Ridley on the claims of exhausting global resources

In the Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley has an interesting article about the the claims that we will run out of “X”, except that human ingenuity always seems to grasp this and then “Y” comes along.

The World’s Resources Aren’t Running Out
Ecologists worry that the world’s resources come in fixed amounts that will run out, but we have broken through such limits again and again

How many times have you heard that we humans are “using up” the world’s resources, “running out” of oil, “reaching the limits” of the atmosphere’s capacity to cope with pollution or “approaching the carrying capacity” of the land’s ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff—metals, oil, clean air, land—and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.

“We are using 50% more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce, and unless we change course, that number will grow fast—by 2030, even two planets will not be enough,” says Jim Leape, director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International (formerly the World Wildlife Fund).

But here’s a peculiar feature of human history: We burst through such limits again and again. After all, as a Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this “niche construction”—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way.

Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature’s bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter’s tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can’t seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls.

Full story here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304279904579517862612287156?mg=reno64-wsj

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107 Responses to Ridley on the claims of exhausting global resources

  1. YouSoWould says:

    The forces of supply and demand ensure that alternatives always become economically viable when a resource starts to become scarce.

  2. Jimbo says:

    Below are two long essays tackling peak stuff as well as energy. If you have the time they are well worth the read.

    “There Is No Shortage of Stuff
    Functionally Unlimited Resources Exist”
    8 May 2009 – by E.M.Smith

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/there-is-no-shortage-of-stuff/

    ———————–
    “There is no energy shortage”
    20 March 2009

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/there-is-no-energy-shortage/

  3. peter says:

    I’m in sympathy with the basic concept of this piece, but there is a limit. Oil is finite in the long run, as long as we are restricted to earth.

    Give us two hundred years however and there will likely be a constant stream of space constructed tankers carrying an endless amount of hydrocarbons from the outer planets back to earth Orbit. Space Elevators on Titan sucking up Methane maybe? All constructed by automatic machinery/robots.

    Unless we give in to the doomsayers and put an artificial cap on our advancement.

    My own personal doomsday scenario is that we dither around till the next ice age, which crashes human civilization and leaves our ancestors with no easily accessible resources once it comes to an end.

  4. Sam Grove says:

    To those of you who have not read Julian Simon’s “The Ultimate Resource”, I highly recommend it and the second edition can be read online (sans graphics) here: http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/

  5. Jimbo says:

    Just over a year ago we had this little story. There are still problems to overcome before it can be made commercially viable though but the energy source is there in very large quantities.

    12 March 2013
    Japan extracts gas from methane hydrate in world first

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-21752441

    There is also research and experiments on Algae Biodiesel. There are many other examples of potentially useable energy sources which I already linked to here.

    We can also turn coal into car fuel as shown by the South Africans.

  6. Jimbo says:

    I should have better said “we can also turn coal into oil which can be turned into car fuel as shown by the South Africans.”

  7. Rick says:

    @peter: “Oil is finite in the long run, as long as we are restricted to earth.”

    Except it’s not. That’s exactly the kind of thinking the Wall Street Journal article is trying to combat. At a minimum, it’s starting to be economically viable to get oil from tar sands and shale. There are also alternatives to crude oil like reclaimed cooking oil, which is made from renewable resources. Yes, you could argue that reclaimed cooking oil is not crude oil, with which I would agree, but at some point it becomes a viable alternative, not for all use, but for some.

    But some really clever people have figured out how to create more oil. See http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/169083-from-aeons-to-hours-new-process-can-pressure-cook-algae-into-crude-oil or http://www.technologyreview.com/news/408334/making-gasoline-from-bacteria/.

  8. Rick says:

    @peter: “Oil is finite in the long run, as long as we are restricted to earth.”

    Except it’s not. That’s exactly the kind of thinking the Wall Street Journal article is trying to combat. At a minimum, it’s starting to be economically viable to get oil from tar sands and shale. There are also alternatives to crude oil like reclaimed cooking oil, which is made from renewable resources. Yes, you could argue that reclaimed cooking oil is not crude oil, with which I would agree, but at some point it becomes a viable alternative, not for all use, but for some.

    But some really clever people have figured out how to create more oil. See http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/169083-from-aeons-to-hours-new-process-can-pressure-cook-algae-into-crude-oil or http://www.technologyreview.com/news/408334/making-gasoline-from-bacteria/.

  9. Jimbo says:

    peter says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:11 am

    I’m in sympathy with the basic concept of this piece, but there is a limit. Oil is finite in the long run, as long as we are restricted to earth.

    Give us two hundred years however and there will likely be a constant stream of space constructed tankers carrying an endless amount of hydrocarbons from the outer planets back to earth Orbit. Space Elevators on Titan sucking up Methane maybe? All constructed by automatic machinery/robots.

    There are many types of oil. I think the article hints at the idea that we simply move onto alternatives. Also the hydrocarbon methane hydrates can be found in the oceans near the continents.

  10. Steve from Rockwood says:

    It seems the only thing we ever run out of is common sense.

  11. kevin kilty says:

    I generally agree with Ridley’s point of view. However, note that he claims we can always recover resources through recycling. I have gotten into long debates with readers of WUWT about this view, which seems to me to be predicated upon an idea that the First Law of thermodynamics is in charge of the world’s operation. It is not–the Second Law is in charge. A better understanding of the Second Law and what engineers refer to as irreversibilities ought to illustrate the point that beyond a certain level of dispersion and dilution the Second Law practically prohibits concentrating such materials back to a useful state. The statement that human ingenuity will simply find a way has to be understood in the context of some hard physical limits.

  12. D. B. Cooper says:

    We have an unending supply do doom & gloom hysteria and Eco fear mongering. Now if only we could figure a way to convert that fear into fuel for a V8 or 747.

  13. jrwakefield says:

    Not just the second law hard limit, but ERoEI. Soon as it costs us more energy to get energy we need we are in a death spiral. Mining far away plants is a gross net loss of energy.

    Peak oil isnt about what’s in the ground, never has been. Peak oil and peak resources period, is about supply meeting demand. That is the RATE of extraction, not the bulk of extraction. Soon as the rate cannot keep up with demand, prices spike.

    Once energy costs get too high because lack of production meeting demand, prices cause recessions. Couple recessions with never ending government debt, and eventually something has to give. The US will never be able to make it’s interest payments soon, they will have to borrow just to do that. Once an economy falls into bankruptcy, and wealth destruction occurs, there isnt the capital to invest in alternatives.

    Our best bet is Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, yet for some bizarre reason the US, not anyone else in the Western World for that matter, is willing to make even one reactor. WUWT????

    Not only are we running out of some resources, but we are running out of smart people running the show.

  14. Susan Corwin says:

    As a senior manager, I view that the problem is one of skills and knowledge.

    The “ecologists”, that Ridley talks about, are absolutely correct:
    => with their knowledge and skill set,
         – there is no hope
         – the pie is finite and “get while the getting is good”

    The technologists, economists, entrepreneurs, etc are also absolutely correct:
    => with their knowledge and skill set,
         – the future is waiting to be created.
         – Something cost too much or short supply?
              => find a better way, create new.
         – The pie can, will, and is growing
              – Moore’s law, fracking, iPhones, etc
         – Challenges can and will be met and dealt with.

    We see the same myopia displayed in the fashionable Piketty screed:
        only manual labor can be valued
        innovation, creativity, knowledge “we” are clueless about.
    and, as captured in the Dunning/Kruger effect:
              that which we can’t do, has no value.

    By this time, I had thought/hoped we would be visiting Alpha Centauri.
    But we are not.
         – the “here and now drones” want their piece of the pie and
         – have zero vision of a future
    other than to grovel in the mud with clueless abandon fighting over dregs produced by others.

    The future is for the brave and visionary,
         – not the moma’s babies with their “attendance” trophies
    who, unfortunately, seem to have bullied themselves to be in charge of the asylum.
    ….so, what have you created today?

  15. Resourceguy says:

    This too is a lesson not learned by John Holdren at the WH science office.

  16. Resourceguy says:

    @Peter
    It is one sided to think that innovation only occurs on the supply side of the problem and price determination.

  17. john robertson says:

    Strangely a material only becomes a “resource” when we identify a use for it.
    Sort of like how government has identified enviro-nasties as a useful tool.
    Susan Corwin above expresses the differing views of reality better than I could.
    There is guaranteed to be shortage when kleptocrats rule.

  18. LewSkannen says:

    kevin kilty says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I think that if there is energy available we can just reconcentrate all ‘stuff’. This means that the only thing that is really consumed is energy. We already know that apart from nuclear disintegration all the stuff we use is still around even after use. If we have unlimited energy we will never run out of any stuff.

  19. conscious1 says:

    Human innovation has led to greater abundance and more efficient use of natural resources yet Malthusian paranoia dominates the mainstream perception of reality. Fortunately, human’s ability to creatively solve problems is a much more powerful “forcing” than supply constraints.

    It should also be noted that the illusion of scarcity can be used to generate higher profit margins in non competitive markets.

  20. george e. smith says:

    Peter, I don’t care a whit, what our ancestors run out of.

    G

  21. Tagerbaek says:

    There is no such thing as natural resources. There is only stuff. When humans discover ways of exploiting some stuff it becomes a resource. Why is it that so many people arrogantly think that our kids and theirs won’t ever come up with anything new?

