As the formal release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change draws nearer, quite a few skeptics have been going public to say that the evidence is now overwhelming. Here, for example, is Michael Shermer, who, appropriately enough, writes the Skeptic column for the Scientific American. He’s no fan of eco-alarmism, but he is a skeptic in the true sense of the term – someone who demands convincing evidence but is willing, when presented with such evidence to change their views. And here’s Sir David Attenborough.
There may still be a few more such announcements to come. But it’s clear by now that the evidence is more than enough to convince genuine sceptics. Those who refuse to accept overwhelming evidence are more correctly described as denialists.
If the accumulation of evidence isn’t enough to convince former ‘sceptics’ to change their tune, how about the embarrassment of being associated with the clown show that is denialism in 2006? To take a few of many examples, how about:
* The Lavoisier Institute’s Bob Foster, predicting global cooling on the basis of work done by well-known astrologer (and all-round cycle crank), the late Theodor Landscheidt;
* The Competitive Enterprise Institute ad campaign on the theme ‘CO2: they call it pollution, we call it Life!’; or
* ‘long range weather forecaster’ (ahem) Ken Ring, who says that “CO2 is also nearly twice as heavy as air (molecular weight 44, that of air 29) so it cannot rise anywhere beyond haze level of a couple of hundred feet.” His work is published by the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (via Tim Lambert?
At least Ring and Landscheidt are or were sincerely deluded. The same can’t be said of the CEI, which is at the centre of the dark nexus between global warming denialism and the tobacco lobby, symbolised by people like Stephen Milloy, Fred Seitz and Fred Singer.
Of course, not all the scientists who accept the evidence on global warming are sensible. Given that there are thousands of scientists working on the topic, this is inevitable. There may even be some as silly as the examples listed above (though I’m not aware of any). But take them away and you still have thousands of serious scientists and tens of thousands of papers supporting the scientific side of the argument. Take away the Lavoisier Institute, CEI and the rest from the anti-science side and you have nothing.
In this context, it’s interesting to note a failed attempt by Ron Bailey to split the difference, counterposing the CEI ads and Al Gore’s presentation of An Inconvenient Truth. While he’s taken some pretty dubious stances, Bailey has more concern for his credibility than the clowns mentioned above, and, after taking a hammering for his obfuscation, he quickly recognised that the CEI was truly indefensible.
147 thoughts on “The last of the sceptics”
So, Dogz, in the light of the Price-Anderson Act, isn’t it true to say that the true alarmists in the nuclear debate ist he nuclear industry itself?
If the nuclear industry believed that they could operate nuclear reactors on a commercial basis while discounting for any tort-based complaint like any normal industry, why don’t they do it?
It’s a rhetorical question Dogz. The correct answer is they can’t.
They know they can’t because they know that they are running an extremely dangerous industry.
Although I sympathize with the Cato institute’s position, should we be allowed to sue fossil fuel power station owners for their impact on global warming?
No matter what you do, there’s always a tiny probability of something nearly infinitely bad happening. If society did not effectively self-insure against those risks nothing would ever get done at all (a bureaucrats dream, but not very satisfying for the rest of us).
“should we be allowed to sue fossil fuel power station owners for their impact on global warming’
Why not? Until Mrs Donoghue found herself with a mouthful of decayed snail, tort law didn’t exist.
The biggest problem is who is “we”? The fossil fuel power companies could probably claim that the burning of fossil fuels is so pervasive that the harm that one of them does is not quantifiable. Thus there is no duty of care.
This defence doesn’t apply to the meltdown of Montgomery Burns’s Springfield Nuclear Plant. That’s the reason why the Price-Anderson Act was necessary for the nuclear industry but not for the fossil fuel industry.
I know these are very inconvenient facts for true believers in market fundamentalism. The truth is that your pet causes don’t want to be saved by you.
Sad, isn’t it?
