Finding an energy common ground between “Warmers” and “Skeptics”

Can common ground be found between “warmers” and “skeptics”?    Can we identify energy sources that satisfy the concerns of both groups?

Guest Post by Charles Hart

Warmers want energy that does not emit CO2 because they look at the climate data and conclude that CAGW is a credible threat that needs to be addressed.  Their energy sources of choice are typically wind and solar.

Skeptics look at the same climate data and conclude the evidence for CAGW is just too weak to justify accepting the current high cost and unreliability of wind/solar.  They look at Europe and notice that nuclear has given France the smallest carbon footprint and wind/solar has not been effective in any European country in keeping energy both low cost and low carbon.

What about nuclear?  Some warmers support it (e.g. Dr. James Hansen)  but others do not because of toxic waste streams, lingering concerns about safety, cost, and the potential for proliferation.

What if we could have nuclear power that was far “greener” than current technology, cost considerably less, was even safer and more proliferation resistant?   What if this “greener” nuclear technology had already been proven in working prototypes?

Welcome to LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) technology.  Demonstrated in the 60′s, the thorium/uranium fuel cycle molten salt reactor (LFTR) approach was abandoned to concentrate efforts on the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle pressurized water reactor (PWR) during the cold war bomb making era, an era when lots of plutonium was considered a good thing, not something to be worried about.

LFTR (compared to current PWR):   A waste steam 10,000 times less toxic (some variations of LFTR can actually burn PWR waste).   Cost <50%,  thus competitive with coal.  Even safer (no fuel rods to melt, no high pressure radioactive water to escape, passive criticality control ….).   More proliferation resistant.

What about the politics?  Replacing coal with LFTRs is far easier politically than imposing cap n trade or carbon taxes.   $10B invested over 10 years could update this technology and make it ready for commercialization.   LFTR is attractive to both Democrats/warmers and Republicans/skeptics.  It is very green, cost competitive and can be put into production for a realively modest sum.

Short version:

Long version:

For more information see:

American Scientist “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors”

http://energyfromthorium.com/2010/07/01/welcome-american-scientist-readers/

“Energy Cheaper Than From Coal”

http://energyfromthorium.com/2010/07/11/ending-energy-poverty/

Mechanical Engineering Magazine “Too Good to Leave on the Shelf”

http://memagazine.asme.org/Articles/2010/May/Too_Good_Leave_Shelf.cfm

Dr James Hansen LFTR endorsement

20081229_Obama_revised.pdf (application/pdf Object)

LFTR nuts to bolts.

http://energyfromthorium.com/

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207 thoughts on “Finding an energy common ground between “Warmers” and “Skeptics”

  1. I fully support the resurgence of nuclear energy use in the U.S. even though my thyroid glands are no longer functioning from having lived down-wind from Hanford, Washington in the 1940s and absorbing too much Iodine-131 that was released in the atmosphere.

  2. Part of the problem with acceptance of Nuclear Power is the public’s perception of it as dangerous,

    Myth: Nuclear Energy is Dangerous

    – 104 Commercial Nuclear Reactors are operating in the United States
    – 103 Military Nuclear Reactors are operating in the U.S. Navy

    Regardless Nuclear still cannot replace hydrocarbon energy because it nor the electricity it generates can be used as a practical transportation fuel.

  3. I have never understood the correlation between a concern about global warming and an aversion to nuclear power. If we are on track for catastrophic global warming, then this ought to increase humanity’s tolerance for nuclear risks (primarily proliferation; dealing with waste is a red herring). It’s hard to take the sky-is-falling crowd seriously when they generally shun such an obvious solution. In this respect, the thorium reactor design is very intriguing, given that it utilizes a fission process that is hard to divert to bomb making. Of the many energy technologies pursued, this one to me seems very encouraging. $10B for its continued development is a drop in the bucket compared to what has been spent on fusion research, for which we seem no closer to the holy grail.

  4. Excellent! It’s about time the potential agreements between the warring views were explored further. Back in the late 1970s, I may have been the only member of Friends of Earth (in England) who was also an enthusiastic supporter of nuclear power. I haven’t been a supporter of any environmental group (other than the Nature Conservancy) in decades, but have always supported more nuclear power. I’ve been following the thorium discussion over the last year or so, and it does indeed sound promising. However, while thorium may be the best place to focus, we shouldn’t ignore the potential for other types of fission reactors with modern designs. These make sense whether or not you believe in a significant human factor in warming. One area where I suspect I and many of you may still conflict with the AGW types: Nuclear power (thorium-based or otherwise) would be less expensive if regulation was reduced below the currently excessive levels.

  5. The radical elements(the majority) of the alarmist/warmist AGW adherents do not want want plentiful cheap energy at all, they want expensive rationed energy controlled from a central point and following central planning diktats.
    They want us to use less energy and consume less products that require energy to produce them, cheap plentiful energy is the enemy of the alarmists because it would destroy their central aims, no carbon trading and low energy prices would be a disaster for those groups who pour funding into the AGW industry and in a political sense it would contradict the pro AGW community narrative which demands a wholesale dismantling of our industrial civilisation.
    In other words it isnt about power(energy) its all about power(political). An energy matrix that produces no CO2 and is cheap, reliable and plentiful would be opposed bitterly by the eco fundamentalist AGW industry, its the very last thing they require.

  6. As a sceptic my view is that we don’t need a controlling hand on energy policy. If government interference was removed, companies could plan for the long term without having to worry about being gamed by the government. Look at what the Americans have done to BP after changing the rules on a protectionist whim.

  7. I’m a “believer”.
    We have tens of thousands of years of energy available in Thorium, and some U235 to get it started, with IFRs.
    That might even be long enough to get fusion working, or to develop effective storage for solar…
    The biggest problem here (Australia) is that the Greens and Labor have spents so much time demonising nuclear power that they can’t even bring themselves to look at it; they seem to think we would be better off freezing in the dark!

  8. Run this by our top physicists. You need to assess unintended consequences before heading down a road.

  9. Here in the UK we need something very quickly or the lights are going to go out. All our new energy minister (he has some green sounding title) wants is more windmills, but not the backup coal, gas or nuclear for when the wind don’t blow. So it seams the country that gave you the industrial revolution is going to be the first back to the Dark Ages.

  10. No, no, no, no, no! (Personally, I think it’s a brilliant idea!!!!)

    The only sensible solution to CAGW/CC is the creation of an unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable, unsackable, Global Government, run by Marist Socialist Intellectual Elitists who will tax the poor people in rich wicked free democratic countries & dole the dosh out to rich people in poor, dictatorial, leftist, self-enriching countries, & enrich the new Global Government to boot along the way – they need the money (don’t we all?)! Simples! What use is scientific advancement if politicos can’t control it?:-))

  11. It sounds fantastic – too good to be true – endless supplies of cheap energy which cannot ‘go critical’ or produce material for nuclear bombs – very little radioactive waste to dispose of – and the concept has been around since the 1960’s !!! Why have we not been told about this sooner? I can’t help thinking there must be a great big technical snag somewhere – otherwise we can only assume that there has been some political reason why such reactors have not been built.
    It occurs to me that if such power is made available in the near future then we might have something to thank GWA for after all.

  12. It’s about time the popular blogs specifically promote thorium reactors as a viable solution to our energy problems and nuclear proliferation. This technology needs to be thoroughly explained and repeated to the masses so that government acts on it.

  13. The Green objections to nuclear are based on their political goals, so this post is irrelevant to them. It would be hard to destroy the economy of the US if there is abundant power, so they’ll never endorse it. Green is the new Red.

  14. Excellent post – the unspoken alternative.

    “$10B invested over 10 years could update this technology and make it ready for commercialization” Is questionable – but could be 10x more expensive and still worth the effort to commercialise if it was capable of producing a politically acceptable outcome that could cut through the current polarised debate around energy.

    I suspect two major groups that will hate it.

    The Holdren types who liken cheap energy as a like giving a machine gun to children. I.e. empowering the masses is always a bad idea because their prosperity get’s in the way of the acquisition and maintenance of political control.

    The green luddites for whom any technological solution must be bad – for example you still have to mine the Uranium and mines are bad… etc.

  15. As a confirmed AGW alarmist, I have no problem having nuclear power in the mix. It seems likely it will end up being part of the solution to the problem which (according to you guys) we don’t have.

  16. I’m a firm believer in AGW and think that a good keynesian stimulus would have been to build 100 nuclear power plants.

  17. Thank you so much for talking about this, I’ve been a proponent of thorium reactors for a while and if we build enough of these we can start converting our coal into fuel for our cars and get off of Middle Eastern oil.

  18. Professor Barry Brook is an AGW believer and has had quite in depth and technical discussion of the LFTR on his site BraveNewClimate for some time. The reactor looks like a very good solution for energy in both developed and developing nations. Sadly the problem facing the quick introduction of this technology is the lack of hands on experience in engineering and running these plants. Public fear of nuclear power has stalled the development of newer and safer systems.

  19. The real problem is The Warmists want all humans except themselves dead. That is the crux of it. It is neither about science nor technology. It is about politics.

  20. Looking at the first diagram, it would appear that the radioactive coolant salt passes through a heat exchanger that “does not contain nuclear materials”. Even so, the fluid in the heat exchanger must become radioactive by virtue of it’s exposure to the radioactive coolant salt.
    The “newly” radioactive fluid passes through a helium heat exchanger, during which the helium must also become radioactive, for the same reason.
    So therefore the turbines and compressors become radioactive in their turn. Even if these stages of radioactivity transfer reduce, at each stage, they still occur and over a 50-year plant lifetime accumulation must reach considerable levels.
    How is maintenance of the moving machinery safely done, let alone replacement of, say transfer medium pipes, especially at bends, which tend to erode under the influence of fluid velocity, over time?
    Normal steam boiler superheater bends, for instance, tend to have a 10-12 year life, even if the designers have the forethought to increase the thickness at the bends, to allow for the erosion.

  21. In France they recycle the spent rods and make them into new fuel for the reactors which significantly decreases waste. However in the US the recycling of and nuclear waste is banned.

    With 4th generation pebble-bed reactors and recycling of waste all major energy concerns could be met with little waste. As technology and discoveries increase over time I could only see things improving over the long run.

    I think Thorium is excellent as well. I used to be a greenie nuclear-phobe but I am over my illness; and that of CAGW

  22. There are other viable alternate energy sources, such as LFTR, but I really don’t believe we are going to be able allowed to pursue any. Hydrogen was my favorite. For some reason, it has all but fallen from the discussion of alternate fuel. Why? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle

    Why is it that our commercial fuel ethanol blends can only be made from corn? By using corn, the cost is increased over traditional gasoline and the efficiency is less. Land use is more and food production is less. I can’t believe this wasn’t purposeful.

    Count me in on the LFTR or any other type of nuclear fuel. Sadly, I’m thinking it will lumped in with hydrogen or became bastardized as ethanol was.

    We should all know by now, that the only way to CAGW heaven is through wind and solar. We can purify coal to where one can literally breath the exhaust of the clean coal without any adverse effects. We can decide to use spent rods or not, fire up an hydrogen vehicle, we can do fusion or fission, LFTR or PWR. None of these alternate energy sources will see the light of day if the alarmists have their way.

  23. Nuclear is Evil. Fossil Fuels are Evil. Combustion is Evil. Progress is Evil. People are Evil. The Greens will accept nothing that does not require a major restructuring of society. Besides, where are we going to get the uranium, from the US’s vast reserves? Oops. I forgot. Mining is Evil. Oh, and NIMBY rules!! Store it where you make it!

  24. Any solution that doesn’t involve impossible sacrifice, and the guilt associated with failing to sacrifice properly. Is unacceptable, simply because people who don’t fail in their sacrifice, don’t feel guilty and people who don’t feel guilty are much more difficult to manipulate.
    On a personal level the day I hear politicians and green activists openly discussing the nuclear option. Is the day I’ll start to feel a little bit scared, because then I will know that they genuinely believe there is a problem.

  25. Max More: August 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm
    Excellent! It’s about time the potential agreements between the warring views were explored further.

    Concur. We have more in common with a lot of the warmers — okay, *some* of the warmers — who comment here than is apparent at first.

  26. Once again, we see the same guilty party involved in the lies – the MFM (MSM) media and “Academina”.

    All of this could easilty have been solved had our lying left wing MFM media been held to account for their deliberate lies and propaganda.

  27. @ Poptech:

    Transportation is an issue when you are regarding carbon emissions, but the major problem is domestic energy consumption, specifically coal. Hence the Hansen death trains. I think that it would be quite helpful to find a way to tap, perhaps via trolley systems, into the electrical grid for urban transportation. Not every city has the expanse necessary for a subway. Take Cincinnati. You could trolley around town, or perhaps take a steam boat up to Dayton, sans carbon. It isn’t the most advanced tech, but it does serve the mentioned purpose.

    I think the transition from oil as a fuel source for transportation of industrial goods over land is an important problem to solve because without a solution, we are at the mercy of oil producers. Not to mention that oil can just be dirty to produce. There have been good attempts at solutions that did not pan out, think ethanol, but we need something that can power the heavy-hitters like tractor trailers.

  28. It sounds too good to be true, so it probably is.

    At the political level, I am nervous of the “Baptists and bootleggers” phenomenon, whereby environmentalist groups and their ideological opposites (in this case advocates of nuclear power) make common cause. Just like prohibition, it is hard to see how good can come of such a marriage of convenience, or that it would last. The chief winner from prohibition was organised crime.

  29. The Norwegian government commissioned a report on Thorium as a potential energy source. Norway got plenty of the stuff. (“The Thorium Report” is here. 160 page PDF, in English)

    The bottom line: “9. Any new nuclear activities in Norway, e.g. thorium fuel cycles, would need strong international pooling of human resources, and in the case of thorium, a strong long-term commitment in university education and basic science.

    …and with that the left-wing government abandoned any further interest.

  30. Thorium. HMM.

    What about steam moderation? which can burn fuel far more efficiently?

    Yes the technology is out there but the question is is is it economic compared to coal or gas?

    I doubt it.

    Even though I have recently had a couple of highly paid offers to act as consultant to the nuclear industry, which originally I trained in as a nuclear physicist, which is very flattering, I have my doubts. Nevertheless it seems that there is a shortage of skilled personnel, not surprising given the neglect of nuclear power the last fifty years.

    It is not that nuclear cannot provide base load load above all else but as the French experience has taught us when other fuels are cheap it is very expensive: conversely people now say that France enjoys cheap nuclear power. Dependable yes but not that cheap.

    Overall during the lifetimes of the stations, some fifty years, and allowing for fluctuations in fossil fuel prices it is probably more than twice the price per unit than coal or natural gas would have been.

    Of course in times of artificial shortage of these fossil fuels due to chiefly political considerations it does look both cheap and secure. And seductive.

    But politics change whereas demand for power does not.

    A lot of people are very upset about burning fossil fuels because of the CO2 produced: others are worried about a shortage of fossil fuels in light of what they imagine the increased demand of the rapidly growing and industrialising world will be.

    What me worry? about CO2? No and I don’t believe in little green fairies at the bottom of the garden either. And as to shortages of fuel or food it hasn’t happened yet and in the modern world and isn’t likely to.

    Remember we have technology: provided wealthy Luddites allow us to use it. One result is that famine, once a genuine scourge of the human race is now only a weapon of war wielded by politicians to starve their enemies and amass wealth and power to themselves. As is energy starvation. You have to keep the people poor you know.

    The Luddites are always with us and will do everything in their power to keep the people poor. Upon some imaginary excuse, which usually comes down to the fact that poor people should not live so luxuriously. They need to know their place you know: they are the poor and should not be allowed to become rich.

    No my view, for what it is worth, is that for a century or two King Coal will remain just that but that if the 19th century was the age of coal and the 20 century was the age of oil the 21st century will be the age of natural gas. The known reserves are enormous and cheap to extract, but better still natural gas is not only abundant but can easily be synthesised into liquid hydrocarbons for transport and use.

    No doubt nuclear fission may have its place but only as a bit player. As for solar, wind or more practically hydroelectric well they too may play a minor part.

    As for nuclear fusion I remember DRAGON and worked on JET and it is just as far in the future as it was then.

    I’m sorry but to use English vernacular I refuse to get my knickers in a twist over the End of Days due to our sinful ways, today by burning fossil fuel, as preached by Doomsayers, or by the no doubt well meaning but gravely mistaken worriers about
    the future of the world.

    Future generations will take it all in their stride.

    Kindest Regards.

  31. A quick google indicates that the idea is pretty well regarded in most circles, especially the ‘green’ ones. Could be interesting.

    Poptech says:
    August 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Regardless Nuclear still cannot replace hydrocarbon energy because it nor the electricity it generates can be used as a practical transportation fuel.