  22. Richard Sharpe says:

    It seems indisputable that we are running out of smart people.

  23. ATheoK says:

    “Susan Corwin says: April 27, 2014 at 9:51 am
    As a senior manager, I view that the problem is one of skills and knowledge.

    By this time, I had thought/hoped we would be visiting Alpha Centauri.
    But we are not.
    – the “here and now drones” want their piece of the pie and
    – have zero vision of a future
    other than to grovel in the mud with clueless abandon fighting over dregs produced by others.

    Only section I quibble with. Unless we manage to innovate shortcuts through space, (wormholes, dimensional travel, anything), not very likely anytime soon.

    Now mining the asteroid belt is a destination I could support.

  24. richard says:

    hmm.

    SOLAR INEFFICIENCY: 143,000 solar industry workers produce 1% of U.S. electricity — while 87,000 coal employees produce 40%.

  25. RACookPE1978 says:

    Steve from Rockwood says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:33 am (Edit)

    It seems the only thing we ever run out of is common sense.

    Richard Sharpe says:
    April 27, 2014 at 10:20 am (Edit)

    It seems indisputable that we are running out of smart people.


    It seems the only thing we will never run out of is dumb people.

    In fact, we ARE subsidizing, rewarding and promoting the breeders of those ever-increasing numbers of easily-duped dumb people, deliberately ignorant people, accidentally ignorant people, and incidentally ignorant dumb people.

    Unfortunately, our governments are also deliberately promoting, rewarding and paying for the education and hiring of those especially ignorant “smart” people BECAUSE our governments also exploit those ever-increasing numbers of dumb people!

  26. Henry Clark says:

    What kind of civilization could truly use up Earth’s resources anytime soon?:

    Water:

    The cost of desalination of seawater has already dropped to such as $0.49 per cubic meter or so just $0.002 per gallon (example: http://www.edie.net/news/3/Black–Veatch-Designed-Desalination-Plant-Wins-Global-Water-Distinction/11402/ ).

    That’s even cheap enough to be an option for agriculture if needed, although in most places unlikely to be necessary.

    Energy:

    * Near 200,000 TW of sunlight hitting Earth (a bit less making it through the atmosphere but with the preceding being the general order of magnitude) versus about 2 TW human electricity usage and so on

    * Nuclear fuel resources like, for example, the following hints:

    The preceding reserve figures refer to the amount of thorium in high-concentration deposits inventoried so far and estimated to be extractable at current market prices; millions of times more total exist in Earth’s 3×10^19 tonne crust, around 120 trillion tons of thorium, and lesser but vast quantities of thorium exist at intermediate concentrations.[72][73][74] Proved reserves are “a poor indicator of the total future supply of a mineral resource.”[74]

    Even common granite rock with 13 PPM thorium concentration (just twice the crustal average, along with 4 ppm uranium) contains potential nuclear energy equivalent to 50 times the entire rock’s mass in coal,[77] although there is no incentive to resort to such very low-grade deposits so long as much higher-grade deposits remain available and cheaper to extract.[78]

    Uranium can be extracted from practically unlimited quantities in seawater at a cost of hundreds of dollars per kilogram of uranium, which is actually a minor cost in context, especially if used in breeder reactors where each kilogram is of comparable energy release to thousands of tons of chemical fuel (much like nuclear bombs can be up to millions of times more energy release than conventional bombs).

    * Way more natural gas and other fuels than the activists mention.

    Materials:

    A reality like the following:

    As some illustrations, tin, copper, iron, lead, and zinc all had both production from 1950 to 2000 and reserves in 2000 much exceed world reserves in 1950, which would be impossible except for how “proved reserves are like an inventory of cars to an auto dealer” at a time, having little relationship to the actual total affordable to extract in the future.[64]

    In the example of peak phosphorus, additional concentrations exist intermediate between 71,000 Mt of identified reserves (USGS)[65] and the approximately 30,000,000,000 Mt of other phosphorus in Earth’s crust, with the average rock being 0.1% phosphorus, so showing decline in human phosphorus production will occur soon would require far more than comparing the former figure to the 190 Mt/year of phosphorus extracted in mines (2011 figure).[64][65][66][67]

    And so on.

    So, returning to the question of what civilization could truly use up Earth’s resources (like the above) anytime soon:

    The answer is either none or only a hypothetical future civilization orders of magnitude beyond current civilization in industrial consumption (and thus in production too). But a civilization so orders of magnitude above, if existing, would be far more capable of space colonization, and there is far more in the solar system and beyond. (The only kind of civilization capable of actually using up the solar system’s utterly astronomical resources is one capable of extending from the Oort Cloud to interstellar travel, so again no end problem…)

    (Easily googleable, the prior italic quotes are just from parts of Wikipedia, with all original reference sources provided there, which has a CAGW movement team ensuring dishonest presentation on climate articles but has rather different authors in some other parts).

  27. Bill Kruse says:

    An article in The American Economic Review back in 1978, “The Age of Substitutability” by Goeller and Weinberg, is most relevant here. Their message is much more optimistic than Ridley’s (although I very much admire Matt). We DON’T have to hope that we’ll have some genius come along and discover a new resource, thus saving us at the last minute from resource exhaustion. The Earth has, for practical purposes, an unlimited supply of such resources, and we’re basically just going through continuous substitution based on relative prices.

  28. Txomin says:

    Reading Ridley, I am again reminded that we (as a species) are still not having the right conversations. The issues that take our time (and resources) tend to be political fluff soaked with insane amounts of ideological delusion. Just consider how much air-time the likes of Mann or Lew are given by friend and foe despite the fact their work and persons are unequivocally irrelevant timewasters.

  29. ConfusedPhoton says:

    Is it surprising that the environmentalists make silly predictions about technology when the vast majority are non-scientists?

    From WWF about Jim Leape – “A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Jim began his career as an environmental lawyer”

    Well at leaast it wasn’t a degree in English!

  30. John Whitman says:

    Sam Grove says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:14 am

    To those of you who have not read Julian Simon’s “The Ultimate Resource”, I highly recommend it and the second edition can be read online (sans graphics) here: http://www.juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/

    – – – – – – – – –

    Sam Grove,

    Yes. Julian Simon is a must read.

    Also, so is Indur M. Goklany’s general work and especially his book ‘The Improving State of the World: Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet’

    Also, for a general positive view of mankind’s economic nature, one needs to come to an understanding that human action is unlimited in reasoned options; it is not a zero sum game.. Zero sum is a false premise used by all Malthusians and radical environmental ideologists.

    Zero sum is a perceptually based position; whereas human action by reasoned options is a conceptually based position.

    NOTE: I thank Matt Ridley for keeping the stimulus in front of the public to think about human action in terms of reasoned options.

    John

  31. JimK says:

    There are also some Russians who theorize the earth is a giant high pressure reactor that is constantly producing crude oil and that we’ll never run out.

  32. Steven Kopits says:

    Some commodities are supply-constrained, some are not. Oil appears to be constrained.
    Peak oil does not occur when we run out of oil, but when the marginal consumer is no longer willing to pay for the finding, production and processing of the marginal barrel. And we actually know what these numbers. The marginal consumer, in theory, should be willing to pay around $112 / barrel, Brent basis. The marginal barrel costs around $120 / barrel on a free cash flow basis. Thus, the oil business is under some significant strain, with the international oil companies divesting and cutting capital spending even at a time of economic growth and high oil prices.

    To suggest we will never run out of affordable oil misses the point. We have already run out of affordable oil. That’s why US oil consumption is 9% below it 2005 peak and why home heating oil use has fallen by nearly half since that time. That’s why UK oil consumption is down nearly 20%(!) since 2005, and it’s down 25-32% in places like Italy, Portugal, and Spain over the period.

    In a market economy, a lack of supply does not show up as a physical shortage. It shows up as higher prices, which leads to reduced consumption, which is price-based rationing. That’s what we’ve seen across the developed economies with few exceptions.

    Those interested in the topic should see my Columbia University presentation: http://energypolicy.columbia.edu/events-calendar/global-oil-market-forecasting-main-approaches-key-drivers

  33. dbstealey says:

    YouSoWould says:

    The forces of supply and demand ensure that alternatives always become economically viable when a resource starts to become scarce.

    That’s it in a nutshell. The price point is the intersection of supply and demand. Malthusians always worry that suddenly we will run out of oil, or whatever their latest scare is.

    We will not run out. The price will gradually rise until alternatives become viable. To the extent government gets out of the way and resists the urge to meddle, there will never be widespread shortages of energy. Government is the problem, not the solution.

    But I am a pessimist when it comes to government. The people who run things are good at:

    1) Getting elected, and

    2) ?

    All energy shortages are 100% the fault of government. But as always, they will cause the problem, then they will ride in like the cavalry with their ‘solution’ — which will require more government.

