Never Go Full California

Guest essay by David Archibald

It used to be said that Australia was usually 5 years behind the US in adopting new trends; in turn the US was led by what happened in California. The beauty of that was that California’s taxpayers would pay for experiments in public policy and the rest of us could pick and choose from what worked. Unfortunately Australia is now in the lead in self-inflicted wounds resulting from faith-based public policy. One Australian state, South Australia, now has the dubious distinction of the world’s highest power prices. Four months from now, South Australia hits its peak summertime power consumption for which the grid operator projects there is simply insufficient supply … at any price. And this is in a country with plenty of coal reserves – 200 billion tonnes of lignite in the adjoining state of Victoria as well as all the black coal deposits scattered around the country.

The closest historical example of what Australia is doing to itself now is the 1856 cattle-killing frenzy of the Xhosa tribe in what is now South Africa. Briefly, a teenage girl named Nongqawuse and her friend Nombanda went to fetch water. Upon returning, she said that had met the spirits of three of her ancestors who had told her that the Xhosa people should destroy their crops and kill their cattle. In return the spirits would sweep the British settlers into the sea. Then their granaries would fill again and their kraals would have more and better cattle. The cattle-killing frenzy that followed killed between 300,000 and 400,000 head of cattle. In the resulting famine, the population of the province dropped from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000. This is a photo of Nongqause’s gravestone:

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That was what a primitive, deeply superstitious people did to themselves. Now cut to the current day and Australia’s embrace of renewable energy has caused widespread blackouts, businesses to close, the indigent to seek shelter in public buildings in the current southern winter. All of which was entirely predictable. More and worse is coming as the renewables percentage of the national power supply ramps up. There are moments of comic relief amongst the gloom though. Australia’s largest company, BHP, is a true believer in global warming and suffered a A$300 million loss because of the power blackout at its Olympic Dam mine when the South Australian grid failed. Belief in global warming has a big, self-loathing, anti-capitalist component so it was good to see BHP get a dose of its own medicine. If you think that is a little far-fetched, consider that BHP’s CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, was once trustee of a left-wing UK think tank, Demos, that had been founded by a Marxist. He was a known quantity when he was hired.

In discussion of Australia’s power supply, for some reason it is taken as a given that renewable energy is desirable thing in itself, because of global warming. Global warming in turn is taken as a given. Global warming was born in the early 1980s after the world reversed out of a 30 year cooling trend. The little monster could have been killed in its crib, but it was given shelter and succour and protected from scientific inquiry. As with all science fiction stories, the global warming monster grew up to turn on its creators.

Who protected it, who should have known better? As Australian families struggle with higher and higher power bills, with the respiratory disease load from underheated homes in winter, and all the other afflictions that come from third world-level power reliability and pricing, whose name should they curse? The lefties in both major political parties currently promoting renewables are mindless automata; they really don’t understand what they are doing, most likely don’t care about the consequences and nobody has high expectations of them in the first place. But who knowingly set up the conditions that allowed them to repeat their inane platitudes without being mocked for spouting scientific and economic drivel?

The villain in our story is John Winston Howard, Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007, and this is the backstory of global warming and renewables in Australia. As a student at Sydney University, Howard used to travel across Sydney to sit at the knee of Sir Philip Baxter and be told stories of the wonders of nuclear power. This would have been in the early 1960s. Sir Philip was a UK-born chemical engineer who had contributed to the Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge in 1944. He came to Sydney as a professor of chemical engineering and served as chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission from 1957 to 1972. Young Winston soaked up the stories of how wonderful nuclear power will be and promptly shut up about it. He became a one-man sleeper cell of nuclear advocacy, to be activated once the conditions were right.

This story could have had a happy ending but our villain, as Prime Minister, decided to speed things up and create the conditions conducive to acceptance of nuclear power by the Australian public. At this point let’s digress and discuss the merits of said nuclear power. First of all, the Greens are against it. Normally this would be the end of the argument as anything opposed by the vile and loathsome Greens is usually a good and decent thing. But in this instance the Greens are correct about nuclear power as it is commonly understood, which is light water reactors burning U235 in fuel rods. Those things are wasteful, burning less than 0.5 percent of the uranium mined, leave an enormous waste legacy and are inherently unstable. You just can’t turn off a such a nuclear power plant. Because of decay heat as fission products split to become more stable atoms, cooling pumps have to keep working for months to avoid a meltdown or permanent damage. Increased safety requirements with more layers of steel and concrete made the situation worse because the nuclear industry responded by making bigger reactors to maintain economies of scale, in turn making the problem of cooling the reactor core more difficult.

There is a nuclear technology which comes with inherent safety and a minor radioactive waste burden. This is the thorium molten salt reactor. Work on this technology was underway at Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the 1960s. It was killed off by President Nixon and has been resurrected by a Chinese effort at commercialisation. Getting this technology commercialised is absolutely essential to the continuation of civilisation at a high level – because there is nothing else.

Solar and wind power are sold as being renewable and sustainable but they are neither. Consider the implications of the following graph:

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Figure 1: Power price in Europe versus wind and solar percentage of consumption

One day all the fossil fuels will run out and power, then 100 percent renewable and sustainable, will cost about four times what it does at the moment at €0.60/kWh (US$0.68). And that is before paying for the battery storage to even out the flows from these intermittent sources. But sticking to the as-generated cost, the only reason 100 percent renewable, sustainable power costs only four times what coal-fired power does is because coal-fired power is used to make the solar panels and wind turbines. If power at €0.60/kWh was used to make solar panels and wind turbines, the price is likely to quadruple again, and so on ad infinitum.

There will not be any civilisation based on renewable energy, because such a civilisation is not sustainable. There is no point in have a renewables component in our power supply; it is a waste of money, and precious time. One former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has declared that the 15 percent renewables target under his government is the correct level. This is a statetment of religious belief, a tradeoff between what the legacy system can stand and the demands of religious observance – in this case the virtue-signalling of an ever higher renewables component in our power supply. The Labor Party has declared a renewables target of 50% which will cement the country’s position of the world’s most expensive electricity. At the same time, Australia is the world’s second-largest coal exporter. The mental gymnastics involved in restricting domestic consumption on moral grounds while exporting hundreds of millions of tonnes of the stuff – are beyond the scope of this paper.