    Well, we have to solve that at some point. Batteries are getting better and better, cheaper and cheaper, lighter and lighter. Technologies that ‘transmit’ power may well be emerging, and there is always the old standby of Hydrogen. H2 just seems such a neat and clean way to store energy and release it.

  32. Whats up with this? “LFTR is attractive to both Democrats/warmers and Republicans/skeptics.” Since when does Democrat == warmer and Republican == skeptic?

  33. I strongly suspect that the “Skeptics” would largely support any viable method of power generation, we certainly need to conserve fossil fuels for areas like transport, where (short of large sea-going vessels) nuclear reactors just aren’t a practical solution.
    Mention “Nuclear Power” to the “Warmists” and you’ll hear howls of “Chernobyl” and “Three Mile Island”.
    As has been mentioned previously, Green is the new Red.

  34. Most technologies tried and abandoned are so for a reason; and reactors which use molten solids as heat-exchange medium are one of those. During the Cold War, both USA and USSR tried using low-melting-point metals as heat transfer mediums for nuclear submarine reactors. These would allow for a higher rate of heat transfer in a smaller reactor (size is a very important consideration in subs). The experiments were successful in making the reactors work (USS Seawolf using molten Sodium, Project 645 using a Lead-Bismuth alloy), but they were plagued by repeated breakdowns due to the fact that any small leak in the exchangers would result in a huge mess to clean up, and if you let the medium freeze in the pipes, you lost the reactor. These experiments were different from the LFTR reactor proposed in that they used conventional cores (Uranium bars), but their problems weren’t caused by their cores, but by the heat-exchange mediums (molten metals, molten salts). While it is possible these reactors could be made to work (the Russians kept at it in their Alfa submarines), it will not be a matter of just “$10B invested over 10 years” to “update this technology and make it ready for commercialization.” PWR reactors are used worldwide for a reason: their engineering is easier. We may need nuclear, but choosing it for political reasons (“Warmers and Skeptics can both agree on it”) is not going to make it a panacea; wind and solar have also been favoured for political reasons and look how marvellous that has turned out to be!

  35. I thought I would pause briefly from my schemes to take over the world by pointing out I am cautiously keen on nuclear power.

    ——-The “newly” radioactive fluid passes through a helium heat exchanger, during which the helium must also become radioactive, for the same reason.———-

    This comment is all wrong. The material in the heat exchangers is chosen to be of a kind that does not become radioactive.

  36. If we’re going to go nuclear, Thorium definitely seems to be the way to go. Jo Nova reckons that the US have spent $32BN in ten years on climate research. While the US has spent big, they came late in the game.
    Tying the spend to overall GDP would indicate that there has been at least $100BN spent on climate research. Some of this will still have to be spent for things like the satellites, but I don’t see any reason why a substantial portion of the rest cannot be spent on further research on nuclear, and on electrical energy storage. Zinc/Air batteries sound very promising.
    Having spent too much time in the past on reddit, I’d have to agree with Cassandra King. I don’t think a cheap source of energy is what the Greens want.

  37. Graeme says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I suspect two major groups that will hate it.

    The Holdren types who liken cheap energy as a like giving a machine gun to children. I.e. empowering the masses is always a bad idea because their prosperity get’s in the way of the acquisition and maintenance of political control.

    The green luddites for whom any technological solution must be bad – for example you still have to mine the Uranium and mines are bad… etc.

    You could only say that if you have zero understanding of what people like Hodlren are saying. Yes, we should be building LFTR reactors, as many of them and as fast as possible. But this will not help at all if the fundamental ecological issue is not addressed, and the fundamental ecological issue is growth. You can not have infinite growth in a finite system. Impossible. And it is not just energy that is a limiting resource, it is laundry list of them. No amount of technology and innovation can beat growth, and this is what the free market lunatics refuse to understand because they live in a world where money is that magical things that can make everything happen while in the real world it is physics that rules, and physics has some very immutable laws.

    That’s the general picture. Here are the specifics:

    1. We probably do have time to phase out coals with LFTRs on time to avert a really major climate catastrophe if we embark on a WWII type of mobilization program (not that it will happen).
    2. But we have no time to replace oil and natural gas, especially the former, which has probably peaked already, as it will take decades to do that.
    3. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to solve the problem of fossil aquifer depletion (you can desalinate water for drinking, but that’s a small fraction of the total usage, it is unrealistic to think that you can desalinate and transport water over thousands of kilometers to sustain agriculture in the regions that will have depleted their aquifers in the next few decades)
    4. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to address the depletion of phosphate deposits. Again, no phosphates = going back to pre-Green revolution agricultural yields.
    5. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to address the issues of topsoil loss, salt build up due to irrigation, etc.
    6. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to address the issue of general ecosystem collapse, especially in the oceans, due to overfishing, deforestation, habitat loss due to “development”, etc.
    7. What LFTRs can do is give a false sense of “problem solved” and encourage further growth of population and per capita consumption to even more unsustainable levels, thus speeding up the process of collapse. Which is the reason for Holdren’s remark about cheap energy.

    Nobody is against technology, the people who warn against the dangers of overshoot are almost invariably coming from technical backgrounds. But technology is not a silver bullet against reality, it can only operate within the very real physical limits of our planet and this has to be always remembered.

  38. peat says:
    August 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    In this respect, the thorium reactor design is very intriguing, given that it utilizes a fission process that is hard to divert to bomb making. Of the many energy technologies pursued, this one to me seems very encouraging. $10B for its continued development is a drop in the bucket compared to what has been spent on fusion research, for which we seem no closer to the holy grail.

    Considering that ITER, an international collaboration of many of countries , is expected to produce a working prototype fusion reactor on something like 15 billion total cost,

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/05/no-solution-yet-to-iters-budget-.html

    Europe’s share of the ITER project will likely cost €7.2 billion, 2.7 times the original estimate. (The E.U. is scheduled to cover 45% of the project’s total cost, with the other six partners—China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States—contributing about 9% each.)

    the 10 billion you quote is not as trivial as you claim.

    One of the reasons the utilization of the tokamak idea is so delayed is because of parsimonious budgets.

    That said, if this thorium fluoride reactor could be ready within ten years for commercial purposes it could well be an interim solution, until fusion becomes commercial. I also am worried of proliferation of reactors, particularly in our quake prone region through the Balkans and ME. This design seems to have self safety from construction and would be ideal for such locals.

    It is good not to have all our eggs in one basket.

    BTW I think the ITER fusion project is suffering the same problems CERN faced and had the accident with the accelerator: parsimonious budgets and bad decisions at the top from wishful advice. Instead of hiring the best in engineering and have them in site, because of economies, one outsources to university teams various components that have to be brought together and made to work supervised by too few real experts. It is easy for academicians to declare themselves “experts” as we have seen in the climate scene, in contrast to engineers who have come out of the tough way of open markets. These “experts” then give bad advice on construction and the advice of the real experts is overridden to the detriment of the projects.

  39. Sadly, Cassandra King is the closest to the truth out of all these comments.

    Reading the words of the leaders of the environmental movement over the last 30 years, the last thing they want is for the public to have access to cheap, sustainable, reliable, environmentally friendly energy. It is their worst nightmare.

    Quotes:

    “Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.”
    – Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

    “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”
    – Jeremy Rifkin, Greenhouse Crisis Foundation

    “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
    – Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?”
    – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme

    “The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States. We can’t let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the US. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are.”
    – Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund

    “Global Sustainability requires the deliberate quest of poverty, reduced resource consumption and set levels of mortality control.”
    – Professor Maurice King

    “My three main goals would be to reduce human population to about 100 million worldwide, destroy the industrial infrastructure and see wilderness, with it’s full complement of species, returning throughout the world.”
    -Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!

  40. The two main reasons why thorium reactors were never built are: 1. Thorium reactors did not produce plutonium which was necessary for keeping communism away from the free world. 2. During all this time, scientists were banking on fusion reactors.
    The former reson is no longer valid while the second turns out to be the second biggest global scam ever, (after the AGW theory) because after some 60 years of money-guzzling research, fusion is still very far away.
    Meanwhile, hydrocarbons have moved the world foreward, lifting many from below the poverty line up to a decent living standard. Enter the green movement, hijacked by the extreme left-wing left-overs of the soviet era, who, seeing their base (the poor) becoming richer and therefore, in their mind, capitalist, are trying to do their damnest to keep us as poor as possible, so as to keep their grassroot base as wide as possible. (Communism thrives in poverty, so they keep people poor))
    So, what’s better than destroying the energy sources that are making the global populations achieve better living standards?
    Thus, the green/red movement is:
    Against nuclear energy. They have demonised nukes, even though it has proven to be the most safe and clean form of energy (vide France, Finland, India…)
    Against oil, coal and gas. They invented the hoax of CO2=end of the world while in fact CO2=life.
    In favour of donkey transport for the masses. But they still want to fly in airplanes, live in villas etc etc…………..
    My bottom ine: Lets keep on utilising the solar power that arrived on this planet billions of years ago (oil, coal and gas) while researching and building nuclear power stations which make us politically independent from foreign tyrants such Chaves, ahemdinejad and gheddafi and mostimportantly provide a stable price of energy, removing the unkown factors that energy price hikes and result in global recessions, creating millons, billions of people poor and desperate, just what the green/red movement wish for.

  41. Dave F says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:56 pm
    I think the transition from oil as a fuel source for transportation of industrial goods over land is an important problem to solve because without a solution, we are at the mercy of oil producers. Not to mention that oil can just be dirty to produce.

    And there are unlimited quantities of it, right?

  42. Adam Gallon says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:42 am
    I strongly suspect that the “Skeptics” would largely support any viable method of power generation, we certainly need to conserve fossil fuels for areas like transport, where (short of large sea-going vessels) nuclear reactors just aren’t a practical solution.
    Mention “Nuclear Power” to the “Warmists” and you’ll hear howls of “Chernobyl” and “Three Mile Island”.
    As has been mentioned previously, Green is the new Red.

    If you take your right wing glasses off for a second, you would have figured out that “Greens” that claim to be all for taking action against AGW and in the same time are against nuclear or even against wind mills (because they “spoil the view”) are merely Greeenwashers who have zero basic understanding of the situation humanity is in.

    As I like to say, if someone is talking about ecology and growth isn’t mentioned as the root problem of it all, then that person is either utterly clueless about what he’s talking about or he’s deliberately BS-ing you.

  43. My science teacher at high school, Bill Brewer, used to extol the benefits of nuclear power in the 60’s and his enthusiasm was contagious as far as us boys were concerned.

    Today I am still a huge fan of nuclear power and the new designs seem to address most of the concerns of the objecting camp. This design seems to be very smart and is another positive step forward.

    I understand that the fuel for nuclear reactors is cheaper to dig out of the ground at the moment but that it occurs only in certain parts of the world, we have some here in Zimbabwe for instance, but that it can also be extracted from sea water using established technology.

    When you consider that the use of hydrogen in transportation is dependent only on cheap , reliable, methods of generating hydrogen then extensive electrical power at reasonable prices is really the only obstacle remaining. Small, discrete, hydrogen generators could be established in homes, depots, gas stations and so on using the electrical distribution grid. This would overcome the issues surrounding large scale storage and distribution of hydrogen. Likewise better batteries could be charged directly by the grid and used in transportation where appropriate. High -Tech flywheels could likewise utilize the grid for energy storage in transportation.

    I advance my opinion not as a means of reducing CO2 ( which it would ) but as a means of removing the risks and costs of depending on oil from , sometimes hostile, foreign providers. It would also reduce particulate and NOx , SO2 etc. pollution and remove the need for offshore/onshore drilling and refining with all of the issues surrounding that.

    All in all I see nuclear power as being the solution to a number of issues and as critical mass in public opinion shifts in favor of it we will see a new advance in our civilization.

    All dependent of course on those political groupings who see control over our access to energy as a ticket to their continued control over us. Seeing the bizarre Chris Huhne change his radical tack 180 degrees is encouraging in the extreme. . .

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1301560/New-nuclear-power-stations-built-2018-promises-Energy-Secretary.html

  44. a jones says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:03 am
    Remember we have technology: provided wealthy Luddites allow us to use it. One result is that famine, once a genuine scourge of the human race is now only a weapon of war wielded by politicians to starve their enemies and amass wealth and power to themselves. As is energy starvation. You have to keep the people poor you know.

    That’s another utterly ignorant statement right there. The reason there is no famine right now (which isn’t even true, there are hundreds of millions of starving people out there in the world, it’s just that you don’t see them on TV as they are, how should I say it, not very interesting to well-fed people and such news don’t generate high TV ratings) is that we have this tremendous but one-time energy bonanza in the form of fossil fuels and fertilizers to use as an input. Once that’s gone, the yields will go down significantly, especially given what we have done to the soil, which has been basically sterilized and leached out of its nutrients in many of the bread baskets of the world. And all of a sudden there will be a lot of famine because there will be between 7 and 10 billion mouths to feed.

  45. Alan the Brit says:

    The only sensible solution to CAGW/CC is the creation of an unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable, unsackable, Global Government, run by Marist Socialist Intellectual Elitists who will tax the poor people in rich wicked free democratic countries & dole the dosh out to rich people in poor, dictatorial, leftist, self-enriching countries, & enrich the new Global Government to boot along the way – they need the money (don’t we all?)! Simples! What use is scientific advancement if politicos can’t control it?:-))

    As a graduate of a Marist Brothers high school, i’d like to put my name forward to join the Marist elite that will run the planet.

  46. Think of a Coal Train 1,000 Miles long. That’s what China uses.

    Every Day.

    Our Coal Train is only from St. Louis to Memphis (330 miles long.)

    We not only have to do something, we have to do “everything.”

    And, pretty danged soon.

  47. Trouble is, it is not the average Warmer or Sceptic who needs to be convinced of the best way forward; it’s the political elite. And they have their own agenda which has nothing – absolutely nothing – with environmentalism. I think THAT is where many Warmers and Sceptics already have common ground, in recognising this fact. If something is truly believed to be dangerous to human existence, you don’t impose a tax on it; you ration it, or in extreme cases you ban it. If, however, the object is to take the people’s money, then of course you declare how dangerous a product is and then use that justification to tax consumers as much as you can get away with.

  48. David, UK said on Finding an energy common ground between “Warmers” and “Skeptics”
    If something is truly believed to be dangerous to human existence, you don’t impose a tax on it; you ration it, or in extreme cases you ban it

    Precisely.

  49. I support nuclear (fission) power and enhanced research into nuclear.

    However, I support them in a smart grid balanced between the cheapest and best sources of energy – solar, wind, geothermal and hydro, with fossil fuels either phased out (by mid to late century) or with cleaned emissions.

    No dirty fuel sources, no dependence on foreign tyrants for our fuel sources.

    This desideratum is completely feasible with capitalist innovation, technical virtuosity and risk-taking. What are we waiting for?

  50. “What about nuclear? Some warmers support it (e.g. Dr. James Hansen)…”

    You forgot to mention green guru James Lovelock who is also in favour of nuclear energy.

    As well as the LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) there is also nuclear technology from Hyperion Power Generation who produce a “a tiny nuclear reactor the size of a bathtub that could produce enough electricity to power 20 thousand homes.

    It would contain no weapons grade material, would produce very little waste and would be refueled every seven years.

    It would be so safe from kidnapping it could be buried in the backyard. Terrorists would keep away because if they did get it, it would be the same as holding a piece of the sun.” more…

  51. Most of the Solar projects I’ve been reading about, recently, seem to be coming in between $4.00 and $5.00/Watt. Most of this seems to be “installation.” I think we’re going to see Solar coming online for $2.00/Watt in a few years. Considered over a life-cycle that blows the doors off nuclear.

    Wind is already cheap, and getting cheaper as the turbines get larger. Now, add in a “fast-follower” such as a 57% efficient turbine from Siemens running on biogas (obtained from the anaerobic digestion of lignin left over from the “cellulosic” production of ethanol,) and you’re starting to look at a heck of a low-cost, sustainable system.

  52. Frederick Davies, August 10, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Frederick, I have to agree, although I’m keen on thorium reactors. In engineering you have to make it as simple and idiot-proof as possible. Molten halide salt baths are uber-corrosive and are difficult to engineer. I have experience of this. Removing waste nucleotides ‘on the fly’ from a bleed stream is also good in theory but likely to be difficult in practice.

    I do like thorium as a nuclear fuel, but in nice sealed modular units which can be made fail safe relatively easily and which are easy to handle. Halide systems have a poor record of availability, maintenance and reliability (cryolite aside – 100 years has knocked out most of the bugs from Hall-Heroult – but frozen pot electrolyte is not a radioactive nightmare), I think it would be difficult to engineer this package well enough to avoid such problems.