  34. Col Mosby says:

    If the issue is energy, then there is no problem, even if we do run out of oil and natural gas and coal (assuming electric cars are practical, which is highly likely – we’re not that far from a practical
    battery as it is). The answer, of course, is nuclear power. A factoid reported a couple years ago by a nuclear scientist who was pushing for fast reactors (not far from commercialization – Russia just built one hooked into the grid and China is also buiding them) . He stated that since a fast reactor can extract most of the energy that remains in nuclear wastes after passing thru a conventional reactor (98%), just the nuclear wastes we now have contain enough extractable energy to provide all the energy this country will need for the next 1000 years. Another article mentioned that uranium, right at this minute, can be extracted from the oceans at a cost that would not exceed current uranium fuel costs in a conventional reactor when burned in a fast reactor. Furthermore,
    such a source of uranium would be practically inexhaustible – available for millions of years
    at current usage rates. And price rises due to scarcity could obviously never exist. Energy shortage? What energy shortage?

  35. rogerknights says:

    If there’s a breakthrough in LENR (aka cold fusion) in some form, that would be the start of a new age.

  36. Retired Engineer says:

    dbstealey:
    2) making a mess of things, and
    3) wasting a lot of money in the process.
    (which takes us back to your item #1)

    Thorium may help, but “if it were that easy, someone would have done it by now” (Rule #3)

    I worry less about energy and climate “tipping” points and more about
    the debt tipping point. At some point, folks will stop buying our debt, if
    we try to print our way out … (think Germany in the late 20’s)
    We know where that went.

  37. rogerknights says:

    Here’s a three-part solution I endorse, spelled out in a book called “Prescription for the Planet: The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises,” whose details are outlined in the first reader-review, by G. Meyerson:

    This book is a must read for people who want to be informed about our worsening energy and ecology crisis. Before I read this book, I was opposed to nuclear power for the usual reasons: weapons proliferation and the waste problem. But also because I had read that in fact nuclear power was not as clean as advertised nor as cost competitive as advertised and was, moreover, not a renewable form of energy, as it depends upon depleting stocks of uranium, which would become an especially acute problem in the event of “a nuclear renaissance.”

    Before I read this book, I was also of the opinion that growth economies (meaning for now global capitalism) were in the process of becoming unsustainable, that, as a consequence, our global economy would itself unravel due to increasing energy costs and the inability of renewable technologies genuinely and humanely to solve the global transport problem of finding real replacements for the billions of gallons of gasoline consumed by the global economy, and the billions more gallons required to fuel the growth imperative. I was thus attracted to the most egalitarian versions of Richard Heinberg’s power down/relocalization thesis.

    Blees’ book has turned many of my assumptions upside down and so anyone who shares these assumptions needs to read this book and come to terms with the implications of Blees’ excellent arguments. To wit: the nuclear power provided by Integral Fast Reactors (IFR) can provide clean, safe and for all practical purposes renewable power for a growing economy provided this power is properly regulated (I’ll return to this issue below). The transportation problems can be solved by burning boron as fuel (a 100% recyclable resource) and the waste problem inevitably caused by exponential growth can be at least partially solved by fully recycling all waste in plasma converters, which themselves can provide both significant power (the heat from these converters can turn a turbine to generate electricity) and important products: non toxic vitrified slag (which Blees notes can be used to refurbish ocean reefs), rock wool (to be used to insulate our houses–it is superior to fiber glass or cellulose) and clean syngas, which can assume the role played by petroleum in the production of products beyond fuel itself. Blees’s discussion of how these three elements of a new energy economy can be introduced and integrated is detailed and convincing. Other forms of renewable energy can play a significant role also, though it is his argument that only IFRs can deal with the awesome scale problems of powering a global economy which would still need to grow. Tom’s critique of biofuels is devastating and in line with the excellent critiques proferred by both the powerdown people and the red greens (John Bellamy Foster, Fred Magdoff); his critique of the “hydrogen economy” is also devastating (similar to critiques by Joseph Romm or David Strahan); his critique of a solar grand plan must be paid heed by solar enthusiasts of various political stripes.

    The heart of this book, though, really resides with the plausibility of the IFR. His central argument is that these reactors can solve the principal problems plaguing other forms of nuclear power. It handles the nuclear waste problem by eating it to produce power: The nuclear waste would fire up the IFRs and our stocks of depleted uranium alone would keep the reactors going for a couple hundred years (factoring in substantial economic growth) due to the stunning efficiency of these reactors, an efficiency enabled by the fact that “a fast reactor can burn up virtually all of the uranium in the ore,” not just one percent of the ore as in thermal reactors. This means no uranium mining and milling for hundreds of years.

    The plutonium bred by the reactor will be fed back into it to produce more energy and cannot be weaponized due to the different pyroprocessing that occurs in the IFR reactor. In this process, plutonium is not isolated, a prerequisite to its weaponization. The IFR breeders can produce enough nonweaponizable plutonium to start up another IFR in seven years. Moreover, these reactors can be produced quickly (100 per year starting in 2015, with the goal of building 3500 by 2050)), according to Blees, with improvements in modular design, which would facilitate standardization, thus bringing down cost and construction lead time.

    Importantly, nuclear accidents would be made virtually impossible due to the integration of “passive” safety features in the reactors, which rely on “the inherent physical properties of the reactor’s components to shut it down.” (129)
    ………………..
    Still, if such a new energy regime as Blees proposes can solve the climate crisis, this is not to say, in my opinion, that a growth regime is fully compatible with a healthy planet and thus a healthy humanity. There are other resources crucial to us–the world’s soils, forests and oceans come to mind–that a constantly expanding global economy can destroy even if we recycle all the world’s garbage and stop global warming.“

    Here’s the Amazon link:

  38. Gary Pearse says:

    As hard as one tries to keep ideologies out of scientific debate, it keeps imposing itself in the form of linear and zero-sum type thinking that lacks the innovation dimension. This is precisely because centrally planned direction is simply not innovative. Innovation is an individualistic activity. Yes, unfortunately, the debate about prosperity and plenty is an ideological one. The miracle that was the US economy was an ideological one. This very fact is what has so sorely tried the sinistrals and focused their energies toward bringing down this embarrassingly in-your-face success story and the irrepressable conclusions that leap out at you. The big experiments in the alternative have all either collapsed or are busy trying to hybridize themselves into a simulacrum of American political economy.

    Here is where all ‘sinistral thinkers’ on resources and technology utterly fail time after time. The demand IS NOT for Zinc, but rather for coatings and other technologies for preventing corrosion of iron and steel. The demand IS NOT for copper, lumber, etc. etc. the demand is for communications, electrical conductors, shelter…..For all demands, there are infinite resources. Moreover, all metals mined haven’t disappeared, they are, to ever increasing degrees, being recycled and reused and we are learning to use less per unit as we go. Lack of resources is a buzz phrase used by sinistrals as the politically correct way to discuss depopulation of the earth by centrally directed planners.

  39. George Steiner says:

    “Oil is finite in the long run,…”
    Even this is not true. Oil is likely not fossil but mineral. And there is a lot of it but lower down. And what is the the long run?

  40. David L. Hagen says:

    Reality Check for those willing to look at the evidence
    See Charles Hall’s book: Energy and the Wealth of Nations
    Peak Oil, Declining EROI and the New Energy-Economic Reality (VIMEO)
    Hall highlights that to function, society requires an Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROI/EROEI) > 3, preferably > 10.
    Petroleum EROEI has already declined from > 100 to ~ 12.
    EIA shows Global Oil & Condensates has not increased since 2005.
    Jeffrey Brown shows “Available Net Exports” of oil – after China and India’s imports, have already declined 14% since 2005.
    Capex/bbl/day has been increasing 11%/year. That has forced oil companies to cut back.
    We are rapidly running out of time to develop alternatives fast enough to prevent severe economic harm.
    The major options are thermochemical fuel from fission and fusion: solar thermochemical and thorium reactors.

  41. Brian H says:

    Those who think in terms of shallow surface pools of “fossil” fuel need to explain Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes and methane rain.

    And the ONLY population extrapolation that has ever been close is the “Low Band” (now the “Low Fertility”) version of the UN’s Population Survey. It now predicts a peak at about 8bn. in about 2045, falling indefinitely, reaching <7bn. by 2100. By then, Bangladesh will have the income and quality of life of the current UK, e.g.

    The Tesla Model S has a peculiar characteristic effect: most owners love it so much they swear they will own and drive an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car ever again only at gunpoint. I follow the teslamotors.com/forums site closely, and have ridden one. It's the real deal.

    As for electric power supply, check out LPPhysics.com for an innovation whose time has come.

  42. WebHubTelescope says:

    George Steinbrenner said:


    Oil is likely not fossil but mineral. And there is a lot of it but lower down.

    Where do they find these people?

  43. R. de Haan says:

    As long as we have rocks we have energy. Period.
    In the mean time:
    Best news from a (Ex) NASA expert ever: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/04/26/Former-NASA-Scientist-Global-Warming-is-Nonsense

  44. Lars P. says:

    Susan Corwin says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:51 am

    As a senior manager, I view that the problem is one of skills and knowledge.

    The “ecologists”, that Ridley talks about, are absolutely correct:
    => with their knowledge and skill set,
    – there is no hope
    – the pie is finite and “get while the getting is good”
    ……………..
    who, unfortunately, seem to have bullied themselves to be in charge of the asylum.
    …..

    That summs it up nicely Susan, thanks for the post. The skills and knowledge give the worldview of the respective group.
    So from their perspective and understanding each group is right. The problem comes when one group wants to impose their worldview on the other group.

  45. WebHubTelescope says:

    db stealey, a refugee from the junk science site WUWT said:


    The price point is the intersection of supply and demand. Malthusians always worry that suddenly we will run out of oil, or whatever their latest scare is.

