Posts Tagged ‘fossil fuels’

It Should Be An Economy, Instead It Is An Ecocaust

January 28, 2020

Not to say an Ecocide, and US Politicians have made it so:

Eco-nomy means house management, it’s not eco-caust, burning the house. So how come it’s happening nevertheless? Because brains are washed with petroleum media.

The world is dominated by a monopoly, the financial plutocracy, which is entangled with another, the fossil fuel plutocracy.

For example fracking was financed by Wall Street. Both are even entangled with Literal Islam (Wahhabism, etc.)… thanks to a conspiracy by FDR on the Great Bitter Lake in 1945 with the Abdulaziz, founder of Saudi Arabia.

Is it greed, or outright thievery by, and addiction from, fossil fuel pushers? Because finance and oil control media: how else to explain nuclear killed nobody at Fukushima, while fossil fuels kill ten million a year, and still everybody is indignant about the former?

As one can see Obama/Democrats made it possible (with preliminary work from Bush Senior to Bush W) to make US fracking profitable to Wall Street

Or how to explain Obama killed hydrogen… which was massively used in Europe already in the 1950s (“urban gas/gas de ville)? Hydrogen, and its derivatives (ammonia, etc.) would enable the storage of renewables, and could be used all over in transportation. Instead Japan, Germany, are closing nuclear, and switching to coal. Germany fear periods, which can last two weeks, with no wind and no sun.

The correct solution should be “green hydrogen” (hydrogen from renewables). Expanding these new technologies will cause a formidable economic expansion. Fossil fuel economy and finance are fundamentally fascist economic activities: they require only oligarchs, a few workers. Renewable economy is the exact opposite

Patrice Ayme

***

***

And yes, it will all burn, this is how climate will change!

A simplified version of the above comment was finally published by the NYT, after much tergiversations, apparently, as a comment to Paul Krugman… Except the New York Times sat nearly 48 hours on my comment before publishing it, long after the other comments. That tells me they read it very carefully, while making sure nobody else would read it (hide your sources, if you want to pass for a genius, as Einstein would say). Now the Paul Krugman editorial was pretty good, and he said things I have said for years… So I reproduce big chunks of it below, as after all, this is mostly what I have long said (and which was many times carefully read at NYT, before being censored…). As usual, Trump is accused (more or less implicitly, of Obama’s policies (look carefully at the graph above!), or policies of the US Deep State, in place for a century). Here is Paul Krugman:

Greta Versus the Greedy Grifters
Why a 17-year-old is a better economist than Steve Mnuchin.

I’ve never been a fan of Davos, that annual gathering of the rich and fatuous. One virtue of the pageant of preening and self-importance, however, is that it brings out the worst in some people, leading them to say things that reveal their vileness for all to see.

And so it was for Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary. First, Mnuchin doubled down on his claim that the 2017 tax cut will pay for itself — just days after his own department confirmed that the budget deficit in 2019 was more than $1 trillion, 75 percent higher than it was in 2016.

Then he sneered at Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist, suggesting that she go study economics before calling for an end to investment in fossil fuels…

… burning fossil fuels is a huge source of environmental damage, not just from climate change but also from local air pollution, which is a major health hazard we don’t do nearly enough to limit.

The International Monetary Fund makes regular estimates of worldwide subsidies to fossil fuels — subsidies that partly take the form of tax breaks and outright cash grants, but mainly involve not holding the industry accountable for the indirect costs it imposes. In 2017 it put these subsidies at $5.2 trillion; yes, that’s trillion with a “T.” For the U.S., the subsidies amounted to $649 billion, which is about $3 million for every worker employed in the extraction of coal, oil and gas.

Without these subsidies, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would still be investing in fossil fuels….

But maybe Mnuchin thinks that the I.M.F. should also take some courses in economics — along with the thousands of economists, including every living former Federal Reserve chair, dozens of Nobel laureates, and chief economists from both Democratic and Republican administrations, who signed an open letter calling for taxes on emissions of greenhouse gases.

In short, Greta Thunberg may be only 17, but her views are much closer to the consensus of the economics profession than those of the guy clinging to the zombie idea that tax cuts pay for themselves.

But could the economics consensus be wrong? Yes, but probably because it isn’t hard enough on fossil fuels.

On one side, a number of experts argue that standard models underestimate the risks of climate change, both because they don’t account for its disruptive effects and because they don’t put enough weight on the possibility of total catastrophe.

On the other side, estimates of the cost of reducing emissions tend to understate the role of innovation. Even modest incentives for expanded use of renewable energy led to a spectacular fall in prices over the past decade.

I still often find people — both right-wingers and climate activists — asserting that sharply reducing emissions would require a big decline in G.D.P. Everything we know, however, says that this is wrong, that we can decarbonize while continuing to achieve robust growth….

The bigger issue, however, is sheer greed.

