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Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

January 12th, 2010

It’s (past) time, once again for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. wilful
    January 12th, 2010 at 10:41 | #1

    It got down to 30.6 degrees in Melbourne overnight. We don’t have airconditioning, this is a conscious choice we made due to electricity consumption, but I tell you, my sense of smug moral superiority was really tested. Very grumpy today, didn’t get much sleep, and the kids are grumpy too.

  2. Doug
    January 12th, 2010 at 11:23 | #2

    Makes Canberra look like a chilled out paradise with an overnight minimum of 19.5 degrees.
    That nice Mr Rudd’s subsidy for insulation has helped a bit – though I am expecting it will help bring down my heating bills quite a bit this winter.

  3. January 12th, 2010 at 11:44 | #3

    Just posting this again because the Message Board wasn’t up yesterday – and I think many people would have missed this material… It’s relevant to the discussion re: the heat wave…

    Elderly at risk from heat stress!!! Read and discuss

    [Yesterday] the Australian Medical Association (Victorian branch) made a powerful plea for compassion, justice and common sense. This statement was made in light of extreme heat conditions recently – which have seen appalling rates of death amongst the aged and the infirm.

    See:

    http://www.facebook.com/l/935f3;leftfocus.blogspot.com/2010/01/protect-aged-this-summer-stop-deaths.html

    Please feel welcome to discuss these issues at the Left Focus blog itself – and/or at the Left Focus Facebook group – or otherwise here at this thread you’re reading right now!

    sincerely,

    Tristan Ewins (Left Focus moderator)

  4. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 11:48 | #4

    @wilful

    And just think wilful if 100% of the power for your a/c came from nuclear power, then the marginal CO2 cost of running your a/c would be … zero

  5. wilful
    January 12th, 2010 at 11:49 | #5

    erm, Tristan, what on earth is to discuss?

  6. wilful
    January 12th, 2010 at 11:52 | #6

    Fran, I don’t need to be convinced, ever since I discovered Barry Brook’s blog about two years ago, I’ve been a convert. HOWEVER, let’s not make this another nukes thread, eh?

    As a matter of fact, we’ve got grid connected solar and 100% green power offset, so technically we’re emissions free. But that’s mostly a load of bollocks I think, and clearly my purchasing of indulgences hasn’t had the necessary effect, I obviously wouldn’t make a good catholic.

  7. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 12:07 | #7

    I was aware of your position, wilful but I just thought I’d remind those reading here of the broader context …

  8. Donald Oats
    January 12th, 2010 at 16:09 | #8

    Well I enjoyed the last few days in Adelaide (cat-sitting for some friends on holiday), as it meant I wasn’t enduring the hellish temperatures in Murray Bridge :-)
    MB yesterday hit 46C according to this morning’s report, whereas Adelaide couldn’t even make 43C !!
    As for a/c: I broke down around 6pm and turned on a/c for the evening. Woke up at 5:30am with cat whiskers on face – no, that’s the beard – cat walking up and down on me, saying in that oh so very cat way that I’m forgetting something, namely to feed it. Get up, feed cat, go lie down.
    Woke up at 6:30am with cat whiskers definitely on face. Forgot to pour it some milk, I think the cat is saying…get up, give cat some milk, clear out kitty tray, go to walk out back door and woosh! Down came the rain (I did my laundry last night…)!
    Hot weather has left for a few days at least.

  9. Alice
    January 12th, 2010 at 16:23 | #9

    @wilful
    I agree – the pro nukers drive me insane, and also for the reason I know people who devoted their lives to banning the ugly stuff. You put nuclear power in and its an invitation for a power hungry bunch of bastards to turn it into something ugly and destructive…you are playing with uranium. Its worse (much worse) than playing with fire.

  10. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 17:00 | #10

    @Alice

    You put nuclear power in and it’s an invitation for a power hungry bunch of bastards to turn it into something ugly and destructive

    Unintentional irony, Alice?

    I have to laugh.

  11. Rationalist
    January 12th, 2010 at 17:10 | #11

    Pick one, coal or nuclear.

  12. iain
    January 12th, 2010 at 17:34 | #12

    @Rationalist

    I’m glad Samso Island doesn’t have your type of blinkers on.

  13. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 17:44 | #13

    @iain

    If the world had the needs, the population density and the local resources of Samso Island, then all we’d need is the embedded energy in the products they import for your comment to be apt.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled Samso Islanders are making good use of wind. Part of the reason they can do that though reflects the fossil and nuclear resources others are deploying of course.

  14. Alice
    January 12th, 2010 at 17:45 | #14

    @Fran Barlow
    Then Laugh away Fran

  15. iain
    January 12th, 2010 at 17:47 | #15

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran, if you don’t like emerging practical examples of why rationalist’s dichotomy may be self limiting, then you are welcome to review the theoretical position presented by Diesendorf in “Greenhouse solutions with sustainable energy”.

  16. Rationalist
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:02 | #16

    @iain
    4000 people? Yep, that sure proves something…

  17. Salient Green
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:03 | #17

    Yesterday, picked apricots ’til smoko, 10am, had a cuppa and went out again with a wet cloth around my neck. Picked for 10mins in 40 degree heat and said to boy wonder (son 14) “I think we should stop” and for once no backchat.

    Today, picking apricots all morning in the rain, two changes of clothes despite raincoats. “This is fun” says boy wonder, as he shakes wet branches over me and does pushups in the mud to keep warm. Wouldn’t be dead for quids.

  18. iain
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:12 | #18

    @Rationalist

    Since electricity accounts for about 25% of world GHG emissions and since nuclear accounts for around 14% of world electricity, then a doubling of world nuclear generation over the next 20-30 years will reduce total emissions by around 5%. If you factor in less conservative GHG lifecycle assessments of the nuclear process the real reduction may even be closer to 0%.

  19. Salient Green
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:43 | #19

    Unfortunately, the nuclear vs renewables debate is mostly based on how to continue with business as usual. There is no doubt that either or both could be used by the human race to continue BAU and the cost would be accomodated.

    What most people don’t get is that we can’t have BAU without increasingly bad consequences the further we go into ecological overshoot. Economists the world over need to promote a better way of doing business. Growth as we presently know it is not only unsustainable but destructive.

    Overpopulation and overconsumption are the root problems. Humanity needs to learn to live in balance with the rest of the natural world and debating the best source of energy to continue destroying the natural world is pointless.

  20. Alice
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:45 | #20

    @iain
    Really Ratio – fancy that – a 0% reduction in emmissions…thats impressive (not).

  21. iain
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:50 | #21

    @Salient Green

    This is very valid. And possibly a more productive line of reasoning than coal v nuclear ultimatums.

    Politically we have reasonably bipartisan support for:
    -energy efficiency
    -20% MRET
    -attempts to optimise terrestial carbon (ala Wentworth)

    These points alone aren’t going to solve very much. And beyond this we really don’t have much agreement, or much clue for that matter.

  22. Alice
    January 12th, 2010 at 18:56 | #22

    @iain
    I bet its BS – as soon as one these things (nuclear reactors) blows or leaks or cracks – even the most pro nukes will be saying – how could I be such a fool? Why didnt I just volunteer to turn my damn lights off?? Why didnt I put up my hand to use less power. Why didnt I get rid of all the cheap crap in my house that uses electricity? Did I really need electronic opening garage doors – did I really need push button gates to my house? – Did I really need – an electronic alarm clock – did I really need a gas heater on standby?

    Do we really need half the crap we have that eats power?

    Then you pro nuke idiots want to come in here and say – we can do it cheaper with a nasty subtsance….and to hell with the risks to your grandchildren when the bolts and nuts start rusting or when the government is overthrown for a rationalist fanatic government that doesnt like maintaining the deadly infrastructure of nuclear reactors…

    You all have a now costing, in a now mindset and its sooooooo shortshighted it almost makes me feel ill in my stomach, for our future.

    We can do much better than your two minute solutions to a “now” problem. We can invest in the future. We can invest in sustainable energy. We dont need it all to be private sector (profit ? we want it now) firms. We need to think ahead. We need to plan ahead.

    We need to wipe uranium out of the equations. We need not to dig the damn stuff up. It should stay where it is and forget anyone ever discovered its properties…

    The aboriginals knew that centuries ago…but white man is stupid.