The big picture view of energy is as follows. One third of energy comes from oil at the moment. When that starts running down, liquid fuels will start being made from coal, eventually doubling the coal consumption rate. So instead of coal lasting hundreds of years, people being born today will start seeing the end of coal. And then there will only be nuclear. It will be nuclear or the void of nothingness.

Currently solar panels and wind turbines and the steel and cement to make nuclear reactors are all cheap because coal is cheap. Whether or not we have a civilisation further out depends upon the cost of nuclear power when nuclear is the source of all energy – using electrolysis to split water molecules to make hydrogen to make urea so we can have fertiliser, hydrogen to make liquid fuels etc. Coal and oil were the fossil fuels given to us to take civilisation to a high level, U235 was the fissile isotope given to us as the match to start the nuclear fire which will maintain civilisation at a high level for all eternity. Departing from this will only end in tears and death.

Having established that our villain’s cause was just and righteous, what antics did he get up to that resulted in Australia current sorry state? In 1998, in horse-trading with the Australian Democrats, he established a two percent renewables component in power supply. That just kept increasing of course. On 6th June, 2006, he commissioned an inquiry into the viability of a domestic nuclear power industry. That inquiry concluded that the power price in Australia had to be much higher to justify the adoption of nuclear power. So our villain, our second-rate Machievelli, set out to make power prices much higher.

At the time, Prime Minister Howard had a public stance of being agnostic on global warming. In private he was known to be scathing, correctly seeing it as a fraud. But he continually aided and abetted the global warming industry, culminating in his last dark deed. This was the passage of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act (NGER) in October, 2007, before losing the federal election the following month. The NGER is the auditing basis of the carbon tax that was brought in a few years later. The idea was to get the paperwork flow settled down and then start taxing.

Howard’s ministers had no idea why he had introduced the NGER. They didn’t ask and he didn’t volunteer. Even Dennis Jensen, who was one of the few Liberal Party MPs to say that global warming was a fraud, voted for the NGER. These people literally had no idea what they were doing and why.

Partly on a promise to repeal the carbon tax, Tony Abbott became Prime Minister in 2013. But a few days after the election he announced that the NGER was not going to be repealed. What the hell? Why keep the auditing basis of the carbon tax if you are going to get rid of the tax itself? Even if the information it generates is not acted upon, the NGER is not some innocent little thing. Tens of thousands of accountants around Australia are employed to meet its demands. All that misdirected effort lowers the standard of living. But sure enough, the carbon tax has been resurrected as “Direct Action” under which people are paid to do things like not burn grass, believe it or not. Yes, Australians have been mesmerised into believing any stupidity that might be concocted.

So we come to the current day. Our villain’s dream of much higher power prices in Australia has become a reality; nuclear power not so much. What is the point of telling such a tale unless it provides instruction and guidance? On the guidance front, we do need to start now on commercialising thorium molten salt reactors because there isn’t much of a margin of safety left. We may have only a few decades to get it right, not generations. On the instruction front, mock, and anything worse you can think of, anyone who uses the words “renewable”, “sustainable”, “clean” and “emissions” with respect to energy and power supply. By using those words, they betray that they understand nothing and that their views are worthless.

Australia now leads by example – of what not to do in power supply. Nations shouldn’t kill their cattle on the advice of simple-minded teenage spiritualists, neither should they destroy their coal-fired power stations on the urging of the current day versions of same.


David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare

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129 thoughts on “Never Go Full California

      • Umm, per the panicky peeps in news media, if it melts, it’s supposed to raise ocean levels by 200 feet. I’d like to see that. Maybe Algore will get swamped by it.

      • @ Sara July 12, 2017 at 11:38 am

        Icebergs are floating so if this one melts the ocean level won’t change. Some think with it gone the massive land ice will slip into the ocean. Not likely. These events are what glaciers do.
        Also, Al Gore does not live in an ocean-side home — no chance that he will get swamped, say even by a tsunami.

      • Breaking news to the media. Floating icebergs have already raised the sea level as much as they ever will. The volumetric expansion due to temperature increase will only add 0.3% more than its current volume.
        A veritable drop in the bucket.

      • my initial reaction also. It’s like it’s automatically the final proof of CAGW theory.

        Antarctic sea ice has been on an upward trend for the last 35y. Maybe it’s about time a bit of it snapped off !

      • Well, now, that settles it. I don’t have to ask high school physics students to run that low-cost experiment I’d planned measuring the volume of O2 escaping from melting ice that forms from cold water (cloudy because it’s full of oxygen) versus the volume of O2 that escapes from melting ice formed from hot water (clear because heat forces oxygen out).

        That’s a good thing, too, because I only have two ice cube trays and ice from McD’s is always clear (starts with hot water) and ice from my kitchen faucet is cloudy (starts with cold water).

        I’ll find another project to inflict on myself. Oh! I have it! Taking temperatures during the Aug. 21 full eclipse. That should scuttle the solar versus carbon dioxide theory, shouldn’t it?

      • Circumpolar current will take iceberg on a journey. There is 4 year temperature (2-3 degrees C warmer) /atmospheric pressure double cycle (circumpolar wave) surrounding the pole. Melting of huge lump of ice will cool both sea surface as well as atmosphere above; depending on its velocity and the current location of the waves’s peaks and troughs a disruption to the local climate patterns is likely.

      • Greg
        “my initial reaction also. It’s like it’s automatically the final proof of CAGW theory.
        Antarctic sea ice has been on an upward trend for the last 35y. Maybe it’s about time a bit of it snapped off !”

        This is not sea-ice and the upward trend (in area) of which you speak is now the lowest recorded.

    • The iceberg is so massive (2x Luxembourg), that it has drifted through two threads wholly unrelated to icebergs.