    Oh, that’s where they find these people.

    Answered my own question.

  46. DirkH says:

    Retired Engineer says:
    April 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm
    “Thorium may help, but “if it were that easy, someone would have done it by now” (Rule #3)”

    Germany did

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble-bed_reactor#Germany

    Chickened out after a minor accident (which happened after Chernobyl; so as Germany usually does, it shuts down its own technology when other countries who don’t care at all make a mess). Patent licensed to China. Currently under construction over there.

  47. DirkH says:

    WebHubTelescope says:
    April 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm
    “db stealey, a refugee from the junk science site WUWT said:”

    What are you, a Salon reader? Can you help us twist our brains into a libtard pretzel like the readers over there can?

  48. Rud Istvan says:

    Those of you interested in a quite serious detailed dissection of Ridley’s innovation/ substitution theses might be interested in the book Gaia’s Limits. It explores carrying capacity for projected human population and GDP in some depth. Ridley is over optimistic, but there are no foreseeable catastrophes (Ehrlich nonsense). A couple of things definitely begin to pinch hard by 2050, and those will become quite ugly and disruptive in that time frame if a few ‘simple’ course corrections aren’t made starting soon. Regrettably, China seems further along on those than either India ( which could get very ugly) or the US (which could get very uncomfortable).
    The most objectionable part of CAGW alarmism is that it distracts from discussion about practical solutions to real and predictable problems that need to be implemented soon–starting about now if pretty serious disruptions are to be avoided, even in the resource blessed US. The war on coal, for example, is fighting the wrong war right now.
    Unfortunately, the energy climate overlap tends to cause pro con camps that obscure the important grey intermediates where manynof the problems and possiblempolicynsolutions lie. And miss entirely other big probable issues like food and the related topic of virtual water. The poster above who thought desalination is the water solution doesn’t know much about water or how it is used. California this summer will get a very hard lesson in the Central Valley.

  49. Nullius in Verba says:

    “A couple of things definitely begin to pinch hard by 2050″

    Such as?

    “And miss entirely other big probable issues like food and the related topic of virtual water. The poster above who thought desalination is the water solution doesn’t know much about water or how it is used.”

    Desalination costs about 3-6 kWh per cubic metre of fresh water. You can supply a person with the essentials for under a dollar day. What’s the problem?

    The reason most of us don’t use it is that there are large capital costs, and we have far cheaper alternatives. We don’t currently use it because we don’t need it. Shortages are only short-term or caused by other economic effects so far as I know. If we’ve got energy we’ve got water, and if we’ve got energy and water then we’ve got food. What do you think we’re missing?

  50. RACookPE1978 says:

    WebHub is a frequent writer on Judith Curry’s Climate, Etc. site.
    Whether he/she/it is right or not is subject to debate …

  51. RobertInAz says:

    Retired Engineer says:
    April 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm
    “Thorium may help, but “if it were that easy, someone would have done it by now” (Rule #3)”

    Retired Engineer: here is a TED talk on thorium well worth 10 minutes of your time. http://www.ted.com/talks/kirk_sorensen_thorium_an_alternative_nuclear_fuel
    And the proponet site

    http://energyfromthorium.com/

    For some history:

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

    After World War II, uranium-based nuclear reactors were built to produce electricity. These were similar to the reactor designs that produced material for nuclear weapons. During that period, the U.S. government also built an experimental molten salt reactor using U-233 fuel, the fissile material created by bombarding thorium with neutrons. The reactor, built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operated critical for roughly 15000 hours from 1965 to 1969. In 1968, Nobel laureate and discoverer of Plutonium, Glenn Seaborg, publicly announced to the Atomic Energy Commission, of which he was chairman, that the thorium-based reactor had been successfully developed and tested:

    So far the molten-salt reactor experiment has operated successfully and has earned a reputation for reliability. I think that some day the world will have commercial power reactors of both the uranium-plutonium and the thorium-uranium fuel cycle type.[7]

    In 1973, however, the U.S. government shut down all thorium-related nuclear research—which had by then been ongoing for approximately twenty years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The reasons were that uranium breeder reactors were more efficient, the research was proven, and byproducts could be used to make nuclear weapons. In Moir and Teller’s opinion, the decision to stop development of thorium reactors, at least as a backup option, “was an excusable mistake.”

  52. dbstealey says:

    In reply to this comment:

    “Oil is likely not fossil but mineral. And there is a lot of it but lower down.”

    WebHubTelescope says:

    Where do they find these people?

    Let me educate you, Webster me boi:

    Prof Freeman Dyson says that abiotic oil is a possibility. Argue with him if you like.

    So the real question is: where do they fin people like WebHubTelescope? Is he an SkS refugee? Or is he independently ignorant?

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

    Retired Engineer says the government is:

    2) making a mess of things, and
    3) wasting a lot of money in the process.
    (which takes us back to your item #1)…

    I worry less about energy and climate “tipping” points and more about
    the debt tipping point. At some point, folks will stop buying our debt, if
    we try to print our way out … (think Germany in the late 20′s)
    We know where that went.

    Exactly. We are printing $85 Billion a MONTH! That tipping point cannot be too far off:

    “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”

    – Ludwig von Mises

  53. RobertInAz says:

    I can see severe problems developing as a result of schizophrenic energy policy. Energy is another area where will likely muddle through in the US. Increasing costs will drive more lifestyle changes leading to reduced energy consumption. The world will undergo a phenomenal demographic shift in the 21st century that will likely radically transform the nature of the 22nd.

  54. David Ball says:

    WebHubTelescope? Where did you go? I was waiting for you to set us all straight. It’s been ages since my last epiphany. You came out swinging (kinda), and saying everybody here is wrong and I am on the edge of my seat to hear your reasoning.

  55. kevin kilty says:

    LewSkannen says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:59 am
    kevin kilty says:
    April 27, 2014 at 9:36 am

    If we had an unlimited supply of available energy to perform work, then, as you say we could just expend work to recycle and concentrate materials. However, this is not a realistic stance. Energy costs money and the increasing irreversibilities one encounters at increasing dilution of some resource have the practical effect of eventually making recycling too expensive to pursue.

  56. Rud Istvan says:

    Anyone asserting that desalination water can be used for grain production (Nullius) does not know what they are talking about. Anyone believing in hydrocarbon abiogenesis is ignorant of all sedimentary geology.
    Please do figure out an economical way to bring methane to Earth from Titan. Or from the Sun, where there is more. Good grief people. Good grief. How can your correct rejection of CAGW result in such ridiculously blind equivalents? SAD.

  57. Dr. Strangelove says:

    Environmental activists are fond of saying we need 2.5 earths to sustain the current population. Closer to truth is we need 2.5 more population and we still won’t deplete earth’s resources. What is running out? Water? Desalinate seawater and it is physically impossible for humans to consume all the oceans. Food? Cultivate all the arable land in the world and it can feed 50 billion people. Even more if we use GM crops and mechanized farming. Energy? Arizona alone receives more solar energy than the output of all the power plants in the world. Land? If Alaska had the population density of New York City, we can put all 7 billion people in Alaska and it will still have vacant land larger than Texas, and the rest of the world will be uninhabited.

    Maybe activists are running out of sensibility. BTW ecologists say more CO2 and warmer climate increase plant growth (including wheat) and conserve water.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/co2-makes-growing-seasons-longer1/?&WT.mc_id=SA_ENGYSUS_20140424

  58. kevin kilty says:

    Steven Kopits says:
    April 27, 2014 at 11:39 am….

    That was a great presentation. Worrisome consequences if your view turns out to be correct.

  59. Paul Penrose says:

    Kevin Kilty,
    Yes, yes, there is no such thing as unlimited anything. Eventually the Universe will die, all the energy exhausted. But for now and in the immediate future there is practically unlimited energy available for us to exploit in the form of coal and nuclear energy. All we need is the political will to get the government out of the way and let the markets work. Regulate yes, obstruct no.

  60. E.M.Smith says:

    @Rud Istvan:

    Here’s how you do it: http://seawatergreenhouse.com/ presently in use for vegetables, saladings, and the like. Usable for grains if you wished. (though at present it is cheaper to use open land in the USA…) The “trick” is not to use a high tech desalinization plant, but a more simple application of well thought out natural forces in getting fresh water from sea water. Cheaper materials and more intelligent innovative design.

    One presumes you think that abiotic oil can not exist. Hmmm…. explain please the hydrocarbons on Titan, and not just the methane, the complex ones as well. Must be those Titanic Dinosaurs?

    There is no doubt what so ever that some of the hydrocarbons on earth are abiogenic. The real question is “What percent?”. Is it 80%? Or 10%? Or 0.000002%? Nobody knows. Yes, a lot of current oil is found in clearly biogenic settings. Yet other oil comes from places not so marked. See the Russian finds… using the abiogenic thesis.

    @Jimbo:

    Thanks for the links! Makes me feel like maybe it’s worth it ;-)

    BTW, I’m rather fond of this one:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/ulum-ultra-large-uranium-miner-ship/

    A thumbnail sketch of how to get unlimited energy for functionally all time, and at costs near present values. It’s practical. Will we ever do it? Probably not. I expect other technologies to keep prices undercut (in particular methane, thorium, and maybe the eCat if it really works… and since we now have high school kids doing cold fusion / LENR demonstrations it looks like LENR is pretty well real.)

