Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet

Michael Shellenberger has an article up on Quillette


In 2002, shortly after I turned 30, I decided I wanted to dedicate myself to addressing climate change. I was worried that global warming would end up destroying many of the natural environments that people had worked so hard to protect.

I thought the solutions were pretty straightforward: solar panels on every roof, electric cars in every driveway, etc. The main obstacles, I believed, were political. And so I helped organize a coalition of America’s largest labor unions and environmental groups. Our proposal was for a $300 billion dollar investment in renewables. We would not only prevent climate change but also create millions of new jobs in a fast-growing high-tech sector.

Here he delivers the main point, emphasis mine.

In fact, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades. The rapidly spinning turbines act like an apex predator which big birds never evolved to deal with.

Solar farms have similarly large ecological impacts. Building a solar farm is a lot like building any other kind of farm. You have to clear the whole area of wildlife.

In order to build one of the biggest solar farms in California the developers hired biologists to pull threatened desert tortoises from their burrows, put them on the back of pickup trucks, transport them, and cage them in pens where many ended up dying.

As we were learning of these impacts, it gradually dawned on me that there was no amount of technological innovation that could solve the fundamental problem with renewables.

You can make solar panels cheaper and wind turbines bigger, but you can’t make the sun shine more regularly or the wind blow more reliably. I came to understand the environmental implications of the physics of energy. In order to produce significant amounts of electricity from weak energy flows, you just have spread them over enormous areas. In other words, the trouble with renewables isn’t fundamentally technical—it’s natural.

And he ends with this.

I think it’s natural that those of us who became active on climate change gravitated toward renewables. They seemed like a way to harmonize human society with the natural world. Collectively, we have been suffering from an appeal-to-nature fallacy no different from the one that leads us to buy products at the supermarket labeled “all natural.” But it’s high time that those of us who appointed ourselves Earth’s guardians should take a second look at the science, and start questioning the impacts of our actions.

Now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we really going to stand by and let them destroy it?

Read the full article here.

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Paul S
March 1, 2019 4:08 pm

I too became a mechanical engineer in 1980 with the desire to save the world from itself. Like the young liberal evolving into the older conservative, so did I. I now see the fallacies of the green movement. It is based on emotion and not logic

Reply to  Paul S
March 1, 2019 4:18 pm

It’s based on idealistic aspirations and good intentions. Sometimes people who have the best intentions, but are not well-anchored in reality, do the most harm

Ron Long
Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 5:06 pm

Yes, I think you are sort of right about ideals and good intentions. But this chopping up of our feathered friends is something not otherwise permitted, or tolerated, in any other sector of cultural/commercial activity. As I have stated herein many times, go see for yourselves what happens, walk underneath these spinning giant bird-o-matics. Disgusting for sure, and how is it not illegal?

Tim Gorman
Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 5:15 pm

The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

James Francisco
Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 2, 2019 6:37 am

By Harvard Graduates. Says Thomas Sowell, a Harvard graduate.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 3, 2019 12:33 pm

We can contend with those who do evil in the name of evil, but Heaven protect us from those who do evil in the name of good.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 5:29 pm

If I hear one more word about the children….

Reply to  Latitude
March 1, 2019 5:41 pm

But Think Of The ….

Pat Lane
Reply to  Latitude
March 2, 2019 1:46 pm

My first job out of university in the early 1970s, was as a computer programmer for a federal organisation doing research in learning in young children.
At EVERY conference I attended, as someone was presenting a paper about some technical topic, say some new statistical technique, someone in the crowd would scream out “But what about the kids!” and everyone else (with a few exceptions, myself included) would applaud wildly.
The more things change, the more they stay the same

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 5:36 pm

The desire to think highly of yourself is not a “good intention.” Listen to the author’s description of himself: “Those of us who appointed ourselved Earth’s guardians….” That’s arrogance bordering on mental illness.

william Johnston
Reply to  damp
March 1, 2019 6:53 pm

That was probably more metaphorical than anything.

Reply to  damp
March 1, 2019 11:34 pm

Indeed, much of the appeal of the “save the planet” crusade seems to be that it gives you the unalienable right to tell everyone else what to do. After all if you are not prepared to help “save the planet” you must be a complete, utterly selfish bastard, right?

This is why the Marxists took over the early environmental movement which was based on good intentions of preserving nature and lowering our impact on it.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Greg
March 2, 2019 8:33 am

actually Marxists horde the environment and all of its resources for themselves and starve, freeze and otherwise abuse their enslaved population under the guise of spreading the wealth, which consolidates up to the government with little further distribution. We have long years of human history documenting the horrors of Marxism.

Reply to  Greg
March 3, 2019 10:20 am

“The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.” Albert Camus

jon jewett
Reply to  damp
March 2, 2019 3:03 pm

That was then and he admits he was a fool. Well, maybe not in so many words.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 7:35 pm

The road to hell and other such things.

Reply to  icisil
March 2, 2019 2:14 am

Yes! Thus the age old expression, “The pathway to Hell is paved with good intentions.”

Reply to  icisil
March 2, 2019 7:48 am

Good intentions are aspirations, not facts. To reach an aspiration you have to know which facts apply, the absolute hardest part of “doing the right thing”. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can’t do anything right.
Cook, T. (2019), Reframing sensitivity analysis in Earth system models, Eos, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO116217. Published on 21 February 2019
on EOS is a good example of trying to fix poorly thought out thinking.
All models are based on some series of mathematical equations. The current climate models all depend on inputting starting values and calculating the final values and then trying to correlate those with some actual data. Then some sort of dynamic change has to be calculated.

The author instead of that complicated, fraught process does a mathematical analysis of the interaction of the various derivative equations involved to find those that have the most impact on the results. As a non-authorial example, the changing water in response to surface temperature may be very strong but with lesser effect than clouds and cloud cover. You can’t have clouds without water vapor, but that does not mean water vapor is the most important factor controlling cloud cover.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  icisil
March 3, 2019 8:52 pm

icisil. Please look up UN Agenda 21 and see if you think climate change is a scam to bring on one world government through socialism/communism.

Jim of Colorado
Reply to  Paul S
March 1, 2019 5:04 pm

I believe the idea that renewables will replace concentrated power production of any kind is largely based on ignorance (stupidity) or personal (conflicted) income. If I sold solar panels or wind mill turbines, I would be all for it. If I had no engineering or scientific training, I may be all for it. Of course if we had nuclear engineers that could bring a reactor project in on time and within budget, maybe we wouldn’t be concerned right now.

Reply to  Jim of Colorado
March 1, 2019 5:50 pm

We lost a lot of projects because time ran out on them

Reply to  Jim of Colorado
March 1, 2019 7:46 pm

Don’t blame it on the engineers. Blame it on the extreme regulatory environment, environmentalist, and anti-nukers. A back yard tree house could not be built in that business environment.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Gary Wescom
March 1, 2019 10:15 pm

Tell me! When I was a kid the city came and told us we had to remover our well built (my dad helped us build it) tree house because we didn’t have a permit!!!! And that was 45 years ago!! if it was that bad then it has gotten a lot worse.

Reply to  Richard Patton
March 2, 2019 1:37 pm

Son was renovating a pair of units in suburban Adelaide and the last thing his landscaper did was place Zoo Poo trash/mulch around the garden beds. It was the first time the landscaper had used it instead of pine bark as the Adelaide Zoo were giving it away free.
There’s no doubt it ponged but a after a couple of days it had settled down to a mild smell like blood and bone manure until it rained unusually and back came the pong.

That’s when my son received a 7 page cease and desist dissertation from the EPA quoting massive fines so he rang their number to explain it all. The upshot was with helping the zoo out just ignore the big stick epistle and forget about it. It was some time later I was attending an AFL football match at the newly renovated Adelaide Oval in the city and I smelled the same smell of zoo poo trash the Adelaide City Council had used on the new landscaped approaches to the Oval and had a chuckle that it wouldn’t want to be from some private enterprise establishment.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Richard Patton
March 2, 2019 6:08 pm

I bank I work for used shed tree material (in all probability from stump removal) around the entrance of the bank, pretty much common mulch, the problem started to occurs when July and August showed up with the warn dry weather Fargo North Dakota gets during the summer. Cigarettes smokers would throw their cigarettes butts in it starting it on fire. It was replace by rocks migrating the problem.