Given the scale of subsidies we give to fossil fuels, the industry as a whole should be regarded as a gigantic grift. It makes money by ripping off everyone else, to some extent through direct taxpayer subsidies, to a greater extent by shunting the true costs of its operations off onto innocent bystanders.

And let’s be clear: Many of those “costs” take the form of sickness and death, because that’s what local air pollution causes. Other costs take the form of “natural” disasters like the burning of Australia, which increasingly bear the signature of climate change.

In a sane world we’d be trying to shut this grift down. But the grifters — which overwhelmingly means corporations and investors, since little of that $3-million-per-worker subsidy trickles down to the workers themselves — have bought themselves a lot of political influence.

And so people like Mnuchin claim not to see anything wrong with industries whose profits depend almost entirely on hurting people. Maybe he should take a course in economics — and another one in ethics.

Science Too Mighty For Its Own Good?

June 16, 2015

The science section of the NYT has its cover article lauding a full professor at Harvard for spending her time demonstrating that the fossil fuel industry has influenced prestigious scientists who have “become merchants of doubt”. In other words, paid liars.

That the fossil fuel industry tells Americans how to think is an obvious, and therefore uninteresting, fact. The USA is completely in the grip of plutocracy, which spent handsomely to influence minds (although even Exxon admits human guilt on climate change). Saint Bill Gates can invest in the dirtiest things, including $1.4 billion in fossil fuels, and it does not make a dent in the reverence Bill gates’ gets. Worrying about Gates of hell does not put bacon on the table, indeed.

Shale Fracking Revolution: Sky The Limit, Watch Those Poles Melt

Shale Fracking Revolution: Sky The Limit, Watch Those Poles Melt

[This graph is pretty, but a bit old: 2006. If anything, thanks to the USA’s Shale Revolution, the production of fossil fuels has augmented, although the USA is now lowering its CO2, thanks to… CH4… from fracking. The graph above ought to be interpreted RELATIVELY: the true CO2 emissions according to Wikipedia are four times greater (34 Gt), and according to me, even the CO2 EQUIVALENT TOTAL is six times greater, up to 50 Gigatons per year.]

However the fossil fuel industry in Europe has admitted that fossil fuels are slowly cooking the biosphere. Some of these European companies which admits human guilt about fossil fuel are major investors in carbon free energy generation. France is scrambling to finish by September the world’s largest Solar PhotoVoltaic plant. Machines install 7,000 panels, each day. In the end the plant will have one million panels, on 250 hectares, and produce 300 Megawatts (a third of a big nuclear reactor). The real cost is as cheap as the (subsidized) fossil fuel industry.

On the way to a nuclear future, Solar PhotoVoltaic happened…Polls show 69% of Americans are worried about climate change, a rise. Maybe people are more anxious doing away with the threat of climate change, now that a clean, cheap solution is at hand. Thus they allow themselves to get more worried about it.

The same Science section has an article on scientific fraud: it’s on the rise. Or, at least observation of it as on the rise. Science, Now Under Scrutiny Itself:

“The crimes and misdemeanors of science used to be handled mostly in-house, with a private word at the faculty club, barbed questions at a conference, maybe a quiet dismissal. On the rare occasion when a journal publicly retracted a study, it typically did so in a cryptic footnote. Few were the wiser; many retracted studies have been cited as legitimate evidence by others years after the fact…”

So scientific fraud, as I have long said, is a problem with science itself. That Copernic, rather than Buridan, is attributed the heliocentric revolution, is a problem with how we think that the mind works. Buridan’s main insight, impetus, was attributed to Newton, thus messing up what is the proper epistemology.

“…an increase in retractions that has alarmed many journal editors and authors. Scientists in fields as diverse as neurobiology, anesthesia and economics are debating how to reduce misconduct, without creating a police-state mentality that undermines creativity and collaboration.

“It’s an extraordinary time,” said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and a founder of the Center for Open Science, which provides a free service through which labs can share data and protocols. “We are now seeing a number of efforts to push for data repositories to facilitate direct replications of findings.”

But that push is not universally welcomed. Some senior scientists have argued that replication often wastes resources. “Isn’t reproducibility the bedrock of science? Yes, up to a point,” the cancer biologist Mina Bissell wrote in a widely circulated blog post. “But it is sometimes much easier not to replicate than to replicate studies,” especially when the group trying to replicate does not have the specialized knowledge or skill to do so.”

Indeed. It’s the difference between correcting an already written text, and starting from scratch.

What we believe to be really true, and demonstrably so, is science. However that’s now very important, so important that it gets polluted by politics, big time. And it did not start yesterday. As the “New Horizon” probe is approaching Pluto, it does this thank to… Plutonium, naturally enough. However, space exploration is stalling in part because such Plutonium generators are not made anymore (the last one was used by the Franco-American Curiosity rover). Just because of Plutonium-phobia (not to be confused by highly desirable plutophobia).

