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Monday Message Board

August 8th, 2016

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. Ivor
    August 8th, 2016 at 09:30 | #1

    Having breeched 400 ppm CO2 levels and with ongoing exploration and development of fossil fuel resources, the earth is now on suicide watch – all because our politicians and industry lobbyists care for one thing only – growth in profits.

    As one Scripps source [geoscientist Jeff Severinghaus] noted:

    The extreme speed at which carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing is unprecedented. An increase of 10 parts per million might have needed 1,000 years or more to come to pass during ancient climate change events. Now the planet is poised to reach the 1,000 ppm level in only 100 years if emissions trajectories remain at their present level.

    “Our grandchildren will inhabit a radically altered planet, as the ocean gradually warms up in response to the buildup of heat-trapping gases,”

    “radically altered” @ 1,000 ppm means unlivable for most species. Evolution cannot operate at this rate of change. A unlivable atmosphere was the original condition of the earth until millions of years worth of organic matter was stored underground.

    Future changes will probably accelerate as the polar caps disappear as they are currently diverting a small amount of trapped energy into ice melt at a rate of 334 KJoules per Kg (latent heat of fusion).

    Greenhouse gases in tundra is another problem.

    There is no reason why life should exist permanently on earth.

    Naturally there is no solution to any of this, as long as human emissions exceed Earth’s greenhouse gases sinks – which cannot be increased.

    At present population levels this is just 1 tonne carbon per capita per year. This reduces if the population increases.

    Keynes should have left a different message for his grandchildren.

  2. Donald Oats
    August 8th, 2016 at 15:15 | #2

    Malcolm Roberts is claiming there is a world conspiracy to pretend that human-caused global warming is real, and that CSIRO scientists are in on the deal. It would be good if a few of those scientists could pop the bonnet open and show the Malcolm Robertses of the world what actually goes on in a place like CSIRO, and how it is far from a conspiracy, it is all about evidence. Perhaps take a few of the elected members of the senate and/or parliament on a tour of the facilities, to show them how the scientific work is conducted. Nothing like seeing some data, or some ice cores, to gain an appreciation of the scientific work firsthand.

    I think things have reached the stage where some of the most senior scientists need to make face to face contact with the more sceptical politicians, and give them a guided tour of the whole thing. At worst it won’t change their minds, but it just might wake a few of them up, at least show them that the scientists are sincere in their efforts to understand the climate systems of the Earth, and our (unintended) effects upon those systems. I live in hope.

  3. August 8th, 2016 at 16:17 | #3

    @Ivor I find it significant that @Ivor blames the growth in CO2 levels on “growth and profits” rather than burning fossil fuel.

    It helps me understand why Ivor’s plan to stop CO2 growth is premised on degrowth and loss-making. What I’d call deindustrialization and poverty.

    “Keynes should have left a different message for his grandchildren.”

    So Ivor disagrees with Keynes. Not surprising as many of Keynes’ policies were directed against deindustrialization and poverty.

  4. rog
    August 8th, 2016 at 16:47 | #4

    The ACMA decision on Andrew Bolt is curious; they claim that the ordinary person is not fooled by his hyperbole ie too hyperbolic to be factual.

    Previously Bolt said “My brief: to unspin the usual spin and inform viewers without fear or favour on the issues that matter most.”

  5. Ivor
    August 8th, 2016 at 16:47 | #5

    @Mark Pawelek

    You are not showing much understanding.

    Maximising profits is associated with minimising costs compared to competitors. Fossil fuels are only used because they are cheaper than other energy sources.

    The ONLY reason fossil fuels are used is because they are cheaper than other energy sources AND the only reason it is obligatory for capitalists to use the cheapest energy source is because of their drive to MAXIMISE PROFITS.

    Your introduction of deindustrialisation and poverty was noxious and ignorant.

  6. August 8th, 2016 at 17:20 | #6

    @Ivor
    Au contraire. I understand you precisely. It was obvious during our nuclear power discussion you did not really know what you were talking about. That same goes for 99% of green nuclear power critics : you are substantially ignorant about the technology and how it can be improved. If one opposes industrial civilization, why would one care about how it worked?

    Another interesting thing we always see from the left-greens : you only ever talk about “green jobs”. You admit you will use quantitative easing to invest in green technology. So you plan to keep everyone busy working while you deindustrialize the Western world. This green-left combination of Luddism and neo-Malthusian growth phobia is so typical and characteristic: the central ideas animating deep greens.

  7. August 8th, 2016 at 17:36 | #7

    @Ivor

    Fossil fuels are only used because they are cheaper than other energy sources.

