Avoiding the guilty pleasures

Blueberries at Market - Image: Wikimedia

Guest post by Thomas Fuller

Like mountain fruits enjoyed out of season and shipped long distance, there are climate pleasures I need to avoid, such as piling on with criticism of 10:10, Michael Mann, Joe Romm and my beloved late, great state of California.

It’s too easy and doesn’t get the job done. Summer is the silly season and we’re having a lovely fall in San Francisco.

It’s been a lovely fall in many parts of the world, and a less than lovely spring in many parts down South. But overall, be prepared for claims of the hottest month leading to the hottest year on record.

Let’s assume for the moment that it turns out that way (I think a sharp drop starting this month means we’ll miss that dubious distinction narrowly). What really should we think if this year is the warmest on record? And if, as I strongly suspect, next year is dramatically cooler due to the confluence of La Nina and a shift in the PDO, what should we make of that?

I don’t know.

I assume this world will continue to warm slightly. I assume that we will not agree to cut our energy usage drastically. I assume we will not make a whole-scale conversion to wind, solar and biofuels.

I assume, then, that the voracious appetite for energy in the developing world will mostly be satisfied with coal, and that in 40 years we will be consuming more than three times as much energy as we do today–mostly generated by coal.

I personally consider that a grave problem for the world, no matter what it portends for global temperatures.

But if you consider what we have not done, perhaps we have no right to complain. And I’m not talking about Kyoto, Cap and Trade, blah-blah-blah.

What we have not done is enable nuclear power to be used as much as it should, due to fears of nuclear waste. What we have not done is push combined heat and power, due to their lack of lobbying strength. What we have not done is finance Waste to Energy plants, due to the pressing need for cash for, I don’t know, financing Facebook and American Idol. What we have not done is push for uprating our hydroelectric facilities, clear the way for pumped storage for a not-so-rainy day, or invest in other utility-level storage technologies.

The Green Consortium that has been yelling at us about climate change and energy has ignored all of the technologies that could make a difference. And skeptics have been too busy noting all of their errors, personal quirks and logical absurdities to notice that yes, people, we have an energy problem coming down the road.

As I’ve written here before, I believe forecasts of energy consumption by the DOE and the UN are far too low. If I’m right, and the world’s energy needs triple before 2050, the amount of coal we will burn to satisfy those needs will make skies the world over as grey as the skies over most of China’s cities today. Whatever it does to temperatures (and I do believe it will do something, warming regional temperatures and causing further misery in the developing world), the normal pollution and black carbon will amount to a problem for the world.

I’ll repeat the simple math: We used 500 quads last year. A quad is equivalent to 36 million tons of coal being burned. A straight line continuation of consumption trends puts us at 2,000 quads around the year 2030, and maybe 3,000 quads by 2075. That’s a lot of coal.

There are days when I am optimistic about our ability to prevent such a firestorm. This is not one of those days. I read the news today and saw the foolishness of the green movement, the correctness of the skeptical criticism, and sat down to write this feeling like we’re all missing the point.

Richard Lindzen and Anthony Watts, John Christy and Steve McIntyre, all bright, sincere and honest people, are correctly noting the defects of the warmist arguments. And the warmists can’t seem to string two sentences together without making a huge mistake. They haven’t done anything right in a year.

But we’re still going to be burning a heckuva lot of coal in 2030. It’s really not a good thing to look forward to. I intend to be here in 2030, a lot greyer and more irascible, I’m sure. But I don’t want the skies to be as grey as my hair.

Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller

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110 thoughts on “Avoiding the guilty pleasures

  1. “What we have not done is enable nuclear power to be used as much as it should, due to fears of nuclear waste. What we have not done is push combined heat and power, due to their lack of lobbying strength. What we have not done is finance Waste to Energy plants, due to the pressing need for cash for, I don’t know, financing Facebook and American Idol. What we have not done is push for uprating our hydroelectric facilities, clear the way for pumped storage for a not-so-rainy day, or invest in other utility-level storage technologies.”
    Thomas-Agreed 100%. This is within our reach- and reprocessing Nuke waste is a
    start-real recycling. Pursuit of new nuke tech is all ways a worthwhile goal-as in the
    Toshiba 4s reactor… There is much that can be done-but won’t be out of fear and
    ignorance- and the exploitation of such..
    “Split atoms,not birds.”

  2. “If I’m right, and the world’s energy needs triple before 2050, the amount of coal we will burn to satisfy those needs will make skies the world over as grey as the skies over most of China’s cities today.”
    Wrong. The advance of technology never stops and today’s ‘developed world’ coal fired power stations are much much cleaner than those being used in China. There is plenty of fossil fuel (solid, liquid, gas) to meet our needs, with the next generation of ‘cleaner’ nuclear reactors ready for deployment.
    The changes you mention will happen over time as the dwindling supplies of fossil fuel become ever more expensive and the new sources start to be more competitive.
    Worrying about a predicted future based on today’s technology is always a waste of angst. Expect extraordinary advances on the energy production front over the next 10 years.

  3. But overall, be prepared for claims of the hottest month leading to the hottest year on record
    As soon as I saw the hoards of third world countries — none of them exactly untarnished with corruption — lining up to receive handouts on the basis of “global warming”, I realised that barring a miracle, the only way for global temperatures was up!
    Of course the real problem now, is that they have claimed “unprecedented” this and that so often that most people just think they are crying wolf … but whose fault will it be if one day they did just report a real crisis and no one listened!

  4. Thank you, Mr. Fuller. While I agree with your general premise that everyone is missing the point, part of the problem is that when the “cooler heads” try to address the point, the warmists, socialists, whatever-ists, are always pushing their agenda, regardless of logic, reason, true conservation, and especially common-sense.
    You’re absolutely right about nuclear power. There have been developments recently in nuclear reactor technology that can reduce the likelihood of dangerous, weapon-able, fissionable waste. One of the developments has been toward much smaller, community based reactors. Why is it that the Greens continually pooh-pooh this technology? It’s cleaner, uses less acreage and is much more reliable than any of their pet technologies. And it can be implemented now, not in some amorphous future where solar panels are 1000% efficient and wind turbines are driven by unicorn farts. Please pardon my acerbity and coarseness, I’m tired of these “blue-sky” predictions.
    Let’s DO something that is useful. And by “doing” I don’t mean pad AlGore, et al.’s pockets. The fundamental problem is one of control. Particularly in the case of the greenies, it all comes down to who will control the money and results. We have the technology, we have the desire, but do we have the strength of character to try to make an actual solution work? Can we set aside all the BS and discuss the issue like adults without throwing in unrelated hyperbole about ice and polar bears?
    My hat is off to Anthony Watts for hosting this, one of the few relatively reasonable conversations, about the subject. Also, thanks to all you who contribute! In spite of what many “big-name” climate people have to say about this site, it is where much reasonableness on both sides of this issue can be found. Again, Mr. Fuller, thank you for this article that has prompted me to comment.
    Best wishes to all.

  5. The coal age will not end for a lack of coal… just as the stone age did not end for a lack of stones.
    The engineers have the answers, just as we have always had. All we need is for the economics to be favorable. Increased coal consumption will drive up the price of coal, and the alternative energy systems will be implemented. Thus it has always been, thus it will always be. By alternative energy systems, I do not mean wind or solar power.
    Rest easy, Mr. Fuller. We, the engineers, got this one.

  6. too pessimistic by far. I have always had great faith in humans to provide the technolgy which will ameliorate the problems you highlight, after all, as you have said we already have the technology to make a huge difference to our future energy needs. However, you are wrong about the focii of Anthony, SteveM et al. Anthony has mentioned on many occasion the problem you highlight of having to fight the fire of AGW while proposing alternative sources and technology for the future. They fight the fight because that is the battle that must be won before governments will listen to these other proposals. The UN, along with Gore and friends, having been driving us along a path of total disastre regardless of what CO² actually does to global climate. The decision that we, the blogophere, have had to take is one of priority. Do we push hard for the other solutions or do we fight for the truth and true science? Not easy! AGW is a massive tanker heading the western economies for the rocks, allowing communism and radicalism to take control of our future. We are trying to wrestle the wheel from these people in order to change the course of this tanker to one of calm seas and a safe port.

  7. Tom,
    Good points as usual, but be careful about painting all whom you refer to as skeptics as unconcerned with pollution and the environment.
    As a wee youngster, my family moved from Oregon to Los Angeles; a long time ago – must have been something like 1960. It was very smoggy and polluted back then, and since then I noticed steady improvements in air quality. I lived overseas in the ’70s then back to LA and left for good in 1995, but by my memory, the air quality got better and better despite the huge growth in population and automobiles. Just as a reality check, here is an interesting link:
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/html/brochure/history.htm
    One beef I have with the current crop of environmentalists is the emphasis on CO2 rather than neurotoxins like lead, mercury, and poisons like sulfates in the atmosphere. Lots of lessons have been learned how to clean up air pollution. Why aren’t there efforts to transmit these lessons to the developing world? Big meeting scheduled in Cancun…I wonder if anti-pollution technology for developing countries will be discussed or whether they will focus on polar bears and man-made CO2?
    After you answer that question for yourself, perhaps the narrow focus of the skeptics won’t seem so narrow by comparison.