    On the thorium front, a plus is that mineral sand miners presently return the monazite and xenotime fraction to the pit, since thorium has no value at the production rates current (mineral sand primarily is used to make TiO2 pigment for paint, so thorium byproduction is inflexible since we use lots of paint). A minus is that the cost of uranium to nuclear power producers is relatively low (as I hear it) as the economics are overwhelmingly driven by the capital cost. So there’s not much economic driving force to push thorium reactors even if the thorium was free. If a carbon tax came in operators would probably just build low risk conventional plants if they could.

  53. LFTRs will be built in the next five years. This is the simplest most elegant energy resource that the earth has given us. LFTRs will first be deployed where they are needed most — in the developing countries. LFTRs cannot be stopped. Their business case is indefatigable, a fraction of the cost of current coal plants, especially in the developing countries. LFTRs will be buried underground, and co-located with local distribution grids. Their ubiquitous distribution will eradicate $1.5 million a mile high-voltage transmission infrastructure that today loses 7% of the power it transports. LFTRs’ waste heat will be dissipated through hybrid desalination facilities on the coast and industrial production processes inland. Prosperity is generated by cheap energy and fresh water. Prosperity retards then stabilizes population growth. Conservation does not require the obliteration of mankind, just a measure of maturity, which prosperity breeds. Count on it.

  54. In today’s Daily Telegraph there’s a report about the Iter fusion project. There’s good news, as now it seems its funding problems have been resolved. But it also reports that Greenpeace opposes it. What a surprise. I suspect that what these environmental extremists really hate is the thought of society becoming ever more prosperous by using advanced technology. That’s why they love Medieval technologies such as these pointless windmills.

    My energy policy would be fairly simple:
    1. Forget so-called alternative technologies, particularly wind power. Just by adding an additional power station you would make them unnecessary. Alternative energy is also very expensive and very unreliable. If you think wind power is a good idea, I suggest you monitor this web site for a few days. A table near the bottom lists the current percentage contribution of all power sources for the UK, including current, the last half hour and 24 hours. The wind contribution goes up and down like a yo-yo. Sometimes it’s literally zero (in effect, probably less than 0.05%) Worse than useless.
    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

    2. For the next few decades, concentrate on using nuclear, using the best available technology such as that highlighted in this report.

    3. Probably starting around 2050 (assuming, of course, that Iter is successful), start ramping up fusion. It promises clean, reliable and cheap energy that can be produced in vast amounts. If there are no fundamental engineering problems that cannot be solved, then I’m fairly confident that the world, starting around 2050, will be powered by fusion.
    If fusion gets rid of these stupid, stupid windmills that disfigure the countryside and don’t work most of the time, that alone will be worth it.
    Chris

  55. LazyTeenager says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Very lazy I would say.

    The British MAGNOX reactors which were gas cooled using CO2 were so called after the alloy used because they were not only designed to produce civil electric power but also plutonium for atomic bombs. They date from the nineteen fifties and are only now being retired.

    The British AGR reactor programme of the 1960’s used helium and after various teething problems have proven so satisfactory that they are probably good for another forty years.

    Compared to a standard PWR they are between, depending on load, about 5 to 10% more efficient and produce only about one half the residual plutonium per unit of power generated.

    Because they are not load following they are used as base load stations but can be modulated safely if required since they are at no danger of cold slug instability for the dangers of which note Three Mile Island and of course Chernobyl.

    Kindest Regards

  56. I am sorry to inform you folks that the only way LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) technology will be adopted in the west is when power outages cause winter mass deaths due to the wholesale adoption of wind energy and solar panels. Many greens don’t want cheap, safe energy they want rationed energy via windmills for themselves and a drastic reduction in world population which excludes them.

  57. Poptech
    Convert Nuclear to Electricity OK. Get some CO2 (I breath it out or its in the atmosphere) and separate the C from the O2 using the electricity. Get some H2O (it falls from the sky) and separate the H2 from the O using more electricity. Join the C’s and H’s to make a chemical CxHy using pressure and heat from making electricity from the nuclear reaction in the first place. Its called a hydrocarbon and you can have it in gas, liquid or solid (plastics). Its great for powering ships, planes, trucks and cars. Its dead easy to store and transport. The oil companies are great at this.
    Nuclear power is eminently suitable for providing for all our energy needs including transport. I stopped counting when I got to approximately a Million years of energy availability in nuclear fission deposits.

  58. There are thorium reactors, mostly experimental, operating for many years I believe. India which has large thorium reserves, has had one working for some time.

  59. Jimbo says:
    August 10, 2010 at 2:02 am

    I am sorry to inform you folks that the only way LFTR (liquid fluoride thorium reactors) technology will be adopted in the west is when power outages cause winter mass deaths due to the wholesale adoption of wind energy and solar panels. Many greens don’t want cheap, safe energy they want rationed energy via windmills for themselves and a drastic reduction in world population which excludes them.

    The “excess deaths” during winter are much more likely to be caused by the effects of Peak Oil. And quite soon too. Just to let you paranoid %#$ know, nobody is any particular rush to phase out coals and gas powered power plants and replace them with solar and wind.

  60. This won’t do. I need to become the world’s first trillionaire by making money out of trading a trace gas. I don’t care how many people get screwed over or live on carbon rations for me to achieve my goal.

  61. What if we could have nuclear power that was far “greener” than current technology, cost considerably less, was even safer and more proliferation resistant? What if this “greener” nuclear technology had already been proven in working prototypes?

    You are thinking too rationally. If you want to appeal to alarmists, warmists, econuts, etc, then you’ll need to propose something far more fantastic. Something like a large orbiting solar array that can beam energy down to Earth via super efficient bird friendly Lasers. The more expensive and unobtainable the better. Extra points are given for technologies that haven’t been invented yet and which are unlikely to ever be invented and thus require infinite amounts of investment capital. It’s also important to focus on “sustainable” and “renewable” energy solutions which require unsustainable amounts of non-renewable precious metals from remote, inhospitable, and politically unstable regions of the Earth.

    If you can suggest an alternative energy solution that follows these simple green-friendly guidelines then you just might win over our friends on the other side. However, suggest anything less and you will likely be accused of being in the pay of Big Oil, Big Nuclear, Big Tobacco, Big HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), or George W. Bush. Your name will be permanently added to several high profile blacklists and fanatic climate stalkers will follow you around the globe and harass you about Exxon for the rest of your life. This is how the green energy market creates jobs, drives innovation, and saves the planet.

  62. There will never be “common ground”
    People want/need cheap energy to power their work and lives.
    Politicians/greens want expensive energy to control and shackle people to live the lives they are allowed to.
    Not much common ground between the choices is there ?

  63. Greenies are unwilling to accept nuclear energy because that would achieve acceptable CO2 goals yet preserve capitalism.

    What; did you actually think the left cared about the planet? Silly Billy!

  64. This has NOTHING to do with the CO2 theory.
    A comporomise would be to address the issue of population control instead of climate control.
    System Change, NOT Climate Change.

  65. $10B invested over 10 years could update this technology and make it ready for commercialization.

    How about those Polywell Fusion guys? So far the research has cost about $40 million and for about $200 million more they will build a working reactor (if the research pans out – We Will Know In Two Years or less).

    Bussard’s IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

    Fission is good too. So is coal. Natural gas. And oil.

    Alternative energy will not have its day until we have low cost electrical energy storage.

  66. population control

    The USSR was very good with such problems. China has a system that PUNISHES people who have too many children. And of course the poster boy for such efforts was Germany (1933 – ’45). And of course let us not forget China under Mao.

    I don’t think population control will go over well. And then there is the little problem of the US Constitution. But under the right regime I suppose that can be ignored.

  67. Well Mr/Ms Meme what is your plan for population “control”? Sounds ominous to me – what happens if the proles around the world don’t follow orders? Mass culls? Forced sterilisation? All the stats show that the only things that slow down birth rates are affluence and women’s education, so rather than make sinister noises about control we should be focusing on improving standards of living in the developing world. Affordable energy, some kind of healthcare, and efficient food production are the keys, and buggering about with cap and trade only makes Goldman Sachs bankers richer.

  68. Just to let you paranoid %#$ know, nobody is any particular rush to phase out coals and gas powered power plants and replace them with solar and wind.

    Evidently you don’t live in the USA.

    http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2010/08/less-power-more-control.html

    Francois Broquin, a co-author of reports on coal by Bernstein Research, said the combined rules could push as much as 20 percent of U.S. coal-fired electric generation capacity to retire by 2015. “Obviously that will have an impact,” he said.

  69. I think we’re going to see Solar coming online for $2.00/Watt in a few years. Considered over a life-cycle that blows the doors off nuclear.

    That would be $2 a PEAK watt. Multiply by 3X (or more) to get costs per average watt. Then add in the costs of backup plants to handle wind fluctuations and no wind days and you are talking seriously uneconomical.

    I have a dream that someday folks will actually run the numbers before shooting their mouths off. Nothing difficult: BOE (Back Of the Envelope) will be good enough.

  70. This desideratum is completely feasible with capitalist innovation, technical virtuosity and risk-taking. What are we waiting for?

    Cheap storage.

  71. All the tax money for Green energy projects – from ethanol to windmills to solar panels to dreams of tides ala Logan’s Run should be diverted to building nuclear power stations. One per month or as fast as possible. The goal would be to triple our electrical energy production so that there will be a huge abundance of surplus electricity. Note that one does not “crank down” power plants when demand is low. The engineers and physicists will explain why if you need to know.

    Then use the surplus to manufacture all forms of hydrocarbons. The raw components can be frozen from air (carbon as in dry ice) along with all the hydrogen and oxygen you want from water. Even nitrogen is “in the air”. The technology has existed for decades. And the hydrocarbons have zip in the way of contaminants. For example, gasoline manufactured this way looks like a glass of water from your tap and burns cleaner than refined gasoline. Plus the volume of waste is a fraction.

    Known supplies of thorium and other nuke ore sources are, for all practical purposes, limitless. You can measure oil reserve sources in maybe tens to hundreds of years but nuclear fuel reserves are in the billions. And the can even be extracted from seawater.

    Don’t forget about the inventiveness of Americans. Google the traveling wave reactor. Mostly one should understand that current hydrocarbon technology just won’t get much better. Neither will the Greenie energy. Nuclear technology is, at worst, in it’s teen age years with lots of room for improvements.

    Jobs? The US can be a net exporter of energy and energy technology. The markets are just out there waiting. For example, want a third world clean water site with pumps and filters? Drop in a portable self contained nuke electrical generator. Runs for decades. Imagine having electricity and what you can do with it. Lights, motors, drinking water, refrigeration, education (think computers and such), etc., etc.

    In the meanwhile, as we ramp up with nuclear, we’re really, really screwed. The UK and others of the Green Dream are confronting what it’ll be like without electricity. Prices of energy will skyrocket if the recovery ever start. There’s a huge lid on the US energy industry if you consider the lead time to build even one new power plant (sometimes a decade or more, if ever) and blocking development of anything outside of Greenie Dreams.

    Politically, this will simply not change over the next four Congressional election cycles due to the lead times of bringing energy on line. If you think $4/gal gasoline was bad, how about your electrical bill exceeding your mortgage and food bill combined. That’s were we’re headed. It’s simply too late. Converting to Smart Meters and such will help in a small way but energy needs will not decline.

    Instead of striking a deal with Greenies, one should simply ridicule them to the sidelines. They can live in caves, starving and freezing and drinking foul water if they wish. Sane people will vote for cheap, clean energy and to heck with the wind farms – actually make them illegal to save the eagles.

  72. We must not do these things for the wrong reason(s).

    To appear to do so will undermine the credibility of future projects after the wrong reasons have been exposed as bunkum.

    There are valid reasons for migrating baseload (and some other) electricity generation to nuclear. The main one that I can think of is that it conserves the raw “carbon stock” for use in transport fuels, chemical, pharmaceuticals, plastics, lubricants, … “Waste” (low-quality) heat from nuclear reactors may be used to convert e.g. coal and gas to liquid fuels and lubricants.

    Do it for the right reasons.

  73. How can one find common ground between a truth and a lie? A compromise beteween a truth and a lie is a ‘half’ lie which is, for all intents and purposes, still a complete lie, if not worse.

    Thorium reactors are considered as a very good solution, if achievable, in providing, together with all other cheap energy sources such oil and coal, a cheap and reliable energy sources that would help humanity continue its continuous rise in better living standards at a global level (contrary to what greens/reds want), but this (thorium reactors) will not be a solution to the AGW discusion. This argument will only find its end when science confirms ONE of the opposing side’s theories. It’s either AGW is right or it is wrong.
    Let us assume, for argument’s sake that the item under discussion is gravity; some saying that it exists while others say that it does not. Can one find a compromise? Such as if one jumps of the top of a skyscarper he would be half dead instead of totally dead?

  74. 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:
    http://www.amazon.com/Prescription-Planet-Painless-Remedy-Environmental/dp/1419655825/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236568501&sr=1-1

  75. Nuclear is hardly the answer.

    I am reminded about all the guarantees offered by the “New Nuke” folks that the new nukes are fail safe. And I am also reminded about BP and the oil industry’s guarantees about “new” drilling. There is nothing to suggest that the corporate mentality responsible for the Gulf disaster is different in the nuclear industry than in the oil industry.

    Then France is always trotted out as the poster child for nuclear. I should remind folks that France’s nuclear industry is heavily and secretly subsidized by the French government – hardly something that good, free-enterprise Republicans should be advancing. The degree of support is difficult to determine since Areva budgets are shrouded in secrecy. France’s actions in procuring uranium ore – especially in Africa – are profoundly neocolonial. It is no accident that the people of Niger, one of France’s chief supplies of uranium, face starvation and that there has been an armed insurgency against the French/nuke supported government for more than a decade.

    Then there is the minor problem of storage. I define two kinds of storage – physical and political. While I do not accept the arguments for safe physical storage, let’s set that issue aside for now and discuss political storage. Because storage is only as safe as the political environment under which it takes place. If one considers a mere 10,000-year time frame – we are going back in human history to the Neolithic, the Stone Age. The proponents of “safe” storage are claiming that storage can be effectively managed for a period of time equal longer than the expanse of recorded human history. Even if one looks a a mere 500-year period, there is not a single human society on Earth that has not had an overturning revolution, civil war, coup, or military occupation – – England, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Japan, China, India, Iran, Egypt, Congo, Brazil, Mexico, or the United States.

    And you tell me that the “New Nukes” are the answer.
    Right!

  76. GM says:

    Just to let you paranoid %#$ know, nobody is any particular rush to phase out coals and gas powered power plants and replace them with solar and wind.

    They are in the UK.

  77. fundamental ecological issue is growth

    I like growth. I think we should consider slowing it down when mean per capita income in every country of the world is above $50,000 a year in 2010 dollars. But maybe not.

    A no growth policy announces the stupidity of the espouser. “I am not smart enough to figure out how to create the right incentives for both wealth and a well functioning ecology.” I can accept that. Just keep it to yourself. It makes you look smarter.

  78. ajones

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/09/finding-an-energy-common-ground-between-%e2%80%9cwarmers%e2%80%9d-and-%e2%80%9cskeptics%e2%80%9d/#comment-453070

    “The British AGR reactor programme of the 1960′s used helium and after various teething problems have proven so satisfactory that they are probably good for another forty years.”

    Looks like you need to do some serious and more accurate research on the history of nuclear power development in the UK ajones as once again you are way off base.

    AGR stands for Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor and the coolant used in all the UK’s AGR NPPs is that evil, odourless, tasteless, atmospheric trace gas Co2 and not helium (looks like you may be confusing the AGR with DRAGON?).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_gas-cooled_reactor

    Are you sure you are an ex-nuclear physicist? I’m sure I am. Are you?

  79. The original MSBR at ORNL cost $40 million in 1965 dollars. It ran for five years and was rated at 8 MW thermal. They did a lot of the necessary egineering investigation. I can’t see commercialisation of this costing $10 billion. I have seen another estimate out there of $3 billion.

  80. “The “excess deaths” during winter are much more likely to be caused by the effects of Peak Oil. And quite soon too. Just to let you paranoid %#$ know, nobody is any particular rush to phase out coals and gas powered power plants and replace them with solar and wind.”

    They are in the UK where they passed a climate change bill to reduce our CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 on an October day that saw the first snow in London in about 70 years. This is the climate change bill that now has the force of law.

    So if the climate does NOT change for the better after that? Will they arrest God? Or the Sun? Who do you arrest when the climate breaks the law?

  81. “John Brookes says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm
    As a confirmed AGW alarmist, I have no problem having nuclear power in the mix. It seems likely it will end up being part of the solution to the problem which (according to you guys) we don’t have”

    That’s not quite accurate. We believe that it’s a solution to a problem that you have created. Quite a different problem.

