forcings unless we know with certainty that they induce negative consequences which are sufficient to negate the their observed positive consequences (e.g. improved crop yields).

    The need to avoid harmful precipitate actions is demonstrated by the global climate models clearly failing to quantify these effects. This failure demonstrates that – at present – we cannot quantify potential costs and benefits. Importantly, at present it seems the models exaggerate effects and, to date, the negative effects are merely postulated while some positive effects are observed.

    Richard

  80. Anthony ….your blog is the BEST.

    all the things you bring forward need to be brought forward.

    ..yet at the end of the day do you not see that you are engaging the barking fools who really don’t care about facts or truth. as you argue and PROVE how wrong they are …they still carry the day as they control the education of the next generation of barking fools.

    all the best and do keep up the fight. and add to the fight the fact that the barking fools are just that. oh yeah save me a bunk in the gulag. hopefully one furthest from the shitters.

  81. There is no way we can “limit how much we alter the climate” since there is no evidence that we are, plus, even if we were, it is at least 50x more expensive “doing something” about climate than it is to adapt. It is a huge, foolish waste of money in other words, and very likely would simply set us on the wrong path energy-wise. We need cheap energy.

  82. “”Pat Frank says:
    September 1, 2013 at 11:01 am””

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1405581

    And asks Roger Pielke, jr. to explain in detail the relation between human CO2 emissions and recent climate warming. I second this request but please be advised I am layman. I can clearly understand how CO2 can warm the atmosphere when the sun is shining but I am lost when the discussion turns to ‘backradiation’. I can accept that CO2 in the night time atmosphere is radiating in the 13 to 17 micron band but this can only warm up stuff colder than about -70C. That temperature is not easily found on the surface outside of Antarctica.

  83. The layman barely has an idea about Thorium as an energy source. However, if I can imagine a connection between “Thorium” and “nuclear” and feel a little fear then the layman, who is sufficiently bamboozled into thinking that CO2 is a pollutant can also be persuaded to imagine that Thorium can lead to disasters like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with fission as an energy source because it is statistically no more hazardous than fossil fuel sources.

  84. In related news, Entergy has decided to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station because the plant is unable to make a profit in today’s power market.

    This follows other recent decisions by other nuclear utilities to close Crystal River in Florida, Kewaunee in Wisconsin, and San Onofre in California. Indian Point in New York state is likely the next nuclear plant to be shut down.

    Other closings will follow as a combination of natural gas and mandated wind and solar drive coal and nuclear from the US electric power markets. Over the next two decades, a combination of market forces and mandated renewables will push as much as half of the legacy US nuclear generation capacity off the grid. All US nuclear plants will have been shut down by about 2050.

    As for new construction, it is probable that the Vogtle, Sumner, and Watts Bar II expansion projects will be cancelled within the next three to five years as rising construction costs and further schedule delays caused by poor quality construction work make these new plants uncompetitive with natural gas.

    Over on the Forbes Magazine web site, Dr. James Conca offers his pro-nuclear commentary about this decision:.

    Who Told Vermont To Be Stupid?

    If you read all the comments to Dr. Conca’s article, you will see a microcosm example of the pro-nuclear versus anti-nuclear debate in the United States.

    The Forbes web site does not publish comments immediately. You have to use their “expand comments” feature to see the very latest commentary for posts which have not yet been “called out.”

    As for thorium as the future savior of nuclear power in America …… just forget it.

    The supposed benefits of the thorium fuel cycle don’t come anywhere close to equaling, let alone exceeding, the true dollar costs and the true financial risks of creating a US thorium cycle infrastructure.

    As regards the future viability of thorium, this is especially so in a US electric power market which, for a variety of political and economic reasons, is becoming increasingly more hostile to nuclear power in any form.

    Unless the expansion of natural gas production and consumption is deliberately throttled through active government intervention; then for better or worse, natural gas is the future of energy in America.

  85. There seems to be a bit too much nay-saying. I favor an “all of the above” approach.Thor energy doesn’t look like SL1.Much has been learned since then. Faint heart never won fair maiden!

  86. It takes no effort at all to find anti-thorium reactor comments and observations, the most telling is that commercial power companies aren’t jumping in, just government agencies.

    Something is off: the theorists or idealist technological believes, of which AW may be one, say thorium reactors are a positive game changer that is proven, while the environmental naysayers say thorium reactors are merely renamed U233 breeders that have all the waste products that the standard uranium reactors produces.

    We still haven’t any accepted disposal site for nuclear waste. We still have no accepted way to get nuclear waste from a reactor to a distant disposal site. Although I am one of the geologically based believers in nuclear enerrgy AND the existence of deep disposal sites that are safe for geological-size time periods, until we can accept waste disposal from the current reactors, I cannot see how we can ever agree to the increase in any nuclear energy program.