  8. “What we have not done is finance Waste to Energy plants, due to the pressing need for cash for, I don’t know, financing Facebook and American Idol. ”
    This sentence screams RAISE TAXES.
    Mr. Fuller as far as I am concerned any energy problems we may have in the future are caused by the government and the greenies.
    The government puts off limits enormous amounts of energy via placing land or land under water off limits to mining and drilling. It makes the permit process so cumbersome that companies enlarge what the have rather than make new.
    The greenies don’t want dams, nuclear, oil or coal. We are tearing down dams rather that building them. (Hydro doesn’t count as renewable in many places.) We are a banana republic. Build absolutely nothing anywhere nor anytime.
    The CO2 claim is ultimately about wanting to control people not worry about warming. If you were honestly worried about warming you would target water as it has a Cp of 2.8 vs. CO2 of .87. Water can retain heat until phase change. (Notice how it feels hotter when its humid. ie heat index) But who would ever agree to limit water.
    Mr. Fuller you seem like a nice person who cares, but freedom matters and I care lots about it. Remember, if I can control how much energy you have, how much you pay for it, and when you can use it then I control you.

  9. Don’t worry about burning coal. Coal is plentiful and cheap. Utilities have ways to ensure that the CO2 is pretty clean. The CO2 helps vegetation grow. Vegetation makes the world greener, giving the people more houses, food, and clothing.
    Time keeps on slippin’ into the future…
    Feed the babies
    Who don’t have enough to eat
    Shoe the children
    With no shoes on their feet
    House the people
    Livin’ in the street
    Oh, oh, there’s a solution.
    — Steve Miller

  10. The skies do not need to be grey from coal burning. In the west we clean up the flue gases. It is the poor developing countries, that use the technology we used 60 years ago, that pollute the skies like we did 60 years ago. Eliminating dirty flue gas is what the UN should concentrating on, not eliminating CO2.

  11. I am pretty sure all of this reasoning wrong.
    You see, water (vapor) is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.
    Nuclear power generates a lot of heat, which has be led off by cooling with water, usually from the oceans.
    When all of that water vapor (from the process) condenses, the heat is released in the atmosphere. I assume 50% goes to space and the other 50% is directed back to earth.
    So nuclear energy does not solve the warming problem. In fact it makes it worse.
    This is what really causes global warming: the condensing of water from water vapor that was evaporated from nuclear energy, burning (including fossil & rocket fuel), boiling, cooking, bathing, etc. But most of all: the erection of shallow waters for irrigation and consumption of water and the extra evaporation of water as a direct consequence…

  12. Amen Anthony! While we’re all busy arguing about GCD and CO2 we are taking our eyes off a real problem: energy availability and security and what the default strategy will do to our planet. Meanwhile we are studiously ignoring all of the economically practical solutions that we should have been working on for decades by now.

  13. You write ” clear the way for pumped storage for a not-so-rainy day, ” Two sorts of energy related topics I have been interested are pumped storage and cellulosic ethanol. With respect to pumped storage, here in Ontario, Canada, we should be in an ideal place to use it, but we are not. I suspect the reason is that large electric motors cannot be run directly from such sources as wind and solar, because of the varying power these sources produce. I have not been able to confirm this. As to cellulosic ethanol, this was supposed to be the year it was to be produced in large quantities; e.g. by Range Fuels and Iogen. It has not happened, and I cannot find out why. Anyone have any ideas?

  14. “I assume, then, that the voracious appetite for energy in the developing world will mostly be satisfied with coal, and that in 40 years we will be consuming more than three times as much energy as we do today–mostly generated by coal.
    I personally consider that a grave problem for the world, no matter what it portends for global temperatures”.
    And what exactly is your problem with that?
    New coal power plants can’t be compared with the old ones.
    Coal did a fine job during the past 200 years and it will do so in the future.
    I personally think shale gas will be the energy source of the next generations simply because it is cheaper than coal.
    This will provide us with sufficient time to find real commercial alternatives instead of government subsidized BS solutions.

  15. Predicting we’ll be burning however much coal then is like the ‘prediction’ in the 1880s that by 1920 London would be 6 ft deep in horse manure.

  16. tarpon says:
    October 8, 2010 at 10:54 am
    The warmist should try truth …

    They can’t stand the truth, even if we were in the midst of another little ice age. We point out inconsistencies and they wriggle and talk about the future, despite the ‘hottest’ year on the record. Despite the hottest decade. Despite the inconsistencies of their forecasts.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/08/global-tropical-cyclone-activity-is-at-33-year-lows/
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100728_stateoftheclimate.html

  17. (Sarc On) Not to worry! People are ingenious little things and when you least expect it can suprise the heck out of even themselves. When the going gets tough the tough get real stupid and start doing things that tend to descimate the general population down to nothing at all, and –sometimes– good old Mother Nature does it for us. (Sarc Off)
    Do we have problems, big problems, ahead? Sure.
    Are we likely to solve or resolve them? One way or another.

  18. There’s is no nuclear waste only left over energy that vastly surpasses the energy that has been used. Put another way nuclear waste is just energy going to waste or nuclear waste is all them 97% we didn’t use?
    Do you know why god damn greenie hippies don’t want to recycle nuclear waste? I know, because they fear accepting nuclear waste recycling for more energy production would demote wind, wave and solar power to the rock from whence they sprung. That’s also pretty much why they don’t want to renew and add to or enhance proper hydro energy production, that’s why they scream so much about local environment when energy companies suggest enlarging or building a new dam for generating more of the clean hydro generated electricity but not for thousands of silly pseudo-windmills.
    That’s also why the idiots love coal power still dominating rather then nuclear and hydro, they need its tangible concrete stuff to puke their hate at to convince the “civilians”.

  19. Many would agree with you, particularly regarding nuclear fission and maybe in yet another 50 years fusion. The eco- fascist movement has a lot to answer for.
    Conflating future energy requirements, pollution and environmental destruction with the ludicrous AGW hypothesis helps no-one and in fact weakens the environmental position.
    Few are as green as our host, Anthony, but that will not prevent him and many others from exposing the greatest misuse of science in history.

  20. I find myself agreeing with you today.
    We have not pushed Nuclear as much as we should and we will pay the price for that.

  21. As far as I know , modern coal fired plants emit very little pollution – most pollutants are scrubbed out and smokestack emissions consist largely of co2 and steam . This applies to the US and , I assume , Europe as well . If all new coal fired plants , steel mills etc. were to use scrubbers , I doubt the world’s skies would be as gray as China’s in the future .

  22. As you’ve correctly surmised, whatever problems we face down the road, they can not be solved by distortions and lies. We need science. Desperately. And we need truth. Desperately. The Warmistas are standing in the way of that.
    Meanwhile, we have problems today which are getting short shrift, again because of the Warmists and their lies. The sooner the Climate Warm/Change/Disrupt/??? monstrosity is defeated, the better off everyone will be, even Mother Earth herself.
    We could also be drilling for oil in places (like AMWR) which have been off limits.

  23. Tom Fuller,
    Where is your CO2 science Tom?
    Sarcasm starts:
    Great timing. Really.
    A truly timely strategy to try to pick up the support of the stressed 10:10 community and many some of the other similar orgs that have troubled foot soldiers in the carbon reduction area. And some floaters . . .
    The name for your new carbon reduction org might be:
    ‘Tom Fuller’s Reduction of Carbon by Coal Cooperative Coalition of Concerned Cautious Courteous Curiously Circumspect Cute cuddly Children Saving Society’.
    Or shortened that is TFRCCCCCCCCCCCCSS. All those C’s will remind everyone of the evilv CARBON! Clever isn’t it?
    Where is your webpage?
    We can nick name your group the Fuzzy-Wuzzy-Group. I can see your mascot and logo already. : )
    Sarcasm ends.
    PERSONAL NOTE: I was happy to see the Nuclear plug . . . that is job security for me . . . it has been the subject of all my formal education and my sole profession for nigh on 39 years, now working in the service part of it. Nuclear is in the mix . . . it isn’t the solve-all solution . . . it can be certainly be a major growth area . . . . shouldn’t put all our energy eggs in one basket.
    John

  24. What I find so stupid about scare mongering on nuclear waste is that we already have a 110% safe place to put nuclear waste. Any good geologist – i.e. not those working for governments – can tell you this.
    We sink shafts, and then develop galleries, hundreds of metres underground into a few of the tens of thousands of the huge buried salt domes that exist worldwide.
    These underground salt domes are: i) totally dry, ii) ‘plastic’, closing slowly around and thereby sealing any nuclear waste entombed in them, iii) they are completely unreactive (common salt NaCl, reacts with almost nothing), and iv) they are abundant.
    Erosion may ultimately expose the buried nuclear waste tens of millions of years from now, lomg after radioactive decay has rendered it totally harmless.
    Greenies, of course, don’t like this idea.
    Why? Because it is too obviously sensible.
    Bottom line: nuclear power is the only sensible solution to solve the world’s energy problems.

  25. …What we have not done is enable nuclear power to be used as much as it should, due to fears of nuclear waste…

    Alvin Weinberg, the inventor of the light water reactor, once said:
    “Nuclear waste is not a substance. Wasting valuable nuclear materials is only what stupid governments do.”
    What’s known as “nuclear waste” or “enrichment tailings” or “depleted uranium” is pure stored energy. Convertible to usable energy with long known technology that has been sabotaged and hindered by the same people that cry “global warming” today.
    With the reactors we use today we extract only 1% of the energy that could be extracted from the uranium we mine.

  26. The future will always happen , its just that our ability to predict the future is very weak. If you tell me that” the sun will come up tomorrow”, I’m with you and “Anne” on that. I just don’t see a China brown haze or a China Syndrome 20 years from now (2030) let alone 40 (2050) or 65 (2075). If there is anything to learn over the last 3 days when Roy Spence observed that the sea temperatures have fallen and the satalite tempertures are rising, the disconnect between the two (sun heats water yielding evaporation and the greenhouse gas water vapor heats up the atmosphere. When sea temperatures fall, there is a lot less evaporation, hence atmospheric cooling) speaks loudly of our poor understanding of weather, climate, forcings and feedback, not withstanding some people’s beliefs. If we just put our hands in our pockets and say “ah shucks nothing bad is going to happen” are unaware of energic and committed individuals arriving on the scene and “tipping point” circumstances, which will alter our pathway to clean energy. Random walk anyone? Magnificent day today, go for a stoll.