  23. Rationalist
    January 12th, 2010 at 19:22 | #23

    @Alice
    Level of emissions is a good measure of how prosperous a country is.

  24. Freelander
    January 12th, 2010 at 19:24 | #24

    I think we should have a few nuclear reactors, not because they are great sources of power but they are useful for producing nifty little weapons. [Note that North Korea remains uninvaded and who really believes that Iraq would have been invaded if the US had any doubts about their not having WMDs.] With a few of these weapons we could strike terror into all the surrounding islands (Fiji, for example, would suddenly re-install a democratic government) and we could rightly take our place as the (US’s) deputy sheriff of the South Pacific. We could also nuke the japanese whaling force just to remind them who won the war, as they seem to have forgotten!

  25. Salient Green
    January 12th, 2010 at 19:29 | #25

    Yes Iain “a more productive line of reasoning ” is a good way of putting it. By concentrating on the consequences of overpopulation and overconsumption – resource depletion, biodiversity loss, pollution, damage to the the natural world which sustains us – the issues of GHG emissions and future energy sources will be naturally encompassed without the conflict they now generate.

  26. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:03 | #26

    @iain

    For the record, I started with Diesendorf, but really, you owe it yo yourself to look at the basic numbers and to ask yourself how, on a world scale, renewables can make the kind of impact they’d need to at acceptable cost.

    Peter Lang over at BNC has done some excellent comparative work.

    You might also read the TCASE series.

  27. wilful
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:12 | #27

    See what you’ve done Fran?

    F
    U
    D

    that’s the basis of the anti-nuke crowd.

    (FYI peoples, as stated, I have solar PV – but a) I’m affluent, and b) the government are more about votes than sense, I mean fancy giving me $8000)

  28. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:14 | #28

    @iain

    Since electricity accounts for about 25% of world GHG emissions and since nuclear accounts for around 14% of world electricity, then a doubling of world nuclear generation over the next 20-30 years will reduce total emissions by around 5%.

    The reasoning here is specious even without running the numbers. Plainly, if you’re right, then if renewables such as wind and solar went to 28% (the number you were offering for nuclear, the same would be true. Actually that wouldn’t be quite true because the LCA of renewables is likely to be much higher. Really, all you’re saying is that 5% isn’t very much and that’s true however you get it.

    The other two questions you overlook are — how will new sources of energy in the developing world be sourced. However they do it, stationary energy demand will increase. It’s also likely that there will be a shift from liquid transport fuels to electrically-based transport. So your 25% number for electricity is very conservative in the long run. You’re assuming development everywhere outside the top 10 emitters plateaus.

    The numbers for nuclear in general and GenIV nuclear in particular are excellent — less than 0.5% of your average coal plant, 16% or so of biomass and competitive with wind and solar without backup or the other site constraints.

    You could also check out David Mackay’s site. Very interesting.

  29. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:28 | #29

    @Alice

    I want to stay polite Alice, but really that screed ill-becomes you. Take a deep breath and consider how silly that looks.

    Do you really think that the world’s energy needs can be covered and CO2 reduced to that which is necessary by first worlders living a slightly more ascetic lifestyle? How does discarding my TV translate into the energy needed to refrigerate food in the Horn of Africa or smelt aluminium in Brazil?

    At most, reductions in first world per capita consumption could reduce the need for growth in new installed capacity but new capacity will still be needed and old dirty capacity will still need to be replaced with something. That is certain. If the new capacity is really expensive — as fully redundant wind or solar would be, then the growth will be very slow indeed which must mean that coal possibly with some Brayton Cycle gas will continue to be with us for a very long time. That’s in effect what you are advocating — and it doesn’t add up to a low emissions path.

    As has been pointed out a number of times the places with the best renewables all have non-renewables backing them up. (With the exception of Iceland which is lucky to have lots of local geothermal and hydro and only has 500,000 or so people to look after). Everyone else is going to have to have some mix.

    Consider this too. Current emissions are about 8Gt of carbon dioxide each year. To capture all that carbon dioxide would require about 18 billion trees for just 1 year of emissions. Or you could try some other method but nothing that doesn’t savagely reduce emissions in a real hurry is going to foreclose disastrous warming with feedback.

    What is your solution for biting into that 8Gt each year? Ditching the plasma TV won’t be enough. Not even close.

  30. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:46 | #30

    @wilful

    Oh I know, but sooner or later, surely, the message will hit home. There ios no other solution that is technically feasible or that can be done at scale at cost and which can be reconciled with the expectations of most of the world’s populace.

    They worry about hazmat but as Mackay points out

    As we noted in the opening of this chapter, the volume of waste from
    nuclear reactors is relatively small. Whereas the ash from ten coal-fired
    power stations would have a mass of four million tons per year (having a
    volume of roughly 40 litres per person per year), the nuclear waste from
    Britain’s ten nuclear power stations has a volume of just 0.84 litres per
    person per year – think of that as a bottle of wine per person per year
    (figure 24.13). Most of this waste is low-level waste. 7% is intermediate-level waste,
    and just 3% of it – 25 ml per year – is high-level waste.

    To ;put this into some perspective the image here represents the containers which hold all the once-used fuel from 30 years of production of a nuclear power plant (185 MW, 44 TWh). Imagine what the waste from 44 Twh of coal combustion would have been if you could put that into containers under pressure. Yet it hasn’t been. All of that is out there in the living tissues of those who were in its footprint. That waste is forever.

    And with GenIV the hazmat above would be further reduced as this would be used as new fuel.

  31. iain
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:48 | #31

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran, if you can highlight the error in Diesendorf’s work, please clearly do so (or withdraw your comment).

    Nuclear may make an insignificant and highly uneconomic contribution to reducing an additional 5% of GHG emissions over the next 20-30 years.

    Nat gas and renewables may make a much more significant reduction at far less cost (refer Diesnedorf which you dismiss without any serious rebuttal). In combination with the Wentworth group’s optimising terrestrial carbon and enegy efficiency you have a reasonable and low cost start to a low carbon future.

    Alternatively let’s just have a robust and stable carbon price above $30/tonne and see what wins.

    Nuclear proponents may probably better off focussing their efforts on longer term fusion research.

  32. nanks
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:49 | #32

    @Fran Barlow
    lifestyle changes can be significant though Fran – for example, Nigeria with a pop of 140 million consumes 1% of the energy of the USA. Put another way – if the USA decreased energy consumption by 2% and half the energy saved went to Nigeria, the Nigerians would be much better off and the USA would barely notice it and total energy consumption would be reduced.
    ref from http://www.energybulletin.net/node/29925

  33. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:50 | #33

    @Rationalist

    That’s true but misleading. The emissions don’t make them rich. Activity leading to emissions does. Structure the activity to reduce emissions and they are at least as rich and in practice healthier …

  34. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 21:59 | #34

    @iain

    I will respond later on Diesendorf as it’s late …

    As to a carbon price I’d be happy with a price at which most analysts say CC&S would be economic — about $100 per tonne. If people are putting cash into CC&S then we had beetter have a price that makes it viable, no?

    Then let us allow the market to determine which suite of solutions works out best. Remove all the subsidies and all the MRETs and lift the ban on nuclear power (including breeders) being considered. Require all energy producers to be stewards of all their waste and to bear the full cost of any disposal and decomissioning. In the case of nuclear, charge least for low level waste storage and most for high level waste storage in the cost.

    That’s a perfectly simple set of solutions. If nuclear isn’t economic, it won’t be chosen.

  35. iain
    January 12th, 2010 at 22:11 | #35

    @Fran Barlow

    “I will respond later on Diesendorf as it’s late …”

    This is normally the point where someone gives me an inconsequential quote or two from Barry Brook’s site.

    If you can do better, then I’m willing to reconsider my take on Diesendorf’s work.

  36. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 22:19 | #36

    @nanks

    Put another way – if the USA decreased energy consumption by 2% and half the energy saved went to Nigeria, the Nigerians would be much better off and the USA would barely notice it and total energy consumption would be reduced.

    It’s an appealing thought isn’t it — a bit like the old trope our parents would hand us when we didn’t finish the food on our plates — think of Bangladesh, my mother would say.

