149 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. @Freelander
    Freelander – you are seriously the funniest person here….the greatest sender upperer I know (satire – seriously good).. but watch out Freelander…when they wake up you will be pack raped here – ouch! Dont worry..they are still half asleep.

  2. “No better than graffiti defacing public spaces.”

    Like corporate advertising boards?

    Not what you had in mind methinks Chris Warren.

    Fascinating seque nevertheless.

    Particularly when you prefaced this comment by explicitly elevating the wrongness of defacing public property over the everyday and unobjectionable, in your view, apparently, rape of women.

    And your graffiti comment is remarkably reminiscent of that made by a dumb cluck testosterone power pumped male cop to me and another woman when he threatened to arrest and strip search us for pasting posters for a rally against the war in Iraq on an inner city bus shelter.

    Strange priorities some people have.

  3. Freelander

    If everything was exclusively owned by someone, nothing whose continued existence was more valuable than the value that could be extracted by ‘cashing it out’ would find itself going extinct.

    Maybe this was not expressed as clearly as you intended?

    What is an example?

  4. @Chris Warren
    Really Chris? I enjoy what Philo is saying. You can always go back to your dissestions and statistics and nuclear turbine mesurements with Fran another time.

  5. Philomena

    More quackery…

    Playing the I’ve been raped, threatened, abused, poor me, I was saving Iraq, sob story, card.

    What’s next?

  6. @Philomena
    Philo – Im right and you are right. The plot is thickening isnt it? I was trying to dig deep to see who I am being reminded of….could it be Windschuttle? “I used to be left but now Im right …and whats more Im very right, and just to prove it Ive got my friends here to help me out??” Im amazed Terje hasnt popped in to stick up for Fran. I might be wrong but its starting to look that way.

  7. Is this the Chris Warren who has headed the MEAA’ for donkeys years? A simple apparatchik.

    Whatever happened to the radical democratic notion of limited tenure in the worker’s movement eh Chris?

  8. Philomena

    “So you a wife beater?” Philomena

    “You are a ex-cop” Phil the Greek

    Why are you so dirty?

    See anyone can play this school-yard game.

  9. Chris Warren

    You went feral when I made a perfectly legitimate and unoriginal left critique of Marxist instrumentalism and technological determinism vis-a-vis Nature and the environment. You followed this up with sexist ridicule and ad homs.

    All of which tells everybody you are as much as part of the problem as you definitely are not part of any solutions.

    Where you a Stalinist? And how do you defend being a careerist trade union hack?

  10. Just for fun … me on usenet in a topic I entitled:

    Nuclear power still unsafe, dirty, excessively expensive, and pushed by liars Dec 24 2006

    Someone asked me:

    And given that everything is dangerous to some degree, too dangerous compared to

    I answered …

    Everything. No other energy technology has the same catastrophic downside. The worst of these — coal — emits extremely toxic airborne pollutants, and directly and indirectly causes the death and injury of huge numbers of people every year in mine accidents and otherwise. And yet, if we stopped using coal tomorrow, shut down every coal mine and coal-fired power plant for ever, the associated injuries and deaths would stop. If someone takes spent nuclear fuel and hands it to someone animated by murderous intent and the necessary skills, until that can be secured, everyone is at risk.


    My point is that nukes are not a solution on a world scale, yet we need
    solutions that can work anywhere and do not foster longtemr
    environmental and political problems. Nukes don’t fit the bill.

    Were Australia (with 28% of known reserves, and about 40% of the cheapest reserves) to decline to supply the market with uranium, the price would increase and the longterm viability of nukes as an energy source would decline relative to other options.


    There is absolutely no question that by using a combination of energy efficiency, cogeneration, demand management, changing the design of our tranpsport systems to electricity, and technologies such as wind, wave, PV, biomass, geothermal, hydro and so forth that the world could have all of the energy it could ever need.

    I will quote a post I made to usenet on 20/7/07 in alt.energy.renewable … my interlocutor, an advocate of nuclear power, one Vaughn Simon had said:

    The fact is that nuke plants often run at full capacity without interuption for
    months at a time. Wind plants lack that characteristic.