  27. Tommy says:
    October 8, 2010 at 11:33 am
    “Tax the rich to feed the poor.
    Till there are no rich no more.”
    Ten Years After
    “One for you
    Nineteen for me.”
    Taxman by Beatles
    Sometimes even artists get it right.

  28. Henry Pool said:
    I am pretty sure all of this reasoning wrong.
    You see, water (vapor) is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.
    Nuclear power generates a lot of heat, which has be led off by cooling with water, usually from the oceans.
    When all of that water vapor (from the process) condenses, the heat is released in the atmosphere. I assume 50% goes to space and the other 50% is directed back to earth.

    That may be true for the Uranium fueled Nuclear power plant. There was a competing fuel source in the early Nuclear industry called Thorium. But because the military wanted fissionable material, Uranium won. The reactor design called LFTR (pronounced Lifter) is a liquid salt Thorium reactor that is self regulating and does not require vast amounts of cooling water. I’ve read that a power plant can even be located in desert areas with no issues. One benefit of Thorium reactors is that it can eat nuclear waste from Uranium fuels plants, plus it’s waste has a short half life. I’m no expert on Thorium reactors, but it looks like a good road to take. But because it has the word Nuclear in it’s name, it’s looked in the same light as our current reactor population.
    Regards..

  29. I agree with most of this. The point about clean air technology should probably be used to moderate the alarmism around the grey skies notion. Otherwise this all makes sense.

  30. Douglas DC says:
    October 8, 2010 at 11:00 am
    “Split atoms, not birds.”
    Heh, that would make a great bumpersticker (unless it already is one and I missed it).

  31. “R. de Haan says:
    October 8, 2010 at 11:37 am
    “I assume, then, that the voracious appetite for energy in the developing world will mostly be satisfied with coal, and that in 40 years we will be consuming more than three times as much energy as we do today–mostly generated by coal.
    I personally consider that a grave problem for the world, no matter what it portends for global temperatures”.
    And what exactly is your problem with that?”
    Exactly. Use coal to produce electricity for the people who don’t have it by now – China, India, Pakistan, Africa. This will solve far more problems than it can cause. The Chinese are doing exactly that, and they are the most successful nation on Earth ATM (In terms of growth).
    Here in the West we have more and more dimwits who say “Growth is bad”, i beg all of these people to convince the Chinese first, and i wish them much fun doing that, or alternatively they may read Björn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist, where he outlines the relation between GDP per capita and pollution. You have near-zero pollution in pre-industrial civilisations, a lot of pollution during industrialization, and it drops again as people become wealthy enough to care for the environment.
    Also, over the decades, with more advanced technology, the absolute levels of pollution for any given level of GDP per capita has dropped. IOW, the industrialization of China causes much less pollution per capita than the industrialization of Germany did in the 19th century. The power plants they build now are much more efficient than what we had back then, quite simple really.
    (I don’t count CO2 as pollution. It’s biodegradable.)

  32. Nuclear.
    Not entirely without its achilles heel, ECONOMICS, one consumes the other quite nicely. Its been clear, for a while, that regulatory bodies can be captured by vested interests. When that happens, safe-gaurds diminish, accidents happen.
    It’d be fair to say that the Nuclear industries are subject to the same unwholesome greed as any other. So whats to be done? How do we increase Nuclear energy use, but decrease the risk of political corruption undermining it? Do we create a watchdog to watch the watchdog?
    The tech is there, no doubt, so its ceased to be an issue of failsafes and containment.
    The weak link is, as always, Human self interest topping prudent caution.
    While Nuclear could keep the Human race ticking over nicely for centuries to come, we would need a revolution in business/political and scientific ethics to safely use it.
    Theres where the evolution needs to happen.

  33. Who was it Hitler or some other well known dictator who said if you are going to tell a lie, tell a big one and tell it often because the more you tell it the more people will believe it.
    Global warming advocates favor any means to satisfy their desires to save the planet. They offer predictions of global disaster to the point of being impossible in nature. And they have used movie stars, cartoons, fictional movies and politicians seeking taxes and company CEOs looking for business to promote a fear in man made global warming without an ounce of proof.
    Is this the way we are to make life changing decisions, by advertisement, fear, taxes, fiction, opportunism, slander, and hiding proof. Well the list of their tactics is long and the proof is short.

  34. We are going to be using a LOT of coal in the future – though not quite in the ways that we think.
    Coal to liquids (Fischer – Topsch) can be used to crack coal and produce shorter hydrocarbons – synthetic diesel being a very desirable product. Essentially it is a refinery for coal. Do it correctly, and you can capture and sequester CO2 (up here, they are talking about reinjecting them into depleted oil reservoirs to enhance recovery). Once you crack the coal, you can recombine it into whatever hydrocarbon you’d like, though the shorter the output moecule, the more extra hydrogen you need.
    The other thing available worldwide is a LOT of is natural gas – both in shale and in reserviours. There is also a significant amount in offshore hydrates that are not yet mined.
    I could see a very long time with a combination of CTLs, GTLs, synthetic diesel, natural gas and nuclear as an energy future that is both robust and affordable, not to mention available for centuries.
    India is also workign on a program for thorium-fueled reactors. The Navy beleives they have somethign with the Bussard-designed Polywell fusion Wiffleball testbed. We will see.
    The point of all this is that there are energy sources that are clean, affordable and robust – and won’t run out for centuries. And I have come to believe that the world will migrate to synthetic diesel as the most economic liquid fuel, if for no other reason that won’t have to replace a century’s worth of transportation fuel infrastructure.

  35. I read somewhere recently (I can’t remember where, sorry) that China was now buying its coal-fired generating technology from Siemens of Germany, which is state-of-the-art as far as emissions are concerned.

  36. One of my guilty pleasures is reading. Today I read that Wegman is being investigated for academic misconduct.
    Who will go down with him? Barton ; an unidicted co-conspiritor. Some plagerising PHD’s. McIntyre- too much invested in a false ” bad science” shriek. Cuchilleni: plagerised the plagerism. Watts.
    Go Mike. Go John. Go Ray.
    REPLY: Ah, more of your fine prose I see. You may wish to employ a spell checker before pressing submit. I’m not sure that you can fully understand the words indicted, conspirator, PhD, plagiarism, plagiarizing, or plagiarized if you can’t spell them properly. 😉 A review of your past comments here shows an equal spread of similarly misspelled foaming taunts. Actually, I think this issue is a good thing. The question is: was this intentional or accidental? Was it Wegman himself or an assistant? Meanwhile, the other issues of the report get more press. -Anthony

  37. DirkH says:
    October 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm
    “No grey skies here”
    Apart from the German weather, of course. Which means, often; but entirely natural.

  38. No single site as done more for the skeptical viewpoint than WUWT. Reading this sites articles and comments leads one to the conclusion that we have been winning the battle. People should realize that here (WUWT), we are preaching to the converted. Many have been lulled by the comfort of commenting to “like” thinking individuals.
    However, the battle for minds, and truth is not necessarily being won at other discussion forums. A major setback has been AccuWeather’s Global Warming blog, which once was mainly skeptical and then subsequently revamped to new moderators. Skeptic commenters have systematically been banned and hounded out of this forum until there is barely 3 left (including myself).
    It would be nice if some people, who enjoy basking in the warm glow of peer approval here, would perhaps, risk a little heat, in the open forum there. There are so few “neutral” forums, I would hate to see this one lost. It may already be lost.
    http://forums.accuweather.com/index.php?showtopic=22788&pid=1071705&st=80&#entry1071705
    On this page, there is a vicious attack against Willis Eschenbach. Moderation seems to be applied only against skeptics. I have been moderated to death and can no longer defend such fine people. GK

  39. FWIW, the issue with reprocessing is potential diversion to weapons which is why the US does not favor it. If you are interested in advanced reactors, Barry Brook’s Brave New Climate is a good place to find information as is his new book. You can find some useful links to other books in the comments at Rabett Run and you can find discussions of the pros, not so much of the cons, of the thorium reactors at nuclear green
    Excuse Eli for the moment. He has some sputter to clean up after reading the post.

  40. I am as worried about the problems for coal decades from now as I am about the projected whale oil crisis of the 19th century, and the projected horse manure disposal crisis of the early 20th century, and the predicted famine of the 1980s and 1990s, and the predicted global cooling crisis of the 70s.

  41. As can be seen here, the Chinese apply for world bank loans for flue gas desulphurization projects.
    http://www.devex.com/projects/shandong-power-plant-flue-gas-desulphurization-project-in-china
    So, they might as yet not be affluent enough to spend their own money on this. But it’s a good opportunity for world bank money to do something useful IMHO. I would be expecting falling levels of pollution in China, even as they ramp up their electricity generation.

  42. G. Karst says:
    October 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm
    Sir, having been a commentor/sceptic at the blog Little Green Footballs, I share your thinking that posting at shall we say unfriendly places is needed.
    Being vilified is not easy but necessary. Creationist is the new term for someone who doesnot accept AGW coupled with teh term anti-science. They despise Dr. Spencer because he is a Christian not because his science is good or bad. I pointed out that Newton was by thier definition a creationist so do they deny F=ma. That does upset them.
    Discussion and debate is healthy name calling is not.