    Previously you were claimed fossil fuels and nuclear power are only used because they are massively subsidised by governments. Does that massive subsidy go back the the mid-18th century when coal-burning really took off in Britain in response to expensive prices for wood after people had denuded the country of it by chopping down so many trees?

    Did the massive subsidy begin in Victorian times after the invention of green electricity sources such as solar power and wind energy [first solar array: 1883, first electrically generating wind: 1888]. Was there a global capitalist conspiracy to subsidise fossil fuels? If so when did it begin? If there’s no conspiracy, when are fossil fuel and nuclear power less expensive than “green energy”?

  8. Ivor
    August 8th, 2016 at 18:48 | #8

    @Mark Pawelek

    No one opposes industrial civilisation.

    No one only talks only about green jobs.

    No one is trying to deindustrialise the West.

    There is no Luddism.

    There is no growth phobia.

    We just need to get rid of capitalism and ensure that the global CO2 emissions do not exceed the global sink without introducing greater risks to humanity.

    Subsidising renewables is perfectly acceptable and have all the technology and potential for improvement you seem to be hankering for.

    What next canard will you dream up?

  9. August 8th, 2016 at 19:49 | #9

    @Ivor

    No one opposes industrial civilisation.

    Apart from greens who explicitly told that’s why they oppose nuclear power. Who want to hobble growth by hobbling cheap, plentiful energy. [ I admit it may not be cheap, but they believed it would become so ]. The Club of Rome, Amory Lovins (grand daddy of renewable energy, talking about fusion – not fission):

    “If you ask me, it’d be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it.”

    Paul R. Ehrlich:

    “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”

    Jeremy Rifkin:

    “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”

    You might argue : that was how the green movement began, it’s different now. It is no different.

    “If a doubling of the state’s population in the next 20 years is to be encouraged by providing the power resources for this growth, … the state’s scenic character will be destroyed. More power plants create more industry, that in turn invites greater population density.”

    said: David Brower, who was Executive Director of the Sierra Club, and became Friends of the Earth founder. The Australian anti-nuclear power movement (CANE) was created by Friends of the Earth activists in 1976.

  10. August 8th, 2016 at 19:55 | #10

    @Ivor

    No one opposes industrial civilisation.

    Apart from the billion dollar foundations funding the green movement. Having made their billions on the backs of U.S. workers these seclusive millionaires now want to keep the proceeds of wealth for themselves. Foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller, David & Lucile Packard, Ted Turner, Charles Stewart Mott, etc. Foundations funded by money earned in U.S. industry. Now directed against industry. This has been going on since before The Club of Rome began.

    Are you their useful idiot? It sure looks like that to me.

  11. Ivor
    August 8th, 2016 at 21:56 | #11

    @Mark Pawelek

    Opposing carbon emissions by industry, or workplace deaths by industry, or sweatshop conditions imposed by industry, or discriminatory practices of industry, or corrupt insider relationships bred by industry, or increasing poverty, or reliance on increasing debt, or leaving environment problems for future generations, etc, is not “against industry”.

    Are you a stooge for nukaholic capitalists? It sure looks like that to me.

    We can have all the industry we like provided it does not:

    emit excessive carbon
    cheapen workplace safety
    incorporate sweatshops in supply chains
    discriminate based on identity, age, or creed
    deal corruptly
    cut wages
    demand debt and beg for tax cuts
    jeopardise the earths environment.

  12. August 8th, 2016 at 23:57 | #12

    workplace deaths by industry, or sweatshop conditions imposed by industry, or discriminatory practices of industry, or corrupt insider relationships bred by industry, or increasing poverty, or reliance on increasing debt, or leaving environment problems for future generations, etc, is not “against industry”

    None of that goes on in nuclear power. It is statistically the safest, most environmentally friendly way to make energy – even including Fukushima and Chernobyl.

  13. August 9th, 2016 at 00:09 | #13

    So the only reason people have for opposing nuclear power is the same one as the billionaires and millionaires of the Club of Rome, Ford, Rockefeller, David & Lucile Packard, Ted Turner, Charles Stewart Mott Foundations. To pull the ladder up after them, so keep the poor in poverty.

    That has been the overriding strategic aim of the green movement. Today, and ever since it began in the late 1960s. I’m not interested in your crocodile tears either (evils of capitalism above). You are throwing accusations out left, right and centre to detract attention away from your politically reactionary economics. Economics promoting degrowth and poverty and, paradoxically, more environmental damage!

    PS: Logical fallacy: “Changing the subject” is a useful way of avoiding an argument you can not answer. Well done.