    JimB

  82. “thegoodlocust says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:25 pm
    Thank you so much for talking about this, I’ve been a proponent of thorium reactors for a while and if we build enough of these we can start converting our coal into fuel for our cars and get off of Middle Eastern oil.”

    You mean Canadian oil, as that far surpasses the imported oil from the Middle East.

    JimB

  83. Re: GM says: August 10, 2010 at 12:57 am

    2. But we have no time to replace oil and natural gas, especially the former, which has probably peaked already, as it will take decades to do that.

    Sure we do. We can make synthetic oil via Fischer-Tropsch from coal or gas. Or hydrogen. South Africa makes most of their diesel this way and has done for years. We could make unnatural gas via the Sabatier Process from Hydrogen and CO2, yet our greens want us to sequester CO2 and bury it rather than use it for something useful. Both require ideally cheap, low cost energy which renewables won’t deliver but nuclear can.

    For gas though, one problem is gas (at least in the UK) is seen as ‘greener’ than electricity, so lots of homes fit expensive and expensive to maintain gas boilers to make heat. Electric heating is seen as bad, yet ‘renewable’ energy generates electricity, not gas and gas may be better saved for generating electricity in the dark or when the wind isn’t blowing. If we persist with tilting at windmills, electric storage heating may be a way to act as a distributed energy storage array, but that needs smart grids, smart meters and smart policy makers to incentivise.

    3. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to solve the problem of fossil aquifer depletion (you can desalinate water for drinking, but that’s a small fraction of the total usage, it is unrealistic to think that you can desalinate and transport water over thousands of kilometers to sustain agriculture in the regions that will have depleted their aquifers in the next few decades)

    It’s not unrealistic. We’ve been building irrigation networks and canals for centuries. We’ve been building piped water irrigation systems for centuries. But in much of the West, we’ve also been content to let a lot of our drinking water get wasted via leakage. We flush our toilets with it. We wash our clothes with it. We wash our cars with it. So we waste a lot of good water rather than implementing policies to reduce waste and fit seperate drinking and grey water supplies.

    4. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to address the depletion of phosphate deposits. Again, no phosphates = going back to pre-Green revolution agricultural yields.

    We could potentially synthesise those. We could use more organic fertilisers like Azolla, which could also act to sequester CO2, reduce water reservoir evaporation and serve as animal feed. We could have some advantage current levels of CO2 helping boost current crop yields, but the EPA tells us CO2 is a harmful pollutant.

    5. LFTRs do absolutely nothing to address the issues of topsoil loss, salt build up due to irrigation, etc.

    We could try going back to smaller, more sustainable farming methods and plant hedges again to act as windbreaks and reduce wind erosion of topsoils. If we didn’t ‘need’ as much agricultural land to make biofuels and instead made synthfuels, that may be less of a problem. Agricultural land goes back to growing food, not fuel. We can also mitigate against salt build up with GM crops, but like CO2 and nuclear, the ‘greens’ have been telling us for years that that’s evil.

    We could just stop listening to the ‘greens’ and get on with it.

  84. There are other reactor types too, like the Pebble Bed Reactor, safe, self-regulating technology that’s running in China today, and has been tested in Germany, and South Africa as well. Guess what, in each instance the “Radical Greens” are the strong opposition.

    It’s about politics, not about the planet.

  85. alex the skeptic

    “The two main reasons why thorium reactors were never built are:

    1. Thorium reactors did not produce plutonium which was necessary for keeping communism away from the free world.

    2. During all this time, scientists were banking on fusion reactors.

    The former reason is no longer valid while the second turns out to be the second biggest global scam ever, (after the AGW theory) because after some 60 years of money-guzzling research, fusion is still very far away.

    Meanwhile, hydrocarbons have moved the world foreward, lifting many from below the poverty line up to a decent living standard.”

    I agree with you on No. 1 Alex but I presume you mean never got passed the experimental reactor stage onto a full commercial basis as happened with the PWR, BWR and AGR in the UK.

    Alex makes a very important point here. It’s all too easy to forget the Cold War and the post WWII threat of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) that the fuelled and accelerated the nuclear arms race.

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

    It is a fact that but for the cold war and the nuclear arms race we would most likely have never funded and develop the current nuclear technologies we currently exploit to generate electricity (particularly in France). For those who may be interested in seeing how the electricity supply industry could be ‘de-carbonised’ in the UK by 2050 have a look at the Wiki page here.

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

    France built and began to operate their first NPP in 1965 and over the space of the next 40s years has managed to reduce its dependence on foreign imports of fossil fuels significant.

    “At the time of the 1973 oil crisis, most of France’s electricity came from foreign oil. While France was strong in heavy engineering capabilities, it had few indigenous energy resources,[2] so the French government decided to invest heavily in nuclear power, and France installed 56 reactors over the next 15 years.[21] President of Electricite de France Laurent Striker said, “France chose nuclear because we have no oil, gas or coal resources, and recent events have only reinforced the wisdom of our choice.

    Areva NC claims that, due to their reliance on nuclear power, France’s carbon emissions per kWh are less than 1/10 that of Germany and the UK, and 1/13 that of Denmark, which has no nuclear plants.”

  86. Poptech says:
    Regardless Nuclear still cannot replace hydrocarbon energy because it nor the electricity it generates can be used as a practical transportation fuel.
    _______________________________
    I saw a documentary a few years back (called ‘Back To The Future’) that showed how small, portable nuclear devices would be available for powering things such as cars from about the year 2015 – not long to wait now!

  87. “peat says:
    August 9, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I have never understood the correlation between a concern about global warming and an aversion to nuclear power.”

    That’s assuming that the goal of alarmists is global warming and not “de-industrialization”. Then the correlation fits perfectly. Who are the biggest proponents of this? You can start with our chief energy czar, John Holdren:

    http://cei.org/cei_files/fm/active/0/William%20Yeatman%20-%20Holdren%20WebMemo.pdf

  88. GM says: (multiple comments)

    My god GM, with your fatalistic view why do you bother getting up in the morning?

    And why is it that folks such as yourself, who lecture the rest of us about human evils, never take the logical step to be a real leader and show us the way to save mother Earth. It’s simple, just put a call in for Dr Kevorkian.

  89. Nuclear has a role in the mix of energy production technologies. A mix of technologies is a good approach. NOTE: development of nuclear plant designs is not needed to provide a step jump in nuclear energy production . . . . . advance designs are approved and already being built, mostly in Asia.

    Remember, it was the environmentalists who precipitated the curtailed (since the 1970’s/1980’s) building of new US nuclear plants.

    Now mainstream environmentalists are attacking carbon based fuel technologies used for energy production.

    My perception is that on the face of it, at the core of mainstream environmentalism there is a significant component that is fundamentally anti-technology. Their actions do imply that it is technology that must be removed to achieve a natural earth. Their strategy to attack energy production technology is effective, since energy is the base of advanced technical civilization.

    If these kind of fundamental environmentalists were consistent they would actively support space colonization to save the earth that created human from humans. But I have not seen them do so.

    John

  90. Poptech says:
    August 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Regardless Nuclear still cannot replace hydrocarbon energy because it nor the electricity it generates can be used as a practical transportation fuel.

    Absolutely right. The technology to watch for transportation fuel is alcohol and biodiesel from genetically modified (GM) organisms. The transportation fleet is largely ready for it now including distribution infrastructure. Various plants & fungi produce it today just not very efficiently because alcohol and biodiesel are byproducts of metabolism. A little genetic cutting and pasting and they can become products instead of byproducts. Genetic engineering is advancing at such a rapid pace it reminds me of the early days of semiconductors replacing vacuum tubes. I consider Craig Venter’s artificial bacteria genome to be equivalent to the creation of the first transister. The only difference is that the artificial organism has orders of magnitude more potential for practical applications than the transister ever did.

  91. Nuclear is great.
    Over a year ago, Joe Romm on climateprogress mentioned several decades since America had brought a nuclear power plant on line.
    I posted the link of the George H W Bush aircraft carrier commisioned by GW less than 2 years ago. Thousands of Navy seamen live near the reactor. Jan 10, 2009
    It is nearly impossible to pull on your Birkenstocks and stage a protest in front of a boat offshore. The media trucks can’t come out there.
    My mention of a successfull aircraft carrier was immediately censored.
    The extremists not only want wind and solar, they want nuclear, hydroelectric and coal plants removed. To put us in a corner.
    I am not an idiot. If I was told to drive a car that ran for 40 minutes and required 4 hours charging, I would not want to get rid of my backup car that can drive 24 hours with 5 minute stops for fuel.

  92. ad says:
    August 10, 2010 at 1:16 am
    Alan the Brit says:

    The only sensible solution to CAGW/CC is the creation of an unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable, unsackable, Global Government, run by Marist Socialist Intellectual Elitists who will tax the poor people in rich wicked free democratic countries & dole the dosh out to rich people in poor, dictatorial, leftist, self-enriching countries, & enrich the new Global Government to boot along the way – they need the money (don’t we all?)! Simples! What use is scientific advancement if politicos can’t control it?:-))

    As a graduate of a Marist Brothers high school, i’d like to put my name forward to join the Marist elite that will run the planet.

    Apologies for spelling mistake, at least the “socialist” bit was spelt correctly! I’m sure the muti-millionaire Socialists like Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Maurice Strong et al will put us all right.

  93. A lot of the green agenda seems to be focused on the perception that there is a sustainability crisis. When you look at demographic data you see strong evidence for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_transition occurring in all post-industrial societies. I’m not sure why this agenda is so misanthropic. Isn’t it possible that by studying demographic transitions further we can make this occur on a global scale and render the question of sustainability a non-issue?

  94. That should read multi-millionaires – getting caught in the rain with the dog at lunchtime must have done it, either that or it’s yet another thing caused by Global Warming!

  95. Lots of good solid commercial designs for small-scale nuclear power generation from Toshiba, GE-Hitacji (S_PRISM), and from Hyperion Power Generation. Just need some money to built test commercial plants and the political will to do it.

    LFTR can then be developed at leisure and will fill the gap before, hopefully, fusion power comes on stream.

  96. “Regardless Nuclear still cannot replace hydrocarbon energy because it nor the electricity it generates can be used as a practical transportation fuel.”

    Fuel from Nuclear

    I wonder if this would work with “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors”?

  97. Folks may I remind you that even nuclear reactors emit heat, in fact all methods of producing anything emit heat and that will be the next thing the eco idiots discover and want to regulate.

    After all to have increased temperatures one must have additional heat, so if CO2 is the devil what will heat be?

  98. GM
    You’ve moved

    “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao (Holdren)
    You ain’t going make it with anyone anyhow”

  99. Ed says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    “Nuclear energy, in whatever form, is definitely the way to go for energy that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.”

    What is wrong with CO2? It increases agricultural productivity and thereby helps to secure a safe supply of food for the alleviation of world hunger. As to coal-fired power generating plants, the greatest danger they pose is not CO2 but fly-ash and therefore heavy-metal pollution. Moreover, a coal-fired power plant puts a lot of radioactive pollution into the air.

    As to the Greens, even if it were possible to alleviate their alarmism concerning CO2, they will then still have two other topics about which to raise alarm: the dangers of radiation and waste heat.

    If it were possible to alleviate all fears of the dangers of radiation, there would then still be Greens who complain about waste heat being released into the environment through nuclear and fossil-fuel-fired power generating plants. They cannot be reasoned with. The only thing that will make them happy if there are no humans left to complain about.

    Greens are driven by their ideology, an ideology that cannot be defeated through facts and can be defeated only through all-pervasive and intensive counter-indoctrination.

    Still, if facts about the dangers of radiation (or lack of them) are wanted, check these links:

    Nuclear Power — Comparisons and Perspective
    http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=498

    The Real Chernobyl Folly (232 kB PDF file), by Zbigniew Jaworowski; 21st Century Science & Technology, Spring-Summer 2006
    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/2006_articles/spring%202006/Chernobyl_Folly.pdf

    Belarus to Repopulate Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, by Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, July 28, 2010 (PDF file, 83 kB)
    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2010/Chernobyl_repopulation.pdf

    U.S. Urgently Needs to Develop Nuclear, States Letter from 300 Nuclear Experts and Others, Feb. 1, 2010 (PDF file, 34kB)
    http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/Articles_2010/Announce_nuc_letter.pdf

    The home page at http://www.21stcenturysciencetech.com/ contains links to many more articles of interest, not only on nuclear power but also on “global warming,” amongst others.

    M. Simon says:
    August 10, 2010 at 3:20 am

    “I have a dream that someday folks will actually run the numbers before shooting their mouths off. Nothing difficult: BOE (Back Of the Envelope) will be good enough.”

    Right, just check “Nuclear Power — Comparisons and Perspective”, at http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=498

    The numbers there are a bit more precise than your BOE figures.

    Aside from that, given that France produces energy for a competitive market and that most of their energy exported to other nations in Europe is being produced by nuclear generation, do you think they could stay in the energy-production business if their prices were not competitive?

    On the other hand, Spain went in for subsidizing solar power on a large scale and is on the verge of going into bankruptcy on account of it.

  100. The first item on your new plant building list, even before construction begins, is to purchase insurance against all likely catastrophes and to demonstrate you will have enough cash on hand to decommission the site when its time has come.

    Good luck.

    I’m told some locales in New Mexico that are keen on creating wind farms intend to delegate that last part to the land owner whose property has been appropriated for the purpose.

  101. Incentive needed?

    Abandon Earth or Face Extinction, Stephen Hawking Warns — Again
    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/08/09/abandon-earth-face-extinction-warns-stephen-hawking/
    It’s time to abandon Earth, warned the world’s most famous theoretical physicist.

    In an interview with website Big Think, Stephen Hawking warned that the long-term future of the planet is in outer space.

    “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet,” he said.

    “I see great dangers for the human race,” Hawking said. “There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. The Cuban missile crisis in 1963 was one of these. The frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future.”

    “But I’m an optimist. If we can avoid disaster for the next two centuries, our species should be safe, as we spread into space,” he said.
    ——————————-
    Our species is once again under assault from elitists, this time under global organizations, who wish to separate us from any technology or chance to continue on as open societies. I call them Aliens, as they exhibit little, if any, traits of humanity.
    It is they, and thier plans, we must survive.

  102. Ah the cagw elephant in the room. We are all going to fry or drown because we are emitting co2 and there’s this nifty energy solution that quietly powers france, has been around for years and is just a bit pricier than trickery from that terrible coal. I`d rather work in a nuclear power plant than a coal mine, and dont get me started on the chemistry needed to make batteries for electric cars.
    For cagw and against nuclear makes no sense at all.

  103. The purpose of many of the crazies is not to solve the CAGW crisis, it is to generate taxes to do social engineering with. It is to take from the middle class and poor [because there are more of us] and give to some politician to buy votes.

    The worst crazies want to roll back civilization so they will hate the reactor.

    For may of the crazies the so called climate crisis is just an excuse not a reason.

  104. Dave F says; “I think the transition from oil as a fuel source for transportation of industrial goods over land is an important problem to solve because without a solution, we are at the mercy of oil producers”

    But so what? We are also at the mercy of food producers, water utilities, electricity producers, health care providers etc.

  105. People are NOT afraid of Nuclear Energy!

    Their concern, their FEAR, is with respect to the people who a.) Select the site, b.) Build the facility, c.) Run the facility, and d.) Regulate the facility. They DO NOT fear Nuclear Energy!

    People ARE NOT AFRAID of NUCLEAR ENERGY!

    People ARE Afraid of FOOLS!

  106. I have always felt that the AGW mitigation plans that pointedly excluded the nuclear option, aren’t serious. I frankly refuse to embark on a CO2 reduction effort without this important tool available to us, and nuclear power inclusion is my litmus test of a serious discussion on America’s energy future. But Green angst on this is real. Did anyone else notice that the recomendataion of nuclear power is the one part of the IPCC report that Al Gore didn’t include in “An Inconvenient Truth’? The omission is quite glaring if you compare closely. Well, I have an inconvenient truth for you, Al, solar and wind won’t get us where you want us to go!

  107. The warmers have no power without the support of politicians. It seems to me the corruption in politics must be cleaned up to have the energy needed to prosper. To see where our politicians are leading us all you have to do is look at what is happening in Europe and the UK.

  108. Okay, this sounds great, and I hate to nitpick about grammar, but phrases like ” A waste steam 10,000 times less toxic” are nonsensical. Actually, it’s not a grammatical error – it’s grammatically correct. However, it is mathematically incorrect, in a huge way.

    For any exclusively positive measure, you cannot be more than 1 time (or 100%) “less than” some initial value. One time less than that initial value is exactly zero. Say X is the initial value, as in I have X grams of thorium. You, on the other hand, have 1 time less thorium than I have. So, mathematically, you have 1(X) less thorium than I have, for a total of X – 1(X) grams of thorium. You can easily see that what you have is exactly ZERO grams of thorium. You cannot have any less thorium than that, because there is no such thing as negative quantities of thorium.

