Climate clippings 54

Wind electricity to be fully competitive with natural gas by 2016

So says Stephen Lacey at Climate Progress:

The best wind farms in the world are already competitive with coal, gas and nuclear plants. But over the next five years, continued performance improvements and cost reductions will bring the average onshore wind plant in line with cheap natural gas, even without a price on carbon.

That’s according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. They say that cost reduces by 7% for every doubling of installed capacity, while efficiency has steadily improved.

APEC countries to slash tariffs on environmental goods

Yes, indeed and it seems we are set to clean up on water-conserving shower heads.

Water from air

Maybe we can sell this gadget also. From John D’s Gizmag collection, but I also picked it up at environment360 on a feed, we have a simple gadget to pull water out of the air for irrigation purposes. The video claims it is suitable for large-scale agriculture, but I dunno. Maybe for orchards and vineyards.

Power from pee

You’ve no doubt heard of making fertilizer from pee. Now it’s pee power.

They intend to harness pee from farm animals, which might mean equipment like this:

Horse in Amsterdam

World oil production stalled

I don’t follow the peak oil story closely, but Kurt Cobb points out that we’ve now had six years of no growth of conventional oil production. It seems that well depletion costs us 4% each year. Total liquids production – which includes ethanol, biodiesel and natural gas liquids – has moved up only a paltry 2.6% during the period from the end of 2005 to today.

The following gives cause for pause. The deepwater Gulf of Mexico field is thought to contain between 3 and 15 billion barrels. A billion barrels lasts a mere 12 days.

The Brits aim lower

It seems that the UK Government has quietly put on the brakes in terms of their climate mitigation ambition.

…at the Conservative annual conference [it was announced] that Britain would cut carbon emissions “no slower but also no faster” than other European countries. “The greenest government ever” thus becomes “as green a government as the others but no greener”.

Depressing graphs

Since the IEA energy outlook post I’ve been wondering what might shock the world into significant action. An ice-free Arctic might be one such. Barry Brook was impressed and depressed by this graph of the Arctic sea ice volume:

Thin ice drifts more easily and is more likely to be exported into the warm North Atlantic waters. Hard ice reflects about 90% of the sun’s heat, whereas open water only reflects about 10%.

Brook was also depressed by the increase by 6% of emissions in 2010 over 2009.

(The Los Angeles Times also picks up this fact in a story about the update of the NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index.)

Unfortunately those two will only impress people knowledgeable about climate change.

Climate Vulnerable Forum

I hadn’t been aware until I read this BBC report that climate vulnerable nations had formed their own group. If you read the article through, these nations feel climate vulnerability viscerally, but apparently there is still a lot of uncertainty over extreme weather impacts featured in the draft of the next IPPC report, though less as the century proceeds. As to sea level rise, well you can adapt to that. Look at the Dutch!

Adaptation costs money, and it appears that only 8% of the “fast-start finance” pledged in Copenhagen has showed up.

If you check out the Wikipedia entry the membership comprises 33 rather poor countries, observed by 25 mostly rich ones. I’d give them marks for trying but would have no great expectation that the rich and the big polluters will take much notice.

Litigating extreme weather

In the New Scientist, Fred Pearce looks the possibility of litigating over extreme weather events. One opinion is that Rahmstorf and Coumou’s article could “increase the prospects of private law claims succeeding”. Yet in his post I linked to last week Rahmstorf says it was not an attribution study.

Peter Stott in suggests that we need an attribution service that can give us an authoritative assessment of any link for any specific event. Accordingly at the Hadley Centre they have:

begun to put together an international collaboration of scientists called the Attribution of Climate-related Events Initiative, or ACE for short.

Seems we can’t rely on extreme weather to tip policy into real action within the time-frames we need.

Will the bankers kill King Coal?

As linked already by John D, Giles Parkinson asks whether bankers will kill coal. Parkinson was depressed by the apparent futility of the IEA World energy Outlook 2011. Please note that the reference scenario, the New Policies Scenario has become the main scenario. That would gladden Martin Ferguson’s heart, as it sees massive growth of coal, oil and gas-fired energy.

But the banks, if they are smart, will notice facts like this:

Remember, the IEA said that if concerted action was not taken as early as 2015, then 45 per cent of the world’s fossil fuel plants would have to close early over time to meet the 2°C scenario.

I had always hoped that the banks would take note of the long-term aims and factor this into their risk calculus. It seems that HSBC has, and is worried about dud loans and stranded assets.

Bankers save the world!

What global warming means

One hopes that senior bank executives are humans too, with children and grandchildren. They should check out where 3.5C of warming will get us.

This post provides a handy summary, degree by degree, on what global warming might mean. The news is bad all the way, starting with:

Six thousand years ago, when the world was one degree warmer than it is now, the American agricultural heartland around Nebraska was desert.

Deserts will reappear particularly in Nebraska, but also in eastern Montana, Wyoming and Arizona, northern Texas and Oklahoma. As dust and sandstorms turn day into night across thousands of miles of former prairie, farmsteads, roads and even entire towns will be engulfed by sand.”

Unfortunately there are a few problems with this post. The information seems mostly accurate, but it has no author. It seems to originate here. The only name attached is Berrens. I’ve seen various versions and some have a University of Adelaide advertisement attached.

Much of the information cited comes from the Hadley Centre and it reads like an update of Mark Lynas’ 2007 book Six Degrees. But clearly it isn’t. At least not by him.

One technicality is that it references the temperature as “now” without defining it. One would have to assume a 20 year average with 2000 as the midpoint, which would put it about 0 0.7C above pre-industrial.

Methane hydrates

That post concluded with a summary of a recent methane hydrate study which is fingered as the likely cause of the six degree rise in the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) 56 million years ago. This is a worry:

“The amount of carbon released then is on the magnitude of what humans will add to the cycle by the end of, say, 2500. Compared to the geological timescale, that’s almost instant.”

137 thoughts on “Climate clippings 54”

  1. Two things:
    1. That we blithely send at least 22 billion l of pee into the sea every day amazes me. I put the idea of collecting and utilising it to a Qld govt functionary years ago and watched him turn bright red and run away laughing uneasily.

    2. Barry Brook ought to concentrate long enough to understand that his nukes save the world program is going to be too little too late. Stop the bullshit Barry and stop leading the Gullible Frans astray.


  2. From the Bloomberg item
    ““The press is reacting to the recent price drops in solar equipment as though they are the result of temporary oversupply or of a trade war. This masks what is really going on: a long-term, consistent drop in clean energy technology costs, resulting from decades of hard work by tens of thousands of researchers, engineers, technicians and people in operations and procurement. And it is not going to stop: In the next few years the mainstream world is going to wake up to wind cheaper than gas, and rooftop solar power cheaper than daytime electricity. Add in the same sort of deep long-term price drops for power storage, demand management, LED lighting and so on – and we are clearly talking about a whole new game,” Wu added.”
    As well as this there is a lot of work going into the utility side of wind generation and various forms of energy storage that will further increase the penetration and Annual Capacity Factor of renewables in general.
    I am so over the nuke dupes who want to poison us with 50 year old stuff that no longer fits (and cannot be made to fit) with the new network paradigm.


  3. You know Huggy, nobody will be happier than I if even any modest part of your cited developments takes place. I am first and foremost interested in seeing the earliest possible end to the sue of fossil hydrocarbon combustion as a source of power and anything that gets us there a little faster without some horrible secondary consequence is in my view a damned fine thing.

    My support for nuclear power as part of the mix is entirely conditional on it being the best fit at scale for speeding this goal, but at the moment that any other combination of technologies looks as good, then I’m for that — and doubly so since there are a great many people in this country and elsewhere, like you, who have deep-seated and genuinely felt concerns about nuclear power whose advocacy is indirectly prolonging the usage of fossil hydrocarbon fuels.

  4. Latest Quarterly Essay by Andrew Charlton, Man-made World: choosing between Progress and Planet, will set quite a few hares running.

    It’s great merit, from only a quick skim, is that it takes up the issue of the need to address the moral claims of large proportion of people on the planet who need improved access to energy.

  5. I don’t think that generating electricity from pee sounds practical if it relies on separating pee from the rest.
    Much better I think to compost the lot together where the nutrients are buffered and chelated into perfect soil and plant food. Composting can be done after extracting methane for power generation in large municipal waste systems and done everywhere else by a conversion to composting toilets.

    Tuna fishermen have found another way to exterminate marine life en masse. This involves the use of FAD’s, Fish Aggregation Devices – floating rafts which for some reason attract all kinds of fish out in the open ocean. Not only does this hurry the extinction of tuna but increases bycatch massively to include whales, dolphins, whale sharks, undersize tuna and every other species.

  6. Doug @4 above
    Stlll sorting through this essay. Charlton identifies the dilemma which caused the failure of COP15 as Progress (the poor 6 billion want it) vs Planet (the rich billion are worried about it). Despite stating that a viable future depends on recognizing that both imperatives have to be satisfied, the essay doesn’t really deal with the fundamental interrelatedness of the two ‘opposites’. Progress (for the 6 billion) leads to no planet. No planet means no progress (for anyone). I think this failure to see the inter-relatedness of the various crises confronting us is a recurring characteristic of the essay.

    Discussing the difficulty (impossibility) of feeding an extra 2 billion by 2050 Charlton takes comfort in our history of increasing food production capacity through technical innovation. Fertilizer has saved our bacon in the past. Charlton thinks GM foods might do it in the future. He does not discuss the stranglehold of multinationals on GM seed or its implications for what is grown where. More to the point neither does he discuss the impact of that other great crisis – climate change – on food production.