    • Meh

      Andrew Shepherd, professor of Earth Observation at the University of Leeds, agreed. “Everyone loves a good iceberg, and this one is a corker,” he said. “But despite keeping us waiting for so long, I’m pretty sure that Antarctica won’t be shedding a tear when it’s gone because the continent loses plenty of its ice this way each year, and so it’s really just business as usual!”

      It’s just nature doing what nature does. The real deniers are the ones who deny things like natural variability.

      • Well kudos to Andrew Shepherd, I had him down as a dyed in the wool alarmist. It is reassuring to see him talking sense.

        They sure know which side of the bread is buttered.

        The Turmp – Paris tsunami is still travelling the world’s oceans.

    • In reply to Russell’s comment.

      Curious, the cult of CAGW fake news outlets have ignored the largest recorded increase in ice mass in recorded history on the Greenland Ice Sheet and the coldest July Greenland temperature ever recorded.

      http://beta.dmi.dk/en/groenland/maalinger/greenland-ice-sheet-surface-mass-budget/

      http://notrickszone.com/#sthash.BlxTY2Yc.s8cfTz5N.dpbs

      When the Greenland ice sheet was warming the cult of CAGW said it was the canary. No surprise the canary is now predicting planetary cooling.

      P.S. There are cycles of warming and cooling in the paleo record correlating with solar cycle changes. The sun is currently in the process of an abrupt change.

      https://arxiv.org/pdf/1705.09099v1.pdf
      The Sun in transition? Persistence of near-surface structural changes through Cycle 24

      http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1086/421104/pdf
      SOLAR CYCLE 23: AN ANOMALOUS CYCLE?

    • People talk about huge icebergs like it is a bad thing. My thought is that thin ice wouldn’t get so big. An inch thick ice sheet would be broken up by waves as soon as it got to the ocean. The thicker the ice the larger it can become as a floating ice sheet. So my question is how thick was the ice that it was able to for a state sized iceberg?

      • Probably about the thickness of Luxembourg.

        Getting back on topic, do any Californians have some useful recipes for pickled walnuts, as I’ve just come across a local glut of them.

      • My Grandparents as young adults lived in the walnut capital of the world. Unfortunately they left no recipes behind.

    • Isn’t this the opportunity some Persian Gulf country was looking for to cool the local climate and have fresh water?

      • Even the quantity and quality predictions are true (at least today)
        The total number of cattle in South Africa at the end of August 2003 was estimated at 13.5 million, consisting of various international dairy and beef cattle breeds, as well as indigenous breeds such as the Afrikaner and Nguni.
        a healthy increase from the 300,000 – 400,000 then

    • And now to Rustle this thread back

      The closest historical example of what Australia is doing to itself now is the 1856 cattle-killing frenzy of the Xhosa tribe in what is now South Africa. Briefly, a teenage girl named Nongqawuse and her friend Nombanda went to fetch water. Upon returning, she said that had met the spirits of three of her ancestors who had told her that the Xhosa people should destroy their crops and kill their cattle. In return the spirits would sweep the British settlers into the sea. Then their granaries would fill again and their kraals would have more and better cattle. The cattle-killing frenzy that followed killed between 300,000 and 400,000 head of cattle. In the resulting famine, the population of the province dropped from 105,000 to fewer than 27,000.

      Unfortunately for Nongqawuse, she died in 1898 and missed the banishment of the British in 1902. Not that her actions caused them but the results are the same.
      Cattle slaughtered…
      Famine happens…
      Civil unrest ensues…
      Boer War begins…
      Britain looses…
      British leave…
      People and cattle return to the new country of South Africa.
      No one said that the prophesied events had to happen over the course of a couple of years.

      Apparently it took 50 years or so but the prophecy was realized

      • I prophesy that everyone reading this post shall one day pass away.

        I further prophesy that one day (no time specified) all nations, corporations, and human organizations now on this Earth will pass away.

        What are the odds of me getting it right?

  1. Tony Heller put this one up this morning:

    Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. – Voltaire

  2. Something of a conspiracy theory in seeking a simple cause for a complex mass movement.
    Much of the anti-nuclear movement, at least in the US, was anti-nuclear weapons in origin, and heavily influenced by Soviet disinformation.
    Global warming is part of the green movement, which has very uncertain and mixed intellectual ancestry. So no matter what a silly twit John Howard was, trying to blame one yahoo does not work all that well.

    • ” So no matter what a silly twit John Howard was, trying to blame one yahoo does not work all that well.”

      Yes, it does work. A forest fire starts with a spark. Firefighters go to some effort to discover where it started and how; because that is where your efforts on preventing another one ought to take place.

      This story is a good analysis of that “spark”. To be sure, the spark then needs to land on fuel and be embraced. But this discussion does help explain some oddities.

  3. It is probably not going to end well for Australia’s grid. Running out of lead time. New USC coal takes ~4 years to construct. CCGT is ~2.5, but if that is done then the LNG investments look stranded unless a lot more gas capacity can be brought on line in a hurry. Meanwhile, as in Germany, renewables make what was baseload uneconomic. So Hazelton shuts prematurely. The only thing saving California from similar lights out consequences is import of out of state hydro and coal generation (4 Corners). Australia does not have that option.

  4. So the title of this post is more of: South Australia has taken over California’s position as the poster child for a bad idea whose time has come.
    But, we are building excess capacity with CNG fired energy generation. Don’t listen to what Governor Moonbeam says, watch what actually happens.

  5. Wasn’t there a time when people were enthusiastic about big icebergs and wanted to tow them to Africa to provide freshwater? At least the Trump effect seems to be making progress, on the usually insane BBC the news bulletin actually said that the iceberg was nothing to do with global warming as these things are quite normal. Wonders will never cease.

    If only our MSM would just stop boring us with their constant (daily) attempts to blacken the Trump presidency with some kind of nonsense about Russian influence on the US election.
    I’ve been readind Roger Stone’s book about the 2016 making of the president and am absolutely appalled at the Clantons appalling misconduct towards women. Why isn’t that an issue for investigation?

      • I love how leftists never want to talk about the bad things their Gods have been doing.
        Instead they have to make up stuff about other people so that they have stuff to talk about.

