S. Fred Singer responds to NYT Op-Ed

Letter to NYT July 13, 2016

In the New York Times July 12 op-ed, “Another Inconvenient Truth: It’s Hard to Agree How to Fight Climate Change” John Schwartz does a fine job of describing the splintering of the community of Global Warming alarmists over issues like nuclear energy and natural gas (methane). He suggests but doesn’t spell out how major enviro-groups have become “big business,” with executive salaries approaching the half-million-dollar mark.

His story mentions Al Gore’s objection to nuclear energy, based on its high cost. But is Gore unaware that mass construction in factories of safer, modular reactors would lower costs by a factor of ten or more; regulatory pre-approval could eliminate the enviro-caused delays that have been largely responsible for the current high cost?

Schwartz states that Bill McKibben has argued that the potency of methane as a greenhouse gas, might make it worse than coal

While methane is certainly a greenhouse gas, its effect on climate is negligible. Doesn’t McKibben know that naturally occurring atmospheric water vapor not only overlaps the relevant infrared absorption bands of methane, but also is about 10,000 times more abundant?

Wind and solar can certainly produce electricity, but are notoriously unreliable and require costly back-up power – supplied by stand-by generators using methane or nuclear energy. In 2008, then-candidate Obama promised that electricity prices would “sky-rocket.” European experience with wind and solar seems to have proven him correct.


The writer is emeritus professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and was the founding director of the US weather satellite service.

Another Inconvenient Truth: It’s Hard to Agree How to Fight Climate Change

By John Schwartz, NYT, July 11, 2016


By just about any measure, the movement to battle climate change has grown so large that the truths of Al Gore’s decade-old movie now seem more mainstream than inconvenient.

In Paris in December, 195 nations agreed to reduce greenhouse gases. In the United States, 70 percent of Americans say that climate change is real. Pope Francis has joined the call for action. Hundreds of thousands of people have come together for climate marches in Paris and New York, and demonstrators recently held fossil-fuel protests on six continents.

“That’s what I call momentum,” Daniel R. Tishman, the chairman of the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in its recent annual report. “This isn’t just the wind at our backs; these are the winds of change.”

But the movement that started with a straightforward mission — to get more people to appreciate the dangers of climate change as a precursor to action — is feeling growing pains. What may seem like a unified front has pronounced schisms, with conflicting opinions on many issues, including nuclear power and natural gas, that are complicating what it means to be an environmentalist in this day and age.

The factional boundaries are not hard and fast, with groups shifting their positions as the science and waves of activism evolve. The environmental movement has always been a congregation of many voices, and some disagreement should be expected on such complex and intractable problems as saving the planet. Still, the tensions remain strong.

There are sharp disagreements over whether nuclear plants should be part of the energy mix to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Disasters like that at the Fukushima plant in Japan have undercut confidence in the technology, but it remains attractive to the Obama administration and many in the environmental movement, including James E. Hansen, a retired NASA climate scientist.

Supporters argue that nuclear plants can produce enormous amounts of power without the carbon dioxide that burning coal and natural gas produce. They also point out that the energy sources replacing existing plants tend to come from natural gas, causing greenhouse emissions. That was the case in New England when the Vermont Yankee plant was shut down, and in California after the closing of the plant at San Onofre.

California has decided to wind down the Diablo Canyon reactors by 2025, a lengthy transition that could allow a buildup of renewable energy sources to replace the lost power. The nuclear power debate extends to questions of whether to develop a new generation of plants that supporters say would be less expensive and safer, or whether to extend the lives of existing plants.

Opponents of nuclear energy argue that the move to renewable energy sources would not require a new generation of nuclear plants. Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian who has written about the tactics of those who spread doubt about climate change, said proponents of nuclear power had not proved that the risks of operating the plants, and the waste they produce, could be managed.

“We all agree that there is urgency to this matter,” she said in an email interview. “So do we really want to bet the planet (literally) on a technology with such a bad track record? And that even when it works takes decades to build?”

She has called the pronuclear arguments from environmentalists “a new, strange form of denial,” pointedly using a word associated with those who have disputed the validity of climate science itself.

Burning natural gas produces less carbon dioxide and smog-producing pollutants than burning coal, so environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and even President Obama once praised it as a “bridge” to renewable fuels: that natural gas plants could replace coal plants until alternate sources like solar and wind power could take over.

More recently, however, the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is used to extract fossil fuels, and growing worries about the greenhouse gas methane, which often leaks when natural gas is produced and transported, have led many scientists and activists to call natural gas a “bridge to nowhere.” (The Sierra Club now has a “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign.)

Climate campaigners like Bill McKibben have argued that the potency of methane as a greenhouse gas, especially in the short term, might make it worse than coal. He calls this “the terrifying chemistry” of warming, though others have disputed his interpretation of the science.

Mr. McKibben has described those who favor natural gas as a way to reduce greenhouse emissions as believers in “painless environmentalism, the equivalent of losing weight by cutting your hair.”

The fight has made its way into the Democratic campaign for the presidency: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont called for a national ban on fracking, while Hillary Clinton has suggested that the technology should be carefully regulated and that, if natural gas is a bridge to alternate energy sources, “we want to cross that bridge as quickly as possible.” Those putting together the Democratic Party platform narrowly rejected the call for a ban.