Meanwhile, probably what is the USA’s most prominent characteristic that made it the world’s richest nation is again revealed: the USA is (again!) the world’s greatest oil producer, surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia. The graph is striking: the old oil production peaked at 9.1 million barrels a day, and now it has barreled through the old record, to average 11 million barrels a day in 2015. Is Pluto generous with its servants?

Patrice Ayme’

Outlaw Carbon Burning

December 11, 2014

Abstract: Uncertainties of climate scenarios from human pollution are so great, and potentially so catastrophic, that the only reasonable course is to outlaw carbon burning. Replacement technologies already exist. We have ten years to catastrophe. This is the bottom line for the world climate talks right now in Lima, Peru.

***

The USA and its dictatorial poodle, the People’s Republic of China, cause 44% of the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission in the world.

The European Union causes only 11% of said emissions. The spectacular relative decrease of European Union pollution exacted a heavy price in comparative advantage.

Great Acceleration: World Ocean Temperature Record, September 2014

Great Acceleration: World Ocean Temperature Record, September 2014

Of all excess heat caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, 93.4% goes into oceans. Thus the temperature of oceans has reached new records, month after month in 2014.

The average September GLOBAL ocean temperature marked a record high for that month in 2014, at 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average, breaking the previous record that was set just one month earlier.

The American and Chinese economies are progressing by leaps and bounds, greatly from their wild and cheap carbon burning. But the price on the planet will be heavy.

China and the USA are progressing by leaps and bounds, or, at least their plutocrats are: President Xi’s family has hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate, in Hong Kong alone. The climate crisis is entangled with the plutocratic crisis.

Right now, the CO2 density in the atmosphere augments by 1% a year. CO2 blocks Infra Red (IR) radiation. Thus the heat of the ground, instead of fleeing back to space, is blocked in the first few kilometers of the atmosphere (yes it should lead to a decrease of temperature at very high , stratospheric altitude, and it, indeed, does).

The rise of temperature next to the ground heats up the oceans, liberating water vapor, H2O, itself a potent greenhouse gas, which amplifies the CO2 greenhouse effect blanketing the ground.

These are highly non-linear effects, extremely difficult to compute.

Although we do not understand the details with certainty, paleontological records clearly show that high CO2 concentrations are associated with complete melting of the icecaps, as happened, say, 100 million years ago, or during the Carboniferous era.

Yet, in these cases, the changes were progressive, so life on Earth, and the Gaia system of temperature regulation by weathering of silicate rocks, volcanoes and plate tectonics, had time to adjust accordingly.

The change the present human industry is imparting on Earth is too fast for Earth’s biosphere and geology to compensate.

Hence an extreme risk to launch a run-away greenhouse episode.

The argument has been deployed by fossil fuel partisans that all is fine: OK, the ten warmest years on the record are all since 1998, but nothing much has happened. So what?

Well, the climate is the largest system known, aside from astronomical phenomena. Thus, it has extreme inertia. Yes, it barely moved. So far. But that does not mean that an enormous force is not applied to it. When the climate starts to move significantly, from one year, to the next, it will be unstoppable.

Most of the warming will be concentrated in the high latitudes: the tropics cannot get much warmer, but the poles can get much warmer. And we know that this is what happened in the past: there used to be dinosaurs in Antarctica, and Alaska, crocodiles in northern Greenland.

That may sound pleasant and intriguing, but those dinosaurs had evolved over millions of years to handle months of obscurity.

Right now, the biosphere has no time to adapt (some species will, contributing to further imbalance: for example, some parasites are infesting forests in North America, because of the lack of frigid winter weather; the forests then die, and burn).

What to do?

The case of Europe shows that there a price to be paid for expensive energy.

Europe was caught flat-footed: it decided to cut on its CO2 emissions, but that meant cut on cheap energy, thus on industry…

Proof? As the USA produced cheap energy from fracking, industry in heavy duty fields such as chemicals came back to the USA.

Cutting in European industry meant cutting on the economy, and thus on Europe’s place in the world… And thus in Europe’s influence in the fight against carbon burning.

However sustainable energy, at this point mostly solar and wind, are getting as cheap as fossil fuels.

Yet, they cannot replace fossil fuels completely, because they are intermittent, and we don’t have ways of storing massive energy, besides dams. Building dams and elevated lagoons everywhere is not realistic.

Fortunately, we have advanced nuclear energy. Or, rather, we could have it, had we tried to develop it.

Civil nuclear energy has never killed anyone in the USA, or France. (Even including the expensive Three Mile Island snafu.)

Fossil fuels kill at least seven million people a year, say the World Health Organization, which adds that the unfolding climate catastrophe kills already 500,000 people a year.

Denmark and Germany decided to use fossil fuels for base energy (and French and Swedish nuclear reactors; besides Norwegian dams). That’s the energy they need to produce when the winds die, and the sun cannot be seen.