I think debating whether global waming is real or not really misses the whole point and is counterproductive. There is enough evidence (and has been for some time) to suggest that it is a potential problem that needs to be dealt with .The real question is what policies should be adopted and how much are we willing to pay to insure against possible and uncertain future scenarios- without going overboard on excessive economic costs in the short term. Framing the debate as being about whether global warming is real or not only leads to the bad policy options: do nothing or do something extreme. Please focus your thoughts on the portfolio of policies that start to make a difference to reducing emissions at low costs.
By the way Tim Flannery’s book has a footnote that argues that Wilcoxen and I think global warming is hogwash. I have spent a decade working with governments to come up with real policies to deal with climate change. This characterisation of my work is completely incorrect – as anyone who has read our book on “Climate Change Policy After Kyoto” will know. . I hope the rest of Flannery’s book is better researched.
Warwick, I mentioned your & Wilcoxen’s suggested approach in today’s FIn. I’ll probably repost this tomorrow.
Price-Anderson was enacted in 1957 because no private insurers were willing to bear the unknown risks associated with the then nascent nuclear industry. Wikipedia is once again a good source.
It has a complicated funding arrangement, but perhaps the most relevant fact to this discussion is that up to the year 2000 all insurance claims under the act ($151M) had been paid out by the reactor companies’ primary (read “ordinary”) insurance policies.
That the Act continues to be renewed by Congress sounds more like standard industry pork-barelling than any great anti-environmentalist smoking gun.
“That the Act continues to be renewed by Congress sounds more like standard industry pork-barelling than any great anti-environmentalist smoking gun. ”
This is Congress admitting that no private insurer is prepared to carry the risk.
In 1957 when, as you allege, the risks weren’t known the federal indemnity cut in at $500m.
In 2005, after 60 years of living in the nuclear age, the indemnity cuts in at $50b, 100 times the original amount. Inflation has increased nothing like 10,000% since 1957!
Yet, the nuclear industry is prepared to pay for this enormous increase in coverage. Could it be that they know that they are still getting a bargain? And could it be because they know the magnitude of the cost of their subsidised risks?
Get serious Dogz. If the nuclear industry thought they could get better coverage in the private insurance market they would continue to rely on Federal Government indemnification?
The only valid conclusion is that now the risks are better known than in 1957, still no private insurers are prepared to carry the risk.
They know a bad risk when they see one.
This is a telling paragraph. People who work in climatology are “environmentalists”, you know, tree hugging greenie hippies.
People with degrees in unrelated fields, i.e. mathematics, and no actual experience in or knowledge of the field are “scientists”, dispassionately reviewing and judging the work of the “environmentalists”.
Sure, that’s why only $151M has been paid out in nearly 50 years.
The reactor operators are required to raise the maximum insurance possible in the private market, and they’ve only ever had to use that private insurance.
If the fossil-fuel power generators were subject to the same liability over their CO2 generating activities, they wouldn’t be able to find private insurance either.
In both cases society-at-large bears the risk. For the nuclear generators it is legislated. For the fossil-fuel generators they have benefited from history (when they all started no-one knew that GW would be a problem).
Dogz, further to my last point about insureres knowing a bad risk when they see one. Here is a submission by State Farm Insurance on the question of insuring a nuclear plant:
“Insurance is based upon the relative predictabilities of an accident occurring and the charging of a rate for several similar or homogeneous risks. The predictability of each of these accidents is based upon previous experience for this same type of risk and the theory of large numbers. Thus a large number of similar risks will over a period of time develop a predictable number of accidents. If, however, the experience of the accident is not known, then neither the predictability nor the severity of the accident can be used to develop an adequate rate. The two extremes of this situation being that the insurance carrier could charge a premium equal to the cost of the risk insured (thus making the cost prohibitively expensive), or charge such a low rate that the Company would not have sufficient funds to pay its claims in case of a castastrophe. In the case of providing coverage for the peril of nuclear radiation, such a situation exists. Since no experience exists in providing such coverage, and there is a definite possibility for a catastrophe occurring, insurance companies are not capable of making the actuarial decisions to provide this coverage.”
State Farm isn’t talking about the frequency of serious nuclear accidents. Rather, the Company is talking about the catastrophic nature of just one such an accident. The Company says it has no way of quantifying those costs.