    I’d been keen on wind and had been arguing that wind’s intermittency was an overstated problem:

    While wind is intermittent, properly sited and spread, the baseload cover can be quite low. An earthquake isn’t going to disable much of the capacity, and of course the downtime is limited to repair time. Even allowing a capacity factor of 25%, that is very solid. Even if an earthquake puts out 10% of the windpower in an area, if the wind resource happens to be good elsewhere, it might not make a difference.

    Not so with nukes. You positively must shut down the plant if something serious happens. Then you have to track down the problem and fix it and get an all-clear. Due to the necessarily politically sensitive nature of the operation, you might have to go well beyond
    the precautions that are called for in practice. Indeed, even if there is no problem in practice, but merely a threat to the plant from, say, a terrorist, and some wisp of evidence that the plant may be at risk, down it goes. It would be an obvious thing for a criminal to do.


    Nuclear power, by its nature, concentrates energy supply, and presents a very inviting target. All the eggs are in one basket, for good or ill. Wind, wave, solar and other renewables spread the ‘eggs’ about, so that if some break the system is not that affected, and not for long.

    I understand that Japan doesn’t have a lot of good land-based options, but this plant was sitting at the juncture of 4 tectonic plates, which sounds nearly as dumb as siting a motorway and fuel depot at the end of a short runway at a busy airport. For mine, shoreline wind, wave energy/OTEC ought to be a much better option for Japan. Natural gas
    from biomass is also pretty obvious.

    in “What’s the capacity factor on THIS nuclear power plant?” [post 4]

    Later in the same thread (at 18) I say:

    Years ago, in the early 1980s, Salter’s Duck (apparently 90% efficient
    in capturing wave energy) went before a British committee as a model for energy production in the sea, and despite being demonstrably feasible, the committee, dominated by the coal and nuclear interests, saw it shafted, quoting figures that overestimated, by a factor of ten, the cost of the resultant energy. But the whole thing was kept quiet. Britain was of course, very keen on nukes for a number of political reasons — smashing up the miners’ union, trident missiles and so forth.

    Doubtless, Salter’s Duck needed more work — surviving in rough seas was an issue, but it was certainly promising. Had a mere fraction of the money that has gone into cleaning up the nuclear mess in Britain gone into this, one can wonder how much better placed wave technology would be today.

    I doubt Alice would disagree much with that.

    This period was a time when my position was to prefer renewables except in cases where they were plainly unviable — such as in Japan. I was transitioning. Up until late 2006, I was as strident as Alice on the matter but thorium was a game changer for me as it took proliferation out of the equation and made reduction in HLW a serious possibility.

  11. Philomena

    Stop crying,

    “I’ve been subjected to ridicule…sob, sob, sob…”

    You’ve got the wrong end of the wrong stick and that’s why you are so bruised.

    I am not going to correct your errors.

  12. I take it your answers are, yes, and because I just am, then, Chris.

    How unsurprising. How illuminating.

    Off to bed then now for you in the full knowledge of a day’s work well done. Not.

  13. What are the arguments against nuclear exactly? Fallout? Nuclear has an excellent record so far. Waste? Much of that caused by regulation against reprocessing. New models can burn up most waste. Actually I would think of waste as really cool low price fuel that we ought to get hold of while its still going cheap.

    Some people think that holding back nuclear energy is akin to turning back the tide of nuclear weapons proliferation. I think this is a dangerous attitude. Since there is no doubt whatsoever that we must take nuclear intimidation and attack seriously. We have to find a way not to be fearful of this sort of thing. Part of this adaptation is about city layout and the city-country balance. Even basement building is relevant here. If we cannot find a way to stay free in the face of nuclear regime intimidation we cannot stay free. We’ve given up. The idea that holding back nuclear electricity is holding back nuclear proliferation may be a referred-pain-argument. It may be about not facing up to the implications of a submarine popping up off the coast of Sydney with the ability to lob a nuclear weapon at us.

    If we can be intimidated by that submarine we have already lost. We have to get moving to adapt.

  14. “How much high level, 100% perfectly safe, vitrified longlived waste do they see being produced? Would a mere 10 acres in some dry salt mine be enough to store all such waste from all nations? I doubt it.”

    None. Since if it is strongly radioactive it ought to be reusable until it is no longer that way.

