Climate clippings 41

Antarctica’s glacial movements

Via Gizmodo researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and the University of California, Irvine have made a map of every glacier on the continent, down to its individual shape and flow velocity, illustrating how water melting in the interior of the continent makes its way out to the coasts. Lead author Eric Rignot calls it a “game changer for glaciology.”

I think the implication may be that we will lose more ice than previously thought from East Antarctica with a temperature rise of 1 or 2C.

NASA press release here.

Arctic ice may increase

Arctic ice may increase for up to a decade according to scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR):

“The computer simulations suggest that we could see a 10-year period of stable ice or even a slight increase in the extent of the ice,” said NCAR scientist Jennifer Kay, the lead researcher.

However, Kay noted that there is no doubt about the overall trend. Over a period of 50 to 60 years, the Arctic will lose its ice during the summer.

An August 16 note on this site shows the southern passage of the NW Passage as now open on two out of three monitoring agencies.

Animals on the move

Via Time there is a new study on the movement of species due to global warming:

Using a meta-analysis, we estimated that the distributions of species have recently shifted to higher elevations at a median rate of 11.0 meters per decade, and to higher latitudes at a median rate of 16.9 kilometers per decade. These rates are approximately two and three times faster than previously reported.

Climate change leads to 67-84 percent biodiversity loss by 2080

A model study has had a look at total biodiversity loss due to climate change including intra-species loss as well as loss of whole species. The conclusion was that loss by 2080 could be as high as 84% depending on the emissions trajectory.

The scientists also warned that the intra-species biodiversity loss would radically slow down biodiversity recovery when a new stable state was achieved.

ACOSS assessment of the CEF package

ACOSS have published a new paper The Clean Energy Future package, households on low incomes and the community services sector. Their assessment is favourable:

We welcome the Government’s commitment to meet at least 100% of the estimated increase in living costs for low income households. On Treasury estimates, the proposed household assistance (delivered through social security payment increases and tax cuts) is adequate to achieve this goal.

Remember, the CEF package is expected to increase average household living costs by $9.90 per week, half of which will be attributable to energy costs.

Ocean acidification is not OK

Skeptical Science have published their eighteenth post on ocean acidification.

They tell us that we are well outside ‘normal’ CO2 levels for the last 800,000 years and more, the changes are very rapid and the chemistry involved is incredibly complex. Ocean buffering will not restore acidity to pre-industrial levels. What the new equilibrium will be is unknown, but not OK.

You’ll need more science than than the average person, I suspect, to cope with the summary, now published in two parts.

Sea level dips

Yes, indeed, by half a centimetre, according to NASA. It’s all the rain, you see. The recent La Niña took water out of the sea and piled it up on land, especially places like Australia and Brazil.

Tar sands pipeline extension

Skeptical Science reports that Bill McKibben is leading what may be the largest green civil disobedience campaign in a generation, against the proposed construction of the 1,600-mile long Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Alberta to Texas. The pipeline needs to be approved by the US State Department. President Obama’s climate change credentials are on the line.

A New York Times editorial has opposed the pipeline.

Renewables update

Greg Combet will ask the states to scrap inefficient climate change schemes, including solar feed-in tariffs, when the carbon tax takes effect.

Thanks, Greg. (We acquired some solar panels last year.)

Stephen Lacey at Climate Progress details five ways, with videos, of integrating renewable energy into the grid.

Brazil is building wind power at a cost said to be cheaper than gas.

Origin Energy Origin Energy CEO Grant King has warned that crucial investments in energy generation may still be delayed by political uncertainty around carbon pricing, even if the Clean Energy Future legislation is passed by parliament this year.

He’s worried about Abbott repealing the Clean Energy legislation, he thinks the CSG industry has been demonised by ideologues, he’s still interested in the PNG hydro scheme, has not given up on geothermal, and, as the largest installer of PV rooftop solar, thinks the feed-in tariffs have been too high, but retaining them is desirable to bridge into the time when grid parity is achieved.

He thinks it may be too late to meet the 2020 Mandatory Renewable Energy Target and suggests that a 25/25 target – 25 per cent by 2025 – may be more practical.

He would like to see brown coal phased out earlier to create the demand for additional renewables.

Reminder

This space is meant to also serve as an open thread on climate change.

97 thoughts on “Climate clippings 41”

  1. John Quiggin had an interesting article on the NSW governments “Carbon scaremongering to make even dishonest advertisers blush” in the SMH the other day.

    The people of NSW have been treated to alternative descriptions of the impact of the Gillard government’s proposed carbon price package.

    The first, prepared by the Commonwealth Treasury, showed very modest impacts on prices, wages and employment, most of which would be fully offset by the various compensation and adjustment mechanisms included in the package….The second, attributed to the NSW Treasury, showed a very different picture. According to Premier Barry O’Farrell and Treasurer Mike Baird the carbon price would be a ”disaster”, which would ”tear the heart out of many industries” and ”savagely hit” regions such as the Hunter and Illawarra. Households would face electricity prices being ”forced up” by ”up to” $498 a year.

    Funny thing is that they are both based on the same model with almost identical inputs. Quiggin asks “how could this be?” His answer starts with

    How can this be? The answer is that the NSW government engaged in an exercise in misleading advertising that would make even the most shonky of infomercial vendors blush.

    Let’s start with that old favourite of dodgy advertisers: ”up to”, as in ”households will pay up to $498 a year”. The Commonwealth Treasury modelling, endorsed by Frontier, suggests that the average household will probably pay much less, about $170 a year, and that this will be more than offset, for most households, by a higher income tax threshold.

    The article then goes on to discuss some of other shonks and outright lies.

    Perhaps the definition of lying specifically excludes anything said by a LNP politician?

  2. re: animals on the move.

    And there you have it.. to deal with climate change, you’ll have to move approximately 160km from your current place of residence over the next 100years to compensate.

    How disastrous is that ?!

  3. David,

    from where I am, that’d be in more than 2000 years.

    Do you seriously trust extrapolation of the data that much?

  4. How disastrous is that ?!

    Not sure if you’re trying to be facetious, but yes, quite disastrous. Look 160 km south of your current habitat, does the geology, do the species assemblages, does the vegetation look anything the same? And look at the potential barreirs in the intervening distance. Crop land, freeways, major rivers etc.

  5. Duncan,

    You are trying to influence people who believe that a global agreement can be reached that is environmentally, economically and politcally effective in changing the global climate.

    Put the key board down slowly and back away.

  6. John D @1

    Quiggin is absolutely right of course about the shonkiness of the chartalans and snake-oil salesmen who use the “up to” phrase in deliberately misleading the electorate on matters to do with carbon pricing impact.

    After all, Combet’s media release of 31 July on assistance to households said:

    “The assistance will mean:
    Up to $338 extra per year for single pensioners and self-funded retirees, and up to $510 per year for pensioner couples combined.
    Up to $110 per child for a family that receives Family Tax Benefit Part A.
    Up to $69 extra for families that receive Family Tax Benefit Part B.
    Up to $218 extra per year for single income support recipients and $390 per year for couples combined for people on allowances.
    Up to $234 per year for single parents in addition to the increased family payments they receive”

    But I expect Quiggers, being the honest and unbiased reporter on all things to do with this Government that he is, pointed this out in another part of his article that you just didn’t have space to quote.