Credit James Yang

Fossil-fuel companies

Two distinct camps have emerged on the best strategy for dealing with companies like Exxon Mobil. One camp wants to attack their very existence, and to hurt their businesses and reputations as a way of accelerating the transition to renewable technologies like wind and solar.

Universities and institutional shareholders like pensions and church endowments are being pressed to sell their stock in fossil-fuel companies, to fight projects like the Keystone XL pipeline and to disrupt construction of fossil-fuel facilities.

Continue reading the main story

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Climate Change Activists Either Prod Exxon Mobil or Dump It MAY 25, 2016

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Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General NOV. 5, 2015

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This approach animates the “keep it in the ground” campaign led by groups like Mr. McKibben’s 350.org, which argues that many of today’s fuel reserves are “unburnable” if climate change is to be slowed, and so must be considered “stranded assets” — a notion that oil giants like Exxon Mobil and Chevron reject.

On the other side is the camp that wants to engage with the companies, particularly through shareholder proxies, to push for action on climate change.

Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

The issue can be overwhelming. The science is complicated. We get it. This is your cheat sheet.

Groups like the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, as well as New York State and City officials, recently presented at Exxon Mobil’s annual shareholder meeting proposals that would require the company to assess the business risks of meeting the Paris climate goals and to “acknowledge the moral imperative” to keep global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the start of the industrial era; they also helped to pass a resolution giving shareholders greater say in corporate governance.

Shareholder action has improved corporate responsibility on many fronts, said Sister Patricia Daly, a Dominican sister of Caldwell, N.J., who is the executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.

“Companies know the work we have put on their desk is beneficial,” she said in a recent interview, and cited the emergence of sustainability directors and efforts by many companies to reduce their emissions. “I’m confident we have really initiated that over the decades,” she said.


Credit James Yang

Insiders vs. outsiders

More fundamentally, a split is growing between the large, traditional environmental groups that try to work with companies and the scrappy campaigners who stand proudly outside.

Naomi Klein, an author on environmental and economic issues, has sharply criticized what she called “a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the big green groups,” like the Environmental Defense Fund, which has worked with fossil-fuel companies to research methane leaks and to pursue market-based solutions to the climate crisis, like putting a price on carbon.

Ms. Klein argues that capitalism inherently worsens climate change. Working within the system as the institutional players do, she has said, is “more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.”

Mr. McKibben said the kind of noisy activism that characterizes the work of organizations like 350.org helps correct what he sees as the institutional inertia of the established groups. He said the lack of mass-movement activism was a key reason behind the failure of legislation like the 2010 effort to develop a system to limit and put a price on greenhouse gas emissions.

“If we’re going to win the climate fight, it will come with a change in the zeitgeist,” he said. “And that — not particular pieces of legislation — is the ultimate point of building movements.”

Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, disagreed. Working with industry, he said, had helped deepen the understanding of such issues as methane leakage, which could produce remedies.

“More and more businesses want to be part of the solution,” Mr. Krupp said. Collaborative efforts helped lead to last month’s bipartisan passage of an overhaul of toxic substances legislation, he said, adding, “And we’re getting close to being able to do it with climate change.”

Given these fault lines on various issues, a question naturally arises: Are they hurting the overall environmental movement?

Even on that question, there are disagreements.

For Matthew Nisbet, an expert in environmental communications at Northeastern University, there is a risk that differences of opinion within the movement could lead to greater enmity over time, resulting in a lack of focus. Progress could be lost, he said, “if they start to see each other as rivals and opponents, and they lose sight of broader climate goals and their true opponents.”

But many in the various factions of the movement say that there is more agreement than it may seem from afar.

Mr. Krupp said that although tactics and technologies may differ, consensus has emerged on many points.

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“We have to keep most of the fossil fuels in the ground,” he said. “We all agree with that. The math dictates that. We all agree that the conversion to clean energy should be as quick as possible.” Of natural gas, he said, “it’s an exit ramp, not a bridge.”

The movement to combat climate change is building an even bigger tent as more nations, businesses, religious groups and even conservatives have committed to dealing with the threat of rising seas and changing weather.

The number of Republicans speaking out in favor of climate action is growing, with the emergence of climate-oriented conservative groups like R Street and the efforts of Jay Faison, a philanthropist who has pledged millions of dollars to support candidates willing to buck the party’s orthodoxy on climate change.

Ellen Dorsey, the executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, which has promoted the divestment of fossil-fuel holdings and investment in cleaner technologies, has called disagreements within the green camp “noises around the margin.” She predicted that a combination of high-level collaboration and street-level activism would hold governments to their Paris climate pledges and push back against recalcitrant business interests.


Credit James Yang

Ultimately, Mr. Gore said in a recent telephone interview, economics may accomplish much of what governments have so far failed to do. Plunging costs of renewable energy make it more competitive than ever with fossil fuels. Similarly, the former vice president said, the biggest obstacle for nuclear power could be the expense of building new reactors.

“I don’t have a theological opposition to nuclear power,” he said. “It’s simply not cost competitive.”

Mr. Gore said that tensions among climate change activists follow the traditions of the civil rights movement, abolition, women’s suffrage and gay and lesbian rights. “In all such movements, there have been schisms, and minor splits as well,” he added. “It’s just a natural feature of the human condition.”