  14. Ivor
    August 9th, 2016 at 08:12 | #14

    @Mark Pawelek

    Nuclear is not the safest most environmentally friendly way to make energy particularly given the destruction of the environment around Hanford, Chernobyl, Maralinga, Fukushima. and the calls for nuclear weapons coming from Trump.

    I am not interested in your denialism and dogmas nor your immorality over the evils of capitalism.

    You were the one who desperately tried to change the subject to deindustrialisation and poverty because you needed to find a useful way to avoid the obvious you could not answer.

    It has now blown up in your face.

    Congratulations.

  15. August 9th, 2016 at 16:13 | #15

    “Muawh ha ha-ha-ha ha! On average the bottom quintile income earner uses 5,000 kilowatt-hours a year! By hiding the fact that nuclear power actually produces electricity for only 0.1 cents a kilowatt-hour I will force them to pay an average of 3.9 cents a kilowatt-more than they need to, costing them an extra $195 a year! More that half of one percent of their income! Which is clearly enough to keep them poor FOREVER!!! Bah-Har-HaHaHa!”

  16. pablo
    August 9th, 2016 at 17:17 | #16

    The refusal of some senators to put their names to census forms thereby exposing themselves to significant fines over time is both brave and potentially reckless. Assuming the several Greens reps who have now stated they will refuse would likely bill their party coffers to meet any impost, this would be a red rag to some ruling LNP hard heads. A chance to bankrupt an opponent? After all it was Tony Abbott who went after Pauline Hanson over One Nation membership ‘fraud’ effectively nullifying a right wing threat to conservative hegemony.

  17. Ken Fabian
    August 9th, 2016 at 18:09 | #17

    Mark, that climate action is seen as a “green” issue is itself a hallmark of the artificially and deliberately constructed politics of the climate responsibility avoidance that is the hallmark of the Conservative/Right approach to the issue; it has promoted the view that climate is a green issue rather than a central one as well as done it’s best to associate the broader, mainstream political movement seeking climate action – which has come, for variety of reasons, to promote Renewable Energy ahead of nuclear – with the extremist fringe of “green-left” politics.

    Had the conservative Right chosen to make the climate cause their own instead of framing it as “green”, fringe and irrational, thus standing in opposition to a transition to low emissions, nuclear for climate would have had a strong enduring base of political support. Instead, this main home of political support for nuclear is strongly associated with anti-environmental politics that crucially includes opposition to strong climate action. I think perhaps even as the most significant environmental cause it opposes. It has been a willing participant in decades of undermining the strong community concern about the climate problem, that is an essential ingredient for getting the public onside for that most serious of climate responses – massive expansion of nuclear energy.

    As long as you see “green” politics as the principle cause of nuclear’s woes – and continue to see the broader and essentially moderate political movement for climate action based around Renewable energy as a form of extremist fringe politics that must be attacked – whilst failing to recognise the profound impacts that organised, mainstream climate science denial and climate action obstructionism has had for nuclear you will be misapplying your efforts.

    It hasn’t been the strength of opposition – the largely unopposed anti-nuke activism from a small vocal fringe – it’s been the weakness of support, from mainstream political parties and forces that are anything but fringe, which have a competing and overriding priority of strong opposition to the essential, fundamental goal of transition to low emissions that has left nuclear in a deep hole.

    I think that a community that understands and accepts the true scale of the climate problem would put aside many of it’s misgivings about nuclear – and misgivings about expanding use of renewables as well btw – were there clear bipartisan support for the essential goal of transition to low emissions. It is not the mainstream and predominately moderate supporters of climate action and renewable energy that are standing in the way of that acceptance.

    It is perhaps instructive to note that the predominate emerging issues for the ongoing transition are the emergence of a rapidly growing market in ever cheaper intermittent renewables that are being taken up on the basis of value for money; it creates, within energy systems dominated by fossil fuel,s a de-defacto carbon price by forcing existing generation into greater intermittency. Which I think is exactly the direction it needs to go. It could do with a good dose of thoughtful policy intervention to see existing fossil fuel plant transition smoothly to the role of backup and to ensure the emerging market incentives that higher cost, more intermittent fossil fuel generation bring are used to encourage the shift to technologies like storage and responses like time shifting of demand and greater energy efficiency. They should be used intelligently to make fossil fuels ever more intermittent and provide the market incentive to ultimately make them unnecessary. Insulating nuclear from that emergent market mechanism, on the basis of it’s emissions credentials would reasonably be a policy consideration. Preventing further growth of renewables so fossil fuels are not forced into intermittency is not.

