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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Simon Holmes à Court would support fast, cheap, safe, small, flexible nuclear

This post is motivated by a Tweet by Simon who very much thinks he has an open mind about nuclear energy all antinuclearists, but like all antinuclearists, he really doesn't. He's like the creationist who would love to believe the theory of evolution ...if the data would only support it. Classic case of self-delusion combined with a little cognitive dissonance.

His Twitter homepage intro:
interesting theory — data me up! 'likes' are bookmarks not endorsements. ATTN: loopy left & RWNJs: if you think i'm one, you're almost certainly the other.
Bottom line, I would not have had to "data him up"  if he really had an open mind because he would have already sought out the data. Below, he gives an attaboy to a supporting tweeted chart critiquing nuclear. I gave him a few other charts to think about, but no love for me (link):

His supporter then posted a strawman argument coupled with another graph and got another attaboy. Those graphs shown below are actually a positive sign showing how the combination of low carbon sources has joined forces but this guy somehow sees this as evidence that nuclear should not be part of the mix:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Now for the bad news: 75% decline in insect biomass over 27 years

In a nutshell, no insects = no ecosystem.

I recently took a trip to the Brazilian Cerrado and Pantanal. Click on this link to see photos and videos of some insects I saw there. I'll add a few random insect photos from other places I've been as well. Click on any photo to open a higher-resolution slideshow.

Just in from youngest daughter
doing research in Madagascar

Monbiot's article is worth a quick read unless you're prone to depression (last of the above links):
Every year I collected dozens of species of caterpillars and watched them grow and pupate and hatch. This year I tried to find some caterpillars for my children to raise. I spent the whole summer looking and, aside from the cabbage whites on our broccoli plants, found nothing in the wild but one garden tiger larva. Yes, one caterpillar in one year. I could scarcely believe what I was seeing – or rather, not seeing.
He suggested a few solutions, like limiting pesticide use (while acknowledging that we still need to grow food). GMO corn has reduced the use of insecticides for rootworm and the corn borer, but the anti-GMO crowd (similar in many ways to the anti-nuclear one) will resist that idea to their graves. And then there are the layers of complexity, like the permanent mandated consumption of corn ethanol put into place via rare bipartisan cooperation.

He made a salient point about the growing of food for livestock. From The Breakthrough Institute (co-founded by Shellenberger) Where’s the Fake Beef? Eating Meatless Meat Is Safe for You and the Planet:
The Impossible Burger—the meatless burger that bleeds—has recently been lambasted by some environmental activists for using genetic engineering to make the burger taste and look like meat. It’s a strange accusation, to say the least. The environmental impacts of meat production are large and complicated; reducing them will require modern tools and technologies. And few innovations have as large a potential as meatless meat to mitigate ecological impacts while meeting global demand.
Click on the video below which I shot in the heart of the Pantanal "nature preserve."

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

Update 10/25/2017: Moon announced that he still plans to phase out nuclear even though they will finish the two under construction, which makes no sense. Build two brand new power stations only to close them down? Call me a cynic, but he probably thought the citizen group would vote against finishing the reactors, taking the all the heat (used as scapegoats). Plan backfired, so, time will tell.

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 finishing the ones they have under construction.

This is [still] 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.