  43. OT
    My apologies is this is poor form.
    Anthony, could we have a thread on the Wegman plagiarism thing?

  44. Henry said
    I am pretty sure all of this reasoning wrong.
    You see, water (vapor) is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. Nuclear power generates a lot of heat, which has to be led off by cooling with water, usually from the oceans.
    When all of that water vapor (from the process) condenses, the heat is released in the atmosphere. I assume 50% goes to space and the other 50% is directed back to earth.
    Mike Helfrich wrote
    That may be true for the Uranium fueled Nuclear power plant. There was a competing fuel source in the early Nuclear industry called Thorium. But because the military wanted fissionable material, Uranium won. The reactor design called LFTR (pronounced Lifter) is a liquid salt Thorium reactor that is self regulating and does not require vast amounts of cooling water. I’ve read that a power plant can even be located in desert areas with no issues. One benefit of Thorium reactors is that it can eat nuclear waste from Uranium fuels plants, plus it’s waste has a short half life. I’m no expert on Thorium reactors, but it looks like a good road to take. But because it has the word Nuclear in it’s name, it’s looked in the same light as our current reactor population.
    Regards..
    Henry wrote
    Interesting indeed. Why have I never heard of such an energy making process?
    However, even on the grander scale of things: I doubt if nuclear energy would make any difference on global warming, if ever global warming is or does become a problem.
    I did a simple experiment with my 50 m2 swimming pool here and came to some staggering results: 2500 liters of water evaporated in one week (no clouds, 31-34 C outside max during day, temp of water 25-26C). Now try and work out how much (shallow) water must be kept in store for every person on the planet, both for consumption and for irrigation for food, and remember that the heat that comes free when one mole of water (18g) condenses is 40.7 kJ…

  45. It looks like Lawrenceville Plasma Physics “Focus Fusion”, a dense plasma focus, is on track to achieve net gain fusion in the near future. They recently achieved ion energies exceeding 100 keV ( over 1 billion K ).
    Regarding a shot at 143 keV (1.6 billion K):

    If we can achieve the same conditions with pB11 as we did with D in shot 93002, we would expect a pB11 fusion yield of about 0.5 J.

    http://www.lawrencevilleplasmaphysics.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=61&Itemid=79
    They seem to be on the right track. Compare their budget of around 2 million in a space the size of a two car garage to ITER costing billions and of mammoth proportions.

  46. Jim Cripwell,
    Shell Oil bought a controlling interest in Iogen a few years back. They are looking for something they can patent. I don’t believe Shell has any interest in producing ethanol in “commercial” quantities at this time (or the near future.) Range went, in my opinion, the wrong direction. They went the “Thermal” route, and that process is looking problematic (expensive) when compared to the “Enzymatic” processes.
    Keep an eye on Fiberight, Poet, and Inbicon (also, the Univ of Tennessee project down at Vonore, Tn.) They use enzymes from Novozymes, and Dupont Danisco (among others.) Poet is a very well-run company, and the world’s largest producer of ethanol. They’re hoping to begin construction on their first “commercial-scale” facility by the end of the year, and are looking to be profitable, sans any subsidies, at about $2.00/gal. I wouldn’t bet against them. They’ve been working on this for several years, and they know the business. They will utilize corn cobs, and part, about 1/3 of the “stover” (husks, leaves, stalks, etc.) As I said, this is a solid, superbly-run company, and they have the knowledge, and contacts to be successfu. They’ve never, as far as I’m aware, made any projections that they couldn’t accomplish.
    Fiberight is composed of executives from the waste management, and brewing industries. They make ethanol out of Municipal Waste. They expect to hit max production in their first facility in 2011. They’re projecting profitability at $1.60/gal. – also, w/o any subsidies along the way.
    Note: often overlooked in discussions of “Cellulosic” Ethanol is the great amount of lignin left over from the process, even after providing power for the plant, itself. It’s becoming accepted, now, that virtually all cellulosic plants will be co-located with (or built in conjunction with) Electricity Power Stations. This is Not a small thing.
    Considering that about 5% of the average county planted in switchgrass would replace All of the “Imported” oil used in that county, and that you get as many btus for electricity generation from lignin as you get in btus from ethanol I would surmise, although I haven’t run the numbers yet, that you would replace a Large percentage of the fossil fuel-generated electricity for that region.
    Of course, the neat thing about switchgrass, miscanthus, etc is you only have to replant every nine or ten years, they don’t require irrigation, and you only use nitrogen fertilizer the first one, or two years (you don’t have to do that, but it will increase the yields.)
    Hope that helped a little.

  47. You’ll get no argument from me on more use of nuclear/hydro/etc Thomas. In fact the lack of a huge push of these technologies from the warmistas simply, imho, reveals them for what they are, drones of a movement meant to starve the general population of power and thus starve them of freedom. Well-meaning or not, their push is for power solutions that frankly reduce the amount of power available, not increase it as it must increase with increasing population to say nothing of developing countries. It seems as if the world push for fusion power was stalled entirely with the nuclear scare, and humanity has just decided to take steps back in its own progress because of this. It used to be that new electricity generation was regarded as a shining example of human progress, now our ruling class has latched onto an idea that will make the use of electricity a luxury item and any/all human progress is questioned before it is even attempted. We just started researching carbon nanotubes as a potential game-changing new material less than ten years ago, and there are virtually no products in the world that rely on them, yet already we have “studies” about their potentially detrimental health affects on humans. It is really quite disgusting and should not have happened so soon.

  48. Thomas,
    I appreciate your perspectives. I understand your point that energy demand and production continues to escalate, as the less developed portions of the planet strive for higher living standards. I don’t share as much concern about continued use of coal for energy production however.
    Back in the ’80s, I regularly flew into LA from St. Louis. Each time we would descend for landing, we would descend into the orange brown cloud of pollution that was always hanging over LA then. My eyes would burn and my sinuses itch for the duration of my LA stay, from the irritation. On the ground, you couldn’t see the mountains just 20-30 miles away, the air was so opaque! As the 90’s rolled into 2000, energy consumption continued to increase…. but the LA air became cleaner and clearer. Today, when I visit LA, total energy use is higher than ever and yet there is little indication of air pollution, at least to one who has seen the full progression from its worst!
    My point is this. Suitable applications of regulation and technology developments have proven effective at dramatically improving air quality there and elsewhere, even as total energy consumption has continued to rise. The LA basin is proof of that fact. With +200 years of proven coal reserves within the contiguous US, at 2007 energy consumption rates, our national energy independence is readily at hand. Proven gasification and catalysis methods for converting coal to nearly any synthetic form of fuel (gasoline, diesel/jet fuel, lubricants, natural gas, etc) at a cost ‘break even’ equivalent less than current oil price ($US/bbl) are being tested in progressively larger scale plants today. As such, coal is and should be one of our primary energy sources for the next 100 years!
    With sizable additions of efficient nuclear power, reasonable regulation, and ever improving combustion, catalytic, and scrubber technologies, we already have a viable plan for US national energy independence with a cleaner environment to boot!

  49. Tom,
    I can see what you are getting at, but unfortunately we are where we are, not where we would like to be. The plain fact is that unless CAGW and the mania to demonise CO2 isn’t knocked on the head soon, more of the energies of the human race will be wasted on a non-problem; societal and economic changes will be made, supposedly to bring about a pre-industrial Arcadian idyll, in my opinion likely to turn out as nothing of the sort; science will degenerate into a sort of priestcraft; the developments you’d like to see will become difficult and perhaps impossible.
    So, priorities have to be ordered and efforts made where they appear to be most needed and likely to do the most good.

  50. mkelly says:
    October 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm
    “I pointed out that Newton was by thier definition a creationist so do they deny F=ma. ”
    Reminds me of the Pakistani school kid that asked his teacher whether Muhammad’s parents were Muslim.

  51. Does anyone know how much energy is required to scrub smoke of sulphurs and carbon? Is it energy efficient?

  52. Mr. Fuller you worry too much. Especially about things that are out of your control.
    You are correct that nuclear power has been stymied unnecessarily and that further developed over the next thirty years it could provide a cornucopia of electricity.
    You are too starry eyed about combined heat and power because the efficiency of modern plant means you have to sacrifice electric power for heat as well as balance the demand for the two in the short term and seasonally. It is inefficient and uneconomic to turn a third of your electric generation into about three to four times as much heat half of which is likely to lost in the steam heating line distribution. Thus it is impractical except for small scale applications or the colder reaches of the Northern hemisphere towards the Arctic circle.
    It is notable that district heating in the UK vanished very quickly once the national natural gas grid was completed in the 1970’s, it is much cheaper and more efficient to pipe the gas and burn it on site where and when heat is wanted and leave electric generation to look after itself. For comparison in the UK coal fired district heat and power would increase electric costs by fifty percent, the district heating cost would be between two and three times the cost of burning gas directly, the CO2 output per unit of total useable energy delivered would be about one and a half times and the capital cost of the plant also about one and half times: these figures would be even worse for the modern gas/steam combined cycle generating stations.
    Politicians and commentators either forget or do not know that all these solutions have been tried and tested and there is no universal panacea, local circumstance dictate what solution will be best in terms of cost and efficiency: and that gains are incremental over decades not instant at the snap of the fingers.
    Thus except for small local uses wind is useless and solar power could be useful as a bit player in sunnier parts of the world especially for hot water. Major hydroelectric plant and pumped storage are efficient and useful but many rivers also need to supply irrigation. Small scale hydroelectric can also be handy but there is a limit to how much energy you can extract from a small river especially in winter for fear of freezing it up.
    Tidal power is proven in terms of practicality if not economics, I note again the Severn barrage has been canceled, must be the fifth time since it was first proposed in the 1920’s: and at least tidal power is predictable. Wave power has possibilities because in effect it is collecting wind over a vast area of sea and is predictable to some extent but again remains to be proven. Geothermal power is fine if you live close to a volcano but not my choice: I prefer my local volcano extinct.
    Nor do I think your projections of likely fuel consumption realistic. Much of the current economic development is in warmer climes where the demand for space heating is low: whilst there will be demand for cooling this needs much less power by a factor of at least five to one. Likewise development is occurring in very densely populated areas where demand for transport is much less than the USA.
    Moreover I do not see why you should be frightened about the use of fossil fuels. If it is an idea that they will run out perhaps they will but not for several hundred years yet and who knows where we shall be by then? Extraction companies don’t bother to look beyond the medium term, one or two decades, because they don’t need to, sometimes governments try to but are hampered by not knowing what new technology will emerge to meet the need, and of course the reserves of coal and peat are not just vast so are those of oil and above all else natural gas. We shan’t be running out any time soon: it is just a question of the price and the ransom demanded by rapacious governments for producing and using them.
    If it is CO2 well perhaps fossil fuel emissions affect the atmospheric levels and perhaps not. We shall find out in the next thirty years or so. Either way it does not much matter since we already know that the biosphere can easily cope with this: and it would almost certainly be beneficial. And we could do with a bit more warming if CO2 can do that: but I doubt it.
    So Sir I repeat: you worry too much. It is all going to happen however much you might deplore it. The next few generations will take it all in their stride.
    Kindest Regards.