  18. Donald Oats
    August 9th, 2016 at 19:53 | #18

    At the moment Germany is having great fun dealing with the where and how to dispose of nuclear waste…safely. They have some deep mines where high level waste may be stored, but water seepage and other incidental matters keep making themselves into substantial issues, and this makes prediction as to the cost of decommissioning, and waste disposal, simply impossible to do with any convincing accuracy. Nuclear waste doesn’t go away in a hurry, and is both radioactively toxic and chemically toxic to animals like ourselves.

    The abject failure of companies and countries to factor in the risks and the cost-risks of the end-stage of the nuclear cycle is now becoming more apparent by the day. The super-powers had their military reasons for going nuclear, full-steam ahead, and no doubt sold it to their respective leaders of the day as also good for domestic power production. Once the military component is removed from the equation, the domestic producers are left holding the can when it comes to decommissioning and/or waste disposal and storage.

    Nuclear power as a means of boiling water is an impressive technical feat, and to do it stably and reliably is a testament to the engineering skills of the people behind it. Unfortunately there are many other ways to boil water, and if power generation is the goal, boiling water isn’t even a necessary step.

    PS: Don’t forget to put your name on the census tonight. And if you are an atheist, please put atheist in the box marked “Other” and please don’t put Jedi—unless you really can use the force.

  19. GrueBleen
    August 9th, 2016 at 20:36 | #19

    @Donald Oats

    It’s been quite a while since 1978, but apparently Synroc is still with us, courtesy of ANSTO.

    It’s involved in processing our nuclear medicine waste apparently, so far at least.

    Just Google: Synroc plant to help revolutionise ANSTO’s nuclear waste management

  20. Ken Fabian
    August 9th, 2016 at 22:12 | #20

    Another thread ending up in a nuclear vs renewables stoush. I suspect nuclear will have it’s place but not in Australia in any foreseeable future. As should be clear I think that is at least as much an indirect consequence of entrenched climate obstructionism that is threaded through mainstream politics as the direct opposition, which I think is widely popular yet not a deeply held position. Frankly I think most Australians are not that deeply involved with these issues. I have my own misgivings about massive expansion of nuclear, whilst having no intrinsic or ideological opposition – but I think debating them has no real point; renewables are, for various reasons the only real pathway available to us. Even if they were initially used as a political exercise in greenwash – appearing to do something with little expectation that it would have any significant impacts thus leaving us with discredited “green schemes” and business as usual unaffected – their potential turned out to be more reachable than the energy industry insiders, or even the renewables optimists expected.

    Whilst actual policy commitment to adequate climate actions – ie to low emissions – still remains elusive the extraordinary cost reductions of wind and solar look like they will carry us in the right direction in spite of ourselves. It won’t be enough but I think renewables smashing the price barrier – even on an intermittent basis – will have profound impacts including undermining the essentially pragmatic foundations of climate denial and obstructionism, ie the desire to avoid climate responsibility and the inconveniences and costs accepting it would bring. I don’t think climate science denial was ever truly about climate science and as renewables are embraced at ever greater scale without causing any catastrophic problems the reasons for denial and obstruction will weaken.

    Yes, intermittency is a real issue and we don’t know how or when or even if the renewables and storage combination will overcome it at a price comparable to (carbon price free) fossil fuels. That storage has begun to attract serious investment at ever greater scale suggests that it’s not strictly a technology problem, it’s a cost problem – but one that is not so difficult as to be beyond solutions. I think the true value of storage is much greater than is apparent in a simple price per MWhr comparison and fossil fuel plant being forced into intermittency by greater renewables penetration will make that ever more clear. Already the inclusion of storage with solar PV is surging and I think there is reason to think the problem will be solved – and that sense of optimism is valuable in itself. Ultimately it can undermine the very reasons for climate science denial, which can lead to the policy commitments that we should have had all along.

  21. David Allen
    August 10th, 2016 at 08:00 | #21

    #censusfail

    Another Turnbull failure. Good government starts when?

  22. Ivor
    August 10th, 2016 at 08:22 | #22

    @Ronald Brak

    I am not clear what your point is.

    You appear to not understand how capitalism operates. If nuclear power produces at 0.1 cents KwHr, this does not mean that this is the selling price.

    Capitalists sell at whatever price the market will bear. The market price will be near the price of the next available substitute.

    If subsidised renewables (or fossil fuel) produce at 5 cents, then the selling price of nuclear will be just under 5 cents and the companies making and running nuclear plants will reap huge super profits.

    The only way to force nuclear plants to sell near 0.1cent KwHr is if there is free entry onto the nuclear business and multiple nuclear plants in every city viciously competing against each other.

    This is your nightmare.