Reply to  Jim of Colorado
March 1, 2019 7:49 pm

Well there is no such thing as on time or within budget when the courts get involved.

Reply to  Paul S
March 1, 2019 5:32 pm

We published with confidence in 2002 in a written debate with the leftist Pembina Institute:

“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

We also published with confidence in the same 2002 debate:

“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

Past decades of actual global observations adequately prove that these two statements are correct to date. Since then, many trillions of dollars and millions of lives have been wasted due to false global warming alarmism and green energy nonsense. Competent scientists and engineers have known these facts for decades.

We told you so, 17 years ago.

Regards, Allan MacRae

Coeur de Lion
March 1, 2019 5:39 pm

You were wrong 17 years ago, you are still wrong today.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 1, 2019 6:54 pm

Coeur de Lion: No, he is NOT wrong. Do yourself a favour and watch a TED Talk by David MacKay entitled A Reality Check on Renewables. MacKay is a physicist who will do a few simple back-of-the-envelope calculations for you to show you the absurdity of counting on renewables to save the planet, unless of course you are willing to revert to a 17th century lifestyle.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Trebla
March 2, 2019 8:40 am

“save the planet”

FFS, the planet doesn’t need saving.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 2, 2019 4:55 am

Not a year has gone by where any of Allan MaCrae’s statement(s) have proven wrong.

Instead, every year alarmists have filled press releases with predictions of doom, disaster, human/wildlife suffering and certain death.

Every year, those alarmist predictions and other CAGW based claims have not transpired.

Every year, alarmists spin excuses as to why their predictions failed. Then the attention seeking alarmists pronounce more predictions of doom.

And everybody, including most alarmists, yawn.
One should note that most prominent alarmists live very carbon intensive comfortable lives. Many of them living well off in areas they claim will be flooded or drought stricken.

None of the promised benefits of renewables have come to pass.
Ignoring the major problem that equipment required to produce renewable power is 100% dependent upon fossil fuels.
* Fossil fuels are required to perform/support mining.
* Fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric are required to perform/support smelting.
* Fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric are required to perform/support refining.
* Fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric are required to perform/support production and manufacture.
* Fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric are required to perform/support mission critical electronics.
* Fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric are required to perform/support mission critical communications.
* Fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric are even required to install or support maintenance on renewable equipment.

* Renewable installations never produce the electric power they claim.
* Renewable installations require far more manpower and maintenance costs per kilowatt than fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric.
* Renewable installations require vast tracts of land that virtually eliminate other uses, including farming, herding or housing.
* Renewable installations are certain death for raptors, carrion birds, migratory birds and bats.
* Renewable facilities decline in efficiency and energy production immediately after installation.
* Renewable installations never produce the electric power they claim.
* Renewable installations are unable to produce high quality electricity; i.e. frequency, amperage and wattage.
* Renewable installations are demonstrating much shorter productive lifespans than promised.
* Renewable installations require far more major repair or replacement than promised.

Where politicians are satisfied, it is because fossil fuels, nuclear and hydroelectric sources back up the “renewables” 100%.

Where politicians are nervous, e.g. Australia, it is because that fossil fuel safety net is not there.
Disasters follow as businesses and industry suffer renewable grid failure.
Residents are upset because industrial and GDP producing occupations are fleeing the country.
Causing loss of work, loss of security, loss of product and a growing inability to support one’s family.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 2, 2019 8:04 am

All you have to do, you little pussycat, is to prove it.
We have been waiting over 30 years that some genius would finally proof the case. Is it you?

Anna Keppa
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 1, 2019 5:56 pm

Please point to us the evidence that your graph shows HUMAN-INDUCED Warming.

thanks for playing!

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 1, 2019 6:14 pm

Hey Coeur de Lion
I’m no scientist but it looks like the graph you’re using for evidence shows about .1 degree warming per decade. It also uses a temperature spike caused by an El Nino a few years ago for a large percentage of that .1 degree increase. You’re turning me into a global warming skeptic

Javert Chip
Reply to  Tommyboy
March 1, 2019 7:15 pm

Maybe we should be more worried about cerveau d’un lion…

(yea, I had to use Google translate for this).

Reply to  Tommyboy
March 2, 2019 5:13 am

Javert Chip:
“Coeur de Lion” i.e. Lionheart, is an appellation soldiers and opponents applied to King Richard I. For Richard’s fearless yet ferocious personal participation in battle and war.

People calling themselves Richard’s popular appellation are roughly equivalent to children calling themselves spiderman, batman, superman, whatever. i.e. a personal egotistical fantasy.

Such appellations are valid only when friends and enemies freely give a person that name.

Richard M
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
March 2, 2019 5:25 am
Komrade Kuma
Reply to  Paul S
March 1, 2019 11:26 pm

The core issue is ‘energy density’. The only naturally occurring ‘renewables’ on th planet are plants. The aggregate solar energy ans store it internally in the range 20 to 40 megajoules per kG dry mass. By comparison even the latest battery technology is only acieving around 1 mJ/kG, a few % of what plants have been achieving for millenia.

Plants have time on their side to accumulate mass and animals have the good fortune to take advantage of the food store at their leisure.

The idea that low density systems like wind and solar can deliver just in time power at peak demand which are out of synch with peak supply is utterly absurd. Do the sums on hydro and the only reason it is viable is that rain falls from the sky for free and fairly rapidly accumulates in a storage dam. It is still a relatively low energy density store. Pumping water up hill is just more nutzo fantasy stuff.

Reply to  Komrade Kuma
March 2, 2019 12:15 am

Pumping water uphill is a widespread and successful idea: energy demand from midnight to 6 am is a fraction of what it is at other times, yet plant or renewables (wind, tidal) are often at full output during that time. No point in wasting the energy… (once your batteries are charged)

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 1:07 am

A shame that many suitable sites for pumped storage have already been utilised. However let us waste even more public money in an attempt to control the weather.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 1:11 am

Green energy does not even reduce CO2 emissions, because of the need for almost 100% conventional spinning reserve. There is no current grid-scale “super-battery” technology that can economically solve the intermittency problem, except for Pumped Storage that requires special siting that exists in only a few places in the world. My home province of Alberta covers 662,000 sq. km in area, larger than many countries, and we have exactly ZERO sites suitable for pumped storage – we have no sites suitable for hydro dams with a large reservoir at the bottom of the dam.

A C Osborn
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 2:50 am

Of course “Pumping up hill” doesn’t use any “Energy” does it?

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 4:26 am

Pumped storage is a great idea where it’s feasible. The reason it’s widespread is because it can only be done in certain places.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 5:31 am

Ha hahaha! Hah hahaha!

What a pathetic joke g is!
There are floodable valleys everywhere that can be used for pumped reservoir energy storage.
Sure, and most of them near urban areas are filled with housing.

g ignores the need for renewables to produce multiples of normal electric demand, in order to fill those valleys at conversions losses over 30%. A silliness that ignores renewables inability to supply daily and nightly consistent quality electricity.

g’s delusional claims require virtually all land to covered with renewable energy installations or flooded valleys. While g ignores that renewables require 100% online backup by fossil fuels, nuclear or hydroelectric installations.
Meaning renewable installations are foolish and wasteful redundancy.

g’s pathetic claims are one absurd fantasy after other absurd fantasies!

(You need to cut back on the personal attacks, sick with the topic itself instead)MOD

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 5:54 am

Pumped storage is a pretty wasteful and harmful method of storing energy.

For one, there are very large frictional head losses associated with both the pumps and the generators, as well as with the conveyance pipelines. Those are permanent energy losses that cannot be recovered. Then there are the electrical losses that get added to the mechanical losses.

For another, pumped storage creates significant impacts on the flora and fauna. Natural systems are not meant to radically rearrange water flows and water levels on an hourly cycle.

Damming rivers itself is hugely disruptive, at a minimum drastically reducing if not completely destroying anadromous fish runs.

Electrical batteries are far more efficient in converting stored energy and returning it to the system, typically with 98-99% energy recovery.

Frankly, nuclear is the only way to go to produce large scale dispatchable electrical energy without significant air emissions of pollutants.