  6. Excuse me – not burn grass? Why? I usually leave mine on the lawn to aerate the soil and get a nice, thick grass cover.

    Does this anti-nuke attitude have anything to do with Helen Caldecott’s 1970s attacks on nuclear power that stopped testing in the south Pacific? Just asking.

  7. Not sure if this is the right place but anyway…O/T….a new paper is out re-iterating the failure of the Greenhouse gas theory and instead positing the atmospheric pressure / distance from the sun theory. Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Titan and Triton, all examined. (I have NO dog in the fight but have watched Harry Huffman’s theory with interest. This appears to be all-but identical.) Seriously, I believe this would be very worthy of a stand-alone post at WUWT, as there’s enough qualified people on here to rip it a new one if it’s false.

    Article
    http://lidblog.com/atmospheric-pressure-greenhouse-effect/

    Presentation

    Paper
    https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/New-Insights-on-the-Physical-Nature-of-the-Atmospheric-Greenhouse-Effect-Deduced-from-an-Empirical-Planetary-Temperature-Model.pdf

    • Read it. The paper is weak obscure statistics on very limited inhomogenous data and nothing more. Mixes moons and planets. In my opinion to be ignored as likely nonsense. Sky dragonish.

      • A sweeping five-sentence critique could doom all who would even attempt to read that paper. I’m confident that many of those who might first try, now will not, because the five-sentence critique is just easier and less time consuming.

        I WILL, however, fight my first instinct to accept (on faith) the five-sentence critique, … actually try to read and comprehend the paper.

        Truth seeking is a tough gig.

      • RK, please read it and get back. Note also it was published by OMICS. PubMed refuses to carry anything from OMICS because of quality problems. Another red flag.

      • ristvan,

        I’m afraid that, even if I DO read it, I do NOT have the necessary background to digest it or appraise it on technical grounds. At best, I might be misled by its impressive displays. I’d like to see other assessments, therefore, since I trust neither yours nor MINE alone.

        I have read one pretty extensive review by an expert who had problems with it, but he did NOT dismiss the paper outright. Also, I see other reviewers who are hung up on political correctness and acceptability standards that seem to divert interested students from the actual substance of the paper. The latter seem like ploys to discourage, rather than attempts to assess the value of the authors’ efforts.

        I’ll keep at it on these fronts, and thanks for your insight.

        I have questions like, “Is it total crap?” or “Are there mistakes here and there that need addressing, but not so bad as to throw the baby out with the bathwater?”

      • Here is a simple explanation:

        The sun determines the average temperature of the atmosphere. The lapse rate warms the lower atmosphere above this average, and cools the upper atmosphere below this average. Thus the average temperature of the atmosphere is unchanged. However, since the lower atmosphere is now warmer than it would be otherwise, this warms the surface more than it would be otherwise.

        How much does the lapse rate warm the surface? The average temperature of the atmosphere is found at about 5km altitude. The wet air lapse rate is about 6.5 C/km.

        surface warming = 5km * 6.5C/km = 32.5C = 33C from GHG theory.

      • the lapse rate warming of the surface is quickly verified by comparing valley and mountain temperatures in close proximity. GHG theory cannot explain why valleys are warmer than mountains.

      • ferdberple wrote: “Here is a simple explanation:”

        That was a simple explanation. Thanks for that.

        Does anyone argue that this is not the case?

      • “Does anyone argue that this is not the case?”

        This is not the case! Gravity alone does not create a lapse rate. Richard Feynman, in his famous lectures on physics, disposes of that idea in a single paragraph:

        http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_40.html

        James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated this convincingly in the mid 19th Century.

        There is a lapse rate because the atmosphere is mostly heated from the bottom (from solar energy heating the surface) and cooled from the top (from GHGs able to radiate to space. It’s really very similar to the temperature gradient in a metal bar heated at one end and cooled at the other.

        If the lapse rate from this upward transfer of energy exceeds the adiabatic lapse rate, convection starts to drive the lapse rate back towards adiabatic. Higher lapse rates are called “unstable lapse rates” for this reason.

      • Ed Bo wrote:

        TA: “Does anyone argue that this is not the case?”

        Ed Bo: “This is not the case! Gravity alone does not create a lapse rate. Richard Feynman, in his famous lectures on physics, disposes of that idea in a single paragraph:

        I read that link but I didn’t see the idea disposed.

        What part of the Earth’s surface temperature is due to compression heating of the atmosphere?

      • Does anyone argue that is not the case?

        That is not the case. The air at altitude is colder than the surface therefore cannot raise the temperature of the surface. Second Law of Thermodynamics. Like trying to bring a pan of water to the boil by surrounding it with ice cubes. You could surround it with ice burgs and it would still not raise the temperature one bit.

      • TA, you ask: “What part of the Earth’s surface temperature is due to compression heating of the atmosphere?”

        That’s easy: NONE!

        It is only the active act of compressing that can contribute to a rise in temperature. The earth’s atmosphere has been sitting on the surface for billions of years now — it is not actively compressing.

        If you push down on a bicycle pump, you increase the temperature of the air in the pump above ambient. That’s active compression. If you leave it compressed, it will return to ambient. That’s static pressure, and that’s all the earth’s atmosphere provides.

        From the Feynman lecture:

        “Suppose that we have a column of gas extending to a great height, and at thermal equilibrium—unlike our atmosphere, which as we know gets colder as we go up. We could remark that if the temperature differed at different heights, we could demonstrate lack of equilibrium by connecting a rod to some balls at the bottom (Fig. 40–1), where they would pick up 1/2 kT from the molecules there and would shake, via the rod, the balls at the top and those would shake the molecules at the top. So, ultimately, of course, the temperature becomes the same at all heights in a gravitational field.”

      • Well, I tried to read the N & Z paper, but it quickly went out of my league, technically. What I deduced, however, was that N & Z have a thought-out plan that they honestly believe.

        I also tried to read Willis’ long critique of N & Z. He also appeared impressive in his detail, but, again, I got lost in the mathematics.