Translate that into the lives of ordinary persons, and for that matter biological processes in general. What State Farm means is that a catastrophic nuclear incident for which “there is a definite possibility” renders life as we know it impossible over an unquantifiable area for an unquantifiable stretch of time.
Insurance companies don’t scare easily.
Katz, that is just a statement that the insurers are unable to calculate the risk because there are insufficient events (ie none) on which to base the calculation. So what?
SJ: People with degrees in unrelated fields, i.e. mathematics, and no actual experience in or knowledge of the field are â€œscientistsâ€?, dispassionately reviewing and judging the work of the â€œenvironmentalistsâ€?.
Experience, no, knowledge, yes. You don’t have to be an anointed priest of environmentalism to understand this stuff. It is not that complicated. What’s your degree SJ? Related or unrelated?
“In both cases society-at-large bears the risk. For the nuclear generators it is legislated.”
Excellent Dogz! Earlier in this thread you weren’t even factoring these costs into your analysis of the benefits of nuclear power. We are making progress.
Now internally digest what State Farm has said and you begin to get some handle on the magnitude of risks being borne by “society-at-large”.
Next consider my earlier point about nuclear not substituting for fossil fuel usage, but rather augmenting it.
From that you’ll see that the consequences of the world continuing to consume at your preferred rate are rather dire.
On the other hand, in 40 years or so we’ll both be dead. So who cares?
Dogz, famously, Betty Grable insured her legs for $1m.
The insurance company had very little to go on to measure the likelihood of catastrophic damage to Ms Grable’s legs. But the company did know the limits of its liability.
To make the point very simple: in the case of a nuclear incident, as rare as it may be, no responsible insurance company can quantify the limits of its liability.
And that’s why no responsible insurance company will cover this open-ended risk, despite or maybe because of 60-years’ knowledge of nuclear energy.
Katz: “Au contraire, JH.”.
What are you contrairing? Just because I want something legalised doesn’t mean I support it. Just because I want restrictions on nuclear power lifted doesn’t mean I support nuclear. I neither oppose nor support it, and never said that I did.
I do appreciate the personal defence. SJ loves the personal attacks, it’s the best he has to offer.
I accept that life involves making decisions without perfect information. Fog of war and all that. However making decisions does not mean you must suspending skepticism. In fact in hazy landscapes skepticism is your friend even as you decisively shoot at shadows. I can support action on global warming and still be skeptical. When the fog lifts (if the fog lifts) then the skepticism should recede (and we can maybe make an accurate body count).
JQ has mentioned before the parallel between the “man made CO2 is causing global warming” debate and the early days of the “smoking tabacco causes cancer” debate. There is one key difference. With the latter there was a large population size on which a null hypothesis could be statistically tested. When it comes to the dynamics of the earths climate we have a sample space of one.
Denialism would be saying “global warming is not caused by humans”. I am not a denialist. However I am a skeptic. Its like the distinction between being an agnostic and being an atheist. Or like the distinction between “innocent” and “not proven” in a Scottish murder trial.
P.S. I agree that Tim Flannerys book is worth reading. I got through it very quickly because it was hard to put down. Having said that there is a lot of it that is speculative.
P.P.S. I have followed the Solar Tower energy alternative proposed by the likes of Enviromission for some time. I find the technology compelling. It will be interesting if it actually gets commercialised. I also think that Plug-in Hybrid Electric cars will be a big winner over the next decade. Although it will be a long time before they dominate the highways.
P.P.P.S. The climate models apparently say that Kyoto will defer global warming by only a few years in 2100. However if we are going to have policy on this issue then I would prefer a market based approach like Kyoto over the picking winners approach that the current government seems to be inclined towards (unless thats just political rhetoric).
Well yes, the insurance company was limited in its liability up to $1M. And nuclear power station operators could no doubt raise private insurance up to any liability limit they care to name. It just depends on the price.
But with the government picking up the tab, why would they bother?
The fact of the matter is that in 50 years, a grand total of $151M has been paid out in insurance claims by all nuclear power generators in the US. I bet that is an awful lot less than that paid out by fossil-fuel generators, even after normalizing for power output.