Reply to  Duane
March 2, 2019 6:59 am

The Bad Creek pumped storage facility in South Carolina is a fantastic use of the excess energy produced at night by the nearby Oconee nuclear plant.

Reply to  Duane
March 2, 2019 8:51 am


Why would “Oconee nuclear plant” need pumped storage ?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Duane
March 2, 2019 8:52 am

Pumped storage is a pretty wasteful and harmful method of storing energy.

Now wait justa minute.

Mother Nature’s “atmospheric river” has already generated 47.8 feet of “pumped storage”, this year alone, in the Mammoth Mountain resort area of California.

Reply to  Duane
March 2, 2019 11:42 am

“Why would “Oconee nuclear plant” need pumped storage ?”

Because nuclear plants don’t like to throttle. Run wide open to meet electrical demand during the day; run wide open during the night (when demand is less) to fill up Bad Creek reservoir. Then use its hydro power capacity during the day when demand exceeds nuke plant output. Pretty good system.

Richard Patton
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 10:53 am

@griff. Unfortunately, it only works with hydro which the ‘greens’ are also opposed to. And then it requires high hills nearby, available in only a few hydro installations. BTW have you noticed ALL the reliable power sources, nuclear, fossil fuels, and hydro are opposed by the ‘greens?’ In some areas, like Fairbanks Alaska, they are even opposed to firewood-because of pollution. But they don’t mind if the poor of the world die in polluted indoor air caused by cooking fires.

Reply to  Richard Patton
March 3, 2019 11:17 am

True. Back 20 years ago, when natural gas was thought to be in short supply and would only be suitable for easing the imminent transition from nasty coal to renewables, nat gas was just dandy with the greens. But technology has made it a major major source that should provide a serious percentage of our total energy needs for decades, perhaps centuries, to come. So now they hate it. Truly, they are against anything that works, as their true goal is to eliminate all energy and return us to our imagined pastoral Eden of yesteryear. If solar power became not only feasible but advantageous, they would soon hate it too.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 6:18 pm

Griff Funny were I life the wind declines at night. Tidal is even at night yet suffers from the unsolvable problem of corrosion. Maybe griff you should resort to using unicorn flagence solve the energy problem, that seems to me that best bet in your world of myth.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Mark Luhman
March 2, 2019 6:19 pm

live not life.

Eric Worrall(@eworrall1)
March 1, 2019 4:08 pm

If more greens had paid attention in math and physics classes like Michael Shellenberger we wouldn’t be having debates about renewables. It should be painfully obvious to anyone who can do a few sums that “saving” the world with renewables, even if it is possible. would require unprecedented destruction of vast tracts of wilderness.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 1, 2019 4:23 pm

+ 10,000 thumbs up…

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 1, 2019 4:54 pm

True, his wake-up is better than continued somnambulance, but it took 17 years to wake. Checking his bio, I found no technical/scientific/math education nor experience. So, like the overwhelming majority of greens, he ignored (and may have condemned) the true experts for those 17 years, cozy and righteous in his convictions and certainty. If he truly wanted to make amends, he should use his pulpit to spread the truth of the climate change hoax.

Eric Brownson
Reply to  Nik
March 1, 2019 6:46 pm

Snellenberger is an M.D. He’s had plenty of “technical/scientific/math education.”

Reply to  Eric Brownson
March 2, 2019 6:08 am

No relevant education. That would be thermodynamics, quantum mechanics.

Reply to  EdB
March 2, 2019 7:54 am

Almost everybody in this planet have relevant education. It´s called common sense.
Only idiots and greens don´t understand the power and logic of those two little words.

Appeal to “relevant education” is pure BS.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  EdB
March 3, 2019 5:56 am

Right on, an appeal to “relevant education” is pure BS.

For the past 20+ years, 80+% of all high school and college students have been “pushed” thru to graduating with a “relevant education” and they are still dumb as a box of rocks concerning math, science and the Constitution.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Nik
March 2, 2019 10:57 am

“True, his wake-up is better than continued somnambulance”

He hasn’t woken up. He still thinks the planet needs saving from CO2.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 1, 2019 5:28 pm

You don’t really even need to know much math or physics to figure this out. Corey Booker said moving to renewables is no more impractical than going to the moon. Really? Does he ever go outside? The sun only shines, at most, half the day. During the winter its even less! It’s not impractical. It’s IMPOSSIBLE. Unless Booker thinks we somehow know how to make the sun shine 24/7!

Has Booker ever seen a photo of the continental US at night? How can he possibly think solar power will work?

This isn’t about practicality. It’s about sheer, unadulterated power – the power to tell other people how they should live, think, and spend their money. The Priest-Kings of the Democrat party don’t really care about practicality, they only care about how they can exert more control over the people.

Reply to  Tim Gorman
March 1, 2019 5:40 pm

“Corey Booker said moving to renewables is no more impractical than going to the moon.”

Booker is absolutely correct. You can send a few people to the moon just like you can build some windmills. You can move an entire first-world economy to renewables just as easily as moving a couple hundred million people to the moon.

I will help out and get started on the logistics right away. (Could be expensive.)

Mark Luhman
Reply to  TonyL
March 2, 2019 6:23 pm

Solar energy will only work if we put it in space and figure collect the energy and how to bring it down to earth, until then it a dead horse most greens and idiots want to ride.

Dave Yaussy
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 1, 2019 6:38 pm

We need to give credit to someone like Mike Shellenberger who is willing to re-examine his beliefs and embrace nuclear power as the only feasible means of providing low carbon power. I don’t share his fear of climate change but his courageous support of nuclear power in the face of his fellow warmists’ refusal to even consider alternatives to renewables should earn him some respect here

Javert Chip
Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 1, 2019 7:19 pm

This is where the beauty of socialism would come into play:

We would be forced to do it & pay for it.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
March 2, 2019 12:18 am

Well lets see: the perceived problem is CO2. The UK has reduced its CO2 by 43% on 1990 levels by 2017, without trashing anything. Any advanced country can do exactly the same.

No wilderness trashing is required by renewables: there is plenty of room offshore for wind and millions of rooftops, parking lots, warehouses and poor quality pasture to put solar panels in (you can farm sheep in a solar farm too)

John McCabe
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 12:32 am

“without trashing anything”? Really? Have you never driven up towards Glasgow on the M74? What used to be a beautiful wilderness route is now home to the Clyde Valley Wind Farm with these disgusting windmills spoiling the environment for miles on end.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 1:04 am

The ‘dash for gas’ worked very well in this regard, but helped trash traditional coal mining communities.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 1:10 am

Depends on your definition of trashing. Introducing largescale industrial infrastructure into these areas definitely trashes their aesthetic, the revenge of the brainwashed urbanites on the rural.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 1:14 am

And we have exported much of that 43% to Asia.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  StephenP
March 3, 2019 6:21 am

And just how much has the US reduced its CO2 emissions since the 1980’s, …… by the closure of all the manufacturing facilities in the upper mid-West (IL, IN, OH), and across the northeast from Buffalo to Boston, ……. by exporting all that manufacturing across the pond to Asia?

The US should have enough “CO2 emission credits” to last them for another 100 years.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 2:05 am

How many times are you going to repeat this lie, griff? The UK exported its emissions to China, not reduced it.


A C Osborn
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 3:00 am

griff as usual misses the Elephant in the room.
The 43% reduction has very little to do with “Renewables” and everything to do with outsourcing our major industries, recessions and crafty CO2 accounting for wood chips.
So yes something has been Trashed, our Industry.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 4:09 am

reckon sheep pasture wouldnt grow so well with solarcells shading it, or be able to be tilled to stop hardpan..sheep are REALLY good at making that!
and then the rain runoff is going to make some interesting drainage issues as well.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 7:14 am

g makes more absurd claims.
Not that the numbers are incorrect, just g’s interpretation is absurd.

g claims CO₂ reduction from 1990 is 43%

An intriguing claim; except United Kingdom’s CO₂ reductions since 1971 is 40.25%; leaving the claim of reductions since 1990 just a shell game.
As others note, the hidden CO₂ pea is that CO₂ is not reduced, it is moved to China, Vietnam, Korea, etc.

England has changed from an industrial power to a country dependent upon imports from countries that are much less careful about their environment or health of their citizens. Yet, the fanatical greenie and climate activists celebrate.
It’s called virtue signalling and is worthless in global terms.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  ATheoK
March 2, 2019 11:03 am

“England has changed from an industrial power to a country dependent upon imports from countries that are much less careful about their environment or health of their citizens.”