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Brian R
July 22, 2016 3:39 pm

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’m glad the Pope has made the call to rally against climate change. Because the head of the Catholic church has quite the record in the areas of science.

July 22, 2016 3:40 pm

Sorry, but I must repeat this. How dare Gore steal the sweat and tears of the men and women who sacrificed everything. Next it will be the Jews who died in Auschwitz, or the men over the trenches in WWI. The man’s ego is beyond uncivilized.
[quote] Mr. Gore said that tensions among climate change activists follow the traditions of the civil rights movement, abolition, women’s suffrage and gay and lesbian rights. “In all such movements, there have been schisms, and minor splits as well,” he added. “It’s just a natural feature of the human condition.”

Reply to  Duncan
July 23, 2016 4:03 pm

It’s not Gore’s ego. It’s called bat shit crazy.

Bruce Cobb
July 22, 2016 3:40 pm

Oh woe is them. It’s tough enough fighting the mythical beastie “climate change” without disagreeing on how best to do it. My heart bleeds.

July 22, 2016 3:55 pm

McKibben seem unaware that CH4 is a low energy IR absorber since its main bands are in the Low…low part of the IR spectrum.

Reply to  Sunsettommy
July 22, 2016 5:23 pm

You just have to understand that Mr McKibben once read a “Climate Comic” with lots of scary panels and without any scientific knowledge or experience to know better, took it from there…

Reply to  AussieBear.
July 22, 2016 6:46 pm

Whenever McKibben is quoted you must remind everyone that he’s the “go to” climatologist with his degree as an English major from Harvard. McKibben don’t know nuthin bout nuthin.

Reply to  Sunsettommy
July 23, 2016 5:36 pm

McKibben seem unaware that CH4 is a low energy IR absorber since its main bands are in the Low…low part of the IR spectrum.

Help me understand this one. I though the GHG effect needed a molecule with a Di-Pole like CO2, H20, O3, N20. Where is the Di-Pole for CH4?

Reply to  co2islife
July 23, 2016 5:40 pm

A greenhouse gas needs a “dipole” Some molecules have a “dipole”. An electric dipole is a separation of equal and opposite electric charge over some distance.

Funny, CO2 is listed as not having a Dipole.

Reply to  co2islife
July 23, 2016 6:44 pm

To CO2islife:
N2 and O2 don’t have rotational (J) energy levels, so don’t have dipoles.
CO, N2O, H2O, and O3 have permanent dipoles and have J-level electron transitions.
CO2 and CH4 don’t have permanent dipoles and lack pure J transitions. BUT, they can (and do) acquire oscillating dipole moments in their vibrational (V) transition modes and have vibration-rotation energy bands.
Vibrational (V) energy transitions require a change in dipole, e.g. an oscillating charge movement. N2 and O2 do not have. But CO2 has a symmetrical stretching mode, an asymmetrical stretching mode, and two bending modes. I think it is the asymmetrical mode that produces much of the photon transfer.

Reply to  co2islife
July 23, 2016 8:00 pm

As most readers won’t know what is meant by J and V bond energy levels, I give a much more general answer. A dipole results from separation of the negative charge of the electron and the positive charge of the atom’s nucleus. But electrons don’t remain in one place. In many atoms they move asymmetrically relative to the nucleus. (This was earlier envisioned as movement like springs, but is now understood more in terms of quantum probability.) This movement (in some molecules) produces a charge differential, thus a dipole.
But, more than that, the energy level involved in such movement varies among molecules. In e.g., N2 and O2 it mostly occurs in UV light and does not absorb infrared. In CO2, H2O, etc. it does.

Reply to  Sunsettommy
July 24, 2016 10:56 am

I wonder if Bill and his followers realize that we are around 400ppm and the earth seems to be adapting well.
Theory falsified! Again.

July 22, 2016 3:58 pm

“Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian who has written about the tactics of those who spread doubt about climate change, said proponents of nuclear power had not proved that the risks of operating the plants, and the waste they produce, could be managed.”
Tell that to the birds. Greens are not “managing” their lives very well with their proven windmill tech.
There is no doubt that windmills kill millions of birds and bats every year, yet Greens prefer windmills to a viable alternative like nuclear power, using very flimsy excuses.
Windmills need to be banned to stop the slaughter of the birds. Greens need to find a substitute for windmills. How can Greens advocate windmill technology when they supposedly care about the Earth’s wildlife?
If there were no alternatives, it would be different. But there are alternatives. Good alternatives.

Reply to  TA
July 22, 2016 4:36 pm

…had not proved…
No proof would ever be enough, and since zero risk is unattainable, the authoritarian hand-wringers’ work is conveniently never finished. Keep the funds flowing!

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  TA
July 22, 2016 5:00 pm

How would “Naomi Oreskes, know? That is what should be demanded. Has she worked on designing Nuclear reactors, served on inspection teams for the waste? Or is she babbling “Urban Legends”.
Naomi’s lack of technical knowledge most be focused on in all instances.