State Farm’s comment tells us almost nothing about the risk to society at large, except that it *might* be really large. In fact they are explicitly acknowledging that they don’t know what that risk is. If they knew the risk they could price an insurance premium.
But that is hardly unique to the nuclear industry. Have you tried getting unlimited liability insurance on anything lately? For all but the most clearly bounded cases, it is nigh impossible.
When you buy insurance with an upper bound you are accepting the risk of self-insurance for any claim above that bound. We all do it.
That is, we all do it except the nuclear industry in the US. They refuse to self-insure for sums above US$50b.
Only the most disingenuous person would feign ignorance about why that should be. But let me spell it out. The nuclear industry agrees with State Farm’s analysis. A single pay-out may be much, much more than US$50b.
Now, that has to be a bit of a concern.
My degrees are unrelated.
They’re also not in mathematics.
But mathematics is not that complicated, is it? For instance, suppose I said “I just know intuitively that it must be possible to square a circle”. How would you prove me wrong?
â€œI just know intuitively that it must be possible to square a circleâ€?. How would you prove me wrong?”
SJ, the onus would be on you to provide the prove.
â€œAs for nuclear, I say remove any restrictions and let nuclear live or die by the market. ”
JH, nuclear power, like global warming, are examples of physical phenomena which are, by their nature, ‘non-marketable’. That is, in each case, externalities are the dominant characteristic. ‘The market’ cannot price externalities.
I am not saying anything new here. However, it is surprising that there is an apparent need to have it said.
I wrote a counter ad to the CEI propaganda :::[They call it a spot, we call it a stain] It is my way of combating their lies so, if you like it, please link it, as quite a few have done already. Hey, and do you know some producer predisposed to saving the planet who will pick it up and throw it back at CEI?
“SJ, the onus would be on you to provide the prove.”
Yeah, that was really helpful, thanks. I’m putting you in the same class as Terje.
With remarkable patience, Katz provided detailed arguments on the empirical realities that make theoretical models of economies with incomplete markets interesting.
The relationship between ‘competitive private ownership economies with complete markets’ and ‘centrally planned economies’ has been studied a long time ago (first and second fundamental welfare theorems).
The empirical evidence is that neither ‘the market’ nor centrally planned economies have a solution to serious environmental problems. Nuclear power is one of such problems.
The suggestion to solve one contingent environmental problem, global warming, by adding another contingent evironmental problem, nuclear power, makes no sense to me.
â€œI just know intuitively that it must be possible to square a circleâ€?. How would you prove me wrong?â€?
SJ, the onus would be on you to provide the proof.
Are you happy now, SJ?
The only disagreement between us seems to be over how to interpret the failure of the private insurance industry to provide liability cover above $50B for individual nuclear accidents.
I claim (and on my reading so do State Farm) that it is because the private insurers don’t know how to calculate the probability of a really expensive accident, because they have almost no empirical data on which to base that calculation.
It is not because they know the probability of such an accident and that probability is too high, as you seem to be claiming.
There is a world of difference between the two. Insurance companies don’t get scared when they know the probabilities: they just price accordingly. They get scared when the probabilities are unknown, either because there is insufficient evidence on which to calculate them, or because the evidence changes.
But as I already pointed out, if we failed to act everytime there is insufficient evidence to calculate the probability of something really bad happening, nothing would ever happen at all. We’d still be living without fire, because some erstwhile Einstein would have pointed out the global warming risks of burning trees 100,000 years ago.
The best we can do is bound the risks, and then determine whether, as a society, we’re willing to accept the risks. Nuclear looks pretty safe to me. If the alternative is forcing everyone to drastically reduce their energy consumption, I suspect society will pick the nuclear option.
“I claim (and on my reading so do State Farm) that it is because the private insurers donâ€™t know how to calculate the probability of a really expensive accident, because they have almost no empirical data on which to base that calculation.”
Your reading of State Farm is incorrect.
Please note this: they don’t insure because they don’t know the *cost* of a catastrophe.
Probability is not an issue.