  15. @Chris Warren

    Thanks for the reference Chris …

    The question is not “when do the long-lived actinides reach background levels comparable to the original ore?” but rather “for how long do they pose a serious hazard?”. The answer to that depends on how you hand them and their actual volume. As your link noted, thorium reactors produce less of these long lived actinides per unit of output than PWRs.

    One should also note that the longer the half-life of an isotope the less radiotoxic it is. Lead (Pb) is hardly radiotoxic at all because its half-life is 4.3 billion years. One should certainly avoid contact if one can because it’s a toxic heavy metal, but the radiotoxicity is tiny. After 1000 years the actinides and other fission products from PWRs are simply not all that toxic relative to otyher radiotoxic contacts. If the actinides are separated volumes and toxicity years are radically reduced.

    Both the IFR and thorium reactors can can perform in this capacity with great EROEI, and one can be confident that the fairly small volumes of comparatively short-lived hazmat remaining (i.e up to 1000 years) wil be at worst of nuisance value. If humans in the years between now and 3010 have worked out nothing better than vitrifying it and securing it against release, then that will suffice.

    The waste challenge we have now would persist even if (improbably) the entire world stopped building nuclear plants and nuclear weapons tomorrow yet without a nuclear industry there would be virtually no resources put into addressing it. The waste would stay where it was and only enough resources to avoid a PR problem for the ruling authority would be applied. If on the other hand, nuclear power becomes the dominant energy source, then one may be certain that there will be a serious and ongoing research effort to reduce the voilumes of all waste and to find ways of rendering waste innocuous and cheap to manage.

  16. @Salient Green

    Call me a softy but I think Fran is misunderstood, no thanks to her lack of effort to connect to other bloggers on a human level.

    I’m not sure what you mean here. It is true that I tend to get very focused on what is measurable rather than the atmospherics. Is that what you meant?

    Fran was accused of being a troll on the pro-nuclear blog Brave New Climate, for Green statements,

    It was rather sad. Some were convinced I was trying to white-ant nuclear power because I spent a good deal of time discussing a method of dealing with stranded coal/fossil assets that they thought would make them look indifferent to investors and because I suggested that in some developing countries, renewables might be preferable or at least as useful. It does underline what happens when you get invested. You hear from those who think differently just what presses your buttons.

    I stopped posting there because IMO, there was a consensus that I was harming discussion of an issue I support — which is not of course what a troll would do. Barry wrote to me inviting me to continue, but I thought it best to leave.

    so the only fault I can find with Fran’s style of discourse is that it seems to be completely dispassionate in an arena where people like to connect with each other on a level which is more than academic.

    That maybe so. Public policy is important.

    I don’t believe Fran is a troll. I think Fran is genuinely concerned about the environment and the future of the Human race. I think Fran brings an enormous amount of information and intellect to this blog and others. I don’t think Fran needs protecting, which is my natural instinct to do but I always read what she posts and would like to continue doing so.

    Thanks. I am primarily concerned with human wellbeing.

  17. On a totally different topic … Golf ….

    I was listening to some report from the Golf of Arabia (had to to that pun, sorry) in the UAE more precisely. Some chap had won some golfing do their with a six under par something or other …

    Now, as I’ve said, we live in a water-constrained world. Actually, strictly speaking, we don’t. We live in a world in which getting water at potable standard to those who need it for one reason or another is very expensive in energy terms. If energy were limitlessly abundant and of piffling cost to deploy, we could have as much water as we wished anywhere. But of course, that isn’t the case.

    I was just wondering what a golf course in the UAE would cost to water and maintain. (To be fair, even golf course in places that are not suffering from desertification cost a lot). But let’s focus on the UAE.

    I believe this golf course was the one in question. If you are to believe the website marquee then it’s “an oasis of tranquillity carved out of the desert”. Need one say more? If they were not selling oil by the shipload, would there be the money to have a golfing oasis in such a forbidding place? Doubtful.

    If I were an obsessive Abu Dhabi golfer, I’d probably put down some all weather astro turf greens, lay, some concrete fairways with the kind of matting that is de rigueur for subcontinental cricket pitches and make do with that? Sand bunkers? No problem. Lakes? Stick up some witches’ hats to mark off the “lake”.