    To begin with, there’s no easy way of sending 1% of US energy to Nigeria. I suppose they could pack up 1% coal capacity across each of the states and the coal to feed them and ship them across. Not really feasible though. They could help Nigeria build more capacity by charging all electricity users the same bill for 99% of their power and use that money to build new capacity in Nigeria. Presumably though you wouldn’t want that to be coal, so again the question arises — what would you do with it? 1% isn’t going to buy you a lot of wind or solar — certainly not the equivalent of 1% of US capacity since that is largely coal.

    At the moment, Nigeria uses almost no coal at all, and since the bulk of its limited supplies of coal are sub-bituminous and lignite that’s just as well because it’s especially filthy. Then again, burning that coal might be better than stripping their forests to get the fuel for woodstoves, except that they’d become ill instead. Bugger.

    About 39% of Nigeria’s energy in 2006 was NG so presumably you wouldn’t want to replace that. Another 7% is hydro and again, you wouldn’t touch that. So that just leaves the other 53% — petroleum burning — well they are an oil exporter. (Sidebar: Nearly half (44%) of all the oil they export goes to the US whom you have cutting their energy usage.)
    Would the US ship in coal or support nuclear? Interesting.

    Out in the rural areas there are some solar projects and they are fine of course but this isn’t going to make a huge difference in the urban centres.

  37. nanks
    January 12th, 2010 at 22:41 | #37

    @Fran Barlow
    Nothing like sending crusts to the sub-continent Fran. You could allow an increase in the Nigerian consumption of oil and have the USA reduce their consumption by twice the increase of Nigeria. Net reduction in emissions. You could have the USA pay Nigeria to leave ‘their 2%’ oil in the ground but allow Nigeria to take out half that for domestic use as part of the deal. That’s effectively shiipping 1% of USA energy consumption to Nigeria but without the costs of shipping.

  38. Ernestine Gross
    January 12th, 2010 at 22:43 | #38

    “And just think wilful if 100% of the power for your a/c came from nuclear power, then the marginal CO2 cost of running your a/c would be … zero”

    Reminds me of ad slogans for consumer goods from the 1950s. The missing bit is ‘you can pay it off in regular installments over x-thousand years, ask the people of the Ukraine (once upon a time known as the breadbasket of Europe)’.

    Incidentally, I picked up a few suggestions from this blogsite when renovating my house regarding verandas, insulation, roofing material… Result: The other day we had 41 degrees in Sydney (more in some locations). Inside my house the maximum temperature was 27 degrees without air conditioning or even a fan. What is the problem?

  39. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 23:04 | #39

    @nanks

    There are a couple of basic problems here.

    1. We would like the US to reduce its carbon dioxide footprint by a lot more than 1% or even 2%. We actually need the US to reduce its CO2 footprint by about 25% on 1990 levels by 2020.
    2. 2% is quite a bit. It’s estimated that to get consumption of liquid fuel down by about 2% you’d need about a 10% rise in real fuel prices that people thought was permanent. Admittedly over time that permanent 10% rise would translate into people making major lifestyle changes and base purchasing on it — so that five years in consumption may have dipped as much as 5%.

    You want an across the board cut so to get 2% you’re probably going to need a tapering 10% rise in real prices not just of fuel but electricity. Selling that in the US is going to be hard enough. Selling it on the basis that we’re giving the money to Nigeria … hmmm I can see lots putting their hand up for that.

    3. What would that mean in practice though? Does everyone decide to drive their cars only 98% of the distance of the year before. Reduce cold starts by 2%. Increase acceleration times by 2%? Turn off the lights and TV 2% earlier? Switch off the water heater 2% of the time? All 280 million or so?

    And do they stop buying 2% of US produced goods and services and not replace these purchases with imported goods and services?

    Tricky stuff. Much simpler to just force them to buy energy with all of the externalities priced in. With nuclear, the footprint is near zero. If most of them are recharging their cars and running their households and businesses from that grid it’s still near zero.

  40. Fran Barlow
    January 12th, 2010 at 23:31 | #40

    @Ernestine Gross

    Blockquote>I picked up a few suggestions from this blogsite when renovating my house regarding verandas, insulation, roofing material… Result: The other day we had 41 degrees in Sydney (more in some locations). Inside my house the maximum temperature was 27 degrees without air conditioning or even a fan. What is the problem?

    No problem at all, but is your usage of power typical of the power demanded by industrial economies? Can aluminium smelting and steelmaking and car manufacture and concrete construction make better use of verandahs and insulation to cut the Co2 usage associated with these activities? How many extra lengths of copper wire can be forged as a result of your foregone consumption? If every householder in your circumstances duplicated your efforts would that free up enough energy to build a windfarm 2 Km further from the inverter to take advantage of a better wind regime?

    Your reference to the people of the Ukraine (why do so few mention ByeloRussia?) is sad. Here was a military reactor built to standards that even then were considered poor and run outside of design specs by incompetents. It didn’t blow up or meltdown — it caught fire. If it it had had a containment structure the fire would have been a damned nuisance, but nobody would have been harmed.

    You might as well say that because there is a huge human cost attached to the use of motor vehicles (it’s orders of magnitude larger every year in the Ukraine and ByeloRussia alone than even the worst stats on Chernobyl) that nobody should drive cars ever. Almost nobody draws that conclusion even though it is far more plausible. All sorts of idiots drive cars and they are often drunk and they are used in crimes. It’s one of the leading causes of death and disability in the developing world amongst people under 30. But ban the car? Unheard of.

    People take balloon rides even though they’ve heard of the Hindenberg disaster. The Titanic was unsinkable, but the fact that it and many vessels after it also sank didn’t stop people taking cruises. Every year aircraft crashes kill many people but every year people pay big money to ride in them. Three commercial crashes last year accounted for 546 people. There’s also a risk of terrorism but few compare one A310/330 to another and fewer yet ask whether the DC9 specs are relevant.

    We can’t roll back the film and undo Chernobyl, sadly. But continuing to poison the Earth’s biosphere and to load people up with coal combustion toxics to honour the losses from that tragedy makes no sense at all.

  41. Freelander
    January 13th, 2010 at 05:07 | #41

    Has anyone seen Henry Ergas’ sermon in the ‘What’s right’ column of the Tuesday Australian (titled ‘Maggie showed Keating the way’)?

    It reads as though it was written as a pre-selection speech for the Raving Bloody Loonies Party. In the two concluding paragraphs he ends with a spray of memorable but in most part absurd bon mots …

    “ The challenge for economic liberals is therefore far-reaching. The recrudescence of crude interventionism, disguised as Keynesian stimulus and nation-building; the risk of emissions trading schemes bringing into play a huge administrative apparatus and vast opportunities for redistribution to favoured groups; the seemingly inexorable rise in the power of the unelected, and the need to limit and discipline that power: these are central elements in that challenge.

    Ultimately, the role of government, should be that set by Albert Camus: “to do the housework”, not to cram recipes for perpetual happiness down the throats of mankind. But that demands a humility most rulers reject with asperity. Faced with that rejection, the liberal task is to be tenacious in pursuing economic and political liberty, which, as a way of addressing global needs, remains by far the best approach we have. ”

    So the stimulus was a mistake? As I think I have seen him claim elsewhere.

    How like late 19th early 20th century anarchists or other bomb wielding revolutionaries these ‘classical liberals’ sound?

    No wonder the foolishness that led to the most recent disaster.

    Crazy, but certainly entertaining. Makes one almost tempted to help storm the ramparts.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/maggie-showed-keating-the-way/story-e6frg6zo-1225818205617

    The version in print seems to have benefited from editing.

  42. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 06:00 | #42

    @Ernestine Gross
    Ernestine says “Reminds me of ad slogans for consumer goods from the 1950s. The missing bit is ‘you can pay it off in regular installments over x-thousand years, ask the people of the Ukraine (once upon a time known as the breadbasket of Europe)’.

    Well said Ernestine.

  43. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 06:04 | #43

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran – no “We can’t roll back the film and undo Chernobyl, sadly.”

    No we cant – not now, not for thousands of years to come..

    Its no use saying it wouldnt have happened if Chernobyl had this or that or if we did this or that. You are right the titanic wasnt unsinkable and no nuclear reactor is infallible either and when they fail the damage vastly exceeds any benefits of its use. No one costs that.

  44. Freelander
    January 13th, 2010 at 06:12 | #44

    We do need a couple of reactors, though, so we can be a ‘player’.