  7. Explain to me again why Climate Change is being used as the reason for wealth redistibution?

  8. If that’s aimed at me OBR, I dunno, one suspects that for the wealth redistributors any excuse in a storm.

    I was merely pointing out that Quiggin evidently feels that Combet, in providing details of said wealth redistribution, is a dishonest, bloviating windbag. Who am I to argue with a view as authorative as his?

  9. Combet said

    The assistance will …up to…

    Quiggin was talking about the BOFhead who said “could…up to…”

    You should be able to work out the implications, unless you’re a bloviating windbag.

  10. Brain
    From what I can gather from the NASA press release on Antarctic glacial flow, it’s not representing melting ice but rather movement of the frozen ice along the sloping antarctic floor caused by gravity.
    From what I’ve read, the movement is made faster when there is more ice mass, and slower when there is less.

  11. OBR asked:

    Explain to me again why Climate Change is being used as the reason for wealth redistibution?

    You have, as usual, got yourself all mixed up.

    The antecedents to climate change — dumping of industrial effluent into the commons, is an excellent example of “wealth redistribution”. People are becoming wealthy by externalising their business costs and the losers are going to be poorer people. Attempting to restrain this regressive wealth redistribution is not the least reason for attempting action on climate change.

    That the defenders of pollution-as-usual so persistently speak of wealth redistribution is simply an assertion of their perceived right to continue their embezzlement of the capital stock of the planet and their outrage that this injustice should cease, utterly predictable.

    Of course, those of us who believe in equity believe that poorer folk should be shielded from the bulk of the burdens of this structural adjustment. We think wealthier countries should bear more of the burden of acting than poorer ones, and richer folk within these richer countries should pay more than poorer folk. That’s not wealth redistribution, as wealthy folk will still be about as wealthy as they are now in relation to poorer folk. They just won’t get to be much more wealthy.

    For the record, I have it on repeated authority from rightwingers that wealth redistribution doesn’t last. If you divided up the assets and income evenly, within a short period of time, it would be back to tors, because, in their view, poorer people are lazy and stupid. Yet if that is so, one does wonder why they raise it against these measures. Surely, on their view, they are immune from equality or anything remotely like it.

    Yet the substantive point is this: action on climate change is not a reason for wealth redistribution. It was always the case that regardless of what one thinks of action on climate change, the idea of eliminating “poverty traps” has long been a bipartisan policy goals — not least of all because it’s believed that this can reduce dependence of “welfare” and thus conforms to the whole “dignity of work”/mutual obligation line of argument. The government chose this moment to bring these two separate pieces of policy into connection, which, assuming purely for the sake of argument that one endorses the view of the role of poverty traps, would seem to be fairly rational. If they are successful in this, then it follows that once again, the rich will win on the roundabouts what they failed to gain on the swings.

    Which is ironic, given your initial complaint …

  12. Fran says:

    “The antecedents to climate change — dumping of industrial effluent into the commons, is an excellent example of “wealth redistribution”. People are becoming wealthy by externalising their business costs and the losers are going to be poorer people. Attempting to restrain this regressive wealth redistribution is not the least reason for attempting action on climate change”

    Typical broken, leftist, zero-sum thinking.

    Industrialisation (the ‘dumping of effluent’ as you sum it up) has brought enormous benefits to the poor for the last two centuries, as you well know.

    By all means, if CO2 is toxic, prohibit its release into the environment; the problem is that it isn’t toxic, and doesn’t harm anyone (please, no idiotic rejoinders about trying to breath pure CO2). The taxing of its release is nothing but wealth distribution, including $650B to shonky third-world permit writers.

  13. We think wealthier countries should bear more of the burden of acting than poorer ones, and richer folk within these richer countries should pay more than poorer folk. That’s not wealth redistribution, as wealthy folk will still be about as wealthy as they are now in relation to poorer folk.

    Fran I think that your argument, and it is a good one, should be linked back to your tragedy of the commons argument.

    In essence we have got rich from exploiting common resources. There is nothing wrong with that. But there may be consequences. We should recognise that where we have damaged the commons in getting rich it affects other people and may diminish their ability to live the lives they would have otherwise had. We should make good the damage we have done to them in getting rich.

    You call it equity. I call it justice.

  14. Brian: I hope Combet waits until the carbon price is actually having some effect before he blunders in and pressures the states to drop their programs. I hope too that he hesitates before killing the successful MRET program (which requires much lower price increases than the carbon tax to drive investment in renewables.)
    I can think of nothing off-hand that will yield a significant drop in emissions on the back of a $23/tonne tax but wait with interest to see if Combet or any one else has found one.
    There is certainly a real need for many state and federal programs to be modified or replaced with something completely different. However, it is crucial that government contractual commitments are honored and that programs that are producing results are not replaced until a replacement is in place and working.

  15. John D @ 1, I’ve inserted the link to the Quiggin article.

    @ 16, generally speaking I agree. We need more continuity of policy than we’ve been getting and I don’t think we should rely solely on carbon pricing.

    jumpy @ 12, the press release says:

    “The map points out something fundamentally new: that ice moves by slipping along the ground it rests on,” said Thomas Wagner, NASA’s cryospheric program scientist in Washington.

    That’s all I know.

  16. the problem is that [CO2] isn’t toxic, and doesn’t harm anyone (please, no idiotic rejoinders about trying to breath pure CO2).

    Oh FFS. First of all, for human beings (and various other living organisms) CO2 is toxic, in the same way that urea (a major constituent of urine) is toxic and faeces are potentially toxic. It’s a waste product of metabolism and, as such, it’s something yer body will do its damnedest to get rid of before you accumulate enough in your bloodstream and other precious bodily fluids to kill you off.

    Secondly, as science has known since the mid nineteenth century, increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere causes air temperatures in the bit of the atmosphere we inhabit to increase – so, even if you believe that CO2 is (not necessarily) toxic to humans that doesn’t make any less a pollutant. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere shifts the equilibrium temperature at the Earth’s surface upwards, with unpleasant consequences. This is sometning we know. Just as we know that dumping nitrogen in the form of nitrate into river systems leads to algal blooms which de-oxygenate the water and kill off the fish. HArmless as nitrate is to human health.

    Industrialisation (the ‘dumping of effluent’ as you sum it up) has brought enormous benefits to the poor for the last two centuries…

    Sure. That’s why, in 1854, John Snow took to removing pump handles, despite the enormous benefits that industrialisation ushered in in 1811.

  17. 1854 – stick that in your pipe andsmoke it!

    And the fact that we all live longer healthier lives than in 1854 means absolutely nothing.

    Or, the fact that there is now more forest cover in the continental US of A today than 100 years ago means nothin also.

  18. duncan @ 14, as I mentioned in this post the Treasury Report on the Clean Energy Future package told us that ‘business as usual’ would give us 1500ppm of CO2 by 2100 and commit us to a temperature rise of about 7C.

    That’s more than enough to threaten civilisation as we know it and would force a significant reduction of the number of human beings on the planet.

    Further to what Fran said @ 13, the existing tax scales involve a lot of churning. people who are quite poor are taxed and then paid transfer payments to support them. Raising the tax threshold is good policy from this POV alone.

  19. And the fact that we all live longer healthier lives than in 1854 means absolutely nothing.

    I think the point you’ve missed OBR is that the taking of an environmentally responsible decision by John Snow in 1854 has led to us all living longer healthier lives.