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
July 22, 2016 9:08 pm

Naomi Oreskes have some crazy ideas about radiation: she believes that the regulatory allowance for exposure to radiation from the nuclear industry (not medical tests, not nature, only the industry), the limits that are different for the public and for nuclear workers, the limits that are different in the US and in Europe, is predicated on the idea that low level radiations are harmless…
Just LOL

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
July 24, 2016 5:58 am

Please elucidate how those thousands of occupants of those radioactive steel apartments in Taiwan ended up getting a ninety five percent reduction in all forms of cancer. I am puzzled by the data showing what one could call a cure for cancer, and yet there is no public discussion. Is it all malarkey?

July 22, 2016 4:04 pm

“Ms. Klein argues that capitalism inherently worsens climate change. Working within the system as the institutional players do, she has said, is “more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.””
Oh, so you want to work “outside” the system. No, we are not going to let you do that. You have to play by the rules.

July 22, 2016 5:14 pm

Yet more factional fights among the greens as to who is the most pure in their greenness. Why anyone takes these loons seriously is the question.

Reply to  Tom Halla
July 22, 2016 6:02 pm

I think we should encourage the greens fighting among themselves as much as possible

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  jvcstone
July 25, 2016 6:00 am

Maybe if we could encourage the Greens to become Soylent Green, they would eat each other.

Chris Riley
Reply to  Tom Halla
July 23, 2016 12:26 pm

The goal is to get as much red into the green as possible. Naomi Klein is leading right now.

Crispin in Waterloo
July 22, 2016 5:17 pm

Al Gore says nukes are too expensive, and he intends to keep them that way by stringing out the process of building one by years and years. It is a simple strategy.
It shows that the US as a nation, is not willing to deal with the problem of adequate power generation as if it mattered. Look at the pathetic arguments and the positional weakness of the proposes of putative solutions. Half-baked, half-thought-through and half measures are proposed at every turn, all the while conducting the meetings under the illuminating lights powered by coal and nukes.
How long do you think the lights would have to be off before the government treat power generation as a national priority? A year? Three?
And how is communism supposed to solve the power problems that capitalism can’t? After Naomi finishes destroying capitalism, who will run the grid? A committee of appointed party hacks with relatives in the politburo? How is that better, exactly? Will billions of people sit patiently freezing in the dark while waiting for the next five year plan to be completed?
Even if the Malthusians kill off 3/4 of humanity they will still be bound by their ban on realistic power sources, so they same issues will prevail. Everyone still freezing in the dark, just less of them. Some vision that is.

Michael Palmer
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
July 23, 2016 7:55 am

Well, you know, in fairness, East Germany had a more stable grid with fewer power outages than the U.S. or Canada. They also had faster and more frequent train service (of course they needed to, since cars were are rare commodity). People even today travel to Cuba for medical or dental procedures. Education in Russia and Eastern Europe was generally good to excellent.
Not suggesting we follow Klein’s advice, but it is not all simply black and white.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 23, 2016 11:26 am

I’m not drinking that Kool-aid! First, you can’t trust any official records from the Soviet era without verification. Nobody reported bad news if they could avoid it, so we really don’t know how stable the East German power grid was. Second, the East German grid was puny, even compared to Western Germany, not to mention the entire US. So that kind of comparison is meaningless. Third, the East Germans didn’t have a lot of electrical appliances anyway, couldn’t afford them, so the grid was not exactly stressed. Fourth, the ecological disasters in the former Soviet Union and bloc nations is well known. Massive chemical spills, polluted rivers and lakes, air pollution as bad as current day Beijing. They used nuclear weapons for excavating! Fifth, people only travel to Cuba to get procedures that are banned in the US because they are not safe or are unproven to provide benefit to the patient.
The only thing that’s greater under collectivist type governments is corruption, because it is easier to hide when you have a police state.

Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 23, 2016 1:01 pm

I think most Cubans wish they could “travel to Cuba for medical or dental procedures”. Outside of tourists and the elite, it’s third world all the way (as many have noted beginning, perhaps, with Maurice Halperin 20-odd years ago). Where on earth did you get that factoid? Or are you talking about Venezuelans?

Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 23, 2016 1:45 pm

So that is why Castro had a Spanish doctor flown in,and is why he then flew to Spain to recover.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-426119/Castro-admitted-Spanish-hospital.html

Jerry Howard
Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 24, 2016 1:05 am

People travel to Cuba for medical treatment? Have you seen any information on Cuban hospitals outside of Michael Moore’s “documentary?”

Reply to  Michael Palmer
July 25, 2016 6:47 am

Medical care for tourists in Cuba is excellent.
Ordinary Cubans on the other hand have to bring their own linen when they go to the hospital.

James Francisco
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
July 23, 2016 8:19 am

How long do you think the lights would have to be off before the government treat power generation as a national priority? A year? Three?
Crispin. I was thinking more like an hour. I lived in California many years ago when they had some rolling blackouts. Within minutes the vehicle traffic in large areas came to a halt because the traffic lights stopped working and a few accidents in a few intersections caused a gridlock over a large area. I don’t think many people would tolerate grid lock very long.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
July 23, 2016 4:43 pm

Crispin in Waterloo,
“Even if the Malthusians kill off 3/4 of humanity they will still be bound by their ban on realistic power sources, so they same issues will prevail.”
I think you are overestimating the honesty/honorableness of the “elite” Malthusians. I don’t believe they actually believe the CAGW hypothesis . . they just want the population reduced, and the end of rulwe by consent of the governed. If and when they achieve that, there will be no difficulty in unbinding themselves from the loony-toons eco yimmer yammer/SJW BS of today. (Or trifling things like the US or other Constitutions . . just pieces of paper then . .)
Consider how unbound they are as we speak, with massive individual “carbon footprints”, and grand global virtue signaling festivals . . while the 3/4s watch.