  45. nanks
    January 13th, 2010 at 07:07 | #45

    @Fran Barlow
    The 1% figure was notional – not sure what the USA could save through general efficiencies and stuff like mandating small efficient cars etc. I would think quite a bit. But they won’t do anything that will impact on business anyway. The only practical political issue for the USA is how to shift even more money to corporates and sell that to the public – same as here.

  46. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 07:52 | #46

    Fran, @40,

    In reply to my message,
    ‘I picked up a few suggestions from this blogsite when renovating my house regarding verandas, insulation, roofing material… Result: The other day we had 41 degrees in Sydney (more in some locations). Inside my house the maximum temperature was 27 degrees without air conditioning or even a fan. What is the problem?’,

    you say:

    “No problem at all, but is your usage of power typical of the power demanded by industrial economies?”

    What is this, Fran?

    I didn’t tell you anything about my usage of power. I only talked about how a few simple architectural measures resulted in avoiding airconditioning and even a fan to achieve a bearable internal temperature in summer in Sydney. Sure, this measure involves a power usage reduction relative to mechanical means. But this is not all. It also reduces noise pollution. I also don’t have to worry about maintenance and disposal of an airconditioning unit after a few years, and replacement costs.

    Fran, I know it was late when you wrote your reply but I should be honest with you. It is silly to ask whether my power consumption is ‘typical of the demand of industrialised economies’. It is silly because I am merely 1 member of 1 out of many industrialised economies. Furthermore, the distinction between ‘industrialised’ and ‘non-industrialised countries is particularly unhelpful in this case. Consider the USA as an example of an industrialised economy. I suggest one doesn’t require empirical research to reach the conclusion that the occupants of skyscrapers in cities, illuminated all night and airconditioned for many hours use much more power than the people who currently live in tent cities. So, the distinction between ‘industrialised economies’ and ‘non-industrialised economies’ is a red-herring in this instance.

    O.k. Fran, you would like to have the image of Chernobyl erased from the public memory and you want me and other readers to take on board your message, namely to distinguish between ‘military’ and ‘non-military. Not a good idea, Fran, because people have memories and they have invented writing and record keeping. For example, for military see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki. For non-military (in my closest vicinity) see http://www.smh.com.au/environment/radioactive-waterfront-home-to-be-razed-20091227-lga9.html.

    Fran, @40,

    In reply to my message,
    ‘I picked up a few suggestions from this blogsite when renovating my house regarding verandas, insulation, roofing material… Result: The other day we had 41 degrees in Sydney (more in some locations). Inside my house the maximum temperature was 27 degrees without air conditioning or even a fan. What is the problem?’,

    you say:

    “No problem at all, but is your usage of power typical of the power demanded by industrial economies?”

    What is this, Fran?

    I didn’t tell you anything about my usage of power. I only talked about how a few simple architectural measures resulted in avoiding airconditioning and even a fan to achieve a bearable internal temperature in summer. Sure, this measure involves a power usage reduction relative to mechanical means. But this is not all. It also reduces noise pollution. I also don’t have to worry about maintenance and disposal of an airconditioning unit after a few years, and replacement costs.

    Fran, I know it was late when you wrote your reply but I should be honest with you. It is silly to ask whether my power consumption is ‘typical of the demand of industrialised economies’. It is silly because I am merely 1 member of 1 out of many industrialised economies. Furthermore, the distinction between ‘industrialised’ and ‘non-industrialised countries is particularly unhelpful in this case. Consider the USA as an example of an industrialised economy. I suggest one doesn’t require empirical research to reach the conclusion that the occupants of skyscrapers in cities, illuminated all night and airconditioned for many hours use much more power than the people who currently live in tent cities. So, the distinction between ‘industrialised economies’ and ‘non-industrialised economies’ is a red-herring in this instance.

    O.k. Fran, you would like to have the image of Chernobyl erased from the public memory and you want me and other readers to take on board your message, namely to distinguish between ‘military’ and ‘non-military. Not a good idea, Fran, because people have memories and they have invented writing and record keeping. For example, for military see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki. For non-military (in my closest vicinity) see http://www.smh.com.au/environment/radioactive-waterfront-home-to-be-razed-20091227-lga9.html.

  47. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 07:54 | #47

    Apologies, JQ, I used twice the space necessary for my anyway long post.

  48. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 08:29 | #48

    @nanks

    One of the attractive aspects of alternative renewable energy sources is to reduce the concentration of power of large corporations. There are examples where relatively small communities in Germany have invested in waste recycling technologies which results in local self-sufficiency of power supply. Their stated motivation was independence of large corporations.

  49. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 08:46 | #49

    You people who think that there’s any lesson for nuclear proponents arising from Chernobyl are nutters.

    Oh, and by the way Ernestine, yes, all of the Ukraine, it’s a desolate wasteland now, oh yes. That’s precisely what happened. Lost the ‘breadbasket’ tag the year after Chernobyl, of course they did.

    Look, there are two and only two substantive potential issues with gen 3+ and gen 4 nuclear power – will it cost too much, and could they be built fast enough in Australia, given the NIMBY FUD campaigns.

    The answer to the first is probably yes if we have proper accounting for climate change, and a carbon price, and to teh second, probably not because there are so many irrational beliefs hanging around, such as the nonsense that they are dangerous.

    How many people have died from nuclear power accidents in the past 40 years, excluding the irrelevant chernobyl?

  50. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 09:12 | #50

    Fran @40,

    Fran, I can’t help but pointing out that your attempt to influence risk preferences (about nuclear) by means of suggesting an anaology of road and air traffic accidents is particulary unhelpful for your promotion of nuclear energy because:

    a) Risk is additive. That is, the adoption of nuclear energy does not reduce road tolls (not alternatives) but adds a further risk to human life and health.

    b) Your promotion of nuclear energy to maintain current energy consumption does not reduce road and air traffic accidents. On the other hand, reducing transportation, as suggested my nanks, is reducing energy consumption and it potentially reduces the risk of road, air, and sea transport accidents and hence the risk to human life and the risk to health due to noise and water pollution.

  51. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 09:55 | #51

    @wilful

    Wilful @49, see my reply to Fran.

    Otherwise, it is clear that corporate ‘communicatons strategists’ are running out of ideas because they still try to influence public opinion with silly labels such as “NIMBY FUD”.

    We’ve been there, done that wilful. Its old hat what your are doing.

  52. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 10:00 | #52

    over the line

  53. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 10:34 | #53

    @wilful
    “Wilful is Wilfully ignorant as well. He asks “How many people have died from nuclear power accidents in the past 40 years, excluding the irrelevant chernobyl?”

    You dont know? No, why would you? A. You cant be bothered to look it up? or B. It cant be measured when you take into account cancers diagnosed or not yet diagnosed, and deformities in offspring (It also causes illness not just deaths hence are you including living deaths?)

    Even so, why not make an attempt to find out instead of asking silly questions?

    Id trust Monbiot though…over you.

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2004/09/07/two-kinds-of-mass-death/

  54. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 10:47 | #54

    @Ernestine Gross

    Risk is additive …

    You miss the key points.

    1. People don’t weigh the risks and costs of all technologies by reference to the least impressive examples available but by those which produce the greatest net benefit that people feel they want. Comparing a military grade reactor designed by people with a brief that attached little value to human life or even the operational effectiveness of the reactor at producing power with one designed to make maximum use of the feedstock to produce power and to minimise risk to human life is simply special pleading.

    2. The comparisons show that most people are willing to accept some risks to life in order to achieve some benefits, even when those risks materialise, as they do on every day. No person driving or riding in a motor vehicle or walking into places where vehicles are in motion is unaware that motor vehicle operation increases their risk of life-altering or ending injury. It is a requirement that people with registered vehicles insure others as against catastrophic injury for the operation of the insured vehicle. Catastrophic public liability insurance also applies to aircraft. Yet people think these costs and risks are exceeded by the benefits of using motor vehicles and aircraft and tolerating their use.

    In short, even allowing that the currently best technology is not risk free people continue using it. What you are saying is that because some past iteration of a technology using a comparable feedstock and operated under a regime that no longer exists, failed, rational people shgould oppose a far better iteration of the technology operated under qualitatively better conditions. That’s not the reasoning that most people use.

    Where a nuclear facility replaces a coal facility the risks of the nuclear facility are added to the risk profile of everyone in the footprint and the risks of the coal facility are subtracted. Where the risk is lowered, this trade begins to make sense.

