Climate Change "Alarmists" For Nuclear Power

Nuclear PowerWad: DreamstimeNo one would accuse climate researchers James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira, and Tom Wigley of moderation when it comes to banging the climate crisis drum. The four have now issued an open letter challenging the broad environmental movement to stop fighting nuclear power and embrace it as a crucial technology for averting the possibility of a climate catastrophe by supplying zero-carbon energy. From the letter:

As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.

We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem. Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow to provide the needs of developing economies. At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer. We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.

Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.

Well, yes. Just last week, I argued that solar and wind power are "Not Ready For Prime Time Renewable Energy Technologies."

The whole letter makes interesting reading.

Back in 2009, I pointed out "The Cultural Contradictions of Anti-Nuke Environmentalists," in which they were proud of the fact that they had killed off the nuclear power industry. Had the industry developed as projected, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions that they worry about would already be at least one-third lower than they are now.

One other observation: Using current technologies, nuclear socialism is more likely to result in adequate energy supplies than is solar socialism.

For more background, see Reason contributor John McClaughry's review of Superfuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future.

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  • Habeas Dorkus||

    I cannot believe that nuclear energy isn't the nexis of the argument today about energy, given the hysteria of global warming.
    Nuclear power plants would probably give every American a power bill of about an average of $20 a month.

  • Habeas Dorkus||

    Er, "nexus." Sorry.

  • Homple||

    Nuclear technology actually produces electricity and will therefore never be supported in any meaningful way by environmentalists.

    "… environmentalists will eagerly support any sort of energy production – as long as it is not available."
    ~Dr. Petr Beckman

    Nuclear power is available, so it won't get their support.

  • ||

    But Dr. Peter Venkman carries an unlicensed nuclear accelerator around on his back!

    Don't cross the streams!

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Exactly what is he a "doctor" of?

  • ||

    Well, he has a PhD in parapsychology and psychology.

  • Warty||

    It's true. Epi has no dick.

  • OldMexican||

    Last I heard!

  • Homple||

    From Wikipedia:
    "Petr Beckmann (November 13, 1924, Prague, Czechoslovakia – August 3, 1993, Boulder, Colorado) was a professor of electrical engineering who became a well-known advocate of libertarianism and nuclear power. Later in his life he challenged Albert Einstein's theory of relativity and other accepted theories in modern physics."

    In some ways, a kook, which adds to his libertarian credibility. He says fun things, though.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_Beckmann

  • ||

    nuclear socialism

    From another article here today:

    Christian Socialist

    At what point will it be OK to start calling Obama a socialist? I seem to recall push back here about calling him that...but with today's flagrant use of the term here at reason is it safe to assume we can start using it describe Mr "Spread the Wealth"?

  • ||

    But, Fukushima!

    Tokyo is covered in a radioactive cloud! Millions are dead from radation sickess, babies with three heads are being routinely born in Japanese hospitals.

    You're just not hearing about it because the CORPORATE MEDIA is covering it up! There's a MASSIVE CONSPIRACY underway to prevent people from finding out the true NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE that is occuring. The capitalists just don't want people to panic so they can extract more PROFITS from their businesses in the last few months before WE ALL DIE!

  • Ron Bailey||

  • ||

    HOW MUCH DID TEPCO PAY YOU TO WRITE THAT ARTICLE, YOU CORPORATE HACK?

  • ||

    The four have now issued an open letter challenging the broad environmental movement to stop fighting nuclear power and embrace it as a crucial technology for averting the possibility of a climate catastrophe by supplying zero-carbon energy.

    This pops up every so often. Didn't the founder of green peace start advocating for nuclear a few years back?

    Nothing ever seems to come of it...in fact it seems to me at about the time an old fart environmentalist hero becomes irrelevant is about the same time they start advocating for nuclear.

  • Sevo||

    "This pops up every so often. Didn't the founder of green peace start advocating for nuclear a few years back?"

    Stewart Brand did. I think as part of a book he wrote.
    Got a yawn in the Bay Area press, since it was a local hero promoting something watermelons hate.

  • Dweebston||

    Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow to provide the needs of developing economies.

    But how does advocating for access to energy sate their desire to hobble technological progress by whatever means necessary?

  • John C. Randolph||

    I recall a time when all the statists were pushing nuclear power just like ROADZ! I think they'd love to be able to point to electricity as one more thing that only the glorious collective power of the all-encompassing state could possibly provide.

    -jcr

  • JidaKida||

    I never thought about it liek that. Makes sense dude.

    www.PrivacyRoad.tk

  • creech||

    Wouldn't nuclear power deal a serious blow to our patrons, the Koch Brothers? Therefore, I'm surprised all the watermelons and lefties haven't jumped on the nuclear bandwagon.

