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Friday, October 20, 2017

First the good news; South Korea’s nuclear will stay online thanks, I strongly suspect, in large part to the efforts of Michael Shellenberger and Environmental Progress


Read more at Environmental Progress here.

In a nutshell, by vowing to close all nuclear power stations, a South Korean politician took advantage of the anti-nuclear fear-mongering by environmental groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, the NRDC, and the UCS (to name a few) to get elected. However, the decision to close South Korea's nuclear power stations was turned over to a citizen committee which just voted 60 to 40 in favor of keeping them open.

This is huge. The South Korean company KEPCO (unlike their American counterpart) is at the top of its learning curve when it comes to building nuclear power stations, which means they can build it more cheaply than wind and solar when one accounts for not only the LCOE, but the costs of solar and wind system integration and the impact of sporadic weather dependent gluts on wholesale market power prices.

And more importantly, they have proven themselves fully capable of building it that cheaply for countries like the UAE thousands of miles away.


Wind and solar have a role to play in power grids. Nuclear certainly can’t do it all. Using a Naval task force as an analogy for those of you especially susceptible to feelings of nationalism and for those of you more susceptible to endorphin release from things not powered with fossil fuels, you wouldn’t want to fight the battle against climate change without your nuclear powered aircraft carriers.

More as to why this victory is so important can be found in the following articles:

Is smaller better for nuclear energy?

Michael Shellenberger: Nuclear Industry Must Change — Or Die

Now for the bad news: Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers

More on that later.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Twitter debate, a new oxymoron



As a kid, did you ever play a game where you try to talk with someone while under water? That's what it's like to debate someone on Twitter.

This page serves as a place holder for Disqus comments about Twitter comments.


Twitter is great for disseminating links but was not designed for discussion or debate.


Go to the comments section under this page to join in ...or just lurk.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Trip to the Brazilian Cerrado and Pantanal


I’ll be blogging this week about my trip to the Brazilian Cerrado and Pantanal, where there is still a great deal of biodiversity left, although, how much longer it will be there, I can’t say. There’s an assortment of insects crawling across my computer screen as I type. I’ll be sticking random photos that I’ve taken while here into the posts.

Click on any image to initiate a higher-resolution slideshow.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

More thoughts on the robustness of Mark Jacobson’s 100% renewable energy plan

Figure 1: Trickle-down solar collector test rig

When I first saw the paper critiquing Jacobson's 100% renewables plan (see here, here, here, and here) I thought to myself, “If he denies there are any mistakes but then makes changes, I'll know that the critiques had at least some measure of validity.” Lo and behold, after denying that there were any mistakes, he immediately made revisions to the study.

I also thought, “And if any changes made involve his input assumptions, that would suggest that the study results were likely heavily biased by cherry picked assumptions all along (garbage in = garbage out).”

Why did Mark Jacobson limit his 100% renewable game plan to the expansion of wind and solar?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Greenpeace isn't the only one, the UCS, Sierra Club, FOE, and even the WWF, to name just a few, all share the blame.





Michael Shellenberger is going after Greenpeace in a series of articles exposing their disingenuous anti-nuclear energy activities. More power to him.
  • Climate change isn't a global conspiracy by scientists to solicit research funding.
  • Climate change is the result of mass global deforestation and the combustion of billions of tons of hydrocarbons that have been stored underground for hundreds of millions of years.
  • The oceans are not going to absorb the extra carbon and heat energy forever.
I could be wrong about climate change. You never know. But isn't it about time to stop using coal to make electricity, regardless? Coal was the replacement for wood when parts of Europe ran out of forests to burn. It's old-school, dangerous to mine, environmentally destructive (although less so that burning wood), and filthy. Nuclear has been coal's main competitor for over half-a-century now. It is a much cleaner and environmentally friendly alternative. Maybe we should replace coal plants with nuclear plants and lessen the impact on those who make a living mining coal by facilitating their participation in their construction and operation?

Should we risk trying to decarbonize without help from nuclear, risk the effects of climate change by excluding the world's largest source of proven, scalable, low carbon electricity? Considering that there is no meaningful risk to including nuclear in the energy mix and that the risk of excluding it may be cataclysmic, the answer should be one of those rare no-brainers.

Video of a dragonfly laying eggs

Nature was collapsing all around us long before anyone heard of climate change. Read the latest in a very long line of books about this subject: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Just a few days ago I took the above video of a dragonfly laying eggs in a goldfish pond. This is not an intact ecosystem. It's covered with a net to keep the cats, raccoons, and herons from eating said colorful carp, which are an invasive species, as is the English ivy in the foreground. It has a pump to aerate the water, and the fish are fed fish food made from fish. Being in the middle of a city you can hear the city noises; cars, trucks, aircraft, snippets of conversations. If the larvae of that dragonfly reduce the goldfish population, that's fine, because dragonflies also eat mosquitoes.

Argentine wildlife reserve--Esteros del Ibera

Speaking of which, I once had the pleasure of visiting an increasingly rare, largely intact ecosystem. You have probably never experienced one this intact, and as sad as this sounds, your children and grandchildren are even less likely to do so. While watching caiman, capybara, and any number of other fascinating creatures go about their business at dusk, I witnessed hundreds of thousands of dragonflies rising into the sky to eat mosquitoes (3:17 into above video and pardon the poor quality for I knew not what I was doing). Although it was ideal mosquito habitat, I don't recall being bitten by one, or even seeing one, while there.

What led many of the world's largest environmental organizations to focus on nuclear energy at the expense of nature (nuclear is one of our most benign sources of energy when it comes to ecosystem disruption--Chernobyl actually resulted in the creation of Europe's largest wildlife preserve)?