  20. Climate Cycles and Civil Wars

    Climate Cycles Are Driving Wars: When El Nino Warmth Hits, Tropical Conflicts Double

    ScienceDaily (Aug. 24, 2011) — In the first study of its kind, researchers have linked a natural global climate cycle to periodic increases in warfare. The arrival of El Niño, which every three to seven years boosts temperatures and cuts rainfall, doubles the risk of civil wars across 90 affected tropical countries, and may help account for a fifth of worldwide conflicts during the past half-century, say the authors.

    Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate.
    Nature, 2011; 476 (7361): 438
    DOI: 10.1038/nature10311

    Having read the original article, their findings were consistent whichever way they compared the affected vs unaffected countries.

    Coauthor Mark Cane, a climate scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said that the study does not show that weather alone starts wars. “No one should take this to say that climate is our fate. Rather, this is compelling evidence that it has a measurable influence on how much people fight overall,” he said. “It is not the only factor–you have to consider politics, economics, all kinds of other things.”

  21. Fran – Good argument on despoiling the commons. Now where do you want to dump your toxic nuclear waste again?
    Huggy

  22. jumpy: Yes, ice flows will increase if you make them thicker, but they will also increase if you remove the toes of the glaciers which are holding them back. The point of the article was that we now have an excellent understanding of what might happen if we remove those toes.

    What’s important is the size of the ‘drainage basins’ which feed the glaciers moving towards the coast – the ice behind is a lot less stable than we thought, and will take much less time to reach the coast (where they can melt) than previously thought.

  23. Interesting one on what the Dutch are doing with floating buildings

    In 1953, the Netherlands and large parts of Belgium and England were struck by what is known as the Watersnoodramp, literally “flood disaster,” destroying 10.000 buildings and killing over 2.500 people. Since then, the “low countries” have developed a culture of flood engineering that has sealed the reputation of its builders and might help to fight the consequences of rising sea levels due to climate change.
    The results of FLOATEC, a European R&D project underwritten by EUREKA, can be found all over Europe, but the Netherlands is the primary market for the solution developed within the project. ‘It had the full backing of the Dutch government’…..
    Dura Vermeer, is a Dutch company specialising in building homes in a country where many would consider buying a houseboat. It is currently employing some 3000 people in The Netherlands. Over the last 12 years, this company has become an outright leader in a market that barely existed before — that of floating buildings. With some revolutionary achievements under its belt, such as the Rotterdam floating exhibition pavilion, a greenhouse built on water, or the amphibious village in Maasbommel, all located in Netherlands……

    Shame they hadn’t been doing more work in parts of Brisbane or the odd country town.
    Perhaps we should more time talking about adaptation. I find it a bit hard to convince myself that the world is about to bring emissions under control. This northern summer’s Mauna Loa CO2 reading reached a peak of 394 ppm (compared with 387 only four years ago. At that rate of increase we will pass 400 ppm sometime in 2015.

  24. jumpy @28. Yeah, the South Sandwich islands are pretty neat. That’s a little subduction zone which is rolling back into the Atlantic, expanding as it goes (you can see the plate boundary bowing out between South America and Antarctica pretty clearly on any global map of the seafloor).

    I’m not sure there’s too much volcanism under the Antarctic itself – with the notable exception of Erebus and a couple of others, since most of the continent is cratonic like Australia. That said, the list of Holocene volcanism there is longer than you might think.

    There’s been some pretty huge amounts of volcanism in the deep past though – the Karoo-Ferrar igneous event which formed just prior to the breakup of Gondwana is pretty neat and has remnants in Australia, New Zealand, Antartica and South Africa.

  25. Quokka
    I am not defending the dump of any toxic waste into the commons. Of course nuclear waste alienates it for thousands of years longer than any other waste; but hey who cares ?
    Unless of course you live near Fukishima or Chenoble that is.
    The point of course is that the commons are shrinking and do not exist any-more in some parts of the world. Even in Australia we are forced to dump nuclear waste into Aboriginal lands.
    I will argue that we no longer have the need to dump any kind of waste into the environment (If indeed we ever did).
    We can recycle everything – we will have to do this or drown in our own shit. Or come up with a better system – by 1900 New York was dealing with 1200 tonnes of horse shit in the streets – every day.
    The design of systems that harvest renewable energy and that produce no waste is entirely feasible. All that is lacking is the will.

    Huggy

  26. Jess@30
    I remember a massive dump of pumice on our beaches in about 1980ish, and recently trying to figure out where it may have originated. A futile quest, without a sample, I know.

    Anyway, back on topic,
    Does anyone believe the fall in sea level is due to rain events here and in Brazil? Anyone?
    I would guess most of the rain we had ended up back in the sea within a month.
    I’ve been trying to find an uptodate record of estimated or observed global rainfall to compare.
    Little help?

  27. jumpy, it wasn’t just Australia and Brazil on the map.

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it but I wouldn’t think NASA would be telling porkies.

  28. Duncan @ 15,

    CO2 is toxic. It is toxic to us indirectly. It is very directly toxic to shelfish via ocean acidification. This then is toxic to humans as it is phytoplankton that produce 50% of the earths replenished oxygen. CO2 is toxic to us also in that it causes the atmosphere to heat which cause the food producing land to dry out killing our food and the animals that we also eat to die (as in the Horn of Africa right now), and will eventually cause the ocean currents to stall.

    But by far the most immediate and toxic effect of all of this to human Australians is that this all gives rise to Toxic Tony Abbott and all of the polluted rhetorical Toxic garbage that he vomits forth upon us all. There are those who have a natural resistance to this Toxicity, but for most people it is extremely harmful, triggering a violent immune reaction to anything political.

  29. Jumpy: Don’t you think that a fair chunk of rainfall would take a bit longer than a month to reach the coast? Especially the stuff that flows through the interior and out through the Murray-Darling system. Ditto for a lot of the rain that falls in the continental interiors of South America. And anything up north that fell as snow could be stuck for quite a few months before the spring thaw.

    My money would say the timescale for stuff coming back into the ocean would be more like 6 months to a year or two. Only slightly off topic – NASA Earth Observatory has had some fascinating images of the resultant flooding in the southern US (plus a bunch of really interesting global maps of rainfall/water vapour/SSts etc). Well worth the click through.

    Interesting article though – thanks for the link Brian.

  30. Actually, Jess, I think a lot of that water would take much more than a year to get back to the ocean. The soil in Australia’s interior can soak up vast amounts of water, and ground-water flows are extremely slow.

  31. Dave – you’re probably right.

    That said, if you apply the highly sophisticated statistical technique of squinting at the rest of the plot, you can see that deviations from the long-term trend seem to have timescales of order a year or so to recover.

  32. @Huggybunny,

    Couldn’t agree more about recycling especially of nuclear fuel.

    You may find this paper more than a little interesting. It compares mortality risk from a number of causes including air pollution in central London and radiation in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. There is significant uncertainty, but the conclusion is that mortality risk is an order of magnitude higher due to central London air pollution than for the average radiation dose for residents evacuated from the Chernobyl “strict control zones” and the air pollution risk is higher than the radiation risk for those still living illegally in those zones.