  53. Thank you for a thought-provoking post, Mr. Fuller!
    Indeed, these are interesting times….China is putting one new coal-fired powerplant online every week or so, and these are technologically more advanced than our grandfathered-in coal burners:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11coal.html
    The USA has proven that, when the population gets behind something because of sound science, we all push together and good things happen. Look at the Clean Air Act and banning leaded gasoline…the quality of our environment has improved greatly from this single policy, cars run even better than before, emissions are down, etc. This all happened in a very short time period if you recall (catalytic converters in all cars).
    When we want to change history, we do exactly that. I’m an optimist, there are many fine choices on the energy-plate for the American citizens to chose from. I think we’ll do fine, and I wouldn’t want to live in China (notice their latest raucous protest against the government of Norway regarding the Nobel Peace Prize?)
    http://asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2724&Itemid=171

  54. Phillip Bratby and others are right about coal. Untreated, its flue gases contain real pollutants such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and mercury. That’s why you see grey skies and dangerous smog in, for example, Chinese cities. But new and proven technologies – now being adopted in China and throughout the West – virtually eliminate all this, leaving non-polluting CO2 and steam. Coal is a plentiful resource. So the optimum solution is to replace and supplement old coal plants with new, high efficiency fluid bed technology plants equipped with latest flue gas cleanup systems. Instead – at least in the UK – we are phasing out our coal use and moving instead to “renewables” (especially wind) and – possibly – nuclear. It’s an absurd policy.

  55. Tom, I’ve gotten after you before about this. There is no need for the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker to gather and decide on what energy mix to effect. It was never necessary before and it isn’t necessary now. The current craziness in which these three and wimpy, pliable governments have allowed and pushed ridiculously uneconomic, cash burning renewable energy upon us and disrupted real energy producing technologies (as well as jacked up food prices because we burn it) seems to have created the impression that the good burghers have been meeting regularly over the centuries to select and endorse the sources of energy we should use.
    All of you who use a priori reasoning as your guide in this matter, listen up.
    While you are sleeping, engineers are busy resolving all your energy problems for you(and if that isn’t enough, all society’s other practical problems, too) , including responding to the environmental side. Moreover, mindful of our limited amount of cash in the face of the many legitimate human demands on it, they are selecting on the basis of an old, but recently tattered and disparaged discipline called economics. Had economics and sound engineering not been swept aside by very well-meaning environmental activists and leaderless governments we wouldn’t have wasted trillions of dollars on false Utopian “free” energy projects that were going to also boost economic activity (that should have made the wise suspicious at the outset!)
    Tom, and anyone else who believes in the crises awaiting us after “peak oil”, “peak coal”, “resource limits”, or any other of such terms coined by Club of Rome-Malthusian type thinkers, let it go, do what you do best -butch, bake, and candlesticks make while trusting that others who do what they do best will give you all smooth transitions to the most reliable and cheapest, safest and cleanestk, abundant energy to be had as the future rolls along seamlessly in the energy department. I think a good post would be to quantify the econonmics and practicality of the various energy technologies – I know it has been done piecemeal on windmills, etc (anyone?)
    “… the words engine and engineer (as well as ingenious) developed in parallel from the Latin root ingeniosus, meaning “skilled”. An engineer is thus a clever, practical, problem solver. The spelling of engineer was later influenced by back-formation from engine (only in English though-GP). The term later evolved to include all fields where the skills of application of the scientific method are used. (This is a good place to note that rocket science is a misnomer and should be rocket engineering- GP)”
    http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=engineer%20etymology&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA.
    Not a bad definition but incomplete without the “economics” limitation on choice.

  56. Dear Mr. Fuller,
    I do like your writing style, honestly. Unfortunatelly, I can’t agree with your cause.
    Let’s wait for the coming winter, let us endure ’em and let’s talk again next april.
    Regards
    KlausB

  57. It seems that Mr. Fuller has now become a “regional warmist” instead of a “global warmist”. Progress indeed!

  58. Diversion of plutonium from “spent” nuclear fuel (SNF) is a bogus issue. cf. Why Modern Used Nuclear Fuel Cannot Be Used to Make a Weapon, Why You Can’t Build a Bomb From Spent Fuel. We’d built a reprocessing plant and were about ready to start it up when then-President Carter killed with an executive order “in order to set an example”. Well, no one followed our example. We’ve now got thirty-plus years worth of SNF sitting in ponds.
    But it doesn’t have to be buried, it can be used in Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs), either as starter charges (LFTR) or fuel. The MSR was investigated by Oak Ridge back in the 1960s, the physics are proven, as is most of the technology. It would take some time and money to make it a commercial technology.
    Non-Tokamak fusion reactor research is coming along, there are at least two or three projects with promise. The Polywell project is far enough along that we’ll know if it will be a viable power source within the next year or less. Dense Plasma Focus is being researched at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics. If either of these pan out (and we’ll know within a couple of years) then commercial fusion power will be a reality in perhaps ten years. And that changes everything.

  59. (and I do believe it will do something, warming regional temperatures and causing further misery in the developing world)
    Or just maybe it will do something to end the misery of a lot of people living in awful areas.
    Pollution in China
    http://www.chinahush.com/2009/10/21/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china/
    The pollution in those pics is not the horror story.The horror story is the pics of the people with cancer,left to die in hovels in agony.
    So Mr Fuller
    Do you want to keep your foot on China’s neck,and say leave them in poverty to save my world?
    http://news.cnet.com/FAQ-All-about-coal–a-necessary-evil/2100-13840_3-6220946.html
    Steadily, but ominously. Coal accounted for 26 percent of energy consumed in 2004 worldwide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, and will grow to 28 percent by 2030. Total energy consumption, however, will be going up a few percentage points a year, so in that same period of time, coal consumption will rise a whopping 74 percent, form 114.4 quadrillion BTUs to 199 quadrillion BTUs.
    India and China will account for 72 percent of the increase, but coal consumption is expected to also rise in Russia, South Africa, and the U.S. The U.S. is something of a wild card. With carbon taxes and more alternative energy, the growth could decline, but coal will still be a big part of the energy profile.

  60. “It’s been a lovely fall in many parts of the world, and a less than lovely spring in many parts down South. But overall, be prepared for claims of the hottest month leading to the hottest year on record.”
    ===
    Let them say what they will, I’ll listen to this voice for the moment:
    “A little maple began it, flaming blood-red of a sudden where he stood against the dark green of a pine-belt. Next morning there was an answering signal from the swamp where the sumacs grow. Three days later, the hill-sides as fast as the eye could range were afire, and the roads paved, with crimson and gold. Then a wet wind blew, and ruined all the uniforms of that gorgeous army; and the oaks, who had held themselves in reserve, buckled on their dull and bronzed cuirasses and stood it out stiffly to the last blown leaf, till nothing remained but pencil-shadings of bare boughs, and one could see into the most private heart of the woods.”
    ~Mr. Kipling

  61. Gary Pearse, well said. The engineers have always ridden to the rescue, and we always will.
    If anyone actually believes in an imminent shortage of coal, oil, or natural gas, there are futures markets where one should make a fortune. Good luck with that.

  62. Eli Rabett says:
    October 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm
    FWIW, the issue with reprocessing is potential diversion to weapons which is why the US does not favor it….