  87. @Brian

    Thanks for pointing out my confusion about these cycles. I have been reading more diligently. It has been a long time… I was raised in the shadow of Pickering’s CANDU construction. The reactor in Pinawa, Manitoba cooled by vegetable oil is amazing. The developments in the ensuing years are fascinating. Given the issues with LWR’s over the years which are inherent in the technology, it seems doomed from a practical point of view if downstream costs have to be covered by electricity sales.

    There is a pretty good lineup of the many alternative fuels that can be used in a CANDU reactor here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CANDU_fuel_cycles.jpg

    The fuels used now seem to be somewhat enriched uranium although a CANDU will work on unconcentrated fuel (whatever that means because it is concentrated). It will also work with just about everyone’s nuclear garbage. Given the protests against nuclear power in Europe and the US why have they not adopted it? NIH maybe?

    @Beta Blocker
    Regarding Thorium, India and China are working on it together and India may start, or has started, mining their 1m tons of ore.

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/08/canada-and-china-work-on-thorium-candu.html

    Thorium may be dead (?) in the USA but it appears others are not going to bend to political factions. A Thorium cycle in a CANDU reactor will clean up the mess produced by LWR and keep us warm for centuries to come. If reliable molten salt reactors are brought on line they can be retired at the end of their life cycle. If the alternative is to have power only when the wind blows or the sun shines society is doomed to freeze in the dark.

    We will still have hydro power I guess, until such time that the fanatics protesting modernity work out how to turn off the rain.

  88. @Doug Proctor

    While I understand the comments will always be pro and con for anything to do with nuclear power, there really is a difference between a molten salt Thorium cycle, a CANDU cycle and a light water breeder. The waste products you refer to from light water reactors are fuel other cycles in that they can be burned. The energy produced from this ‘waste’ is actually very significant. The root of the efficiency is that they do not produce the same ‘garbage’ and certainly not in the same proportions even if there is overlap on the actinides.

    It has been a ‘green protest’ technique to lump all things nuclear into one basket and to try to keep the public focused on an over-simplification that condemns all in one go. Like climate alarmism, it depends on the general ignorance of the public. I have no problem investigating and re-investigating guided by those willing to share. I am sure you appreciate our best protection too is to continuously gain knowledge so we can detect BS and snake oil in whatever form it is presented.

    If one waste disposal option is a CANDU or liquid salt reactor, why dig holes in the ground and bury perfectly suitable fuel? They will pay you to take it away!

  89. Roger, thanks for your reply.

    The paper you linked (free abstract page) deploys a combination of observations and modeling studies.

    Not one of the 18 Figures in your paper includes error or uncertainty bars. For example, the trend differences in paper Figure 1 are scaled to 0.01 C, with no indication of uncertainty in either the measured or modeled temperatures. A claim of (+/-)0.01 C accuracy in either case is insupportable. Measurement error is probably 50x that, and model uncertainty probably 500x. Figure 1 is effectively meaningless.

    The physics in your paper is admirable. but let me remind you of your own 2008 post about model tuning and parameterization. Interested readers can refer to the original, but in any case, you pointed out that, “Climate models are engineering codes and not fundamental physics.” and that “parameterizations [are] typically completed for ideal situations … and then applied to climate model situations which quite frequently fall outside of the conditions that were used to tune the parametrization.

    Your comments in that post invalidate the physical accuracy of most model studies.

    Your linked paper notes various assumptions and approximations that went into the UAH model you employed. Paper Figure 4 compares the UAH model with the WU-PBL model used in field studies (paper reference Steeneveld, 2006). Although the UAH model is said to compare favorably, Figure 4 shows differences of ~0.1 C to 250 m relative to WU-PBL. Looking at Steeneveld, 2006, Figure 9, their WU-PBL model makes errors averaging at least (+/-)1 C relative to observations. Their Figure 8c shows sensible (atmospheric) heat flux model errors of about 10 W/m^2. The flux errors in Table 2 are all very much larger than the annual GHG forcing increase or even the total anthropogenic GHG forcing. To the extent that the UAH model is similar to the WU-PBL model, those errors transfer.

    None of those flux errors are necessarily normally distributed. None of them were propagated through any of the simulations in your paper. What is the meaning of a simulation without any stated physical uncertainty? What is demonstrated about the behavior of climate by any such simulation?

    A further example: the delta K in your Figure 15 refers to the data in Steeneveld, 2011. Figure 15 takes its data from Figure 1 in Steeneveld, 2011, which shows a ~(+/-)5 W/m^2 variability of F_H (atmospheric sensible heat flux) at any given windspeed. Eq. 1 in Steeneveld, 2011 uses that data to provide an estimate of the atmospheric temperature difference with wind speed, but ignores the variability in the data. Your Figure 15 uses the Steeneveld estimate, again ignores the observational variability, and shows no physically valid uncertainty bars.

    You know all this because you are a co-author on Steeneveld, 2011. Given the ~(+/-)5 Wm^2 variability, which is almost certainly uncontrolled and systematic, one can conclude that despite agreement between the UAH and Steeneveld models, the physical accuracy of the UAH model is unvalidated and unknown.