Let’s be clear: in construction nuclear plants aren’t much from any other industrial complex. Boilers. pipes, pumps, circulating liquid, etc. It would be easy for an insurance company to calculate the costs of failure of any and al of these processes if high-grade nuclear material weren’t at the core.
But the presence of fissionable material changes everything.
“Insurance is based upon the relative predictabilities of an accident occurring and the charging of a rate for several similar or homogeneous risks. The predictability of each of these accidents is based upon previous experience for this same type of risk and the theory of large numbers. Thus a large number of similar risks will over a period of time develop a predictable number of accidents. If, however, the experience of the accident is not known, then neither the predictability nor the severity of the accident can be used to develop an adequate rate.”
Seems pretty clear to me.
As a general point, please don’t call other commenters “idiots” or similar, even by hyperlink. On this point “Show, don’t tell” is good advice.
Iâ€™m a bit slow to respond to yesterdayâ€™s comments, but I donâ€™t work in front of the pc so can only participate intermittently.
This issue of who is forcing who to do what, is one that I often muse about. You seem to have missed my point that I am forced to live with your choice to be a high energy consumer and the consequences of this choice.
I really donâ€™t care how much energy or how you live as long as it is not going to affect me but it seems clear to me that your choices will force me to do things I don’t want to do.
In my analysis of the situation of global warming and using nuclear energy, your freedom to exercise choice means that I donâ€™t have a choice.
This claim that â€˜the leftâ€™ and â€˜the environmentalistsâ€™ want to force other people to do things their way is quite irrational and inconsistent with the tone of your other arguments. Do you know these people (all the environmentalists) and so able to assess their motives?
Perhaps it would be more productive to see the difference between our approach to these issues in terms of a continuum between caution and risk taking?
Yes, very clear:
“the experience of the accident is not known, then neither the predictability’ [Betty Grable scenario] nor the severity of the accident [peculiar to nuclear incidents] can be used to develop an adequate rate”
That is why the market can quantify the risk for Betty Grable.
That is why the market can’t quantify the risk for nuclear power plants.
That is why “society” [that institution whose existence Margaret Thatcher denied] is expected to self-insure with infinite risk.
Sounds ok to me. Let someone else bear the costs for my love of air conditioning. Hopefully the bill won’t come due until after I’m dead.
Maybe I’ll rub it in by having my body cryogenically frozen. That way I can augment my ecological footprint until all my assets run out.
I don’t get to decide whether we adopt nuclear energy in Australia. Society does, albeit indirectly, via the ballot box.
If it is society’s choice to continue with its high-energy ways and mitigate global warming via the adoption of nuclear energy, then so be it. If you’re genuinely aggreived by that, then I hear you. I personally cannot stand the fact that my fellow citizens keep voting themselves greater welfare handouts. But hey, as Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.
But there’s another aspect to this. Some environmentalists (actually, quite a lot in my experience) are ideologues in respect of consumption and energy use, not utilitarian. That is, they don’t think we should consume less because the only alternative is nuclear, they just believe that we should consume less, period. To me that is no different from right-wing religious groups that know their god is the one true god, and everyone else is wrong.
These groups are not interested in a democratic outcome; their political predisposition is totalitarianism.
Katz, you’re comparing apples and oranges. The market is happy to insure the nuclear industry with a cap on liability, Just as it happily insured Betty Grable’s legs with a cap of $1M. Would they have written her a policy with unlimited liability at a reasonable premium price? That’s the key counterfactual, and I suspect the answer is no, for the same reason that they won’t uncap the liability of the nuclear industry.
“Why not? Until Mrs Donoghue found herself with a mouthful of decayed snail, tort law didnâ€™t exist.”
Donoghue v. Stevenson did not invent tort law, which existed for several centuries before lord atken got all biblical with his neighbour principle. d v. s didn’t even invent negligence [but did greatly expand its scope], which had existed as a separate tort from nuisance since at least the mid 19th century.
As an aside, the case of “squaring the circle” is an interesting example. Lots of people intuitively think it ought to be possible, and that, whether or not it’s possible, the argument should be conducted in terms of geometry. The proof that it’s impossible was discovered late in the 19th century and requires some fairly advanced algebra (it’s a consequence of the fact that pi is not an algebraic number, and only algebraic numbers can be constructed using compass and straight-edge).