    Considering Chernobyl risk is by way of accident and air pollution risk is business as usual, these are quite shattering conclusion and I would invite you or anybody else to point out any defects in the analysis.

    http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-7-49.pdf

  33. QUOKKA.
    My answer is : so what? Does a bear shit in the woods?
    Domestic violence is no doubt more deadly than radiation. Eating junk food will kill you. My point is that we live in a toxic environment and we do not have the nouse to sort it.
    If you want to add radiation to your toxic mix then go ahead, just do not inflict it on me and mine via the commons – get it?.
    Huggy

  34. I had a play with the Mauna Loa CO2 data I referred to @29 to look at how the rate of CO2 increase and and get a better figure for how long it will take the annual averages to reach the magic 400 ppm. Some key figures for 2010:
    Annual average=390ppm
    Increase for year= 2.42ppm
    Increase for decade=2.04ppm/yr
    Increase for 20 yrs=1.79ppm/yr
    By contrast the figures for 1980 were 339, 1.73, 1.34
    The annual averages always grew but the rate of growth wobbled about a bit. Annual growth rates ranged between 0.28 and 2.98ppm between 1959 and 2010 with a clear trend for a growing rate of increase.
    In terms of the 2010 growth figures the annual average should pass 400ppm sometime during 2015 or 2016.

  35. JohnD@41

    “”””In terms of the 2010 growth figures the annual average should pass 400ppm sometime during 2015 or 2016.””””

    And if Australia introduces a carbon price of $50/ton right now, what would that result be?

  36. jumpy @ 42, by itself probably negligible, but this is an old, tired argument. Australia is in the top 20 emitters and the CEF package is based on us doing what the Treasury deems as our share. I think most independent observers would view us as doing less than our share.

    $50/ton would obviously be an improvement.

    Our contribution has more importance in encouraging others that the direct impact in itself.

  37. “Our contribution has more importance in encouraging others than the direct impact in itself”

    Exactly, Brian.

    As the Australian conservative politicians are waiting for countries such as Sudan, Somalia and Zimbabwe to take assertive climate change action, the reverse logic suggests that if Australia steps forward with such action, then this will trigger a cascade of Carbon Abatement Compliance amoungst other like minded National Conservative Politicians, leading to a significant drop in global CO2 emissions, not to mention Global Prosperity driven by Alternative Energy Infrastructure Investment coupled with imported energy reduced improved national trade balance sheets .

    This was the basis for my above assessment. A science logic based judgement rather than a rhetorical logic based judgement.

  38. Even in their more lucid moments in between bouts of Toxic hysteria, the coalition and their chronies fail to recognise that by maintaining the economic connection to carbon energy endangers the economy and jobs to a far higher degree than does any carbon emission abatement mechanism.

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5884

    It is only be decoupling our economy from dependence on fossil fuelled energy sources that we permanently protect the economy’s energy supply. Dependence upon fossil fuels can destabilise the economy very rapidly as energy demand surges drive prices as shock waves, every bit as thoroughly as climate change driven destructive weather does.

    It will be small comfort to be able to ram Barnaby Joyces words down his throat when the next round of floods cyclones droughts and bush fires have taken their job destroying economic toll.

  39. Reading the article, that Pelamis wave power unit looks to be able to generate nominally about .75 megawatt, so there would need to be 1300 such units per gigawatt. Not such a big ask when you compare its mass to that of a container ship. Further more such units could well work anchored near to offshore wind farms, improving their combined economic viability more than doubling the installation performance. And if the area selected also has strong sea floor currents then sea floor turbines would even further improve the installation output.

    So in the near future we could we be hearing about compound installations where wind, wave of various forms, solar, and sea floor current turbines all work in unison to provide truly significant and fully competitive offshore electricity generation capacity. It makes good sense to group these technologies not only from an electricity trnasmission point of view, but also for servicing and navigational considerations as well. I see that ABB is one of the investors in the paddle technology. Brown Boveri (Asea Brown Boveri) have been manufacturing mobile pwer generation modules since before the second world war, and were manufacturing multi fuel gas turbine power generation sets from that early time. I trust their judgement.

  40. I gave Bob Kater full marks for his enthusiastic championing of bio fuels and biomass energy generation in your area. As I recall he is fully on board with Alternative energy seeing energy farming as a major opportunity for regional Australia, and I can see why he has a need to seperate himself from the Coalition Osterich Energy Party and to form his own special brand. Even Wild Bob Kater could see that Toxic Tony is totally barking mad.

  41. HuggyBunny said:

    My apologies, but I’ve been busy at the Greens SDC at St Mary’s this weekend, so I’ve not been able to respond until now.

    Fran – Good argument on despoiling the commons. Now where do you want to dump your toxic nuclear waste again?

    1. It’s not my nuclear waste.
    2. I’m not for dumping it anywhere. Initially, once used nuclear materials ought to be retained at the site of usage. Subsequently, (when a plant closes, so much of the material that has no commercial value but poses a measurable hazard to humans ought to be securely stored until it no longer poses a hazard to humans. Much of this material will be useable in the medium to long term to produce further output.
    3. The difference between industrial dumping into the commons and secure storage is the question of stewardship. All of the hazmat from nuclear power generation remains under perpetual control of the plant operators, or some successor. All of the costs associated with this are fully internalised within the enterprise.

    Indeed, in the US, operators have been paying fees to the Federal government for years as indemnity against defaulting on these obligations, while continuing to store the material since the Feds have not yet provided such a site.

    If on a world scale, the operators of coal and gas fired power plants took an attitude to stewardship of the various hazmat they currently produce comparable to that of the nuclear plant operators, it is certain that

    a) Nuclear power would be a lot cheaper than either coal or even gas
    b) the world’s biosphere would be in far better shape, and not merely because of the reduction in the output of GHGs, but due to the reduction in the output of other toxics, including, ironically, radioactive particulate.

    Nuclear power is not the enemy of renewables. It’s the enemy of fossil hydrocarbon usage. For cultural/political reasons, it may not be feasible here, but the reality is that it remains in wide usage, and this technology is likely to play an increasingly important role in a future low-CO2-intensity world. Accordingly, dealing effectively and cost-efficiently with radioactive hazmat is something that will need to be done and simply raising rhetorical FUD-style talking points makes meeting these challenges harder.

    Use of new advanced reactors that can use this once-used residual hazmat as feedstock makes sense, not merely because of its exceptionally low CO2 intensity, but because it doesn’t add to the volume of waste, and shortens the time frame during which it is hazardous to humans.

  42. GregM said:

    We should recognise that where we have damaged the commons in getting rich it affects other people and may diminish their ability to live the lives they would have otherwise had. We should make good the damage we have done to them in getting rich. You call it equity. I call it justice.

    The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Equity is a little more explicit than justice, since not everyone who pays lip-service to justice thinks it entails equity, and even if they do, they don’t always have the same view as I do when I use the term.

    In this case, curiously, I’ve no objection to the problem as you formulate it above. That is very much what I had in mind with my rather polemical response above. Plainly, I want rather more than that for those who are marginalised before I will start speaking of the world being a place where equity (or as you might have it, “justice”) prevails, but as an expression of the objects of equitable policy in abatement and remediation of anthropogenic climate forcing it’s entirely reasonable.

    Well done you.

  43. Jumpy @42:

    And if Australia introduces a carbon price of $50/ton right now, what would that result be?