    Eli, that is just another one of the many urban myths that surround nuclear power.
    Not one nation that posesses nuclear weapons has ever used reprocessed nuclear waste from power reactors as source material for bombs.
    There’s a simple reason for that:
    For an uranium based bomb it is far cheaper and less problematic to use natural uranium. The U235 content of nuclear waste is about the same as that of natural uranium, but natural urananium does contain highly radioactive fission products and is therefore far easier to enrich. And natural uranium does exist almost everywhere on earth in sufficient quantities to produce nuclear bombs if a nation really wants it.
    The plutonium in nuclear waste from power reactors has a far too low an isotopic purity to be used for plutonium based weapons. Current enrichment technology does not allow to process reactor grade Pu to bomb-usable almost pure Pu-239. It can’t be done, even with todays modern technology. All the plutonium for Pu-based nukes has always been produced by specialized Pu production reactors, which are actually simpler to build than power reactors, but require far different construction.
    The real reason the US abandoned reprocessing under Carter is that the enrichment infrastructure would be far less needed. And that infrastructure can be used for U-enrichment to bombs too. See the controversy around Iran.
    BTW, the prohibition against reprocessing in the US has ended a long time ago. The reason the US does not reprocess today has more to do with NIMBY, anti-nuclear activists, and because the current price of uranium is to low to make it very economical in the US.
    The Koreans are pursuing a different strategy:
    The used fuel from light water reactors can be re-shaped into different sized fuel rods and can be used, without reprocessing, in CANDU heavy water reactors to produce again the same amount of energy.
    And breeder reactors, like the IFR program that was stopped under Clinton, can use 60-80% of the energy of the raw uranium or reprocessed waste without producing long half-life waste. Same for the Thorium reactors like the LFTR.

  63. DirkH says:
    October 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm
    DirkH says:
    October 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm
    “No grey skies here”
    “Apart from the German weather, of course. Which means, often; but entirely natural”.
    Right, and this despite the fact that the Germans besides coal are burning that extremely dirty Brown Coal.
    We can live with that and still breathe fresh air.
    Right

  64. KLA says:
    October 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm
    Eli Rabett says:
    October 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm
    FWIW, the issue with reprocessing is potential diversion to weapons which is why the US does not favor it….
    Eli, that is just another one of the many urban myths that surround nuclear power.
    Not one nation that posesses nuclear weapons has ever used reprocessed nuclear waste from power reactors as source material for bombs.
    _______________________________________________
    I beg your pardon Sir but the whole UK Magnox reactor programme was not only for producing civil electric power but to provide easily refined plutonium essentially for military use in atomic bombs. The reactors proved hugely successful as a civil power programme, but in an age of fission/fusion weapons the amount of plutonium produced turned out be a costly embarrassment.
    Kindest Regards

  65. While I do understand the exasperation displayed in this post, this situation is not of our making. It has its roots in Kyoto, where instead of working out technology transfers with developing countries so that they wouldn’t pollute the way we did, the emphasis was put on CO2 and its control.
    Energy use is inexorably linked to prosperity, and this will continue until population growth stabilises, and that won’t happen until there is more prosperity in the developing and underdeveloped countries.
    When there used to be brownouts in the West, there was a statistically significant rise in the number of births nine months later. What’s your average Ugandan to do when night falls, and he can’t even play tiddlywinks because he has no light? Couple that with limited access to contraception, and you get lots of kids who need to be fed, clothed, housed and educated, all requiring even more energy.
    In many western countries, we’re not even growing enough children to keep population at the same level, so if we can elevate the poorer countries, we’ll get to a situation where population stabilises and we’ll be recycling things like housing and other consumables, and not needing as much energy growth. So in a sense, it’s in our own selfish interest to help these people raise their standard of living.
    Just twelve years ago, oil was at $10 a barrel. At that price, it wasn’t worth trying to be efficient with it. Nor was it worth looking for more as that would only depress the price further. Two years ago, oil hit $145 a barrel. People started downsizing their cars and turning their lights off. There were huge oil finds in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Brazil, among others, because now it was worth our while to look for it. Renewables also became viable, and we started looking at and discovering other alternatives like tar sands, oil and gas shale, methane clathrates, etc, etc, etc.
    There is no shortage of energy, it is really a matter of what price we are willing to pay for it.
    The real dichotomy is, is that here in the West we can afford the higher price, but the poorer countries are not going to be able to raise their standard of living such that they can stabilise their populations. If we can solve that problem, then it’s very likely that we will not need to expand our energy use to the levels you’ve projected.

  66. What a perfect post, I wonder what nature has in store to cull us humans, what is going on is unsustainable and nature has a way of dealing with that, I worry about this, one thing, the China industry is fuelled by brown coal I think (except the vast amounts Obama sells to them from USA) I suggest we stop buying from China and India, that would help big time.

  67. Anthony,
    Thank you for your open venue, I cannot criticize your self stated values here in your own home.
    At the same time, on the height of achievment, the course becomes more dependent on a long view . . . . . at the height of achievement philosophies, civilizations, businesses decline . . . . . thus the meaning of “the height of acheivement”. Can we re-invent ourselfs at the self defining moment of our success? Ahhhhh . . . . not so obvious.
    Sincere good luck to you. Your achievement has been unquestionable.
    John

  68. Tom says: “What we have not done is finance Waste to Energy plants, due to the pressing need for cash for, I don’t know, financing Facebook and American Idol. ”
    And a good bowl of salted porridge is enough to exist. But we like to eat pizza. That’s Pareto Optimality for you – we like to have some enjoyment in our lives rather than simply exisiting. It’s the poorest who will be forced closer to mere existence if you insist on imposing your cherished principles upon them.
    You are free to spend to your heart’s desire on your dreams. No need to kick out at the masses with complaints around vague notions of collective failure.
    Tom says: “What we have not done is … clear the way for pumped storage for a not-so-rainy day, or invest in other utility-level storage technologies.”
    Large scale energy storage doesn’t simple store energy. It returns about 75% of the energy put in. Consider what that can do to total energy consumption. There is an economic case for storage – it’s not a free ride that we somehow seem to have missed.
    Tom says: “And skeptics have been too busy noting all of their errors, personal quirks and logical absurdities to notice that yes, people, we have an energy problem coming down the road.”
    Absurdities like it takes a hell of a lot of energy to bury CO2. Every three power stations with carbon capure and storage would consume enough “parasitic” power to account for a fourth whole power station.
    You don’t think these things are worth talking about?

  69. a jones says:
    October 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm
    KLA says:
    October 8, 2010 at 3:19 pm
    Eli Rabett says:
    October 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm
    FWIW, the issue with reprocessing is potential diversion to weapons which is why the US does not favor it….
    Eli, that is just another one of the many urban myths that surround nuclear power.
    Not one nation that posesses nuclear weapons has ever used reprocessed nuclear waste from power reactors as source material for bombs.
    _______________________________________________
    I beg your pardon Sir but the whole UK Magnox reactor programme was not only for producing civil electric power but to provide easily refined plutonium essentially for military use in atomic bombs. The reactors proved hugely successful as a civil power programme, but in an age of fission/fusion weapons the amount of plutonium produced turned out be a costly embarrassment.
    Kindest Regards

    You are proving my point.
    The Magnox reactors were designed as Pu production reactors. That their waste heat was also used for electricity production is more of a “side business”. They were also a unique UK design. That they were more succesful as electricity producers than as weapons grade Pu producers is a function of their use.
    But the majority of nuclear power reactors in the world are light water reactors designed for electricity production.
    When I was talking about reactor waste from power reactors I mean exactly that:
    Waste from reactors designed to produce electricity, not from reactors designed to produce plutonium.
    This means they are run with high fuel “burnup”, which means the uranium fuel rods are irradiated in the reactor for years. And that means that those Pu isotopes that make the Pu unusable for bombs builds up to a level where it can’t be used for weapons.
    Refueling such a reactor shuts it down for electricity production for a week or two. But to produce weapons grade Pu you need to limit the irradiation of uranium to a month or so. Not a way to produce electricity if you have to shut the reactor down 50% of the time it could produce electricity.

  70. KLA says:
    October 8, 2010 at 4:37 pm
    I don’t disagree with you Sir that in general nuclear reactors for civil power are not capable of producing overmuch plutonium: it is simply not a problem. Nor if funding can be found will the next generation, and indeed there are fascinating possibilities ahead, if they can be realised after thirty years of neglect. And the loss of a whole generation of potential nuclear physicists, engineers and technicians.
    The point I made was that contrary to your assertion the UK, which by then had nuclear weapons, did devise and use the Magnox programme to produce plutonium for further weapons: as well as providing electricity for civil uses.
    Kindest Regards

  71. When diesel can produced from cyanobacteria for less than fossil deposits using waste water at sewerage plants these petty anxieties will be over – we’ll all enjoy energy security, coal and oil will just be raw material for plastics, and uranium can sit in the ground. Utopia is just a gene tweak away.

  72. Sorry if someone has commented on this already.
    I scream BS on this!

    The Green Consortium that has been yelling at us about climate change and energy has ignored all of the technologies that could make a difference. And skeptics have been too busy noting all of their errors, personal quirks and logical absurdities to notice that yes, people, we have an energy problem coming down the road.

    Sceptics have all along been saying research nuclear, greens have consistently denied that research!
    That’s as far as I got before I just HAD to scream.
    Sorry, back to reading the story.
    DaveE.

  73. Roger Sowell says:
    October 8, 2010 at 11:28 am
    Hear, hear, I agree. The problems will be solved and we’re not going to run out of oil or coal any time soon.
    Do we have to be looking for alternatives? Yes! As Roger says, wind & Solar don’t cut it, (at least not for electrical energy). Solar looks good for (pre) heating though, even in northern climes.
    DaveE.

  74. The reason for the resistance to change can be found in the Declaration of Independence:
    “that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”.
    While that applied to governments, it is equally applicable to current methods of energy production.
    Until the day comes that it finally dawns on the average person that things need to be fixed nothing will really be accomplished. Over-hyping, exaggerations and manipulations are counter productive. People resist government intervention because most people believe governments to do what they do for political gain of those in power and nothing else. The people will get it when they get it and not a minute sooner. When they do, a way will be found to make it better. It’s been that way throughout history, it’s the nature of mankind. Or perhaps the time of men is over.