    The Steeneveld, 2011 paper further qualifies their eq. 1 by observing that it, “[does] not explicitly account for the internal [Atmospheric Boundary Layer] dynamics, for feedbacks with the land surface, and for radiation divergence. All of these processes can change the shape and behavior of the [Stable Boundary Layer], especially for calm conditions..”

    These qualifiers remove any physical generalization of Steeneveld eq. 1, and imply large uncertainty bars on any attempted generalization. In light of this, the correspondence of UAH and UW-PBL models in your Figure 15 again does not allow any conclusion of physical validity.

    All these considerations show that it is not at all, “trivial to show that added CO2 affects the climate both radiatively and biogeochemically…” Model errors and uncertainties are far too large to demonstrate any such thing.

  90. Hi Pat – The paper shows that whatever the uncertainties, there is not a zero effect from adding CO2. As I interpret what you wrote

    “the scientific evidence he has to support his strong, positive, zero-doubt averral that human CO2 emissions have had or will have an impact on climate.”

    To assume that there is no impact (i.e. a zero effect) from adding CO2, not only is not consistent with our science, but is an unnecessary divertion from the issue as to the magnitude of its effect.

    Please correct me if I misinterpret what you wrote, but that is how I read your comment, and why I present one study of many that shows their is an effect.

    Roger Sr.

  91. Doug Proctor:

    At September 2, 2013 at 10:37 am you say

    It takes no effort at all to find anti-thorium reactor comments and observations, the most telling is that commercial power companies aren’t jumping in, just government agencies.

    Novelty risk is the missing factor which explains your point and has been ignored in this thread.

    Iinvestors providing funds for a novel technology power station apply high interest rates as insurance against the unpredictable risks of novelty.

    A power station has to operate for at least 30 years. The power plant makes little profit over the first ~15 years while it is paying off the cost of its construction. After that it makes a good profit. But a novel technology has not been proved for 30 years of operation. Indeed, it may only last 10 years so the investors would not get all their money back. Hence, investors apply high interest rates to insure against this risk.

    Also, the risk is increased for a novel nuclear installation because it needs to accrue monies for its decommissioning at the end of its service life. These monies need to be saved from profits at a high rate for a novel technology because of the risk that the novel plant may not last as long as intended.

    These additional costs make it very difficult for a novel nuclear installation – e.g. a thorium plant – to be economic unless a government underwrites the novelty risk.

    Indeed, this need for governments to support novel technology power stations is the excuse used to justify windfarms. However, that excuse is spurious because there is no significant novelty risk and the unit cost of a wind turbine is small.

    So, the need for government involvement in thorium power indicates nothing about the financial viability that thorium power would have if it were demonstrated. Similarly, the combined cycle coal-fired power systems (i.e. PFBC, ABGC, etc.) need government support to overcome novelty risk if they are to overcome the inhibition to their adoption provided by novelty risk.

    The problem of novelty risk is not trivial because it effectively delays the adoption of advanced power systems for decades. Adequate demonstration to overcome novelty risk requires at least 5 power stations using a novel technology to operate for ~30 years.

    Will thorium power become economically viable? Perhaps if, for example, China builds several thorium plants and operates them for decades: normal economics do not apply to large commercial operations in China. But it seems unlikely that thorium power can overcome novelty risk in the West.

    Richard

  92. Richard I love the way you steer us to where the rubber meets the road. China, were it to build such reactors willy nilly, then runs the same risk that contributed to the fall of the great Soviet Union. History: Huge investment (and much wasted dollars down pocket-lined sink holes) in military buildup that busted the bank.

  93. Hi Richard – I understand your perspective. You are comfortable on the current trajetory (added CO2), while I am more cautious.

    In a nonlinear system, such as the climate system, where, as you noted, the models show no skill in predicting changes in climate statistics on multi-decadal time scales, in my view, we should be careful in perturbing this system, especially when we do not know the consequences. Winners and losers will certainly occur, but we really do not know who these will be. We have a better idea of risks in the current CO2 environment.

    For example, added CO2 is a benefit to vegetation differentially (e.g. C3 and C4 plants utlize the CO2 differently). Some plants will have a competitive advantage. Some of the response can be positive (perhaps more food per plant) but others might not be (perhaps Kudzu can grow with even more vigor).

    Why should we take this risk, if there are win-win solutions better manage this issue?

    Roger Sr.

  94. rpielke:

    Thankyou for your post at September 2, 2013 at 11:25 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1406156

    in reply to my post at September 2, 2013 at 7:40 am

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1406056

    I quoted your opinion and stated my different opinion in my post.
    It seems to me that we differ in our views of how best to deal with risk. This difference possibly results from our having different ‘world views’ and, therefore, it cannot be reconciled. If so, then all we can do is to each clearly state our reasoning for others to assess.

