Forbes Demands a Manhattan Project to Discover a Magic Climate Energy Solution

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Forbes contributor Steve Denning, the best hope of finding a solution to climate change is to commit the global economy to discovering an entirely novel source of energy.

The One Viable Solution To Climate Change

Jul 12, 2019, 06:37pm

Steve Denning Senior Contributor
Leadership Strategy I write about Agile management, leadership, innovation & narrative.

Something has to be done. But what? The problem is that none of the paths presently under consideration are viable, except one.

The Limits Of Wind, Solar And Batteries 

As explained in a paper from the Manhattan Institute, we are near the theoretical limits of what is possible from efficiency improvements in existing hydrocarbon technology or from wind, and solar energy and battery storage: those technologies are radically inadequate to handle the challenge of climate change.

Nuclear Power

Other experts push for greater investment in nuclear power, which is the second largest low-carbon power source after hydroelectricity. It supplies about 10% of global electricity generation. While these experts push for nuclear power as “the answer”, disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima dominate the popular imagination about nuclear power and make wider implementation politically difficult.

More Regulatory Action And Voluntary Efforts

Meanwhile, regulatory action or voluntary efforts will be utterly insufficient to make a difference. The 2015 Paris Agreement called on countries to individually make their best efforts to contain the damage. This was perceived as a positive step, but it was not enough to stay climate change, even if the Agreement were to be fully implemented.

A New Manhattan Project

So what if a massive effort in basic research with the best minds and adequate funding was undertaken to find new technology for creating non-polluting energy for the planet?

What if it was launched by one country to get it started and then other countries were invited to join it so as to make it a multinational effort.

Is there any real alternative, except denial?

When do we stop our magical thinking and work on the one thing that will sustain the human race? Is there anything more urgent or important?

When do we start?

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2019/07/12/the-one-viable-solution-to-climate-change/

Has anyone else noticed how weak green excuses for not embracing nuclear power are? I mean, on one hand greens tell us the world will end in 12 years or by 2050 or whatever, yet in the same breath they tell us nuclear power is too dangerous because there might be a few meltdowns.

How could the risk of a few meltdowns possibly be worse than the end of the world?

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132 thoughts on “Forbes Demands a Manhattan Project to Discover a Magic Climate Energy Solution

    • That’s not “magical thinking” David. No fair sustaining the human race on common sense!

      • The best example of his “magical thinking” is idea that CO2 is the control knob for global temperature.

        “Agile leadership” would get on top of the problem that we have been ploughing massive resources into fake science for 40 years, paying political activist pseudo-scientists to attempt to prove their pre-established bias instead of trying to truly understand how the climate works.

        • The idea that there is an undiscovered source of energy that can replace fossil fuels, economically and practically, has got to come a close second.

          • I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been told that the only reason why we don’t have magic batteries for electric cars is because the battery companies don’t want to spend the research dollars to look for them.

          • MarkW; All you need to say is that anyone who can invent a method (chemist or physicist), or anyone who can invent the battery, would be rich beyond their wildest dreams. It sure isn’t apathy that prevents it.

          • Remember the Myth that “Big Oil hides the 100 MPG Carburetor” ? Laughable. The idea that the Communists, the Military, or just about anybody that wants to win the Nobel Prize (and get fabulously wealthy!) would hide “Super Batteries” is … asinine.

            Physics and chemistry B Hard.

        • Greg you have no idea how science works. But sure, impugn the integrity of thousands of scientists whoae entire lives are devoted to discovering the truth, but trust the money fossil fuel industry who are devoted to nothing but their quarterly profits.

    • Yes, Gas and MSRs for cheaper safer nuclear. No need for 150-atmosphere plumbing, no water, no need for 2,000-atmosphere steam bomb containment domes Check out Seaborg.co; a 20′ 30-ton molten salt reactor with 250 MWs thermal outpout.

    • I want all of you to Stop your Magical Thinking, and give me my Harry Potter Wand to make everything better right now!!!

    • Actually, there is a simple and cheap – very cheap – solution for just USD 1-10 bill/ year, by spraying aerosols into the lower troposphere.

      Who says that?

      The IPCC:

      “There is high agreement that cost of SAI …may be in range of 1–10 billion USD yr–1…to achieve cooling of 1–2 W m–2”
      in SR1.5, chapter 4.3.8.2
      https://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_chapter4.pdf

      Green trillion dollar lobby may not like a simple, cheap and quick solution. Perhaps that is the reason, why they now want to transfer control over geo-engineering from the IPCC to (very very green) UN Environment Assembly:
      https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/u-s-blocks-u-n-resolution-on-geoengineering/?redirect=1

  1. “Steve Denning Senior Contributor Leadership Strategy I write about Agile management, leadership, innovation & narrative.”

    And this guy is going to lead me into “work on the one thing that will sustain the human race?” B.S. Forbes has turned to yellow journalism.

    • The difference between agile and fragile is only two letters. So small in fact that in practice ‘agile’ thingies are mostly very fragile.

    • Should that new source be red, green, blue, or yellow?
      (Apologies to Douglas Adams)

  2. Actually learning something besides the spin from anti-nuke groups would help. As a journalist, actually being able to judge the validity of claims gets in the way of a scary story.
    Most journalists rely on the opinions of their friends, who are just as technically ignorant as themselves. My uncle was a senior journalist in California, and Leigh was great at following trends.

