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he final outcome and cost of the nuclear accident at Fukushima are yet to be determined but the obituary of the nuclear industry has already been written, and one competing source of power has already been declared the absolute winner by the Serious People: natural gas.

To fill the gap, renewables are likely to receive a boost. But there will also be a need for a reliable power generation that works even when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow. Gas-fired power plants are quick and cheap to build, and natural gas is plentiful in the US. It could also be abundant in Europe and China if American production techniques can be imported. (FT)

Despite a push to increase power generated from renewable sources such as solar and wind power, the wind doesn't blow all the time even in Northern Europe, and the sun is notoriously elusive. Renewables aren't cheap either, in part because they need other methods of power generation to back them up because they generate intermittently. Despite improved technologies, coal is still a relatively dirty fuel, while switching to oil in a $100-a-barrel world doesn't seem appealing either. But there is a fuel that's plentiful, and becoming more so, emits significantly less carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour generated than coal, and where power stations can be built and online in a relatively short time: natural gas.(WSJ)

The theme is eerily similar: renewables are nice, but unSerious (not "reliable," too expensive) so we need to rely on the big boys. Coal is a bit too dirty to be pushed openly, so gas is it. Cheap, abundant, clean and quick to be ramped up. Case closed.

Or is it? Let's take all of these arguments in turn.

Added to my Wind Power series

Gas is "clean?"

This one is actually simple: gas is clean only when compared to coal.

Burning gas means fewer particles and other nasty by-products than what you get from burning coal. Producing and transporting gas is also generally less dirty than producing and transporting coal. And burning gas means emissions of carbon dioxide which are roughly half that of coal for the same production of electricity.

Source: Externe project

But it still produces a lot of carbon emissions - a lot more than other alternatives - and natural gas itself, is methane, is a much more potent hothouse gas than carbon dioxide, so any losses during production and transport need to be added there with a high contributing factor.

Gas is "abundant?"

This is a perception which has taken hold in the past 2 years, as demand in the US fell (due to the crisis) while production actually increased, thanks to new developments and the emergence of shale gas as a significant contributor to the country's production. This in turn has significantly lowered US imports of LNG, releasing these volumes for Europe and Asia and creating an impression of glut over there as well.

The articles above flag this new source of gas, and suggest that similar developments could happen in Europe, where shale gas deposits do exist and could provide a domestic source of gas. But this overlooks a number of things:

  • shale gas is generally more expensive to produce than current prices suggest. This FT article notes that shale gas costs are probably double current gas prices, and Arthur Berman over at the Oil Drum has some extensive writing (see the most recent one) on this;
  • shale gas creates serious environmental problems as it uses production techniques ("fracking") which, while well known to the industry, create issues of water use (large volumes) and water pollution which are much more sensitive in the inhabited areas where shale gas tends to be found than in more traditional out-of-the-way areas of gas production;
  • most importantly, shale gas volumes are not that significant in the long run, even in the US. A lot has been made out of the most recent prospective study by the US DoE, which sees shale gas providing almost half of US gas within 25 years, but as the graph below shows, this mostly compensates the decline in traditional production and does not even allow the country to eliminate its need for imports from Canada. (And of course, this assumes a "business as usual" scenario, with no significant switch from nuclear towards gas-fired electricity generation beyond current trends):


While shale gas has indeed changed the dynamics of the gas markets, and has allowed a new source of gas to contribute to the overall supply, the fact remains that 50% of world reserves are controlled by Russia and Iran, and most of the rest from the same countries which control the oil supply, so "abundance," in addition to being a temporary situation, is still a concept largely subject to political risk. This is seen as a small risk today (because of that short term "abundance") but go back just 4-5 years to see how our leadership can quickly become hysterical about this...

Gas is "cheap?"

Current gas prices are lowish:


If anything, that graph demonstrates that natural gas prices are highly volatile. So electricity prices for gas-fired plants are highly dependent on what assumptions one makes about future prices - for the next 25 years! Most price scenarios, and in particular the most widely quoted one from the IEA (see here)  tend to see slow increases over time, with no volatility and no expectation of geopolitical or geophysical disruption.