    In my post I wrote

    The question we all have is the magnitude of this effect relative to other human and natural climate forcings. A prudent approach is to avoid precipitate actions intended to reduce these forcings unless we know with certainty that they induce negative consequences which are sufficient to negate their observed positive consequences (e.g. improved crop yields).

    I stand by that.

    However, in your reply (which I have linked to aid others finding it) you point out that my desire to “avoid precipitate actions” has risks and you state some. I agree, but everything has risks (even getting out of bed). Importantly, any actions would also have risks: please remember the Law Of Unintended Consequences.

    My view is that it is best to avoid precipitate actions until we know they are needed. I understand your view to be that we should act to avoid the risk of potential effects. And you conclude your reply by asking me

    Why should we take this risk, if there are win-win solutions better manage this issue?

    Well, if I knew of a win-win solution then I would support it. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any such “solution” and that is why I stand by my view that nothing should be done in the absence of a favourable cost-benefit analysis.

    Again, thankyou for your reply. And I hope my answer to your question clearly states my opinion.

    Richard

  95. Thanks, Roger, but how is it possible to say there is an observable effect despite the uncertainties, when the uncertainties from physical theory are so large it is impossible to know whether the physical model is correct?

    Likewise, given significant measurement errors, how is it possible to know that certain observational trends are real? When such errors are due to uncontrolled variables that can be correlated across space and time, inter-station comparisons are invalid tests of accuracy.

    You seem to assume that the physics is correct, despite a clear inability to test the physics at the resolution needed for validation.

    Please understand: I am not assuming there is no impact. I’m saying that the physical models are completely unable to resolve the purported impact. The physical theory is not good enough, and the errors and uncertainties from theory are far larger than the purported effect. The impact cannot be falsifiably predicted. Physical meaning thus cannot be assigned. Therefore, any such impact cannot be resolved from the available data. No one knows whether there is an impact, or what that impact should look like.

    My position is strictly scientific. If the theory is incapable of resolving an observable, one cannot claim physical meaning anyway; a claim made by mere assignment. And yet that’s what you seem to be doing and what in fact is going on throughout AGW-driven climate science.

  96. I’m not sure a meeting of the minds is possible.. The moment the door opens a crack 10 000 delusional green idiots will rush the podium to shout down any views besides their own.. Pragmatic discussions of problems and workable solutions has nothing to do with street theater.. They know it and will block and befuddle with as many interpretive dances as their sore feet will allow..

    Thinking you can forge policy when your also running a talent show is absurd..

    What we have to do is fire everybody for either gross incompetence or complacency to the incompetence.. With a keen eye on government and our schools.. Elections are for politics and government is for policy.. The two are very different yet the left has merged them together for their own political gain..

    So there is not even any ground to stand upon for us to even begin to dismantle this malignant political disease called environmentalism..

    Cue the dancers and open the vaults, we are here to save the world is much more hip and fun than dredging a canal or building a sea wall.. Fire them all..

  97. Hi Richard – We have both clearly presented our viewpoints.

    As one final comment, you write

    “Well, if I knew of a win-win solution then I would support it.”

    Please see my weblog posts

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2006/04/20/a-win-win-solution-to-environmental-problems/

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/a-excellent-seminar-at-the-university-of-colorado-at-boulder-what-goes-around-comes-around-by-gregory-r-carmichael/

    for example, of win-win actions.

    Roger

  98. Roger:

    In your post at September 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1406220

    You reply to my having said

    Well, if I knew of a win-win solution then I would support it.

    saying

    Please see my weblog posts

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2006/04/20/a-win-win-solution-to-environmental-problems/

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/a-excellent-seminar-at-the-university-of-colorado-at-boulder-what-goes-around-comes-around-by-gregory-r-carmichael/

    for example, of win-win actions.

    I appreciate your taking the trouble of providing those links for me. Thankyou.

    Unfortunately, the links do NOT provide what you claim.
    The first lists four points of wish fulfillment.
    The other discusses air quality (and makes suggestions I applaud) but does not mention methods to reduce GHG emissions.
    Neither presents a “win-win solution” pertaining to reducing GHG emissions.

    Have I missed something? If so, then what?

    As I said, if I knew of a win-win solution then I would support it. Sadly, I still do not know of one.

    Richard

  99. Brian says:
    September 1, 2013 at 11:33 am

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_fast_reactor

    A void above the fuel allows helium and radioactive xenon to be collected safely without significantly increasing pressure inside the fuel element.
    [See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenon-135, http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nucene/xenon.html%5D

    Breeder reactors (such as the IFR) could in principle extract almost all of the energy contained in uranium or thorium, decreasing fuel requirements by nearly two orders of magnitude compared to traditional once-through reactors, which extract less than 0.65% of the energy in mined uranium, and less than 5% of the enriched uranium with which they are fueled. This could greatly dampen concern about fuel supply or energy used in mining. In fact, seawater uranium extraction could provide enough fuel for breeder reactors to satisfy our energy needs indefinitely, thus making nuclear energy as sustainable as solar or wind renewable energy.[3]
    Breeder reactors can “burn” long lasting nuclear waste components (actinides: reactor-grade plutonium and minor actinides), turning liability into an asset. Another major waste component, fission products, would stabilize at a lower level of radioactivity in a few centuries, rather than tens of thousands of years. The fact that 4th generation reactors are being designed to use the waste from 3rd generation plants could change the nuclear story fundamentally—potentially making the combination of 3rd and 4th generation plants a more attractive energy option than 3rd generation by itself would have been, both from the perspective of waste management and energy security.