    In the article above, I presume that when the author is comparing the toxicity of the thorium reactor to conventional nuclear reactors, he’s using some measure of toxicity, probably a measure of radiation, specifically, so we’ll use “rads” as the unit of toxicity. So, lets’ say a conventional nuclear reactor gives off 100 rads. Thorium reactors, according to the author, would give off “10,000 times” fewer rads than conventional reactors. Okay, 10,000 x 100 = 1,000,000. And 100 – 1,000,000 = -999,900. Thorium reactors, therefore, give off NEGATIVE 999,900 rads. Not possible.

    I suspect what the author MEANT to say was that conventional reactors are 10,000 times MORE toxic than thorium reactors, which is NOT the same thing as thorium reactors being 10,000 times “less toxic”. Technically, there’s a difference between “X times MORE” and “X times AS”, but at values this large and imprecise, the difference is far smaller than the estimation error, so we’ll ignore it and say that conventional reactors are “10,000 times AS toxic” as thorium reactors. The inverse of this statement is that thorium reactors are 1/10,000 as toxic (or 0.0001 times or 0.01% as toxic) as conventional reactors. That’s 0.9999 times (or 99.99%) less toxic. But “10,000 times less toxic” just SOUNDS so much better, doesn’t it? Anytime someone is using inaccurate language to make something sound better than it actually is, you’d be wise to take EVERYTHING he says with a grain of salt. Thorium salt, if you prefer.

    Regards,
    Trevor

  109. It’s important to remember that there can never be an energy compromise with warmers because ultimately they seek energy/resource deprivation……………………………. to the point of genocide.

  110. Cassandra King makes a good point.

    Warmism involves emotion, mal-de-siecle, fear of divine retribution etc. Above all, there is much exclusivity and snobbery at the heart of environmentalism. Do the new overclass really want cheap, abundant resources for the masses? Or do they favour useless and experimental technologies because the very cost and impracticality of their “clean solutions” will keep the mall-shoppers and Nascar dads in their place.

    Multi-million dollar homes in Sydney are now being built without adequately hot water for washing or adequate flush for the toilet. Of course, water and energy are wasted shamelessly on vanity fittings and hipster architecture and no-one cares. But cheap and abundant basics are a no-no, and the overclass feel they must lead the way.

    These new top-dogs may be wearing Arcteryx jackets over Che Guevara T-shirts and sipping Free Trade Yirgacheff…but their hatred and fear of the masses is as deep as ever.

    So no, I don’t think it will be possible to “come together” on these issues.

  111. I care about the environment and think CO2 is good for it. I’d rather be around a plant with CO2 waste vs concentrated radioactive waste.

  112. “Shivering in the dark” may be exactly the dose of reality the populace needs. A litttle bit of that will cause people to warm up to any effective form of power generation. Until then nothing will happen. Utility companies will just keep their old plnats running until they fall apart.

  113. James Sexton says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm
    There are other viable alternate energy sources, such as LFTR, but I really don’t believe we are going to be able allowed to pursue any. Hydrogen was my favorite. For some reason, it has all but fallen from the discussion of alternate fuel. Why? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_vehicle
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Because, as the article says, the fuel does not exist, it has to be manufactured which is a very costly and energy intensive process. Further, there is no infrastructure to manufacture, transport, store or distribute it, and it would take 50 years of intensive construction, costing on the order of $1x10E15, to create the infrastructure necessary to displace liquid fossil fuels. The hydrogen has to be compressed to 4000 psi, and H2 – the smallest molecule, wants very much to escape its containment; it is very difficult to make the fuel systems leakproof (i.e. SAFE) and to keep them safe. The maintenance of leak-checking and repairing is continuous; do not think for a minute that a vehicle that is 5-10 years old with 50K – 100k miles (and corrosion) will not be pissing hydrogen from every threaded and compression fitting ! In other words, don’t smoke in your car, or park it in your garage !

    Keith Battye says:
    August 10, 2010 at 1:11 am
    When you consider that the use of hydrogen in transportation is dependent only on cheap , reliable, methods of generating hydrogen then extensive electrical power at reasonable prices is really the only obstacle remaining. Small, discrete, hydrogen generators could be established in homes, depots, gas stations and so on using the electrical distribution grid. This would overcome the issues surrounding large scale storage and distribution of hydrogen.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    “Small, discrete, hydrogen generators could be established in homes, depots, gas stations”
    Keith, that is laughable (ROFLMAO !)

    First, to generate significant quantities of hydrogen – rapidly – for use at a public facility like a gas station would require a warehouse sized building to provide the necessary surface area for the reaction.

    Second, the hydrogen at atmospheric pressure will have to be stored in large vessels requiring a small building or two themselves.

    Third, the gas will have to be compressed to 4000 psi which requires an electric motor or engine driven compressor, the size of which (for a commercial scale, like a gas station) is the size of a full-size school bus ! And it’s loud, REALLY REALLY LOUD !

    Fourth, the high-pressure gas requires its own high pressure storage bottle system (like giant O2 welding bottles) which, for a gas station would also be around the size of a school bus.

    Now, on a private scale – such as in your home – you can take all day to make hydrogen for a car so you can fill it each or every other night (you will have to because the range of even a small compact car will only be 100 miles – at best !), so you won’t need as large a system, but you will still need the equivalent of three or four Suburbans, in other words its own small house. But make sure it is FAR AWAY from the house you live in, because if anything leaks or goes wrong it will blow up like something in an action movie (not to mention how REALLY LOUD the running compressor will be) ! Oh, and it will have to be built to Class I Division I electrical standards for hazardous atmospheres (very, very expensive).

    BOTTOM LINE : Hydrogen as a motor fuel is a fools pipe dream, and those advocating it are no different than the fools who rushed to San Fran or the Klondike during the gold rush years – it was only the guys who sold them shovels and clothes who got rich…………. If you’d prefer a 20th century equivalent, they’re no different than those who said (or still say) that fusion power is just around the corner ……….

    cedarhill says:
    August 10, 2010 at 3:44 am
    Politically, this will simply not change over the next four Congressional election cycles due to the lead times of bringing energy on line. If you think $4/gal gasoline was bad, how about your electrical bill exceeding your mortgage and food bill combined. That’s were we’re headed. It’s simply too late. Converting to Smart Meters and such will help in a small way but energy needs will not decline.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Converting to Smart Meters IS the problem !!!

    Don’t confuse Smart GRID with Smart METERS. Smart Grid will be a good thing for system reliability, but Smart Meters will allow the utilities to know exactly how much electricity you are using, and when. When combined with “Innovative Rate Structures” this will allow your utility to charge a lot more $$$ for electricity during “peak periods.” So you may use the same total KW per month as you do now, but you’ll pay a lot more for it ! Smart Meters will also give the utility the ability to turn off your (modern) appliances like your fridge or AC or washer or dishwasher if they think they need to. Initially such curtailment will only be during times of dangerously overwhelming demand, but later on, there will be electricity quotas, and if you exceed your allowable quota for the period, the utility will either charge you an additional premium on all electricity above your quota, AND/OR they may even curtail your usage (via the Smart Meter), depending of course, on the exact “Innovative Rate Structure” your local government approves in your area.

    There is no other purpose for Smart Meters than doing what I described above, and as a leader of a local utility put it : “it is all about changing peoples’ behavior.”

    SMART GRID = GOOD

    SMART METERS = THE SINGLE BIGGEST THREAT TO YOUR ACCESS TO CHEAP, ABUNDANT ELECTRICITY

  114. There’s no problem that unlimited, cheap energy can’t solve. The cost of whatever good was done by Clinton/Gore (possibly debatable ; ) was the price we paid to the Green/Nuclear ‘supporters’. IFR, after successfully being tested was dismantled at as much cost as to build it, so that no one else might further the technology~

    The Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) project
    A nuclear power plant design invented at Argonne National Lab 24 years ago has none of the drawbacks of conventional nuclear plants

    “In the decade from 1984 to 1994, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory developed an advanced technology that promised safe nuclear power unlimited by fuel supplies, with a waste product sharply reduced both in radioactive lifetime and amount. The program, called the IFR, was cancelled suddenly in 1994, before the technology could be perfected in every detail. Its story is not widely known, nor are its implications widely appreciated. It is a story well worth telling, and this series of articles does precisely that.”
    — excerpt from Plentiful Energy and the IFR story by Charles Till

  115. Walter Schneider says:
    August 10, 2010 at 7:11 am ,

    Uh. Walt. If I may be so familiar. You know I was criticizing “cheap” solar/wind didn’t you? I’m Naval Nuke trained. I like nukes. I like Polywell fusion, I like coal, oil, and natural gas. Even solar and wind – where they make economic sense. Grid tie is not it.

  116. Trevor says:
    August 10, 2010 at 8:14 am

    “The inverse of this statement is that thorium reactors are 1/10,000 as toxic (or 0.0001 times or 0.01% as toxic) as conventional reactors. That’s 0.9999 times (or 99.99%) less toxic. But “10,000 times less toxic” just SOUNDS so much better, doesn’t it? ”

    Trevor is correct. “1/10,000 as toxic (or 0.0001 times or 0.01% as toxic) as conventional reactors” would have been a better way to say it. Sounds just as good as 10,000 times … to me.

  117. A number of people have commented that some “greens” do not favor low cost clean energy because it will encourage more population growth and resource consumption. I think this is true. However, I hope those “greens” who feel this way will consider the graph showing birth rate vs GDP on this page. Birth rates stabilize with higher GDP. Is it moral to deny others the standard of living that you enjoy?

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2010/07/11/ending-energy-poverty/

  118. Poptech says:

    “Regardless Nuclear still cannot replace hydrocarbon energy because it nor the electricity it generates can be used as a practical transportation fuel.”

    I just spent some time at the Henry Ford museum and was surprised by the commercial electric cars from 100+ years ago. I’m surprised that it is so difficult to make something viable today.

  119. Most of the skeptics I know are all for clean energy. They just don’t think WE NEED IT IN SIX MONTHS OR WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.

  120. “Can common ground be found between “warmers” and “skeptics”?    Can we identify energy sources that satisfy the concerns of both groups?”

    The answer is YES, see the videos and comments I posted at the tail end of the comments section for 2 Senators. MIT Professor Dan Nocera makes it clear and simple — decentralize power generation.

    Two Senators upcoming presser on CLEAR Act
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/20/two-senators-upcoming-presser-on-clear-act/#more-22265

  121. JimB says:
    August 10, 2010 at 4:48 am

    “You mean Canadian oil, as that far surpasses the imported oil from the Middle East.”

    No, I meant Middle Eastern oil. The day Canada becomes an Islamic thugocratic sponsor of terrorism and jihad is the day I will care about Canadian oil. I think most people agree that Canada and the US have a very special relationship that is likely unmatched in the world today.

  122. No.

    Attempting to find common ground and compromise tacitly admits to an element of truth to the opposing side. The current dialog is that the science is *wrong* and *badly performed* and is a case of *experimenter bias.* Finding common ground doesn’t solve the problem. Next year it will be killer bees and the year after giant spacemen, so long as people do not question the conclusions provided for them by post-modern science and alarmist media. It is NOW to develop a world of critical thinkers by demonstrating to a huge portion of the population that they have been, in a word, bamboozled. No compromise.

  123. Charles Hart says:
    August 10, 2010 at 9:50 am
    A number of people have commented that some “greens” do not favor low cost clean energy because it will encourage more population growth and resource consumption. I think this is true. However, I hope those “greens” who feel this way will consider the graph showing birth rate vs GDP on this page. Birth rates stabilize with higher GDP. Is it moral to deny others the standard of living that you enjoy?

    Yes, birth rates stabilize with development. What you conveniently leave out is that if we are to stabilize birth rates at 9 billion people and Western Europe (not even US) levels of resource consumption, we will need another 5 planets to provide for them. And this will be just for a century or two at most, until the depletion of various mineral ores put an end to technological civilization.

    And this doesn’t even consider economic growth. Our current economic system is such that it requires constant expansions, which invariably means more physical stuff being consumed. It is foolish to think that you can stay at current levels of Western consumption and sustain the economic system, it will collapse without growth. So those 5 planets become even more.

    Living in the fairy tale world where free markets always bring the best possible outcome and resources are infinite surely feels nice. Reality is different

  124. A good primer on Thorium reactors is to be found here:
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html
    It includes molten salt cooled reactors as well as the more traditional fixed fuel element designs. The world is likely to shift from uranium to thorium as uranium gets more expensive in a few decades. The Chinese and Koreans are doing research on that now.

    There are 59 large commercial nuclear power reactors being built at the moment, mostly in eastern Europe and Asia:
    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/reactors.html
    Compared to none, that’s ZERO, new starts in the US in the past 30 years.

    Plus, nuclear power stations are the only technology that includes decomissioning as part of the electricity rate structure.

  125. Until we have cheap, superconducting powerlines and cheap, efficient storage; solar and windpower are both feelgood wastes of funds for most of the developed world.
    Nuclear should be the baseload power generation system of choice, as it leaves all of the hydrocarbons available for mobile systems power and lubrication.

  126. GM says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:57 am
    “You could only say that if you have zero understanding of what people like Hodlren are saying.”

    It is clear to me that Graeme and others here have a better understanding of Holdren than apologists like you ever will. The misanthropic, Malthusian world view of people like John Holdren, Paul Ehrlich, Maurice Strong and Dave Foreman, to name a few, is both sickening and disgusting.

    Many commenters on this site often joke about us skeptics/deniers being sent to re-education camps. I believe in free speech and appreciate that Anthony and the other moderators allow all viewpoints to be heard. However in my darker moments, when I read comments like yours that attempt to rationalise Holdren’s misanthropic statements I think a 2 to 3 month stay in a re-education camp for the Holdren’s of this world, and their apologists, might not be such a bad idea.

    My fantasy re-education camp would be in a small village in a third world country. There participants would have the opportunity to enjoy subsisting on rice and noodles, drinking boiled water, and washing in rivers in to which untreated sewerage is released. The long nights without electricity would allow them plenty of quite time to reflect on the reality and quality of village life which is far different from the idealised fantasy penned by Hillary Clinton. I don’t think that most of them would last a week. But if they did they might start to understand why so many people from third world countries want to move to the west for a better life. They might even reflect on why the quality of life in the developed world is better and start to realise that it is due to a number of factors a few of which include freedom, democracy, a higher standard of education, clean water, nutritious food and abundant cheap energy. Late at night and hearing the neighbor couple “making babies” they might even take the next step and gather insights as to why urban populations in the developed world have the lowest birthrates where as third world villages have some of the highest birth rates.

    It is a sad comment on our society that some people attempt to rationalize the misanthropic comments of John Holdren and the views of Paul Ehrlich. Worse yet they will reward the work of greedy, narrow minded, self interested people like Al Gore but remain blissfully ignorant of the work of people like Norman Borlaug who honestly care about their fellow man.

  127. Thanks for posting! I’ve long been a proponent of advanced nuclear reactor designs, with my own favorite being the “Integral Fast Reactor,” developed by good old Argonne National Laboratories.

    Pres. Clinton killed this off close to completion, even though it would have been ideal to burn through left-over fissile material from nuclear warheads.

    Why the libs don’t like this approach, I’ll never understand. I guess they think the world can be powered by love and bunny rabbits or something.

    Please see: http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA378.html

  128. Solution to what?

    There is no CO2 crisis. Warmer Is Better, anyway.

    Everybody wants to get on the Alarmist Bus. Wait, wait! I have a Solution to the CO2 Crisis: chew gum, eat your children, buy a pony, dance in the sun, form a druid study group, ban toe fungus, shut down the public school system, enslave the market, etc.

    But there Is No Crisis. CO2 is good for the planet.

    Thanks a heap for all your thorium dreams, and I hope you get a big grant, but puleeease give the CO2 crisis mongering a rest. Thank you.

    PS to GM — you are welcome to move to Cuba where they don’t have free markets. You’ll like it there, and we won’t have to put up with you any more.

  129. tallbloke says:
    August 10, 2010 at 7:12 am

    “Ahem, [*cough*]
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1301560/New-nuclear-power-stations-built-2018-promises-Energy-Secretary.html

    And a greater Damascene conversion I have yet to witness from a politician! Read just the article (never mind the comments) and you will see the effect it has had – an uproar in the Liberal party ranks.

    This is the first positive statement from anyone in the UK government about new base-load generation in the UK. This – in effect – proves the point of the previous commenter that the UK continues on a plan to close coal/oil/gas generating stations (a plan which the original commenter was claiming did not exist).