    Interesting question. $50/tonne is high enough drive a surge in clean power investment, not sure what else. This could reduce Aus emissions by 30 to 40% with a direct reduction of world emissions of 0.45 to 0.6%.
    The big effect on world emissions will depend on how it effects the behaviour of other countries, particularly after the changes are up and running. If it works well, the credibility of overseas supporters of the “it will rune us all” argument will be discredited. If it doesn’t……….
    For a country as small as Australia to have much effect it has to be innovative. (Consider for example the enormous effect changes in Californian car emission standards had on worldwide car emissions. California lead and the world followed.
    It is worth remembering too that Australia’s introduction of light globe efficiency regulations had world wide effect. Our MRET scheme should also have had an impact because it is an offset credit emissions trading scheme. (Requires much lower price increases than the government system because it is not a defacto tax.) The irony is that the price increases have been so low that no one is protesting and therefore no-one overseas has realized just how smart it is.
    The potential impact of innovation is one reason why I keep rabbiting on about using offset credit trading to drive down emissions/km of new cars
    How else could we be innovative?

  44. Fran,
    My response to the argument that we already live in a self inflicted toxic environment was “If you want to add radiation to your toxic mix then go ahead, just do not inflict it on me and mine via the commons”
    I don’t think the “hazmat” was confined to the reactors at Fukishima and Chernoble.
    Hey Fran, how about you move to Hanford on the Columbia river ?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanford_Site
    Oh you will reply but that was the site for 5 nuclear reactors to make bombs, we would not do that now, ooh noo.
    You are asking me to put my faith in an industry that happily makes obscene weapons of mass detruction and that is among the most duplicitous and corrupt and heavily subsidised on the face of the planet.
    I don’t think so.

    Huggy

  45. Huggy,

    Current power reactors are not used to make weapons material. In fact there is so much weapons material available that it is being down mixed and disposed of in power reactors. Existing stockpiles of weapons grade material are considered a liability, not a military asset.

    The overwhelming majority of power reactors are PWRs and BWRs. Because of their long refueling cycle, weapons suitable Pu in spent fuel is contaminated with other Pu isotopes and other actinides that rule out it’s use for weapons.

    If a non nuclear state wished to develop a weapons program, then modern Generation III+ power plants would be about the most costly and ineffective way of going about it without any guarantee of ever producing enough material to make reliable bombs. They would instead go down the traditional route of enriching uranium or making Pu in special purpose and much cheaper reactors. The absence of civilian nuclear power would have next to no effect of the capacity of any state to do this.

    Do you have some reason for being 50 years behind the times in your false claims? This information is readily available if you only cared to look.

  46. It’s funny Huggy, but the only links I could find between AREVA and nuclear weapons was where they were part of the disarmament chain.

    Oh wait, nuclear thread of doom, no thanks.

  47. *nooclear. thread. of doom. cha cha.*
    *nooclear. thread. of doom. cha cha.*
    *nooclear. thread. nooclear. thread.*
    *nooclear. thread.of doom. cha cha.*

  48. quokka,
    Of course modern reactors are of little use for weapons. That is not my point, my point is thst the nuclear industry is forever tainted by its history. Its history is one of a far too cosy relationship with the so called regulators , of cover ups, of downright lies and of total incompetence. Each of you dewy eyed nuke lovers is guilty of wishful thinking and selfishness. You want the “benefits” of nuclear power but you are totally unable to admit that it may have some negatives – such as thousand year toxic waste cycles. Worse still you are totally happy to have your waste dumped in the lands of aboriginal people.
    http://aanews.atsiphj.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=86:nuclear-waste-dump-on-aboriginal-land&catid=58:northern-territory&Itemid=80
    and
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/aboriginal-site-nominated-for-nuke-waste/2007/05/25/1179601635076.html
    Huggy

  49. Tim and Wilful …

    These days, I don’t start nuclear thread cycles, and I generally try to steer discussion away from well-worn ground. Once in a while, a talking point needs a brief response.

    I don’t think the “hazmat” was confined to the reactors at Fukushima and Chernobyl

    {sigh} Relevant when someone proposes building such a plant in such a context …

    You are asking me to put my faith in an industry that happily makes obscene weapons of mass detruction and that is among the most duplicitous and corrupt and heavily subsidised on the face of the planet.

    1. I ask no faith of anyone
    2. The nuclear power industry is not in the weapons business, happily or otherwise. The arms industry and defence departments of the world are
    3. There are any number of less transparent and more duplicitous businesses than nuclear power — media, arms/defence, oil, illicit drugs … There can be little doubt that renewables are far more subsidised in practice than nuclear power, and fossil HC and defence many times more than that.

    my point is thst the nuclear industry is forever tainted by its history.

    That’s not an argument from reason. It’s an argument from metaphysics. The aircraft industry was driven by war. Aerodynamics would be nowhere near as advanced if military planners hadn’t seen an advantage in having bomber and fighter aircraft. If any contemporary industry is “tainted by its past” it ought to be that. So too was the development of the Bosch-Haber process that also gives us fertiliser. Bombs are still made from the same ingredients that make industrial agriculture possible. The spur to replace the horse with the motor vehicle was also war.

    Humans can make ethical choices about how we use technology, and the fact that poor choices were made in the past, while cautionary, does not put a whole technology intrinsically beyond the pale.

    In each case we must look to maximise human benefit and equity by the judicious application of all of our insights into the benefits and hazards of the technologies we devise.

  50. @Huggybunny,

    I hereby propose the shutdown of all industries and technologies that are forever “tainted” by association with weapons that have wreaked enormous destruction and caused stupendous suffering.

    We could start with the chemical industry. How many died through “strategic bombing”. We are not limited to WWII here. Think Vietnam and especially Cambodia. Come to think of it, I’d take a couple of hundred mSv dose of radiation any day over being caught in a napalm blast. Or even more modern – land mines, cluster bombs and white phosphorous.

    How about biological weapons with some pretty horrible scenarios though the deployment of biological weapons.

    Or the aircraft industry or any other number of technologies used for mass destruction.

    Your position is utterly illogical.

  51. Fran, Quokka,
    You are defending the generation of toxic waste by nuclear power generation by comparing it with all those other pollution sources.
    You just don’t get it.
    If we are to “move forward” (some re-assuring bizoid speak for you) we have to find ways to support ourselves without fucking our environment.
    Your litany of excuses for this act and your obvious desire to contribute to the rape with nuclear waste I find to be really sad.
    In the end it is about putting yourself first. “Oh build me a pretty green nuke that comes on the back of a truck and please dump the waste in a black persons back yard because I need my plasma TV and my Jacuzzi”.
    I note your lack of response to the plan to dump nuclear waste on aboriginal lands – apparently you approve.

    Huggy

  52. Huggy: “Inherently safe nuclear” would help a lot of countries do something about their emissions and may make our long term efforts easier for the reasons you and Bilb talk about so often. So I am all in favour of at least some international resources being devoted to the development of nuclear reactors that meet this criteria. By “inherently safe” I mean something that can deal with any internal/external failure without depending on back-up systems, software working etc to avoid disaster.
    I am not suggesting that Australia do anything here. We lack the expertise and have the resources to use a range of clean technologies.