Additionally, as I've noted before in various articles (see here for instance), gas-fired electricity is currently advantaged cost-wise by the political choice made in the past 2 decades that power sector investment should be made by the private sector rather than the public sector - that means that the discount rate, ie the cost of money, for investment in the sector is higher today than it has ever been. Gas-fired plants are the cheapest to build per MW, and most of the cost of electricity in their case comes from the cost of fuel - so using a higher discount rate increases the overall cost per kWh less than for other technologies, thus giving gas a very real relative advantage. Again, this is a political choice and absolutely not an objective fact.

Despite all this, estimates of the long term cost of gas-fired power do not show any meaningful advantage for gas:

Source: ExxonMobil's "Energy Outlook: A view to 2030"

Which takes us to the arguments that we'll do gas because the alternatives, ie wind or solar, besides being more expensive, are simply not reliable or scale-able enough.

Renewables are too expensive?

As the graph above shows, onshore wind is fully cost competitive, in the long run, with other traditional sources (coal, gas, nuclear), even when one accepts a whole set of highly loaded assumptions (no payment of externalities by the various sectors beyond a largely symbolic price for carbon, continued expectation that the private-sector cost of capital is the relevant metric, no price for security of supply).

But as I've noted repeatedly (for instance in The cost of wind, the price of wind, the value of wind, or in Wind's latest problem: it ... makes power too cheap or in Wind Lowers Prices: New Scientist), wind, as a zero-marginal cost of production source, has an additional effect on market prices, bringing them down for consumers.

Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

So, either we are in a market situation, and that effect should be taken into account, or we are not, in which case the cost of capital variable should be brought back into the equation in wind's favor when calculating its long term average cost.

Renewables are not reliable?

The next argument is (as noted in the footnote of ExxonMobil's graph) that renewable energy sources are intermittent and unreliable as providers of firm production capacity. The intermittency of wind and solar is very real and obvious (although they should not be overstated - both offshore wind and solar production patterns happen to follow intra-day variations of demand quite closely; with offshore wind's capacity factor around  50% or more in the North Sea, intermittency is not an issue most of the time), but it is also something that (i) current systems know how to deal with at almost no cost, (ii) could become a problem only at very high penetrations, and (iii) will remain a problem only if our grid stays as it is and does not adapt over the next few decades as renewables increase their share of generation.

As DoDo noted in the The 3-part view of power generation, the intermittency of renewables is largely predictable, and thus no harder to deal with than the daily variations of demand - which current systems deal with, as it were, on a daily basis...thus the argument that the "cost of backup" for wind or solar is largely insignificant (adding, at most, a few % to the cost of wind)

DoDo pointed here to an interesting table:

Source: the Oil Drum

That table indicates the compatibility of different technologies with each other. Basically, gas and hydro are compatible with everything else, and can be used for peak load or balancing; most other technologies are less flexible and thus largely incompatible with each other - except, interestingly, wind with solar. What this means is that wind or solar are no harder to incorporate in a power generation system than nukes or coal, provided that you have sufficient flexible capacity in the form of hydro or gas. While this does suggest a long future for gas in the power sector (as a provider of peaking plants and daily balancing capacity) where hydro is not available, it certainly does not mean that baseload needs to be done by gas.

And what the Japanese crisis demonstrates as well is that large power plants have "intermittency" problems of their own: when they are offline, which does not require event as rare as 9.0 earthquakes (a technical problem on a power line can have the same consequence), the system may not have enough spare capacity to deal with their sudden large-scale disappearance, or have to deal with blackouts. Dispersed generation sources like renewables do not present this risk.

Renewables are too small?

The last argument is that renewables are simply not up to the task because they are too small to matter. But this is silly. That renewables were small does not mean that it will remain this way. There are no practical obstacles to building up capacity - and it has indeed happened when policies made it possible. Denmark went to 20% of its generation from wind in less than a decade in the 90s, using what was then less mature technology; Germany has gone from less than 10% of its capacity to close to 40% being renewables in less than 10 years...