    • There is indeed a trend, and thousands of people are working on solutions that have little to do with climate change. Better energy sources are just a good idea, independent of politics, climate, and nuclear issues. Advances in electromagnetic theory offer some really interesting possibilities. The magnetic “A Field” being one of them. This isn’t the forum for the discussion, but there ARE things happening. One would be wise not to dismiss the possibilities.
      There is no need for a Manhattan Project, it is happening in garages all over the planet. Most of the “inventors” are not qualified or educated to do the work, but sometimes get lucky. Some funds and better research staff could really help. Lots of qualified scientists are interested in this and open to possibilities.

        • The “curl” of the A field is the definition of the B field, normal magnetic fields. For about a hundred years it was considered purely a mathematical construct. Look up “Aharonov Bohm effect”, demonstrates that it is a real thing. Completely ignored in most electrical engineering, using B instead. The fundamental equations used for electrical power generation need to be revised, and with that comes the opportunity to do a better job of power generation. A field penetrates shielding, B does not.

        • It must something new, perhaps a magnetic mAgical Field. More to the point, I’m not sure I want anyone to get fusion going in a garage.

    • disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima dominate the popular imagination

      The author did not even use the actual possibility of a “few meltdowns” to discard nuclear as an option; rather it was “popular imagination” that he cited.

      So why not use your “power of the pen” to modify “popular imagination” against nuclear rather than advocating the start of a new Manhattan Project that would be extraordinarily expensive and for which there is currently no defined concept to develop? (The Manhattan scientists were pretty clear about the specific technology they were advancing.)

      • Well said George. Journalists as a group are very lazy and don’t take the time to inform themselves and develop a train a thought. These days they just have a conditioned reflex to the word warming. They think they are contributing but most of the time they are parrots or pixies.

  3. 12 Years?
    Prince Chuck reckon 18 months now. The senile old buffoon Sir Rabbitburrow reckons it’s all over now.
    The more bombshell papers that are published, the more ridiculous these clowns and buffoons become.

    • “Doombombing”, I think I saw coined somewhere. The ultimate Debby Downer SNL episode in auto-repeat.

  4. If the world stopped giving the UN money….the UN couldn’t give it to developing countries to help them find ways to increase their emissions

    …that’s the fastest cheapest way

    • 100% Latitude
      Yes the UN is using the worlds money to screw the world .
      The forming of the UN was a noble idea to stop a third world war but like many other institutions the management of the UN has been taken over by socialists.
      Climate Change has been used to try and take control of the world by using the fear of a rapidly warming climate ,sea level rise and weather bombs.
      The IPCC has become a cesspit where most of the reports and written by politicians and no dissent is allowed .
      The IPCC is driven by ideology and science was left behind years ago .
      Graham

      • “Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy”: In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

        • Spot on, Stevens.

          Bureaucracies are as the weeds in our garden; if we do not prune them and direct their growth for good, they will overwhelm the productive growth and choke out that witch they were formed to protect.

          • While the UN was set up to prevent WWIII. I’ve never seen written anywhere how that was supposed to happen. I’ve seen many comments over the years that the UN has never prevented a ware anywhere. And now of course, they have no intention of ever preventing a war. It’s conflict that makes them money.

      • Question; What is the difference between Climate Change and Global Warming? Answer; One is a fence post, the other is barbed wire.

    • If the world stopped giving the UN money….the UN couldn’t give it to dictators of developing countries to help them fund whatever they might desire. 😉

  5. Alternative energies will come online in due course.

    Far better than spending public monies to facilitate their arrival would be to encourage them via R&D tax incentives.

    Some would consider these as the same things, but a discount on your tax would be far better than being given a bag of someone else’s.

    It would also likely mean that subsidy intensive operations (the green ones that run at a loss) could not access this incentive, as they pay little to no tax.

  6. I find calls to redo the Manhattan project or the Apollo project in connection with energy supplies to be terminally annoying.

    We had a Manhattan project, it was a success, it created new carbon dioxide free form of energy. Nuclear fission.

    The article says that isn’t good enough because “disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima dominate the popular imagination about nuclear power and make wider implementation politically difficult.”

    First. What makes you think the results of your new Manhattan project are going to be any better that the results of the last one.

    Second, when the Manhattan project was begun in 1939, the underlying physics was less than 50 years old. Henri Becquerel had discovered that radioactivity in 1896. Einstein postulated E=MC^2 in 1905. It was on 12 September 1933 that Leo Szilard imagined the possibility of a chain reaction:

    “In London, where Southampton Row passes Russell Square, across from the British Museum in Bloomsbury, Leo Szilard waited irritably one gray Depression morning for the stoplight to change. A trace of rain had fallen during the night; Tuesday, September 12, 1933, dawned cool, humid and dull. Drizzling rain would begin again in early afternoon. When Szilard told the story later he never mentioned his destination that morning. He may have had none; he often walked to think. In any case another destination intervened. The stoplight changed to green. Szilard stepped off the curb. As he crossed the street time cracked open before him and he saw a way to the future, death into the world and all our woes, the shape of things to come.”

    Nuclear fusion was a brand, spanking new idea in 1939.

    Can anyone point to any similar new ideas on which a Manhattan project could be built in 2019?

    Anyone? Anyone, Bueller?

    • That would be Fission ? as opposed to Fusion ? As for Szilard he gets a shed load of coverage in Rhodes’ book, rather more than Otto Hahn who made the discovery in late December 38.

      • Sorry Fusion is still 50 years in the future. The quote was from the Rhodes book. I love the allusion to Milton.

        The point here isn’t who should receive credit for what, it is that fission was brand new in the decade before the Manhattan project began.

        There is no new physics available for another Manhattan project. Calling for one won’t make it so.