    Multiple recent reports have predicted massive increase in the occurrence of drought throughout much of the world during the 21st century. The likelihood of this effect substantially reducing agricultural production is not discussed.
    See for example Joe Romm at Climate Progress

    Charlton discusses resource availability under conditions of growing demand.’Peak oil, coal or gas’ can be dealt with by exploiting plentiful resources previously thought ‘uneconomic’. Shale gas, coal seam gas, oil from tar sands etc. The climatic consequences of exploiting such resources are not discussed.

    When Charlton turns to climate change he argues firstly that Australia’s legislated emissions reduction target of 5% below 2000 levels by 2020, far from a paltry commitment requires an emissions cut of more than 30% below business as usual estimates for 2020. This we have heard before but it is still thought provoking until you begin to question the parameters of the calculation.

    For example why in an emergency does he find it appropriate to assume that growth in energy efficiency will simply increase at 1% per annum as it has historically? How rapidly can energy efficiency be scaled up if we really set our minds to it? Is 3% per annum out of the question? I certainly don’t know but I know that if it is possible Charlton’s emissions reduction task rather than more than 30% becomes a bit over 10% in a decade. This looks a bit more possible.

    On the strength of his target of more than 30% emissions reductions against business as usual to get us down to 5% below 2000 levels. Charlton then describes an herculean up-scaling of solar wind and geothermal capacity if we are to achieve this goal. But again the up-scaling of renewables to achieve a 10% emissions reduction is about a third of that required to achieve a 30% reduction and so on.

    This essay will promote discussion but there is a lot that can be debated about the assumptions underlying it.

  7. When I read the article I assumed it would be about electrolysis. Ammonia (NH3) has one more hydrogen atom than water, and so electrolysis of ammonia ought to be somewhat more productive than electrolysis of water.

    It’s interesting that they are focusing on microorganisms-driven batteries. As the principal focus in on diversion of a nasty agricultural waste product that would be expensive to deal with — urine from farm animals being released into the land, even if the battery is of low marginal value, if the resultant waste stream is cheaper to manage and less harmful, the process could still work. Natural gas for fertiliser is an important component in agriculture’s footprint, so this is no small thing.

  8. The US EPRI provides the following projected estimates of gas and on-shore wind LCOE for 2015 and 2025. Costs in 2010 US dollars.

    Gas $49-79/MWh
    On-shore wind $75-138/MWh

    Gas $47-74/MWh
    Gas with CCS $68-109/MWh
    On-shore wind $73-134/MWh

    See tables 1-2 and 1-3 of Integrated Generation Technology Options

    Far too often Stephen Lacey and Joe Romm reproduce claims of dramatic projected decline in renewables costs as fact when they are no such thing. As they say over at SkepticalScience – examine all the evidence.

    On a global scale things are more complicated still because of big cost differences between regions. eg Asia where nuclear is likely to remain the clear cost leader over everything else.

  9. Fran,
    It is the false promise of nuclear power that is prolonging the life of coal generation and making gas such an attractive option.
    You can buy a combined cycle gas plant out of a catalogue (well almost) and have it up and running inside 3 years – including safety audits and permissions.
    You can implement the connection of Distributed Energy Resource in a matter of months as the prime movers are already in place and functioning.
    Think steam raising plant in hospitals and factories (example: grid connected back pressure turbines that collect energy that is otherwise totally lost).
    Wind farms take only a few years.
    What is it ? 10 – 20years for Nuclear ? How long for proper waste Storage/ Think Yucca mountain – started 33 years ago and has now been cancelled. Now they want to start uranium mining in the Grand canyon and turn the rivers toxic.
    I really think you should read this link carefully:
    (By Brian at the start of this thread)
    You are allowed to use up to date information in your arguments Fran.

  10. #14 Huggy,

    What is it ? 10 – 20years for Nuclear ?


    10 March 2011
    Shin Kori unit 1 entered commercial operation on 28 February, according to the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS). The indigenously designed OPR-1000 is South Korea’s seventh such unit and 21st nuclear power reactor overall. The unit took just over four years to build, with the first concrete being poured in July 2006 and grid connection taking place in August 2010. …. net capacity of 1000 MWe.

    You would need at least 1,200 (perhaps more) 2.5 MW wind turbines to generate the same amount of electricity. And some gas to back it up when the wind isn’t blowing.

  11. @quokka
    Predicting the rate of price reduction for renewables seems to be an arcane art. I have read Climate Spectator posts from Giles Parkinson that claim that small scale solar is already at grid parity in some parts of Australia. However in the interests of examining all the evidence as Skeptical Science recommends it seems that some doubt exists around EPRI and their costing of renewable energy sources. Try this…/Large-scale_solar_cost_errors_paper.pdf
    or this

    In this paper available as a pdf download but which I can’t get the URL for
    Melbourne Energy Institute
    Technical Paper Series
    Renewable Energy Technology Cost Review
    May 2011
    Lead Authors:
    Patrick Hearps
    Dylan McConnell

    Hearps and McConnell give a number of graphs showing the cost reduction curves for different renewables. EPRI and AEMO-ACIL Tasman predictions are consistently the highest in a range of sources.
    Hearps and McConnell for two don’t trust their figures. Given the historic links of ACIL Tasman with right wing think tanks and the mining industry aqn anti renewable bias wouldn’t be surprising would it?

  12. Quokka,
    It takes at least 5 years to even begin to construct a nuke in a repressive “democracy” such as South Korea. Ask the people of Finland how long it is taking to build a nuke up there. Ask the taxpayers of the US how much they are kicking in to build two nukes in Georgia.
    “Nuclear reactor” is code for cost overruns, endless delay, public hostility and Fukishima.
    Not such a problem for quasi fascist regimes, but certainly a problem for “democracies”.
    Note that even a regime such as Indonesia where a thin layer of democracy lies over a feudal regime is having problems with the site for nukes.

    In short the only way the nuke advocates will get their way is to institute a fascist regime that can bypass all the consultation, regulatory and (above all) safety regimes that are needed for program that enjoys majority public support.
    Guess the nuke supporters each has nice brown shirt in the closet.

  13. Nick, that site seems to suggest that most of the delays have nothing to do with the plant type. e.g. only 2 license applications of 5 were under the “atomic energy act.” The rest were general electricity planning. From site designation to opening was 14 years, but it looks like only the period from 2002 – 2005 was atomic power licensing-related. Gas power plants also need consultation, so I think Huggy’s 3 year estimate is a little short (actually I read on wikipedia that the colongra gas power plant was built in two years. That doesn’t mean it was 2 years from planning to completion).

  14. Katz ,
    Oooh noo they would not do thaat. Indemnities? – why that would be communistic
    Here is a list of nuclear accidents in the good old USA.

    I liked these the best:
    “Deteriorating underground pipes from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant leak radioactive tritium into groundwater supplies”
    “Nuclear fuel services plant spills 35 litres of highly enriched uranium, necessitating 7-month shutdown”

  15. Yes Duncan, we were indeed. Your point in drawing our attention troll this remains elusive however. Perhaps you could develop it for the benefit doesn’t those doesn’t us who bother to read your posts.

  16. Fran,
    Get yourself an iPad and stop whinging 🙂

    My 14 month old can use it ( for bashing the dog mostly)


  17. Crikey,

    my posts are much easier to decipher than your tech-garbled tech interface.

    If you don’t see the mismatch between complaints of fossil fuel ‘subsidies’ and lauding of renewables subsidies (note, no quotation marks), no amount of explaining from me will open your eyes.

  18. Duncan …

    Apologies about the Android fail*. It has the worst autocomplete I’ve ever seen … I’ve turned off the autcomplete.

    On the issue at hand

    You quoted:

    “APEC countries to slash tariffs on environmental goods”

    then continued:

    Hang about.. weren’t we arguing last week how Subsidies are bad?

    The juxtaposition suggests that you think that cutting tariffs amounts to a subsidy. This inference is reinforced by the following from your last:

    If you don’t see the mismatch between complaints of fossil fuel ‘subsidies’ and lauding of renewables subsidies

    My android may have created some unwelcome noise in my posts, but at least it didn’t have me claiming that tariff-abolition amounted to a subsidy.

    If you really think lowering tariffs amounts to a subsidy (and its hard to imagine how anyone familiar with the term could), then no amount of explaining by you will amount to sense. Perhaps the word “troll” in the above post for too, though ill-placed, was thematically apt. Perhaps it’s a “smartphone” after all.

    *back with my laptop now)

  19. Fran,

    I do apologise for the quote/no-quote.. they should have been on both sets of subsidies.

    If you’ll refer to the other thread, Lefty E was arguing that all of the $20B cited for fossil fuels was subsidies. That included input tax exemptions, and trade exemptions.

    That is exactly what we have here for shower heads (which not surprisingly, are also being scammed for their rebates in NSW).

  20. Slashing tariffs on environmental goods makes claims that reducing emissions will “create jobs in Australia” less convincing. It also means that climate action becomes less attractive for countries like the US that already have balance of payments problems.

  21. C’mon folks, fess up, you’ve had 4 days.

    *the scope for the operations of the CEFC;
    *the market gap in financing low emissions technologies;
    *how this gap in financing could be overcome; and
    *how the CEFC could work with other government and market organisations.