The reality is that gas-fired power is the default solution for a number of bad reasons: it's a price-maker and thus a smaller financial risk, it's more profitable for private sector investors than for public sector utilities, and it's backed by large and powerful incumbent industrial companies. But inertia is not a policy.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots, Sunday Train, and Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (142+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    In her own Voice, rb137, bythesea, jan4insight, ceebs, Hedwig, drewfromct, b00g13p0p, Rachel Q, renewables, lilnev, kafkananda, Dauphin, foucaultspendulum, afew, jnhobbs, boots on the ground, wu ming, Ellinorianne, Unbozo, Detlef, trueblueliberal, maggiejean, MackInTheBox, greatferm, LookingUp, DRo, Roger Fox, retrograde, jimstaro, hopeful human, BigVegan, US Blues, ExStr8, Ocelopotamus, gizmo59, FoundingFatherDAR, churchylafemme, ozsea1, MarkInSanFran, artebella, LaFeminista, ATFILLINOIS, mightymouse, zerelda, implicate order, begone, RAST, geraldlaslo, NancyK, frisco, FishOutofWater, Mary Mike, Sneelock, JeffW, shaharazade, RubDMC, kck, political junquie, BruceMcF, terabytes, Orinoco, roses, Moderation, CA Nana, aoeu, inclusiveheart, damfino, WI Deadhead, wytcld, Situational Lefty, Shockwave, Renee, On The Bus, jabney, pensivelady, Anne was here, itzik shpitzik, Paul Ferguson, kalmoth, incognita, Egalitare, Larsstephens, princesspat, watershed, pat bunny, joynow, wvmom, mawazo, myboo, ctsteve, pgm 01, nirbama, Mr Robert, soothsayer99, Boreal Ecologist, sagesource, xaxnar, JekyllnHyde, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, eeff, northsylvania, splashy, Ooooh, supercereal, Jim P, vigilant meerkat, Calamity Jean, Ray Radlein, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, coolbreeze, BYw, Joieau, FrY10cK, cotterperson, mauricehall, Drama Queen, TAH from SLC, clb, Russgirl, millwood, erratic, riverlover, One Pissed Off Liberal, HoundDog, Odysseus, Outrider, BlueDragon, Zinman, EquationDoc, alizard, california keefer, koNko, highacidity, Notreadytobenice, wonmug, out of left field, SolarMom, dsteffen, radical simplicity, marina, raoul78
    •  Who will lead the way out of nuclear hell? (15+ / 0-)

      Thank you so much for this diary, Jerome.  I'm so tired of hearing that sustainable technologies can't solve the energy crisis we face.

      Of course they can! With real leadership and investment, and an honest effort to achieve conservation and efficiency, we certainly can supply our energy needs with green, renewable technologies. If not today, then soon.

      Nuclear provided a fantasy of boundless energy that suited our boundless consumption to a T.  And now we know without a shadow of a doubt that there's no such thing as boundless energy without an enormous cost.

      A new vision, a realistic, plausible, green vision, is the only thing that can help change our focus now away from yet another quick fix with a high long-term cost.  

      Who has the courage to take the lead in getting a more realistic vision into public view?

      •  Politicians not owned by the energy industry? (10+ / 0-)

        Because that is where we must start before any real change can occur. Leaders in this country are still saying today that Nuclear needs to be part of our future. Regardless of how the Japanese situation is resolved, all new plants for this dangerous fuel should be cancelled, and existing, flawed plants shut down. The way out is solar and wind, and we need a government led campaign to get their. It is embarrassing that the United States has lagged other Western countries so badly. Germany is not exactly a sunny country, and yet they are racing ahead installing solar as well as wind. I am sick to death of the arguments that renewables are to hard to store. Focus technology on that, let's make the decision that we will go there, and it will happen.

        My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. Benjamin Disraeli

        by pvmuse on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:49:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's urgent that we have these discussion now. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko, political junquie, BruceMcF

          Last week capital hill was swamped with nuclear industry lobbyists trying to keep the fix in with the $36 billion federal loan guareentee subsidies in the Obama budget.  

          My expectation is that this will emerge in the fine print of whatever grand budget compromise we get in the next few weeks.

          Rep. Ed Markey, D - MA, is urging colleages to take this out pending Congressional hearings on the Fukashima events.

          But, if we guarentee the profitability for investors at higher rates they can get in Treasury Bills we might find outselves locked into another 50 year cycles of sub-optimal nuclear energy plants.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:04:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  China outspent the US 2x on clean energy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          political junquie

          In 2009 and when the data is in for 2010 it is likely to be even higher.