Exactly the same with the US.

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 12:58 pm

Part of that “reduction” was due to Drax burning wood pellets instead of coal. CO2 from the former (which is more than coal) is ignored per EU loophole.

March 1, 2019 4:13 pm

LFTR. git ‘er done. Take the research monies from climate research and build a prototype LFTR. It’s really, really stupid not to.

John M. Ware
Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 4:17 pm

What’s an LFTR? A lifter? Of what?

Reply to  John M. Ware
March 1, 2019 4:20 pm

Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor.

Reply to  John M. Ware
March 1, 2019 5:04 pm

Lifter is a better idea.

Reply to  John M. Ware
March 1, 2019 5:28 pm

Here is a basic primer on the LFTR. There are many such presentations out there, this one is probably as good as any. Its a TED talk. Well worth the 10 minutes.

The LFTR is a subset of a more general type of reactor known as the MSR, or Molten Salt Reactor. In spite of what some people think, the MSR/LFTR is not a new technology or some kind of science fiction. The first MSR was built at the nuclear research facility at Oak Ridge in 1965, and operated through 1969. I think the first fueling was U, and a follow-on fuel load was to be Th. I do not know if the project carried on that far or not.
A second reactor was built and operated in California around this same time frame. I believe the Ca. reactor did use Th as fuel and so was a true LFTR. The engineers running the show saw the waste heat from the reactor as a waste. So they hooked up a steam turbine and generator set and started producing power for the facility. Obviously, they were looking to score points with a stunt, nonetheless they produced 50 Kw(!) sustained for a year or two.

Reply to  TonyL
March 1, 2019 5:42 pm

“I do not know if the project carried on that far or not.”

Apparently, funds for MSR research at Oak Ridge were procured through the Air Force to develop the technology for nuclear-powered bombers. Once they developed in-flight fueling capability, they stopped funding.

Reply to  TonyL
March 2, 2019 3:04 pm

Here is a link showing nuclear start ups across North America:


Lots of people are working on nuclear energy.

March 1, 2019 4:14 pm

My friend William (Will) Happer is a Deputy Assistant to the President’s National Security Council and Senior Director for Emerging Technologies. He has been putting s team together to do a true science study on anthropocentric climate change for the past several month. Some time this week or last week someone outed him to the congressional progressives and Senator Schumer is now trying to stop him. The White House needs to hear that we do not want Happer’s work stopped.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David John Pristash
March 1, 2019 4:31 pm

I don’t see any reason why Trump would listen to Shumer.

Happer is part of the Executive Branch. Shumer has no power to tell the Executive Branch what to do, all he can do is complain.

Reply to  David John Pristash
March 1, 2019 5:29 pm

I wonder what they’re afraid of?

Rhoda R
Reply to  Babsy
March 1, 2019 6:18 pm

The truth?

Steven Mosher
Reply to  David John Pristash
March 1, 2019 7:43 pm

happer will operate in secret with no review, no data quality act, no transparent process.

a great opportunity squandered

Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 1, 2019 8:41 pm

The lop-sided appointments by the previous EPA for its Clean Air Committees: The Scientific Advisory Committee Particulate Matter Review Panel where 24 of the 26 members received over $190 million in direct or indirect grants and the the Scientific Advisory Committee Ozone Panel 17 of the 20 members received over $192 million.

The lop-sided appointments by the previous EPA for its Clean Air Committees: The Scientific Advisory Committee Particulate Matter Review Panel where 24 of the 26 members received over $190 million in direct or indirect grants and the the Scientific Advisory Committee Ozone Panel 17 of the 20 members received over $192 million.

I have stop trusting your green one-eyed politics for some time, Steve. Your lack of informational balances (anti-intellectualism) are impossible to ignore.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 1, 2019 9:57 pm

Steven, Obama’s team and the EPA invented that process. I certainly trust Happer to scrutinize and employ whatever good data is available from this blighted government-science industrial complex. Did you think it has been in better hands the past 4 decades with what you qctually know about many of the main practitioners, climategate etc.? Name a dozen of your favorite climate scientists.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 2, 2019 4:18 am

“happer will operate in secret with no review, no data quality act, no transparent process”

That sounds like the way the Climategate data manipulators operate.

We’ll count on you to debunk anything Happer (that’s with a capital H) puts out, mosher

Btw, how did you guys manage to disappear the warmth of the El Nino year 1998 from your Hockey Stick chart? One day it’s the hottest year around, the next day it’s an also ran. It goes from significant to insignificant. You worked on that didn’t you, Steven? Can you make that process transparent for us?

Philip Schaeffer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2019 5:09 am

Tom Abbott said:

“That sounds like the way the Climategate data manipulators operate.”

So, I assume that we’ll hear all about it from you if Happer does the same?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Philip Schaeffer
March 2, 2019 1:45 pm

I’m not sure what you think Happer is going to hide, but if I think he is not telling the truth then I will call him on it. I have no reason not to.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 2, 2019 6:24 am

We can count on Tony Heller to audit their work, not you Steven.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 2, 2019 8:43 am

Then Happer is using the same method as climate”scientists”. You should be proud because he´s adopted your way to do science.

March 1, 2019 4:26 pm

Where I live in Alberta it’s currently -21C, going down to -29C tonight.

Current electricity supply in Alberta shows solar at 0% of capacity (been that way all day long). Wind power is 13% of capacity.

Thank goodness for coal and natural gas.

Randy Stubbings
Reply to  joe
March 1, 2019 8:54 pm

On February 4, Alberta wind produced 27 MWh out of 34,680 possible MWh. On February 5 wind was up to 309 MWh. Wind’s 2-day capacity factor was 0.5 percent. The daily highs in southern Alberta were below -20 C. Fossil-fueled generators produced approximately 350,000 MWh on those two days, excluding a contribution by generators connected to industrial loads that typically exceeds 24,000 MWh/day.

Reply to  joe
March 2, 2019 1:54 am

February 2019 was the coldest month of February in recorded history in Calgary Alberta.

Thank goodness for global warming.

Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 4:37 pm

From the article: “As for house cats, they don’t kill big, rare, threatened birds. What house cats kill are small, common birds, like sparrows, robins and jays. What kills big, threatened, and endangered birds—birds that could go extinct—like hawks, eagles, owls, and condors, are wind turbines.

In fact, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades. The rapidly spinning turbines act like an apex predator which big birds never evolved to deal with.”

I don’t see how the Greens can back windmills and still have a clear conscience.

Ugly, noisy, bird-killing windmills. What are they good for? Absolutely nothing!

Nuclear power plants don’t kill birds. And they don’t produce CO2. Are you Greens paying attention?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2019 12:20 am

good point.

but properly sited wind turbines don’t kill birds either.

Early wind turbines in the US were of a type which lead to bird deaths and were catastrophically badly sited in terms of harm to eagles.

the rest of the world, since 1990s, did not make that mistake.

More raptors are shot in the UK (sadly) than ever get killed by wind farms (and we are talking dozens here, not even hundreds)

Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 8:35 am

Only properly sited wind turbine is the one which has never been installed.

Melbourne Resident
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 12:55 pm

Griff, you are wrong. There are many modern wind farms sited in areas that are also on the flight paths of the top raptors. I will give you an example. Cape Grim in Tasmania (yes it really is called that) they moved the turbines back 100 meters from the cliff edge as Wedge tail Eagles nest on the cliffs. But they are not sea birds and have to fly through the turbines to get to their inland hunting grounds to catch the small mammals they feed on. A recent study in UK of 70+ wind farms found that not only do they regularly kill raptors, but reduce the local bat population by 75%. Yes modern bird and bat killing machines are just what we need to “save the world”.