    Hopefully your comments here become submissions, and those submissions are classified as submissions and not comments. (unlike that Senate ” thingy”) 😕

  22. Duncan

    The usage of the term “subsidy” is, at the margins, a little subjective. Plainly, any externality from the commons (liquid, non-liquid or anything in between) that predisposes a set of practices can be regarded as a subsidy. Indeed, up until the early 19th century to subsidize meant to bribe or pay blackmail.

    I don’t agree with those who say that relatively light tax treatment of petroleum fuels for private motorists amounts to a subsidy, even though removal of indexation would almost certainly have underpinned the move to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

    OTOH, the diesel fuel rebate certainly is a subsidy albeit that removing it would not claw back 100% of its value as things stand.

    But tariff removals cannot be described as a subsidy, even if one could point to a competing energy technology product on which tariffs still applied. That would be a market distortion.

  23. Good analysis Roger. The idea of a “coal opec” will only work if coal exporting country’s are willing/able to limit output if the price goes too low.
    The other thing that wasn’t said was that the Japanese driven mining boom starting the 60’s lost its profitability once the Japanese had convinced enough people to start coal and iron ore mines. It is crazy for a country to be basing its economy on the idea that commodity prices have to stay a long long way above the cost of production.

  24. Brian: I am a bit skeptical about a device that depends on the cold soil to extract water from the air. Wet bulb temperatures would be too low over much of Aus and the condensation process would pump heat into the soil.
    This doesn’t mean that extracting water from the air might not be part what we do to feed the 10 billion at some stage in the future. Water from the air combined with hydroponics and water recycling may look good in some locations.

  25. John D @ 36, I’m sceptical about it but thought I’d throw it in to see what people thought. I was underwhelmed by the one litre per day he got in his mum’s yard.

    There is a bloke called Max Whisson who has a water from air gadget based on the fog beetle principle. He’s not alone.

    Go here for an unsympathetic critique.

  26. Fog collectors are not new

    But let’s not rain too hard on the young inventors idea. Give it some time to mature. He may very well on develop the concept to something with real potential.

    Max Whisson’s concept is reasonably sound, but there is a lot of foggy thinking on how much energy can be extracted from wind power in the configurations that he has proposed, and for the amount of water that can be extracted relative to the investment.

  27. For the record the “watermakerindia” system in the linked critique is nothing more than an water collecting optimised water dripping airconditioner. It requires electricity to make it work. The more humid the air the better it works. Conversely the more arid it is the worse it works. One could possible derive more water by chemically converting the fuel used to power the generator required to make the “water collector” work, in the arid dry air scenario. A large plastic sheet of beetle back material would most likely be the best overall zero energy solution.

    If I was going to pick winners I suspect that for hot arid areas with dry air the most probable zero effort mechanism available would be a micro thermal tower with some form of heat pipe mechanism to utilise the differences in air temperature in conjunction with the air flow achievable from a tall flue with a ground covering skirt. Somewhere in amoungst that combination might be a low cost fixed installation solution.

  28. BilB, part of my reservation about Edward Linacre’s invention is that installation would be too labour intensive for broadacre application. If the thing is efficient enough there may be a role for it to feed directly into already-installed underground irrigation systems.

    Recalling Whisson’s device (we had a post years ago) I fancy the main use might be for stock watering.

    Whisson also has a system for using solar to desalinate saltwater through evaporation. I imagine it would only be viable in very specific circumstances, if then.

  29. VW.

    We are well and truly ready for them to go from “think tank” to “do tank”

    On #39

    When I think about it there is scope for a thermal convection tower to utilise a pneumatic equivalent of water hammer to create air pressure pulses within a tower in order to produce temperature differences. These temperature differences can power a chiller to extract moisture from surrounding air, or from moister air drawn from beneath the ground surface, possibly.

  30. Brian: There will be parts of the world where humidity reaches levels where things like the beetle wings may work. Other static systems may also work where there is a supply of salt water.
    However, in most areas where collecting water from the air may make sense we would need something that can cool the air to quite low temperatures. One of the logical options might be to use a windmill to drive a cooler compressor directly and push the air through the system. The old windmills may still be useful when the water table has dropped to far to bring to the surface. I assume we would be talking about something that uses the cool dry air to do most of the cooling of the humid hot air.
    I was intrigued enough to look at some humidity figures for some of the dryer parts of Aus:
    Saturated air at 0 deg C contains 3.8 g water/kg air (Air has a density around of 1.2 kg/m3 at 20 deg C)
    Average humidity at 9 AM:
    Alice Springs – June=5.0 g/kg
    ” ” – Feb =9.4
    Pt Hedland – June=6.9
    ” ” – Feb =17.2

    I liked the look of this radical SILENT windmill that you could use to drive the water machine without upsetting the neighbours.

  31. Brian @40
    “”Whisson also has a system for using solar to desalinate saltwater through evaporation. I imagine it would only be viable in very specific circumstances, if then.”””

    Like this system,

    Used in Jordan,

    And South Australia,

  32. BBC report on the latest from the Montreal Protocol (the one which phased out CFCs to protect the ozone layer). Apparently people are worried about the climate change effects of the HFC-based refrigerants used to replace CFCs – their greenhouse effect is supposed to be 1600 times more potent than CO2.

    It’s an interesting article but it seems a bit oversold. I certainly wonder how much HFC stuff is being released into the atmosphere – it can’t be anything like the scale of CO2 emissions.

  33. Further on the IPCC GHG radiative forcings – Fig 2.11 shows the net forcings from 1750-2005 which may well not be projected forcings as HFCs have only been in use for 30 years or so.

  34. John Bennetts and Quokka @11-12,

    The forecast cost reductions in solar PV in that 2010 Acil Tasman report (which, in fact, draws strongly on EPRI projections) are, like the wind projections, quite modest.

    Capital cost per kW of utility-scale “flat plate” (ie not tracking) solar PV was forecast by Acil Tasman to reduce from $5000/kW in 2010 to $4000/kW in around 2025, (in 4 out of 5 scenarios).

    Worley Parsons updated the projections in January 2011. $4000/kW is now the current estimate for flat plate solar PV (ie for 2011).

    So, a cost reduction that was forecast to take 15 years, actually occurred in around 12 months!

    [Remarkably, despite that recent experience, Worley Parsons are projecting (in 2 out of 5 scenarios) that PV costs are going to increase (in real terms) over the next 20 years. Bizarre.]

    I don’t think that this is a conspiracy by these consultants to prop up the fossil industries. I think it just shows that those steeped in fossil technologies have a mindset that change occurs on a timescale of decades rather than years.

    That probably explains the huge difference in outlook between conventional engineers and renewables engineers.

  35. Bilb @43: In a 10 km/hr breeze 864,000 m3 of air will pass through a one m2 window facing the flow every 24 hrs. For the worst Alice springs case we are talking about a bit over one gram recoverable water per m3 of air if the collecting surface is close to freezing point. That is 864 litres of recoverable water going through this small window a day.
    Keep in mind that recoverable water may go up substantially if the freezing surface is replaced by absorbents (that are heated later in the cycle (or go to reverse osmosis) to recover water. (In theory 5 grams/m3 could be recovered using absorbants for the Alice Springs worse case.) Also keep in mind that the air doesn’t have to get as cold as the collecting surface for efficient recovery of water. In places like Alice the amount of cooling required at night would be lower since the temp will have been rising before 9 AM. The actual temperature averages for the Alice springs June case were 11.5 deg C dry bulb and a dew point of 3.5 deg C.)
    I don’t really know how practical it is to recover water from the air at Alice Springs but the figures above suggest that it is not a crazy idea.

  36. Jess @ 50, all the more reason to get cracking on solar refrigeration by absorption. Here is a report on a trial using a fresnel solar thermal concentrator supplying heat to a double stage absorption refrigeration unit which found that, while absorption is still of lower efficiency than compressor cycles, the double stage was of “good efficiency” . This was meant to mean that it was competitive with compressor cycle units whereas the single cycle absorption was only competitive with very low efficiency compressor cycle units.

  37. Just a question or 3 for the ” scientifically literate ” that visit here,( not a bad place to ask)

    1 What is the density difference between air and water?
    2 Comparing energy given by identical devices in water or air, what is “X”,
    1km/h of water flow = “X” km/h of wind?
    3 Offshore wind V offshore tidal/current, which has super efficiency ?
    ( even if wind was as predictable and almost constant)

    John D, can you apply the ” window test” to a specific( or hypothetical ) location, please

  38. Incurious and Unread @ 3 re solar panels: “a cost reduction that was forecast to take 15 years, actually occurred in around 12 months……I think it shows that those steeped in fossil technologies have a mindset that change occurs on a timescale of decades rather than years.”

    I think you are getting a little over-excited. The current reduction in solar panel prices is almost solely a result of a huge glut, and consequent plunge in prices, of raw materials, reflecting both the somewhat cowboy nature of the industry and the distorting impact of a ludicrous degree of subsidisation of solar to the consumer which is beginning to be unwound.

    “Polysilicon has plunged 93 percent to $33 a kilogram from $475 three years ago as the top five producers more than doubled output….the industry next year will produce 28 percent more of the raw material than will be consumed …… Polysilicon accounts for a quarter of the cost of a finished solar panel.”

    A major reason for this glut arising was that global growth in demand for solar panels has fallen considerably, as solar subsidies have been cut by many governments (the photovoltaic industry consumes 90% of the supply of polysilicon).