    I know little of the liquid Thorium technology, but the Canadians have been developing Deuterium-modulated reactors which don’t require enriched Uranium for a while (called Candu – would you beleive!). A nice niche for those countries who want to remove the potential for enrichment leading to weapons production. Seems like we have many technologies for nuclear power generation which are separate from weapons now – it’s about time we got over MAD and got down to development.

    I am not a believer in anything – CAGW or Peak Oil (which there is similarly no evidence for as yet), but fossil fuels are – by definition – finite and we need a serious source of energy for the future, whenever that future may be.

    A good line from a previous comment sums it up “there are few problems that source of energy cannot solve” (I took out cheap because that is a relative term).

  130. redneck says:
    August 10, 2010 at 11:40 am
    My fantasy re-education camp would be in a small village in a third world country. There participants would have the opportunity to enjoy subsisting on rice and noodles, drinking boiled water, and washing in rivers in to which untreated sewerage is released. The long nights without electricity would allow them plenty of quite time to reflect on the reality and quality of village life which is far different from the idealised fantasy penned by Hillary Clinton. I don’t think that most of them would last a week. But if they did they might start to understand why so many people from third world countries want to move to the west for a better life. They might even reflect on why the quality of life in the developed world is better and start to realise that it is due to a number of factors a few of which include freedom, democracy, a higher standard of education, clean water, nutritious food and abundant cheap energy. Late at night and hearing the neighbor couple “making babies” they might even take the next step and gather insights as to why urban populations in the developed world have the lowest birthrates where as third world villages have some of the highest birth rates.

    Simple questions: do you think all the problems of the third world would be easier or more difficult to solve if there wasn’t so many people there and the birthrates were at replacement level? The reality of life in a Third world country is precisely what we are trying to prevent from happening. What’s so hard to understand? BTW, it will not be long before similar conditions return to the West too, if we continue BAU.

    It is a sad comment on our society that some people attempt to rationalize the misanthropic comments of John Holdren and the views of Paul Ehrlich. Worse yet they will reward the work of greedy, narrow minded, self interested people like Al Gore but remain blissfully ignorant of the work of people like Norman Borlaug who honestly care about their fellow man.

    Those aren’t misanthropic comments. People look at what we know about how the world works (i.e. they study disciplines such as human ecology that are completely missing from the thinking of economists and free market ideologues), they look at the data about where we are now, they make conclusions about where we have to be and how we can (or can’t) get there. Nothing misanthropic about reality. Reality is indifferent towards human feelings. You can not ignore that, unless you believe in the bearded man in the sky, but he isn’t real anyway.

    Again, what you described above was a classic picture of society suffering from a Malthusian crisis. That’s precisely what we don’t want and nobody is advocating that. But if you want to keep the AT high in the I=PAT equation, you have to lower the P accordingly. No way around that.

  131. Redneck:
    Dang, you’ve got some fancy book learning in yur head and dun sound like one of them ignunt illiterate-types GM says are everywhar. Tell me, if you is fat, do you eat junk food while watchin’ the TV, cuz them thangs bugs him, too!/sarc

    Nice post. Whenever I hear of people talking about Holdren or Ehrlich, I switch off and leave the room. I’m surprised, however, that GM hasn’t mentioned the accomplishments of Margaret Sanger.

    As for the best way to keep people down and ship people off to camps, better get advice from the Democrats—they have a lot of experience.

  132. Phil’s Dad says:
    August 10, 2010 at 9:38 am
    I strongly recommend you take a look at this site.

    http://focusfusion.org/index.php

    Cheap to build, cheap to run, no practical limits on fuel source, small enough for a localised solution, radiation (and CO2) free.

    Thanks for the link!

  133. GM says:

    … if we are to stabilize birth rates at 9 billion people and Western Europe (not even US) levels of resource consumption, we will need another 5 planets to provide for them. And this will be just for a century or two at most, until the depletion of various mineral ores put an end to technological civilization.

    Un-cited conjecture like the statement above destroys GM’s credibility. And it doesn’t help when he states that skeptics are living in a “fairy tale world.”

    J.M. Keynes was an optimist because he saw that exponential economic growth would provide an immensely better standard of living for an expanding population. Keynes was proven correct, and along with the growing population came a cleaner environment. The wealthiest countries have the cleanest, most pollution free environments.

    Those are facts, not fairy tales. If GM wants to begin rebuilding credibility he needs to provide a convincing argument backed by verifiable facts. Throwing out baseless conjectures like “we will need another 5 planets” to provide for the population is not credible at the internet’s “Best Science” site. This isn’t RealClimate, where speculation by cognitive dissonance-afflicted blog readers is accepted without question, so long as it toes the Party line.

  134. Smokey says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm
    GM says:

    Un-cited conjecture like the statement above destroys GM’s credibility. And it doesn’t help when he states that skeptics are living in a “fairy tale world.”

    Throwing out baseless conjectures like “we will need another 5 planets” to provide for the population is not credible at the internet’s “Best Science” site.

    LOL, you really asked for that???? I guess the next thing is that you’re going to ask me to prove the Pythagorean theorem….

  135. GM says:
    August 10, 2010 at 10:59 am
    “[…]Yes, birth rates stabilize with development. What you conveniently leave out is that if we are to stabilize birth rates at 9 billion people and Western Europe (not even US) levels of resource consumption, we will need another 5 planets to provide for them.”

    You forget the law of supply and demand. Demand would rise, making raw materials and energy more expensive. With every prize rise, incentives for the development of more efficient production technologies increase vastly. Example: Todays LCD TV’s – their production consumes much less raw material than CRT TV’s of similar screen size.

    ” And this will be just for a century or two at most, until the depletion of various mineral ores put an end to technological civilization.

    And this doesn’t even consider economic growth. Our current economic system is such that it requires constant expansions,”

    No, not at all. Germany – where i happen to live – has a stagnating population level, a stagnating energy consumption, stagnating wealth. Still, we get along. I’m not going into the artificial subsidized blossoming of solar energy; that’s only a huge boondoggle; we get along even though we have to pay for that.

    ” which invariably means more physical stuff being consumed.”

    Again, not at all. Software, miniaturization, multi-purpose devices, a shift in consumption patterns towards services, increases in efficiency can create monetary growth without increasing the consumption of raw materials. Even if the monetary value of the raw materials consumed increases, this does not necessarily mean that the tonnage consumed increases.

    If raw materials stay cheap enough to encourage consumption, that just means that we have enough of them. But if more billions acquire our wealth, the prizes will rise and encourage, as i said, every measure that reduces the amount of raw material consumed, every measure that helps to switch away from an expensive raw material – say, from Li-Ion to NaS batteries where possible – , and every measure that increases efficiency.

    It is this self-enforcing of innovation inherent in capitalism (or the prize system) that Malthusians like you don’t want to see.

  136. @GM

    Artificial organisms with genomes cut & pasted from existing global gene pool can transform the world more than language, writing, fire, agriculture, metallurgy, and electronic information processing.

    I already did my part. Stop wasting your time blogging and do yours.

  137. Interesting idea, but violates the K.I.S.S. principle as it requires the development of – let me see – (1) Thorium-U233 alloys; (2) LiFl working fluid, with all the production and handling issues therewith; (3) use of helium (!) as a secondary working fluid in the steam production with various handling issues; (4) .. I lost interest after realizing that the “development” of such a reactor would require to development or invention of at least two and possibly three presently completely undeveloped technologies. Stick with PBR’s and gradually eliminate the pressurized water reactors. The tech development and research in the PBR’s is nearly complete and PBR’s could be produced – indeed, mass produced minus the fuel pellets – in the very near term .. sorry, within the next five years, with sufficient investment. No government money wanted.

  138. The LTFR is a version of the Molten Salt Reactor, which Oak Ridge ran an experimental version of for five years, back in the 1960s. The EnergyFromThorium website has documents from the experiment (http://www.energyfromthorium.com/pdf/) The MSRE proved the concept viable, but the reactor isn’t suitable for shipboard use, and the AEC was run by a naval Admiral, so the concept languished.

    Note to Peter Melia: The moderator section is where the controlled fission occurs, outside of that area, the fuel salts won’t be emitting many neutrons, so the heat transfer salts won’t suffer from induced radioactivity.

    The MSRE was run with salts based on thorium, uranium, and plutonium. It worked with all three. We could use MSRs to usefully “burn” Spent Nuclear Fuel while we develop thorium resources, thorium occurs in many rare earth ores but has no commercial use at present, so it’s just left in the tailings.

    The thorium cycle has advantages, and there is three times as much of it in the Earth’s crust as uranium.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed on Polywell and Focus Fusion, but the physics isn’t proven yet with them, we know MSRs work.

  139. GM says at 12:35 pm:

    “I guess the next thing is that you’re going to ask me to prove the Pythagorean theorem.”

    An un-cited conjecture such as GM’s claim that we will need “another 5 planets” is meaningless. GM could have just as incredibly claimed that we need another 3 planets, or another 30 planets. The number comes from the belief system, not from the scientific method.

    Observation shows that the average human’s condition is steadily improving on the one planet we have, despite the increasing population — and the wealthier the country, the cleaner and less polluted it is. No doubt GM would also refuse to believe that wealth is directly proportional to economic freedom, despite the direct correlation.

    GM’s posts are typical of what passes for argument in the minds of those afflicted with Festinger’s cognitive dissonance: the flying saucers didn’t arrive on schedule, so that just means they’re late. Because in the minds of the true believers it couldn’t possibly mean there are no flying saucers.

    A characteristic of GM’s posts is the lack of testable, empirical facts or verified observations. But there is no need for facts when a true believer’s mind is made up and closed tight.

  140. M. Simon says:
    August 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

    “I’m Naval Nuke trained. I like nukes. I like Polywell fusion, I like coal, oil, and natural gas. Even solar and wind – where they make economic sense. Grid tie is not it.”

    Mr Simon – The grid needs peaking power, and of the fuels you list, only natural gas Brayton turbines do a good job at peaking.
    http://www2.caiso.com/ shows the factor of two day/night demand curve.
    Grid tied solar can fill part of that requirement. There is now a utility-scale option that costs $2800/KW installed, and doesn’t use water as a lost process fluid.

    I agree with your sentiments, but it is my opinion that the world should be reducing use of finite fossil fuels in favor of virtually infinite nuke power.

  141. Thanks a million Anthony for this article.

    It’s important to remember that there can never be an energy compromise with warmers because ultimately they seek energy/resource deprivation…………………… to the point of genocide.

    Interesting responses here, but there is also an awful lot of opinionating from inadequate knowledge, and negative generalizing about “the other side” that hinders informed debate. I still just want to build up information. So often, it’s not that one side is right and the other wrong, but that there are important truths and values on all sides.

  142. Q. Can we identify energy sources that satisfy the concerns of both groups?

    A. Unlikely. Notice how quiet Hansen is about his pro nuke position. I think he has even said that in other parts of the world that nukes should get started, but the US political system is not supportive….in fact Hansen himself would rather be arrested at a coal plant (along with some starlet) than speak the truth to power.

    Our country is quickly becoming pre-scientific in its culture. Reason does not trump fear, or fairness, or power of those in charge

    Vaccines are produced mostly offshore. I just read an article on antibiotics and the FDA basically has its boot on the neck of pharma, so MRSA and other little bugs may win the day. Same with nukes. The love of wind and solar is not borne of reason but of a longing for a romantic existence.

    Bear in mind that math/science education is going down, and that many graduate level science people are going back home and not staying here. We are now feeling the effects of Jane Fonda et al. Our only hope is to sway the neutral people to the side of the nukes. …the enviros, anti-nuke, anti-coal, etc. will never be reasoned with.

  143. There are also Th fuel bundles that can be put into our exiting reactors, should we wish:

    http://www.ltbridge.com/technologyservices/fueltechnology/designs

    Oh, and the “need to store waste for 25,000 years” you hear anti-nuke folks shouting is just wrong. It’s based on time to decay to background levels. If you set your bar at “decay to original ore level” it drops to about 250 years. I’m much more comfortable that we can store the waste more safely than the original ore and do it for over 250 years; and that means nuclear is a net reducer of exposure risk.

    Per mining: Thorium is found as surface sands in a lot of places. Including in the Carolina’s and a big load of it in India. (India has an active Thorium program due to that abundance.)

    One Nit: The idea that you are making a proliferation PROOF product is wrong. It is much more proliferation resistant, but India has made a bomb from U233 (as has the USA… “Mike” I think it was…) Then again, India also made a bomb from ‘power reactor Pu’ so the notion that power reactor Pu can’t be used is also broken. Yeah, it’s harder than ‘bomb grade’ but not impossible to use. (You tend to have workers get irradiated to death and the device gets physically hot and does not store well. It irradiates its own guts until they don’t work anymore. But for a ‘use quick’ and let some workers die device, it will ‘go boom’… )

    With that said, I’d take a Th/U233 cycle over Pu any day.

  144. GM says on August 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Yes, birth rates stabilize with development. What you conveniently leave out is that if we are to stabilize birth rates at 9 billion people and Western Europe (not even US) levels of resource consumption, we will need another 5 planets to provide for them.

    Where is this ridiculous meme coming from?

    Where are the credible calculations to back it up?

  145. There is an old saying: “Fish or cut bait”
    Another: look before you leap.
    … add any you can think of …

    NONE of these can be compromised.
    What would a compromise of up or down be?
    What is a compromise of dead or alive?
    There is no common ground between right or wrong.
    It is fact or it is fiction.
    Anything else is psychobabble.

  146. GM says:
    August 10, 2010 at 11:55 am
    “Simple questions: do you think all the problems of the third world would be easier or more difficult to solve if there wasn’t so many people there and the birthrates were at replacement level?”

    Since we do not live in a simple world there is no simple answer to your question.

    Simple question: how would you institute a program of population reduction? By legislative fiat as China tried with one child families. I am sure you know about this program and some of the undesirable consequences resulting from it. Perhaps voluntary sterilization like they tried in India in the 1970s when they gave out a free transistor radio with every vasectomy. As it is the 21st century I would suggest giving away i-Phones or i-Pods.

    IMHO the only way to reduce world population is through voluntary means and I believe the best way to achieve this is by raising the standard of living. That will require a lot of education and huge amounts of cheap, reliable energy which frankly renewables are incapable of producing.

    Simple question: if you could wave a magic wand and stabilise the third world’s population how would you deal with the problems of an ageing society in countries which have no social programs whatsoever?

    I hope my ‘Simple questions’ illustrates why I say there is no simple answer to your simple question.

    “Those aren’t misanthropic comments. People look at what we know about how the world works (i.e. they study disciplines such as human ecology that are completely missing from the thinking of economists and free market ideologues), they look at the data about where we are now, they make conclusions about where we have to be and how we can (or can’t) get there.”

    About 100 years ago there was this new revolutionary scientific discipline which posited that the only way forward for mankind was through selective breeding of humans with inferior humans being bred out. It was called eugenics and I am sure you are familiar with it. This ‘science’ had numerous proponents including many leading scientists and politicians. The scientists had studied the data and come to their conclusions about how best to ‘improve’ mankind. Some governments used eugenics to rationalize in some cases sterilisation in other instances genocide as well as to allow governments to execute anyone they did not like or agree with. Eugenics has since been discredited scientifically as well as ethically and morally. Okay maybe I went a little too far describing the comments as misanthropic but they should be viewed as having the potential to lead to both morally and ethically questionable practices which are misanthropic in nature much like eugenics did in the past.

  147. ah, I’ve got it.

    GM has arrived here, fresh from drinking in lots of information put out by those who appear totally committed to saving the planet (unlike us the unwashed). GM hasn’t yet begun to grasp the basic we all know here, that we’ve all got to do a bit of homework ourselves in fact-checking back to basics – and that this often shows that dirty is cleaner and clean-looking is dirtier. GM doesn’t yet understand that we the unwashed may actually be a lot cleaner (and greener) than those who at first sight look clean (and green).

  148. Sean Peake says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:05 pm
    “Redneck:
    Dang, you’ve got some fancy book learning in yur head and dun sound like one of them ignunt illiterate-types GM says are everywhar. Tell me, if you is fat, do you eat junk food while watchin’ the TV, cuz them thangs bugs him, too!/sarc”

    Sean eyes only a littl bit fat cuz I onledrink beer an eat junk fod when I watch the WWE on Satrday nites. But I mad a misteak manny yers ago. The precher alwas warnned us littl uns at Sunday Sirvice not to go to univrcity cuz edumacation wood make us loose are faeth in God.

    So consequently I can write like this otherwise the GM’s of this world couldn’t understand me. One advantage though, there is nothing more unnerving and frightening for a liberal/progressive than running into a educated redneck. It turns their whole world upside down.