  75. So nuclear energy does not solve the warming problem. In fact it makes it worse.
    ——————————
    Time to shut down BBQ’s, campfires, gas ranges, gas water heaters, gas furnaces, cigarettes, all lighting etc. Then we can live in caves and slaughter whales for oil lamps.

  76. I personally think shale gas will be the energy source of the next generations simply because it is cheaper than coal.
    ————————————
    Well that takes care of the USA, most/all third world countries don’t have shale gas, and so in 30 years the developed countries will use shale gas and produce less pollution and the third world countries will pump use coal (only they’ll use 1960’s technology).

  77. I’m quite happy with developing countries burning coal to make energy, and oil and nuclear too. I wish them Godspeed in bringing their poor countries into the modern world. More energy generation means more wealth, a better standard of living, education, and eventually a high enough standard of living to be able to afford to clean up their local environments as we have.
    Only by gaining wealth will that ever happen and they need energy to do it. More power to them!

  78. David A Evans said:
    … Solar looks good for (pre) heating though, even in northern climes.
    It sounds good, it reads well on the promotional literature, and it’s heartily supported by the Green lobby, but frankly it’s a bit disappointing.
    I had the opportunity last year to see an installation in action at a coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley (NSW, Australia). It’s an advanced one of its type (CLFR – Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector), occupies a couple of football pitches, and is rated at about 4MW. But in practice it only provides about 2MW (in the form of pre-heated water to service the 4 x 500 MW coal-fired generators), and only then when the sun is shining brightly. When it’s overcast, it’s switched off.
    While it is a world-class, noble effort in its own terms, in terms of energy captured per dollar invested it’s hard not to think of it as a dud.
    If this technology struggles to produce an economic return in the sunny Hunter Valley at 32 degrees S latitude, it’s hard to see how it can be anything but an expensive subsidy attractor/tax waster in cooler climes.
    It’s always good to see people honestly trying to advance the cause of renewables to secure our longer term energy future, especially when they put their money where their mouth is. And it is only by trying out good ideas, one at a time, that any technology can reach its useful and viable threshold point.
    What concerns me at the moment is that agenda-driven AGW hysteria is forcing the early wastage of massive taxpayer funds on technologies that are not ready for prime time, and which lack the energy density to ever play more than point-solution roles in the longer term.
    If we can dispel the hysteria about the supposed need for desperate short-term action, our engineering community can do the necessary (and properly funded) work in a measured way to arrive at well thought-out and costed solutions for the future.

  79. Roger Sowell wrote:
    “Rest easy, Mr. Fuller. We, the engineers, got this one.”
    Whilst I totally agree in principle, I worry like hell in practice. We now live in an anti-development world, where the engineers are actively prevented from solving the worlds problems. Usually by nutcase greenies mouthing platitudes and having no technical education. (And I might add, I’m a contradiction: an engineer who has worked for years in pale-green industries to reduce power consumption, I detest waste of any kind, and I loathe greenies. Go figure!)
    If the current green / eco trends continue there merry ways, there won’t be any engineers to solve the problems. They will all have been sent off the the re-education camps. Or blown up by a small red button.

  80. Oh one more thing. I have a nasty feeling that wind power will be the next major real genuine global catastrophe.
    You can’t suck oodles of energy out of the plantary system without an effect, and wind is part of the here and now (as opposed to stored, as are fossil fuels). Extracting large amounts of energy from wind WILL have an effect, though god knows what it will be.
    In my most fevered imaginings it will slow planetary rotation. That’s probably fanciful. But I suspect there will be at least localised weather system changes where there are substantial installations of wind generation. In rough (engineering “order of magnitude is good enough”) terms – once you alter something by about 10% the effects can be seen. Once installed wind capacity gets to about 10% of the potential energy at a site, there has to be an effect at that site. (Based on the principle that there is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine, also known as the law of conservation of energy.)

  81. “The Green Consortium that has been yelling at us about climate change and energy has ignored all of the technologies that could make a difference.”
    We have to understand that they do not want solutions that do not include de-industrializing and stunted, if not stagnant, development. They want suffering in such a big way – they want us to suffer in worship of the planet – it’s a guilt thing for them, the pain makes them feel righteous.

  82. Re solar only producing power 4 hours per day – I suppose that is true depending on the location and season. But, in California, the link below shows much longer times per day. There is apparently some storage that allows solar power generation after sunset.
    Note also that the wind, on that particular day (10-7-2010) was fairly steady in generating power.
    http://www.caiso.com/green/renewrpt/DailyRenewablesWatch.pdf
    @ Harry the Hacker: I gently disagree with you on this one. Extracting energy from the wind has, and will have, no measurable effect on anything. This is because there is an unbelievable amount of energy in the wind, and our puny wind-turbines extract a miniscule amount of power from it. Air masses flow thousands of feet into the atmosphere, and our wind-turbines reach barely a few hundred feet.
    Also, re the engineers. Engineers have the knowledge, and it rests on immutable constants – that is why bridges (properly built) don’t fall down. Politicians, on the other hand, have policies that come and go. We are going through a temporary phase of a form of insanity with their policies. Those will change as their bad effects become more and more apparent. Even California, the land of fruits and nuts, will eventually realize that the over-zealous environmental regulations are less important than jobs for the citizens. Engineers go where there is work, and if that means to other states or other countries, we go there. I did. Others did, too.
    To the topic of energy, and providing long-term energy, policies that require 33 percent renewables (as in California) soon will be shown to be untenable. Policies that require CO2 capture and storage for coal-fired plants will produce very expensive electricity, and un-competitive products made with that electricity. The same is true for any new nuclear power plants in the USA – the power will cost too much. Stupid policies like those will be self-correcting. The evidence is there before us today: After a disastrous round of building 100 nuclear power plants in the USA, utilities came to their senses and stopped doing that. The resulting power prices were just too high, and their customers quit buying utility power and built their own power plants based on natural gas – which was (and still is) abundant and cheap. Some of those new power plants were co-generation, or what is sometimes referred to as combined heat and power. No laws required that, but simple economics made it inevitable.
    Engineers will be there to pick up the pieces and fix the problems resulting from idiotic policies. We always have been. And we always will be.

  83. Bob Highland says:
    October 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm
    I don’t doubt for a moment what you you say Sir but observe that for sheer lunacy in terms of energy and efficiency this must take the biscuit.
    Preheating intake water for any steam boiler station offers only marginal gains and is normally done by the economiser which extracts such heat as it can from the hot flue exhaust gas. Admittedly this has been strangled somewhat in recent years by emission control.
    But if I understand you correctly the figures speak for themselves: a notional 4MW for a 2000 MW station, whats that? less than 0.2% if you could get it.
    I simply cannot imagine who devised what our US friends would call this boondoggle or who pocketed the money by bemusing the politicians into paying for it: or by whatever means it was subsidised.
    It isn’t even modern high technology, that kind of solar water heater was developed over thirty years ago: we can do a lot better than that today: which does not mean it is either economical or commercially viable.
    Frankly your report, which I am sure is correct, leaves me flabbergasted.
    Kindest Regards

  84. A Jones, I found this report, which made its way into Engineers Australia magazine last year.
    http://www.ausramediaroom.com/common/pdf/mediaReports/july09-solar-augmentation-at-coal-fired-powerplant-engineers-australia.pdf
    It seems all parties are so thrilled about the 2MW of solar generation achieved that they are “in discussion with the Government regarding a potential $9.25million of funding to double the size of the system”. (A$1=$US1 at the moment.)
    Kevin Rudd (now ex-PM) used the opportunity of a speech at the power station to announce a $1.36 billion Solar Flagship program.
    $9.25m for 2MW, sunny daytime only? One could be forgiven for thinking this was a joke. It is, but the joke’s on us. Isn’t it always?
    Announce the existence of a money pit, and watch ’em all run to dip their snouts in.

  85. The best Fall in San Francisco was in 1906. After that a lot of strange ideas originated from there.
    Strange ideas come from Oz too. I’m guessing a bit here, but here is a partial list of organisations involved in a smart meter electricity program for East Australia.
    Federal parliament
    COAG
    Energy regulator
    State Government
    State Dept Primart Industries
    Electricity producer
    Electricity coordinator, e.g. Janama
    Load switching operator
    Energy retailer, e.g. AGL, Origin
    Meter installer
    Meter telemetry reader
    Meter repairer/replacer
    Software company to interpret telemetry and decryption
    Distribution company to distribute accounts to whomever sends them to the public.
    Debt collector.
    This is proceeding despite the warnings in this paper from Cambridge Uni:
    http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/meters-offswitch.pdf
    Why is the world rushing to the nanny state concept?

  86. I don’t like telling others what they should read or discuss, but, for personal reasons, I’ve given up reading Thomas Fuller’s posts.
    However, I couldn’t help but note his urging (again) to stop piling on with criticism of 10:10, Michael Mann, Joe Romm etc. (Thomas Fuller actually does like telling others what they should read or discuss.)
    Well, I come to WUWT, probably more than any other site, for a reason. If I want to be tricked, fudged and manipulated on climate issues, there’s the whole MSM, from the Guardian, Spiegel and NYT, right through to Australia’s ABC and Fairfax press.
    To all WUWT contributors and commenters: I’d like to read many more criticisms of the people mentioned above, piled as high as you can go, and please single out those who are paid to be scientists for your special attention. It would be greatly appreciated by this layman and regular reader of Anthony’s invaluable blog.