March 1, 2019 4:38 pm

I have told this story before here, I think, but it needs repeating. I worked for the local electric utility at the power station for the last twenty years. A fellow engineer was all gung ho about wind and he decided to build a wind turbine at his home. It was on a salvaged high-tension tower and he “borrowed” the cherry picker to place it on the tower. He performed all of his own work and got most of the powers through his connections with the local electric supply houses at wholesale. About a year after finishing it we had a showing for the local IEEE chapter. All were amazed. Loved the auto transfer feature and the rest of the bells and whistles he had. The first few year he bragged about how much he was saving on electricity at least every other month. Eventually I heard less and less about it. Then, shortly before I retired while driving home I noticed the Wind turbine was not up on the tower. Asking him about it he explained that bearings needed replaced and he will do that in the summer. More than a year latter I noticed that it was still not there. This time it was after a few beers and he told me “the rest of the story.” While it was not working he collected all of his bills for replacement parts over the years added them up and discovered that all he was doing was paying for parts. with the money he saved from his electric bill. Thus he decided not to waste his time repairing it.
Moral of the story, If an electrical engineer, doing all of the maintenance on Wind Turbine himself, buying all replacement parts for wholesale, doesn’t break even on a wind turbine on a high bluff in Nebraska, just how are theses other people making a profit?

R Shearer
Reply to  Usurbrain
March 1, 2019 5:08 pm

They’ll make it up on volume.

Reply to  Usurbrain
March 1, 2019 7:53 pm

They get subsidies, that’s how.

Tom Halla
March 1, 2019 4:42 pm

I think the green blob favors wind and solar precisely because they cannot sustain industrial civilization.
Remember, having cheap and abundant power is like giving an idiot child a machine gun.

Old England
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 1, 2019 5:31 pm

Tom, I thought that was well understood and that it is the key mechanism to achieve the UNs intent to deindutrialise the western economies and transfer wealth and employment to the ‘developing ‘ nations like China …….

A C Osborn
Reply to  Old England
March 2, 2019 3:27 am


Richard of NZ
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 1, 2019 6:23 pm

Communism is Soviet socialism plus electrification of the economy. My memory is probably a bit wrong but the gist is there.

Quoted from Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov a.k.a. Lenin.

Todays communists seem to have changed their minds a little.

March 1, 2019 4:47 pm

“ The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

George Orwell

March 1, 2019 4:53 pm

People’s ideals really can numb their physical sensations.

For example, a person I know who works in the catering industry had to deal with a person who headed a sustainability group, and their breakfast consisted mainly of a large square granola bar. I saw and tasted one of these, and, honestly, it had all the appeal of leaf debris held together with caulk. I cannot imagine who, at the breakfast, actually enjoyed this eating experience. But I imagine that some people ignored their senses and ate it in the name of a good cause, lying to their taste buds, telling themselves that it tasted okay, because of what it stood for.

I wonder whether fans of all-solar-and-wind would ignore their shivering, as they froze to death for a good cause.

R Shearer
March 1, 2019 5:04 pm

If wind turbines were straws, they’d already be banned.

Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 5:04 pm

From the article: “It’s reasonable to ask whether nuclear power is safe, and what happens with its waste.

It turns out that scientists have studied the health and safety of different energy sources since the 1960s. Every major study, including a recent one by the British medical journal Lancet, finds the same thing: nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity.”

It’s time for the Greens and the Alarmists to get real and put nuclear on the table and take windmills off the table.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 5:31 pm

It’s time for gen 4 nuclear and time to retire pressurized water reactors. IMO its disingenuous to write off the current waste problem, because the potential exists for real disaster if any of the hundreds of tons of spent fuel rods sitting in cooling pools in the US lose water circulation. That problem has not been put to bed; it just keeps getting kicked down the road.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 6:06 pm

The older generation would admonish us “Waste not, want not.”
The environmentalists want us to recycle everything.
Spent fuel, you say???
With lots of Uranium fuel to be recovered, you say???
Loaded with Plutonium, you say?????

Reply to  TonyL
March 1, 2019 6:54 pm

“Loaded with Plutonium, you say?????”
Costs more to recover Plutonium from spent comercial power plant fuel than to start from scratch. That is why the ban on breeder reactors.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 6:43 pm

There is a simple solution to the waste problem. Reprocessing. Other countries have been using it for decades with no problems.

If cooling ponds lose circulation. Those that even use circulation, the only result would be the rods getting very hot. They can’t melt down. Most of the highly radioactive stuff decayed away long ago, and the rods are more spread out than they were in the reactor.

Reply to  MarkW
March 1, 2019 7:17 pm

Very expensive to reprocess. Why not burn it all up to generate electricity without that intermediate step?

Spent fuel boils off the water if the heat is not removed. Then the fuel gets really hot and the cladding catches fire. An open air fire would be a real disaster. Lots of ugly things happen.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 9:06 pm

1) Drill a deep hole around 10,000 feet down.
2) Set off a small nuclear explosion to form a small chamber at the bottom of the hole.
3) Re-drill into that chamber and place into it any radioactive waste for disposal.
4) Once the chamber is mostly filled, set off another small nuclear explosion that will reset the nuclei of the longer lived highly radioactive isotopes into a potpourri of shorter lived, less radioactive daughter elements.
5) Repeat from step 3.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 9:28 pm

The Uranium fission process generates, as side reactions, all kinds of actinides and transuranics. some of these elements/isotopes are fission poisons. When enough of them have built up in the fuel, the fuel rods are no longer capable of maintaining the fission reaction. This happens when only 1% of the Uranium fuel has been consumed. Reprocessing represents a huge opportunity for fuel recovery. It most certainly is hugely cheaper than starting from the beginning with ore and going through the refining and isotope enrichment steps.

Reprocessing was banned in the US not by a law or act of congress. The ban was put in place by an executive order by president Carter. The worry at the time was nuclear proliferation and the fear that other countries could, possibly, reprocess used commercial fuel and extract the plutonium for weapons. The thinking in Democrat and liberal circles was that the US would “lead by example” and forgo reprocessing. Therefor, the rest of the world would as well. Proliferation problem solved. This sort of magical thinking, that if the US shot itself in the foot, other countries would do the same, was very popular in those days.
In any event we have seen how that all worked out.
Pakistan, India, North Korea, and soon, Iran.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt have both announced that if and when Iran goes Nuke, they will follow suit. A nuclear arms race is now getting underway in the Mideast.
The US has reason to forgo reprocessing, and could use it to good effect as France has done for decades.

One would note, as an aside, that the greatest expense in fuel reprocessing is the regulatory process which was designed to kill nuclear power in the US.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 11:00 pm

NOAA programmer,

Deep vertical and then horizontal drilling is being studied for better disposal of high level nuclear waste. Being able to control the horizontal drill stem allows the creation of “plumbers traps” at various places along a horizontal length (U-shape bends). Thus the nuclear waste canisters could be placed and trapped in deep formations with bends to prevent any leakage to other formations for a very, very long time.

No nukes needed.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 6:45 pm

As a retired nuclear engineer with 20 years in the Navy Nuclear program before 40 years Commercial experience the major problem I have with the Next Generation Nuclear is that it will be subject to problems similar as the present generation that have been SOLVED. We have solved most (All ?) of the problems with the present generation. Over my last 50 years every 4 – 5 years another phenomenon was uncovered, detected, discovered requiring EXPENSIVE changes to materials, Operating procedures, Maintenance procedures, Engineering procedures, Chemistry methods and procedures, etc. etc. And not that my experience does not include the learning process from the late 40 through the early 60’s. Where that had the government support and money solving these problems. Then there is always the problem that 75 percent of all changes to Nuclear power plants since ~1970 have been the result of Anti-Nuke zealots that only want to make Nuclear Power use cost prohibitive. Guarantee that as Soon as Fusion is declared operational an goes commercial the Anti Fusion Zealots will multiply like rabbits.

Reply to  icisil
March 1, 2019 7:20 pm

“hundreds of tons”? What was I thinking. It’s 80,000 metric tons (176 million lbs)

Reply to  icisil
March 2, 2019 3:11 pm
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 6:35 pm

Though I certainly understand the reasons for many here for supporting nuclear energy production, I’m not so positive toward it.
Yes, the statistics show that it is very safe, but it could only take one major incident in a standard fission plant to dramatically change all of that. That’s why there are massive regulations heaped upon the plants which makes them unaffordable. We can fulfill our energy needs in the near and medium-term timeframes (up to 100 years) with cheap energy sources that are primarily coal and natural gas.
There are other nuclear technologies which won’t be disastrous if something goes wrong. We need to be spending money (private and some public) on advancing those technologies instead of dumping it into wasteful solar panels and 7th century solution windmills. Of course, I know that this investment may not pay off or that other ways of producing energy may supersede them.
Solar technologies will keep improving based on spaceflight research, who knows where that will be in 100 years. Entrepreneurs will keep working on things like solar paint. There will be Technologies like these, however, are
What we can’t do is dump trillions of dollars into a waste bin, impoverish the population of the planet, and dramatically reduce the resources available to improve life on this planet by feeding into the renewables agenda.