This is not a correct decision: fossil fuel plants cost are of the same order as an Advanced Nuclear plant. That means that they cost billions of Euros. Once built, they, and the whole energy system they are part of, have to be used.

It is crucial to change the attitude relative to nuclear energy. It is changing.

In May 2011, the Swiss government decided to not build new nuclear reactors. The country’s five existing reactors would be allowed to continue operating, but would not be replaced at the end of their life span. The last would have been closed in 2034.

However, by 2014, the grotesque, and self-contradictory coal circus in Denmark and Germany came to the attention of the Swiss. In December 2014, the Swiss government announced that the lifespan of the nuclear plants would be extended indefinitely, with the same thorough controls every ten years, which presently exist.

Switzerland, once again, shows the way.

Let me hasten to add that the design of the Swiss reactors is nearly seventy years old. Although they probably can be operated safely (once taken into account quakes and terrorism), Advanced Nuclear reactors and Thorium plants ought to be developed. Those could be made safer than a wind turbine.

Uncertainties On Sea Level Rise Are Even Greater Than This 2012 Graph Shows.

Uncertainties On Sea Level Rise Are Even Greater Than This 2012 Graph Shows.

In any case, the worst case climate scenario is what ought to enter the political computation, because not only it cannot be excluded, but it seems all too likely. In that worst case scenario, the impact of the greenhouse gas crisis would not be far removed from that of a large comet.

We can avoid this because the three leading non-CO2 emitting technologies: Wind, Solar and Advanced Nuclear are all cost competitive with the cheapest fossil fuels.

Outlaw carbon burning: it is technically feasible, and it is a precaution we have to take.

Patrice Ayme’

Stealth Climate Deniers

April 1, 2014

The United Nations 300 top climate scientists from all over the world, came up with an alarming climate warming report: the warming is fully on, and its weird effects are showing all over, with changes in winds, the strongest hurricane ever, by a long shot, and even paradoxical situations, such as local cooling offshore, from twice stronger trade winds, causing a high pressure ridge, and a massive drought in the American West. (OK, it’s me observing the latter, not the UN, but it’s true nevertheless!)

There are two types of deniers: the grotesque ones, paid to say CO2 is good, climate has always changed, it’s not warming up, and getting more acid, and anyway, both are good. And then there are the stealth deniers.

50 Billion Tons Of CO2 Equivalent Gases Dumped In Earth’s Atmosphere, Per Year

50 Billion Tons Of CO2 Equivalent Gases Dumped In Earth’s Atmosphere, Per Year

[Observe the important role played by Methane. Although CH4 does not acidify the oceans as CO2 does.]

Stealth deniers are within, say, the media of the USA itself, under an unassuming form. The New York Times wrote several anti-deniers editorials. And yet, the Times itself is ambiguous, at best, about whether there is a CO2 problem.

Take the otherwise honorable Paul Krugman at the New York Times, the self glorified “Conscience of a Liberal”: Krugman talks to no end about providing “liquidity” to his friends the bankers and about the abysmal, pathetic pseudo-reform called Obamacare. That’s socio-economy for Krugman. (Obamacare is a dismally unimpressive tweak in the American greedy health care system that Obama himself, nowadays, tries his best to sabotage!)

However, Paul Krugman, blessed be his name, and all too many economic pundits in the USA, never, ever, talks about the most major economic issue of our times, the necessity to effect a massive transition towards sustainable energy.

By talking obsessively about minor economic issues (success! Obamacare now covers 2% of the population of the USA, 4 years after being passed into law! Sadness! Banks starving for free money so they can’t leverage, and play futures and dark pools as much as they want!), Krugman avoids the most serious of our times, and any times before those. Namely, the poisoning of the Earth, while most of the planet’s effective activities are starving for energy.

Yet, such a transition would provide with millions of jobs in the USA alone (a small and partial energy “change” in Germany provided officially with 400,000 jobs; it is a lame change, as it shot down futuristic nuclear energy solutions, though).

So what’s going on? Comments of mine making this observation were censored at the New York Times. Actually, the New York Times (supposedly left, liberal, with a conscience, blah blah blah, etc.) is shilling for fracking. “U.S. Hopes Boom in Natural Gas Can Curb Putin… by sending our surplus natural gas to Europe and Ukraine in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the United States …stiffen resistance to Vladimir Putin’s aggressive behavior.

Forget that the United States currently lacks a capacity to export LNG to Europe… until the 2020s… Just focus on the article’s central reportorial flaw: it fails to identify a single reason why future American LNG exports (which could wind up anywhere) would have any influence whatsoever on the Russian president’s behavior.”