    Quite apart from the CO2 and CH4 being added to the atmosphere from mining, transporting and burning the coal, there is also the impact of all the other toxics on those living within the area from fly ash and particulate. This includes, (but is not limited to) radioactive hazmat, mercury (which attacks the central nervous system), So2, lead, and much else. Fly ash is used in building materials and so this low level radioactivity is spread into the houses of those using the material. These are not prospective risks but actual daily impacts. Why a rational person would not prefer the remote, notional and prospective harms of a well run nuclear plant for the manifest and daily actualised harms of coal combustion is hard to fathom, especially when the latter creates a manifest harm to ecosystem services that lasts until rock weathering can sequster the CO2 entirely is hard to fathom.

    Your promotion of nuclear energy to maintain current energy consumption does not reduce road and air traffic accidents.

    Well no, of course it doesn’t. We are comparing societies that use cars and aircraft but get their stationary energy from some suite of sources including either nuclear power or fossil fuels in some balance.

    I might add though that if the demand for crude oil as a transport fuel feedstock fell sharply, then the transport of crude oil would also fall sharply. That would reduce the number of vehicles on the world’s roads carrying this highly hazardous material and the number of vehicles carrying it as fuel and reduce the exposure of drivers to incineration as a result of uncontrolled fuel ignition or as a result of collision with trucks carrying such fuel. We had one such on the South Coast not so very long ago. So if substantial numbers of motor vehicle operators drew substantial proportions of their energy from the grid and the grid was largely nuclear-powered they would be safer from fuel-carriage-related harms without addiing to the harms of those exposed to the consequences of those exposed to the combustion of coal.

    Should vehicle miles nevertheless be reduced if possible? Well of course. Fewer per capita airmiles should be flown and fewer per capita road miles driven. These are rational objectives regardless of the energy source(s). Yet it really says little about the comparative feasibility of nuclear power.

  55. January 13th, 2010 at 11:04 | #55

    FB 1
    EG 0

  56. iain
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:25 | #56

    @Fran Barlow

    “Where a nuclear facility replaces a coal facility”

    This is the basic flaw in most nuclear proponents arguments.

    Why anyone would want to replace coal facilities – as opposed to simply upgrading them with combined cycle, cogen, and solar preheat – is never sufficiently explained (either an economic or environmental standpoint).

  57. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:26 | #57

    So, ernestine, the answer is zero then, from reading Monbiot’s column?

    And I can’t believe you honestly think I’m some corproate spin doctor and that’s the reason I’m pro-nuclear. Sorry mate, you’re completely out of the ball-park there.

    I’m in favour of nuclear power because I’m deperately afraid of the impacts of climate change on our natural environment, but I think that electricity is really nifty and if we can have lots of it then that is an awesome win for people. Put them together, discard the wishful thinking, and all that’s left is nuclear power.

    The known risks of DECT cordless phones and heavy mobile phone use are far higher than the known risks of nuclear power.

  58. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:32 | #58

    iain :@Fran Barlow
    Fran, if you can highlight the error in Diesendorf’s work, please clearly do so (or withdraw your comment).

    Nuclear may make an insignificant and highly uneconomic contribution to reducing an additional 5% of GHG emissions over the next 20-30 years.
    Nat gas and renewables may make a much more significant reduction at far less cost (refer Diesendorf which you dismiss without any serious rebuttal). In combination with the Wentworth group’s optimising terrestrial carbon and enegy efficiency you have a reasonable and low cost start to a low carbon future.
    Alternatively let’s just have a robust and stable carbon price above $30/tonne and see what wins.
    Nuclear proponents may probably better off focussing their efforts on longer term fusion research.

    It occurs to me that if I attempt to offer a comprehensive rebuttal of Diesendorf’s claims — the book you refer to is over 400 pages — then I am going to go way beyond the scope of a Monday Message Board.

    It might be better to focus on the validity of some of Diesendorf’s foundational claims. If these claims fail, then his thesis on the role that renewables can play in decarbonising the energy system within the timeline we need it to happen fails.

    1. Wind/Solar/other intermittents can substantially bear the power load currently borne by fossil fuels in the stationary energy sector at acceptable cost i.e. financial/cost-benefit feasible)within an acceptable time frame. (i.e. schedule feasible)

    Related Claim 1.(a) To the extent that they cannot, demand management can reduce the call on power to the power curves the intermittent sector can meet.
    Related Claim 1.(b) Slews in the power supply system can be reconciled by resort to geographic dispersal of intermittent energy sources and redundant gas capacity.
    Related Claim 1.(b)(i)Resort to redundant gas capacity of between 33% and 50% (according to the extent of geographic dispersal = more redundancy for less dispersal) is technically feasible and capable of being reconciled with a low-enough emissions pathway (i.e is organisationally feasible.)

    Claim 2. The approach to meeting power outlined above is feasible for all heavily industrialised and urbanised societies everywhere.

    Claim 3. The approach to meeting power outlined above is feasible for less/non industrialised societies who are seeking to increase their life chances through resort to usages that are energy intensive.

    Claim 4. The approach to meeting power outlined above is feasible for societies aiming to shift transport energy away from liquid fuels to supply from the grid.

    Do you agree that these are Diesendorf’s express or implicit claims and that these are apt tests of their plausibility?

  59. iain
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:37 | #59
  60. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:37 | #60

    @Fran Barlow

    Fran, to cut a long story short, your many words have zero impact on me.

    Not long ago you gave me words about a Nash equilibrium which made it perfectly clear that you don’t understand anything about game theory to which the term “Nash equilibrium” belongs.

    The other day, in the context of my question on a legal matter, you wrote that dynamic systems are non-linear and therefore causality is difficult to track. I bit my tongue. Not all dynamic systems are non-linear and not all linear systems are easy to analyse (track causalty) but some non-linear systems can be analysed by some people.

    Now you tell me that I have missed the point regarding “risk is additive”. You don’t demonstrate this by means of working with the original set of words. No, you give me a new lot of words.

    I know from past experience in the blog sphere as well as elsewhere, there is no end to these ‘communication strategies’.

    Good luck with your endeavours; I am not a suitable recipiant of your messages.

  61. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:38 | #61

    Wilful is an interesting character. He is interesting in the sense that he names gen3+ and gen 4 nuclear power (technology?) but he apparently does not understand the much simpler technologies involved in his own household decision making problem. How credible is his statement regarding nuclear power?

    1. In his post @49, p1, he writes: “Look, there are two and only two substantive potential issues with gen 3+ and gen 4 nuclear power – will it cost too much, and could they be built fast enough in Australia..”

    2. In his post @ 27, p1, wilful writes: “(FYI peoples, as stated, I have solar PV – but a) I’m affluent, and b) the government are more about votes than sense, I mean fancy giving me $8000)”

    3. In his post 1, wilful says: ” It got down to 30.6 degrees in Melbourne overnight. We don’t have airconditioning, this is a conscious choice we made due to electricity consumption, but I tell you, my sense of smug moral superiority was really tested. Very grumpy today, didn’t get much sleep, and the kids are grumpy too.”

    But,
    “solar PV” doesn’t cool his house; it is only an alternative source of electricity generation to say coal. Assuming he can’t change the architecture of the house but can’t stand the heat, buying an air conditioning unit is a feasible solution for his home environmental problem. This solution is feasible (air conditioning units are available and by (b) of his 2 he is financially able to buy one). He can rid himself of moral guilt, if any, and he can demonstrate to himself that (his presumption of ) the PV subsidy is a vote buying exercise is wrong by giving the $8000 government subsidy to a charity or returning the amount to the government.

    Maybe the heat has affected his cerebral powers. Be it as it may, given
    his (1), (2) and (3), I attach zero probability to him having any idea about gen3+ and gen4 nuclear power.

  62. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:40 | #62

    ernestine, the answer to my question is something approximately close to zero. two people died at a fuel preparation plant for an experimental reactor in japan (not power generating) in 1999, three people died at a US miltary experimental reactor in 1961, that’s about all that i can find.

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf06.html

    It is quite absurd the level of safety that has been achieved, aginst which there are still people who believe that nuclear power is unsafe. This is entirely irrational.

  63. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:51 | #63

    Ernestine, you don’t have to talk about me in the third person, I am right here. but I suppose it helps you to sound patronising, which is the effect you’re after. that said, I cannot for the life of me work out what your ad homonem attack on me is about.