    Given the huge recent increase in polysilicon production, this artificial reduction in price levels will continue for a while, but the laws of supply and demand have not yet been repealed. As the unsustainable subsidies that have largely driven the solar panel industry continue to be reduced, and the polysilicon glut is unwound, this particular current driver of price reductions will vanish. To attempt to draw conclusions from it about the accuracy of 2025 price forecasts is delusional.

    If there is in fact a “huge difference in outlook between conventional engineers and renewables engineers”, it seems less likely that it results from stupid conservatism on the part of conventional engineers, than from cowboyism on the part of renewables engineers who have been used to living off subsidies and assuming that the public teat would always be there for them. As Bloomberg puts it, “the solar PV market has reached a point where some illusions are meeting reality.”

  39. Anyone like to comment on Europe’ financial situation and implications for carbon trading?

    Recently the European carbon price has been at three year lows, a tad over 9 Euros/tonne. There is now a respectable forecast that in 2012 it will be round 5 Euros, with a floor as low as 3. And that the glut of permit supply which underlies this price level will prevail till 2025 (sic).

    So Australia could have a carbon price next year of over 4 times the European price (and the European carbon market is the only even approximation to a functioning large scale carbon market in the world, so if anything is a “real”market price for carbon it provides it). A situation which will not be materially altered when the Australia tax becomes an ETS, since there will be a regulated floor permit price rendering the market even more artificial than would be anyway.

    But everyone’s out of step except our Julia and Bob I guess.

  40. Jumpy @58:
    Q1: Air at atmospheric density and 20 deg C has a density of 1.2 kg/m3. Water 1000 kg/m3.
    Q2: As a rough approximation energy/m3 is proportional to velocity squared and density.
    Q3: This question is meaningless. What needs to be compared is cost and reliability for specific locations. You also need to compare predictability. Tides are reasonably predictable (levels reached may vary with wind speed and direction.) Wind can be very unpredictable for some locations/times of the year. For example, a big high in the bight can sit there for days causing low wind speeds over SA and Vic.
    Q4: For what it is worth Willy’s weather had wind speeds ranging from 4 to 27 km/hr over the next 10 days, Newman 10 to 36 and Pt Hedland 27 to 43. The window calc was simply a very preliminary calc to see if the idea was crazy. (It was not) It would take more work than i am able or willing to do to to reach any final conclusion.

  41. John D

    Thank,I do appreciate your reply and will have a dig into it tomorrow.
    But your answer to Q4, I would have thought observed wind readings would be of more use than predictions.
    Thanks anyway.

  42. The probem Wozza is that the cap in the European system is too high. It was designed so as not to upset business. The Australian cap is also too high, but simply not as permissive as the European one.

    The community cost of CO2e emissions has been estimated as probably in the range of $80-$150tCO2e (and that doesn’t count incidentals) so clearly, what we have is a serious market failure.

    So yes, everyone is out of step, though some much more so than others. I’d say Bob would be OK with $100tCO2e so perhaps he isn’t.

  43. John D, it would seem to be a case of buyer beware in relation to a specific location. One would hope that vendors had helpful information to advise prospective purchasers of the efficacy in their particular circumstances.

  44. John D

    It is all in

    ” Also keep in mind that the air doesn’t have to get as cold as the collecting surface for efficient recovery of water. In places like Alice the amount of cooling required at night would be lower since the temp will have been rising before 9 AM. The actual temperature averages for the Alice springs June case were 11.5 deg C dry bulb and a dew point of 3.5 deg C”

    The reality is that the water will not transfer usnless the air temperature is reduced to the dew point or lower. So you do infact have to reduce the full body of air to the dew point, in your example that amounts to 8 degrees C. Just bringing air near to a “collecting surface” does not do it unless there is something very different about the surface, as in the case of the beetle. But even the beetle required the presence of saturated (fog) air. The use of a dessicant to absorb moisture requires a cyclic process as the moisture needs to be forced out of the desicant in order to be “collected”. This requires energy, but would frame a working process that may require several days to complete ie absorb moisture form cooler night air into a desicant mass – use the heat of the day to force the moisture out of the desicant into a large chamber replacing air with water vapour – use the cooler air of he following night to condense the moisture vapour into water while the dry desicant is being reloaded from the night air. Or you could short circuit the process using stored daytime heat to dry the desicant in a continuous process through the early morning.

    I wonder if anyone has done experiments to see if covering a body of water with a plastic sheet to reduce evaporation would provide any benefit. I can imagine a bunch of negatives, but would there be any positives? Then the issue becomes efficient use of the water that you have rather than having to continuously source fresh supplies.

  45. Wozza @59 you sound petulant and grizzly that a combination of market forces and subsidies has produced exactly the outcome it was supposed to, dramatically reduce the price of solar power.

    The withdrawal of subsidies will produce another round of innovations such as UMG silicon and microwave plasma discharge, as companies desperately try to stay in business, driving costs down further.

    Have you got a problem with that?

  46. Wozza,

    Your selective quoting from the article makes it sound like the the current polysilicon price is unsustainable. But the article also says that:

    Polysilicon has been used as a semiconductor in computer microchips for decades. Supplies only became scarce from 2004, when European nations began introducing subsidies for clean energy. The price soared to $475 in March 2008 from about $30 in 2003. New capacity began to come on stream in 2008.


    Spot prices will fall into the $20s from about $33 today and are likely to stabilize at around $30 once a shake-out reduces oversupply after 2012

    That suggests to me that the current price is sustainable in the long run and that the current glut is not substantially suppressing prices. The industry has scaled up substantially with no increase in production cost. Whether it will see a substantial decrease in production cost (as I would expect), only time will tell.

  47. Wozza,

    The original point I was making was predicated on the idea that the economics of PV probably relate as much to economics in the IT/electronics sector as those in the power sector. If a consultant forecast that computer prices would come down around 20% in the next 20 years, he would be ridiculed. But that is what mainstream forecasts are saying for PV prices.

    My hypothesis is that this is because the forecasts are being made by electrical engineers and not by electronic engineers.

    In that respect, perhaps, PV is a special case. Others forms of low-carbon generation (wind, nuclear, solar thermal, CCS) owe much more to conventional engineering and so expectations of dramatic price falls might be over-optimistic in those cases.

  48. Flannery has hit back at the “hate media” and forced a retraction of the defamatory remarks made by Ray Hadley and the Murdochracy over the site of his home.

    An explanatory letter reads in part:

    The experience has taught me several things about the hate media in Australia. First, as they seek to slur those they hate, they do not hesitate to manufacture a story if one does not exist. Second, as the story is picked up by other opinionists, they are prone to weave ever more scandalous fictional tidbits from the blogosphere into the story. Third, in their efforts to obtain an interview some journalists will lie and ignore the truth when it’s inconvenient to them.

    Perhaps most dismayingly, the Australian has chosen, to its eternal discredit, to publish such detritus. If even our national newspaper can’t keep its nose clean, strict rules around media misconduct can’t come soon enough.

  49. Quokka, Monbiot’s article is characteristically misleading probably through selective quotation. Caesium as the main isotope contributing to long term low dose exposure, IS implicated in radiation induced cardiopathies. There is no doubt that cardiopathy occurs after high doses, it is one of the known side-effects of radiotherapy and you know that the subject of cardiopathy resulting from lower levels of exposure is the subject of ongoing research because I’ve linked to news reports about EU funded low dose radiation research. A lot of evidence of excess cardiopathies was collated in the affected areas around Chernobyl and published by Bandazhevsky and this work was to be further investigated through the ACRO initiatives.

    When Niwa says that Busby’s faith is baseless, he is not saying that Calcium and Magnesium compounds are not radioprotective, or if he is he is incorrect, the FDA has approved Calcium_DPTA for assisting with clearing Plutonium, Americium and Curium from the body. Magnesium Chloride binds to ATP and is a known radioprotectant. Whatever Niwa meant, I doubt he meant that Busby (who does seem to me to be a bit fringe) was flogging supplements that do not have a radioprotective effect as this is not correct.

    The disposal of radioactive soil outside of Fukushima prefecture has already occurred (in Saitama), and the idea that radioactive waste would be burned in locations outside of Fukushima was floated early on but Busby’s conspiracy theory is distasteful to say the least.

  50. Fran @69

    I’m sure you wouldn’t have taken it upon yourself to revise Wiki on the basis of a comment on a partisan blog, so you have seen the text of the apology. In which case you will know that the only thing apologised for was the suggestion that Flannery had intentionally “ frightened elderly owners to sell coastal properties to climate change proponents”. At least as I have seen it, it did not retract allegations of the essential hypocrisy in Flannery’s coastal property buying habits, apologise for making public details of the property, or back away from anything else in the article other than this one phrase.

    Furthermore it was not “the Australian” that made the apology; it was issued by and in the name of the Weekend Australian. You may regard that as splitting hairs, but they are formally separate entities, and it behoves those that go around with law suits to beat others into submission over alleged factual errors to ensure that they themselves are strictly factual.

    Flannery’s triumphalism seems a little misplaced to me.

    Flannery is a media tart if ever there was one. He has not hesitated on many occasions when it suited to employ wild exaggerations to make his own media points (wasn’t Perth supposed to have been abandoned to the desert by now in one famous remark?) For him to get up in arms about others doing the same was a bit rich, and his apparent exaggeration of the extent of the apology doesn’t suggest he is learning any lessons.