Instead, the economic main stream of the USA is going full steam ahead, fracking away. The fracking is causing huge leaks of methane. It’s also impossible to speak of the USA and omit its main factory, China. The tandem of the USA and the PRC are into ever more desperate fossil fuel production. USA coal production is now sent to Germany and China… Giving a biting irony to Obama’s notion of fracking gas playing the role of a “bridge fuel“. A bridge, across the oceans, to disaster, indeed.

Ever More Fossils Burned, Most Of Them, Now.

Ever More Fossils Burned, Most Of Them, Now.

(Meanwhile the short sighted Obama proposes to reduce thermonuclear fusion research by 17%, in 2015, while giving the rich a gift of $7,500, each time they buy a car from the 7 billion dollar boy, Elon Musk; thermonuclear fusion is the one and only long term hope for sustainable energy; all other energy sources, except geothermal, which does not work, are derived from thermonuclear fusion!)

Another point I have made for years: at some point, exactly, the methane tipping point, massive amounts of methane will be catastrophically released from the oceans. Methane is already massively released from USA fracking, and from the oceans. Catastrophic release will involve tsunamis, and greatly accelerated warming. (That has happened in the North Atlantic, 7,000 years ago.) It will start suddenly. It could start tomorrow.

The media of the USA is culprit of not emphasizing that the climate problem is, first of all, an economic catastrophe, and opportunity to smash out of an unsustainable past dominated by fossil fuel plutocrats. But then most of the Main Stream Media in the USA is owned by plutocrats, partial to the present order of things, including the energetic order.

Anyway, as usual, it was an irritating pleasure to be censored by the Times: this way I know what New York plutocrats really care about, where they fear truth the most. It’s a sort of radar to detect malfeasance.

Patrice Aymé

Nuclear Salvation

November 16, 2013

In the minds of some, no doubt, the agonizing Obamacare was how to avoid Medicare For All, and go on with health care gouging. Success. Similarly, in the minds of some, hysteria against nuclear power is a way to go on with the various destructive exploitation schemes fossil fuels provide with.

Continuing hysteria against nuclear power makes humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous changes in the biosphere caused by CO2 impossible. Why? Because it deprives humanity of the only new energy source developed by humanity in the last 100 years.

No Nuclear? Dam That.

No Nuclear? Dam That.

Fossil fuel production can be dominated by a few brutes doing brutish things (Qaddafi, Putin). Burning stuff is perfect for plutocrats. Instead nuclear industry demands a control by advanced science and high standards of regulation and government probity. Nuclear energy is too coldly rational to be a plutocrat friendly environment.

The tides in the gigantic Baie du Mont Saint Michel are up to 14 meters high. The energy therein is that of a several nuclear reactors. Construction cost of a giant dam enclosing the entire bay would be enormous. The river Severn estuary in England has been extensively studied. A dam there could bring more than 8,000 Megawatts (8 standard nuclear reactors).

Windmills, watermills, and even tidal power plants, have existed for more than a millennium, and were massive energy sources in the Middle Ages.

The ancient Greeks used solar energy passively, and Archimedes even used it as a weapon against the Romans, very successfully, during the siege of Syracuse. Nothing new there.

Syracuse fell, and Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier. A Frenchman discovered the photovoltaic effect in the early Nineteenth Century. All this to say: been there, done that.

Wind, solar, current, burning animal waste and wood has been tried before. It’s great. However the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems is, overall, the only practical mean of addressing the CO2 production problem, on a planetary scale. It’s tough, but reality tends to be tough.

True, some regions, such as the famously desiccated and sun struck West of the USA, could do only with solar and wind energy. But such places are few on the planet. They tend to be where people are not, because people need water.

Denmark,  posing as an ecological maven, is trying to go mostly renewable. However that small country is heavily dependent upon electricity from Norway, Sweden and Germany… and coal. It’s even building a new giant coal plant. Moreover, although Denmark is flat, much of its renewable power is stored in Norwegian and Swedish mountain dams.

Mountains, and water to lift up mountains, are not found everywhere (for example, Arabia has plenty of mountains, on a huge area, from Oman to all along the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, but this small continent has no too little water… not coincidentally the first dam ever built was there).

Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow considerably to provide for the needs of developing economies. Those constitute more than 90% of the world’s society. So we are talking about the need to augment energy production by an order of magnitude.

One is not going to do that with a bit of wind in North Sea and a little sun in the Gobi.

The need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming blatant, even to the clueless. The hurricane with the most powerful winds ever, by a long shot, just happened.

The CO2 crisis, entailing climate change, and the concomitant population overload, have brought a need for ever more energy. For example a clean water crisis is developing, all over the planet, and, to reduce it, much more energy is needed to produce clean water (say by treatment, or desalination).

We cannot increase energy supply dramatically while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if the newest power plants keep using the atmosphere as a waste dump. The projections of fossil fuels usage in the next two decades are completely insane, thus doubly irresistible. First insanity attracts, and, as producing the last fossil fuels because ever more financially attractive (like, say cocaine), there is ever more activity to produce more.