  • ||

    I think the price of natural gas and oil would go down due to lower demand if nuclear starts being used.

    Most of the chemicals the Kochs deal in use oil and gas in their extraction and manufacture either as fuel or as raw material.

    Of course all that is priced into their costs and it would be an even change with their competitors as well...so it probably would not make a difference either way.

  • Dweebston||

    If nuclear ever comes back into vogue, it's because electricity prices have spiked with no visible relief, not because a bunch of watermelon fruitcakes say it's okay now.

    Then again, they'll likely have been the cause of any such spike (by sending fracking to an early grave, say), so maybe they can take credit after all.

  • entropy||

    Well, yes. Just last week, I argued that solar and wind power are "Not Ready For Prime Time Renewable Energy Technologies."

    Not ready yet? Photovoltaic is at least new-ish. Why do people believe wind power is modern technology? Even though they didn't use the wind power to generate electricity, wind powered turbines are thousands of years old. The new ones are higher tech than the old ones, but if wind power was all that great we would never have developed fossil fuels to begin with.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: entropy,

    Even though they didn't use the wind power to generate electricity, wind powered turbines are thousands of years old.


    Indeed, and promptly discarded in favor of the more reliable sources of mechanical energy that the market brought, to wit: steam engines, hit-and-miss internal combustion engines, petrol engines, diesel engines, electric motors, etc.

    No matter how romantic they look, windmills cannot compete in reliability or power (or both) against fossil fuel energy or nuclear energy.

  • entropy||

    They can't really compete against coal-fired steam even.

    It's like saying our hay-burning technology is not ready to take over the market yet. Rubbing sticks together is not ready to replace cigarette lighters, yet.

  • OldMexican||

    Exactly. It is not like they haven't been tried and tested and found wanting.

  • entropy||

    But you never know when they'll make new advances in high friction coefficient polymer sticks.

  • Sevo||

    "But you never know when they'll make new advances in high friction coefficient polymer sticks."

    And if the gov't outlaws "nightime", why those photovoltaics will be the next big thing!

  • Greg F||

    I hope the "Not Ready For Prime Time" was with tongue in cheek. Wind and solar are about as close to prime time as flying cars are.

  • Floridian||

    I was reading about standing wave reactors and the article claimed by reshuffling the fuel rods in the reactor they could get decades of production without refueling and decreasing waste. The problem is that the cost of uranium dropped after the Cold War so the incentive to use fuel efficiently is not high and standing wave reactors are more expensive to build than conventional reactors. At the end of the day coal is still cheaper per mega watt than nuclear and probably will be for a long time.

  • Homple||

    They've been shuffling fuel rods in power reactors for decades. Back in my electric utility days, some colleagues were running a mainframe computer program that optimized the burnout of nuclear fuel assemblies by optimal repositioning back in the 70s and early 80s. The program might even have been called "SHUFFLE".

  • OldMexican||

    We call on your organization to support the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the climate change problem.


    I would much rather give my support to safer nuclear power systems as a practical means of addressing the power demand problem and not the climate change "problem" which is not a real problem. Climate changes all the time.

  • OldMexican||

    We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.


    Oh, you naive fools! You silly nincompoops! You dimwitted dunderheards! You moronic oafs!

    Who told you that we want Man to have cheap and clean energy? Who told you that we want Man to progress and thrive?

  • ||

    Who told you that we want Man to progress and thrive?

    Stalin, Mao, Hitler...you know, all the pre-environmental movement leftist.

  • Sevo||

    "California 2050 greenhouse gas goal out of reach"
    "Author Jeff Greenblatt, a staff scientist at the lab, also examined two alternate scenarios. In each, the aggressive adoption of clean technologies such as renewable jet fuel and zero-emission cars leads to deeper emissions cuts past 2030. But the cuts still won't be deep enough to reach California's 2050 goal."
    http://www.sfgate.com/business.....954695.php
    This guy is a "scientist" (that's what it says right there!) and he's including "zero emission cars" in his calcs?
    There are no such things; at best they are "remote-emission cars".

  • Christophe||

    When demonstrating that something is impossible, it's pretty common to use the most generous assumptions possible. That makes the argument stronger.

  • ||

    I honestly can't understand how a fracking ban got passed in New York state. Who benefits from it? Aside for aforementioned fruitcakes, who don't really have a lot of money to throw around.

  • Homple||

    The people who like to push other people around by fright mongering. That's who benefits.

    Other beneficiaries are suppliers of conventionally produced natural gas, who have seen fracking hold the price of their product to level that does not please them.

  • ||

    Holy crap the GMO labeling initiative is failing in Washington state.

    First it legalized pot and now this...

    I might actually have to stop hating my fellow voters now.

  • Mark Goldes||

    To see why nuclear power is a huge mistake, see the two nuclear nightmares that now threaten every person living on earth.