    I particularly liked his playing the victim card in spades by coupling Hadley’s interview with the entirely irrelevant “just six days after a right-wing Norwegian terrorist killed seventy-six people”. This from a man who apparently barged onto someone else’s property to browbeat its owner for the temerity of speaking on Hadley’s show. If we are to consider the risks of violence as relevant, does that I wonder say anything about whether it is more likely that Flannery would the victim or the perpetrator​?

  51. #70 su,

    There is no contamination of any consequence at all with TRUs at Fukushima. Flogging calcium pills is just intended to create fear and hysteria (and that’s the most generous interpretation that can be put on it). They are USELESS.

  52. SG and I&U, yes of course that we shall have to see where solar panel prices land in the next few years. And I certainly am not disagreeing that a continuing fall in prices could only be beneficial.

    But I’m afraid I&U that, if you make a comment explicitly predicated on a a recent 12 month fall in prices, you cannot just blithely dismiss the clear cause of that particular fall with “oh, never mind that, the current price is sustainable in the long run”. Perhaps it will be, but it is not intuitively obvious that we know it is so right now.

    And SG’s “The withdrawal of subsidies will produce another round of innovations such as UMG silicon and microwave plasma discharge” is interesting too. At best this is another wait and see; it sounds more like hopeful expectation of yet another deus ex machina for renewables to me, and not many of those have worked out in the past. Besides, I thought the point of subsidies was to drive innovation? At least that’s what Bobby and Julia say about the CEFC. Now it turns out that it is the lack of subsidies that drives innovation.

    Well I don’t actually disagree with that, but I doubt that the CEFC will be canned, more’s the pity.

  53. Fran @63

    Point taken. There are some massive assumptions in your estimation of the “community cost” of CO2 emissions, which it won’t surprise you that I don’t accept, but that the EU price is almost certainly out of line one way or another, given the artificiality of its “market”, is clearly true.

    My intended point, which I should no doubt have made explicit, was about the assumptions in the modeling of the Australian tax/ETS of a functioning global carbon trading system (or, if you insist, an effective global carbon price, as current revisionism is putting it, though that was not as it was originally put in the admittedly very restricted information on the modeling the government has deigned to release). These assumptions were always very dodgy. What is happening in European carbon markets makes them dodgier still. Will it cause a re-modeling of the impact of the Australian carbon price on the economy and consumers I wonder?

    Actually I don’t. It would be a miracle if this government were ever as transparent as that about its scheme.

  54. I don’t know what “of any consequence” means but TRUs have been detected (they have only tested for Pu outside of the Fukushima complex) up to 79 km away, though at low levels, on the other hand Strontium has been found at very high levels in the same regions- up to 22 000 Bq/kg. Bioaccumulation is the problem if one was to live within this region on a long term basis, it would seem to be prudent to take safe dietary measures (including the avoidance of certain foods but also supplementation) against Sr and Cs in particular. Is it your opinion that residents should do nothing of that nature? The government has already failed to ensure that evacuees took Potassium Iodide – that has been widely reported, and was footnoted in the report from the Atomic Scientists linked in R. Merkel’s last post on Fukushima, but link available on request.

  55. jumpy: You need more than just an ocean to have efficient tidal power generation. Wave energy is fairly inefficient and unproven, tidal is a bit better off. Unfortunately the biggest sources of tidal energy for Australia are located up on the north of WA, well away from the major population centres (I think that I’ve linked to the Geoscience Australia site on this before, but here it is again).

    Barrage-type tide energy systems generally require macro-tide ranges (greater than 4m), which are restricted to the broad northern shelf of Australia; from Port Hedland northwards to Darwin and the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Other types of tidal energy converters (tidal turbines) harness the kinetic component of tide energy. They are suitable for installation on the continental shelf, and while they do not necessarily require highly-specific coastal configurations they can be deployed in locations where local coastal configurations result in increased tidal flows.
    The regions of shelf that have the largest kinetic energy densities are the North West Shelf and the southern shelf of the Great Barrier Reef, with large areas having densities of more than 100 Joules per cubic metre (J/m3). Darwin, Bass Strait and Torres Strait have localised areas with similar energy densities, despite more modest tide ranges.

    The other issue regarding tidal vs wind is maintenance costs and interactions with other land uses. Tidal barrages are usually subject to a huge NIMBY response, while offshore tidal stations would have to be built in regions of the ocean well away from shipping routes, if they were floating. If they are fixed on the seafloor then maintenance costs become an issue.

    So sure, an ocean current can carry much more energy than wind in theory, but its the cost per joule which counts for energy generation. I imagine that’s why it’s not been seriously raised here. You might like to look at the proposals to put tidal generators in Cook Strait in NZ though – there’s a company installing a pilot project in the Kaipara Rip.

  56. Sorry, I meant the Karori Rip, not the Kaipara Rip. There’s a plan for a barrage in the Kaipara Harbour too though, although that seems to be stuck in NIMBY-land for the time being.

  57. Wozza said:

    I’m sure you wouldn’t have taken it upon yourself to revise Wiki on the basis of a comment on a partisan blog, so you have seen the text of the apology.

    I have, typo and all. And the “comment” was Flannery’s letter.

    At least as I have seen it, it did not retract allegations of the essential hypocrisy in Flannery’s coastal property buying habits, apologise for making public details of the property, or back away from anything else in the article other than this one phrase.

    That’s true, but as the claim (about SLA) is a factual matter the Murdochracy stands condemned. Flannery’s property is situated more than 1.1 metres above sea level which, on the projections he takes as plausible, puts it above the level of the more pessimistic projections for 2100. The acceptance by the Murdochracy that their remarks on land dealing were wrong is a mealy-mouthed way of conceding this.

    Furthermore it was not “the Australian” that made the apology; it was issued by and in the name of the Weekend Australian. You may regard that as splitting hairs

    Yes indeed. They are part of the one corporate entity, have the same lawyers and the group is entirely liable for the damages paid to Flannery.

    it behoves those that go around with law suits to beat others into submission over alleged factual errors to ensure that they themselves are strictly factual.

    What arcane and internal separations exist within the Murdochracy are of no interest to me at all. If there is a useful distinction to be made between the two heads of this many headed hydra then let’s have it. Whatever it may be it is scarcely comparable to the egregious, abusive and longstanding campaign that the Murdochracy has run against climate science, evidence-based policy and those associated with it. As their poor patsy “Dave” said, they were motivated by animus towards Flannery.

    He has not hesitated on many occasions when it suited to employ wild exaggerations to make his own media points (wasn’t Perth supposed to have been abandoned to the desert by now in one famous remark?)

    No, but I’m glad you raise that because this was another notorious Murdochratic-led strawman claim aimed at subverting rational public policy.

    I particularly liked his playing the victim card in spades by coupling Hadley’s interview with the entirely irrelevant “just six days after a right-wing Norwegian terrorist killed seventy-six people”.

    He was entitled to feel for his security. We had just had Schellnhuber out here at a public meeting where a member of the audience held up a noose. We have had repeated death threats to climate scientists here and abroad. Now, Hadley was focusibng the venom of a putative lynch mob on Flannery’s personal property and accusing him or seeking to exploit the fears of elderly landholders.

    This from a man who apparently barged onto someone else’s property to browbeat its owner for the temerity of speaking on Hadley’s show.

    Neither you nor I know how he entered “Dave’s” property. They are neighbours after all. I don’t await an invitation to visit my neighbours if there is reason to do so, and I wouldn’t call that barging in. “Dave” is an employee of Hadley and one may infer that he was pressured by Hadley to co-operate. It was Hadley who was the likely bully here, with “dave” as the pathetic catspaw.

    If we are to consider the risks of violence as relevant, does that I wonder say anything about whether it is more likely that Flannery would the victim or the perpetrator?

    Simply scurrilous. I’m not a fan of Flannery but if Dave had felt in any way threatened by Flannery he might have complained to the police. He didn’t. Flannery has never been charged with a crime and seems an entirely amiable fellow. Comparing him with a mass-murdering r@cist anti-left|st killer in order to make some sort of trolling anti-climate change action point is outrageous. You should withdraw this remark immediately, IMO. It’s not the least bit clever or funny, and recalls the approach of Glenn Beck in the US — I’m not saying that … {fill in scurrilous claim about some Beck hate figure}

    It seems as if this policy area is playing with whatever sense you have left.

  58. Wozza, the reason you don’t accept Fran’s assumptions is because you don’t really accept that climate change will be massively destructive of agriculture and, even more worryingly, the environmental services we depend on for the air we breathe and the water we drink. This is what primarily differentiates you from the reality-based community.

    I agree with you that the European carbon market is dodgy, and ours probably won’t be much better. The most effective driver of innovation has always been government regulation rather than market forces, demonstrated by the fact that Europe cleaned the sulphates out of their emissions much earlier than the US. My personal preference would be for a carbon price starting about where ours is, but ramping up fast to ~$100/tonne. This would drive innovation, and also give business the certainty it claims to crave.

  59. Mext testing Quokka, it will be on their site. News item here. I’m the very soul of brevity, Quokka, and eschew the “it’s CAPITALS!!!” style of argument you seem to prefer. ; )

  60. Wozza,

    It was not my contention that the current price of polysilicon has long-run sustainability, but that the article that you linked to implied that this was the case (since the article noted that it had been $30 in the past, was $30 currently and was expected to be $30 again in the future). The article implies that it was the $475 price that was atypical, not the $30 price.