    Quoting others. If you don’t like all or part, go write to the authors (follow the links).

  100. Climatism says:
    September 2, 2013 at 12:57 am

    Godfather Of Global Warming Alarmism James Hansen

    ======================================================================
    To “Godfather of Global Warming” I would prefer “The Wizard of COz”.

  101. richardscourtney says:
    September 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm
    ===========================================================
    I haven’t said it yet, but I’m glad to see you back.

  102. The question of LENR still needs research. As several stated here many labs have witnessed excess heat. Most now are not calling this effect fusion in the traditional sense. Some type of force is being broken here and it not chemical.

    The simple issue is MANY labs have seen excess heat.

    Part 1

    Part2

    In second video – an independent physicist who is much skeptical is asked to look into this effect. He goes from 1% to 99%

    What kind of nuclear force is even being broken seems not clear here. However if there is heat then this warrants research.

    Stating that this is not fusion is moot. This would be like saying when mankind discovered radioactive materials and saw excess heart for years without fire and without the signature of combustion helps little here.

    And when the science community was convinced about heat without fire – the science community stated that such a heat is too weak and not useful – About 50 years later – we built our first nuclear reactor.

    LENR MOST certainly warrants research. There is an effect of heat here and it not chemical and it not standard fusion as we know it.
    Heat is heat – we need to find out how to harness this effect.

  103. Frank Kotler says:

    Ron House says:
    September 1, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    What result could possibly satisfy you?
    —————————————————–

    Hi Ron,

    It isn’t so much what result would satisfy me, as what the “experts” promise us.

    We need to conduct a risk:benefit analysis for any method of producing energy. The benefits are quite large. They are reaped by people living now, or within 40 years (or however long we wind up licensing the things for). The risks, however small they may be, are imposed on people for… how long would you say, Ron? Thousands of years? Less? More? It seems to me that the number of people put at risk is much larger than the number of people reaping benefits – conceeding that the risks/benefits are quite assymetrical.

    Well we agree on a lot it seems. The problem with our current time in general seems to be that you can’t trust anyone. Is nuclear really cheaper than coal? I don’t know. I do know that the uranium mine in Australia uses staggering amounts of water and electricity to operate. Is France just paying Australia to run a coal power plant here by proxy to power homes in France by a very convoluted procedure? Who knows? Who even knows who to trust to analyse this properly and tell us an accurate answer?

    Re Fukushima, I do know that the hairy scary reports at the time were baloney, the “radiation” they ran about frothing at the mouth over was locally dangerous, but burned itself out quickly. What about the current story? I don’t have the facts to know, but given the fact-free nature of the reports from the same news agencies before, I won’t waste a second worrying about it unless they show proper evidence, which isotopes, how much, where it has escaped to, etc.

  104. For nay-sayers regarding LENR (and acolytes alike), may I direct all to this excellent recording by Dr. Edmund Storms, who was involved in the first tests to prove/disprove the results of Pons and Fleischmann:

    http://coldfusionnow.org/edmund-storms-at-peak-efficiency-no-other-source-of-power-will-be-necessary/

    Dr. Storms in the author of the book: “The Science of Low Energy Nuclear Reaction”

    And as albertkallal asserts above , LENR certainly deserves a significantly higher level of research.

  105. Hows that $1T dollar bailout working? A big chunk of that could have been used to advance fissile reactors, but wasn’t.

  106. The Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, just north of Omaha, and run by the Omaha Public Power District
    (A very sharp organization based on their rates) has been off line two years as a result of the flood of 2012, a refueling just prior to that, some upgrades, and also some possible Mickey Mouse by the NRC due to political influence. HOWEVER, when things were not all FUBAR, this facility would be a huge money maker during the summer months for the OPPD. Part of the problem in operating these plants is that there are almost as many bureaucrats on site as people who actually provide useful work, and of course a great deal of the effort expended involves shuffling paper.

    By the way, the spent fuel rod pool throws off 30 Mw 24×7. That would heat a lot of homes in the winter months.

    If this country had any sort of long term energy policy with a goal of safety, reliability, lowest possible kwh price and reasonable life cycle costs, it would end the waste sequestration BS and
    standardize on the best proven designs.

  107. “… energy efficiency is a good thing…. {in other words} to minimise energy use… .”
    (Stacey, 12:55am)

    No. Energy-use minimalizing or energy conservation is NOT inherently a good thing. There is no reason to do this (except to save money which should be a personal choice). It is a religious practice, a.k.a., “fasting.”