Leo Smith
July 22, 2016 5:46 pm

“back-up power – supplied by stand-by generators using methane or nuclear energy.”
Why can people not see the insanity of throttling back a nuclear power station, which generates no CO2 and whose fuel is so cheap it hardly counts, in order to let some overpriced renewable have a look in?
if you have the nukes, you don’t need or want the renewables

Michael C. Roberts
Reply to  Leo Smith
July 22, 2016 8:05 pm

And that, Leo is the point. Well put. A Nuclear-powered world don’t need no stinkin’ renewables. And they know this fact…athe least the ones still capable of rational thought.

Reply to  Michael C. Roberts
July 23, 2016 12:48 pm

Ya, but who makes money in nuclear powered world? Who gets rich?
Never forget that there’s quick money to made pushing wind and solar–especially when you have an American President doling out grants and “never to be paid back” green business loans at the tax payer expense.
…and never forget about that deep, deep well of government research cash that Obozo loves to dole out.

Reply to  Leo Smith
July 22, 2016 9:00 pm

UtilityDive, July 12, 2016
“Greens sue PJM, saying new capacity rules disadvantage renewables, demand response’
PJM tightened the power supplier rules in the wake of the almost power blackout in January 2014.

July 22, 2016 8:37 pm

Ignorance of nuclear power is so abundant (and not the exclusive province of the greenies – the ridiculously insane claim that modular reactors would reduce build costs by a factor of ten is one example to pathetic ignorance amongst even those who support nuclear). There are a variety of midular reactor designs out there and they differ dramatically in cost Those that implement traditional light water technology are hardly cheaper than traditional, gigawatt sized plants. Howvever, molten salt reactors have a build cost estimated as much lower – perhaps even less than $2 per watt, as compared to the usual $5 to $6 per watt for a
gigawatt plus sized plant. But that is far from being a factor of ten cheaper.
It’s obvious many critics, such as Oreski, are time-warped and have no clue of the current direction of nuclear design, which is clearly molten salt reactors, which , far from making nuclear wastes unmanageable, actually burn those wastes , producing massive amounts of power (enough to power ths country for a thousand years) and in the process produce low level radioactive wastes,easilly stored for the relatively short period of time (150 years) until their radiation returns to background levels. Any ideas of
danger from a molten salt reactor can only come from a mind totally ignorant of the technology. They
are safe to the point of utter boredom.When it comes to nuclear power, greenies are just as incredibly stupid as they are with respect to climate.
The fact that anyone would consider nuclear plants as practical as “backup power providers” shows almost total ignorance of the operating characteristics of tradtitional nuclear reactors, which require that they be operated near capacity in order to produce low cost power – a very small portion of the operational costs of a nuclear plant are accounted for by their uranium fuel.
Nuclear plant build costs are less important in determining power unit costs than other technologies, since a nuclear plant will operate for six or more decades, providing a very long time for amortizing those build costs. As I recall, less than a penny per kWhr is all that’s required to pay for those build costs.

Owen in GA
Reply to  arthur4563
July 23, 2016 7:00 am

You could reduce the build cost in a US nuclear power station by the simple change of making the green lawfare groups pay the court costs of the builders when they lose. As most of the costs of building a nuclear power station these days is paying the lawyers. You might even get your factor of ten in there.

July 22, 2016 8:57 pm

“Mr. Gore said that tensions among climate change activists follow the traditions of the civil rights movement, abolition, women’s suffrage and gay and lesbian rights.”
The enviro/feminist, LGBT comparison is interesting.
When feminists fight the hypothetical rape culture of university and dénient, dismiss, minimize or make excuses for the obvious rape culture of some groups in Germany and elsewhere.
I see a pattern here.

Reply to  simple-touriste
July 23, 2016 3:24 am

Well, yeah. They’re all part of the amorphous blob that insists that the west sucks and lets dump capitalism because [insert sophistry here] all while being some of the most fortunate people to have ever lived.

July 22, 2016 9:10 pm

“Ms. Klein argues that capitalism inherently worsens climate change.”
Yes, and Soviet Russia was “state capitalist” system?
Is there a non capitalist system, anywhere?

Smart Rock
July 22, 2016 9:22 pm

Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian

She was trained as a geologist and actually did some decent work at Olympic Dam. As a historian, she’s still a good geologist.
Then again…………
Singer says:

supplied by stand-by generators using methane or nuclear energy

OK, single-cycle gas turbines can wind up and down pretty fast, as can diesels and especially hydro. But the idea of nukes as “back-up” is just silly and displays a surprising level of ignorance about practical matters. Nukes take time to start up and time to wind down. A lot of time. Nukes are the ultimate “base load” generators.
I watched a BBC TV program a few years ago where they showed England’s central electricity control room during the evening. There was a huge surge in electrical demand in the minute after “East Enders” finished and five million electric kettles (those evil 3.5 kW kettles that Brussels wants to ban and provided at least some of the reason for Brexit) were switched on to make tea. They started buying power from France to make up the shortfall, but they also switched on the Dinorwic pumped storage generators, and they went from standstill to full power in a few seconds. Remarkable. Now that is back-up generation.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Smart Rock
July 23, 2016 12:14 pm

OK, single-cycle gas turbines can wind up and down pretty fast, as can diesels and especially hydro.
But not fast enough. When “sensors” detect a “brown-out” then breakers start “tripping” and things shut down in a hurry.