    If the 20% price fall in the past year was plainly and predictably due to the ending of the shortage of polysilicon (as you contend), then that should also have been plain to Acil Tasman and EPRI last year. That they did not forecast that sudden drop suggests either that they expected the price of polysilicon to remain at $400 in the long-term (unlikely) or that they didn’t have a clue and simply and stupidly applied a “1% price reduction per year” rule of thumb to last year’s prices (likely).

    The conventional engineers being wrong does not make the renewables engineers right. And of course, the latter are obviously conflicted and talking their book. But I would still lend more weight to the informed than to the ignorant.

  61. su the FDA website on calcium_DPTA states it’s an injection or nebulized product, “calcium trisodium.” At “detox4u” Busby is selling pills of calcium lactate. I don’t think what he’s selling is going to meet FDA standards.

    At his site, Busby is claiming that many areas of Japan have agreed to the shipping of radioactive debris (hoshano osen gareki). This directly contradicts what the government officials have told Monbiot and McCurry, and I suspect Busby is presenting a list of towns that have offered to take non-radioactive debris from tsunami-affected areas. As far as I can tell the call for prefectures to take (non-radioactive) tsunami debris was issued in October, so I rather doubt that they’ve even got a complete list yet. I bet this list is just nuisance stuff compiled from the names of cities throughout Japan that responded to that call. The list, incidentally, is floating around Japanese websites that specialize in this sort of rumour.

    He’s a fraud and a liar, and his suggestion that the government is dumping waste around Japan to hide the exposure in Fukushima is really nasty.

  62. just to follow up, quokka and su, I posted up here the other day a link to a news article about whole body counts of children in Minami soma city, which showed that 6 of 3000 had been exposed to cesium above 20 bq/kg. There is really very little evidence of internal exposure in populations around Fukushima.

  63. It is a synthetic form that greatly enhances the clearance of the isotopes Sg, but the principle is the same and dietary Calcium and Magnesium will have the same effect but with far less efficiency and obviously greater ease of administration. Oral calcium supplements were used by doctors after Chernobyl. Dietary flavinoids containing magesium are known to help displace strontium. When growing crops the application of lime based fertilizers will minimize uptake of strontium, this is simple displacement and is absolutely established science, not fraudulent or marginal in any way.

    Yes, there is evidence of internal contamination even though only 3000 children from a region that is not in the most contaminated zone to the northwest of the plant have so far been officially tested for one particular isotope and the results publicized. The question is what do you suggest be done, why is “do nothing” the default answer –this I really don’t understand.

    Is it acceptable to just continue to accept the official line that none of this contamination will affect health at all, even though thyroid abnormalities have already been detected and for other kinds of health effects the proposition of nil effect is highly contested. Low levels of exposure are already implicated in health effects hence all the research being done to clarify this. The claim that all contamination, even the very high levels surpassing those in evacuation zones around Chernobyl will have zero impact on health is obviously just a media strategy, not in any way a guarantee. I understand they have already given some dietary guidelines about avoiding ingestion– avoid berries and mushrooms etc? Supplementation is also protective, so, ignoring the involvement of Busby for a moment, why deny it or oppose supplementation? It is safe, easy and if anything would ease not worsen any psychological consequences of living in the affected regions.

  64. “You would introduce substantially more radioactivity by laying a banana in every sq m of Fukushima.”

    Potassium-40 and carbon-14. Big deal, quokka.

  65. Oh I see you think we are only talking about plutonium, well Calcium and Magnesium will displace Strontium, is that clearer? You know that trick of switching from discussion of particular elements to radiation in general is wearing really thin, and the Banana Equivalent Dose in particular is just absurd and scientifically inaccurate as the US EPA pointed out so really, don’t waste my time.

  66. #89,

    YOU were the one making claims about TRU contamination, waved your hands around about MEXT data but could not be bothered to find a reference. I provided the reference that clearly shows no measured contamination of any concern. Unless you can provide any other credible data, I should not expect to see further attempts to create unwarranted fear about Pu or any other TRUs at Fukushima. People selling pills for this are frauds.

  67. I provided a link to a news article on the Mext data which had all of the measurements of Pu and Sr including the one you cited in the text. Oral Calcium and Magnesium can be used to displace both of these elements after ingestion. The only mention I made of Plutonium was to point out the measured quantities were low. My point was that contrary to Monbiot’s clear implication, such supplementation is proven to displace those elements, though not 100% obviously. Now, would you like to insult me further, demand some more links, accuse me of making claims I haven’t or generally beat your chest and rush around the underbrush any further?

  68. #88 nick

    Potassium-40 and carbon-14. Big deal, quokka.

    You will no doubt be so kind as to explain the fundamental difference between radio K and radio Cs (the main contaminant in this accident)?

    Both are beta and gamma emitters either directly or via short lived decay products.

  69. Well the risk coefficient for Cs-137 is higher and in addition the US EPA has this to say about 40-K ingested alongside elevated K intake overall (as would happen should you suddenly decide to go on a banana bender):

    For radioisotopes of elements which are under tight homeostatic control by the human body, the inhalation or ingestion risk coefficients given in this document may not be appropriate for application to certain exposure scenarios. For example the ingestion risk coefficient for 40-K would not be applicable to ingestion of 40-K in conjunction with elevated intake of natural Potassium. This is because the biokinetic model for Potassium used in this document reflects the relatively slow removal of Potassium (biological half-time of 30d ) that is estimated to occur for typical intakes of Potassium, whereas an elevated intake of Potassium would result in the excretion of an almost equal mass of natural potassium, and hence of 40-K, over a short period.

  70. This EPA report from 1979 put worldwide Carbon-14 risk at 146 fatal cancers per 10^6 Man-Rems (or 100,000 Man-Sv).

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but that would mean if 1000 people were internally exposed to 100 Sv, 146 of them would be expected to develop fatal cancer, yes?

    That’s the linear no-threshold derived risk equivalent of smoking 30 cigarettes a day for 1000 years.

  71. su, the use you’re suggesting for oral calcium is “off-label” and not approved by the FDA. The only calcium treatment they approve is injected or nebulized calcium. This <a=";US Govt website makes this fairly clear: large amounts of oral calcium “should” be beneficial but the FDA doesn’t approve it.

    I don’t think “nothing” should be done; I think the things what needs to be done is food control. Why is it that people living in a contaminated area don’t have internal exposure? Because they are not eating food or drinking water from the contaminated area. They have been tested for exposure and they certainly don’t need to be paying Busby’s charity for this service, or for fake pills that aren’t going to work.

    It would also help if you stopped throwing around the namie 22,000 figure as if it were a meaningful indicator of contamination in the area. It’s not. Some perspective, please.

  72. Jess@76

    I think we have had this misunderstanding before,to clarify , I am not talking about barrages, i’m looking at open sea current that is tidal.

    I know these are company promos, but i use them to illustrate,see the “Davidson-Hill venturi turbine,(*)
    Or, from my link on GCCA awards @57

    (*) also answered my questions @58,

    “””For example, an 8 knot tidal current has more energy than a 380km per hour wind.”””

  73. #93 su,

    the risk coefficient for Cs-137 is higher [than for K-40]

    The risk coefficients according to Argonne National Labs are as follows:

    Cs-134: 1.1e-11; 3.5e-11
    Cs-137: 8.1e-12; 2.5e-11
    K-40: 2.1e-10; 2.2e-11
    Pu239: 2.9e-8; 1.3e-10
    Sr-90: 1.1e-10; 7.5e-11

    Figures represent the lifetime risk of contracting a fatal cancer per pico Curie. The first figure is for inhalation and the second is for ingestion.

    Your claim appears to be incorrect.

  74. Jess, buy one of these for me and we can share 🙂

    But i found a snippet on Kiapara,
    “”””New Zealand, rarely quoted in tidal stream energy reports, has a number of potential tidal and wave energy sites, according to Douglas-Westwood’s analysis – which suggests there may be 14 marine energy projects under development. Suitable locations include the areas between the two main islands such as in the Marlborough Sounds (South Island), and Kaipara harbour at Auckland (North Island). It reports plans for a 200 turbine tidal energy project off Kaipara. “””

  75. Jess thank you for that (@ 100). If even half of what Monbiot says is correct (as you know I am no fan of his work, but the amount of apparently factual detail he includes is pretty convincing to me) this is an extraordinary performance by Busby, and he ought to be drummed out of, well anything of repute that he is currently involved with. Which doesn’t sound to be much.

    Just as an idle query, though (I’m sure you know I wouldn’t content myself with thanks, however sincere, and no dig?), do you think there is a little bit of Busby, along the lines of Monbiot’s “we will believe any old cobblers if it confirms our prejudices”, in some other environmental debates?

    This comes to mind partly because of what is already being called Climategate II. I make no judgment about the actual content of the leaks at this early stage – though some quotes I have seen don’t look too good for intent to comply with, or actually to evade, FOI requirements, and Mann’s temperature reconstructions – but I am surprised it has not rated a mention here at all though there is an open change thread. Other blogs have screeds.

    A little touch of fingers in the ears, we’d prefer not to engage it might not be helpful to our prejudices?

    Fran I haven’t forgotten you but I have been hours in moderation and still counting.

  76. Quokka, the EPA figures for ingestion of 40-K are 1.77 E -10 for mortality and 2.78 E -10 for morbidity, and for Ingestion of Cs-137 2.19 E -10 and 3.21 E-10 (per Bq) EPA pdf but I see now this is just for the fast particles, so my mistake there.