        • I love it. For 50 years they’ve been saying that fusion was “50 years in the future.” Thanks for carrying on that proud tradition.

    • What you are highlighting there, is that the the late 19th and early 20th century were a great period of innovation in thinking …. which puts the current lemming link “consensus” attitude of academia into sharp contrast.

      When people were willing to challenge prevailing views … we saw huge progress in science and technology.

      When people are condemned for challenging prevailing views …. the world gets run by the Climate Cult and in many sense science and technology are going backward.

    • “A New Manhattan Project

      So what if a massive effort in basic research with the best minds and adequate funding was undertaken to find new technology for creating non-polluting energy for the planet?”

      The Manhattan Project wasn’t instituted to find a new “technology” for creating energy. It was instituted to develop technology to utilize a known (but untapped) source of energy. This proposed “effort” is aimed at “creating non-polluting energy,” or in other words, finding a new source of energy that is not only untapped, but unknown at present.

      That isn’t a parallel to either the Manhattan project, or the Apollo program. Both started with defined goals reachable by implementing known physical principles. Neither required, as an enabling step, the discovery of the one thing without which no other step was possible.

      This is complete bullshit.

      • Agreed, MSK.
        I was about to write when I saw your words, more eloquent than mine.
        The present generation of scientists near their peaks seems not to realise that the physicists, mathematicians and spectroscopists of the late 19th to early 20th centuries were creating new paradigms, demonstrating new concepts that in analogy are akin to the unmatched classicism in music of the Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin etc era.
        One does not progress global understanding with analogies of “Puff the Magic Dragon” or the childish Beatles mush.
        Geoff S

    • “First. What makes you think the results of your new Manhattan project are going to be any better that the results of the last one.” Manhattan success led to the National Science Foundation. Didn’t get much support until the “Space Race.”

    • Agreed, most promising title + moat disappointing ‘somebody outa do aomething’ article ever.

      The last Manhatten Project was sufficient.
      The Chinese are using that knowledge and building 100 reactors, Canada needs about another 10, the U.S. could probably use 100 too.

    • re: “Can anyone point to any similar new ideas on which a Manhattan project could be built in 2019?

      Anyone? Anyone, Bueller?”

      Ahh … yes.

      There is a little capital-starved project in New Jersey I would cite. They have been involved in their particular branch of research for several decades now, and have in the past few years gotten reaction rates up to the point that utility-scale power generation is the next goal.

      No more is power (thermal) output limited and on the order of 5 Watts ( 5 Joules/sec) but rather on the order of >250,000 Watts (>250 kJ/sec) from a roughly basket-ball sized reactor …

      Reactor in water bath undergoing run-up tests:

  7. “..So what if a massive effort in basic research with the best minds and adequate funding was undertaken to find new technology for creating non-polluting energy for the planet?…”

    Oh yes, and what if the mainstream media in this country (including Forbes) end up looking like complete idiots 10 years from now if and when the Earth is cooler?

    • They can’t recognise idiocy now, they won’t recognise their own in 10 years time.

  8. To quote the perennial heckler at the back of the political meeting-
    “Where’s the money coming from ?”
    ( Yes, I know Sun Moon once answered, “Wherever it is now”!)

  9. As pointed out in the essay the magic power already exists. It is called nuclear power and if we use thorium we could have energy until the Sun enveloped the earth – there is so much of it. But alas – the environmentalists don’t want this. Probably because they realize man was put on Earth to correct the CO2 balance which was getting dangerously low for life?

  10. As if there is no economic incentive here for a possible solution to a perceived problem.

    I grow weary of this crap.

    • You’re right. The person that discovers the magic new energy source will become the richest person the planet. Seems like plenty of incentive to me, no Manhattan project needed.

  11. How many times has LFTR been mentioned on this blog and You Tube? Small, walk away safe, plenty of fuel for thousands of years, AND they can burn up the waste from earlier reactors AND one was built decades ago, so we know it works. No magic required, just a little common sense. But then “common sense” is extremely uncommon these days, possibly more uncommon than magic.

  12. The tremendous environmental destruction that comes with hydroelectricity and commercial solar heat and wind power projects seem to always get a free pass.

    Resolved: All future energy schemes shall be subject to equivalent review processes.

  13. I’m sorry but I’ve lost track. Is this now the third or fourth time a climate Manhattan Project has been proposed?

  14. From the article: “So what if a massive effort in basic research with the best minds and adequate funding was undertaken to find new technology for creating non-polluting energy for the planet?”

    It would be much easier and cheaper to educate the public as to the viablity of using nuclear energy. If your aim is to reduce CO2, nuclear is your only option. Get used to it.

    It’s not that nuclear powerplants are particulary dangerous, it is that the public has been sadly misinformed about the technology with the aim of making them fear it.

  15. Can I get an injection of reality, along with the hyper ventilating AGW emotional angst urgently advocating nonexistent solutions for a nonexistent problem? Please???

  16. Steve Denning appears not to know that were this done and it was successful, he would be no hero for suggesting it. He’d be tarred and feathered by the totalitarians. They don’t want a successful substitute that provides abundant, reliable, affordsble energy. They want to throw money away, bring down the economy and strength of the United States and let the poor countries die off.

    Anyway , Eric you are right. Steve wouldn’t want 6 dozen people to die from nuclear accidents over the nexr couple of centuries, even to save the planet. Sheesh. All the information for an education one needs to assess nuclear energy benefits and its safety record could be dug up on the internet in 30 minutes by a jr. highschool student.