Reply to  Smart Rock
July 23, 2016 12:50 pm

“They started buying power from France to make up the shortfall”
If you want to be able to do that, at all time, for big changes, you need spare net flow: you need to export power (you can sell and buy at the same time, it’s like finance) or at least not import too much power; because the undersea link has limited capacity.
So it means you are using the link way below capacity at all times. Because of the price of the link, I am not sure this is the best approach. Building faster generators on your island may be better.

July 22, 2016 9:36 pm

The NYT agitprop is getting tiring… at every level

July 23, 2016 1:51 am

Due to problems like supercritical heat exchanger metal embrittlement, San Anofre needed to replace their heat exchangers. This cost tens of millions. When they arrived from Japan and were installed, they immediately began leaking. It turned out, oh oops, the Japanese used the wrong steel, so it was becoming embrittled. This means that carbon in the steel reacts with hydrogen at supercritical temperatures to make methane. Methane in steel make holes. Because of San Fran red tape, and the mess of the heat exchanger problem, Cal Edison gave up and shut San Anofre down. For the same reasons, other plants have 40 to 50 year life expectancies. So Diable must shut down by 2025. Claiming victory it will be closed by agreement when it is scheduled to be closed anyway is a rather pathetic news grab by CA environmental groups. In the meantime, due to a fight with the Nevada Dem one-eyed senator, the nuclear waste repository was built then closed without being used at Yucca Mtn. The drill bore machines built the tunnels, they lined them, then walked away. So nuclear waste is stored in these plants, instead of in Nevada in the desert under 800 ft of volcanic ash because there could be leakage in a couple million years to the Amargosa River, just 50 miles away. Yes, this was their complaint.
In terms of “the environmental effects of fracking”, the effects are zero. 80 years of its use, 5 million wells drilled, total number of environmental problems thus fare stands at zero. For example, the Kettleman Field west of Bakersfield, CA is 100 miles long and 30 miles wide. It was operated with tertiary recovery in the 80’s. This is the pumping in of detergents. This is now called whatever is popular, using terms like fracking. Total number of problems from this project in the CA Central Valley stands at zero.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
July 23, 2016 3:33 am

This is somewhat related to your first paragraph:

Reply to  Donald Kasper
July 23, 2016 12:52 pm

“Due to problems like supercritical heat exchanger metal embrittlement”
How long will all these extremely high temp coal plants last?

July 23, 2016 4:44 am

One of the best voices for sanity in energy policy is The Breakthrough Institutes’s Michael Schellenberger. He’s been calling for expanding state renewable portfolio standards to include nuclear. Here he is debating WWS zealot, Mark Jacobson and a drone from the NRDC:

Gerry, England
July 23, 2016 5:06 am

…plunging costs of renewable energy…
In what La-La land is this true? Where they claim approaching parity to fossil fuel generation it is only because of taxes on fossil fuel and ongoing taxpayers’ cash for renewables. Still what is one more lie for Gore.

July 23, 2016 5:47 am

“Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard historian who has written about the tactics of those who spread doubt about climate change, said proponents of nuclear power had not proved that the risks of operating the plants, and the waste they produce, could be managed.”
50 deaths in the worst nuclear disaster in history. 100 to 150 deaths EVERY year in solar rooftop installations (falling off the roof) Wind turbines chop off birds and bats and the Ivanpah concentrated solar is a death ray that toasts birds by the thousands. Oreskes had not proved her sanity.

Reply to  Dr. Strangelove
July 23, 2016 6:55 pm

comment image

Reply to  Dr. Strangelove
July 23, 2016 7:11 pm

Sanity is not a prerequisite for the CAGW crowd.

Reply to  JohnWho
July 25, 2016 6:52 am

Indeed, it seems to be a career impediment.

calvin weyers
July 23, 2016 8:23 am

One of the questions I like to ask a liberal is: Which has killed more Bald Eagles, DDT or wind turbines?
The answer is wind turbines; and they kill more than just eagles. DDT was never suspected of killing birds, but of causing eggshells to thin to the point of breakage before the chicks were mature enough to survive outside them. Wind turbines, to be accurate, don’t always kill birds, sometimes they just maim them to the point the birds cannot hunt successfully and starve to death. Perhaps a more accurate question would be to ask: Which has caused a greater negative impact on bird and bat populations, DDT or wind turbines?
Also, to take a nuclear plant designed in the 60s and compare the safety records to a more modern design, would be akin to comparing a car designed in the 60s to one of today. There are much higher survivability rates in modern cars than in the older models, the newer nuclear plant designs are much safer.
Also, there is evidence that exposure to low levels of radiation has some health benefits.

Reply to  calvin weyers
July 25, 2016 6:54 am

The one, I repeat, one study that linked DDT to thinning eggshells was so flawed that the it’s authors should have been prosecuted for deliberate fraud.