  23. August 10th, 2016 at 08:57 | #23

    Sorry, Ivor, I’ll update the comment on how suppressing nuclear power keeps the poor poor:

    “Muawh ha ha-ha-ha ha! On average the bottom quintile income earner uses 5,000 kilowatt-hours a year! By hiding the fact that nuclear power actually produces electricity for only 0.1 cents a kilowatt-hour I will force them to pay an average of 0.01 cents a kilowatt-more than they need to, costing them an extra 50 cents a year! More than 0.001% of one percent of their income! Which is clearly enough to keep them poor FOREVER!!! Bah-Har-HaHaHa!”

  24. Ikonoclast
    August 10th, 2016 at 09:29 | #24

    The fossil fuels / nuclear power / renewable energy debate is already over. It’s just that fossil fuel advocates and nuclear power advocates don’t know it yet. Their knowledge of power generation issues is mired twenty or more years in the past. I made that mistake myself for quite a time. I made the mistake of not keeping up with the new facts surrounding renewable energy generation. These new facts have stemmed from rapid progress in renewable energy generation technology.

    This progress has brought down the price of renewable energy generation (especially solar PV and wind power) to a point where it is equally or more competitive than fossil fuels and nuclear power for stationary energy generation. This is true even though fossil fuels and nuclear power are still more heavily subsidised than renewables and do not pay the true cost of the negative externalities they cause.

    Intermittency is also an issue which can be dealt with and is being dealt with. A combination of redundancy, many storage technologies, a widely linked grid across regions and pricing innovations can assist to tailor supply and demand to each other.

    Of course, it is useless arguing with nuclear power advocates. They appear quite incapable of absorbing this new information. I’m more intrigued by their psychology and I have written on this before. It appears in most cases that the predilection to support centralised authoritarian political power correlates with the predilection to support centralised physical power generation. This is an entirely logical position for the right-wing authoritarian mind-set. Centralised physical power of all types, from power generation to military and police power supports centralised political power in authoritarian systems.

    The other part of the authoritarian mindset is simplism. Only big, simple one-size-fits-all, one-size-powers-all, one-size-controls-all solutions are conceivable to the simplistic authoritarian mind. The idea of complex systems is only conceivable to the authoritarian mind as a direct hierarchy linking the many vertically up to the one. This is how they see political power and this is how they see physical power generation. The idea of complex distributed systems with many nodes, many horizontal linkages as well as vertical linkages, and emergent behaviours and capacities not entirely dependent on top-down causation, command and control appears to be foreign to the authoritarian mind.

  25. Jim Birch
    August 10th, 2016 at 12:19 | #25

    @Ivor
    Are you arguing (or do you believe) that people living in communist, tribal, etc, forms of government don’t want to use more resources, and coincidentally produce more CO2? If so, I’d say you have departed from reality.

    I’d accept that capitalism certain expedites the production of CO2 by successfully raising living standards. I’d also accept that some capitalists propagandize against CO2 abatement, against our better interests.

    However, you seem to be arguing something different, that capitalism must produce CO2, and that only capitalism produces CO2, which seems to me, counterfactual. On the first point, it is pretty clear to me that capitalism can and does – when required – operate carbon-neutrally. On the second, it is clear that societies with non-capitalist economic systems simply don’t have a clean environmental record. If they don’t or didn’t produce excess CO2 it was more-or-less due to a lack of capability, rather than some structural or moral quality of their political/economic systems as you appear to be arguing.

  26. Ivor
    August 10th, 2016 at 12:59 | #26

    @Jim Birch

    Why would you fabricate strange words and then say “departed from reality”. The lunacy is all yours.

    If you want to invent the phrase – “only capitalism produces CO2” then YOU should take responsibility for it. You are the counterfactual writ large.

    Capitalism cannot operate carbon-neutrally because any such capitalists in one nation will always be outcompeted by other capitalists who use fossil fuels.

    It is not necessary for business to be carbon neutral – society can emit carbon but only at the rate that is matched by the Earth’s carbon sinks.

  27. Ivor
    August 10th, 2016 at 13:00 | #27

    @Ronald Brak

    You do not know the meaning of the word “update”.

    You only repeated your previous errors.

  28. Ikonoclast
    August 10th, 2016 at 13:47 | #28

    A couple of points.

    1. I am sure Ronald Brak, as a renewable energy and wind energy advocate is being humourous and ironical in his post. However, the humour and irony are too subtle for me. I just don’t get it.

    2. The “Capitalism and CO2” argument above has sort of gone off the rails as I see it. Forgive me for starting off with what is a glaringly obvious point.

    (a.) Capitalism is not the only industrial-scale mass economic system which would/does emit excess CO2 when relying on fossil fuels. Very obviously, any industrial-scale mass economic system using fossil fuels will emit excess CO2. The reaction C+O2 = CO2 is ideology neutral.