    Sg, when you say, ” Why is it that people living in a contaminated area don’t have internal exposure? Because they are not eating food or drinking water from the contaminated area. They have been tested for exposure.”

    Well some people do have internal exposure, your link to the only publicized testing (not the only testing , just the only set of results that appear to have been reported in the media) of children from one town which only measured Cs not Sr nor any other element, demonstrates this. That is apart from the thousands of workers at Fukushima, presumably there are protocols in place to deal with their internal exposure though I haven’t read anything, perhaps there has been something in the Japanese language news?

    I wasn’t relying on FDA information sg – there are a lot of publications about dietary calcium and magnesium including supplements with calcium alginate, calcium gluconate, and their use in the prevention of uptake of radiostrontium. If you look at general medical warnings you will also find that there is a warning for people who are taking both calcium and strontium tablets as the former interferes with the uptake of the latter, and as I mentioned supplements were used after Chernobyl. I will look up some links if would like. I am very wary of Busby, I don’t disagree with you there, but my point (to be repetitive) was that Monbiot is just simply wrong on dietary calcium and magnesium (whether through food or supplements) being useless in radioprotection, far from being useless this is established, completely uncontroversial knowledge. Low levels of Calcium and magnesium for instance increase your sensitivity to Sr etc. This stuff has been known since the sixties.

    You’ll have to fill me in on the difference between quoting a figure that was being studiously ignored, and is certainly representative of that hotspot and “throwing around a figure”. The only other reason for Monbiot’s implication (assuming he know anything about this which I seriously doubt) would be that it is useless because there is NO contamination of Sr, Pu etc. That was my purpose in posting the figure. We know that it is quite high in some areas, we also know that testing has hardly been exhaustive – they only released those figures in September, the testing was done in July.

    It’s not tangential, Jess, Quokka linked to Monbiot’s piece upthread, which was why I got into the whole Ca/Mg thing.

  77. Wozza, what Hadley and Higgins did to Flannery was unconscionable and Flannery has every right to reveal to others how the game is played. I don’t see what he did as triumphalism in tone or in fact.

    If Flannery’s property is more than 1.1m above sea level it is highly unlikely to be inundated in his lifetime. If he wants to buy a property close to the water he is perfectly entitled to. It’s in no way hypocritical.

    Flannery is having to consider personal security in real time. If the Norwegian incident reminds him of the fragility of life even when in a situation that appears safe and secure I don’t think it’s appropriate for any of us to criticise him for that.

    I thought Fran’s comment @ 69 was fair enough. I agree with the responses Fran made @ 79 to your comment @ 71. I thought your suggestion that Flannery may incline to violence was unacceptable.

  78. Wozza @ 100, you can keep counting. There are limits to how personal and how hostile you can be on this blog.

  79. Apparently Brian, Hadley has spat the dummy over Flannery’s account of events around this matter and is denying Flannery’s account of “Dave’s” motivation. He has hauled Dave, apparently his car detailer, back onto the show to support his (i.e Hadley’s) version of their on-air dealing.

    So let’s see … I can choose to believe an impressively educated man who has published over 90 scientific papers and has a responsible job with the government, and who knows full well that any minor misrepresenttation would be seized upon by hordes of flying monkeys led by those Flannery describes as “the hate media” or I can believe some car detailer and his customer, a radio mouth-for-hire with a nasty temper who clearly misrepresented the impressively educated man out of malice towards his role in public policy and possibly jealousy at his intellectual accomplishments.

    Gosh … tough gig. Whom to trust?

    If the media don’t have a field day with this, then, we will see which bias they have.

    Milne and “Boone” comments I await .

  81. Brian @ 103

    Thank you. If you want to moderate me out of the conversation, so that I cannot reply to personal attacks – let alone mere lack of logic – from another commenter, that is your privilege. No problems. At least everyone knows you have done it.

    Fran @ 105: You can joyfully chortle callooh callay, oh frabjous day, if you wish, since you are secure in the knowledge that I cannot respond. This does not mean that your argument is either evidentially or logically based, merely that it is by force of circumstance practically incontestable.

  82. jumpy @ 105, thanks for the link. I’ve been working on some stuff unrelated to climate change and wasn’t aware of this development.

    @ 107, we’ll see how it plays out, but I’m going to try to avoid being sucked in. Got real stuff to think about.

  83. Maybe Brian could do as all a favour and moderate Wozza out of the conversation on a permanent basis. Imagine what it would do to his highly developed sense of persecution.

  84. Jumpy

    Andrew Mountford (Bishop Hill) is pretty good on this sort of thing. He is already onto his fifth thread – this is the latest, scroll down for the others.

    Even Catallaxy is up to 240 -odd comments on its Climategate thread, having started early this morning.

    Don’t mention the war here though if you wish to keep commenting undisturbed.

    Adrian @ 110. I would have no problem with that. It would make it quite explicit where this blog stands on hearing evidence it doesn’t like. And since by creeping ad hoc action it is already well on the way to implementing a no dissenters policy, and is understood as such in most other Australian blogs covering the territory, explicitness is probably not a real issue.

  85. For context. The second set of 5,000 emails were from the original hack. They were chosen by keyword searches and there are 200,000 altogether, so the releasers claim.

    I am cc’d on one that I know of (2003). It’s an enquiry from a colleague on Great Barrier Reef research.

    They are unlikely to uncover anything new. This is more fog, strategically released before Durban.


  86. Apparently Roger, the flying monkeys are making much of the phrase “the cause” in a couple of emails. It seems that this points to deep dark conspiracy to do bad illuminati stuff.

    Well that blows the lid off the whole thing, whatever the thing is and whatever lid was in place, AFAIC.

    Wozza …

    Whatever your moderated posts amounted to, on the showing above, it’s hard to believe they could have had any ‘evidence’ in them. I believe in free speech — but on a blog where adults are trying to talk, I’d say free screech should be kept to a dull roar. Over at Catalepsy, free screech is most of what they do. If anything approaching sense or salient evidence appears, it is set upon by bands of abusive thugs whose appearance at least has the merit of allowing you to notice that hitherto folks had been indulging in quasi-adolescent snickering.

  87. So there are 200,000 e-mails released 24 hours ago, and Roger is confident already that it is all “fog” and unlikely to uncover anything new.

    Frankly Roger this says a lot about you and how you approach new material, and very little about the specific material involved, unless you are a very speedy reader.

    I’m sure you have the outline of the team’s defence right though. It’s more or less the Climategate I defence; the question is whether it can continue to hold with so much more material available. it almost didn’t last time, even with a much more compliant media than is likely to be the case two years and changing public opinion down the track.

    Interesting times.

  88. Oh, for heaven’s sake Fran, you have been shown to be a protected species. Gloating is not really very seemly, unless you are conceding that you cannot argue without protection.

    Brian could always release what he has ruled out, but until he does, a little less triumphism about the self-assessed strength of your arguments would be in order. You could always ask him to do so of course if you are so confident……..

  89. Whatever happens, Wozza’s highly developed, but totally misguided sense of persecution will remain undiminished.

    Me, I’m over every friggin’ climate change thread reduced to arguing with an ignorant bore.

  90. Look Wozza,

    I’ve been avoiding saying this in public, but I know a lot of these people and their individual foibles. More than one I have not bothered to introduce myself to because I admire their science but am put off by their behaviour in public (workshop, conferences).

    Petulant, immature people can do good science. Get over it.

  91. Jess, that link about Busby is disturbing.

    su, I haven’t been looking for anything in the media about how workers at Fukushima are handling radiation exposure, and I don’t know if I could read it if I found it (that stuff is nastily technical). I know some people involved in the testing and the medical response to the tsunami and I really don’t get the impression that there’s anything untoward going on there. It’s all driven by medical staff with an interest in the health of the people they’re dealing with and really, these people are working very hard to protect the health of the people in the area.

    The internal exposure results I’ve seen published in Japanese media are completely different to those from Chernobyl, so it’s clear that even people living very close to the plant are in a completely different risk profile than Chernobyl. This is either due to control over their food, or due to reduced environmental exposure. I think it’s the former, and I think this tells us that the experience of Chernobyl is not going to be repeated in liberal democracies, even where their governance is as shoddy as we’ve seen in the Japanese nuclear industry. It’s a very simple outcome: people don’t eat or drink local products, and the government is forced to test them for radiation content.

    As for whether Busby’s pills are snakeoil: the FDA doesn’t put much stock in the publications you mention, and neither do the scientists Monbiot quoted. I think this might be because they require a higher standard of evidence. The FDA is very clear about what products it recommends for radiation response and calcium pills are not one of them. Don’t you think there might be some validity in their recommendations?

  92. The Bishop Hill blogger quotes Ross McKitrick approvingly, I see, which puts him firmly in the anti-AGW thinktank camp.

  93. quokka: sorry for stealing your linkage – I didn’t see your link upthread! It’s a good piece by Monbiot – better than reading it in the dead tree version cause you can follow the links.

    Wozza: I agree that members of all sides of any debate can put their fingers in their ears, but anyone ignoring the evidence should be called out on it.

    That said I would argue that there is a significant amount of evidence for a changing climate (that has been endlessly rehashed over and over again on these threads), not to mention a hundred years of physical understanding that involves some pretty strong sound-proofing to ignore.

    jumpy: Tidal barrages are the most well-proved ocean energy source at the moment. But if you’re interested in currents then you still have the problem that the most useable ones in Australia are also the furtherest from where we need the power.