Ivor Ward
July 23, 2016 9:09 am

What is striking is the continued insularity of these Green Dream proponents. Do they not notice that the rest of the world is out there and consequently their silly little virtue signalling schemes are not going to make the slightest difference to overall emissions. Even if CO2 turned out to be a problem in spite of all the evidence to the contrary the avowed intentions of China, India and the Philippines to bring their standard of living up to Western equivalents, mostly by using coal fired electricity, over the next forty years or so will render all their pathetic posturings irrelevant. Africa will follow them.
Next they talk about generating electricity as if that is the major use of energy when in most countries it represents less than 20% of energy use. Transport and home heating are always quietly tossed aside as too difficult a subject. Can’t take away the Volvos from the Earth Mothers the backlash would be too great.

John W. Garrett
July 23, 2016 4:32 pm

I think I’m going to vomit.
The stupid burns.

July 23, 2016 5:26 pm

The thousands of deaths from nuclear accidents that journalists like to claim, are pure fiction. They are a statistical artefact of the LNT hypothesis (linear no threshold). LNT allows thousands of deaths to be arbitrarily attributed to miniscule incremental radiation doses in the absence of evidence of such causation.
The logic of LNT is as follows. If you drink 10 liters of water you will die. Therefore, among people drinking one liter of water, a tenth of them will die. And one percent of all people drinking a 100 ml glass of water will also die.
Ah but you say, we have all this fancy molecular biology about genetic damage, bystander effects etc that show that even a single ionising particle wreaks bio havoc in an organism. But bio havoc is the norm for living cells and tissue. DNA is near the quantum level. The closer you get to the quantum level the more furiously chaotic everything gets. Throwing a stone into a stormy sea has less effect than into a calm pond. DNA is constantly splitting and being repaired minute by minute. For radiation to make a difference it has to inflict damage at an organism level above the chaotic quantum level. That is, as radiobiologist Janet Vaughan concluded back in the 70’s (before radiation biology got molecular and lost its way) ionising radiation becomes carcinogenic when blood capillaries start getting damaged. Its not so much about molecules and direct DNA damage.
There exists a threshold below which ionising radiation is either harmless of even beneficial to an organism. This is a highly robust repeatable finding (unlike much current drug discovery biology) and papers showing both REDUCED cancer incidence and INCREASED lifespan in mice and other animals (and plants) from low dose radiation can be found in seconds on Google scholar or PubMed etc.
I did an MSc and PhD in radiation biology and set up radiation detection systems in Ukraine for post Chernobyl radiation monitoring. I visited the Chernobyl site (wonderful game reserve) and the international radiation biology conference in Minsk 10 years after the accident. The number of actual deaths from Chernobyl is in the low hundreds. A few dozen reactor staff (enormous doses, CNS syndrome) and some firemen. Then there were several hundred children with thyroid cancer from 125, 131 iodine. But thanks to intense medical care supported by visiting American and European doctors, very few of these died – thyroid cancer is nowadays quite survivable if normally treated. Remarkably there was no leukaemia excess post Chernobyl. This is the cancer one expects following mass irradiation. However experience from strontium, radium and other boneseeking radionuclides shows that leukaemogeneticity depends on a dose distribution including deep marrow sinuses where hemopoietic stem cells lie, not all modalities of irradiation achieve this distribution.
So that was all, just those few hundred deaths. Although I should mention that, among the thousands of mostly elderly people needlessly evacuated from villages where they had lived their whole lives, under international pressure for ever lower “contamination ” thresholds for evacuation, death rates were sharply elevated. Wrenching these old folks from their villages literally killed them.
And all the hundreds of thousands of deaths claimed as resulting from Chernobyl fallout are just low dose fictions of the false LNT hypothesis. Such entrenched falsehood has sent a whole generation down the garden path regarding nuclear policy. Lets hope voices like of sanity can start restoring a basis of truth to the nuclear debate.

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 23, 2016 7:33 pm

Tourists enjoying at Guarapari beach, Brazil where natural radiation level is 8 times higher than Chernobyl exclusion zone (175 vs. 21 mSv/yr)

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 23, 2016 8:03 pm

And some species, such as Radiolarians, which live in nuclear reactor’s cooling water, survive quite high radiation levels by accelerated repair of damaged tissue.

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 23, 2016 9:14 pm

Nice examples, thanks.
Here is the latest academic study to show no excess of mortality or cancer at low doses of irradiation:
It studies hospital radiologists who get more radiation than the general public. It even finds that radiologists have unusually long life expectancy. There is no cancer excess except for those practising up to the 1940s when doses were sky high (even then quite a small excess). The authors are silent about the obvious conclusions of an effect threshold and beneficial effects.

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 24, 2016 8:02 pm

I asked above about the Taiwan Cobalt 60 radioactive steel apartments. The occupants ended up getting a ninety five percent reduction in all forms of cancer. Why is there such silence on this amazing data set? No experiment would ever be approved that would allow even babies to be irradiated, yet it happen by accident. Thousands were involved.