Reply to  SocietalNorm
March 1, 2019 6:45 pm

We’ve had several major “incidents” in nuclear plants, and with the exception of Chernobyl which used a technology rejected in the west, there have been no major problems.

The regulations are significant over kill designed to kill nuclear power, not make it safer.

There is a physical limit to how efficient solar cells can get, and we are already pretty close to that.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2019 11:11 am

The average person still has an enormous fear of nuclear (hell, most can’t even pronounce it). Fears of nuclear explosions and meltdowns and all sorts of things that haven’t actually happened are still prevalent. My wife lived not far from Three Mile Island and is convinced it’s what caused her older daughter’s birth defects, even though she was born in 1976.

Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 5:20 pm

From the article: “Thanks to its energy density, nuclear plants require far less land than renewables. Even in sunny California, a solar farm requires 450 times more land to produce the same amount of energy as a nuclear plant.” . . .

“solar panels require 17 times more materials in the form of cement, glass, concrete, and steel than do nuclear plants, and create over 200 times more waste.” . . .

“But aren’t renewables safer? The answer is no. Wind turbines, surprisingly, kill more people than nuclear plants.”

end excerpts

A few in a long list of serious problems with using windmills and solar to power the economy.

Nuclear electricity is the answer to all these problems, including the CO2 “problem”. Junk the windmills and industrial solar and go with something that will actually work.

March 1, 2019 5:26 pm

1. Shellenberger must prepare a best-estimate account of his contribution to ‘renewables waste’.
2. Willingly and expeditiously pay compensation to the Government (all of us).
3. Publish a written apology.
‘Sorry I got it wrong and I’ve changed my mind’ . . .” not good enough!
We’ll see more of this and they’ll think they can simply walk away without consequences.
It was all self interest . . . virtue-signalling and/or politics and/or investments.
Listen not to the Shellenbergers of this World until they’ve paid their monetary compensation.
How about that Shellenberger?
Preface your next self-promoting article with a bank statement showing your compo payments to the taxpayers you damaged.

Tom Abbott
March 1, 2019 5:50 pm

Looks like you Canadians better shape up or Trudeau is going to put you on the “Naughty List”.


Flight Level
March 1, 2019 5:56 pm

The greens surf on the tsunami of technical illiteracy of the masses.

I once had memorable discussion with a green erudite. Is it true that aircraft can still fly with only one of the two engines ? Yes ? Then it’s very simple to save 50% of fuel by shutting down one of them.

Can he jump on one leg ? Sure, vegetarians are very fit. Then, he could cut the other leg to spare weight and jump even easier ?

Somehow he didn’t seem to appreciate my idea though.

March 1, 2019 6:03 pm

The planet doesn’t need saving. Besides, saving the planet is a guise used by those who want to rule the world.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Rob
March 2, 2019 10:16 am

“Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice” – Will Durant

kent beuchert(@arthur4563)
March 1, 2019 6:49 pm

I have been following the developments of the newest nuclear technology, modernized (practical) molten salt reactors. They are not very similar to current nuclear reators – they do not operate under significant pressures – puncture the core and you won’t see any ejection of radioactive material. And there wil be no meltdown – molten salt freeezes below roughly 600 degrees and stops nuclear fission. These reactors can load follow – they can ramp power up aand down rapidly, unlike baseload nuclear reactors, and therefore do not require much peak load fossil fuel generators. They are air cooled and can be located anywhere and require little space – a few acres of land. They cost less than half as much to build as a current light water reactor and the levelized cost of their power is 4 cents per kilowatt hour. They can be built in factories,are not massive and do not require extensive site preparation. They are very proliferation resistant and can burn either uranium or Thorium. They will last over 60 years. Do the math and you can claim that adding enough molten salt smalll modular reactors to existing nuclear reactors and hydro generators to satisfy all current U.S. power needs would cost in the neighborhood of $800 billion. That is peanuts compared to some of the pricetags being tossed around these days for alternative schemes.

Reply to  kent beuchert
March 2, 2019 12:21 am

I agree these are great.

but nobody knows how much they’ll cost and won’t for a decade.

A C Osborn
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 3:42 am

Showing your ignorance again griff, do you really think that Engineers haven’t been costing Projects for the last 100 years?
The only thing that gets in the way and messes them up is Politicians changing their minds and Specs.

March 1, 2019 6:50 pm

“Now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we really going to stand by and let them destroy it?”
You sir are a sucker. Many are born every second.
You imagine that the reason people initially proposed renewable energy as the path to saving the planet from a boogeyman is that they actually believed it.
We have lots of options, nuclear being the biggest and easiest paths to 0 carbon energy production. The problem with nuclear however is that it works. It functions. It produces cheap, clean, plentiful, reliable energy from which an economy can thrive.
But none of the people who want to “save the planet” support nuclear. Why is that?
It is because they do not want humans to thrive. They do not want economies to grow. They want humans to die off in large numbers. They want economies to contract down to tiny bartering economies where everything is inefficient.
Some really just hate humans. Others are working in lock step with nation states such as Russia and China to try to hamstring the western civilized nations so they can eventually become the top dog.
This is why every solution that they have, and the ones you bought into as a sucker, are incapable of doing the jobs that need to be done.
Welcome to the party pal.

March 1, 2019 6:51 pm

The intermittent power, sustainable blight factor.

That said, renewable, green, clean drivers, while the tech, not so much. It’s a niche solution that belongs in a basket of production/conversion technologies, selected as they are best suited for the application.

March 1, 2019 6:52 pm

Queue Griff with some stupid and wrong fact that won’t even stand up to basic scrutiny.

Since I started counting again he is batting 13 out of 15 clear and trivial wrong facts claimed.

March 1, 2019 7:24 pm

You don’t need to have a technical nor science background to understand that wind and solar cannot provide the energy necessary to run the world. Even if you carpeted the available space with solar panels and wind turbines it wouldn’t be reliable enough to do the job. Batteries? Show me grid capable batteries and you are only a part of the way there. Only nuclear can compete with fossil fuel energy today and even it does not answer the air and off the grid energy needs.

Reply to  markl
March 2, 2019 12:27 am

If you install wind, including offshore, solar, small hydro, reduce energy use, use demand management, use tidal turbines, some biogas/anaerobic digestion, grid scale batteries for frequency response etc, improve house insulation, you can certainly massively reduce fossil fuel use… and of course how much depends on local geography. and moist importantly all this will be linked by long distance HVDC lines.

There are certainly sunny parts of the world where solar plus battery can provide all domestic demand. There are parts of the world where wind provides a very high percentage of required energy for a known part of the year.

The EU target is 80% renewable electricity by 2050 – and achievable goal.

A C Osborn
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 3:44 am

There corrected it for you.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  griff
March 2, 2019 6:35 pm

None work anything out at sea fails the corrosion problem cause and early end of life long before you get a pay back in energy produced opposed in energy it took to create, side question do you want to by a bridge I have one in Brooklyn to sell you.

steve case
March 1, 2019 7:36 pm

Michael Shellenberger is answering a loaded question. The planet doesn’t need saving from climate change or carbon dioxide for the simple reason that there’s isn’t a problem.

Reply to  steve case
March 1, 2019 7:59 pm

Exactly! My first impression was that here is a thermaphobe who had his eyes opened to the truth. But he still thinks there’s a “problem” that needs solving by the abandonment of fossil fuels. He’s only halfway there.

steve case
Reply to  art
March 1, 2019 8:27 pm

art March 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm
Exactly! My first impression was that here is a thermaphobe …

Thermaphobe – Good one (-:

Reply to  steve case
March 1, 2019 10:13 pm

I stole that from another commenter some time ago.

Steven Mosher
March 1, 2019 7:45 pm

At some point maybe conservatives will get together and support nuclear and offer a plan

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 1, 2019 9:58 pm

I don’t think it is Conservatives lacking support for nuclear power where the resistance is Steve.