    Here. Let me help. Check out nuclear accidents in electric generating plants and nuclear research facilities since 1950 in Wiki, even. 79 have died 90% of them in just the horribly poorly designed Chernobyl project. The biggest nuclear based power country France at 75% of its electrical output had only a single death in a spent fuel processing plant and it may have been a forklift accident.

    Ever ask yourself why Hiroshima was rebuilt so soon after the devastation? They found after the Hiroshima bombing, radioactivity fell back to background levels before a year had elapsed and they rebuilt. This is probably why, despite the “progressive” hype, lies and fake news that polute internet info on such sensitive topics, the same thing happened in Ukraine and the “exclusion zone” has become Europe’s Serengeti-type thriving wild game park. Surely it must have occurred to some honest scientists that after the much worse Hiroshima event no exclusion zone was needed. I’m convinced these incidents will one day soon be held up as excellent scientific proof that nuclear is the safest energy route for the future.

  17. The don’t have any idea of what this new form of energy is supposed to be but they want the world’s economy to be dedicated to finding it. Intelligent. Very intelligent. For a certain interpretation of intelligent, that is.

  18. Steve Denning sounds like one of those people who consider themselves to be an ideas man. His idea that there might be a market for another source of cheap, reliable power has been on the minds of a few billion people. But with the profound insight of a guppy our friend Steve has come to the same conclusion all on his own. Good for one “attaboy Steve”.

  19. Nuclear sounds like a reasonable answer. Problem, as I see it, is the time required from concept to generation. Not going to be done in 18 months nor 18 years. Fast track? Yeah…
    Our current nuclear plants are near end of life.

  20. The way the Warmists treat nuclear power is how you know they don’t believe the catastrophic claims of Climate change any more than we do. If they did they could have stopped lying about nuclear power 30 years ago and the problem would have taken care of itself by now.

  21. 15,897 deaths, 6,157 injured, and 2,533 people missing, that was the quake that caused the Fukushima meltdowns. No nuclear deaths. Chernobyl was an obsolete and poorly built reactor doing a test that was unauthorized and poorly planned. Likely the power it produced during its lifetime saved net lives with reduced pollution.

    Just adding some perspective.

  22. The final solution to this problem is very simple: Do away with all users of man-engineered energy; then there should be plenty of natural energy from burning wood and dried dung to take care of the basic needs of anyone left after implementing this solution.

  23. So what we have here is really the proof that AGW has turned into some sort of cargo cult ? Amazingly its not ignorant and secluded islanders buying into it, its the middle classes of the western world. Which would seem to give credence the the Clown World idea, honk honk 🙂

  24. Even if a new Manhattan Project discovered some type of a Dark Energy Generator, I doubt the Green’s and those in power would now allow that to be developed. Unless we were in a war time era, which is probably what this all leads to when we allow ourselves to be dictated to by forces of ignorance, deception and foreign subversion.

  25. He’s thinking of an enormous First World taxpayer funded programme; if there is an urgent and important problem it is global sovereign debt.
    One area where government funds would be useful is in genuine objective research into the driving factors of the global climate.

  26. “Has anyone else noticed how weak green excuses for not embracing nuclear power are?”

    Yes. ‘For decades we’ve been telling people that nuclear power is icky, and now they don’t want it’

    If they actually believed we only had 18 months/12 years/two minutes left, they’d be building nuclear power plants as fast as they could.

  27. Here’s a great idea, but I need $2 billion to initially assess it’s feasibility. I propose to capture the kinetic energy of rain drops and turn it into electricity.

    Hopefully Forbes can arrange full funding.

  28. That’s NOT a Manhatten Project.

    The Manhatten Project was a continuation of the British Tube Alloys project, and was a straightforward engineering project to develop a practical nuclear explosive device for which the principles were known.

    By contrast, calling for a new source of energy where the principles are NOT known demands a completely different approach. One which is invariably created by one man acting alone – someone like Newton or Einstein.

    Big regimented projects are actually very bad at creating the conditions necessary for one-man breakthroughs of the kind we need…

  29. So, what exactly does the picture of Joe Pesci dressed up like Freddy Krueger add to this discussion?

  30. It’s like someone is asking: “We need the greatest minds on earth to get together and work out an alternative to food”. Or … why doesn’t congress repeal the law of gravity!

    The problem is that his “Greatest minds” are great in any sense of the word … except great tits … instead they are just a bunch of lemming-minded deluded numpties, scared to death by a fractional degree rise in temperature from entirely beneficial plant food. There is not the slightest hope they could invent their way out of a plastic bag let alone invent a non-energy using society.

  31. Nothing “magic” is even possible, it turns out.

    PHYSICS insofar as all the trillions spent on it in the last 100 years, has found

    × 1 – Thermodynamics … Laws which cannot be sidestepped
    × 2 – Nuclearbinding energy in the nucleus of atoms
    × 3 – Electromechanical … transmission systems can be near–100% efficient
    × 4 – Chemical … Chemistry describes energy-balance equations that can store potential energy
    × 5 – Kinetic … energy (think dams, springs, flywheels, pressurized gasses) works…
    × 6 – Solid State … harvesters such as photovoltaic, Peltiers, that kind of thing

    From these, we have ALL of the known energy sources that are available to us, to our ancestors and almost certainly to our successors.

    № 1 Thermodynamics gives us limits to heat-engines. To converting heat-to-mechanical power and energy.

    № 2 Nuclear reveals extraordinary binding-energy in heavy atoms, which we’ve harvested with uranium (and potentially thorium) as nuclear fission energy. It also has revealed just-as-mind-blowing binding energy opportunites with the very lightest elements, for fusion; while the world supply of fusion fuel is near-infinite, it turns out to be very, very hard to control, hence why we’ve never gotten a kilowatt-hour out of hundreds of billions of dollars spent on it yet.