    Further to my post upthread, the Karori Rip in Cook Strait is a M2 (diurnal lunar tide) generated ocean current – in fact the lunar tide cycles around New Zealand in such a way that there is a high tide on one end of the strait and a low tide on the other, which generates the enormous flows through the strait. NIWA has an animation of the tide propagating around NZ here.

    I think the only other place where this occurs is Madagascar, and they don’t have a convenient strait to generate these large water flows. So if tidal is going to work, then it will have to work in Cook Strait first. It really is the premium site to try it out, and it will be interesting to see how the proposed projects go (I think they’re meant to be installed in the next year or two).

  94. Jess,

    Tidal power is also ideal for NZ in that it has a hydro-dominant, energy-constrained (rather than capacity-constrained) electricity system. So accommodating the periodicity of tidal power output would not be a problem for the NZ grid, even for a large tidal power station.

  95. It’s probably worth reminding people that tidal power has its own ecological footprint. Inevitably, it will change the biomes in the places connected one way or another to the barrages. This was a serious consideration in the Severn project for example.

    Those environmental costs might well be acceptable on balance, in many places, but it would be wrong to pass over them as if tidal power were a free lunch. It certainly isn’t.

  96. Sg, as to your last paragraph, Calcium lactate is classified Generally Recognized as Safe by the FDA so that it doesn’t need any prior approval for uses other than the everyday. You and Monbiot are just wrong about this being snakeoil, or fake tablets, I couldn’t be more certain, I tried to find a link that would be acceptable, and I think this should be, it is recognized as a definitive text and one of the authors Fred Mettler was part of the Chernobyl Forum, you can see that his views are absolutely mainstream here. The text is available on Google Books, Medical Management of Radiation Accidents, p332, in the Chapter on Investigation and Treatment of Internal Contamination, subsection, blocking and diluting agents:

    Orally administered Calcium Gluconate or Calcium Lactate increases the urinary excretion of radioactive Strontium and Calcium. Intravenous Calcium Gluconate can be used, but should not be given to persons receiving quinidine or digitalis preparations or to persons who have a very slow heart rate.

  97. Jess @124
    “””But if you’re interested in currents then you still have the problem that the most useable ones in Australia are also the furtherest from where we need the power.”””

    I recon we could plug into grid from here,
    “””The head of Broad Sound experiences the greatest tide range on the east coast of Australia – around 9 m “””

    There is a need for electricity there;

  98. jumpy: Fair enough, although what are the current velocities like? If you don’t have a decent constriction then there might not be anything worth tapping.

  99. Jess, i can’t find links to current velocities ( in my area),which is frustrating because i have grown up watching the potential power of it but i can’t find anyone who has bothered to measure it.

    FFS we just had hundreds of scientists, from all over the world, swimming around watching coral spawn!! costing how much?

    I guess the “wind” lobby or “solar PV lobby” or the freakin ” algae ” lobby have more “pull”.

    I’m sorry if anyone senses “tone” from this comment, but it’s like watching hungry people traipsing through vege patch only interested in eating the worms and bees.

  100. Here ya go, Quokka. Let’s agree 1 hour is a reasonable time to have something ingested stay in your system without being flushed out at all, and see how much of each would be required to bring on fairly severe radiation sickness and a 5% chance of death (2 Grays):

    radio K:

    1 Banana = 45 micrograms of Potassium-40
    45 micrograms / 39.96 atomic weight = 1.13 micromoles = 6.7e17 atoms
    Decay per second = 6.7e17 / (half life = 1.2 billion years = 39.38e15 seconds / nat log 2) = 11.79 becquerels
    Decays into Calcium (89%) @ 1311 KeV = 2.10e-13 joules

    2.10e-13 joules per decay * 11.79 becquerels
    = 2.48e-12 joules per second * 3600
    = 8.92e-9 joules per hour

    2 grays * 70kg human = 140 joules

    140 / 8.92e-9

    = 15,695,067,264 bananas

    * 45 micrograms

    = 706 kilograms of pure Potassium-40

    radio Cs:

    45 micrograms of Caesium-137
    45 micrograms / 136.91 atomic weight = 0.33 micromoles = 1.9e17 atoms
    Decay per second = 1.9e17 / (half life = 30.17 years = 9.52e8 seconds / nat log 2) = 138,338,198 becquerels
    Decays into Barium-137m (94.6%) @ 512KeV = 8.20e-14 joules

    8.20e-14 joules per decay * 138,338,198 becquerels
    = 1.13e-5 joules per second * 3600
    = 0.04 joules per hour

    2 grays * 70kg human = 140 joules

    140 / 0.04

    = 3500

    * 45 micrograms

    = 157 milligrams of pure Caesium-137

    The fundamental difference is that bananas are a food source. It is literally impossible to ever consume or be exposed to enough Potassium-40 to bring on any kind of sickness or risk of anything.

    Caesium-137 is a poisonous waste product. A tiny amount of it can kill you, and would much more likely kill an infant. Caesium-137 mimics Potassium in the human body (see its position on the periodic table), but it ain’t Potassium.

    You’ll want to argue that *becquerel for becquerel* though, they’re still the same and your absurd analogy still holds? Hint: I’d start with comparing their relative atomic weights and energies…which one’s radioactivity do you think will be absorbed by the body a heck of a lot more…

  101. Sorry, that was in response to:

    Quokka @ 92: “You will no doubt be so kind as to explain the fundamental difference between radio K and radio Cs (the main contaminant in this accident)?”

  102. @Nick,

    You’ll want to argue that *becquerel for becquerel* though, they’re still the same and your absurd analogy still holds? Hint: I’d start with comparing their relative atomic weights and energies…which one’s radioactivity do you think will be absorbed by the body a heck of a lot more…

    Refer to the ANL Contaminant Fact Sheets, I posted a link to above for the risk coefficients. Go and argue with them.

    A bite from a common brown snake can well be fatal with injection of a couple of mg of venom. Does this make brown snakes 75 times more dangerous than Cs-137? Fukushima residents are about as likely to have an uptake of “157 milligrams of pure Caesium-137” as dying from a brown snake bite.

    Playing this game of toxicity per unit mass is not very honest when there is no chance of any member of the public receiving anything like such a dose. Didn’t happen at Chernobyl and won’t happen at Fukushima.

    It is literally impossible to ever consume or be exposed to enough Potassium-40 to bring on any kind of sickness or risk of anything.

    Which of course MUST lead to the conclusion that LNT does not hold for very, very low radiation dose and that contamination with very small amounts of Cs-137 adjusted by risk coefficient to be comparable to natural K-40 in the body incurs no risk at all. Is this what you are saying? Or is there something magic about Cs-137?

    I’m quite willing to admit that I have no view on the validity of LNT at such low dose, but you, it seems are taking a much stronger position.

  103. Quokka, I answered a direct question from you. I couldn’t less about brown snakes or bananas, or whatever you think they have to do with the effects of nuclear radiation on human populations.

    Regarding Caesium-137, it didn’t happen at Fukushima because something like 80,000 people were evacuated at a cost of many billions of dollars. Please don’t pretend this didn’t occur.

    For real world effects of Caesium-137, see:

    Regarding Potassium-40, substitute ‘no risk of anything’ for about 1 in 20 planets worth of the human population, and you’ll understand what I mean by ‘no risk’

    The problem I have with LNT and its accompanying risk-coefficients is they encourage stupid people to draw stupid conclusions.

    I gave theoretical (and somewhat crude, if essentially accurate) figures for *1 hour* after ingestion. There are 700+ hours in a month – and Caesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years. I can’t remember off-hand, but something like 15% of original dosage remains in the system after 60 days. It shouldn’t tax your imagination or mathematical skills to work out what dosages a Japanese person would be accruing if they were eating rice contaminated in excess of 500Bq of Caesium-137 every day. That’s the level currently being detected in rice grown well outside the 30km exclusion zone in Fukushima.

  104. Potholer also has a good call on the 2nd release of same emails

    In this he points out sceptics, real sceptics, not the mindless devourers of conspiracy theories, would look at the snippets of emails and then look at the entire email in the context it was written. To confirm for themselves the inference being peddled.

    I would also expect to find in those emails purporting to to a global conspiracy actual evidence of the conspiracy. The logistics involved must be .. well not small .. to control governments and all climatologists. To think that this could be pulled off with no co-ordination – well, of course, those people are stupid. I guess peddling these emails does provide a good idiot recognition device (IRD) as in anyone bringing these up as noteworthy is an idiot.

  105. A repeat of the failed Copenhagen summit is likely unless the global north is prepared to take its fair share of CO2 cuts


    Brazil and South Africa say they could accept binding obligations in return for finance. South Africa as conference host is expected to work for Durban’s success, even if that means eroding the group’s solidarity. Pressure is growing for the group to accept obligations identical to those imposed on the north. China and India responded to such pressure in 2009 by voluntarily pledging to reduce the emissions intensity of their GDP by respectively 40-45% and 20-25% by 2020. The emissions savings would be higher than the emissions reductions promised by most northern countries.

    But the global north, responsible for 75% of accumulated CO2 emissions, has made far less substantial pledges than the south, which is least responsible for climate change but whose people are the most at risk. It’s unlikely that India will agree to binding commitments. The issue is a potential deal-breaker.

    Durban and the climate change deniers

    Gosh that sounds familiar …

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