The nuclear engineering solutions are out there for anyone to see.
Breeder reactors.
Pebble bed Uranium reactors.
All viable solutions to reliable clean electricity.

But the Democrats eyes are closed. Closed tight.
Because energy is about the political power of control. And control of energy means control of everything in our technological world.

You know that. Stop playing dumb. You’re not.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Steven Mosher
March 2, 2019 5:26 am

I would bet that if Trump were to propose a big nuclear plan, the Democrats would automatically oppose it because it’s Trump.

No, the Greens and the Alarmists are going to have to take the lead on this one. If the Left did propse a nuclear solution, there would be no problem in getting support from the Right.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2019 9:24 am

“I would bet that if Trump were to propose a big nuclear plan, the Democrats would automatically oppose it because it’s Trump.”

That’s really what Trump needs to do. And I suspect that eventually he will… at the right time. I just hope he champions gen 4 rather than the status quo. He’s a smart man; I think he would.

Linda Goodman
March 1, 2019 8:40 pm

“Read the full article here.”


Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
March 1, 2019 8:43 pm

Understanding human advancement and energy density are essential.

Step 1: Caveman to 1700 AD – fire for heat and cooking from wood and grass.
Step 2: 1700 AD to 1900 AD – coal to start an industrial and scientific revolution from the technology is spawned.
Step 3: 1900- 1950 AD – oil to build out a society capable of anything including nuclear
Step 4: 1950- 2011 – nuclear power to take humanity well into the 21st Century.
Step 5: post 2011. regression after Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns and Left sends nuclear back 40 years on fear mongering. This is really a hidden agenda to further renewables. A power source with less energy density than step 1.

At steps 1-4, the energy density of the underlying fuel was increasing exponentially with each step and human development and technology followed along.

At this point nuclear, and whatever higher energy density power source (fusion?, vacuum energy?) comes next is the only option to Save not just humanity, but the planet from a starving hungry 8 Billion people ruined by socialists and their climate scam. Otherwise, with solar and wind renewables we are committed to regression to the Stone Age.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 9:23 pm

This is nonsense. There is not enough fissile material to last more than a couple of hundred years.
Look at David MacKay’s free ebook “sustainability without the hot air”. He crunches the numbers and
if you want a fuel source that will last at least 1000 years there are two possible options — solar and
duterium – duterium fusion. And the sting in the tale is that duterium – duterium fusion is almost certainly impossible from an engineering point of view. Whether you like it or not in 1000 years time humanity will be reliant on solar power.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 9:50 pm

Neither is there is enough fossil fuel to last more than a few more hundred years at current burn rates.
Peak fuel reserve is not the issue Percy.
The issue is energy density of the dominant fuel source for any period.

Human technological evolution and advancement of living conditions has mirrored continuing evolution to logarithmically ever-higher energy density fuels.

dung, grass, and twigs < wood and timber < charcoal from wood and timber < coal < oil < nuclear
Each step was a 10 fold increase (far more in fission's case) in energy density.

Solar and Wind power take us back to an energy density time when people were heating and cooking with dung and dried grass.

And as far as your "not enough fissile material" … that is hogwash. You really do NOT want to get into a discussion of the well-understood physics of fast-neutron breeder reactors creating Pu-239 from relatively abundant U-238, or to the even more likely reality of Thorium-fueled LFTR's.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 1, 2019 10:09 pm

Again Joel — read David MacKay’s book. He discusses breeder reactors in chapter 24. They can supply 33kWh per day per person which while not insignificant is still substantially less than what people in the developed world currently use. Thorium could add about another 20 khW per person per day which still isn’t enough. David MacKay does suggest that if we could efficiently extract Uranium from seawater then there is enough energy but again like D-D fusion no one has any idea how to do it. So we are back to solar energy which is the only energy source that is both plentiful enough, readily available and can be exploited right now.

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 10:20 pm

Well unfortunately with solar, I like to have electricity at night. Solar just doesn’t cut it.And go try and mine the metals and build batteries with solar energy. It is a losing proposition. Nuclear is the only way forward.

And humanity doesn’t need nuclear to last 1,000 years anymore than fossil fuels will last a 1,000 years.
Bottom line is Solar is joke. A bad joke on humanity for grid scale electricity for a technological society.

You’ve been suckered by anti-nuclear zealots Percy. I feel sorry for you. Really.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 10:26 pm

Again read David MacKay’s book — all of the numbers are there. If there is an error in the numbers please point them out. As he said you need to come up with an energy plan that gives about 110 kWh per person per day for everyone in the world. Otherwise your plan just won’t cut it.

And why don’t we need energy for the next 1000 years? Exactly what do you think will happen before then? Magic or extinction?

Joel O'Bryan(@joelobryan)
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 10:55 pm

I suppose you want humanity to abandon the Midwest United States, or anywhere cloudy where in the winter, the sun is known to not shine for weeks on end. Even batteries won’t help if there is no power input.

And when you crunch the numbers, a technological society that can manufacture solar panels and batteries from raw material to finished product, it cannot run on solar alone… by a long ways. Period. Dot.

China can’t do it. They use prodigious amounts of coal and petroleum fuels to make solar panels and batteries that then then ship to stupid people in the West who think “Gee, solar can save the planet.” And they even get useful idiots to write books about the scam.

Give it up Percy. Solar is far worse than even wind. Solar is bad joke on humanity for grid-level electricity.
Solar works for limited applications where grid supplies are not viable or available.
Solar charger works for the backpacker trying to charge his cell phone to call Mom and Dad. Solar works for the small low voltage LED lighting needs of my garden pathway in my backyard. Solar works for the remote rain gauge or stream flow sensor to transmit its data via short data bursts over radio links.

But anywhere a grid connection can be made, using solar will dramaicitacally increase cost and reduce reliability.

So when a family is freezing in their home at night (either electircity is unavailable or un-affordable, same thing), try and rationalize why CO2 reduction matters to them. Because it doesn’t. Neither does the distant threat of 1/1000 nuclear reactor melt down.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 11:07 pm

Again stating solar energy has major problems does not magically mean that there
is any alternative. If you want to claim that there is another viable source of energy
that will last for 1000 years and can supply 110 kWh per person per day for the entire globe I would love to hear and see the actual numbers. Everyone I have every heard talk about the long term energy supply for the earth states there are only two alternatives – solar and duterium- duterium fusion. There is nothing else.

Nuclear is an option for the next few 100 years but it is not renewable and it will run
out. So the question is what happens then?

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 10:33 pm

Percy, The average red granite is uranium ore at about $100/lb for yellowcake. There is an unlimited supply. Your sources are club of Rome types who have no clue about the nature of reserves and resources of minerals and metals.

The 1972 C of B report had us running out of a bunch of metals and food limitations would kill a billion people by the 1990s. Guess what?

It is the height of ignorance to add up the mining industry’s reserves and divide by annual consumption to calculate the number of years worth we have left. Would it surprise you to know that copper reserves today are about 10 times what they were in 1972. Moreover, all the copper we have mined since the bronze age is still on the earth’s surface. We’ve recycled valuable metals for millennia. Some of the gold in your wedding ring may have been mined in the Middle Ages and transported accross the Sahara from the Gold Coast. Moreover, miniaturization has resulted in much reduced amounts per unit. Think a large airconditioned room for 1960s computer that didnt have the computing power of your 10 dollar calculator.

Now consider, the population has more than doubled since since 1970 and there are actually fewer individuals in poverty than the 1970 population had. Consider agriculture has more than quadrupled output from less acreage! Hey, the earth is now experiencing “The Great Global Greening” so the best is yet to come with us at 85% of peak population.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 1, 2019 11:04 pm

@Percy. That is what the Malthusians have been saying about every resource we have for the last 150 years. We have more proven reserves for every resource than ever before. How do I know? Because the inflation-adjusted prices of everything has gone down steadily. If we were running out the prices would be rising. We will NOT be relying on Solar power unless we wish to cover every inch of the land surface in solar power panels. You might as well be saying we will be powering the world on Unicorn farts and be as close to reality.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Richard Patton
March 1, 2019 11:09 pm

Do you really believe there is an infinite supply of fossil fuels? If not the supply must be finite and will run out. And what happens then?