    № 3 Electromechanical transmission from antiquity to the present has shown that both mechanical and electrical conversion, transmission and eventual power delivery systems can be quite high in efficiency, in some cases near 99%. Really rather remarkable. But gears and levers, electrical transformers, switched capacitor and inductor banks, do it all the time, on all scales from your tiny smart-phone audio amplifier squeaking at you incessantly, to the giant transformers and even more giant gears-and-transmissions in steampunk factories.

    № 4 Chemical energy is nearly entirely what civilization depends on, today. Oil, coal, gas, and almost ridiculously, biomass burning. Which includes corn, grain, cane, beet and other biomass vehicular fuel alcohols. What is it, 80% of the world’s energy is chemical. It also is the mechanism for common energy storage, from Tesla cars to Smart Phones.

    № 5 Kinetic is the other oldie-but-goodie. Dams. Rivers (“microdams!”), paddlewheels and wooden cogs, to computer optimized 500 foot tall dams and huge generating stations at the foot. Kinetic includes compressed air storage systems, and giant-blocks-of-granite-on-railcars-going-up-mountains as storage systems. One imagines “catching waves and tides” as another kinetic energy harvesting technique. Sounds good. And also giant turbines in the great oceanic currents. Bet GreenPeace would have a few less-than-printable things to say about that though.

    № 6 Solid State really isn’t a SOURCE of energy, but rather a physics-dominated energy harvesting technology. The Sun provides the energy by fusing hydrogen; we intercept it with PV panels, harvesting the Sun’s prodigious output in the tiniest way. Peltier-type bimetallic junction harvesters are just thermodynamic harvesters using a different technology. Ultimately the heat has to come from somewhere else. Chemical, geothermal, solar, nuclear, waste, biomass, gerbils on wheels.

    THE POINT IS … that that’s that. That insofar as Science, Physics, Biology, Chemistry and all the rest have discovered and carefully sussed out the Laws of, well … that’s that.

    And therefore… what are the chances of a miracle new energy source to replace the 80%-of-all-energy derived from fossilized solar and geothermal energy capture? Mmmm… lemme think… mmm… NADA, that’s what.

    ________________________________________

    The ONE (and truly only) hope is to harness fusion-of-small-nuclei. There is another off-beat side-channel that might have a glimmer of hope, which is to say non-conventional heavy-nuclei activation alongside (and right inside) conventional fission energy reactors. Another is an even less palatable possibility: that FUSION will for the foreseeable future be a total-energy-system dud, but as an “accelerator” to promote fission from nominally non-fissile “depleted” uranium, it has a hope of being the ultimate breeder.

    We would have to deal with fission waste though for the forseeable future. Is this really such a problem? I don’t know. It doesn’t feel like it. I think the obvious — burial at sea, at the great subduction trenches of the Pacific and Indian oceans — would get the job done, and could achieve the platinum standard for security, safety, and capacity to handle thousands of years of future fission waste. Just have to get the bleeding hearts to shaddup.

    So… fusion.

    As it stands, there have been remarkable independent strides undertaken in the fusion research world. There are ginormous (and getting larger) compressed air molten lead rams, to compress lil’ blobs of plasma to the point of fusing. There are great magnetic confinement operations, some stellarator, some Big D, some Tokamak, some based on reversed-pinch fields, some with super-high-current counterrotating charged ion rings. All sorts of ways. Wiffle bâhlls and more ahem… odd… ideas.

    There’s the persistent meme of so-called aneutronic fusion, which never seems to want to come about seriously. Physics knows why … if it is hard to get the easiest two nuclei to fuse (²H called deuterium and ³H called tritium) to fuse under all conditions yet thrown at them, it is anywhere from 6× to 100× harder to get the EASIEST “aneutronic” nuclei pair to do the same, under similar squishy requirements. Hydrogen and Boron. Or deuterium and ³He … light helium. Either one.

    The ³He problem is that there is all-but-none of it here on Planet Dirt. Seriously little. There is supposedly “some” on the Moon, captured (and frankly, mostly lost too… ) in the billions of years that the Moon has been wobbling aroudn Old Planet Dirt. But realistically, the film “Moon” notwithstanding, the idea of having huge robotic setups on the Moon, tirelessly churning thru dozens-of-meters of regolith (lunar dirt), cooking the stuff efficiently, capturing the ³He and then … bottling it to deliver back to Dirt is, well, pretty much as much science fiction as I can readily imagine.

    Nope. The “aneutronic” angle is a bogey, boys ‘n’ girls. A misdirection caused by the irrational public’s irrational fear of poorly defined future harm, decommissioning giant not-so-aneutronic fusion plants someday. Talk about counting your chickens before your eggs have hatched! This is like counting your retirement pension account earnings before you’ve figured out where to BUY the dâhmned chicken eggs from, fresh out of High School!

    But… there we are… That’s the gig. Fusion.

    Because if we are really, really, really, really realistic, we can say with darn-high authority that the only HUGE potentially new energy sources are these:

    Really large scale solar energy, and “magical transmission” from far, far distant fields
    Environmentally disastrous hydro power at scales never tried (and still small)
    Huge scale geothermal tapping, in the very few places that warrant it.
    Nuclear fission BREEDING – to use up all the waste-uranium already captured
    Nuclear FUSION of one kind or another incl. above.