    The Cult of Environmentalism teaches this dogma; it is one of the main ways cult members can become holy (eating holy foods, e.g.., “organic” produce or non-GM produce, is another way to be holy). Also, women should not wear make-up; it exploits animals and/or is petroleum based (or some other holiness reason). There are also holy clothes to wear — no polyester (yes, yes, cotton is great, but, again, this should be one’s personal choice, not a dictate). The Cult wants to do as you suggest, Stacey, impose by fiat its dogma on the rest of the world. They want a State Religion enforced at the end of a gun.

    OPPOSE THEM AT EVERY TURN.

  108. There is NO EVIDENCE, i.e, no “science” (i.e., knowledge), only proven-FAILED models’ projections, that human CO2 can cause ANY change in the climate of the earth. None.

    There is no REASON to do anything to slow or reduce the growth of human CO2.

    The status quo (and EXCELLENT reasoning with evidence from ice core data by Dr. Murry Salby, April, 2013, Hamburg lecture) is ALL IS WELL.

    The burden of proof is on those proposing we change our way of living. Until they PROVE their case that human CO2 must be curtailed to prevent imminent disaster, THERE IS NO REASON TO ACT.

    Once again, in other words, the Precautionary Fallacy has yet AGAIN raised its hideous head with a leering, drooling, grin.

    Cynical statist control freaks along with those whose fears cloud their thinking (including otherwise rational scientists who fear losing funding and or prestige) must not be allowed to impose their agenda on the rest of us.

    As was said above (Mike Wryley, 9/1, 10:31pm), argue for nuclear power, but do not use the false rationalization of the Fantasy Science Club’s human CO2 teachings.

    As Dr. Essex said in the 50:1 video:

    Stop being afraid. And start thinking.

    .
    .
    .
    ***************************************
    @ Gunga Din — France sends their nuclear fission waste to the USA, and we happily and safely bury it for a fee. And… MORE POWER TO THEM. #(:))

  109. I’m with Janice.
    No evidence has been adduced to support the assertion that CO2 is any kind of problem whatsoever.
    The dogma don’t hunt.
    The precautionary principle, fundamental ploy of fearmongers.without.facts, is a sleight of mind to extort and manipulate and I deeply resent that.
    Fraud and intimidation are anti-reason. it’s nasty, hateful and evil. So stop it, Pielke. Just stop.

  110. #
    Ron House says:
    September 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm


    “Well we agree on a lot it seems.”


    Yeah… I think we disagree on quite a bit, too. I think nuclear power is a bad idea. I think it might be our “punishment” for not thinking of anything better – especially if the carbonophobes get their way.


    ” The problem with our current time in general seems to be that you can’t trust anyone.”

    That was what I was getting at (trying to). The “experts”, for the most part, are the guys whose paycheck depends on it – like CAGW.


    ” Is nuclear really cheaper than coal? I don’t know.”

    I don’t know, either. When you stop shovelling coal into a coal plant, it goes out. When an earthquake and tsunami hit a nuke plant… well, we shall see what happens. It’s gotta have some impact on the bottom line.


    “I do know that the uranium mine in Australia uses staggering amounts of water and electricity to operate.”
    —————————-

    The uranium probably generates a staggaring amount of electricity, too, so that may not be as bad as it sounds.

    “Is France just paying Australia to run a coal power plant here by proxy to power homes in France by a very convoluted procedure?”

    —–
    That’s an amusing thought! :)


    “Who knows? Who even knows who to trust to analyse this properly and tell us an accurate answer?”


    Crickets…


    “Re Fukushima, I do know that the hairy scary reports at the time were baloney, the “radiation” they ran about frothing at the mouth over was locally dangerous, but burned itself out quickly.”


    Did it? Seems to still be plenty “locally dangerous”.


    “What about the current story?”


    The latest story I read – I’m not vouching for this – had the government, not TEPCO, freezing a wall of soil around the plant to stop the movement of contaminated water. 30 meters deep, laced with tubes through which coolant is to be circulated at forty below. Some emergency cooling system, eh?


    “I don’t have the facts to know, but given the fact-free nature of the reports from the same news agencies before, I won’t waste a second worrying about it unless they show proper evidence, which isotopes, how much, where it has escaped to, etc.”


    Depths of the ocean, with Trenberth’s missing heat. :) Seriously, there is supposedly some water contaminated with something getting into the ocean. The Pacific’s pretty big, I don’t imagine it’ll do much harm. But it wasn’t “supposed” to happen. It wasn’t what we were “promised”. So when we hear of the “promise” of thorium or fusion… Stay skeptical!

    #

  111. Janice Moore says:
    September 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm
    .
    ***************************************
    @ Gunga Din — France sends their nuclear fission waste to the USA, and we happily and safely bury it for a fee. And… MORE POWER TO THEM. #(:))
    =======================================================================
    Thanks. I thought maybe Godzilla ate it.