        Then I read N & Z’s long, detailed reply to Willis’ critique, and, low and behold, they accuse him of the same degree of gross misunderstanding of basics as he accuses them. They answer all his points with seeming confidence. Even though I cannot completely understand the math, I sense that that they feel secure about being onto something regarding pressure and temperature. This does NOT discount “greenhouse gases” in my mind, however, but rather suggests adding to the effects of these gases in an expanded model of planetary heat.

        As for the N & K’s use of pseudonyms in previous articles, my first instincts were correct — they did this as a strategy to deal with the degree of black listing in orthodox climate science. People in creative fields, like art and theatre, do this all the time. I know … science SHOULD be different, but is it, really? … in this regard? Give the guys a break on this maneuver.

        I cannot discount this duo yet. I remain open to other appraisals, and thanks again for yours, ristvan.

      • “This does NOT discount “greenhouse gases” in my mind, however, but rather suggests adding to the effects of these gases in an expanded model of planetary heat.”

        That’s the way I am looking at it, too, Robert.

      • “TA, you ask: “What part of the Earth’s surface temperature is due to compression heating of the atmosphere?”

        That’s easy: NONE!

        It is only the active act of compressing that can contribute to a rise in temperature. The earth’s atmosphere has been sitting on the surface for billions of years now — it is not actively compressing.”

        The Earth’s atmosphere at one time did actively compress and raise the surface temperatures as a result. Once the temperature was raised, the atmosphere would circulate the way it does now because of that heat differential between the surface and the stratosphere.

        What if the Earth’s atmosphere was pure nitrogen (no greenhouse gases) and had no ocean, what would the surface temperature be, and how would the lack of greenhouse gases affect the atmosphere’s temperature?

    • Cheshire

      The problem with that paper (which I posted in Tips and Notes) is the authors have been naughty before and who knows if they have reformed? I found the paper interesting because of the insistence of determining things from measurements and first principles, not models, even simple ones. If the surface temperature of a planet can be determined by the lapse rate and insolation alone, without regard to atmospheric composition, then the radiative greenhouse gas idea is in trouble.

      The fact that GHG’s are never used in double and triple paned windows to ‘keep the warm side warmer’ is telling. Windows are filled with argon, not CO2. Why?

      • CinWbut… the last paragraph of your comment is priceless. +10.
        Except it is often nitrogen– as in my Fort Lauderdale ocean side cat 5 shatterproof floor to ceiling monsters set in 1/8 inch aluminum plate bolted every 18 inches to steel reinforced concrete.

      • Um. RK, nope. In Fort Lauderdale (we dive a lot) wet suits are loose fitting thermal foam insulation and dry suits are tight fitting warmer foam insulation. Neither has to do with decompression (bends) which is about the rate of depth ascention given time at depth (nitrogen solution into blood, bubbles out very bad). Granted, deeper divers need dryer suits to keep warm at depth given the thermocline. Do you even dive?

      • Should we allow personalities/behavior to determine whether we look at the science or not.

        Let’s discuss the science, not the people involved. If that’s possible. Unless that is totally against the website owner’s policy, then I say, it’s his website and he can do what he wants with it, but I would sure like to hear the experts in these fields weigh in on this subject if that were possible.

        I don’t know if the theory is valid or not. It sounds good. I bet I would know a heck of a lot more about all the nuances if it were discussed here.

      • Um. RK, nope. In Fort Lauderdale (we dive a lot) wet suits are loose fitting thermal foam insulation and dry suits are tight fitting warmer foam insulation. Neither has to do with decompression (bends) which is about the rate of depth ascention given time at depth (nitrogen solution into blood, bubbles out very bad). Granted, deeper divers need dryer suits to keep warm at depth given the thermocline. Do you even dive?

        The article I linked to was talking about inflation gases. You are talking about inflation foam. No mention of bends. Someone originally asked why argon was used as the insulating gas in double-pane windows. I figured that the reasoning for using it in windows might be similar to the reasons for using it in diving dry suits [note DRY suits, not wet suits], which apparently have inflation valves for pumping in insulating gas for cold-water diving.

        Obviously, I don’t even dive. (^_^) Well, I did once, in a swimming pool, … briefly, … practiced some shared breathing exercises with the other diver. If I had been a diver of any sort for real, then free diving would probably have been my game — to see how long I could hold my breath. I used to swim distance every single day, and I would end my laps by underwater diving to see how many laps I could do underwater. Never made it past two and a half laps in a 25 meter pool. I almost made three one time. I understand that Navy Seals can do four in their sleep. Then there are the pearl divers and such. I’m so inferior – as usual, out of my league, like I am here in the comments section.

    • cheshire:

      We’ve been through this before at this site. Use WUWT’s search window on the right side, entering “Nikolov Zeller”, and you’ll find multiple posts from several years ago. They’ve tried to put lipstick on the pig, but they’re still making errors an undergraduate should be ashamed of. Very quickly:

      1. They don’t understand the implications of Holders inequality on a planet’s energy balance. The larger the variation in temperature for a given average temperature, the higher total power radiated (because power radiated is proportional to T^4). This means that for a constant power input, the greater the variation in temperature, the lower the average temperature must be to achieve energy balance.

      This takes about 10 minutes of high school algebra to understand, but N&Z are still getting it wrong years after it’s been explained to them. As a result, they don’t understand the most important reason why the moon, with its huge temperature variations, has a much lower average temperature than the earth does.

      2. They are still applying a highly arbitrary formula to their regression analysis with almost as many coefficients as data points, and thinking that they have demonstrated something meaningful. Any decent introductory undergraduate statistics class should have disabused them of this notion. Again, this was pointed out to them years ago, and they still don’t understand.

      3.They provide no physical mechanism by which the static pressure of the atmosphere can provide an ongoing power source to the surface. (Which is to say that they cannot, because there is none.) High school physics tells us that for there to be an energy transfer due to force (pressure x area), it must act over a distance, creating motion. This does not happen at the planet’s surface due to static pressure — no motion, no energy transfer.