    And the outlier — which I hold not a single brain cell of confidence in — carbon capture and sequestration to allow us to endlessly tap-and-burn all the fossil fuel we have yet to discover, for as much time as Earth allows us to do so, before it runs out of the stuff. Where the hêll it’ll be sequestrated to is quite the conundrum. Nothing is cheap and easy.

    The use of REALLY large scale solar however does require a total revolution in the transmission of the power, collected at really inopportune times of the day, at distances usually quite far from civilization’s population centers (like who would want to live there?). Science has hinted that perhaps we’re on a cusp of mastery over superconducting transmission lines, soon. This would in theory allow the distant-made electricity to be piped without loss to our distant cities and the huge electrical grids of the lands of Man. Nice. Could be used for other stretch-energy capture too. Geothermal, waves, mountain-based wind capture, the like.

    OTHER folk have jollied up the idea that we just need to move our PV to space. You know, because unlike terrestrial Planet Dirt PV operations, there isn’t the inconvenience of have days, and NIGHTS. Mostly-all-day can be had in some orbits. And there is a LOT of space up there. Way more than is easy to imagine.

    The thing is that transmission of that power has become the Achilles Heel of its viability. The Physics is pretty clear: microwaves have to be used, so that the “downside spot” is as small as is safe … to keep its implementation cost modest … to keep the energy cost modest … to make it viable against other cheaper options. Yet, transmitting gigawatts (or globally, terawatts) of energy by microwave certainly introduces a new idea of “wait, that’s going to HEAT the planet directly!” as a problem. Locally, as all the passing fish get turned into superheated chowder, and globally from just collecting more heat than we get in insolation.

    Well, the easy solution is of course specular reflectors in the deserts of the planet. Cheap, glass-and-plastic panels that reflect most of the incoming sunlight back at Sol herself. Lots of light can be reflected back. It’d work. Or the use of bright white panels to do the same thing. Reflection to compensate.

    But we still have the remarkable cost of getting all the solar-power stuff up there, or makign it from passing asteroids, and then beaming the hundreds of giant collector satellites “power” to thousands of downside collector stations. Because there WOULD be thousands of Earthside collector customers. It’d make almost no sense to collect the power at just a few ginormous Earthside stations, to face the transmission-grid-isn’t-superconducting-yet-damnit problem.

    So FUSION it is.

    FUSION and using it we cannot get it to suddenly become potent, compact, inexpensive … just to more efficiently do fission of heavy atoms that otherwise don’t like releasing their huge nuclear binding energies. That’d be a start. The environmental peeps would of course endlessly March for The Environment, and would decry the advance of this potent energy source as immoral, unethical, detrimental and downright mean-spirited.

    Yah, sure.

    But in a world of still (wow!!!) growing population, of rising expectations of personal prosperity world-wide, of hving more people dependent on the planet’s not-infinite resources, well …

    Fusion, Fusion + Fission, Fission + Breeding, Fusion + fusion breeding (no time to talk this one up).

    WHAT magic will make those happen?

    The magic of discovering a new fusion-confinement ‘structure’ (what else to call it?) that results in a stable, high pressure, wickedly high temperature plasma, while fusing light atoms’ nuclei; something that is so successful at confining a high-density million °K plasma, that it actually rapidly heats, speeding up the reaction … and threatens to destroy the confinement chamber unless quenched!

    That’d change everything.

    Or, a giant breakthrough that allows a simple magnetic bottle such as Wiffle-Ball (amped up Farnsworth Fusor) to run hotly enough so as to fuse a substantial amount of ²H (D) rich D+T, to create bazillions of really high energy neutrons, whicn in turn trigger powerful fission cascades in a molten-salt jacket. Kind of fusion-meets-fision-and-makes-both-better. Use thorium, depleted uranium (we’re sitting on hundreds of thousands of tons of that stuff), both. Or throw in all the transuranics that come from reprocessing nuclear ‘waste’ spent fuel. There is a LOT of additional fission energy to realize.

    My own belief is that tho’ at times it seems like lunacy even to suggest it, I do believe that the real way to tap these new possible energy gambits is by way of oppressive taxation-and-reinvestment. There was nothing so motivating as the 1973 Mideast Oil Embargo to completely throw our country (and Europe) into a tailspin. The much laughed at Datsun and Toyota cars, hardly sold outside the great coast’s Chinatowns, suddenly couldn’t import enough of the little tin cans for the American market. Skyrocketing gas prices do change behavior.

    But there’s no reason to give the usuriously overcharged fuel prices ot the fat oil ticks in the sandy badlands of the Arabian peninsula. Better would be to collect and redistribute. Redistribute to the industries that really can break free of the Lilliputian fetters of present-conventional-thinking, and just redo energy on a new basis. Lead, don’t follow. Learn, don’t repeat yesteryear’s misguided tropes. Liberate, don’t tie up every solid effort with megamiles of red tape.

    Just saying,
    GoatGuy ✓

    • re: “THE POINT IS … that that’s that. ”

      The only further answer is, Physics has been hamstrung by its own hand (rr theory (ies), in this case.)

      For instance, let’s take the hydrogen atom. Give me a good reason why the electron’s “ground state” is what it is.

    • re: “My own belief is that tho’ at times it seems like lunacy even to suggest it, I do believe that the real way to tap these new possible energy gambits is by way of oppressive taxation-and-reinvestment. ”

      Let me introduce you to the dangers of govt funded “enterprises” by way of the story of Cornelius Vanderbilt:

      http://www.burtfolsom.com/?p=2335

  32. Manhattan project was pure development. They knew what tpo do, they even knew more or less how to do it, they just had to refine enough Uranium – big problem – and slap it together hard.