    Oh, BTW, Thorium has already been used in production reactors. The USA did it long ago. It can be used in our present crop of reactors if desired (don’t need new fancy designs, though they might be better). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shippingport_Atomic_Power_Station

    It is my speculation that the Thorium to U233 path was shut down as we figured it was a shortcut to SNM (“boom stuff”) that didn’t need fancy enrichment. (Don’t waste time telling me you can’t make a bomb from it. India did, and the USA made a partly successful bomb with it. Even a “hot” and “lousy” bomb of “only” a couple of kilotons can ruin your whole day…)

    Oh, and the Canadian CANDU eats up Thorium like chocolate. Not a problem fueling them with your choice of U, Th, Pu, “whatever” fissionable / fertile you have around. Likely also why the USA leaned on Canada to try to get them to go LWR instead … and why India used more CANDU type… and why India has bombs… ( i.e. the USA paranoids were right, but it didn’t stop anyone anyway).

    FWIW, I’ve been following energy economics fairly intensely since about 1972 or so (Arab Oil Embargo stands out, along with other things). Also the original “Computer model driven Junk Science” of Doom And Gloom In Our Times “Limits to Growth” by Meadows et. al. Brought to you by the same folks who push the Global Warming agenda, and for the same reasons. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now (but they still want control of the economies of the world…)

    (Actually had an Econ class focused on that book, and the things wrong with it. Prof. Gustafson, IIRC. A great guy with thick glasses and a keen insight into things… I owe him a lot. For 5 weeks he got us all fired up about how The End Is Near!… then handed out the bibliography of rebuttals… we were all chastened. Knew just how to get “buyers remorse” going ;-)

    At any rate, the bottom line is simple:

    There are many powerful folks who have been pushing the “Running Out” idea as a way to scare mass populations into compliance for a very long time. They are now pushing CO2 also. It is all a matter of FUD. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Just a way to scare the children into running the direction they want… The Club Of Rome is pushing it, among others. They pushed “Meadows et. al.” too. (See attributions inside “Limits” covers. They don’t hide it.)

    Well, enough for now. I’m a bit busy at the moment…

  61. E.M.Smith says:

    @Stephen Kopitz & Kevin Kilty:

    Please notice that the places listed as reducing oil use are all involved in economic decline.

    Please elaborate on the rate of increase of oil use in CHINA, then tell me folks are not willing to buy oil… Also explain why if we have run out of “affordable oil” the USA is producing more each year and is on track to become a net exporter.

    Oil fuels economic growth. Where you have growth, you have more oil consumption. Where you have increasing oil consumption, you have economic growth. (See the Dakotas for a stellar example.)

    Oh, and I see the “Energy Return On Energy Invested” spiral of doom canard has been floated. It’s a bogus argument. Along the California highway 101, you can see oil wells pumping away using electric motors. We will be pumping oil at a net energy loss for decades (centuries?) after the EROEI has gone negative. Maybe it will be solar from Barstow, or maybe nuclear power from Palo Verde. Doesn’t really matter. What matters it that we want the FORM of energy: high density petroleum fuels. Spending some energy to get that FORM of energy is JUST FINE with us. Please look at the EROEI of an Oil Refinery as a simple example. Less comes out than goes in. Yet we do it all the time… Because it’s a good thing to do.

    Oh, and as a preemptive statement on “oil for plastics” and why we ought to save petroleum to make “petro” chemicals: They originally were made from coal. Just oil was cheaper. Now we mostly use natural gas. There’s a couple of companies use garbage or plants. Darned near any carbon source will do (even CO2 from the air – best removed by highly efficient scrubbers called “trees” and “grasses”… don’t need to invent new ones.) There is absolutely no need to “save” petroleum to make “petro” chemicals. Though it is a good example of the FORM of a product being more important than the EROEI and why EROEI is a bogus argument.

  62. Rud Istvan says:

    EMSmith, your posts above on desalination and hydrocarbon abiogenesis say all that needs to be said. Good that you are busy on something else, God Forbid.
    Get back on those two of your assertions after you have some facts. You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. You degrade the quality of discourse on this blog, which was already being challenged.

  63. For the most part, I think this article is spot-on. I do have a minor quibble: some of the points made focus more on quantity than on quality.

    E.g. the notion that we can grow more food with fertilizers and perticides. Technically it’s 100% right. But when you take into account human health, it’s not necessarily the better option.

    Fertilizers and pesticides usually lead to a lower quality of food.

  64. Kevin Kilty says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    April 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Had you bothered to watch Kopits presentation you might not have bothered to write your first three paragraphs as Kopits explained your observations well and in greater detail.

    With regard to your paragraph four, I agree that EROEI is a bogus argument for certain forms of limited portable energy, for instance batteries, but for large scale use like transportation fuels one might look at the concept carefully. Perhaps it is still bogus, but there is more to the production of fuels than the electric motors running pump-jacks.

  65. Steve O says:

    When oil costs $500 a barrel, we will “need” a lot less of it. I guarantee it.

  66. ferdberple says:

    Henry Clark says:
    April 27, 2014 at 10:34 am
    The cost of desalination of seawater has already dropped to such as $0.49 per cubic meter
    ========
    that is quite an accomplishment. watering our boat we often paid $5-$10 / tonne (cubic meter) for water. A cubic meter of water doesn’t sound like much, until you try and carry it.

  67. ferdberple says:

    Rud Istvan says:
    April 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm
    Get back on those two of your assertions after you have some facts.
    ==========

    http://www.edie.net/news/3/Black–Veatch-Designed-Desalination-Plant-Wins-Global-Water-Distinction/11402/

    This has resulted in an expected first-year selling price of $0.49 per cubic meter – the lowest of any comparable project in the world.

    limestone + water + iron + heat + pressure ==> methane + higher hydrocarbons

    plate tectonics in action. scientists didn’t believe in plate tectonics either, for a long time.

    not knowing about plate tectonics when the theories about oil and gas production were formed, it should come as no surprise that our theories didn’t consider it. continental drift was considered to be nonsense.

    Everyone knows where oil and gas come from – it is written in the text books, so it must be true.

  68. ferdberple says:

    http://harvardmagazine.com/2005/03/rocks-into-gas.html

    But new research coauthored by Dudley Herschbach, Baird research professor of science and recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry, questions that thinking. Published last fall in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study describes how investigators combined three abiotic (non-living) materials — water (H2O), limestone (CaCO3), and iron oxide (FeO) — and crushed the mixture together with the same intense pressure found deep below the earth’s surface. This process created methane (CH4), the major component of natural gas. Herschbach says this offers evidence, although as yet far from proof, for a maverick theory that much of the world’s supply of so-called fossil fuels may not derive from the decay of dinosaur-era organisms after all.

  69. ferdberple says:

    The fundamental step in producing methane that most people are not aware of is that steam and iron combine to produce hydrogen gas. Most people think you need to crack the water molecule using electricity in massive quantities to produce hydrogen. The same massive amount of energy released when hydrogen burns in oxygen.

    But the process is much simpler and less expensive so long as you have a ready supply of heat and iron, which is plentiful in the earth’s core. Instead of cracking the water molecule, the iron reduces the water (think oxidation-reduction reaction) by binding with the oxygen, releasing hydrogen in the process. This hydrogen is then free to bind with the carbon from fossilized carbon dioxide in the limestone, to produce hydrocarbons.

  70. Roger Sowell says:

    Nuclear power from fission of uranium is a non-starter. The Truth About Nuclear Power series, of which 13 installments are now published and 17 more yet to be, shows that (one) modern nuclear power plants are uneconomic to operate compared to natural gas and wind energy, (two) they produce preposterous pricing if they are the sole power source for a grid, (three) they cost far too much to construct, (four) use far more water for cooling, 4 times as much than better alternatives, (five) nuclear fuel makes them difficult to shut down and requires very costly safeguards, (six) they are built to huge scale of 1,000 to 1,600 MWe or greater to attempt to reduce costs via economy of scale (but still cannot compete), (seven) an all-nuclear grid will lose customers to self-generation, (eight) smaller and modular nuclear plants have no benefits due to the reverse effects of economy of scale, (nine) large-scale plants have very long construction schedules even without lawsuits that delay construction, (ten) nuclear plants do not reach 50 or 60 years life because they require costly upgrades after 20 to 30 years that do not always perform as designed, (eleven) France has 85 percent of its electricity produced via nuclear power but it is subsidized, is still almost twice as expensive as prices in the US, and is only viable due to exporting power at night rather than throttling back the plants during low demand, (twelve) nuclear plants cannot provide cheap power on small islands, and (thirteen), US nuclear power plants are heavily subsidized yet still cannot compete. Links to all 13 articles are at:

    see http://sowellslawblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-truth-about-nuclear-power-part-13.html

  71. Nullius in Verba says:

    “Anyone asserting that desalination water can be used for grain production (Nullius) does not know what they are talking about.”

    Anyone making assertions like this without giving their reasoning will certainly give that impression.

    Of course you can grow grain with desalinated water. It’s highly unlikely you would, because it’s more expensive than other sources of water, so it’s generally far cheaper to import the grain from somewhere else where it’s plentiful. But you can do it, for a small increase in price.