  112. Well, Gunga Din (at 6:55am)…… one day, when everyone’s backs were turned down at the railroad yard,……………. HE DID! (0.0)

    That’s how he got his super-monster powers.

  113. Richard S Courtney

    You agree with Dr. Peilke more than you think. You stated we should not take “precipitate” actions. That is precisely what he is saying when he says it is prudent to reduce emissions since we don’t know how a complex system will respond to them. You’ve made his point.

  114. Roger, your reply did not address my point, made here and here, that climate models cannot resolve the purported impact of human GHG emissions.

    You also did not address my point, made two days ago, that the paper you offered as proof that CO2 was impacting climate did not supply error bars on any figure and was therefore physically meaningless. This is a serious issue to have left unaddressed.

    Unaddressed, this point remains intact: that climate models are unable to resolve the purported effect of GHG emissions on climate. This being true, and I can demonstrate that it’s true (invite me to give a seminar), means there is no evidence whatever that recent climate warming has any connection at all to human GHG emissions. I.e., RP jr’s position is insupportable.

    The whole IPCC position is a crock. It was a crock in 1995 when Ben Santer composed the lie about a ‘discernable human influence’ on climate and it remains a crock today. The question is why any competent physical scientist would participate in it.

  115. Mike G:

    Your post at September 3, 2013 at 11:09 am says in total

    Richard S Courtney
    You agree with Dr. Peilke more than you think. You stated we should not take “precipitate” actions. That is precisely what he is saying when he says it is prudent to reduce emissions since we don’t know how a complex system will respond to them. You’ve made his point.

    NO!
    He and I fundamentally disagree about the need for actions to inhibit GHG emissions.
    The only agreement we have is that we disagree.

    Either you have failed to read what we have each written in this thread or you are trying to be clever (and failing).

    I spell out our difference in my post at September 2, 2013 at 7:40 am and this is a link which jumps to it

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1406056

    Please read it.

    Also, I provided detail to that explanation in my post at September 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/01/climate-of-failure-how-alternate-energy-dreams-are-pie-in-the-sky-solutions-for-emissions/#comment-1406175

    where I wrote to him about his desire to take the precipitate action of reducing greenhouse gas *(GHG, notably CO2) emissions

    However, in your reply (which I have linked to aid others finding it) you point out that my desire to “avoid precipitate actions” has risks and you state some. I agree, but everything has risks (even getting out of bed). Importantly, any actions would also have risks: please remember the Law Of Unintended Consequences.

    My view is that it is best to avoid precipitate actions until we know they are needed. I understand your view to be that we should act to avoid the risk of potential effects.

    Richard

  116. Anthony,

    Thank you for running your website and maintaining a high standard for technical accuracy.

    I’d like to make a correction to one statement related to the relative proliferation resistance of U-233 vs. U-235. Both are Special Nuclear Materials – both can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The significant quantity, defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as that amount of SNM needed to make a nuclear weapon accounting for all production losses, is LOWER for U-233 than for U-235. Using U-233, only 8 kg of material is needed while 25 kg of U-235 is needed.

    In addition, Uranium must be enriched in U-235 above 20% to become weapon-usable (the remainder being the more prevalent isotope U-238) . Natural uranium is only 0.7% U-235 and most low-enrichment fuels used by nuclear reactors are about 5%. Enriching uranium above the level used in nuclear reactors to 20% or more is an extremely costly and time consuming process achievable only by relatively wealthy nations (like Iran). On the other hand, separation of the U-233 bred from thorium requires nothing more than an inexpensive chemical process (albeit very hazardous) available to many sub-state terrorist organizations.

  117. Re: energy The other side of the equation is the delivery of the energy to homes and industries. Increases in digitization and centralization make the Grids in the US more vulnerable to 1. hackers, 2. Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons, 3. Coronal Mass Ejections, or Carrington Events; 4. and worst of ALL, increasing government control and rationing, including the remote control of home appliances.

    Say no to “smart grids,” it’s a fool’s errand.
    ref: http://www.unitedstatesaction.com/electricity.htm

  118. Frank Kotler says:
    September 3, 2013 at 4:48 am


    The latest story I read – I’m not vouching for this – had the government, not TEPCO, freezing a wall of soil around the plant to stop the movement of contaminated water. 30 meters deep, laced with tubes through which coolant is to be circulated at forty below. Some emergency cooling system, eh?


    “I don’t have the facts to know, but given the fact-free nature of the reports from the same news agencies before, I won’t waste a second worrying about it unless they show proper evidence, which isotopes, how much, where it has escaped to, etc.”


    Depths of the ocean, with Trenberth’s missing heat. :) Seriously, there is supposedly some water contaminated with something getting into the ocean. The Pacific’s pretty big, I don’t imagine it’ll do much harm. But it wasn’t “supposed” to happen. It wasn’t what we were “promised”. So when we hear of the “promise” of thorium or fusion… Stay skeptical!