    WE dont have a clue what to do or how to do it for a holy grail of energy, or how to compensate fossil fuel shareholders or the Arabs, if we did.

    Nuclear power if it were a real priority could be done in a decade.

    That’s how long it took France.

  33. “As explained in a paper from the Manhattan Institute, we are near the theoretical limits of what is possible from efficiency improvements in existing hydrocarbon technology or from wind, and solar energy and battery storage: those technologies are radically inadequate to handle the challenge of climate change.”

    That’s a weaselly tricksy way of saying the climate changers got it seriously wrong with wind and solar power. So what else did they get wrong? Plenty more hydrocarbons even if there’s not much more efficiency gains to be had and the nukes are proven right now but let’s go off on tangents with all the slushfunding and send more grants. Sounds familiar.

  34. A new Manhattan Project???

    This is an egregious example of cultural appropriation.

    The real Manhattan Project broke scientific barriers to save the free world. It was crunch time when people laid down their lives and whole economies focussed on the war effort.

    The current suggestion is about a chicken little snowflake non-problem that bourgeois elites wet their panties over.

    Go play pee in the bath with each other while you debate your sexualities. And stop appropriating my culture, my history. It’s really offensive.

  35. But we know that the Greens DON’T WANT a cheap, pollution free source of power to be found, because people will then carry on with their profligate lifestyles…

  36. What morons! There is a magic energy source and it’s called molten salt nuclear power. And it is being developed by a dozen companies and several countries and will commercialize in mid 2020’s. No Manhattan Project needed. And the Manhattan Project did NOT discover or invent the atomic bomb. it was an engineering
    project

    • We have the answer.

      There is no reason why fission reactors musts be high pressure, water cooled, hydrogen explosion prone, with a long list of natural catastrophic failures. Loss of water flow melts down in roughly 12 minutes.

      The problem is not engineering, the optimum, safest possible fission reactor design the liquid fuel, no water, no fuel rod reactor is a a civilization changing breakthrough that was built and tested 50 years ago.

      The liquid fuel reactor is six times more fuel efficient than a fuel rod reactor and cannot melt down because its fuel moves in and out of the reactor zone and because it does not contain fuel rods and a water cooling system.

  37. “THORIUM: Energy cheaper than coal” by Robert Hargreaves gives a good handle on all of this.
    Small, modular, molten salt, inherently safe at atmospheric pressure and self regulating. possibly able to consume current nuclear waste. Doesn’t proliferate weapon grade material. Can be located below ground and air cooled if required and delivered on the back of lorries.
    Does, however, need development in the materials used in construction for longlife operation due to the high temperatures involved.
    I’m no expert; but would recommend Hargreaves’ s Book if only to get an idea of the potential; but can’t comment on the accuracy.

    A number of projects are in hand. Now just a question of who grabs the market, scuppers the dreadful Green Machine and wakes up the currently brain dead politicians.

    • Has that scaled beyond the low-levels of heat he had evolving in the 1990’s?

      Oh – I see it has. Well done Dr. Mills. Contrary to all the naysayers who have proven on paper only that this was impossible.

  38. Chernobyl and Fukushima are pretty good arguments against nuclear. There are new designs that are closer to “fail safe” but I’d still like to see them situated 200 km from the closest dwellings or fresh water.

    • No . One was poorly sited , the other was poorly operated .
      Lived within 200 feet of an operating 90 MW reactor for years . As have many other people .
      There really is NO valid argument against nuclear power .
      😉

    • “Chernobyl and Fukushima are pretty good arguments against nuclear.”
      Chernobyl was due to idiot operators and Fukushima was due to ignoring known wave hazards.
      I and hundreds of others lived within 200 feet of operating 90 MW reactors for years .
      Other than a weird sense of humor ….. no problem .
      😉

  39. The reality is that the climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. So there is no magic climate energy solution. If one wants to reduce the burning of fossil fuels the logical choice is more nuclear power plants.

  40. A Manhattan Project involving trillions towards nowhere to solve a non existent problem ?

    Is this guy completely dumb ?

  41. Why do some people think all they have to do is “order” scientists and engineers to develop solutions?

  42. Isn’t the answer staring us in the face? We are told that back-radiation from a trace gas has warmed the world by 1 deg.C over the last century or so, but the bulk of that energy must dissipate overnight, so it’s actually increasing the temperature by 1 deg.C EVERY DAY. There must some way of harnessing this miraculous power source. So, come on all you engineers out there, design a machine that can operate on this principle and build a prototype if possible. Then you can report back here on how much useful work can be produced by such a machine. Fabulous rewards await you!

    Not holding my breath.

  43. We already invest in several magic solutions: fusion, tidal, etc. These will not supply our needs in the medium term. Long-term, fusion has potential but enormous challenges. Fission is so much easier to do. The fuel supply is nearly as infinite as for deuterium. I expect the commercialization of a thorium reactor to be from either India or China, since they are able to conduct research without the lawsuits and politics in Western Europe, Australia, and North America.

  44. Manhattan Project? Why not shove 500 million in the direction of Energy Matter Conversion Corporation. They’ve been doing fusion research on a shoe string budget for years. Their reactor design is 100 times more efficient than Lockheed Martins, small and relatively compact in comparison to ITER, and you could park it just about anywhere.

  45. Paraphrase (but accurate) “We must stop magical thinking, and replace it with…… more magical thinking.”

  46. Those on the ideological Left have spent their entire lifetimes opposing nuclear power, mostly out of ignorance and fear. It’s simply too much for them to turn around and say that was a lifetime of mistaken advocacy that has now threatened life on earth. What will they say? We were 180 degrees wrong on that issue but now trust us on THIS issue?