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 25, 2016 2:34 am

I asked above about the Taiwan Cobalt 60 radioactive steel apartments. The occupants ended up getting a ninety five percent reduction in all forms of cancer. Why is there such silence on this amazing data set?
It is a remarkable study and observation – I was not aware of it (although I am not active in radiobiology currently). But the fact that this study has been swallowed up in institutional oblivion tells you everything you need to know about the radiation protection profession – it is every bit as corrupt as climate science. They really don’t want people to know the truth that low dose radiation is beneficial. This fact is incontrovertible as the Taiwan study clearly shows. The benefit is largely due to the stimulus to the immune system caused by low dose radiation effects such as heat shock protein expression. The immune system is constantly busy removing cancers, so immune system stimulus reduces cancer and is a boost to health generally.
The “radiation kills you” story is worth too much to too many for the truth to be allowed to be known. The culture of paranoid radiation phobia the media have created actually does this job for them. Just the same as the “CO2 will kill us all” fairy tale is also worth too much to too many, as is the “GMO food will kill you” fantasy.
The global scientific establishment is sick to its core. Politicization has turned it from being a seeker of truth to being a defender of falsehood. It is a new and evil church. And sadly, at the end of the day, not enough people care about what is true.

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 25, 2016 1:39 pm

I just saw a grant recommendation to a Eastern Europe research team to study the use of low dose radiation as a cure for brain cancers.
It may be that western researchers are missing the boat.
One researcher dismissed the data by saying “there could be second generation effects”.
It would appear that the anti radiation bias is strong. Why not instead ask if women with a pre disposition to breast cancer would like to be alive to see their sons or daughters graduate?
Lots of jobs at stake in NOT allowing the public to know that the 95% of cancer reductions suggest that there is in fact a “CURE FOR CANCER”

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 25, 2016 4:08 pm

Good luck to those brave eastern europeans. They will probably have to go cap in hand to the EU meaning green-washed antinuclear Germany.
Actually I googled a bit about the Taiwan Co60 incident. The 95% reduction in cancer is probably an exaggeration caused by a mistake in epidemiology – failing to age-match the control group. The dwellers in the “hot apartments” were younger than the general public ( used inappropriately as control) and younger means less cancer. Ideally they should find a comparable group of people moving into comparable but normally radioactive new apartments.
Subsequent amalysis shows the overall cancer reduction is closer to 40% – still appreciable. And among males there is a very small leukemia excess. Epidemiologically. Both the overall 40% cancer decrease and the much smaller male leukemia excess are open to criticism. It is fiendishly difficult to exclude biases from even well controlled cohort studies. The total cancer decrease for instance might be due to the hot flats being inhabited by people wealthier than the average, with better health. (Ideally they should use as controls dwellers in comparable new flats with normal levels of radioactivity.)
Also, the leuemia excess has an alternative non radiation related explanation. A kind of “multiple new neighbor syndrome”. Leukemia is considered to be possibly a rare outcome of common infections such as colds. In researching small leukemia excesses near nuclear facilities such as Sellafield in UK, it was found that other large new industrial non- nuclear sites also had similar excesses of leukemia. It was hypothesised that bringing people suddenly to live together from different parts of the country increased the incidence of colds and other infections dur to expose to distant unfamiliar germ strains. Something similar might happen when people quickly more into new apartment buildings after construction.
Inevitably, the first criticism of the overall cancer decrease, that of imperfect control, has been widely discussed. But the second criticism from of the leukemia excess, that it might be “multiple new neighbor syndrome” – not so much.

Reply to  ptolemy2
July 25, 2016 6:57 am

If you have a granite counter top in your house, there’s a good chance you get more radiation annually than anyone who was exposed at Three Mile Island.

July 24, 2016 12:27 am

renewables require costly back-up power – supplied by stand-by generators using methane or nuclear energy.
Or in the UK, by diesel generators – the very worst polluters. Yes, the UK strategic power reserve is powered by thousands of small diesel generators, that sit idle for much of the year.

old construction worker
July 24, 2016 4:33 am

For those in the U.S.: Nuclear and nuclear waste:
Harry Reid, Utah’s senator, had no problem getting an unground nuclear waste site built. It sit empty and we are still paying for it as a add-on tax on our electric bills Reid’s party is still blocking transporting nuclear waste.

July 24, 2016 12:53 pm

If you read “Atlas Shrugged”, every bit of the McKibben/Hansen/Oreskis nonsense sounds just like it’s right out of Ayn Rand’s novel written in the 1950’s. She even then in her book predicted the shale oil boom.
It’s actually quite frightening when read in today’s “Environmental Newspeak”…..

July 24, 2016 1:03 pm

I re-read the article that Fred Singer wrote his op-ed about.
It truly seems that “Atlas Shrugged” is the prequel to Orwell’s, “1984”.
It’s actually quite frightening to watch this surreal situation in slow motion.

July 25, 2016 7:35 am

There are two major costs defining power plants: Investments cost and operating cost. Here are examples of two plants still in operation. One, in 1975 cost 0.5 $/W, (2.4 $/W inflation adjusted to today), the other a few years later several times more for a 20% increased capacity. Why that higher cost? DOE came into existence with its army of lawyers.
But that cost gets eventually paid. Operating cost, going on and on “for ever” is by far the cheapest among electricity sources: 2000 kW/employee (more yet for the new plants in Georgia). For comparison, solar electricity output is 15 kW/employee.

Reply to  jake
July 25, 2016 1:52 pm

The second sentence is missing the word “nuclear” (two nuclear plants) ..

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