Ian Macdonald
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 2, 2019 3:03 am

Nuclear will only run out if we insist on using uranium PWR/BWR reactors. These achieve a fuel burn efficiency of less than 1%. Either switching to a more fuel-efficient reactor design or using a more abundant fuel such as thorium would easily solve this. Ideally, do both.

The nuclear waste problem is a direct result of the inefficiency of these reactors. Really much the same as with an IC engine; if it’s inefficient like a 1960’s gas guzzler, then it probably also spews pollution. Make it efficient, and to a large extent you automatically control the pollution problem.

Richard Patton
Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 2, 2019 10:46 am

@Percy. That is a long time in the future. Why should we cover the earth in ‘renewable’ energy collectors, which cannot support anything but light industry (it is impossible to mine or ship or produce steel, for instance, w/o fossil fuels) and doom the poor of the world to remain poor? Your proposals are truly environmental colonialism as one African leader called it. You are on the top of the economic pyramid and are hell-bent on making sure that the rest of the world doesn’t get where we are. If you truly cared about the poor of the world you would be 100% behind both nuclear power and fossil fuels (cleaned up as much as possible of course). But you aren’t, you don’t give a d**n about the rest of the world.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 2, 2019 3:29 am

“This is nonsense. There is not enough fissile material to last more than a couple of hundred years.”

Eric Sorenson says there is enough thorium to last forever. It would take a very long time to burn through the 175 million lbs of spent fuel rods sitting in cooling pools (US) that really shouldn’t be there.

A C Osborn
Reply to  icisil
March 2, 2019 4:08 am

There are 1000s of years of Uranium in the world and a great deal of it is in the Oceans.
The only factor is the cost to extract it.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
March 2, 2019 8:36 am

“There is not enough fissile material to last more than a couple of hundred years.” ?
WOW….You have officially shown yourself to be a complete idiot.. D’OH !

March 1, 2019 11:24 pm

“Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet” – Michael Shellenberger has an article up on Quillette

er … Because the planet doesn’t need ‘saving’ at all?

Ian Macdonald
March 2, 2019 1:39 am

Worldwide, the figures just don’t add up anyway. We’ve been spending over $200 billion a year on wind and solar for the last decade, and all we have to show for it is 1% of world energy transitioned. At that rate it will take a thousand years and cost $200 trillion to go ‘100% renewable’ – and that’s not even including the cost of battery storage or whatever to cover brownouts.

For less money, we could replace the entire world’s energy supplies with thorium reactors. Advantage is, that would work.


A C Osborn
Reply to  Ian Macdonald
March 2, 2019 4:09 am

Not even keeping up with new generation requirements.

Van Doren
March 2, 2019 1:58 am

“Our efforts paid off in 2007 when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama embraced our vision”
Damn. If your only he went to a doctor to cure his visions…

Tom Abbott
March 2, 2019 6:00 am

Solar power satellites will have a large role to play in supplying humanity’s future energy needs.

The poper place for all those solar cells is in space. There’s plenty of room. Too bad the wind doesn’t blow up there. Then we could put all the windmills up in space, too, and save the birds.

The Chinese look like they are going to be the first to explore this type of power production. The U.S. space program needs to get itself in gear. Humanity will be moving into space soon, and this will be one of the primary power sources for space industry.


“Researchers in China are planning a solar farm in space, an ambitious project that could deliver energy at six times the intensity of installations on Earth. The project, which made the front page of China’s Science and Technology Daily last week, would orbit in space and beam down energy to a receiver.”

end excerpt

Things are going to be looking a lot different in 100 years. For the better, if we can all manage to get along for that long. The sky is the limit, if we don’t limit ourselves.

A C Osborn
Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 2, 2019 1:52 pm

Tom, do you really want China or any other country to have Extremely High Power Microwave Transmitters in space?
There was a film made about it many years ago when terrorists took control of a microwave Platform and started Microwaving the Cities at full power.

March 2, 2019 7:36 am

i shall repeat the comment to the excellent article which i dropped on quillette here:

Good article.
Two points, first a minor correction:
“At the end of the process, the high-level radioactive waste that nuclear plants produce is the very same Coke can of (used) uranium fuel.”
Not entirely correct. Each type of fission reactor produces a different profile of radioactive isotopes as waste, the bulk of them NOT from the base fuel, but from shielding, tamping rods, and other surrounding materials.

However, it doesn’t take a PhD in nuclear engineering to calculate the waste amounts, what they are, the volume, and the half life involved.
The shorter the half-life, the more dangerous generally.

However, the answer is easy: You dig a deep hole in a subduction zone, bury them there, and let the generations around in about 30-200 million years worry about it.
At which point there is no issue.

Second point is more important, and is addressed in Michael Shellenberger’s article..

I was trying to run an MECE business analysis on who benefits from the current global climate hysteria.
The usual list of suspects are all in there, but only in sufficient quantity to keep the juggernaut going, not initiate it or accelerate it.

Who has both means, motive, and opportunity?

Well, we know that energy (and that means fossil fuel mostly, but also large proven fission, and HUGE experimental tokamak type fusion reactors) interests are massively contributing to not just solid research (of which i HIGHLY approve – falls under civil defence in my book) but also to the hysteria.

OK, but they can easily manage a four decade amortised swap from fossil to uranium/plutonium fuel sources. The entry barriers are too high for any entities other than governments or MNC sized corporates to play.

So they have means, opportunity, and there is evidence that they haven’t been shy about using that opportunity.

The motive is however missing.

Unless you are interested in an engineering fashion in advances in fusion power.
Not too many years ago, it seemed that we we not too far from cheap, small fusion reactors taking up the kind of square meterage a double garage can provide.

Now that is a game changer, disruptive in the extreme.
The net result to every human on the planet is incalculable and hugely positive.

The short term net result to any party invested in the status quo is also huge, but here, its about massive capital losses.

So every single country with a energy supply based economy.
Russia, Venezuela, OPEC, the USA, etc
Every corporate with a first order (in the business of supplying or using current fuel) or second order (mining, manufacturing, transport) interests.
That’s about half of the top 50 (using just this admittedly bad list – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_companies_by_revenue)

But when it is time to railroad, people railroad.

IF (and this is a big IF admittedly) cheap fusion power is a likelihood within the next 5-10 years, AND it’s within the reach of a company which can come up with <10m USD CAPEX… then these interests have a gigantic short term problem, UNLESS they can come up with a way for someone to pick up the hit to their balance sheets, capital losses, and effectively underwrite them over the 1-4 decades they need to transition.

Now that would provide a motive par excellence.
And leave only one party standing with means, motive, and opportunity.

Even if and when the degree of manipulation is clear, people with new-found prosperity will be forgiving in the extreme, as "it all worked out OK!"

And not notice it would all have worked out OK for everyone anyway. Except the guys doing the manipulation, who would have lost their shirts.

A heck of a lot of people would rationally actually agree to bail out these companies oddly, although a lot would not.

Given just ONE assumption (that fusion is closer and cheaper than the general population thinks) this scenario makes more sense than anything else.

And, it doesn't worry me that much. I could even justify it ethically in some ways.

Thoughts would be appreciated.

Rgs. Nic

Reply to  Nic
March 2, 2019 9:06 am

“Why on earth take such a valuable resource and bury it under ground? Reprocess it or consume it in some form of gen 4 reactor. I prefer the latter.

Reply to  icisil
March 2, 2019 9:08 am

“However, the answer is easy: You dig a deep hole in a subduction zone, bury them there, and let the generations around in about 30-200 million years worry about it.
At which point there is no issue.”

I forgot to paste. This is what my comment concerned…

Reply to  icisil
March 2, 2019 9:24 am

I got that, don’t worry:)
And I completely concur with using various types of 3rd/4th gen fission, and how actually useful most actually dangerous waste is.

Two reasons why i point out this solution:
1) It’s simple, currently doable engineering wise, cheap, and works for ANYTHING you don’t want around for a while.
2) No matter what you do, there is always going to be some waste. If you don’t want people setting hair on fire, best to have at least one definitive answer to the most ludicrous demands…

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Nic
March 2, 2019 6:42 pm

Salt domes are the place to store them. Salt domes are self healing and stable.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
March 3, 2019 7:31 am


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