    (b.) What has characterised really existing capitalist democracy (RECD) in the last two decades or so has been a TOO-SLOW changeover from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This has occurred despite the ability of the RECD system to research and bring on stream cost efficient and effective renewable energy.

    (c.) The battle has been between entrepreneurial new capital, mostly small at least initially, and entrenched old capital. Entrenched old capital (fossil capital in this case) has had the advantage of an established infrastructure (both the production and consumption infrastructures) built around their mode of production and a large “war-chest” to buy political favours and lobby for and retain the largest subsidies.

    In summary, the RECD system has proven able to develop the new technology required but not able to implement it fast enough to prevent a high likelihood of dangerous global warming. This system is too slow at adaptive implementation. In computer game analysis terms you would say the market’s (and bourgeois democracy’s) look-ahead routines are too truncated or short-sighted and do not and cannot properly factor in the insights of other disciplines, like science, which can actually look further ahead.

    This system also is not nimble enough to deal with what lies ahead. It cannot see far enough ahead and when it finally sees something it alters course too slowly. This system cannot alter its basic systemic nature. Witness the failure of the system to change since the GFC. I mean financially-economically in this case. However, the failure to change fast enough financially-economically and the failure to change fast enough energetically and materially are joined at the hip. These failures are systematically and systemically linked.

  29. Tim Macknay
    August 10th, 2016 at 14:59 | #29

    @Ikonoclast

    I am sure Ronald Brak, as a renewable energy and wind energy advocate is being humourous and ironical in his post.

    Yes, I thought he was being ironic too.

  30. August 10th, 2016 at 21:37 | #30

    @Ivor

    I am not interested in your denialism …

    You are the person babbling on about global warming here while denying that best solution : low-CO2 emitting nuclear power.

  31. August 10th, 2016 at 22:32 | #31

    @Ken Fabian

    Another thread ending up in a nuclear vs renewables stoush.

    Blame me Ken. I deliberately provoked this.

    renewables are, for various reasons the only real pathway available to us.

    It’s been explained elsewhere that an advanced civilization must use energy resources with an ERoEI at least 12. ERoEI: Energy return on energy invested. ERoEI is just a ratio between the energy used to gather it and the payback we get when harvesting it. Renewables have low to very low ERoEI figures so are just not able to sustain us.

    Q: Why does nuclear power have an ERoEI so much higher than intermittent renewables like wind and solar?

    A: Because of (1) power density, (2) energy density and (3) renewable intermittency. The energy density of nuclear power is potentially a billion times that of a lithium battery. The power density of nukes is tens of billions times wind. Low renewable power density means vast numbers of renewable energy machines must be build, covering huge areas, destroying ecosystems and producing unimaginable environmental harm. All of it must soon be scrapped. Quite soon too. A wind mill lasts only 20 years and solar PV barely more than 25. Energy/power density alone does not kill renewables as an effective solution, but intermittency does. Because it can’t supply energy on demand, intermittents need supporting sources like natural gas and/or hydro. [Batteries won’t do: (1) too expensive, (2) Low energy density means too many will be required. ] Fake environmentalists promoting renewable energy are the biggest threat to the environment today. They are funded by billion dollar, mostly, US Foundations (some of them listed in my posts above) with the express aim of promoting Luddism, and a neo-Malthusian mindset. Rich people who want nothing more than to pull the ladder up after them to keep the rest of the world poor. Done in the name of protecting the environment. They are not environmentalists in the true sense. Not socialists in any sense at all apart from a mindless one.

    ERoEI for Beginners, by Euan Mearns.
    GETTING TO ZERO: Is renewable energy economically viable? By Keith Pickering
    The Catch-22 of Energy Storage, by Barry Brook

  32. Ivor
    August 11th, 2016 at 00:57 | #32

    @Mark Pawelek

    There is no babbling on about global warming.

    I think you need to attend a series of sessions with Nuclearolics Anonymous.

  33. August 11th, 2016 at 09:57 | #33

    Mr Pawelek, do you believe that human activity is responsible for at least a large portion of the global warming that has occurred over the past 100 years?

  34. Jim Birch
    August 11th, 2016 at 14:35 | #34

    @Ivor

    Capitalism cannot operate carbon-neutrally because any such capitalists in one nation will always be outcompeted by other capitalists who use fossil fuels.

    “Cannot”? You appear to have repeated the claim.

    My understanding is that corporations (aka “capitalists”) want to turn a profit. CO2 production is incidental. In a regulated environment where CO2 is taxed, CO2 production will be avoided by capitalists exactly because it cuts profits.