    That said, if they were as convinced of the risks facing mankind s they say they are, that’s exactly what they would do.

  47. “According to Forbes contributor Steve Denning, the best hope of finding a solution to climate change is to commit the global economy to discovering an entirely novel source of energy.”

    Another suicidal Kool-aid drink purveyor that claims his version of suicide is salvation.

    The Manhattan Project was the urgent realization of proposed plans and designs that showed great promise.
    Keep in mind, the Manhattan Project used massive resources, especially the best and brightest scientists; all at a time when the every other effort were all to build/supply materials to prosecute war on land, sea and in the air.

    Steve Denning’s fantasy is just that, pure fantasy.
    No new concepts, no new technological theories, No new or novel designs, no real leaps in efficiency for achieving Denning’s pink unicorn fantasy.

    Nuclear Power
    … disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima dominate the popular imagination about nuclear power and make wider implementation politically difficult. ”

    N.B. How Denning ignores massive destruction of wildlife by renewable energy generating sources. Denning also ignores renewables’ requirements for vast land use and renewables’ negative effects on energy costs, property values and human health.
    Yet, Denning is all freaked out by a few nuclear accidents that harmed very few people. Incidents that fail to eliminate nuclear power generation as the safest method, by far.

    “A New Manhattan Project
    So what if a massive effort in basic research with the best minds and adequate funding was undertaken to find new technology for creating non-polluting energy for the planet?

    When do we stop our magical thinking and work on the one thing that will sustain the human race? Is there anything more urgent or important? ”

    Only government and organizations funded by government, taxes or donations believe that throwing money at problems is a solution. Real capitalists recognize that throwing good money after bad is always a bad idea.
    Yet, this is exactly what Steve Denning claims is urgently essential.

    Denning’s suicidal kool-aid for a climate distraction from thirty years of failed alarmist claims and demands.
    One also suspects that Denning or people he knows need high paying low work positions.

  48. A new Manhattan Project???

    If I remember correctly, what The Manhattan Project produced was a few MASSIVE explosions to end a genuine threat.
    It put the nail in the coffin of WW2 which had cost millions of lives while saving up to a million additional lives.
    The side benefit was a reliable source of energy to save and improve the lives of millions more.
    The Greens don’t like that.
    The Greens want a “Manhattan Project” that will blow up the economy and cost the lives and welfare of millions.
    And all to prevent an unproven and hypothetical Man-Made CO2 Bomb.

  49. I want to find a way to spin straw into gold. I know it must be possible because I want it to be possible. So let’s throw billions of dollars at the problem and really really believe real real hard that we can find a way to spin straw into gold. First star on the right and straight ahead till dawn.

  50. Two power sources come to mind:

    1) Solar power satellites. Satellites in geosynchronous orbit use giant solar arrays to collect sunlight and beam it to Earth as microwaves. Receiving stations on the ground convert the microwave energy and transmit it through the standard electricity grid. Drawback: anything flying through the beams will be incinerated.

    2) Zero-point modules. These are featured on the sci-fi series “Stargate SG-1.” Developed by the Ancients, they are astonishingly powerful, efficient, and compact units that draw nearly limitless energy directly from hyperspace. Drawbacks: hyperspace would need to be proven to exist, and an efficient way of tapping into its energy would need to be developed.

    I think either of these would be a suitable candidate for the new Manhattan Project.

    • Neither of those is practical, and would ended up being additional “stranded assets” (in addition to Nuclear) once the Hydrino-powered thermal and MHD reactors take hold.

  51. The Manhattan Project aimed at something – a transuranic nuclear fission chain reaction – which had been shown by solid science to be possible. They turned good theory into good design.

    Forbes’ fantasy fairy Manhattan project is the opposite – it is akin to alchemy, aiming at something that is demonstrably technically impossible – the storage of vast unprecedented quantities of power, safely, economically, and without nuclear reactions.

    While you’re at it, why don’t you invite Warren Buffet, George Soros and all the new green investors to back a scheme to turn lead into gold. Self financing decontamination – what’s not to like?

  52. OK.

    The nuclear power subject needs a critical summary that presents the black hat facts about nuclear power.

    There are two types of fission reactors:

    1) Thermal spectrum fission reactors (all commercial, civil reactors).

    Thermal spectrum fission reactor use and are limited to a maximum of 5% U235 enrichment.

    Thermal spectrum reactors slow down the emitted neutrons using either water or graphite to roughly the speed of the uranium atoms which greatly increases the chance of neutron absorption.

    A thermal spectrum fission reactor failure will not result in a dirty fission bomb explosion. The fission reactor explosions that have occurred were due to the hydrogen explosions and/or steam explosions caused by fuel rod meltdowns.

    The liquid fuel reactor is the only thermal spectrum reactor that can be used for breeding.

    2) Fast Thermal spectrum reactor. This is an ‘experimental’ reactor that requires the use of 20% U235 as more neutrons are required to start fission. There is a risk on loss of coolant, for a fast spectrum reactor of a dirty fission bomb explosion.

    Fast spectrum fuel rod reactors and heavy water reactors are used to produce plutonium for bombs.

    The Russian reactor is a fast thermal spectrum, fuel rod, sodium cooled, reactor, that requires 20% enriched uranium and that will/can explodes as a dirty bomb if there is a loss of coolant.

    Although mo one has used a liquid fuel reactor in the fast spectrum mode, a liquid fuel reactor is the safest possible fast spectrum reactor as it requires a third as much uranium and there are possible core designs that could protect against the dirty fission bomb problem.

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