The same sort of craziness by greed affected finance, which went from 8% of profits to 25%, as it attracted ever more, the crazier it got! Call that the spiral of greed.

Renewables like wind, solar and biomass will play roles in a future energy economy. However, those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough, or big enough, or everywhere enough, to deliver cheap and reliable power on the scale the global economy requires, especially as the apocalypse unfolds (see Haiyan).

Indeed the coverage of the proposed “renewables” can only be spotty in space and time. Consider Poland, for instance. Poland has plenty of cheap coal. In dreary winter conditions, without wind or sun, the only clean alternatives are coal, or nuclear power (gas is not an option, as it would require Poland to depend upon its historical enemy, Moscow, just when that capital is showing an ever increasing Czarist inclination).

Consider also the energy of the sea: it can be exploited, in a few places, if and when the technology can be invented, but certainly not in the middle of continents. Poland has access to a sea with no significant tides or currents.

For half a century, only one tidal power plant existed, in the entire world, on the Rance river, in France. It produces 240 MW, a quarter of a standard nuclear reactor. The hyper pharaonic project, across the Baie du Mount Saint Michel, was contemplated for a while. Instead, a project going the other way, reinstituting the bay to its original state, was implemented.

It may be theoretically possible to stabilize the CO2 emissions without nuclear power, for a few countries. Say in wind rich Denmark. By cheating, as I just explained. Germany may be able to do so, after huge investments, but, for now, it is augmenting its use of coal.

Switzerland has decided to close one nuclear power plant. A very dangerous plant, I agree. And I want it closed too. However, it will be replaced by a giant coal plant in Germany. USA fossil plutocrats will be happy to sell the coal. Also Mr. Putin will delighted to sell more gas to Switzerland. The more gas he sells, the more dictatorial he can get. To make sure he gets paid, the Russian dictator has just embarked on a hyper paranoiac nuclear weapon program (hey, you want to make sure people fear you!).

In the real world, worldwide, there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a considerable role for nuclear technologies. Considering available, or close at hand, technologies.

The only technology that could change everything and could plausibly work, is thermonuclear fusion. Although Korea, in cooperation with ITER, has a crash program, no power deployment will intervene for at least 15 years, at an unknown cost. Whereas very safe fission plants such as EPR, can be deployed now.

Most of the 400 nuclear plants presently in service use 1950s technology that was deployed to maximize Plutonium production. The West, and the so called “Communists”, were getting ready to fight nuclear wars, so they made “civilian” nuclear reactors that were extensions of the military programs. In particular, they produced nuclear explosives (Pu).

Incomparably safer, much more abundant Thorium technology was not developed, because it has no military use.

Fortunately, passive safety systems and other advances can make new nuclear plants, even using the basic Uranium technology of the 1950s, much safer. An example is the French EPR (although it’s expensive, built massively, the cost would go down).

Modern nuclear technology could extinguish proliferation risks. Say by developing Thorium nuclear power. Thorium has no military use, and it reduces the waste problem to insignificance.

If we had scaled-up massive Thorium, it could be proposed as an alternative to, say, Iran. In the future, as the cost of fossil fuels keeps climbing, more and more countries, just like Iran, will desperate to develop nuclear power. As it is they can use only primitive 1950s, military dangerous nuclear technology.

Scientific giants such as India and China have Thorium programs. But the West would progress faster, if it made the crash effort the biosphere needs.

The worst radioactive waste products from the Thorium cycle last only 3 centuries at most, whereas Plutonium’s half period is 25,000 years. Even then, Plutonium can be recycled into a fuel called MOX (for Mixed OXide) and burned again: that’s what France does (and produces MOX for Germany, Britain, Japan and even the USA; although there, weirdly, Congress has made using MOX unlawful).

Hence the radioactive waste disposal problem can be solved by burning current waste, using fuel more efficiently, and using different nuclear processes from different fuels. (Ultimately, more advanced nuclear tech will be able to dispose of all waste, by transmutation, a science discovered by Irene Joliot-Curie around 1932.)

Innovation and economies of scale can make new power plants much cheaper than existing plants.

All energy system have downsides. 200 meters tall windmills are a danger for birds, planes, peace and quiet, and esthetics.

Yet quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with the continued use of fossil fuels. Tyrants, such as Putin, will develop weapons of mass destruction, including of the nuclear kind, the weaker our economy and technology gets, and the more they perceive our decisions to be based on irrational tendencies. Because it’s irrational to hate “nukes” just because it was the most human way to force the fascists controlling Japan to capitulate.

The Chernobyl nuclear explosion was a statement about the Soviet Union, not about nuclear science. That was not the only massive nuclear catastrophe in the USSR. Chernobyl employed a type of nuclear technology deemed extremely dangerous in the West, and not developed, precisely because of its dangerosity.