So, for most of us, we can either accept the word of the mathematicians that it’s impossible, or rely on our own judgement, which is likely to be highly fallible.
Dogz – “That is, they donâ€™t think we should consume less because the only alternative is nuclear, they just believe that we should consume less, period. To me that is no different from right-wing religious groups that know their god is the one true god, and everyone else is wrong.”
It is very different for a religious point of view. We need to consume less because the Earths resources are limited. While our population was small the resources of the Earth seemed infinite. Population has now grown to a level where there is not enoough to go around no matter what technology we employ. Nuclear power is only a stop-gap. When easily enriched uranium grows scarce then we will be in the same situation as we are now. The only difference will be that it will be somebody else’s problem. This is usually the outcome the free marketeers desire. Eat drink and be merry and let the problems belong to somebody else.
Remember also that only 20% of the world’s population enjoy our level of consumption. In effect 80% of the people of the world are poor so the we can be rich. We are not only consuming our share but their share as well.
Nuclear power does nothing for one of the chief sources of pollution, which is motor vehicle emissions. It also does nothing to stop the destruction of forests or the depletion of the natural water table. It does however, provide a handy cover for the next reactionary jihad by the politically stupid on behalf of the criminally rich and powerful. So in one way, it is an effective source of energy, albeit energy that is expended in defense of the indefensable.
“Thatâ€™s the key counterfactual, and I suspect the answer is no, for the same reason that they wonâ€™t uncap the liability of the nuclear industry.”
True, and the nuclear industry is unwilling to operate without that necessary cover against risk.
The operating counterfactual here is that Betty Grable may have been willing to go on being a pin-up starlet without insurance coverage for her legs. Her studio would have been willing to self-insure against damage to Betty’s legs. If on the other hand Betty refused to pose, the studio could employ Rita Hayworth. The market is viable.
In contrast, the nuclear industry is not willing to go on generating electricity without insurance coverage. No market operator is prepared to self-insure against the damage that may arise out of the nuclear industry. There is no viable market. Instead, the Federal Government accepts an unquantifiable liability that a leading insurance company calls possibly catastrophic.
Perhaps you missed the arguments that the environmentists put forward?
It seems clear to me that over consumption (although I am not sure where the limit lies between good and bad consumption) is problematic for humans. This argument is based on my experience and understanding (as a psychologist) of the capacity of the human brain to cope with complexity and choice.
In the issue of nuclear power, I am unable to come to a rational decision because I do not understand the science or the economics (or the insurance issues!!) sufficiently.
Under these circumstances I think it is rational to choose the more cautious option; articularly if one believes in human ingenuity and the market?
“I donâ€™t get to decide whether we adopt nuclear energy in Australia. Society does, albeit indirectly, via the ballot box.”
You weren’t so keen on democracy when holding up the Manhattan Project as a model for how we might build nuclear power stations, Dogz. Remind me how many resources went into the Manhattan Project, and how many Americans voted for it…
Of course, democratic systems were suspended in time of war, but then isn’t war now permanent?
Hal9000, how many Americans do you think would have voted against the Manhattan project in WWII? Remember, at that time all the allies knew was that Germany was trying to build a bomb as well, and they had one of the greatest physicists of the times on board (Heisenberg). Of course the Americans had more geniuses to throw at the project thanks to the fact that the Germans had kicked out all the jewish scientists.
Nevertheless, had the development of an atomic bomb been thrown open to public ballot after Pearl Harbour I seriously doubt you would have seen many dissenting votes.
In contrast, the nuclear industry is not willing to go on generating electricity without insurance coverage.
That’s the billion dollar question. Given that Congress keeps extending their cover, they’ve not been forced to. Of course, the nuclear industry in the US lobbies hard to retain their preferential treatment, and, the US being the US, Congress is happy to comply. But your assertion has not been tested.
How do nuclear industries in other countries operate?