    Maybe, in case you’re a bit slow, I need to restate it. I am concerned about carbon emissions, therefore I choose to avoid the purchase of airconditioning, knowing that it will contribute to brown coal emissions from the latrobe valley. In addition, I have also taken steps to reduce my family’s emissions, such as sensible house design (within the context of a hundred year old house and not infinite budgets), and taking advantage of a populist measure, that makes no financial sense for the government, to install PV panels.

    It’s really not that hard, i think most people would understand my motivation.

    And I certainly don’t profess to be a nuclear engineer, but my grasp of the basics is solid.

    For your information, “generation 3 plus” design rectors, so called, are the latest iteration of current reactor technology, with integral fail-safe engineering. They are currently being commissioned around the world. So-called generation 4 reactors are a bit more speculative, they are a different technology, sometimes called fast breeder, that use a much higher proprotion of the available energy in the radioactive fuel, leaving a much smaller waste problem.

    Hope you learnt something!

  64. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 11:54 | #64

    iain :@Fran Barlow
    This is Diesendorf’s argument.
    http://www.ies.unsw.edu.au/events/GHsolutionsWithSustEnLatest.pdf

    Thank you, ian for this reference.

  65. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:09 | #65

    @Jarrah
    Jarrah EG runs rings around all three of you sorry to say – its rather childish to rate like that (J Z).

  66. TerjeP (say Tay-a)
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:12 | #66

    Wilful – 4th generation may be “a bit more speculative” however not much. Globally we have over 300 reactor years of experience with Fast Breeder power plants.

  67. TerjeP (say Tay-a)
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:17 | #67

    Alice – EG gave a similar score card in a debate you and I had regrading regulation. And for what it is worth I agree with Jarahs score card. Fran is on the money regarding risk.

  68. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:23 | #68

    @Ernestine Gross
    Ernestine…I dont know why you bother…there is so much of this wall of empty noises and patter when it comes to nuclear – we have Wilful, a not terribly interesting character IMHO, wanting to sell us all on the benefits of “generation 3 plus latest iterations of the current reactor technology” and “proportions of energy in the radioactive fuel available”.

    Yet this person has no idea at all of how many people have died in the past 40 years from nuclear use (when you add nuclear weaponry its even worse) and when you add deaths to come (and living deaths now).

    He has no idea – the sort that would sell the latest technology in torture chamber equipment if he thought it produced greater efficiencies. These types are really peddling the self interests of big business EG, not the interests of mankind. It comes with a snowstorm of meaningless jargon with which they claim a moral superiority on the basis that these inferior creatures are educating you.

    Wilful is a troll Ernestine. He knows well there is as much delusionism out there on nuclear deaths over time as there is on climate science. It is in fact a minefield of utter lies and he seeks to push those lies in here.

    Wilful – why dont you join Plimer and Monkton?. You would all get on famously.

    I also question Fran’s motivations here on nuclear as well. Interestingly enough Fran, you do get on rather well with he hard right ankle biters in this blog dont you?

  69. TerjeP (say Tay-a)
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:34 | #69

    Alice – do you know what a rhetorical question is? Wait, don’t answer that.

  70. gerard
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:37 | #70

    Yet this person has no idea at all of how many people have died in the past 40 years from nuclear use (when you add nuclear weaponry its even worse) and when you add deaths to come (and living deaths now).

    Alice your earlier link to Monbiot doesn’t contain this information. In fact, it doesn’t even make the argument that nuclear power is bad, only that the British government can not be trusted with it as it is not as responsible as the Finnish government, whose nuclear authority he does not fault.

    This is not a debate about whether nuclear power is “good” or “bad”, it is a debate about whether it is “better” or “worse” than coal. The toll of death, cancer, deformity and illness arising from coal power is greater than that from nuclear power by an enormous margin; even before you take account of the number of deaths that can be expected by the greenhouse effect. There’s no contest. The only sense in which coal power is safer than nuclear power is weaponization potential, and it the very legitimate fear of nuclear warfare than has contributed to a disproportionate fear of nuclear power with regards to environmental effects – at least disproportionate compared to the public’s tolerant attitude toward coal power. Obviously this does NOT mean that nuclear power is the BEST option, but it is not trolling to point out that coal is WORSE.

  71. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:38 | #71

    @wilful

    I suspect that where Alice and Ernestine are going with deaths is Chernobyl. Deaths associated with this, according to GreenPeace in 2006 were

    … approximately 270,000 cancers and 93,000 fatal cancer cases caused by Chernobyl. The report also concludes that on the basis of demographic data, during the last 15 years, 60,000 people have additionally died in Russia because of the Chernobyl accident, and estimates of the total death toll for the Ukraine and Belarus could reach another 140,000.

    There are reasons to doubt the methodology on which Greenpeace relies (and of course, to reject the ongoing relevance of Chernobyl to current nuclear power practice) but let us set these aside for the moment. Let us grant purely for the sake of argument that the ultimate human cost of Chernobyl will prove to be 200,000 extra deaths and that this should for some reason be added to the human cost of nuclear power.

    Here’s what one study by the Clean Air Task Force said of coal in the US …

    STUDY SAYS COAL PLANT POLLUTION KILLS 30,000 A YEAR

    Fine particle pollution from U.S. power plants cuts short the lives of over 30,000 people each year; [...] Metropolitan areas with large populations near coal-fired power plants feel their impacts most acutely – their attributable death rates are much higher than in areas with few or no coal-fired power plants.

    So even the most extravagant claims about potential deaths associated with Chernobyl would be exceeded during the same time frame by a factor of about 3.25 to 1 in the US alone by coal plant operation alone.

    In China, the figures are said to be even worse.

    Toxic substances emitted into the air from coal burning have dramatically affected human health in China. For example, “chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), linked to exposure to fine particulates, SO2, and cigarette smoke among other factors, accounted for 26% of all deaths in China in 1988 [...] China’s death rate related to COPD deaths, is five times higher in China than in the United States.

    Of course, that is unfair to coal, since Chernobyl was not designed mainly as a power plant and some of China’s deaths are smoking-related (one suspects this is true also within the populations affected by Chernobyl).

    This here is interesting

    Nonsmoking women in an area of China’s Yunnan province die of lung cancer at a rate 20 times that of their counterparts in other regions of the — and higher than anywhere else in the world.

    And in China, since 1949, according to official figures, some 250,000 people have died in coal mining accidents — typically gas explosions. We’ve already had our first in China this year — in which 18 were killed. In the first 8 years of this decade something like 5600 Chinese died every year in such accidents and countless others suffered injury. And one may add many more deaths from silicosis, if the reports above are accurate. Doutbtless if we roamed the globe pulling out stats for places like Poland and South Africa and India, things would look even more grim.

    Accordingly even if one includes Chernobyl at the most extravagant end of projections, the morbidity per TwH of nuclear power is a tiny fraction of that of coal usage.

    It’s interesting that as graphic as the report above was, it didn’t actually pitch for abandoning resort to coal. It merely wanted coal plants to adhere to stricter emission standards.

  72. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:49 | #72

    @gerard
    you say “The only sense in which coal power is safer than nuclear power is weaponization potential”

    Then there is no contest. Coal is safer. What was the death toll from Hiroshima? Perhaps Wilful can enliighten us all. Have they finished counting yet? So we should advocate all countries that produce emmissions move to nuclear shall we. That includes Iran. Now, I wonder where terrorists can buy their black market uranium? After we do all this and make nuclear even more efficient…just imagine the technology. Terrorists will be able to make their own nasty little surprises from the much bigger and blacker than ever market for radioactive products.

    Good luck with it all. Its so deadly efficient isnt it?

  73. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:54 | #73

    @Fran Barlow
    Yes of course – we dont want Chernobyl raised while we are supporting nuclear do we? (irony alert). So we just declare Chernobyl irrelevant to today. Yet Chernobyl happened just a little over ten years ago – 1986. That makes it highly relevant.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/mar/25/energy.ukraine

  74. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:55 | #74

    Apologies for not being terribly interesting to you Alice. Let me assure you, the respect is mutual.

    (odd how you and Ernie both think it’s a useful debating tactic to talk about me not at me).