      There are other problems as well, but each one of these is fatal. I’ve taught undergraduates, and if one turned in a paper like this, I would reject it out of hand.

    • Editor, please ban sky dragon stuff no matter the new name it is posted under.

      ———-

      On this site Mods do not remove content because other posters don’t agree with it. That’s a slippery path to take.

      Mod

      • Thanks for replies all. I saw it and thought it worth a discussion; had no idea the authors are known on here for previous. Exactly the sort of measured responses I’d expect on WUWT rather than the screaming brigade on other sites. Cheers.

    • http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/12/why-atmospheric-pressure-cannot-explain-the-elevated-surface-temperature-of-the-earth/
      “The average air temperature at any altitude (including the surface) is an energy budget issue, not an air pressure issue. In fact, energy budget considerations explain the average temperature of just about everything we experience on a daily basis: the inside of buildings, car engines, a pot on the stove, etc.”
      Start with a bicycle tire at 0 pounds of pressure. Measure its temperature. Pump it up to 50 pounds and measure it again. It is warmer. Wait 2 hours, measure it again. It’s back to where it started as joules created by work, went away by dissapating.

  8. Archibald’s comments about light water nuclear power are silly – reactors are shut down for refuleing usually every 18 months, during the period f the year when power demand is low and they
    will not be needed. I have no clue where he gtes the idea that shutting down a reactor is a major udertaking. It is true that spent fuel (“nuclear wastes”) require either cooling or storage in concrete caskets, but that has been going on for 70 years without any problems, other than some leakages, which are insigniificant. As for his worries about spent nuclear fuel (“which he inaccurately characterizes as “wastes”) , he misses the obvious. While passage thru a reactor extracts only about 5% of its energy, to characterize that as “wasteful” is quite dumb. The fuel costs of producing a kWhr of power from uranium is less than 3/4ths of a cent, far lower than the fuel costs of any fossil fuel. Switching to Thorium would have an almost insignificant effect on costs from a fuel standpoint.
    He is right in believing that molten salt reactors are the future, but they should be fueled by uranium, not Thorium, since Thorium produces unwanted Plutonium, increasing proliferation dangers. And the dozen or more that are developing molten salt reactors (Moltex, Terrestrial, Transatomic Power, China, etc) are developing reactors that look to (or recommend) being fueled by uranium, not Thorium. Some, like the briliant Moltex design, can ONLY be fueled by uranium.
    As for those nuclear wastes, anyone with any sense would not pay to bury all that energy thousands of feet underground, but would store it in casks, which the spent fuel inside will heat to well over 350 degrees, constituting practically free (very) long term energy that can be used for all sorts of tasks, one obvious one being the desalinization of seawater. Or heating buildings, or entire towns. Lets use our heads for a change. Huh?

  9. The thorium molten salt reactor, or some variant, may someday contribute to energy needs. Partly this will depend on science, and partly it will depend on whether or not there is any wealth left after the social justice progressives destroy existing wealth and the means to produce it.
    In any case, thousands of thorium molten salt reactors will not appear any time soon.
    Haven’t we already tipped?

    • JH, molten salt (LiFB) reactors can use either the uranium plutonium or the thorium uranium fission processes. The TransAtomic Power white paper makes a cogent arguement for starting with U-P because it will consume the majority of spent gen 2-3 spent reactor fuel that already exists.
      The white paper also lays out the remaining not insignificant engineering challenges that need to be addressed. I do think the US government should be funding work toward a prototype, lest we get beat by China.

  10. David,

    Good story, and well told. I’d quibble with you in the margins, though, re: LWRs. Yeah, it’s a sub-optimal version of fission in the application of commercial power. But…there were other reasons it was chosen. And, frankly speaking, as has been stated ad nauseam, reprocessing is a political problem, not a technology one. In addition, LWRs have served their purpose well. Thorium reactors do indeed look promising, but compared to the damp moss that thorium is like, the bone dry kindling that’s U235 was pretty hard to resist.

    Anyway, to the larger point, there’s more R&D on advanced reactors going on than most people realize. It will be interesting to see where we end up.

    Finally, again, I realize this wasn’t the main point of your article, and furthermore, I’m usually the last person to defend the clunky and labor intensive LWR industry…but just wanted to point out that their story was a bit more than you had alluded to.

    Thanks,

    rip

  11. in reality molten salt reactors are as overhyped as renewables.
    Just by different people.

    boring old bwrs and pwrs work, and are well safe enough.

      • I’m as much a fan of scale as I am of concept.
        I read of ongoing research about production or storage (flywheels ?) and consider the concept.
        Then I look for the first commercial facility, and the 2nd, and the 3rd, . . . and the nth.
        The world is building amusement parks, instead.

    • Not disagreeing, per se, they are safe. Billions of dollars worth of concrete will do that. But that’s kinda the point. So much effort (engineering, materials, maintenance, etc) goes into keeping a sub-optimal coolant contained that it is readily apparent that it’s not the best choice. But again, it was chosen for a specific reason. So, maybe a molten salt will work better, or HTG, or something else. Point is, I guess, that they’ve served a useful purpose and unless we as a society really stumble and lose our way in the next 10 -20 years, we have an excellent springboard from which to launch into the next generation of nuke power

      rip

  12. There is even more in the story of Nongqawuse that is relevant. I recall her being described as younger than a ‘teenager’ but that is unimportant. She was young and not believed right away.

    Upon hearing the voice and relating the story, the chief and his council attended the pool (which is S.E. of Gcuwa in a beautiful hilly area marked by numerous, ancient terraced fields) to investigate for themselves. Asked if they could hear the voice and the instructions, some council members said they too could hear the message and confirmed its central elements. Kill, burn on a certain date, and the ancestors will rise out of the ocean and drive the abelungu out of their country. (The colloquial name for ‘Whites’ derives from the word ‘mlumbi’ – one who tricks you, or ‘trickster’ which hints at the quality of the relationship they had with them.)

    So this cattle killing and crop burning was done with the active participation of the powerful and proper ‘peer review’ by the authorities of the day. Sound familiar?