  53. John D,
    While I agree that a package nuclear plant that is intrinsically safe might assist the developing world to provide low carbon electrical services to their people there are a few caveats.
    1. The centralised generation nuclear model for radial electricity services is rapidly becoming obsolete as is centralised coal fired generation etc.
    2. Unless a full on academic, technical services and manufacturing infrastructure is put in place in the recipient country it becomes just another nuclear mendicant forced to do the Imperial owners will in all things – or we pull the plug on your power.
    3. Where will the waste go – who owns it?
    Huggy

  54. Today’s West Australian reports that Rio Tinto has called upon the WA government to consider nuclear power as part of the State’s future energy mix. Unfortunately, there are no reports that Rio Tinto has called on the WA government to support the carbon tax as a way of making nuclear energy economically competitive.

  55. Toxic Tony Abbott has just declared that the electricity bill for Monbulk in Victoria will increase from $1 million to $1.3 million, a 30% increase. My esitmate is that that a $23 Carbon Price will cause a 10% increase.

    Can anyone verify which is correct? 10% or 30%.

  56. HuggyBunny said:

    You are defending the generation of toxic waste by nuclear power generation by comparing it with all those other pollution sources {… your obvious desire to contribute to the r@pe with nuclear waste I find to be really sad}

    All industrial-scale human activity produces waste that is potentially hazardous. Unless you are advocating a return to hunter gatherer scale communities on a very short timeline and have a vehicle for achieving that, then what you and I are doing is choosing our preferred suite of poisons. If we are rational we will chose less poison over more poison, more manageable poison over less manageable poison, more return per quantity of poison over less return and so forth. We will choose poisons that meet the needs of most people in preference to those that don’t. Your bloviating rhetoric is ill-suited here.

    Oh build me a pretty green nuke that comes on the back of a truck and please dump the waste in a black persons back yard because I need my plasma TV and my Jacuzzi

    That you resort to such plainly absurd chracterisation of the position of those of us asserting the utility of nuclear power reflects the reckless disregard for reality that attends all who lack evidence-based analysis for the views they put. Industrial-scale power was not rolled out so that people could have plasma TVs and jacuzzis, and if these and similar luxuries were discarded tomorrow the demand for industrial-scale power would be much the same. Large parts of the world are short of potable water. Refrigeration is key to the protection of critical foods and medical products. Communication requires steady power. You can’t make concrete, glass, plastic, paper or steel without a reliable industrial scale power system. You can’t operate any substantial organisation without lighting, cooling and heating. Talking of plasma TVs and jacuzzis is simply Clive Hamilton-style posturing to cover the reality that 7-9 billion people can’t live by the usages of 17th century, when last the world ran on renewables. If we tried, there’d be chaos and misery to make any number of nuclear disasters seem minor.

    As you surely know, the only “nuclear waste” to be “dumped” in the “backyards” of black people is waste not from operation of power plants but of the research reactor at Lucas Heights which produces — medical isotopes. These have nothing at all to do with people using jacuzzis and everything to do with medical necessity. As it goes, the waste is very low level, and those receiving (voluntarily for a fee) are not threatened by it. If and when Australia produced nuclear waste from power plants I’d favour the hazmat being stored within the major cities at the plants until it had no further possible use in the fuel cycle and until the plant itself was closed. At that point, further voluntary arrangements would be entered into, with relevant stakeholders, including Aboriginal people.

    Your implication that this process is somehow inherently r@cist is deeply offensive and wrong, not the least because it implies that Aboriginal people cannot make an informed decision to accept such an offer without being duped. Indeed, this is the express view of at least some anti-nuclear activists — that any decision by Aboriginals to accept any kind of nuclear hazmat or uranium mining on their land would by definition, be the result of bullying or the naivety of local indigenous people. This is a very convenient position for those who see all things nuclear as an existential evil, because the objection from “indigenous rights” can then only be used against nuclear power and discarded when the actual indigenes come to terms. This is classic bait and switch.

  57. Can anyone verify which is correct? 10% or 30%.

    Isn’t that what professional journalists are for?

    hahahhhahahhahaa, i crack myself up.

  58. Oh Fran you mean well but you are so naive.
    http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/scullvalley/historynativecommunitiesnuclearwaste06142005.pdf

    According to Fonti a manager of ENEA paid the clan to get rid of 600 drums of toxic and radioactive waste from Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the US, with Somalia as the destination, where the waste was buried after buying off local politicians. Former employees of ENEA are suspected of paying the criminals to take waste off their hands in the 1980s and 1990s. Shipments to Somalia continued into the 1990s, while the ‘Ndrangheta clan also blew up shiploads of waste, including radioactive hospital waste, and sending them to the sea bed off the Calabrian coast.[5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste_dumping_by_the_’Ndrangheta
    Oh that’s all right then Fran it was Somalia after all, “hewers of wood and drawers of water” and all that.

    The Dumping Ground: Big Utilities Look to Native Lands to House Nuclear Waste
    by Winona LaDuke

    On September 8, the Genesis satellite crashed into the Utah Test and Training Range, right next to the Skull Valley Goshute reservation. Although NASA had some pretty spectacular plans for a soft landing, the crash of that satellite might concern more than NASA. This same area, the Skull Valley Goshute reservation, is considering providing a repository for 40,000 tons of nuclear waste. NASA nosedives of the future might be more lethal.

    The area looks a bit like a set for the movie Mad Max and the Thunderdome. Forty-five miles southwest of Salt Lake City, a small community of Goshutes live on an 18,600-acre reservation. For the past 40 years, the U.S. federal government has created and dumped toxic military wastes all around them. Less than 10 miles southwest is the Dugway Proving Grounds, where the government conducts tests of chemical and biological weapons. In 1968, chemical agents escaped from Dugway and killed over 6,000 sheep and other animals. More than 1,600 of those animals were buried on the reservation, leaving a toxic legacy in the ground. “My father had 30 head,” Margene Bullcreek, a Goshute elder, remembers. “They buried them all here on the reservation, but no study was ever done on the effects of it.” Fifteen miles east of the reservation is the Desert Chemical Depot, which stores more than 40 percent of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile and is responsible for the incineration of many chemical munitions and nerve agents.
    http://westgatehouse.com/art188.html
    You say”As it goes, the waste is very low level, and those receiving (voluntarily for a fee) are not threatened by it.”
    That’s what they told the Indians in the US before they dumped all that toxic and radioactive shit all over the reservations.
    Huggy

  59. HuggyBunny said:

    According to Fonti a manager of ENEA paid the clan to get rid of 600 drums of toxic and radioactive waste from Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the US, with Somalia as the destination, where the waste was buried after buying off local politicians.

    So that would be illegal dumping, and not merely of radioactive hazmat?

    Oh that’s all right then Fran it was Somalia after all …

    It was illegal after all, and FTR, again, I’m not for illegal dumping, or indeed any kind of waste management that does not isolate biohazards from humans/the broader ecosystem. Regardless of who is involved, I support robust stewardship and chain of custody for all waste. Where this isn’t feasible, I’m for avoiding producing the waste, hence my views on combustion of fossil hydrocarbons, since sequestration of CO2 is almost certainly not feasible or maintainable at full industrial scale.

    Ndrangheta clan also blew up shiploads of waste, including radioactive hospital waste, and sending them to the sea bed off the Calabrian coast

    Again, this would be illegal activity. Also, why is the radioactive character of the waste more important than that it came from a hospital? Are you objecting to hospitals as inevitably a source of befouling the environment? Should all activities in hospitals that produce toxic waste be prevented due to this “taint”?