Julie, arguing against nuclear energy on the basis that it gives us too much choice isn’t going to get very far in the court of public opinion.
Somehow I doubt that’s what Julie’s saying.
She’s saying that there is questionable logic behind the idea that everyone being able to do whatever is technologically possible whenever they like is a good thing. I agree with her. I think moderation and the precautionary principle are important intrinsically to a healthy world view. The alternative is greed and self-interest – currently the principle basis for findings in the “court of public opinion”.
I’d bet you’re genuinely troubled by people who voluntarily change their lifestyle to limit their ecological impact. What’s in it for them? Why don’t they turn up the air-con and go for a 3-hour drive in their V8 just for fun? Because they’re actually thinking about their surroundings, and critically evaluating their contribution. They’re thinking about the future for their kids (and yours, for that matter) in terms other than short-term financial. I’d bet that freaks you out and makes you feel small.
Of course, the nuclear industry in the US lobbies hard to retain their preferential treatment … TRUE
the US being the US, Congress is happy to comply… TRUE
But your assertion has not been tested… NOT TRUE.
That was the situation before 1957. No insurance company was prepared to step up to the plate. And ever since State Farm and other insurance companies have been quite upfront about their refusal to frame an insurance market that satifies the nuclear industry. If insurance companies saw an opportunity here, their spokespeople wouldn’t be lobbying Congress to take business away from them. Because that, in essence, is what the Price-Anderson Act does.
Ok, I really need to stop this soon: my productivity has dropped since JQ removed the moderation shackles. At this rate I’ll have to ask him to moderate me again so I can get some work done.
But, one last time: Katz, the untested assertion I am referring to is not that US insurers won’t offer unlimited liability to the US nuclear industry, but that US nuclear power generators are unwilling to operate without it:
In contrast, the nuclear industry is not willing to go on generating electricity without insurance coverage.
Iâ€™d bet that freaks you out and makes you feel small.
Not at all. You’re free to do whatever you like, FDB.
If you prefer to live with a small energy footprint, go right ahead. I do question whether your doing so will have any impact whatsoever on my children (or anyone else’s), but I’ll defend to the death your right to do it.
Dogz (or anyone else), I know i’m skipping way back up the thread but your high-energy life style does affect my relatively-low energy lifestyle.
Even 20 years ago, you may have been able to argue… well, why don’t you just go off and life your crazy hippie lifestyle somewhere quiet and away from us evil capitalists. Not anymore. Where am I going to go? And what if I want to live with people in a city, where I can walk or cycle or take public transport to work without suffering from any form of pollution? am I forced to leave this country? Is that fair. Is this an unreasonable demand from me?
Is the current state of Australia really the result of free, fair and impartial development? I think there’sa fair case that the Capital-Nazi’s have denied many a fair choice and a fair go in the name of market dogma. Now, if you reason with this Enviro-Nazi, you might be surprised to find that much of your high-energy lifestyle remains unscathed. And that which doesn’t is rejected for valid reasons.
And Katz had a great point in regards to the self-perpetuating cycle of growth and consumption. The Uranium’s gonna run out one day, isn’t it? At this point we could be in even bigger trouble. I recommend Wolfgang Sachs to anyone interested in this stuff.
The Uraniumâ€™s gonna run out one day, isnâ€™t it? At this point we could be in even bigger trouble.
Ernestine Gross — nuclear power is perfectly marketable. All activities have externalities… that doesn’t mean that such activities can’t be best coordinated by the market. This is so obvious I’m suprised it needs to be said.
In contrast, the nuclear industry is not willing to go on generating electricity without insurance coverage. No market operator is prepared to self-insure against the damage that may arise out of the nuclear industry.
That makes no sense. There is a limit to self-insurance – the assets of the company. If an accident makes your liability exceed these, then it’s your creditors (ie the irradiated punters) who bear the loss. They don’t call it “Limited Liability” for nothing.
So if you’re running a very small risk of a very large accident that exceeds your assets it makes no difference at all from your POV just how large the accident is.
In fact, I am personally willing to offer the nuclear power companies very cheap insurance (a round million will do) with a $50B initial excess.
Comments are closed.