    Some people confuse the fact that some things are never done (for economic reasons) for the belief that they can’t be done. We already have the hydroponics technology to affordably produce enough food for a person on about 36 square metres, which can be stacked into a 3x3x4 metre volume the size of a small room. We’ve been able to do it for decades. We choose not to, because it’s more expensive and we don’t have to.

    “Anyone believing in hydrocarbon abiogenesis is ignorant of all sedimentary geology.”

    Probably. I’m very, very sceptical of the idea myself. There are chemical reactions that can do such things, but I’d doubt you’d get more than traces – there’s no obvious entropy gradient to drive it. But I’ve no idea what goes on down there and I’m fairly sure nobody else does either. I don’t believe it, but I wouldn’t boldly assert that it was impossible either.

    “Please do figure out an economical way to bring methane to Earth from Titan. Or from the Sun, where there is more.”

    There’s no methane on the sun. Methane decomposes around 600-1600 K and breaks down into plasma at solar temperatures. You’re probably thinking of hydrogen.

    There’s no need, of course. Nuclear fission can provide all the energy we need for the foreseeable future, and there are a whole pile of Fischer-Tropsch-like reactions for making liquid fuels from any convenient source of carbon – including CO2. Or with nuclear electricity driving it, we can use various batteries, or more easily cyclable metal fuel systems, or heaven knows what we’ll invent in a hundred years time. It’s like someone of 1900 trying to guess what technologies we will be using in 2000.

  72. Star Craving Engineer says:

    Mankind has one appetite that can never be satisfied: our thirst for knowledge. It never lost us the Eden of the past, and it is certain to bring us the Eden of the future.

  73. M Simon says:

    Mining far away plants is a gross net loss of energy.

    Burning stuff for energy – wood – oil – uranium (well not exactly burning there – but still) is always a gross net loss of energy. It is the second law. The real question – can you make a profit?

  74. M Simon says:

    France has 85 percent of its electricity produced via nuclear power but it is subsidized, is still almost twice as expensive as prices in the US, and is only viable due to exporting power at night rather than throttling back the plants during low demand

    Well – you got this fixed investment. We in the biz call it “plant”. If the plant goes all out continuously it minimizes the cost of “plant” fixed investment. In the biz it is called base load supply. Get some.

  75. beng says:

    ***
    WebHubTelescope says:
    April 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm
    ***

    Webby, the thread-bomber extraordinaire! You won’t last long here unless you behave…

  76. Robert W Turner says:

    Case in point: every time we think the cult of global warming has exhausted their resources of stupidity they reach in their bag and pull out a whole new level of stupid.

  77. E.M.Smith says:

    @Rud Istvan:

    I see you lke to lead with insults “to the person”. So you must know you have nothing else.

    I don’t need “my own facts” as what I linked was an “existence proof” of desalination based agriculture. In production now in Saudi amoung other places. The solar greenhouse linked is rather creative in their use of cheap materials to get both water and cooling. Sunlight is their fuel (being in a desert has that feature) so “energy cost” is nearly nil.

    Per abiogenic oil: It exists. Another “existence proof”. Unless you want to say FT doesn’t work, or that Sasol is not in existence or that Titan and various comets have life on them. The same process (outlined above by Ferdberple) works in the crust. (And oddly, we find lots of oil at subduction zones like California and Saudi…) But the question is: 1%, 10%, 0.00000001%? That is what makes it hard to say where most of the oil production comes from. Is it mostly biogenic with abiogenic contamination? Or abiogenic with a load of things living in it / off of it? Hard to say. My opinion is that it is likely something that changed over time. 100% abiogenic in the first billion years, mostly biogenic in the last billion peaking at the Carboniferous.

    So when you can do something other than toss insults and hide it might be interesting to speak with you. Until then, not so much…

    @Kilty:

    I was asking particular questions, not “explaining”, per China and the USA. Leaving it as an exercise for the student to figure out that folks in China still buy oil….

    FWIW, I’ve made my own fuels from scratch. I think I know how it works. Ethanol and BioDiesel in particular, but some others too. Like I said, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in energy Econ since about ’72 (when I started my early experments in ‘funny fuels’ as I called them then. A Honda motorcycle on propane, a VW and Ford on alcohols and mixes, and more). You might find this interesting:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/diy-gasoline-and-diesel-from-wood-and-trash/

    BTW, the Nazi military ran on synthetic motor fuels (at far worse economics than present technologies) so I think there’s a pretty good existence proof that it works, even with large energy waste. (no, not advocating it. Illustrating that it is an existence proof that sets a bounds. Like the 400 years of coal that sets a bounds on “running out” of motor fuels…)

    @Steve O:

    We can make motor fuels from Coal and trash at about $4 / gallon. That limits oil price to about $160 / bbl right there. (Other things limit it to even less, like GTL Gas To Liquids, until the methane glut is worked off.)

    @Ferdberple:

    Also note that Zeolite is a good catalyst for organic synthesis. It is a rock… Then, for fun, calculate the mass of animals needed to make the known amount of oil. Even using algae instead, that’s a lot of “stuff”. Then ask how it all got buried under 5 miles of rock under the oceans. And when… and what life was around then…

    Some fields are clearly biogenic (most even?). Like the North Sea, where we can show it was an anoxic algae sink. Others, not so clear. Some Russian finds in hard non-sedimentary rocks for example. That’s why I think it’s a mixed case…

    It doesn’t really matter, though. We’ve got so much other stuff that the oil could all run out in 30 years and not much would change. (Convert refineries to synthetic fuels plants, run garbage stream into them along with some coal and natural gas. Already exists, BTW. Companies are in production on those methods right now. Selling product.) Not to mention the Trillions of bbl equivalent in tar sands / shales. And, thanks to those silly European gas prices, we know folks will buy the product at prices that sustain those methods of production…

    @Nullius In Verba:

    Good point on the economics of hydroponics. Most folks don’t even know that a lot of “saladings” are already grown in greenhouses. Yeah, the field stuff is cheaper, but the quality makes it worth the hydroponics. Ditto tomatoes. And a couple of dozen other foods.

    Disney had a great display of a hydroponic system (until they replaced a lot of it with a “Soaring” ride) growing all sorts of things. Even grains. (Corn in particular I remember). NASA worked out a 6 inch tall wheat for hydroponics in space. It’s not a question of tech, it’s a question of cheap.

    IF we ever need it, we can do it.

    BTW, you can also “grow oil” in hydroponics systems. (Yes, there are “existence proofs”…). Just can’t compete with $100 / bbl oil.

    There is no “running out”, only change of supply mix, methods, and demands.

  78. chuck says:

    rogerknights says:
    April 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    “Moreover, these reactors can be produced quickly (100 per year starting in 2015, with the goal of building 3500 by 2050). ”

    We have had about 60 years of commercial nuclear reactor operation. During this 60 year time frame, we’ve had, on average about 200 reactors operating. Roger is advocating increasing this number about 17-fold.
    ..
    During the 60 year time frame, we have also had 3 major reactor accidents. Roughly one every twenty years.

    If we increase the number of reactors by a factor of 17, then we need to deal with a major nuclear accident about every two years.
    ..
    In 40 years at this level of operation, there will be more than 20 Fukishima-like areas on earth rendered uninhabitable.
    ..
    Hopefully, the 3500 reactors that Roger envisions will not be located near populated areas.

  79. JohnWho says:

    chuck says:

    April 28, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    If we increase the number of reactors by a factor of 17, then we need to deal with a major nuclear accident about every two years.

    You’ve made an assumption that newer reactors won’t be safer.

  80. chuck says:

    JohnWho says:
    April 28, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    ” You’ve made an assumption that newer reactors won’t be safer.”

    Seems you have made the assumption that new reactors won’t be more dangerous.
    .

  81. dbstealey says:

    chuck says:

    During the 60 year time frame, we have also had 3 major reactor accidents. Roughly one every twenty years.

    How many fatalities resulted? None, you say? How many fatalities were counted at other power plants? I don’t know, but I suspect there were quite a few.

    There will never be a 100% safe, fatality-free power generation industry. The universe doesn’t work that way. But nuclear power has an excellent record, and as pointed out, nukes are getting safer. Better designs and standardization will improve an already excellent safety record.

    Seems you have made the assumption that new reactors won’t be more dangerous.

    That is not a rational assumption. Rather, it is emotion-based.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Is this E.M. Smith when he was a kid? ☺

  82. Re peter says: April 27, 2014 at 9:11 am
    Peter, you missed the point – humans conserve, create (substitute), and find more (North America now has much oil and natural gas though yes at a price).

    Resourceguy says: April 27, 2014 at 9:53 am is an excellent fundamental point.
    John Whitman says: April 27, 2014 at 11:00 am puts it another good way.

    The political problem is a shortage mentality that comes from a view of humans as uncreative and unethical. Thus Karl Marx’ fixed-pie economics (he wrote while surrounded by the evidence of the Industrial Revolution) and drive-to-the-bottom ethics (which ignores that rational thinking and trading values is life-supporting for the individual who behaves that way, and the opposite destructive to the opposite kind of individual). The sad thing is that some people herein who do not seem to be neo-Marxists have subsumed his notions. It’s an example of the adage that if you tell a lie often people will believe it, though I think it takes receptivity of a psychological bias (lack of confidence in some people, but sickness in many – McKibben and Hansen being good examples, Erlich even worse). Yes, people get concerned when they do not grasp the whole picture, in a narrow sense legitimately so, but that’s a failure to think critically – to ask questions (yet in other matters of life they are skeptical).