    If tax regimes differ in different places this poses a practical problem, that would need to be solved. However, I think you would find that businesses in the regulated environment would favour some kind of CO2 attribution on imports that compete with their products.

    Other economic systems will have different incentives and different problems but I don’t see a body of historical evidence for alternate systems operating with great level of environmental awareness. Do you?

  35. Ivor
    August 11th, 2016 at 14:51 | #35

    @Jim Birch

    Corporations can either produce – no profit, normal profit or capitalist profit, or monopolist profit.

    Under capitalism, competition ensures that specifically “capitalist” corporations move to the right on this spectrum.

    Socialist corporations occupy the centre or move left.

    It is not possible to solve differences between different national tax regimes, or wage-cost regimes or carbon-mitigation regimes.

    Socialist systems seeking to compete with Western capitalism will also tend to discount ecological issues in pursuit of growth.

    However, unlike capitalism, there is nothing inherent in socialist political economy, to generate such drives to compete that necessarily cut wages, ecological standards or public welfare.

  36. Tim Macknay
    August 11th, 2016 at 16:12 | #36

    @Mark Pawelek

    It’s been explained elsewhere that an advanced civilization must use energy resources with an ERoEI at least 12.

    I’m curious where you got the figure of 12 from. I haven’t come across it before in EROEI literature, and it’s not in any of the sources you’ve cited in your comment (they’re mostly in agreement that the figure is around 7, for what it’s worth).

  37. Ivor
    August 11th, 2016 at 17:31 | #37

    @Tim Macknay

    This is nicotine science.

    There is no reason why energy return may be less than energy invested.

    Paweleks own source says:

    It is assumed that ERoEI >5 to 7 is required for modern society to function.

    So why not just double it and spin a pro-nuke canard?

  38. Jim Birch
    August 12th, 2016 at 11:39 | #38

    Ivor :
    However, unlike capitalism, there is nothing inherent in socialist political economy, to generate such drives to compete that necessarily cut wages, ecological standards or public welfare.

    This sounds rosy in theory but fails on real world reality testing, doesn’t it? There are numerous examples of major environmental fails outside capitalist states.

    In fact, it seems way more reasonable to me to believe that “capitalists” will adapt to more-or-less any regulatory regime thrown at them, include CO2 regulation. They may resist regulation, but if it put in place and policed it will basically work, as evidenced by eg CFCs, vehicle emissions, safe working environments, lead-free petrol, product safety requirements. None of these changes required the downfall of capitalism to be implemented despite your theoretical pronouncements. There is an ongoing, non-trivial problem of building the required political will, countering objections and designing and implementing good regulatory systems but the evidence is that these things can be achieved without capitalism’s demise. And, in fact, another bunch of capitalists will generally start facilitating the process if there is money in it. 🙂

  39. Ikonoclast
    August 12th, 2016 at 12:03 | #39

    @Tim Macknay

    I have made a certain point about EROEI a few times on this blog. Forgive me if you have heard it before.

    (1) Let us assume the worst case scenario of an EROEI of 12:1 for advanced economies to survive and prosper.

    (2) Let us assume that this factor of 12:1 applies to a pure fossil fuel economy.

    (3) Let us assume that the overall efficiency of a pure fossil fuel economy equates to the efficiency of an ICE motor. That is 20% of produced energy is turned into useful work.

    (4) Let us assume that a renewable economy, fully electrical, delivers an EROEI of only 4:1. Again this is a worst case scenario so we have applied two worst case scenarios AGAINST the renewables economy.

    (5) Now, let us assume that the overall efficiency of a pure electrical economy equates to the efficiency of an electric motor. That is 80% of produced energy is turned into useful work.

    (6) The 4:1 of an electrical economy delivers as much energy for useful work as the 16:1 of a fossil fuel economy.

    There are a lot of assumptions above, including two severe worst case assumptions against renewable energy. Even with these assumptions, an electrical renewable economy with a 4:1 EROEI comes out better (33% better) than a fossil fuel economy with a 12:1 EROEI in terms of finally delivered useful energy. This seems to me to be a logically deducible fact if the above assumptions hold.

    I would be interested to see if anyone can debunk my reasoning. Issues might arise in how EROEI is calculated for each form of energy. I will leave it at this point now.

  40. Ivor
    August 12th, 2016 at 12:53 | #40

    @Jim Birch

    As long as capitalism remains viable and it is technically possible, then regulation is plausible.

    We all know that capitalism corrected some injustices through the post War welfare state and promising people jobs, holidays, housing, and a decent retirement. These are now being stripped away.

    So vehicle emissions, CFC’s etc can be regulated provided capitalism remains viable and it is technically possible.