  149. This is another green herring.

    We are ready in the US to begin constructing “Perfected” LWRs of the GenIII+ variety of nuclear plants in earnest in the next 12 months. Now the Greens say lets C-O-N-S-I-D-E-R a new kind of nuclear plant. It will only take 10-20 years to design, approve and gear up to build such novelties. Sadly, in 10 or 20 years, the Green leftists will have considered the new Nukes and decided …NO Nukes!

    Screw them! I want to make them pay for their obstructionism. When we raise Utilities rates and check against the voting roles. Registered Democrats should get 100% of the increases. That seems only fair!

  150. Dave Springer says:
    August 10, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Genetic engineering is advancing at such a rapid pace it reminds me of the early days of semiconductors replacing vacuum tubes. I consider Craig Venter’s artificial bacteria genome to be equivalent to the creation of the first transister. The only difference is that the artificial organism has orders of magnitude more potential for practical applications than the transister ever did.

    Combine the two concepts, and we may get some decent organic computers….

  151. LarryD says, August 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm:
    “the heat transfer salts won’t suffer from induced radioactivity”

    If the lithium ‘burns’ to any extent (ie. Li + n = He + T) then the fluoride will become either HF/DF/TF or F2 gases. Not good for materials of construction! So you can have no radioactivity issues but could have some real hairy chemical activity issues. I don’t know of any material that would contain red hot fluorine gas for practical engineering lifetimes. You don’t have this problem with fuel elements.

  152. “Can common ground be found between “warmers” and “skeptics”? Can we identify energy sources that satisfy the concerns of both groups?”

    Lucy Skywalker says:
    August 10, 2010 at 2:37 pm
    “Thanks a million Anthony for this article. It’s important to remember that there can never be an energy compromise with warmers because ultimately they seek energy/resource deprivation…………………… to the point of genocide. Interesting responses here, but there is also an awful lot of opinionating from inadequate knowledge, and negative generalizing about “the other side” that hinders informed debate. I still just want to build up information. So often, it’s not that one side is right and the other wrong, but that there are important truths and values on all sides.”
    ___________________________

    The basic questions, AND the thoughtful response above, prompt me to make another observation: If History is indeed prologue to the future, it’s going to be a very, very bumpy ride; it’s not the science, it’s not the math, it’s the people that are the problem; and every little thing that makes every one of them who they are today, all 6.5 billion of them.

  153. While we are beating up on GM…
    (PS: GM – Keep posting. You are welcome here in a way we would not be on some sites that would seem to share your views)

    GM says:
    August 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Yes, birth rates stabilize with development. What you conveniently leave out is that if we are to stabilize birth rates at 9 billion people and Western Europe (not even US) levels of resource consumption, we will need another 5 planets to provide for them. And this will be just for a century or two at most, until the depletion of various mineral ores put an end to technological civilization.

    Other commentators have dealt with the birth rate thing. (In fact it drops with wealth but that “signal” is often hidden by migration “noise”.)

    I just wanted to re-assure you that with (for all practical purposes) unlimited cheap energy, new resources can be both reached and/or created that are far beyond us now.

    There are a few pointers here as well as much discussion on the forum pages;

    http://focusfusion.org/index.php/site/article/fusion_world/

  154. GM says: (August 10, 2010 at 1:05 am): [about naturally occurring crude oil] “And there are unlimited quantities of it, right?”

    Probably not, but we’ll never run out of it.

    If GM can wrap his head around that one, he’ll be half way to enlightenment. :-)

  155. redneck says:
    August 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm
    One advantage though, there is nothing more unnerving and frightening for a liberal/progressive than running into a educated redneck. It turns their whole world upside down.
    =================================

    ROTFL thank you!

  156. GM says:
    August 10, 2010 at 1:25 am
    David, UK said on Finding an energy common ground between “Warmers” and “Skeptics”
    If something is truly believed to be dangerous to human existence, you don’t impose a tax on it; you ration it, or in extreme cases you ban it

    Precisely.

    And knowledge. What about knowledge? Do you also propose to ban thinking?

    What about the human brain? Do you propose to ‘ban’ that too?

    Your solution is worse than the problem …

  157. Isn’t the fundamental problem with nuclear the fact that as soon as you build 1 plant you have to start building another because the one you just built will be decommissioned in 40-50 years?

    Basically, you end up with an endless cycle and with a lot of waste?

  158. There aren’t many engineers in the string today. It is so easy to employ a priori reasoning (the kind of reasoning that a smart argumentative teenager uses on you because with no experience, he has no other kind to employ) in prescriptive policy advice. The neo-malthusians (Malthus was the quintessential a priori reasoner) have foist the engineer’s nightmare of wind mills and solar power on us and even though we knew they weren’t going to work as replacements for what we have, we allowed this expensive idiocy to go forward. We’ve also lost 50yrs of experience in nuclear energy development because of our forbearance – and they then produce studies that show it isn’t economic – I would say 50s technology for anything isn’t economic. In any case, it is certainly a heck of a lot more practical and economic than 5% efficiency windmills that work only when the wind blows.

    The neo-malthusians’ a priori theorem that we are running out of resources has.a venerable history starting with Malty himself (a preacher by trade). The nineteenth century British economist Jevons had us running out of coal by the beginning of th 20th C (sorry on Bberry no links) with all the familiar disasters that that portended. The club of rome made a list of resources we would run out of. I recall one of them was zinc a commodity hat is used mostly for rust proofing sheet metal for culverts and barn rooves and the like. It illustrated that their was no understanding of the economics of resources. We don’t plan to “phase out” “scarce” resources. We let economics do this for us (by the way reserves of zinc are higher now than they were in the 50s!). By way of further illustration an engineer friend remarked that you could make a radio using only abundant materials if you had to – he quipped that heck you could make the case out of concrete. Ya see, the demand isn’t for zinc its for roofing and drainage. Please drop the phasing out of scarce commodities and move the discourse along.

  159. GM, how many species per day are being wiped out? Could you please show me a list of each species and when they died out, please and thank you . And no, I will not accept “anyone who does not believe that thousands of species are being wiped out daily is a *#@&(@ idiot”. Some of your “facts” on “peak oil”, as well, whilst you are at it.

  160. I work at a Nuke plant. I obviously see the advantage of the technology. The biggest tragedy is that we stopped research based on irrational fears. How long do we have to operate these plants safely before people realize they can be operated safely?

    Regarding the discussions about infinite growth in a finite system:

    What do you think the purpose of a free market is, if not to allocate finite resources? That’s econ 101. What is the other option? Letting bureaucrats decide winners and losers? I’ll take the free market where possible, thanks.

  161. Smokey says:
    August 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    […]
    “A characteristic of GM’s posts is the lack of testable, empirical facts or verified observations. […]”

    Ahhh, so you noticed that, too. But they are packed with entertainment value, eh? ;o)

    BTW, Smokey, “ecological overshoot” kinda reminds me of something a fellow named Schneider (no worries for him now, RIP) predicted a few decades ago for the year 2000, though he didn’t use that newfangled term.

    Also, I’m reading this thread from the end up and I haven’t run across GM’s cite for the need for 5 earths to stabilize birthrates at 9 billion people. I’d be interested in the source and the methodology for making that claim.

  162. David Ball says:
    August 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm
    I would be delighted to know if GM stands for General Motors.

    —————————————————–

    My guess was “Genetically Modified,” but who knows?

    Maybe someday I’ll post the story behind “H.R.” there’s some humor and practical advice in that tale. I’ll have to wait for the right thread where it’s not so OT.

  163. @redneck says:
    August 10, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Redneck, I couldn’t agree with you more or have said it better. GM is a learned fool, who throws ad homs like hand grenades, and never has a citation to offer other than his gratuitous (second, pejorative definition) opinions.

    I’ll give him one (first definition) off the cuff; the actual quote may be a little different: “A poor woman in the highlands of Scotland may bear 15 children in her life; a well to do woman in London these days can scarce bear two”. [Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (1776)].

    And today, that’s where we stand – in Western Europe, Russia, Japan, China, and just about everywhere that isn’t Muslim (except, interestingly, the USA). The earth’s population growth looks like a graph Anthony recently posted about sea level rise – asymptotic. However, the demographic trends spell real danger for a world of progress, accomplishment and perhaps, happiness, another term invented or popularized by Mr. Smith.

  164. GM says:
    August 10, 2010 at 1:15 am

    a jones says:
    August 10, 2010 at 12:03 am
    Remember we have technology: provided wealthy Luddites allow us to use it. One result is that famine, once a genuine scourge of the human race is now only a weapon of war wielded by politicians to starve their enemies and amass wealth and power to themselves. As is energy starvation. You have to keep the people poor you know.

    That’s another utterly ignorant statement right there. The reason there is no famine right now (which isn’t even true, there are hundreds of millions of starving people out there in the world, it’s just that you don’t see them on TV as they are, how should I say it, not very interesting to well-fed people and such news don’t generate high TV ratings) is that we have this tremendous but one-time energy bonanza in the form of fossil fuels and fertilizers to use as an input.

    —–

    Same tired and old arguments made by Ehrlich and Holdren. Next you’ll be advocating the same forced sterilization solution in The Population Bomb. How did that bet with Simon work out?

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Simon-Ehrlich_wager

    When will your kind actually learn? There are more than enough resources in the solar system to support trillions of humans, not that I think it will come to that for a VERY long time. Population tends to limit and then decline in modern industrialized societies because the resource cost of offspring is very high and the incremental gain in labor is small. Just one of the advantages to no longer being an agrarian society pulling a plow by hand.

    The mass of the earth is ~6e24 kg. That’s 6e13 kg/person for a 10billion population, or 6e10tonnes/person. How many gigatonnes do you need where you live? Worried about precious metals? Well, even assuming that no substitutes are found or efficiencies in utilization (nah, that would never happen), then you just have to make your mind up that you’re gonna go get you some space rocks. Grab a suitable NEA and mine the crap out of it. Plenty of material to go around:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/401227.stm

    There is more than enough energy as well. Solar radiation hits the disc of the Earth with 174PW. Us exponentially growing humans consume about 14TW. Increase that by a factor of 10 and you’ve still got a rounding error. I won’t bother to go into existing proven fossil and nuclear resources. Yes, peak oil is probably close, but do you actually understand what peak oil means? Extraction costs will go up and a new equilibrium will be established. Plenty of oil in unconventional reserves such as tar sands and shale. Some oil demand will be replaced with alternatives like electric transport, natural gas, synfuels, biofuels. Some demand will be permanently destroyed by some people making different choices like living closer to where they work, etc. The world will adjust and move on.

    As an aside, it is a proven fact that there is only enough interesting TV to support 2 networks.

    The fundamental problem with Malthus, Holdren, Ehrlich and you is your improper use of boundary conditions and lack of imagination. I have more faith in human ingenuity than your kind does and so am not concerned about future resource availability. In fact, the only concerns I do have center around your philosophy that seeks to limit what humans can do to better themselves and their lives.

    p.s. I don’t advocate exponential growth in population, but neither am I afraid it will happen. I also believe strongly in biodiversity and setting aside adequate habitat for other species on this planet and would gladly live off of this dirtball if Malthusians like yourself would get out of my way and let me build the systems to support that!

  165. The discussion of Malthusian scenarios is interesting.

    It is always interesting that nobody discusses the real reason the third world has explosive reproduction rates when for centuries upon centuries populations were stable or growing very slowly. The reason is science in the form of medical advancements, and missionaries.

    Populations were slowly growing/stable all over the world until the microscope was developed and cause and effect of diseases was discovered.
    When doctors learned to wash their hands infant mortality and puerperal fever dropped dramatically. If you walk in old cemeteries in England, many graves have the man’s name and two or three wives, not because of harems :) but because widowers needed a new wife to bring up children. One in three women died in childbirth.
    Population growth depends on the number of living females. A man of 40 years was considered an “elder”.

    Western society developed in parallel to medicine, resources that defied the Malthusian fears i.e. industrialization and energy use.

    And then missionaries exported medicinal knowledge and medicine to the third world, in an unsustainable manner. Not only industrialization and energy use was hidden from the third world, but also their energy and other resources were exploited to keep and develop the western life style .

    We cannot turn the clock back. There are too many people in the third world because of bad decisions of the first. It behooves us to search for unlimited energy and give it to the hoi polloi as soon as possible , because the sooner the populations stabilize the sooner they will start declining. In parallel make a massive effort to educate women. Educated women limit their reproduction when means are available to them, from contraception to abortions. In Greece for example, we are not reproducing ourselves and I think it is the same in all of Europe.

    It may be that people who think like GM are really afraid of genetically disappearing, because, having started on the diminution road we will be much much less than the still growing third world.
    The problem of the old generation when there is unlimited cheap energy is solved because with unlimited energy food and shelter will be available and a different value standard than the money standard will have to be found.

  166. @John from CA says:
    August 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    “…Isn’t the fundamental problem with nuclear the fact that as soon as you build 1 plant you have to start building another because the one you just built will be decommissioned in 40-50 years?

    Basically, you end up with an endless cycle and with a lot of waste?…”

    Let’s hope it is an endless cycle: 50 + 50 + 50… so my great-great-great grandchildren can have all the electricity they need.

    But your question really is about nuclear waste. President Carter in 1977 outlawed reprocessing spent reactor rods, for “noble” reasons (I’ll leave it to you to find out why). But get this: U235, the easily fissionable isotope of uranium, comprises 0.5% of natural uranium (U238 makes up 99.x% of the rest, with U234 – a product of uranium radioactive decay – a minuscule, short-lived component of natural uranium).

    When used in a reactor, U235 has to be concentrated to something above 5% (and about 20%+ for an atomic bomb). The rest of the reactor rod is U238 and binding materials.

    When a bunch of rods of this concentration of U235 are put in close proximity, the natural radioactive decay (fissioning) of U235 releases neutrons that in turn cause other atoms of U235 to fission. These fission instances individually release a massive amount of energy (on an atomic scale) that when multiplied by millions of atoms fissioning per second, generate a lot of heat. This makes water in contact with the rods boil, and the resulting steam is used to generate electricity.

    When the U235 content of a rod goes below about 4%, the rod is spent (ceases to provide heat at the required scale). It is then pulled out of the reactor pile, and placed in a pond located at the reactor site (water absorbs the neutrons still being given off by the remaining U235 very well, so the rods have no effect on anything outside the pond – and the water is not made radioactive by this process; it just gets warmer).

    The rods also contain other radioactive elements (you’ll have to research the decay chains – daughter products – of the existing naturally radioactive elements – uranium (U) and thorium (Th) to see what they are). However, the rods can be run through chemical plants, that can sort out these various radioactive elements, and confine them, or – even better – put them to use as sources for alpha, beta or gamma rays for important medical purposes, for use in devices that scan metal structures (like aircraft wings) for defects, and on and on.

    In fact, notwithstanding our stupid ban on reprocessing rods, here in the USA we are doing more or less the same thing – just not on reactor waste. A company – USEC (in which I own stock) – is reprocessing Soviet weapons-grade uranium (+20% U235) recovered from nuclear missile warheads. This is converted into nuclear fuel rods and ancillary products.

    Now get this: one-half of one percent of all natural uranium (i.e. U235) is of real current use to us (U238 is sometimes called “spent uranium” – it is radioactive but at low levels compared to U235 – and is commonly used by the US military in big-bore bullets that are intended to blow tanks and other hard targets to pieces).

    We go to enormous expense to explore for, develop and mine uranium deposits (South Africa, for example, is a major producer of uranium, mainly as a by-product of gold mining. The mines from which this uranium is extracted are commonly 10,000 feet deep. The temperatures at that depth are around 130+ degrees F. A man (no women underground!) can work at the face (the place where the ore is being extracted) for maybe 30 minutes. All of this leads to these African mines individually employing up to 30,000 men to run their operations on an around the clock, continuous basis). Elsewhere, giant deposits of uranium were discovered back in the 60s, 70s and early 80s in the USA, Australia and Canada. Exploration continues today but nowhere at the levels that prevailed before the US power-generation industry was choked off following the minor but hysteria-inducing Three Mile Island reactor accident in Pennsylvania.

    After mining the ore must be metallurgically concentrated, then run through a hideously complex and expensive centrifuge processes to get its U235 concentration to power-generation effect (and much more so for nuclear bombs).

    Following all this, we then throw 80% of the U235 away in the “spent” reactor rods held in the ponds at the power plants.

    Well, it’s about time to end this stupid charade. The British are reprocessing French nuclear waste (we’re reprocessing Russian nukes!). The Iranians are trying to build the initial concentration process to A-bomb capability (and of course the Norks and Paks and Indians and Israelis already got there, notwithstanding our nobility).

    There, in a nutshell, is the issue. We are the most profligate wasters of energy and useful by-products in the history of the world. We could run our entire nuclear power capacity for the next two generations of Americans on the waste currently being held in ponds at the reactors. Otherwise, we want to stick it in the ground and permanently dispose of it.