  87. Bob Highland says:
    October 8, 2010 at 10:55 pm
    Thankyou for that. I notice it mentions all the usual suspects when it comes to government handouts.
    It does also suggest they are trying to raise steam, fascinating since the main plant. unless it is very old, almost certainly runs supercritical: it is not that you could not do that with solar power with a focused furnace, the French built one in the 1960’s.
    But not with their kind of technology.
    Furthermore using low pressure and temperature steam to boost the ultra low turbine cycle is not very useful. And less efficient, strange as it might seem, than trying to preheat the water.
    I also note how carefully the engineering comments in the report you advised avoid discussing actual efficiencies or indeed practicalities: all fluff I would say.
    It doesn’t work does it? If it did some hard figures might be useful but somehow I don’t imagine they are going to be published.
    All in all fascinating and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. I had no idea that this kind of scam went on. I know better now.
    And will ask some questions.
    Kindest Regards

  88. Henry Pool:

    So nuclear energy does not solve the warming problem. In fact it makes it worse.

    There is no problem.

    This is what really causes global warming: the condensing of water from water vapor that was evaporated from nuclear energy, burning (including fossil & rocket fuel), boiling, cooking, bathing, etc.

    You have it wrong by some orders of magnitude, aren’t you?

  89. Heh – Roger Sowell – so perhaps all us engineers will have to move to China to do neat nifty things to help move civilisation along, and leave the morons in the rich first world countries to rot in their own juices for a while. Then charge em huuuuuuuuge consultancy fees to come back when they figure out that living in a cave and shivering in the dark aint much fun!

  90. Rabe says:
    You have it wrong by some orders of magnitude, aren’t you?
    Henry@Rabe
    I’m not sure what you mean. I am saying if global warming is -or becomes – a problem then Co2 is most probably not what is causing it, e.g.
    http://letterdash.com/HenryP/more-carbon-dioxide-is-ok-ok
    I am saying it probably comes from the water vapor when it traps heat from earth or when it condenses and releases its heat into the atmosphere….
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/08/avoiding-the-guilty-pleasures/#comment-502841

  91. Harry the Hacker: this is EXACTLY what Ayn Rand advocated in her monumental book, Atlas Shrugged. It is already happening in California. Men (and women) of ability no longer contribute much. Why should they?
    California is collapsing – but like a dinosaur, it takes a long time for the tail to realize the head is dead – the dang thing is just too big. California has, among other things, hronic budget deficits of approximately $24 billion each year, crumbling infrastructure, very high state income taxes, high state and local sales taxes, high property taxes, high real estate prices, very difficult and costly government regulations in almost every aspect of life and business, massive drug problems, ineffective schools turning out illiterate graduates, unions with cushy pensions for public employees, the list goes on and on.
    It will take a few more years, but California’s collapse is guaranteed. This is like watching a train wreck in ultra-slow-motion.

  92. Like mountain fruits enjoyed out of season and shipped long distance, there are climate pleasures I need to avoid, such as piling on with criticism of 10:10, Michael Mann, Joe Romm and my beloved late, great state of California.
    So now instead of leading to the loss of “all our civil rights” it’s your “guilty pleasure”? Tom, you are the one who keeps bringing it up after we’ve previously just about talked it to death, and likewise you also still seem obsessed with trying to mischaracterize the main issue, which is that ipcc Climate Science is not real science but instead only a massive Propaganda Op. directed at looting and controlling as many people as possible, which must be stopped by disabling the Propaganda Machine, which does involve effectively dealing with people like Mann and the 10-10ers’! – a necessary process which does divert Society from a rational approach to real problems, but which you now try to also blame on sceptics, when the sceptics are in fact trying to argue mightily for a return to a rational, truely scientific approach to these real problems!
    So why don’t you just stop bringing it up over and over? Because by now it’s clear, imo, that you are only still talking to yourself about your own ongoing internal wrestlings with the various issues, which you haven’t been able to resolve.
    You might also try to reduce the hyperbolic, disasterizing thinking.

  93. The sustainability of world growth patterns in general is a big question. We have a persistent trait of focusing narrowly, perhaps because mental multi-taxing is impossible when too many variables are poorly known. Regardless, let’s think of the various patterns of (increasing) growth we see:
    1. Population,
    2. Consumption of goods,
    3. Consumption of energy,
    4. Consumption of food,
    5. Consumption of space.
    The continued significant warming of the world is true in all events only if a background of recovery from the Little Ice Age continues. If a portion of the current warming is still LIA-recovery, which the IPCC in AR4 specifically denies, then the AGW is small enough to be reversed (or at least stopped) by a counter-cyclic cooling as predicted by some for solar reasons. At any rate, the AGW increase will not be significant even with, as postulated by the IPCC, increases in population, consumption and resultant CO2. And, so far, the temperature response is at the bottom end of the IPCC range even with their pessimistic views. So the continuation of the temperature rise is not the real danger we face by 2030 or later.
    Yet you must wonder: how sustainable is the increase in the other parameters? Is there enough food to be vaccumed from the planet to sustain in an increasing fashion the population growth? Drinkable water? Habitable lands? Need for infrastructure? Can there be a quad-ing of energy production in 20 or 30 years? The recent situation in Pakistan suggests the answer is “no”. The country and leaders have created nuclear power plants, weapons and vast armies to growl at India, but the international community still feels it necessary to rally behind the flood victims of this summer. Why? Because the country as a whole hasn’t the infrastructure or development ability/choices to protect its own people. And the leaders don’t care enough to put the welfare of their own citizens ahead of nuclear bombs.
    The limit of just one of these patterns controls the rest. Will it be food? Population density and lack of adequate living spaces that lead to pandemics or wars? Ability to provide the basics for large increases in citizens must be there before the citizens can hope to rise to 1st world energy and goods consumption levels. Who sees this happening in the areas of “problem” population increases? Africa, SE Asia, South America – none have the state power and will of a China to make things happen. Until they do, the improvement of the rest of the world to 1st world standards is a 1st world liberal pipedream – or nightmare.
    The combinations of sustainability limits is what we are looking to over the next several decades. If populations exceed food outputs, you know none of the other patterns of growth are going to continue. If high-population growth areas can’t deal with their infrastructure limitations of maintenance and development, well, you see where this all goes.
    The patterns, by themselves, look likely to continue until the next millenium. Taken as a whole, however, their interactive and iterative natures suggest otherwise. Whatever happens, there will be a reckoning coming. Malthus had the concept right, but technology and timing wrong. The technologists and engineers might feel that their inventiveness will save the day as it has up to now, but if you look at even the last 50 years of population increases in the 1st world, the problems solved up to now are a shadow of what is coming in the next 50 years.

  94. WHAT JPEDEN SAYS!! Fuller appears to be full of Fuller, and can’t give up on even ONE little point, it appears! It reminds me of the One in Washington, for crying out loud!

  95. I got a whole lot less worried about nuclear waste when I figured out that the “25,000 year storage problem” was to return waste to background levels of radiation. But the original ORE was not at background. If you make the standard “return the waste to the level of the original ORE” you get about 250 years of storage. Not much of an issue at all.
    Per all the coal to be used: Yes, but it will all be burned in China who are well on their way to being the manufacturing center of the world for everything. And that is not a hypothetical. China is buying up coal (and signing 20+ year contracts where it can’t buy outright) around the world. So New York and London will have clean skys. For the simple reason that no one will be able to buy any fuel when they live in poverty…

  96. Doug Proctor says:
    October 10, 2010 at 10:02 am
    Doug, first of all, population growth slows dramatically with economic development. Data is clear on that. There are no exceptions, unlike the fairly-tale scenarios from Malthus, Ehrlich, the Club of Rome, and others. Therefore, MORE development means LOWER population growth. MORE development will mean new technologies to allow greater efficiency of food production — the increase in the efficiency of which has outstripped the need for food by population growth dramatically in the last 50 years. Or, haven’t you noticed? And that was before bio-technology, which will make Norman Borlaug’s “green revolution” look so, well, 20th Century.
    If we follow what “the greenies” want, there will be LESS development (due to restricted energy use — restrictions in the use of nuclear being the most egregious and obvious example to date), and LESS development will mean GREATER population growth.
    Malthusians and Luddites are so wrong for so many reasons… Stop wringing your hands and your psyche. Humanity is doing pretty darn well — in case your haven’t noticed the increase in life-span, education, reduction in hunger, etc. over the last 400 years — except for the misguided impacts from the misanthrops among us, whether religious or secular; with and from whom we will always suffer.
    But, do not fear, we do have problems on which folks with your desire to improve humanity through social action (if you are incapable of technical invention) ought to focus your attention. And CO2 and nuclear bombs are not among them. How about raising your voice against the degradation of society in Venezuela being perpetrated by Hugo Chavez? How about raising funds for mercenaries to defend the people of Darfur from the rape of the Sudanese government? I could go on, but I think you get my point. Those are REAL human tragedies occurring in the real world today, not the ones of your imagination, which is what they are: imagined futures that, no, will never be as you fear because the world does not work they way you believe. It doesn’t.
    As for nuclear bombs, yes, they are horrible. But, they exist; get over it. That genie isn’t going back into that bottle any time soon no matter what anyone does. The best we can do is to keep them out of the hands of misanthropes and fools (which means a strong national defense — yes, warriors and spies) and threaten anyone else with certain annihilation if they imagine using them would be in their self-interest.
    The world is a dynamic cauldren of energy and change and technology that, net, has made the lives of people more meaningful, self-satisfying, and enriching for others, and which allows the good any one person can do to be spread to billions of others through global communication and commerce. Embrace it, make it better. Don’t fight against it. Doing so is tantamount to fighting against what it means to be human; unless, of course, you’d rather have us back in pre-industrial times with a societal requirement to kill anyone who dares to invent something new…. for that is the ultimate conclusion to your logic.

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