To make the situation worse, Chernobyl did not even have a containment building. Now, no coal plant has a containment building, and it’s free to spill its mercury, lead, arsenic and radioactivity around the world (so called “bag houses” can capture some of these; I think Obama is trying to impose them through the EPA, and they could price coal out.

Fantasies about Carbon Containment and Capture (CCC) are just this: fantasies. Coal plants are competitive, only if they can spill their dangerous waste, worldwide. Right now burning coal makes 44% of the electricity of the USA, and countries such as Australia, are getting rich selling coal to China (Thorium is abundant in places such as India, which have little Uranium).

While there will be no single technological solution, the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to build an energy system that does use the atmosphere, directly, and the ocean, indirectly, as a waste dump.

The planet’s air, soil and oceans are warming, and the seas are getting dangerously acid, from reacting with CO2, and poorer in oxygen, from the temperature rise. Meanwhile carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than ever.

We cannot afford to turn away from any technology that has the potential to replace a large fraction of our carbon emissions. Much has changed in potential nuclear technologies since the 1950s. The time has come for fresh approaches to nuclear power in the 21st century.

In truth, there are 100 fission nuclear technologies out there that one could plausibly develop. Thorium and high temperature reactors are particularly prominent, because of their promises, and because both were developed on a very large experimental scale at some point in 1960s and 1970s. We know they work. Only details have to be figured out, such as which materials will be the most efficient in the harsh environment of a mighty reactor.

The fact is, civil nuclear energy killed, over the years, much fewer people than, say, skiing. Whereas the atmosphere that fossil fuels creates kills millions.

London Then, China Today, Earth Tomorrow?

London Then, China Today, Earth Tomorrow?

In the USA alone, at least 200,000 die from air pollution, each year. And this is not the place worst affected.

On December 5, 1952, the winds abated, and London sat in thick smog for 4 days. It is now evaluated that more than 12,000 died, in London alone! The recent abandonment of the electric tram system augmented the pollution.

In truth we are doing this to the whole planet, just more dispersed. The plutocrats have displaced their evil works to friendly China, and the slaves there can breathe what they have been ordered to breathe.

Energy decisions must be based on facts, not on emotions and biases that were inappropriate all along, and now prevent us to address the apocalypse we are facing.

The development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy is not just a no brainier. It will happen, no matter what. The only question is whether it will happen after, or before, Jurassic Park is back to an ocean near you. Very near you.

***

Patrice Ayme

Peak Cheap Oil Passed.

January 1, 2012

Expensive Oil Means No Oil.

January 1, 2012

By Patrice Ayme

In nature, for reasons not clear to me, distribution laws often follow “Normal Distributions” (aka “Bell Curves“, because they look like bells cut in half). Henri Poincare’ himself, admitted that he found Normal Distributions mysterious, and that experimentalists believed theorists had established them, whereas theorists believed experimentalists had done so… Poincare’ contributed to probability theory as he did in so many subjects, with his characteristic honesty.

This, (pre-)supposing Normal Distributions, allows to make predictions of a “scientific” character:

  1. Suppose the phenomenon at hand satisfies a Bell Curve distribution law.
  2. Identify, from know data, the inception of said curve, hence the curve itself.
  3. Read out on the graph its extent and peak.

Thus geologist Marion King Hubbert predicted in the 1950s that the US oil production would peak out around 1970. His prediction was verified. He applied his model to world oil production. The model predicted peak oil around 1995.

Due to deep off shores discoveries, a new technology, the peak was displaced to 2005 (as it turned out). However, as the cheap oil was depleted oil prices went up, making it economic, in appearance, to get oil from tar sands, and ever deeper underwater drilling. The cost to the companies did not reflect the true cost to the economy of society at large.

Hydraulic fracking was also used increasingly in the USA as Western oil companies got chased out of the developing world (to be replaced by national oil companies). Texas, and the Bakken formation of North Dakota became targets of extensive fracking.

Fracking in the USA for gas and oil is changing quickly the energy balance of the USA. It has been immensely profitable, for now, for the companies indulging in it, and the production of fossil fuels in the USA has augmented enormously.

Fracking, in the present state of technology, consists into injecting enormous quantities of water charged with various poisons and rock devouring bleach or acid. The poisonous water is injected again and again to break the rock, releasing gas, or oil. And also countless poisons held by Pluto down below, such as radioactive materials (checking for workers for radioactivity is standard when fracking).

Thanks to the personal intervention of Vice President Cheney, CEO and shareholder of Halliburton, in 2005 hydraulic fracturing was exempted by US Congress from any regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

During the period November 2001 to November 2011, the general government inflation index in the USA, CPI-U, grew from 176.7 to 226.23, an increase of about 28%. But, during the same period, the CPI motor fuels index went from 96.1 to 294.049. The same volume of gasoline roughly tripled in price over the last decade. (In Europe, because of enormous energy taxes, and cheaper oil close at hand, the effect has been attenuated; whereas in the USA, my interpretation is that the oil spike played a role in the subprime crisis!)