  167. James Sexton says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    “There are other viable alternate energy sources, such as LFTR, but I really don’t believe we are going to be able allowed to pursue any. Hydrogen was my favorite. For some reason, it has all but fallen from the discussion of alternate fuel. Why? ”

    Show me the Hydrogen Mine, and I’m sure there will be a big rush for hydrogen cars.

    Show me the Battery-stuff Mine, and I’m sure there will be a big rush for electric cars.

  168. LFTRs looks very promising. I wonder why China isnt going for it then?
    Instead of the coal plants? Is it 4 they build every week now?

  169. JimF

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/09/finding-an-energy-common-ground-between-%e2%80%9cwarmers%e2%80%9d-and-%e2%80%9cskeptics%e2%80%9d/#comment-453946

    “But your question really is about nuclear waste. President Carter in 1977 outlawed reprocessing spent reactor rods, for “noble” reasons (I’ll leave it to you to find out why). But get this: U235, the easily fissionable isotope of uranium, comprises 0.5% of natural uranium (U238 makes up 99.x% of the rest, with U234 – a product of uranium radioactive decay – a minuscule, short-lived component of natural uranium).

    When used in a reactor, U235 has to be concentrated to something above 5% (and about 20%+ for an atomic bomb). The rest of the reactor rod is U238 and binding materials.”

    Thanks for all the above info and without hopefully being too pedantic I assume by ‘reactor rod’ you mean ‘fuel assembly’?

    Also you do a good job of informing readers of this thread that the most of the uranium that forma part of the fuel pellets within the fuel pins within the fuel assembly is indeed watsed if the ‘spent uranium’ is not reprocessed and so recovered but you fail to mention that this will only be the case i.e. that the ‘spent uranium’ become suseful if we re-fabricate the ‘spent uranium’ (largely non-fissile U238) into fuel assemblies that are irradiated in a ‘breeder’ reactor e.g the fast breeder reactor (FBR).

    FBR’s and other ‘breeders’ only ‘breed’ more fissile material than they consume (in the case of U238 it breeds Pu239) if they are designed and operated in such a way as to have a ‘positive breeding coefficient’. In the case of almost all the experimental and small scale power producing FBR reactors built so far (including teh IFR) their positive breeding coefficient has been NEGATIVE i.e they have consumed (more often than not considerably) more fissile material than they have ‘breed’. Indeed Sir Walter Marshall a former Chairman of the UK’s Central Electricity Gnerating Board (CEGB) often referred to the FBR as the ‘Slow Breeder Reactor’ for that reason i.e. he thought ‘fast breeder’ was a complete misnomer as the ‘fast’ actually refers to the energy of the neutrons used in the fission process and not that rate at which fissile material is ‘breed’ in these reactors.

    Do we currently need FBR or ‘breeder’ reactors based on the Thorium fuel cycle yet? I don’t think so. At least not until we allow the developing world to exploit nuclear power of a means of generating relatively cheap electricity as we do at present. If we did this then clearly the price of uranium ore would go up and we would need to find further economic reserves of uranium to cope with the demand. This would be some decades if not at least a century off though I suspect. Should we start spending money on researching and further developing these ‘breeder’ technologies and in particular showing that we can have reactor designs with positive breeding coefficients? Most definitely. Should we reprocessing the ‘spent uranium’ now inorder to retrieve the U238 to fuel these commercial demonstration reactors? No! As we have more than enough reprocessed spent uranium fuel sitting in storage facilities (used to be in a car park in Harwell for many years) to ‘fuel’ these reactors in the UK at least.

    In the UK what we need is to get on and build our next generation of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) base don tried and tested light-water reactor technologies like the EPR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Pressurized_Reactor) or the AP1000 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AP1000). In the UK we must avoid our tendency to build each different reactor we operate to yet another different design as we did in the past for our Magnox and AGR NPPs. Instead we must as the French have largely done choice only one design and build and operate at least 10 NPPs to that same design. If we don’t and we don’t do that NOW! then for sure ‘our lights will be going out’ within the next 10 years. IMO we should not reprocess the spent fuel from these new reactors until such time as it makes economic sense to i..e not until we have committed ourselves to a fully developed design of ‘breeder reactors’. In the intervening time the spent fuel assemblies should be stored in cooling ponds either ‘on site’ or whereever we would most likely build the next generation reprocessing and fuel fabrication planets for this future generation of ‘breeder reactors’.

  170. Thank you Anna V

    anna v says:
    August 10, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Lovely post. I couldn’t agree more.

    I guess the thread got a little off-topic, but that post was worth it.

  171. kwik says:
    August 11, 2010 at 4:48 am

    LFTRs looks very promising. I wonder why China isnt going for it then?
    Instead of the coal plants? Is it 4 they build every week now?
    __________________________________________________________
    China needs a quick-fix solution in matching electrical generation to the industrial investments. Hence, even conventional nuclear is too slow to built for their own good, while coal fired boilers/turbines come cheap and by the dozen amd most probably with a buy-2-and-get-one-free sort of purchase.
    Hence, investing in an unknown such as Thorium Nuclear is risky for the Chinese. However, some countries, including India are researching Thorium reactors.
    __________________________________________________________
    There is one thing which has been bugging for some time now. US and Russian (was going to say Soviet..oops) ships run on nuclear. These must have some kind of compact, extremely safe and reliable nuclear reactors that fit in one ‘small’ corner of the ship or sub. Wouldn’t these be also compact, extremely safe and reliable for any type of seafaring vessel such as a bulk carrier? Or would the cost be prohibitive? Or is it just fear of public fear? Who said that there is nothing to fear but fear itself?

  172. It doesn’t matter whether we use thorium or uranium in reactors; the thorium reactor actually breeds uranium, which is the fuel that fissions (uranium reactors breed plutonium, but more in a moment). The waste products are essentially identical in each case: unburned fertile material, residual fissile material, and fission products. Mind you, only the fission products are truly waste, and they are the reason that fuel assemblies are removed from reactors: they “poison” the neutron production by absorbing neutrons. There’s plenty of nuclear fuel left to “burn”; there’s too much “ash” impeding the reaction. This is why reprocessing is so important. By separating the (usually short-lived) fission products from the remaining fuel, that fuel can be used further. Normal uranium reactors breed enough plutonium that a considerable portion of their total power generation is provided by plutonium fisson.

    Nor should we forget the CANDU reactor, which uses unenriched uranium as fuel (Hatlo Hat Tip to the clever Canadians, who invented the concept because they couldn’t afford Manhattan Project-style enrichment facilities). It goes to show that we need not be overly bothered by the need for enrichment. Once any reactor can be put into operation, breeding fissionable fuel is a logical next step. (Better than enrichment, because the bred fuel can be chemically separated from the fertile material.)

    What about the real nuclear waste? Store it underground if you want…or dump it into the ocean. If you work out the concentration of the chemical constituents of seawater, you will discover that a given cubic kilometer of seawater already contains thousands of tons of dissolved radioactive elements. Concentrated ionizing radiation is potentially harmful, but we live in an environment of weakly diffuse ionizing radiation, which may be essential to our health. Our granite countertops are radioactive. Your wife or husband is radioactive (carbon-14 anyone?). Also, radioactivity is not a form of leprosy that can be passed on to other materials.

    Finally, don’t get too worked up over fusion reactors. Most fusion reactions that are practicable result in the creation of 14 MeV neutrons, which have a nasty habit of transmuting materials into radioactive isotopes (not a contradiction to the above; neutron irradiation is not radioactivity). This creates what has been called the “first wall” problem: every so often the entire inner lining of a fusion reactor will have to be removed and disposed of because it will have been rendered radioactive by the neutron exposure and possibly also because the neutron flux will have degraded its material properties (disruption of the crystalline lattice of the metal). Yes, the reaction is clean, but there is collateral radioactive waste to be dealt with. This fact has been known by those in the business since the 1970s (when I was shocked to learn the truth from my grad school professors).

    With enough nuclear power, we can synthesize any chemical fuels we need in an endless cycle: hydrogen, hydrocarbons, aluminum, boron…you name it.

  173. John Egan says:
    August 10, 2010 at 4:10 am

    I am reminded about all the guarantees offered by the “New Nuke” folks that the new nukes are fail safe. And I am also reminded about BP and the oil industry’s guarantees about “new” drilling. There is nothing to suggest that the corporate mentality responsible for the Gulf disaster is different in the nuclear industry than in the oil industry.

    “the oil industry’s guarantees about ‘new’ drilling” were correct — the Gulf disaster was the result of BP’s egregiously ignoring them.

    “There is nothing to suggest that the corporate mentality responsible for the Gulf disaster is different in the nuclear industry …” How about one being an industry of wildcatters, and the other of bookkeepers (a utility industry). Their mindsets, methods, and attitudes toward risk could hardly be more different.

  174. Looks like I am late (as usual) for this discussion. I have been a fan of the LFTR for a long time.

    Let’s put some back-of-the-envelope calculations here:
    A LFTR requires about 1 ton of thorium per GW and year. It would produce about 1 ton of fission products (nuclear waste) per year. A pure thorium cycle LFTR does not produce any transuranics (very long lived radioactive elements) like an U235/U238 reactor.
    About 83% of the fission products have half-lives of 1 year or less (many have half-lives of only minutes). After 10 half-lives 99.9% of those <1 year hl isotopes decay to a radioactivity level where they can be considered harmless (remaining activity equal to or less than common uranium containing ore). So for those 83% that means after 10 years.
    The remaining ~17% of fission products have half-lives of ~30 years. Meaning 170 kg per year from a 1 GW LFTR have to be stored for 300 – 500 years (10-16 half-lives, decaying to 0.1% to 0.001% of original activity). Because of the decay rate, there's a limit of how much total radiactive fission products there will be at any time. The limit is reached when the total decay rate (in kg/year) of those stored fission products is the same as the production rate of 170 kg/year. Which means no more than a few tons for every 1 GW reactor at any time.

    If we use the usual "green" energy measurement of "enough to supply x households", while assuming 1 kW consumption per household, then a 1 GW LFTR will supply 1 million households while consuming 1 ton of thorium per year. Or 1 g of thorium per household per year.
    According to this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium (yes, I know)
    Common soil (or rocks) contains 12ppm Thorium. At a density of 1.6kg/m^3 it means about 83 kg of common rocks (a few shovels full) have enough energy in the form of thorium to supply a family for a year. The mount of dirt moved to just build the household’s house contains enough thorium to supply the electrical energy needs for that household for 2 or more generations.
    The US government buried in the 1960s 3200 tons of thorium in the form of thorium nitrate in the Nevada Desert. That material sits there in 50 gal drums, covered with a shallow layer of dirt.
    These 3200 tons of already mined thorium fuel alone, using LFTRs, could supply all the US electrical energy needs (2005 level) for over 7 years.

    Re: the Malthusian argument that we run out of materials like phosphates and so on is easily refuted. The elements that make up these materials after all don’t go away. They stay right here on earth. When we “consume” them we really just combine them with other elements and change their distribution on earth. Given enough cheap energy though, we can recycle ANY material.
    All it costs us is a relatively abundant element like thorium. And not much of that either.

  175. @Alex the Skeptic says:
    August 11, 2010 at 6:43 am

    “…There is one thing which has been bugging for some time now. US and Russian (was going to say Soviet..oops) ships run on nuclear. These must have some kind of compact, extremely safe and reliable nuclear reactors that fit in one ‘small’ corner of the ship or sub. Wouldn’t these be also compact, extremely safe and reliable for any type of seafaring vessel such as a bulk carrier? Or would the cost be prohibitive? Or is it just fear of public fear? Who said that there is nothing to fear but fear itself?…”

    Actually, the The Babcock and Wilcox Company (BWC) that makes the reactors for the Navy ships is proposing to commercialize these reactors (in a joint venture with Bechtel, I believe) for land-based power generation. The idea is to build the power plants in their high-tech factory and ship them to the sites for installation, thus controlling the quality of the reactor in a strict fashion. The plants would be relatively small (a few hundred megawatts; most conventional commercial reactors are more like 1,000 MW). The plants would provide energy for some number of years, then be terminated and removed (I don’t believe BWC is proposing reloading them in any way).

    This seems like a good idea, and it’s based on BWC’s extensive – and completely safe (to date) experience with shipboard nuke plants. Apparently the cost projections are very favorable, although these plants wouldn’t suffice for all situation.

  176. Redneck says:
    So consequently I can write like this otherwise the GM’s of this world couldn’t understand me. One advantage though, there is nothing more unnerving and frightening for a liberal/progressive than running into a educated redneck. It turns their whole world upside down.
    ————————-
    Sort of like Randy Newman’s song, Rednecks. Brilliant musical sarcasm.

  177. Hmmmm.
    One could imagine a fleet of nuclear ships being mobile power-plants.
    Lingering offshore in international waters.
    Ready to connect to sea-going power cables.

    Selling power to countries…….like the U.K. when their offshore wind-farms fails.

    hehe.

  178. You’ll never satisfy me with any form of nuclear because only fossil fuels make MORE LIFE on Earth.
    And read Ernest Sternglass’ book (free web download on low-level fallout. Those posting here are sharply above average in intelligence, and if you read the whole book, you will discover that
    1. the brightest people have been harmed the most by fallout, though we are “only” talking 2 to four IQ points. To me, that is a horrifying price.
    2. The nuclear power plant industry–AND the Guvmint Health agencies LIE flat-out about radiation releases and about health effects.

  179. Dear Lady Life Grows,

    I don’t know whether this has occurred to you, but photosynthesis (the source of all coal, all food, and perhaps petroleum) depends on nuclear fusion reactions occurring in our Sun.

    Ernest Sternglass is not necessarily a source to be trusted. You can read some interesting criticism of him at http://www.ntanet.net/threemile.html.

    IQ differences of 2 to 4 points are “in the noise” insofar as they can even be measured. The effect on an individual is far less than from health, nutrition, education, and personal habits (e.g., alcohol consumption, lifelong reading, exercise).

    It is true that people lie upon occasion, but every lie must be proven. Assuming from the outset, that some one or some institution is a liar, is certainly not acceptable within the skeptical community.

    –MJD

  180. Lady Life Grows, if you’re never satisfied because of fallout, then simply r–

    [Self-snip; I came to my senses just in time. In my defense, I point out that the poster couldn’t possibly have been serious either.]

  181. @Lady Life Grows says:
    August 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Your points 1 and 2 are completely fallacious. “Normal” IQ ranges from something like 80 to maybe 200, with 100 more or less “median”. 2-4 IQ points means nothing. And where are these bright people being irradiated? From C14 and Be whatever formed by natural processes? If you lived in South Texas, your water well may have been completed in a significant roll-front uranium deposit (or if up the hydrologic flow in oxidized rocks, in the highly radioactive daughter products like Bi, Te and Ra and so forth left when a uranium deposit is redissolved and moved). I never heard any horror stories in the years I lived and explored for uranium there.

    Point 2: Radioactivity is monitored beyond belief. The effects of radioactive poisoning are well understood. Please show us some news releases or other links to prove that a whole lot of shenanigans are going on out there (don’t refer us to Karen Silkwood). Maybe in Russia or some mongrel state, but not in the West.

  182. Mr Simon – The grid needs peaking power, and of the fuels you list, only natural gas Brayton turbines do a good job at peaking.
    http://www2.caiso.com/ shows the factor of two day/night demand curve.
    Grid tied solar can fill part of that requirement. There is now a utility-scale option that costs $2800/KW installed, and doesn’t use water as a lost process

    Well yes. Except for the hot backup required for solar fluctuations. Like from transient clouds or cloudy days.

    BTW is that 24/7 of production? Otherwise you have to multiply by 1 divided by % per cent per day output to come up with comparable numbers.

    And note that I said solar/wind will not be viable without cheap storage.

  183. 1. the brightest people have been harmed the most by fallout, though we are “only” talking 2 to four IQ points. To me, that is a horrifying price.

    That may be the best explanation of our current administration I’ve ever heard.

  184. Finally, don’t get too worked up over fusion reactors. Most fusion reactions that are practicable result in the creation of 14 MeV neutrons, which have a nasty habit of transmuting materials into radioactive isotopes (not a contradiction to the above; neutron irradiation is not radioactivity).

    Uh. The Polywell boys, Tri-Alpha Energy, and Focus Fusion all have plans that include minimal neutron production. It is called pB11 fuel. You can look it up.

  185. “1. the brightest people have been harmed the most by fallout, though we are “only” talking 2 to four IQ points. To me, that is a horrifying price.”

    That’s just about a half-cup of coffee’s worth. I would suggest you have an insulin pump surgically implanted, with concentrated caffine on a measured drip.

    After all, we wouldn’t want you to go around a point or two under par – doesn’t seem like you’ve any to spare in the first place.

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