    Also interestingly, this was not a unique event. There were at least three ‘cattle killings’ in the Eastern Cape. This one was large enough in scale (involving three major chiefs’ territories – I think Nongqawuse was a Fingo) that it completely disrupted agriculture. The population had to scatter and take any work they could find simply to get another meal. It was the real beginning of the gross exploitation of Black farm labour on an industrial scale.

    “Sir George Grey, governor of the Cape at the time ordered the European settlers not to help the Xhosa unless they entered labour contracts with the settlers who owned land in the area.”

    And so history repeats. We destroy our means of production and survival in the hope that magic will fill the gaps between reality and fantasy.

    What could be less sustainable than failing to apply our wits to solve our problems? I am really sorry, South Australia, but you serve this just as much as did the Fingos. You are hearing voices from the pool, and your very elect have assented to the call. The consequences are inevitable.

    Perhaps there is yet another lesson to be had from this sorry tale. I lived for a time in Xhosa territory and there are bitter, whispered stories told to children in the night about how the Great Cattle Killing was a conspiracy hatched by the then-governor of the Cape Province “who had learned how to speak isiXhosa perfectly” and “hid in a tree” by the pool. From this perch he is said to have uttered the words that led to the girl believing she was communication with the ancestors. That is no mean feat – isiXhosa is notoriously difficult to speak, having 4 different clicks and 16+ other sounds not heard in English. Did he learn to speak Fingo or the language of the Central Tembus? Where there Gcalekas present to understand him? And how about those multiple visits to the pool by “those with names to be wise” who confirmed the voices from the Other Side? Analogies abound!

    The additional lesson is this: having failed in their grand predictions, the salvationist fanatics who will drive South Australia into the frozen dark will externalise responsibility for their errors by blaming enemies of convenience for misleading them. Innocents, watch your back.

    I liked the previous categorisation on WUWT describing S Aus as the world’s ‘crash test dummies’ for large % wind power. Someone has to do it, right? Just don’t inflict your fantasies on Africa. They have suffered enough.

    • It must have been the “white settlers” whispering from the bushes telling the Xosa to destroy their livelihoods and drive themselves onto penury! [sarc]

      • Fantasies are usually about people with political power.

        I don’t think the locals respected the immigrants much though they did like cast iron pots. Iron had been available from antiquity, made in Swaziland for centuries. The locals were much better farmers which is why I mentioned the terraces. That area around the spectacular Bawa Falls has what I suppose are thousands of abandoned terraces that are obviously ancient.

        Interestingly, the Fingoes (who probably didn’t speak recognizable isiXhosa) settled there and brought with them from somewhere to the north the skill of brewing sorghum beer. This made the attractiveness of Fingo maidens high and attracted large cattle payments for their hands in marriage. They knew the secret sauce. Gradually the knowledge of making alcohol spread north and east to such an extent that it is now known as ‘traditional brew’. Traditionally, the amaXhosa didn’t drink alcohol at all.

  13. I’m Australian. Our schools are saturated with green nonsense, our politicians preach it night and day. The only relief is seeing the politicians get booted out of office, one after the other, when their effort to apply the green magic fails to stimulate job growth and reduce power bills.

    The people rarely question the green magic – they blame the politicians for not applying it with sufficient fervour!

  14. Hmm. First of all a few predictions of my own.

    1. Fossil fuels will keep being “mined” and more and more available for a least another 30 to 40 years as new technology, and eventually higher prices make existing marginal reserves economical. After 30 to 40 years, many easily available reserves will be exhausted and prices will go up significantly.
    2. The “Energy Footprint” (sorry, borrowed a phrase from the lefties replacing Carbon with Energy) of the average middle class western civilization person will continue to decrease over time, as more efficient technology and better insulation reduce energy wastes.
    3. Eventually (maybe 50 years, maybe 100) the world’s population stops growing, and so does the average energy use, and the energy required per person starts to drop as we continue to become more efficient.
    4. Eventually so-called renewable sources become more relevant as energy storage technologies provide the required leveling for base-load. I hope and pray wind energy is banned as I have come to hate the damage it is doing to our landscapes, but I think local solar (rooftop) will have a big impact for areas that get enough sunlight. The electricity infrastructure will have to have been updated, like using direct current for long distances, and being upgraded to allow for a more redundant/hardened distribution.
    5. It eventually becomes evident to many that nuclear is the best option to provide a true base load in about 20 to 30 years. New materials, technologies, and most importantly STANDARDIZATION make it more cost efficient to build centralized nuclear power plants.
    6. Eventually, likely sometime after nuclear starts making a comeback, someone will invest in Thorium and it *may* become the energy source of choice – competing with uranium power that continues to become more efficient as well (kind of like the combustion engine, there are a lot of ways to improve uranium usage and recycling). I doubt it will become relevant until uranium is in wide use.

    I am less convinced that civilization will enter a crisis and more likely it just evolves in leaps and bounds as it has been doing the past 150 years. Thorium seems like a really promising technology, but like most technologies there are going to be unforeseen problems that prevent it from just leaping into use.

    I actually consider the growing world population to be more of a threat to civilization then fossil fuel exhaustion – but I think it will eventually come under control – after some more famines, disease outbreaks, and other man-made disasters like war.

    I guess I am an optimist??? (???)

    • For Robt of TX:
      With all the Earth-sized/type planets being found, and the current estimate for those now at 40 million, is it really necessary to go through all those contortions? Or do you think we’re just kinda stuck here forever?
      Enjoy your pessimism, sport.

      • This hope makes me think of the scenario of Americans moving from high cost, high tax, fiscally unhealthy progressive states to settle in low tax, low cost, fiscally healthy conservative states, who then vote in progressive politicians to start the cycle all over again.

        Men who can’t even take care of their own house spreading into the universe like a cancer doesn’t seem likely to me. What does seem likely is that man will do what he always does – war. So yeah, in a way, we are stuck here forever.