    Yet all over the world in even the silliest of places, massive amounts of energy are poured into doing something that contributes barely a jot to human utility (almost all of it being the intangible utilities of already privileged elites). Would a carbon-constrained world have a lot of golf course? The footprint must be enormous when you consider the travelling, the underlying infrastructure and so forth, so it’s hard to see how golf courses and similar would survive.

    Well one can dream.

  18. Fran

    The issue is “when do the long-lived actinides reach background levels comparable to the original ore?” and also “for how long do they pose a serious hazard?”. But growth trends are a critical component.

    And of course if there was a solution you would have provided a reference.

    Most people realise that thorium reactors produce less of these long lived actinides per unit of output than PWRs, but this is not relevant as the reactors being contracted for presently are commonly AP1000 which are not thorium. Thorium is a developmental concept. Attempted thorium plants have been closed due to cost and tighter safety considerations.

    But how do you compare the cost and waste issues between actual reactors and emerging water osmosis technology which produce at over 3 watts per sq metre.

    Why mention lead. At what stage in the deactivation series from Pu239 do you get to lead. Which isotope? What is your reference? What does the vague word “tiny” mean?

    General, unsupported statements such as:

    After 1000 years the actinides and other fission products from PWRs are simply not all that toxic relative to otyher radiotoxic contacts. If the actinides are separated volumes and toxicity years are radically reduced.

    can not be quantified. You do not state what these “other radiotoxic contacts” are? Anything that decays will not be as toxic relative to other material – but this is trivial – it can still be dangerous.

    How do future thorium or IFRs deal with the current production of 12 m3 of high level waste per reactor we have today? [OECD cited at fn27 at:

    The only solution we now have (given the failure of vitrified rock see: http://tinyurl.com/vitrified-failure) is according to Westinghouse [March 2009] to:

    “store it indefinitely in water on the plant site” see: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09088/959091-96.stm

    Even you would concede that this latest development is alarming.

    There is not much point in vaguely claiming that

    …there will be a serious and ongoing research effort to reduce the voilumes of all waste and to find ways of rendering waste innocuous and cheap to manage.

    when you

    – haven’t quantified the waste problem
    – haven’t addressed the necessary technology
    – haven’t examined the cost
    – haven’t reviewed current practice of sending it in ships to Japan [see http://tinyurl.com/Japan-NukeWaste%5D
    – haven’t produced any references or evidence
    – haven’t compared to the results if the same ‘research effort’ went into water osmosis
    – haven’t looked at waste growth trends.

    Lobbyists always make vague, unquantified, emotional, incomplete, unreferenced, and one-sided presentations. This is not restricted to nuclear energy, but all capitalist endeavours.

    Democratic public policy requires a proper rigorous, complete and open process, based on data not adjectives.

    This is anathema to commercial practices which are based on the opposit – patents, intellectual property, promises, expectations, optimistic projections, taking risks for high profits, and commercial-in-confidence.

    If each reactor produces 12m3 and the amount of fuel consumed expands by 5 or 4%, what is your understanding of the waste problem for you grandchildrens children (100 years). My calculation is that we have over 31,000 m3 of additional high-level waste.

    Are you happy with this?

  19. I found that on the difficulties of developing storage technologies:

    “The result could dash hopes for ceramics similar to zircon under consideration in Australia, Russia and the US. Farnan believes, however, that it is still possible to develop synthetic ceramics that don’t lose their crystalline structure as quickly as zircon. “We have demonstrated a method that will allow us to be more confident about the storage of waste in the future,” he ..”

    and an appeal for help:

    Click to access belarus_23_anniversary.pdf

  20. @wilful

    I’d heard some gossip about this and it does sound an exciting prospect. If nothing else, it will certainly help us take a look at the challenges of trying to power a substantial community using renewables.

    I’ll have to keep an eye on this …

    The videos wouldn’t download cleanly so I just read up on wiki …

  21. @wilful

    The video is a bit too promotional for my taste. Yep, Abu Dhabi is the place which does have significant oil revenues in contrast to Dubai.

    By the way – are you going to buy an airconditioning unit in case it gets too hot again in Melbourne? I’ll donate to you my notional credits due to architectual measures.

  22. nah, but on the A/C, I still can’t quite credit you with being that thick.

    I have taken all of the readily possible architectural measures I can without wholesale renovation, and my electricity is as green as it comes, and I still won’t be buying an A/C unit. Thanks for your offer anyway.