    Carbon emissions or rather fossil fuel and methane is a completely different beast.

    The required regulation is to ensure that CO2 emissions are no more than 1 tonne per capita pa and there is zero population growth. A ecologically stable world requires less industrial growth in some parts of the globe while others catch up.

    In this context this paper is critical:

    http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/global/pdf/Canadell.2007.SinkSaturation.Springer.pdf

    I interpret this as meaning that the globe can only emit around 3 Gigatonne of carbon from fossil reserves per year or 11 Gigatonnes of CO2.

    The global population will soon be 8 billion and possibly 11 for the next generation.

    If you use any common carbon foot print calculator – you will see that it is going to be impossible to regulate capitalism so that each individual only emits 1 tonne CO2 per annum, particularly as capitalism is in a long-run descending crisis.

    However, reducing fossil fuel CO2 emissions to 1 tonne per capita will be a lot easier without the added burden of capitalism insisting on maximising profits or just focussing on the short-term interests of shareholders and funding nicotine science and denialists.

    If you know of any other benchmark that capitalism can meet, please provide it.

  41. Ivor
    August 12th, 2016 at 12:53 | #41

    @Jim Birch

    As long as capitalism remains viable and it is technically possible, then regulation is plausible.

    We all know that capitalism corrected some injustices through the post War welfare state and promising people jobs, holidays, housing, and a decent retirement. These are now being stripped away.

    So vehicle emissions, CFC’s etc can be regulated provided capitalism remains viable and it is technically possible.

    Carbon emissions or rather fossil fuel and methane is a completely different beast.

    The required regulation is to ensure that CO2 emissions are no more than 1 tonne per capita pa and there is zero population growth. A ecologically stable world requires less industrial growth in some parts of the globe while others catch up.

    In this context this paper is critical:

    http://www.globalcarbonproject.org/global/pdf/Canadell.2007.SinkSaturation.Springer.pdf

    I interpret this as meaning that the globe can only emit around 3 Gigatonne of carbon from fossil reserves per year or 11 Gigatonnes of CO2.

    The global population will soon be 8 billion and possibly 11 for the next generation.

    If you use any common carbon foot print calculator – you will see that it is going to be impossible to regulate capitalism so that each individual only emits 1 tonne CO2 per annum, particularly as capitalism is in a long-run descending crisis.

    However, reducing fossil fuel CO2 emissions to 1 tonne per capita will be a lot easier without the added burden of capitalism insisting on maximising profits or just focussing on the short-term interests of shareholders and funding nicotine science and denialists.

    If you know of any other benchmark that capitalism can meet, please provide it.

  42. Ken Fabian
    August 12th, 2016 at 13:34 | #42

    @Mark Pawelek
    I think the relative energy and power densities are essentially irrelevant and having lower EROI than nuclear is not, in and of itself going to limit RE growth.

    RE has not yet reached it’s ultimate optimised form which means that prior measures of costs and energy returns are not reliable guides to their future effectiveness – on the contrary and given that they are lower cost now than ever before they are almost certain to inflate estimates of future costs. The well of innovation is far from running dry; continuing cost reductions are almost certain just from what’s in the pipeline.

    If that all adds up to taking the leap before knowing how deep the water then I suggest we compare that to continuing the fossil fueled leap, knowing with virtual certainty that it’s a recipe for disaster. Nuclear, at the scales required is as much a blind leap in my view as RE.

    Nuclear has simply failed to inspire the necessary depth of support and thus failed to be a trigger for real change; it’s historic low emissions achievements have been mostly incidental, an unintended consequence of investment decisions for other reasons. Without climate as motivation the extent of it’s capability to displace fossil fuels must remain limited, ie I must disagree with those who count anyone who professes to favour nuclear, whether they accept the science on climate or not, as preferable to those who accept it but seek to address emissions by other means; without the climate change motivation support for nuclear cannot be mobilised effectively as climate solution.

    Given how nuclear’s advocacy is deeply intertwined with anti-environmentalist, anti-climate action politics it cannot inspire trust from existing supporters of climate action by other means. And if nuclear advocacy can’t even mobilise it’s existing supporters effectively, then a strategy of attacking renewable energy and allowing unconstrained use of fossil fuels until “common sense” prevails – and that is what it looks like to me – seems very unlikely to yield any tangible results.

    Yes the politics of climate and energy is messed up and it’s going to stay messed up. Nuclear more than any other option requires unwavering support of the fundamental goal of addressing climate change to break it’s impasse – preferring it to renewables is useless unless it comes with, and unequivocally comes with preference for low emissions over fossil fuels. It doesn’t.

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