    The number of deaths due to nuclear power, excluding Chernobyl, is very close to zero. About five, and maybe abbout 31 in uranium mining, in the past 40 years. Neither you nor Ernie’s entirely uninformative Monbiot link has provided any other evidence. So there you go.

    It’s a funny world view you have, any person who disagrees with you MUST have an ulterior motive. Now Fran is a secret rightie, while I’m a corporate spin doctor. As a matter of fact, I’ve been hanging around these parts, with a consistent view on these matters, far longer than you have.

  75. Ernestine Gross
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:56 | #75

    More on PR-type communications methods:

    Fran @21 writes ” I suspect that where Alice and Ernestine …..”

    Fran and wilful could use private emails to exchange their of assumptions about other people. But this is not the point of PR-type communicatons.

    Soon I have enough material for a whole book on this topic.

  76. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 12:57 | #76

    @Alice

    I also question Fran’s motivations here on nuclear as well. Interestingly enough Fran, you do get on rather well with the hard right ankle biters in this blog dont you?

    The occasional visitors here from what I’d call “the hard right” don’t like me one little bit. To imply that Terje or Jarrah are from “the hard right” is simply abuse of the language in the service of a cultural claim. Oddly, at least one such person who came here recently who fits that description rather better was in sympathy with you … Guilt by association is poor methodology though because the mere holding of a view says little in itself about how one arrived at it. Suggesting Wilful joiun Plimer and Monckton when he has explicitly repudiated their general claim though his avowed acts is simply gratuitously nasty.

    You know full well that neither wilful nor I have any agenda on this matter beyond wishing to reduce net anthropogenic CO2 and pollution more generally. You implicastion that we might is without merit. Even were I totally wrong on this matter, my view (and I assume that of wilful, gerard, Terje and Jarrah) springs from a sincere desire to underpin human wellbeing. Doubtless each of us will differ on a great many things, but I assume that they are genuine in their difference rather than simply trolling.

    Why is that so hard to fathom? Why, without anything more impressive than untutored inference, must you attribute so much to the impact of the malign and self-serving? While your impulse is different, when you speak in this way you sound like nobody so much as those crazed LaRouchies or people convinced that dark conspiracies explain all.

  77. JJ
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:01 | #77

    i always love a good climate change argument. Especially when it goes Nuclear.

    I love discussing nuclear, as so many pro-nuclear people over simplify their argument and seek to blame the “irrationals” for not beleiving in their wonderful nuclear solution to life, the universe and everything.
    While an argument can be mounted that modern nuclear powerplants are quite safe, there remain a number of other issues associated with it’s use as a primary power source. These include (in no particular order):
    - they take a really long time to build – recent example in Finland was due to take 4 years and will probably take closer to 8
    - they cost a lot – again with the Olkiluoto facility in Finland, they are expecting a 5billion Euro price tag. this means that is costs significantly more than coal to build. Depending on how you cost the clean up and what discount rate you use, the whole of life cost is unlikely to be less than coal
    - there remain real concerns about the safety, including environmental safety of mining, processing, reprocessing and storage of material. Waste management costs remain uncertain as the long term management costs are still somewhat speculative.
    - nuclear is a well developed, well understood and highly researched industry over a long period – this suggests that there are unlikely to be quantum changes in the technology that will improve efficiency or cost

    And dont forget that from a climate change perspective
    - renewables, while currently not cost comparable remain laregly a new industry. this creates significant scope for major advancements that will refelct a quantum shift in pricing or performance. It is expected that advancements in solar cell technology are likely to see it become cost competative with coal in less than 5 years.
    - estimates are that half of the global warming effect is not from CO2, but rather black carbon, CO and methane. This opens the door to significant global warming improvements without the immediate need for closing every coal fired power station in existance. Programs to reduce the use of biomass and timber for heating and cooking in third world countries, replace with solar cookers, would have a huge impact on black carbon emmission. As would improving diesel emission standards and electrification of rural communities.

    So, I for one see no compelling case for nuclear power. Unless you can make fusion work.

  78. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:01 | #78

    23 years is just a little over over ten? Okay.

    Do you know anything about Chernobyl, its’ causes? Perhaps you should read more about the how and why of the accident, and ask if any of the conditions that held on that day and leading up to it could ever be replicated in any modern reactor.

    Pretty much on the public record.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

    The reactor design was highly dangerous, has never been used in the west. The operators were criminally negligent. None of the existing safety procedures were followed.

    These conditions have never been and will never be found in a western reactor.

  79. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:07 | #79

    Alice@

    From your link

    … the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organisation say that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster, and that, at most, 4,000 people may eventually die from the accident on April 26 1986. [...]

    An IAEA spokesman said he was confident the UN figures were correct. “We have a wide scientific consensus of 100 leading scientists. When we see or hear of very high mortalities we can only lean back and question the legitimacy of the figures. Do they have qualified people? Are they responsible? If they have data that they think are excluded then they should send it.”

    Gosh the structure of the high figure proponents’ argument looks familiar. The scientific consensus is wrong. What does the specialist agency know? The UN? oh dear …

  80. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:10 | #80

    @wilful

    I suspect that the people over at LP will be love hearing that someone they fancied was proposing an eat the rich ideology and who opposes private property in land is really a secret rightwinger.

  81. JJ
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:11 | #81

    @wilful
    what about in a reactor somewhere else in the world?

  82. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:16 | #82

    @wilful
    Wilful….maybe you should look at few photos. An entire city destroyed. Yet you want to come in here and sell a more efficient model and suggest “oh we know were they got it all wrong..” Tell that to those who died and the children with leaukaemia and those with thyroid cancers still coming in to doctors and tell it to those who had to leave their homes and their city forever.

    Eco insane rationalist warriors.

    http://www.englishrussia.com/?p=293

    http://englishrussia.com/?p=2343

  83. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:18 | #83

    What was the death toll from Hiroshima? Perhaps Wilful can enliighten us all. Have they finished counting yet?

    Hiroshima and nagasaki are reasons for Australia to not have nuclear power? Oh good grief.

    By the way, the post 1945 deaths attributable ot the bombs are less than 2000. About 150 250 000 died on the day(s). Source: http://www.rerf.jp/general/qa_e/index.html

    I don’t think they died in a more horrific manner than Dresden, for example.

    (Not even going to start with the likely death toll of an Operation Downfall)

  84. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:23 | #84

    @JJ

    JJ, the RBMK reactor type will never ever be built again. Latest design reactors simply cannot do what that reactor was allowed to do. The human element, in what was still an extraordinary chain of incompetence (in the dying days of the soviet union), can be eliminated to a very large extent.

  85. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:27 | #85

    Alice, look at a few images yourself. Google “climate change”+poverty

    Coming all bleeding heart at me over the chernobyl disaster gets you nowhere. It’s demonstrably irrelevant.

    PS that was 150 to 250 000 that died in the two nuclear bombs.

  86. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:31 | #86

    @JJ

    nuclear is a well developed, well understood and highly researched industry over a long period – this suggests that there are unlikely to be quantum changes in the technology that will improve efficiency or cost

    resisting impulse to talk about your use of the word ‘quantum’, assuming it means ‘very substantial’

    At this stage, pretty much every nuclear reactor has been a first of a kind project — rather like making a movie or launching a new kind of space probe. The upfront costs of such exercises, combined with all of the individualised safety and performance testing have to be internalised in the costs of a single project. Imagine if you had an idea for the kind of car you wanted and asked Ford to make just one for you. It would not be cheap. In fact, with cars, you don’t start getting down to a viable product until you can have a production run of about 500,000.

    If a single reactor design were the basis for a couple of dozen or more plants, and the parts were highly modularised then the R & D and manufacturing/testing cost would fall considerably. If the burners were installed in replacement of coal burners on an existing brownfield site then the cost would be smaller still.

  87. January 13th, 2010 at 13:40 | #87

    Has anyone had a chance to view this CNN interview of eyewitnesses who witnessed well-dressed people helpe terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab aboard Flight 253 at Amsterdam Airport? Without their intervention, the airport officials would almost certainly have refused to allow him aboard the flight.

    In spite of this bombshell revelation, the couple American attorneys Kurt and Lori Haskell (husband and wife) were not interviewed furhter by the FBI, not the officials at Amsterdam Airport.

    And because of this we may soon face the additional impostions at airports including health-threatening full body scans. I have embedded the video tegether with other links including links to articles about full body scanners, in my reposting of the article “Statement of September 11th advocates in response to 12/25 terror attempt”.