    1. Huge potential radioactive fallout from fuel pools at Fukushima in dangerous attempts to remove fuel rods or from another major earthquake which is now the subject of official alerts. Either could eliminate human life.

    2. The surprising potential of a solar killshot, a solar storm that knocks out power grids for months and after two weeks without grid power opens the door to multiple meltdowns at nuclear plants all across the planet.

    We have a new alternative: “The thermal energy content of the atmosphere, ocean, and upper crust is estimated to be more than 10,000 times that of the world's fossil fuel reserves, making it a potentially inexhaustible reservoir of green energy.” Daniel P. Sheehan University of San Diego

    AESOP Institute is prototyping THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COOLS. This engine will run on the thermal energy content of the atmosphere, a form of solar energy.

    See www.aesopinstitute.org to learn more about this hard to believe NO FUEL ENGINE.

    It will exhaust cool air. Think of it as a refrigerator that generates electricity.

    A 24/7 inexpensive power producing alternative to radioactive and fossil fuels.

    Once validated by independent labs, it will provide an exciting way to slow, and perhaps open a path to reverse, Global Warming.

  • PhysicsReviewBoard||

    Mark Goldes' proofless claims regarding his Aesop Institute's make-believe strictly ambient heat engine do not represent any new technology, or even a new pretense - they merely represent a rather old pretense.

    "A perpetual motion machine of the second kind is a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work. When the thermal energy is equivalent to the work done, this does not violate the law of conservation of energy. However it does violate the more subtle second law of thermodynamics (see also entropy). The signature of a perpetual motion machine of the second kind is that there is only one heat reservoir involved, which is being spontaneously cooled without involving a transfer of heat to a cooler reservoir. This conversion of heat into useful work, without any side effect, is impossible, according to the second law of thermodynamics."

    Goldes' make-believe strictly ambient heat engine would be a perpetual motion machine of the second kind, as defined above. Goldes is not developing any such engine; he is merely developing a pretense - as usual.

    http://physicsreviewboard.word.....ure-fraud/

    http://greatnonprofits.org/rev.....te/166232/

  • PhysicsReviewBoard||

    Mark Goldes, starting in the mid-seventies, engaged for several years in the pretense that his company SunWind Ltd was developing a nearly production-ready, road-worthy, wind-powered "windmobile," based on the windmobile invented by James Amick; and that therefore SunWind would be a wonderful investment opportunity.

    After SunWind "dried up" in 1983, Goldes embarked on the long-running pretense that his company Room Temperature Superconductors Inc was developing room-temperature superconductors; and that therefore Room Temperature Superconductors Inc would be a wonderful investment opportunity. He continues the pretense that the company developed something useful, even to this day.

    And then Goldes embarked on the pretense that his company Magnetic Power Inc was developing "NO FUEL ENGINES" based on "Virtual Photon Flux;" and then, on the pretense that MPI was developing horn-powered "NO FUEL ENGINES" based on the resonance of magnetized tuning-rods; and then, on the pretense that his company Chava Energy was developing water-fueled engines based on "collapsing hydrogen orbitals" (which are ruled out by quantum physics); and then, on the pretense that he was developing ambient-heat-powered "NO FUEL ENGINES" (which are ruled out by the Second Law of Thermodynamics).

    http://physicsreviewboard.word.....institute/

  • PhysicsReviewBoard||

    One of the most laughable of Mark Goldes' many pseudotypes is his "POWERGENIE" horn-powered generator. The brilliant idea of this revolutionary breakthrough is to blow a horn at a magnetized tuning rod, designed to resonate at the frequency of the horn, and then collect the electromotive energy produced by the vibrations of the rod.

    [The device incorporates] "an energy transfer and multiplier element being constructed of a ferromagnetic substance... having a natural resonance, due to a physical structure whose dimensions are directly proportional to the wavelength of the resonance frequency...

    "In this resonant condition, the rod material functions as a tuned waveguide, or longitudinal resonator, for acoustic energy...

    "Ferrite rod 800 is driven to acoustic resonance at the second harmonic of its fundamental resonant frequency by acoustic horn 811..."

    - But the patent doesn't tell us who will volunteer to blow the horn at the rod all day. Perhaps it will come with an elephant.

    Mark Goldes claimed in 2008 that this wonderful triumph of human genius would bring his company, Magnetic Power Inc, one billion dollars in annual revenue by 2012. Magnetic Power is now defunct, having never produced any "Magnetic Power Modules" - just as Goldes' company called "Room Temperature Superconductors Inc" is also now defunct, having never produced any "room temperature superconductors."

    http://physicsreviewboard.word.....seudotype/

  • Jayburd||

    If only Dr. Raj and Algore had invested in nuclear.....

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