    Sidebar: Why did you mention Calabria and then pass over them to Somalis? Somalis count for more than Calabrese? Doesn’t it fit your talking point about blacks being on the wrong end of first world abuse?

    a small community of Goshutes live on an 18,600-acre reservation. For the past 40 years, the U.S. federal government has created and dumped toxic military wastes all around them. Less than 10 miles southwest is the Dugway Proving Grounds, where the government conducts tests of chemical and biological weapons.

    FTR, in addition to what I said above about waste stewardship I’m against the production of chemical and biological weapons. The problem here, if I read you correctly is that the US government was making chemical and biological weapons — and here I agree that this should not occur — and then dumping them through military fiat — which has nothing whatever to to do with how nuclear plants could or should operate. In any event, this example has nothing to do with nuclear waste dumping on the lands of indigenes, and if such were proposed to occur, I’d oppose it.

    As to the crash of the Genesis Satellite and the proximity of a proposed nuclear hazmat site, your claim isn’t salient. Although the Genesis Satellite crashed hard into the desert, it landed almost exactly where it was supposed to on the base and nowhere near the proposed hazmat site.

    You are drawing a very long bow here — gish galloping really — to make a point. Nuclear power is no more nor less intrinsically wrong than any other legal industrial-commercial activity we humans undertake. There are problems and technical challenges but humans have the wit to deal with them. The challenges are in many ways less challenging than either conventional fossil HC power systems or renewables.

  60. Fran the gist of my argument is that the nuclear authorities and the governments of all stripes in all nuclear countries have a history of dumping their nuclear waste in the lands of the poorer nations.(BTW the Indian reservations are technically soveriegn states and as such are not subject to the environmental laws that apply in the US proper).
    The “offer” to the Aboriginal landholders is but the thin end of a wedge.
    Nuclear plants will operate for profit maximisation. full stop. end of story and if this means dumping waste in aboriginal lands or in poor countries that’s what will happen. That is the modus operandi.

    Huggy

  61. i’m with BilB at 46:

    “It is only be decoupling our economy from dependence on fossil fuelled energy sources that we permanently protect the economy’s energy supply”

    but i’d point out that we DO have lots of coal, (as do other countries).

    oil is the problem because we have to import it, it pollutes, and it’s running out. Sooooo, that’s why i reckon we should cut coal burning power plants until only the most efficient are left (there’s probably a point of diminishing returns, when balancing jobs/cost/pollution).

    then tackle oil with electric vehicles, renewable alternatives to plastics… not sure what else is derived from oil but i’m sure it all has alternatives.

  62. all stripes in all nuclear countries

    Got a cite? I mean, what with there being possibly a hundred or more countries with nuclear waste.

  63. oh and nuclear?…. hmm. by all means open a few more labs like lucas heights, (maybe us aussies can crack fusion! (or is it fission, i always get them mixed up). but don’t see the need for taking the 0.00000001% risk involved in using it for energy.

  64. Fran said “Talking of plasma TVs and jacuzzis is simply Clive Hamilton-style posturing to cover the reality that 7-9 billion people can’t live by the usages of 17th century, when last the world ran on renewables. If we tried, there’d be chaos and misery to make any number of nuclear disasters seem minor.”

    The reality is that 7-9 billion people can’t live by the usages of the 20th century let alone the 21st. 7 billion people are already using 1.5 earths and most of them are poor and using very little resources.

    The laws of physics make it impossible to bring the world’s poor out of poverty no matter how much energy we produce from fossil fuels, nuclear and renewables combined or whatever combination. There are too many other constraints to growth. It would take 7 Earths to bring 9 billion humans up to rich nations’ level of consumption. How do any of you see that as possible on one earth?

    The fact is that there will be chaos and misery even if there is a nuclear plant on every street corner and solar power covering all Earth’s deserts. Power is not the problem, we can solve that. Consumption times population is the real problem.

  65. Well said Salient,
    There are two ways forward, the business as usual – one, nukes on every corner – that leads to chaos and misery.
    Or a radical new look at the way we supply energy services and goods.
    There is no particular law of physics that says that the materials we use for building; for example, have to embody the amount of energy they do now. Or that they have to pollute the environment at all. Like-wise the provision of transport , “consumer goods” etc.
    The problem is that many of us are locked into 19th and 20th century thinking.
    Unless we really re-think all our processes and goals the future of the world looks really grim.
    As an example of our failure:
    30 years ago I facilitated a process for the CSIRO that could reduce Iron ore to pure iron with zero carbon emissions and very high energy efficiency. Where is that process today?
    Who knows? Who cares?
    Huggy

  66. Salient Green said:

    The reality is that 7-9 billion people can’t live by the usages of the 20th century let alone the 21st. 7 billion people are already using 1.5 earths and most of them are poor and using very little resources. The laws of physics make it impossible to bring the world’s poor out of poverty no matter how much energy we produce from fossil fuels, nuclear and renewables combined or whatever combination.

    I disagree, but even if I had noi business doing so, that’s not an argument for pressing that 7 billion (and the 9 billion or so by 2050) to live with a modernised version of the technologies of the 17th century when there were about 500 million people, almost all of them living in squalour. No sale on that one I suspect.

    The fact is that there will be chaos and misery even if there is a nuclear plant on every street corner and solar power covering all Earth’s deserts. Power is not the problem, we can solve that. Consumption times population is the real problem.

    Yet we can do very little in a hurry on population. Stabilising and then slowly easing back population without massive suffering and dislocation cannot be done on the timelines you imply. If one accepts your figures — 7 Earths — I’m not sure that I do, but let’s go with that — then what you imply is that equity demands a population by 2050 of no more than about 800 million. Even maintaining existing population with its disparities of wealth and serious misery for about 3bn would imply cutting world population to about 4.3bn by then. That’s not feasible and could not be achieved by any program that would not make all the disasters of the 20th century look minor by comparison. That would be more than 50 times the population loss in WW2, or, put another way, like having WW2-scale losses every ten months for the next 40 years.

    We simply have to find a way to raise human productivity, and for that, energy — and lots of it — is needed, even allowing that we first worlders go hard on cutting out wasteful uses. We don’t need ‘nukes on every corner’ because unlike renewables, nuclear power scales up very well and is not for the most part, site-constrained.

    That buys us the time to stabilise population over the next 40 years and then perhaps 100-200 years later, to allow it to ease back to something in the 5bn range.

  67. @Salient Green

    Power is not the problem, we can solve that.

    Really? All indications are that “we” are not making a very good job of it. Can you in fact point to any substantive evidence that emissions reductions and in particular abatement in the power sector are on a trajectory that gives any confidence at all that dangerous climate change will be avoided. Rather the opposite – emissions trajectory is alarming.

    Whether the planet can or cannot sustainably support 7 or 10 billion with a “good” standard of living, as surely as the sun comes up in the morning many of those billions are going to collectively have a fair stab at it. That will require energy and they will get it by burning fossil fuels if it is not economic to produce that energy without fossil fuels. It may not be ultimately sustainable, but it will happen and be sustained for sufficiently long to make the climate a gonner.

    This is the core of the climate problem and pretending it is going to disappear magically because of “new ways of thinking”, I’m sorry to say seems to me to be another form of denial and of greenwash. Wishing it were different is not going to make it so.