  83. As for resources per se, I recommend the book The Doomsday Myth by Charles Maurice and Charles Smithson. It chronicles many cases of predicted shortages that did not occur, even in the face of government force. People conserve and invent – even Malthus was acknowledging that in old age.

    Steven Kopits says: April 27, 2014 at 11:39 am also misses conservation (reduced use of home heating oil is likely due in substantial part to improving building insulation), though he does refer to the effect of price on that, and probably substitution. (Reduced use of home heating oil is likely due in substantial part to substitution of natural gas which is now even more plentiful in the US. Some parts of the US were actually importing gaseous energy like propane and natural gas, those ports and pipelines may now become export channels.) And when talking about reduced consumption of petroleum products you must consider the level of economic activity – the US is still in a recession caused by government meddling with lending and enticing borrowers to take on what they could not afford – and packaging junk mortgages to unsuspecting buyers.

  84. Gary Pearse says: April 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm – his example of zinc vs coatings is an excellent one.

    Some people are forgetting that materials like aluminum, copper, and steel have been recycled for half a century or more. (IIRC the aluminum industry encouraged recycling to lower the price of aluminum, on top of ALCOA’s success in dramatically lowering cost of production. That and production innovation resulted in aluminum being the material of choice for beverage cans. Its an amazing story – one detail is the development of a way in the drawing process to make the can to have a finish so smooth the label can simply be printed onto the metal.)

    Re jrwakefield says: April 27, 2014 at 9:50 am
    JR, in your negativity you missed a point – substitution.
    Some uses of energy can be flexible – buildings can be heated with natural gas or electricity or fuel oil, even by coal and wood though they are messier and pollute.
    And what do you mean by “…smart people running the show.”? There are many smart people finding more oil and natural gas.

  85. chuck says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    “That is not a rational assumption. Rather, it is emotion-based.”

    Re-read my origanl post.

    It does not assume new reactors will be safer, and it does not assume they will be more dangerous. The only assumption is that the new reactors will experience the same failure rate as the reactors of the past 60 years have experienced. That is an extremely rational assumption not involving the slightest bit of emotion.

  86. richardscourtney says:

    Friends:

    I am surprised that until now this thread has not linked to the article and associated thread by Tim Ball which was earlier thgis year and is here

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/05/overpopulation-the-fallacy-behind-the-fallacy-of-global-warming/

    That article and thread addressed the same issues as Ridley makes in the above article. As evidence of that similarity and as example of that discussion, I copy one of my posts from that thread to here.

    Richard

    richardscourtney says:
    January 6, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Tim Ball:

    Thankyou for a very fine article. It summarises truth which has often been said but needs constant repetition because it refutes falsehood which is constantly promoted.

    The Malthusian idea wrongly assumes that humans are constrained like bacteria in a Petri dish: i.e. population expands until available resources are consumed when population collapses. The assumption is wrong because humans do not suffer such constraint: humans find and/or create new and alternative resources when existing resources become scarce.

    The obvious example is food.
    In the 1970s the Club of Rome predicted that human population would have collapsed from starvation by now. But human population has continued to rise and there are fewer starving people now than in the 1970s; n.b. there are less starving people in total and not merely fewer in in percentage.

    Now – as seen in this thread – the most common Malthusian assertion is ‘peak oil’. But humans need energy supply and oil is only one source of energy supply. Adoption of natural gas displaces some requirement for oil, fracking increases available oil supply at acceptable cost; etc..

    In the real world, for all practical purposes there are no “physical” limits to natural resources so every natural resource can be considered to be infinite; i.e. the human ‘Petri dish’ can be considered as being unbounded. This a matter of basic economics which I explain as follows.

    Humans do not run out of anything although they can suffer local and/or temporary shortages of anything. The usage of a resource may “peak” then decline, but the usage does not peak because of exhaustion of the resource (e.g. flint, antler bone and bronze each “peaked” long ago but still exist in large amounts).

    A resource is cheap (in time, money and effort) to obtain when it is in abundant supply. But “low-hanging fruit are picked first”, so the cost of obtaining the resource increases with time. Nobody bothers to seek an alternative to a resource when it is cheap.

    But the cost of obtaining an adequate supply of a resource increases with time and, eventually, it becomes worthwhile to look for
    (a) alternative sources of the resource
    and
    (b) alternatives to the resource.

    And alternatives to the resource often prove to have advantages.

    For example, both (a) and (b) apply in the case of crude oil.

    Many alternative sources have been found. These include opening of new oil fields by use of new technologies (e.g. to obtain oil from beneath sea bed) and synthesising crude oil from other substances (e.g. tar sands, natural gas and coal). Indeed, since 1994 it has been possible to provide synthetic crude oil from coal at competitive cost with natural crude oil and this constrains the maximum true cost of crude.

    Alternatives to oil as a transport fuel are possible. Oil was the transport fuel of military submarines for decades but uranium is now their fuel of choice.

    There is sufficient coal to provide synthetic crude oil for at least the next 300 years. Hay to feed horses was the major transport fuel 300 years ago and ‘peak hay’ was feared in the nineteenth century, but availability of hay is not significant a significant consideration for transportation today. Nobody can know what – if any – demand for crude oil will exist 300 years in the future.

    Indeed, coal also demonstrates an ‘expanding Petri dish’.
    Spoil heaps from old coal mines contain much coal that could not be usefully extracted from the spoil when the mines were operational. Now, modern technology enables the extraction from the spoil at a cost which is economic now and would have been economic if it had been available when the spoil was dumped.

    These principles not only enable growing human population: they also increase human well-being.
    The ingenuity which increases availability of resources also provides additional usefulness to the resources. For example, abundant energy supply and technologies to use it have freed people from the constraints of ‘renewable’ energy and the need for the power of muscles provided by slaves and animals. Malthusians are blind to this obvious truth; for example, Greg Goodman says at January 6, 2014 at 12:28 am

    The current system keeps us like hamsters in treadmill, madly running day after day consuming more and more resources to stay exactly where we are.

    And, of course, his assertion is blatantly untrue: the “current system” has freed humans from the need for slaves to operate treadmills, the oars of galleys, etc..

    The Malthusian idea is wrong because it ignores basic economics and applies a wrong model; human population is NOT constrained by resources like the population of bacteria in a Petri dish.

    Richard

  87. Nullius in Verba says:

    “In 40 years at this level of operation, there will be more than 20 Fukishima-like areas on earth rendered uninhabitable.”

    The Fukushima area hasn’t been rendered uninhabitable.

    By far the biggest issue to habitability in Japan was the force-10 earthquake – tsunami combo. If you’re suggesting that with 17 times more reactors we’re going to get 17 times more tsunamis, then sure, I agree we ought to treat nuclear technology with a bit of caution.

    But then, I’d argue the same applies to living in houses, given that a lot of people there died when their houses collapsed on top of them – a lot more than died at the power plant. Dangerous things, houses…

  88. JohnWho says:

    chuck says:

    April 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    dbstealey says:
    April 28, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    “That is not a rational assumption. Rather, it is emotion-based.”

    Re-read my origanl post.

    It does not assume new reactors will be safer, and it does not assume they will be more dangerous. The only assumption is that the new reactors will experience the same failure rate as the reactors of the past 60 years have experienced. That is an extremely rational assumption not involving the slightest bit of emotion.

    Sorry Chuck, but it is extremely rational to expect that we have learned quite a bit in the past 60 years about how to make the reactors safer and is it extremely rational to expect that we would use that knowledge to build safer reactors.

    Your assumption appears to be that we learn nothing from the past and we keep making the same mistakes over and over, giving us the same result. One would expect proper science to build on what has been learned, not ignore it.

  89. chuck says:

    Nullius in Verba says:
    April 28, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    “The Fukushima area hasn’t been rendered uninhabitable.”

    http://blog.safecast.org/2013/12/current-fukushima-exclusion-zone-map/

  90. Nullius in Verba says:

    Chuck,

    That’s more to do with political hysteria than the Fukushima accident.

  91. chuck says:

    Nullius in Verba says:
    April 28, 2014 at 4:15 pm
    ..
    I’m sure not allowing people to live in the homes they own is “political hysteria”

    Might be a great place to move to, I’m sure the real estate prices are attractive.

  92. dbstealey says:

    chuck says:

    It does not assume new reactors will be safer, and it does not assume they will be more dangerous. The only assumption is that the new reactors will experience the same failure rate as the reactors of the past 60 years have experienced.

    Those two sentences are mutually contradictory. I assume new reactors will be safer. There is certainly more emphasis on nuke safety than on car safety. And there is a lot of emphasis on automobile safety.

    Think about it. Compare automobiles from 1960 with current cars. Which are safer?

    And as a retired real estate broker [among many other things], please tell me where I can find attractive real estate prices on the California coast. Anywhere on the coast.

  93. chuck says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 28, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    “Those two sentences are mutually contradictory”

    There are only three possibilities. New reactors can be safer, the same or more dangerous. (much like for all A, B, only one of the following is true A or B)

    New reactors are less safe, as safe as today’s or more safe.
    ..
    I assume they are the same, which does not contradict the previous sentence. You are free to assume they are safer, but you don’t have enough operational data to prove that is the case. Remember, a lot of effort was made to make Columbia “safer” than Challenger.