  23. @Philomena
    Freak Philo – did you see the post above yours???? Its got to be like Windschuttle…a tad of the old obsession compulsion (I used to be a trotskyite and now Ive seen the light??). Im not convinced and as well its just just plain outright mindnumbingly boring.

  24. Ill pardon Chris…….. he does acknowledege Fran is a lobbyist.
    That is stating the bleeding obvious. Fran pack up your Plimer style stats on nuclear, go home and have a nanna nap.

  25. Alice, I might be a freak but then so are most Australians. There is absolutely nothing new today about the dangers and horrors of uranium mining, nuclear power, nuclear weapons and proliferation that wasn’t known decades ago. Nothing has changed. This is commonly,m widely and rightly understood. People can yabba on all they like about possibilities but that means zilch given the givens.

    Besides, the real point, the elephant in the room is the current historically relatively short-term impossibility on a global scale of continued energy production and use designed above all to unceasingly increase – regardless of need – production and consumption based on a mindless, uncontrolled, irrational exploitative model.

    Thus far there is very little indication that capitalism has the power to police, control, limit, undo the effects of our ecocide.

    Of course the contrary is true.

  26. @Fran Barlow
    So Fran – are you like Windschuttle? From one extreme to another….you were fervently anti nuclear and now you are fervently pro nuclear…perhaps you are just fervent.

    We do get lost in the sheer word volume of your pro nuclear posts (over the word limit)….and you think thats OK? Maybe its not and maybe other people cant, as Salient suggests engage with such a one track mind. There is a major disconnect…unless you are just trying to preach to the masses through JQs blog (lobby).

    From my point of view this is a DNFTT case.

  27. @Philomena
    I agree Philo – we just have the unquestioning servants of uncontrolled capitalism in here wondering how the hell they can avoid frying and still use use every device known to man that is plugged in and has a red standby light on.

    Let them fry Fran…what can we do? They have it coming to them. They will fry one way or another….

  28. Alice, the pronuclear zealots ultimately reflect a worldview that’s not only futile and counterproductive it is repulsive and alien to all peoples present and in the future with a holistic sensibility, consciousness and understanding of the true meaning of ecology and the web of life.

  29. @Philomena
    I agree with you Philo …and I wasnt calling you a freak…its a Beaches anachronism known only to mothers of 17 year olds and it translates as…”shock horror”.

  30. OK, Alice, got the lingo.

    May I ask you. Do you think productivity is increasing, stable or stagnating, or whatever the terminology is, in Australia today?

    And depending on the answer, why do you say so and what are the reasons for that?

  31. @Philomena
    Philo – do you want my honest opinion? I dont give a damn whether prodctivity is increasing or has died….in the (??) Productivity refers to baour producctivity ands has been used as an ideological expressiob to borw beat employees into working harder for longer for less and being as felxible as cooked sphaghetti into the bargain

    whilst CEOs and executives have elevated their status to the realms of gods with a salary to match whilst they go play gold, work three hours a day, have extended holidays, boast to their friends and whinge on about things like labour productivity measures….at the same time as people like little Johnnie Howard gives them carte blanche to reward themselves for being lazy entrepreneurs (asset strippers and speculators most of them – not real entrepreneurs).

    Well I can I say philo?? – labour productivity, as a measure of growth is a complete an utter crock.

    What on earth good is it if one half of the workforce of a firm are working their butts off and the other half are bludging their days away ??

    (I hate to be so blunt buit there it is…!)

  32. so sorry – maybe I should retype that one Philo – but you asked me a question that got me going!

  33. Well, I agree Alice.

    But hearing the Ruddster three morns in a row rabbiting on about how we (the grunts) need to lift our game and become more productive because god knows how we’re all gonna keep the rich in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed makes me laugh and then puke cos the fact is we (workers) have become massively more productive and every technological upgrade proves that but of course that is not factored in or even recognised let alone renumerated as increased productivity, made by us.

  34. @Alicia
    Alicia – they are the worst for demoralisation – control freaks. Leave or just do less and let them micro manage more until they get tired of it……(a little passive aggression …”I was waiting for your instructions”).

  35. Alice, Alicia, Philomena

    Please dial down the frequency of posting to one per day until further notice, and absolutely cease attacks on other commenters.

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