  88. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:43 | #88

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran, I think Alice needs to get out a bit more if she thinks you’re a capitalist running dog.

  89. wilful
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:48 | #89

    @daggett
    Daggett, you believe that the 11 September 2001 bombings were staged by the US, don’t you? And are inferring that the christmas day attempt was another plot?

  90. iain
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:49 | #90

    @wilful

    Any serious discussion of technology and safety issues needs to consider the wider implications of Ulrich Beck’s “risk society”.

    Any discussion of the safety issues of nuclear power, itself, needs to consider that the “next Chernobyl” could be Chernobyl itself; since 97% of the radiation is still inside its crumbling infrastructure. A disaster 30 times the size of the original accident is possible, from the same site.

    Nuclear proponents still need to clean up the mess in their own ideological backyards first. Although in our technological risk society this, of course, means adding more risk as a first step.

  91. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:54 | #91

    @Fran Barlow
    Oh Fran – so we should just take the view of the UN’s view should we, which conveniently excludes aother nearby counties? Its all in how you count it isnt it? There are other estimates Fran with equally large numbers of scientists and yet still, none of these include the fact that people were ripped out of a city and one nearby and evacuated and its still an ugly destroyed wasted dead zone

    Plus – the sarcophagus is not without its problems either. Tha damn thing could collapse again – causing another Cherobyl – whats inside has not turned to dust yet – like some clowns suggested at the time…oh its OK the core will turn to dust in five years time!!

    http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/nfc/power/chernobyl/

    And I find it hard to fathom where you people who push nuclear energy even come from. Yes – power and profit is more important that people isnt it ???????????

    I dont care what party you are in, just remind me not to join it.

  92. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 13:55 | #92

    @wilful

    I think Alice needs to get out a bit more if she thinks you’re a capitalist running dog.

    Yes, especially since I’m against greyhound racing. ;-) I do have four little dogs.

    [monty pythonesque voice]

    And now for something completely different

    Woman drives home with dead pensioner wedged in windscreen

    A Japanese woman who drove home with the body of an 80-year-old pensioner lodged in her windscreen has been arrested.

    [...]

    Sato struck the elderly woman on a straight stretch of road in central Japan, then drove seven kilometres to her home with the pensioner’s body wedged in her windscreen.

    Sato’s boyfriend then called the police, who arrived at the scene to find the corpse of the elderly woman still stuck.

    A police spokesman says the 23-year-old catering student was so shocked when she hit the victim, she did not know what to do.

    Sato faces up to 17 years in prison or a fine of $23,000.

    Can’t you imagine being the boyfriend?

    Ms Sato: Darling … I’ve had a teensy little accident with my windscreen. Could you pop outside and give me a hand?

    Boyfriend: Well there’s your problem. You’ve got a corpse stuck in your windscreen. Didn’t you use the washer?

    Ms Sato: I didn’t have any left after I mowed down those kiddies outside the school last week. I maxed out my credit card paying the fine on that one too

  93. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:00 | #93

    @wilful
    Im pleased to see at last you looked up some stats on nuclear deaths Wilfully ignorant. Now why dont you go and look up cancer rates in Iraq from the use of depleted uranium and anywhere else. Itll be about as interesting as the us of agent orange and I bet people just as short sighted as you were pushing for the use of that brilliant defoliant technology in 1963 as well. Pure genius. Add it all up Wilful. The benefits of modern technologies.

    Educate yourself.

  94. January 13th, 2010 at 14:06 | #94

    Wilful, have you looked at the YouTube video linked to from my above post?

    Why do you think the Kurt and Lori Haskell were not questioned further by the FBI? Why do you think that they have apparently not further questioned the Amsterdam airport employees nor made any attempt to find those people, without whose help Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab could not have boarded flight 253? Why isn’t the newsmedia following this story up?

    Are you happy that we now face the prospect of full body scans at airports because of this?

  95. Alice
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:06 | #95

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran – we have all received pages and pages of posts of your pro nuclear arguments in here time and time again. Im with Ernestine – you are clearly pushing the barrow for someone else on it and Im inclined to agree with Ernestine’s observations of you at post number 9 where EG notes.

    “I know from past experience in the blog sphere as well as elsewhere, there is no end to these ‘communication strategies’. ”

    Interesting inundation of pro nuclear posts (and I mean inundation) Fran but a barrow load of non recyclable material just the same…or should I say as recyclable as Chernobyl dust?

  96. JJ
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:14 | #96

    @Fran Barlow
    actually my use of the word quantum was to suggest a step change in peformance. A fairly common usage of the word outside physics circles I believe.

    While every reactor is unique there are still many similarities between types of reactors. This is often reflected in the approach adopted based on the contractors used and their experiences. So different companies have different approaches which they will then customise for the specific needs of the client. This level of standardisation is not completely inconsistent with other major powerplant or processing facility, where some elements are consistent but much of the detailed design is project specific.

    With 50+ years of major research and development, it is difficult to see where any real step change in cost or benefit is likely to come from. Rather a gradual improvement is more likely to be the case, should policy makers continue to allow it.

  97. gerard
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:17 | #97
  98. JJ
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:22 | #98

    @Fran Barlow
    in relation to your comment regarding the potential for cost benefit if a standardised approach was adopted, the Korean experience is relevant. They pretty much have a standardised design, which has been utilised for some time. While they claim significant cost benefits from this, they note in any of their reporting that they exclude decommissioning and clean up costs for nuclear when calculating whole of life costs. This skews the information fairly significantly, especially when noting the recently advised upward forecasts of the biritish nuclear inductry clean up liability estimate (well over 100 bn pounds).

  99. Fran Barlow
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:23 | #99

    @Alice

    As I said Alice, even if one accepts the extravagantly high figures used by Greenpeace or others, resort to coal is more hazardous than resort to nuclear, not merely prospectively but as we are using it. That’s something your “people before profits” mantra evades.

    And what makes you think that the operators of coal mines and coal transport and coal-fired power are any less interested in putting profits before people than the operators of nuclear plants? I find that naive in the extreme. I assume that operators of any energy supply service in a capitalist economy will be very profit-focused and interested in people only to the extent that robust regulatory oversight (probably, but not necessarily from the state) and compliance requires them to be so.

    Of course, it is in the nature of the feedstock supply chain and the energy-intensity of the feedstock for nuclear plants and their manner of operation that the technical aspects of avoiding injuries to humans now and in the future is far easier than with resort to coal or to gas. Technically simple and economically plausible designs and procedures that would comply are available to operators of nuclear plants. Imposing a similar set of risk profiles on coal or gas would render them uncompetitive which is why the advocates for coal and gas (but especially coal) are focused on avoiding this regulatory compliance or putting a cost on CO2. If one energy source requires a million times the mass in feedstock of another competing energy source, it will be simple to work out which has the easier compliance burden. In the US, something like 40% of the mass of bulk goods carried on rail is coal.

    The cost of transport alone tends to force coal operators to build power plants near supplies of coal and acess to water — typically these are rivers — so the pollution being expelled from the plant (including actinides) rapidly contaminates living riparian systems. Why you’d be unaware of or indifferent to this I can’t imagine.

    A nuclear plant can be built where it is closest to demand because the feedstock is modest in scale. You can have the plant cooled other than by water, or use the ocean’s waters.

    Speaking of Chernbyl …

    its still an ugly destroyed wasted dead zone

    Well not to the recovering wildlife there.

    More biodiversity at Chernobyl
    August 12, 2005 Nineteen years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, researchers say the surrounding land in Ukraine has more biodiversity.

    Some 100 species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened species, as well as bear and wolf, have been found in the evacuated zone, says Viktor Dolin, of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences in Kiev, reported the Moscow News Thursday.

    There are a lot of mutations in species but they get weeded out and many young fish living in the reactor’s cooling ponds are deformed. But adults tend to be healthy, implying that those harmed by radiation die young, said James Morris of the University of South Carolina.

    So human development was worse for biodiversity than a radioactive disaster? What kind of worked for humans didn’t work for wildlife? Who could have guessed?

  100. gerard
    January 13th, 2010 at 14:26 | #100

    Alice… there are a lot of useful technologies that can be used to murder people. These potential uses do not make benign uses impossible. Should we ban GPS systems and cell phones?

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