    In case you didn’t get the gist of my prior post, you can find the attractive real estate prices in the Perfecture of Fukishima, in Japan. They are running a special on the beachfront adjacent to the crippled power plants.

  94. John Whitman says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 27, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”

    – Ludwig von Mises

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    dbstealey,

    I loved that you quoted Ludwig von Mises!

    Here are more Ludwig von Mises quotes that I have loved for 35 years.

    “The creative spirit innovates necessarily. It must press forward. It must destroy the old and set the new in its place…. Progress cannot be organized.” Ludwig von Mises

    “The actual world is a world of permanent change. Population figures, tastes, and wants, the supply of factors of production and technological methods are in a ceaseless flux. In such a state of affairs there is need for a continuous adjustment of production to the change in conditions.” Ludwig von Mises

    “The available supply of every commodity is limited. If it were not scarce with regard to the demand of the public, the thing in question would not be considered an economic good, and no price would be paid for it.” Ludwig von Mises

    “The characteristic feature of a free society is that it can function in spite of the fact that its members disagree in many judgments of value.” Ludwig von Mises

    John

  95. dbstealey says:

    John Whitman,

    Thanks for the quotes. Unfortunately, no one in gov’t pays any attention to von Mises any more.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    richardscourtney says:
    April 28, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Excellent post, Richard. Thanks.

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

    chuck:

    You may not see it, but you are motivated by emotion, not by science. Fear is an emotion, and a very powerful one. Nuclear power has been demonized for almost 70 years, to the point where lots of folks have the same gut reaction. They are afraid. No rational arguments can penetrate that fear.

    Also, I specifically asked for real estate on the California coast. If I knew the local Japanese market, I would tend to think that coastal property adjacent to Fukushima would be a rip-roaring buy. Once in a lifetime, really. Ten years from now people will be asking how current buyers got such a great deal. But I am retired now, and my roaming days are over.

  96. John Whitman says:

    dbstealey on April 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    John Whitman,

    Thanks for the quotes. Unfortunately, no one in gov’t pays any attention to von Mises any more.

    – – – – – – –

    dbstealey,

    Well the possible reason existing governments do not talk about him is his life long profund rejection of the possibility that any redeeming economic or moral feature can be found in socialism. (He especially despised the fascist type of stealth socialism.)

    It is a challenge to find a quote from him where he does not contrast capitalism vs socialism.

    He was one of von Hayek’s influences.

    John

  97. Thanks, A. This is an excellent article by Paul Ridley.

  98. chuck says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    “You may not see it, but you are motivated by emotion, not by science.”

    The issue not so much about “science” as is an issue of “engineering.” Claims that new designs are safer are much the same as the claims made 40 years ago that nuclear power was safe. It took 40 years for the errors in engineering at Fukishima to manifest themselves. Will we have to wait 20 years into the operation of the newer “safe” designs to find the flaws in them?

    Nuclear plants today that were engineered for 40 years of operation are attempting to extend their licenses to 60 years. Tell me how can a 40 year design be extended to 60? Was the calculated embrittlement of the metal in the core incorrect in the initial design? It’s really simple. Economics are now a higher priority than safety in existing nuclear power plants. This is not “emotion” these are “facts.”

    The science of nuclear power has not changed much since it was first developed. Thorium, breeders, various cooling methods, all have been tried in the past. The environment of these processes however has changed. Containment domes designed in the past may not be strong enough to withstand an impact from the large wide body jetliners of today, that can be hijacked by terrorists. In fact, back during the advent of nuclear power, they didn’t need armed guards at power plants.

    Of course, I could even mention that current crop of nuclear enthusiasts pushing their “safer” meme are no different than the people that promoted “safe” nuclear power fifty years ago. The difference between the current promoters and past promoters is that TMI, Chernobyl and Fukishima has enabled people to question anyone running about saying nuclear power is “safe”

  99. george e. smith says:

    “””””…..Karim D. Ghantous says:

    April 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    For the most part, I think this article is spot-on. I do have a minor quibble: some of the points made focus more on quantity than on quality.

    E.g. the notion that we can grow more food with fertilizers and perticides. Technically it’s 100% right. But when you take into account human health, it’s not necessarily the better option.

    Fertilizers and pesticides usually lead to a lower quality of food……”””””

    I note you said (technically) it is 100 % right.

    When starvation is the alternative , it is also better for human health. Lack of food is very unhealthy.

    I know a whole lot of (very sophisticated) California central valley farmers. And to them, fertilizers and pesticides represent extra production cost, so they don’t use them, unless they have to.

    With organized row crops, their machinery knows where their crops are, (on the rows), and where the weeds are between the rows, so they don’t put herbicides on the crops. Nor do they put it on the ground between the rows. Their machines know the IR signature of chlorophyll, and of dirt, so they don’t spray herbicides on dirt either. They only spray, when the machine identifies a weed plant not in the crop row.

    So there is NO health concern from herbicides on their food. And a half hour of rain, that results in slip sliding wonderment on the roads in hi tech silicon valley, will destroy an entire stone fruit crop for the year, unless the farmer immediately applies the standard protection against brown rot. So it costs them money, and lowers their profit; and it provides food that an “organic” farmer simply will plough under, after wasting all that water on it.

    Weeds are great water wasters.

    This readily washes off the final fruit product, before it is marketed. Sans that treatment, and a whole year’s crop is plowed under.

    Starvation is a terrible form of human health.

  100. dbstealey says:

    chuck says:

    Nuclear plants today that were engineered for 40 years of operation are attempting to extend their licenses to 60 years.

    And apparently they are still running safely. Since you didn’t acknowledge my point that new cars are much, much better and safer than cars made 40 years ago, that silence is concurrence. TV’s are also much better. Home computers didn’t even exist back then. In fact, just about anything you can think of is better now than it was 40 years ago. Tell us, why would that not apply just as well to nukes? [Also, Fukushima got hit with a tsunami — something that was under-engineered.]

    Next, you say:

    Economics are now a higher priority than safety in existing nuclear power plants. This is not “emotion” these are “facts.”

    No, those are not “facts”. They are your assertions. I do not agree with them. There is nothing more important than safety in building a new reactor.

    Next:

    The science of nuclear power has not changed much since it was first developed.

    Wrong again. But why bother working on researching facts, when your mind is made up and closed tight? You would not accept anything I posted. Instead, you would throw out the first emotion-laden words that occurred to you. TMI, Chernobyl, Fukishima. I can’t speak for Russian engineering or safety standartds, but I’m still waiting for you to name one person killed by a nuclear power plant in the U.S.

    Finally, I was correct: fear is a powerful emotion, and it rules Luddite thinking. But all we need is an electricity blackout for more than a couple of days, and the public will forget the fearful propaganda that has been instilled in them by forty yearas of media naysaying. The public will demand power, and they will not care how it is produced.

    Malthus was wrong, and so are the anti-nukes.

  101. chuck says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 29, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    “No, those are not “facts”. They are your assertions. I do not agree with them. There is nothing more important than safety in building a new reactor.”

    If safety is more important, then instead of extending the license of a 40 year old reactor to 60 years, why don’t they replace it with a new reactor?

    “Wrong again. But why bother working on researching facts”

    Tell us what part of the “science” has changed? I’ll tell you what parts of “engineering” have changed.

    Here is a listing of the accidents at US nuclear plants. Note the column with “fatalities”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_reactor_accidents_in_the_United_States#List_of_accidents_and_incidents

  102. dbstealey says:

    chuck,

    Fear is a powerful emotion, and it rules Luddite thinking.

    Your ‘fatalities’ are routine accidents like heavy equipment falling on workers, electrocution, etc. They are industrial accidents. They are not caused by radiation. There are no reactors blowing up and spreading radioactivity. So that argument fails.

    Fearful people will cherry-pick anything that supports their belief system. At bottom you are simply afraid of the black cat under your bed. You lay in the dark, worrying about the cat. You are certain that you can hear it breathing. But when you get up and turn on the light and look under the bed… there is no cat.

    Same thing with your imaginary nuclear disasters.

    [PS: no need to shout. Instead of bold, use italics. TIA.]

  103. chuck says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 30, 2014 at 8:42 am

    ” I’m still waiting for you to name one person killed by a nuclear power plant in the U.S.”

    Check out the accident that occurred on July 24, 1964, you will find that was caused by radiation.

  104. dbstealey says:

    chuck,

    You found one? One?

    Good, I won’t even ask for a link. I don’t care, because nuke plants are demonstrably safer than just about any other kind of power plant.

    I suppose that one ((1)) fatality is enough to keep you terrified of an excellent power source. Instead, I suppose you prefer windmills.

  105. chuck says:

    dbstealey says:
    April 30, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    I’m still waiting for you to name one person killed by a nuclear power plant in the U.S.”

    All I can say is YOU ASKED FOR IT

  106. chuck says:

    Mr dbstealey
    Do you want to discuss the number of deaths related to nuclear research instead of commercial power plants?

  107. dbstealey says:

    chuck says:

    Do you want to discuss the number of deaths related to nuclear research instead of commercial power plants?

    No.

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