People have debated whether we passed Peak Oil or not. Maybe not. Why not? Because we have cheated. The enormous exploitation philosophy in the USA, overruling anything else, such as, for example, common sense, has allowed to cheat, by going into fracking and tar sands.

It is likely that the cost of fracking on the environment is going to be catastrophic. It causes even earthquakes. Meanwhile, fossil fuel companies will make lots of money, and give off many campaign contributions to their pet politicians, in the country where these corrupt practices are legal, namely the USA.

France, followed now by South Africa, and Russia, has outlawed fracking in its present state of technology, as they fear for their water table. We can have life without gas and oil, but not without water. At least so think the silly French, who should go back to drinking wine, so that they can reason like real Americans.

In any case, Canadian fossil fuel interests are firmly determined to frack and to heat up sands full of tar, to extract fuel. The cost in terms of CO2 pollution and energy is enormous. And it will get bigger: Canada has sold its soul to the fossil fuel burning Satan. But, when one has started with an ethnic cleansing of the French (!) and the Indian natives, one may be forgiven, to stupidly hope, to do the same to the entire planet…

The real currency of economy ought to be energy. As it was in prehistory. Peak CHEAP oil means that it costs more and more to extract fossil fuels, in terms of the only currency which really counts, energy (every word in this sentence was carefully considered).

Actually there is such a notion as EROEI (Energy Return On Energy Invested). An energy source is exploitable when the EROEI is well above 1. Nuclear energy gets a very positive EROEI (even with any waste disposal!) because its energy density is a million times higher than that of fossil fuels.

Oil production is meeting a ceiling. The most recent graph from the USA government, which I have been unable to copy, as my computer system plus WordPress refuses now to copy any picture (!), and will erase my posts if i try (!!!) shows a pronounced production dip.

It is found in the Nature article (published weeks after the initial version of this essay): Climate policy: Oil’s tipping point has passed: There is less fossil-fuel production available to us than many people believe. From 2005 onwards, conventional crude-oil production has not risen to match increasing demand. We argue that the oil market has tipped into a new state, similar to a phase transition in physics: production is now ‘inelastic’, unable to respond to rising demand, and this is leading to wild price swings. Other fossil-fuel resources don’t seem capable of making up the difference.”

The reason for this is that fracking’s production falls off quickly, so it’s no long term solution, just a flash in the pan..

The exploitation philosophy has been the ruling philosophy in many Anglo-Saxon lands, ever since it got pushed by the “West Country Men” (circa 1600, the Elizabethan Age) ). Historically the Anglo-Saxon colonies deeply believed that no exploitation of the land, or the peoples, was harsh enough. The assault of the USA against Afghanistan, since July 3, 1979, to jump on the gigantic minerals reserves found by the French there, is an example of this avoir plus grand yeux que grand ventre philosophy (having bigger eyes than stomach philosophy: in Afghanistan, the USA tried to swallow more than it could chew).

One can compare Australia with French held, nickel rich New Caledonia next door: the dumb French forgot to massacre the natives to the exacting Anglo-Saxon standards. Thus, they have had to face an independence movement.

The French ruled New Caledonia archipelago is made of half aboriginal descendants, while the natives were essentially extinguished from Australia. In Australia, up to the 1960s, methods now classified by the United nations as genocide were used.

In any case, the mentality that no exploitation of natural resources is harsh enough has to be thrown into the garbage of history, or reserved to the outer planets. It’s important to be able to diagnose all its ramifications.

In the case of the energy policies of the USA, that country, and the entire planet, is led into a trap. Subsidies to expensive fossil fuels make continuing with a very dangerous form of energy possible. What’s more dangerous than destroying the air we breathe, and the oceans we rule? When the subsidies will run out, the real cost of fossil fuels will show itself to be unbearable. But then new forms of energy will not have been deployed in a timely manner. The rats will be many, but the food short, the air unbreathable…

Historically, it has taken 50 years to fully deploy new energy systems. It is true that going all electric would spare a lot of energy (electric engines are much more efficient, as they do not depend upon a flow between a hot source and a cold sink). Making fossil fuels pay their true cost is another must. Some of the cost is to maintain enormous, and enormously expensive British, French and American military forces to be ready to keep forcefully open the Strait of Ormuz (say). 35% of the world oil passes below the noses of gasoline starved Iranians (don’t ask).

Another example:  Since ever and ever, fossil fuels for air transportation have not been taxed, worldwide. The European Union has decided to fix that, and its new taxation policy for air transportation is going into effect today, January 1, 2012, for all flights flying into Europe.

The USA has protested loudly, threatening economic sanctions. The USA, through Hilary Clinton’s voice box, called the correct pricing of air transportation an attack against the free market.

Apparently we are far from having reached peak impudence!