    • RoT, on point 1 more like 10-15 years. Have researched and written about it extensively. On 2 agree for different reasons. On 3 about 30 years, not 50. The limit is not economic development and lowered birthrate, it is available food even given all the best practices, GMO advances and potential dietary shifts. Chapter 3 of Gaia’s Limits. Even my son said a painful data slog rather than a beach read, but somebody had to do it and the resulting calculations.
      On 4, except for Fiskar Nanotech’ s possible LiC ( a recent guest post at Judith’s Climate Etc) there is no energy storage ‘miracle’ on the horizon. I have multiple issued patents in the space so am a SME. 5 yup. 6 maybe, thorium is hyped without a lot of technical understanding.
      I think you are more a realist than an optimist. Welcome to the club.

    • The main argument against wind turbines IMO isn’t aesthetic but environmental. They massacre beneficial birds and bats. But yes, they are ugly, too. I live amidst the largest concentration of them in the world, and many friends and relatives enjoy the subsidies. It will also be a long time, maybe never, before they are economical.

      Rooftop solar is OK, but also environmentally devastating at point of manufacture, ie China. They couldn’t be made in the US under current anti=pollution laws and regulations.

    • Robert’s #3 – – population
      Here is a site: https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Graphs/Probabilistic/POP/TOT/

      Looking at the world chart, it has a median line (red) that continues to climb after 2050, reaching 11 B by 2100. Other places show projections that reach about 10 B by 2060, then steady or falling. That’s for total world.

      But the countries such as Russia and Japan are into a rough future.
      I find these country charts interesting. It is said that demographics is destiny.

  15. Coal and oil were the fossil fuels given to us to take civilisation to a high level, U235 was the fissile isotope given to us as the match to start the nuclear fire which will maintain civilisation at a high level for all eternity. Departing from this will only end in tears and death.

    We have a limited amount of resources to make the next step Spacefaring, and that has to be nuclear.

  16. A simple solution to the problem of religious fundamentalism, and those who seek to exploit it for other agendas, is the concept of budgets. Yes, we certainly needed cathedrals, and today their modern versions (wind and solar farms) otherwise God will be angry, so we are providing 1% of our total budget for this purpose. You want a big battery? … fine, but the budget means fewer cathedrals.

    Deniers! No, not us, we are providing 1% of our budget for this vital purpose, and getting the popcorn in to watch the green-on-green battles over the 1%. Who would vote against a budget cap on those siphoning money out of their bank accounts?

  17. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

    In the UK it was Margaret Thatcher who introduced the NFFO (Non Fossil Fuel Obligation) which was intended to support nuclear power as opposed to coal fired generation in the wake of the miners’ strike. A political decision to ensure constancy of UK electrical energy supply.

    She raised the hare of global warming despite not believing in it herself. I suspect that was also a political decision to justify the push towards nuclear as being a way to reduce CO2 emissions rather than it being seen as a way to circumvent the then power of the trade unions who were using coal as a way to try and bring the government down. It has to be said that much of the Trades Union activity in the UK during the 60s, 70s and into the 80s was aimed at bringing about a collapse of the economy and government with the intention of turning the UK into a communist state. (All well documented)

    Subsequently civil servants used NFFO to subsidise a range of renewables in the 1990s – biomass, waste to energy, fuel pellets and power generation fired with chicken droppings.

    That has transmogrified over the years with heavy intervention from the EU, Ecoactivists, and somewhat dim politicians into the ludicrous policies we have today where too many still have faith in the AGW religion and believe that wind and solar can provide all that we need. We have a number of politicians who appreciate the lunacy of this approach and who see the AGW scam for what it is – but not yet enough of them.

    In later years Mrs. T deeply regretted the use of CO2 emissions and of ‘global warming’ and saw where it was leading but by then she was too politically weakened to do anything to try and undo the harm she recognised she had unwittingly caused.

    The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.

  18. Dr. Archibald, nuclear power in any form can never power the planet, as explained in detail by Professor D. Abbot. Below are more than a dozen issues Professor Abbot addresses:

    1. Not enough plant sites (away from population, near cooling water, etc)
    2. Land area required per plant
    3. Embrittlement problem
    4. Entropy problem
    5. Nuclear waste disposal
    6. Nuclear accident rate problem
    7. Proliferation
    8. Energy of extraction (mining dilute ores for uranium)
    9. Uranium resource limits
    10. Seawater extraction for uranium
    11. Fast Breeder Reactors
    12. Fusion Reactors
    13. Materials Resources (materials of construction, rare alloy metals)
    14. Elemental diversity

  19. ‘This is the thorium molten salt reactor. Work on this technology was underway at Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the 1960s.’

    You, sir, *snip*. (Be nice, Mod)

  20. The problem for me is that I live in South Australia. It is a case of basing decision making on ideology rather than facts. The price of electricity is so high, the price of installing batteries on panels and being off grid is now feasible.

  21. To DA., There is a theory that Australia was well on the way to developing its own nuclear bomb. It was at a time when Indonesia was threatening Malaysia. Vietnam and the Domino theory was current. Indonesia was threatening to go communist. The F111 long range bomber was purchased as a delivery vehicle. It could drop an A-bomb on Jakarta. We needed public support for the nuclear industry..

    • In 1972, the secretary of the Department of Supply had a safe in the corner of his office. The plans for the bomb were in it when Whitlam came in and were taken away. Six months from the cabinet order to having assembled bomb.

  22. The overlay to the stupidity described in the post is that the populous States in the East are also stupid enough the sell all the available gas on forward contracts overseas and leave nothing at a favourable price for themselves. No sense of strategic reserves, no sense of leveraging a natural advantage.

  23. The anti nuke kook emerges again.
    Can we stop with the proliferation thing? Any government which wants nuclear weapons will get them regardless of whether they have a civilian nuke power program.
    Anyway I like nuclear weapons. Puts the politicians and generals in the front line with the rest of us and I have zero interest in being an infantryman in a World War 3 re-run of D-Day etc which, absent nuclear weapons, we would have had by now.

  24. I love the speculation about “peak oil” and, in so many words “peak coal.” Pre-Frack+Directional Drilling there was probably stress about peak nat gas.

  25. “We may only have decades to …” Well, that’s a warning about your position.

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