  68. Fran, I want to believe you’re sincere in your conviction that nuclear energy is the only option, but it’s difficult to do so when you come out with bullsh*t like this:

    Talking of plasma TVs and jacuzzis is simply Clive Hamilton-style posturing to cover the reality that 7-9 billion people can’t live by the usages of 17th century, when last the world ran on renewables. If we tried, there’d be chaos and misery to make any number of nuclear disasters seem minor.

    You know full well that the world did not run on “renewables” in the modern sense in the 17th century. You are smart enough to recognise that this is bullsh*t. I hauled you up using a bullsh*t argument on the last nuclear thread of doom, as I recall. It’s frustrating, because I know you’re smarter than that.

  69. Tim Macknay said:

    You know full well that the world did not run on “renewables” in the modern sense in the 17th century.

    Plainly, 17th century renewables are not as good at harvesting energy as 21st century renewables. Equally, we’re a lot better at making the energy harvested despatchable. We also have some that weren’t invented then — geothermal comes to mind. But even allowing all that, the available land for renewable energy harvest per person has shrunk dramatically since the 17th century. Competing usages for waterways (a major renewable energy source in those days was small hydro) have massively grown. So too has the energy demand per person as well as the actual number of persons to be served and the life-years during which they demand it — perhaps by a factor of about 13. Renewables have not gone close to keeping up with this growth, nor could they have.

    You are smart enough to recognise that this is bullsh*t. I hauled you up using a bullsh*t argument on the last nuclear thread of doom, as I recall.

    I don’t recall it.

  70. Fran, You suffer from the Kodak syndrome. When you start writing of energy based services instead of the implicit use of energy consumption as a metric for standard of living I will begin to take you seriously. Your infatuation with nuclear energy is blinding you to the rapidly changing energy situation.
    Take lighting for instance, in your day (19th century apparently) electric light came from hopelessly inefficient incandescent globes that used many grams of glass, iron, tungsten, brass and ceramics plus a lot of embodied energy. Today we can provide a better service with a device that weighs less than a gram and has a few milligrams of active stuff and that has almost no embodied energy.
    These advances apply across the board, refrigeration, cooking, hot water supply, even air conditioning.
    Add in the absolutely astounding advances in energy storage that are happening right now Fran and you will find that your nukes are not only irrelevant but they will be counter-productive in the extreme .
    Huggy

  71. Quokka, I agree we are not on the correct trajectory now, for anything like the response needed to address climate change, resource depletion, poverty, pollution or species extinction.

    We could very quickly change the energy source away from fossil fuels. We have the technology but not the will. Taking inspiration from Paul Gilding, you only need to look at the WWII war effort to know what can be achieved once the need is seen.

    A war effort will produce chaos and misery. There will be chaos and misery before a war effort is seen as necessary. There will be massive species extinctions in a desperate grab for food and resources, driven harder by massive collapse of fisheries worldwide within this decade.

    Fran, you can tackle the problem of getting the developing world out of poverty in several ways. We are now drawing down our environmental capital by .5 Earths every year, how long can we continue to do that even without further growth? We have already been in overshoot for 20 years.

    If you add 2 billion more people, or 30% to 1.5 Earths you get close to 2 Earths. How long is that going to continue? If you can then allow the fact that to bring the entire developing world out of poverty the world GDP would need to increase around 3.5 times you get a figure of 7 Earths. Can’t happen.

    How do we rich countries with our great reliance on technology get our Global hectares down from our current 5 or 6 to the required 1.8? And that’s with current population let alone an increase.

  72. @Huggybunny,

    I’m all for CFL and LED lighting but it is grossly misleading, not to say just a little disingenuous to project electricity savings in other electricity usage from dramatic improvements in lighting efficiency.

    I believe the number one consumer of electricity in the world is electric motor driven systems. The IEA has a report on potential for efficiency improvement which is a very interesting read and there is indeed potential for improvement. But such improvement will never ever approach the improvements possible in lighting. Nothing like it in fact.

    Furthermore, many nations already have national standards for electric motor efficiency and while further improvements are no doubt possible, this is an ongoing process that has been happening for years – not the result of some radically new thinking. Implying there is going to be some quantum leap in efficiency is fairy tale stuff.

  73. @Salient Green

    We could very quickly change the energy source away from fossil fuels.

    Anything *might* happen, but sadly that is not the same as what is happening or what is most likely to happen.

    If it were so easy (without nuclear power), then why is Germany building a substantial amount of new fossil fuel generation capacity rather than just build renewables to replace the NPPs? There could hardly be a country in the world where the political context is more favourable. Apparently the population is prepared to bear the cost of writing off that existing infrastructure.

    So what is it? Engineering or technical or economic limitations of renewables or that favorite catch all – “lack of political will”?

  74. Just so quokka, and one might add that the persistent tendency of those favouring renewables centred strategy is to imply that the household sector is the dominant demand source of electricity or energy consumption, when it is only one comparatively minor factor. Agriculture and manufacturing (including steel & concrete) account for much more. Then of course there is the whole private transport sector, much of which is slated to go on-grid. With some work we could put at least light trucks and buses at least partially on grid as well.

    There’s also not a lot you can do about improving the efficiency with which we refrigerate perishables, or produce/move potable water about. Water supply and sewerage (along wioth refrigeration) are right at the base of alleviating misery in the developing world and its very energy intensive, so if Clive Hamilton has his wish and we decide they don’t deserve jacuzzis and plasma TVs and are thus immunised from “affluenza” demand for energy is going to rise. Equally, if we westerners do want them producing valuable goods, they are going to need a manufacturing base.

    The other point typically overlooked is that if you remove the roughly 6% of world energy (about 16% of electricity) produced by nuclear power that deficit also needs to be made up from renewables. You can’t say nuclear power is only unacceptable in places where it doesn’t yet exist.

    We might also add that the bulk of renewables in the world mix is currently hydro. The capacity to expand this much is fairly limited and of course, hydro has its own negative environmental footprint.

  75. I am not cherry picking technologies. I am seeking to illustrate the advances in technology in general. Low energy low cost LED lighting is critical in the provision of electrical services in developing countries.
    Fran is right only about 20% of the electrical energy generated goes to domestic consumption. Quite a bit goes into things such as aluminium production (1 kWh/kg) – subsidised by the taxpayer BTW, and cement etc.
    As I illustrated earlier with my iron ore reduction example, means exists to radically reduce the energy consumption in most industrial processes but due to subsidies and conservatism they are not here yet.

    Huggy

  76. Huggy … have you published a proposal re: your “iron ore reduction example? Can you show that, but for a plausible carbon price, it would be viable technically and commercially?

    Really, if your process is even ballpark competitive and technically feasible, why is there not a sory about it in the press, or on the web? If there is, could you offer us a link?

  77. Fran, here is a link.
    http://www.chemlink.com.au/cipbhp.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_reduced_iron
    It was a long time ago and as I said I facilitated the process in some rather exotic apparatus that I managed at the time.. I was not the researcher. In my first attempt I injected methanol into a dry nitrogen atmosphere at 1100C. This gave me CO and H2 (both reducing). I also was successful with pure hydrogen.
    Unfortunately the press does not get the import of such processes. In particular the pure hydrogen aspect.
    Huggy

    Huggy

  78. Fran, no doubt in your intensive studies of nuclear power you would have come across the fact that H2 can be generated in nukes.
    I await with breathless anticipation your post advocating our entry into the brave new world of the nuclear facilitated hydrogen economy.
    Huggy

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