    ==========================================================================
    I just got back from Tokyo. I saw exactly zero concern about Fukushima. I would be happy to return and monitor the situation if you want to pay for my ticket and accommodations. I’ll even relocate to Tohoku to be near the reactor (but I get a free pass on the Shinkansen to anywhere I want on the weekends). Onegai shimasu?

    Is TEPCO filled with incompetent bureaucratic idiots? Sure. Has Fukushima killed a single person due to the reactor? No. At best there is some slight statistical risk years in the future. As to the latest leaks these are contaminated water tanks we’re talking about. A few leaked and some of that spill leaked past the containment wall. Freezing the ground seems like an awfully exotic way to contain the problem, but I’m certainly not worried about ice flowing into the ocean on any relevant time scale. So again, with an ancient reactor design pressed well beyond its design limits we have no deaths, a miniscule increased risk of cancer years in the future and an exclusion zone of about 300 square miles. And even with Fukushima’s zero deaths nuclear has the best safety record of any electricity source.

  119. Well thank you so much Janice. It would be interesting for commenters here to get on this subject one day.

    I think that in the key is diversity – of fossil fuels for ground and air transportation, of types of power generation including thorium reactors (and yes those developed by E Lerner, Randell Mills, and Andrea Rossi), and an abundance of mini-grids would be safest, and have the most flexibility and stability in the event of an EMP attack or a solar event.

    Cars would also be incapacitated by an EMP, but perhaps a simple faraday cage installed under the hood with a ground wire might prevent the electronics from being destroyed?

  120. Mark says:
    September 3, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Anthony,

    Thank you for running your website and maintaining a high standard for technical accuracy.

    I’d like to make a correction to one statement related to the relative proliferation resistance of U-233 vs. U-235. Both are Special Nuclear Materials – both can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The significant quantity, defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency as that amount of SNM needed to make a nuclear weapon accounting for all production losses, is LOWER for U-233 than for U-235. Using U-233, only 8 kg of material is needed while 25 kg of U-235 is needed.

    In addition, Uranium must be enriched in U-235 above 20% to become weapon-usable (the remainder being the more prevalent isotope U-238) . Natural uranium is only 0.7% U-235 and most low-enrichment fuels used by nuclear reactors are about 5%. Enriching uranium above the level used in nuclear reactors to 20% or more is an extremely costly and time consuming process achievable only by relatively wealthy nations (like Iran). On the other hand, separation of the U-233 bred from thorium requires nothing more than an inexpensive chemical process (albeit very hazardous) available to many sub-state terrorist organizations.
    =========================================================================
    Which probably explains why most arsenals these days don’t use enriched uranium and instead use plutonium which is trivially separated from the waste of a reactor. Of course that isn’t metallic plutonium, aka bang-stuff, but again we’re talking relatively standard redox chemistry to get it into that form. And no, I’m not claiming that all of our power reactors are bomb making reactors, but it is easier to separate out the bomb making material from a present day PWR/BWR than it would be for a LFTR.

    As Brian points out you have to do the separation when it’s protactinium because you get both 232U and 233U in the fuel blanket as a result of operation. You did remember about the 232U, didn’t you? This requires exactly the same enrichment you describe for 235/238U, but with a twist. The problem is that 232U is a hard gamma emitter that would not only be very good at killing your supposed terrorists, but would light up like a Christmas tree for any of the major powers to see.

    So ask yourself if 233U is such wonderful bang-stuff why have there been exactly zero 233U weapons created? If it were truly that easy don’t you think Kim-Il-Idiot or A Q Khan or the Isrealis/South Africans, or the Chinese, or the Iranians would have gone that route? Even just one of them?

  121. Correction: I think the key is diversity – of fossil fuels for ground and air transportation, of types of power generation including thorium reactors (and yes those developed by E Lerner, Randell Mills, and Andrea Rossi as well), and an abundance of mini-grids. Diversity would provide the most safety and have the most flexibility and stability in the event of an EMP attack, hackers, or a solar event.

    Thanks.

  122. Tsk Tsk says:
    September 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm
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    Thanks for the reply, and for your observations from the scene. I value observations from the scene (PhD or no) far above what I read in the paper (figuratively speaking)!

    What’s the record for an exclusion zone – area and time – for any of the more dangerous ways of producing electricity?

  123. The problem is that when “alternate energy” supporters call for support for this they don’t really mean “alternative from what we have now” but “alternative to what works”. Thus nuclear isn’t top of their list and windmills are. They are also uninterested in solar satellite power, ocean thermal OTECS or even “cold fusion” LENR (which I wouldn’t bet the farm on but would bet many spare billions), shale gas,methane hydrates. These are systems that may, or in the case of fission & shale, do, work. Shale gas may no longer be alternate but it was when this started.

    In practice what the ecos require of an alternate is that it doesn’t work because they cannot actually come out and say they want to go back to medievalism (that would not be popular) so they support things that look modern but won’t work.

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