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View Diary: James Hansen at MIT (86 comments)

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  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Albanius, FindingMyVoice

    I was taking notes as fast as I could but still missed some of the pertinent numbers from time to time.  I try to make it clear where I'm not sure about the facts.

    •  Thank YOU for excellent and important diary, rec'd (5+ / 0-)

      despite Hansen's wishful thinking about nukes, which you reported w/o concurring.

      New nukes are too slow to deploy to contribute much to GHG reductions, and they are so expensive (because so much dangerous radioactivity and potential nuclear weapons material must be contained) that the opportunity cost of spending multi-billions on them would have a net adverse effect on the climate.  As Lovins has explained, investing the same billions in end use efficiency and renewable supply would deliver MUCH more energy services per dollar, and the economics of clean energy has improved greatly since he made that case.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 08:14:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lovins (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LI Mike, Albanius

        Hansen spent some time in his political lecture outlining his disagreements with Lovins, namely efficiency is not enough.

        I asked him a question about this in the Q and A, pointing out that we've plateaued our energy usage for the past 20 years and that our annual energy budget, as calculated by Lawrence Livermore National Lab, show that we "reject" about 60% of the energy we produce.  Even within that context, he affirmed that efficiency is not enough and that the Jeavons paradox applies, although not in those words.

        •  Nobody says efficiency alone is enough (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gmoke

          but efficiency investments generally are the most cost effective, with the fastest payback, and net savings in important cases within a few years in direct costs (aside from avoided external costs.)

          Joe Romm emphasizes that the way to think about remedies is in terms of stabilization wedges, as proposed by Profs. Socolow and Pacala of Princeton:

          A portfolio of technologies now exists to meet the world’s energy needs over the next 50 years and limit atmospheric CO2 to a trajectory that avoids a doubling of the preindustrial concentration. Every element in this portfolio has passed beyond the laboratory bench and demonstration project; many are already implemented somewhere at full industrial scale. Although no element is a credible candidate for doing the entire job (or even half the job) by itself, the portfolio as a whole is large enough that not every element has to be used.
          Both Romm and Socolow support further R&D for breakthrough technologies, but emphasize that already proven technologies are sufficient if deployed rapidly.

          The full set of wedges includes efficiency improvements, both those already cost effective and those that are subsidized to account for external benefits, various renewable supplies, reforestation, and dubious technologies like nuclear and CCS (carbon capture and storage). A subset would be sufficient to stabilize the climate below the likely threshold of runaway positive feedbacks, but time is running short.

          There's no such thing as a free market!

          by Albanius on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 09:44:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It should also be noted (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Albanius, gmoke

            that we don't know exactly where some of these tipping points are, and if the climate sensitivity is at the higher end of estimates, as some of the paleo-climate data suggests, it will increase how many 'wedges' you actually need to succeed in staving off disaster.

            •  The sane response would be to err on the side of (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gmoke

              safety, and keep emissions as far below potential triggers as feasible, considering that the present value of the cost of getting it wrong is in the hundreds of trillions or quadrillion$.

              Unfortunately we are in an era of hegemonic coprorate capitalism; insofar as corporations can be regarded as people, they behave like sociopaths.

              But as Bill Moyers keeps reminding us, organized people can beat organized money, so our task is to organize enough people.  

              Talking point #1: a clean energy revolution would create millions of good domestic jobs.

              Talking point to avoid: "we're DOOOOOMED!"

              There's no such thing as a free market!

              by Albanius on Sun Apr 20, 2014 at 10:17:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  IMHO, the Jevons paradox is overstated. We (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gmoke

          have done the experiment. Increasing the fuel efficiency of the automobile fleet has not increased the amount of driving to the extent that it outweighs the increase in fuel efficiency. IOW, per capita demand for gasoline went down.
             I suspect that we can, in fact, substitute away from fossil fuels with nuclear playing only a minor role.
             

          •  Gasoline prices are historically high and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gmoke

            the standard of living for most people is going down. As a result, most people need the $ for food and other things rather than increasing driving. Jeavons paradox probably requires other things be held constant.

      •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
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        Agathena, gmoke

        Top five problems with nuclear power:

        1) Cost of building into the billions for each new reactor

        2) Relying on the manufacture and maintenance as being full-proof, when there are incentives to cut corners (as with any human endeavor - but, the consequences here are immense).

        3) No good means of waste disposal, with the US in fact having no long term protocol or solution for housing nuclear waste; as of now, all waste is held at each nuclear reactor 'temporarily'.

        4) Relying on governments of the future to handle and maintain facilities and waste protection hundreds/thousands of years into the future.

        5) Nuclear power does not address a primary cause of CO2: liquid fossil fuel used for transportation/commerce. So, billions of dollars are invested, the chance for catastrophic scenarios are increased, while funds that could be used for truly sustainable fuels are funneled into these huge nuclear projects. And, all in a bid to continue status quo energy comsumption.

        •  Nuclear power plants contribute to greenhouse (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gmoke

          gas emissions too. But the problem of waste disposal seems insurmountable. The problem of cleaning up after a natural disaster involving nuclear power plants has been proven to be unsurmountable (Fukushima).

          •  Waste disposal is an issue (0+ / 0-)

            but it is not true that nuclear power plants contribute to greenhouse gas emission.  Nuclear power fissioning of uranium atoms produces no carbon emissions.

            •  Yes nuclear plants do contribute to GHG (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gmoke

              http://www.motherearth.org/...

              And GHGs contain more than carbon dioxide, there's methane for example, coming from Fracking for natural gas.

            •  It's the construction that makes lots of GHGs (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gmoke

              Cement plants are one of the worst contributors, plus all the other manufacturing and transportation involved.

              •  Yes, exactly (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gmoke

                construction contributes to GHGs, not the energy creation itself.

                And, I should have added a sixth major problem with nuclear power:

                When we are dealing with the consequences of global warming, e.g. increased storm power, drought, resource depletion, etc., do we really want also to be dealing with trying to maintain numerous nuclear facilities that require huge amounts of cooling, monitoring, and structural reinforcement issues, not to say upwards of millions (perhaps billions) of dollars of funds to do so?

                The idea that Hanson has about nuclear power is it is the only feasible way to maintain our current standard of living, monetarily and therefore culturally. Perhaps that is true - for a certain amount of time before the 'final bill' comes due and our culture and standard of living will be decimated anyhow.

                Wouldn't it be better to try to find a way to transition to something else: yes, a different standard of living and culture. But, one that does not put such huge, unforgiving demands on our long term success.

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