          It may be more politically useful to stress this given the current US political mindset where China is now viewed as it's greatest competitor in the 21st Century.

          I have to tolerate the China bashing anyway so I don't mind people using this if it motivates Americans to DO SOMETHING.

          Some useful information:

          Pew: Who is inning the clean energy race?

          DBCCA: Global Climate Change Policy Tracker

          DBBCA Research Paper Homepage (multiple papers)


          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 07:59:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's up to you and me... always. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, political junquie
        We the people... that is our constitutional duty.  To make things better FOR ALL not just plutocrats.

        One small step to start here:

        Along with no nuke action signature at link --- This site has a lot of good links, updates to JPN current situation, political, etc.


        Watch NOT what "they say" -- but what "they DO".

        Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.- Margaret Mead

      •  Can you define "nuclear hell"? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, lexington1, Recall, Mcrab

        How many have died because of radiation in Japan? How many died at Three Mile Island?

        The answers are "none" and "none".

        All this fear and panic over nuclear energy is doing is making oil, gas and coal operators gleeful.

        •  agreed, and on the greenhouse gas emissions chart (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Recall, highacidity

          nuclear energy is at the bottom of the list. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's certainly still a viable option.

          Also, as far as I can tell, the fantasy of boundless energy has merely been relocated to AlternativeEnergyLandia, where solar, wind and tidal power produce all the energy we could ever use. Going green is a fine fine idea, as long as it doesn't require any inconvenience or lifestyle changes.

          Fukushima has not inspired a discussion of significantly reducing energy consumption, and neither did Chernobyl, 9/11, BP, or any of the other energy-related crises over the last few decades...

          PS excellent diary Jerome, much appreciated!

        •  No, we don't know the deaths in Japan (4+ / 0-)

          You are wildly speculating. Many of the workers received significant doses. Some workers died in the explosions or other accidents during the crisis. I am clearly pro-nuclear, but your premature dismissal when you don't have enough information harms the discussion.

          •  Bullshit. (0+ / 0-)

            People have received millions of times more "significant doses" from fossil fuel burning power plants.

            •  Really? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BruceMcF, raoul78

              How many times do you think I've mentioned that in my comments? Do you think that's something I don't know already?

              You made a bold statement that you can't support. The truth is you don't know how many people are going to die from rad exposure in Fukushima. You don't have that fucking data. No one here does. Man up and admit it.

              •  Do I know how many died... (0+ / 0-)

                from the Three Mile Island "disaster"? You bet I do. Zero.

                Do I know how many have died from radiation in Japan? You bet I do. Zero.

                President Obama, whose backbone I have often questioned, at least has the courage and intelligence to stand by nuclear power as a significant part of our future energy production.

                If you believe it shouldn't be that, you have your head pretty far up your ass.

                •  Neither conclusion is justified (0+ / 0-)

                  there is conflicting scientific data regarding TMI.  There is NO data on Fukushima yet.

                  I am adamantly pro-nuclear but I am also NOT going to make claims that are based on nothing more than my opinion.

                  That doesn't negate the fact that coal and gas kill people in orders of magnitude higher numbers than nuclear accidents.  

        •  Re: Three Mile Island (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          political junquie

          There have been studies that have shown health effects from the Three Mile Island releases that have indeed resulted in more deaths than have otherwise occurred.  The people thus affected certainly did die because of the accident.  Sure, they did not keel over and die the day of the radiation releases, but that is small comfort to their families now.

          You can be certain that a number of the Japanese workers involved in the Fukushima accident have already received radiation damage that will shorten their lives.  When you say that radiation releases from nuclear plants, whether accidental or intentional (as happens in normal operation from time to time) don't kill anyone--well, that is just not correct.  Ionizing radiation does have bad health effects, and there is no known "safe" level of exposure.  Rather, exposure is cumulative in effect, and more exposure is always worse.

    •  new-generation nuclear: pebbles, thorium. (13+ / 0-)

      The way to get the baseload capacity needed to maximize renewables is by going forward rather than backward.

      Pebble bed reactors and liquid thorium reactors are intrinsically safe: melt-proof.  

      What's going to happen: China will do it while the rest of us are scratching our heads and drinking flammable water from natgas fracking.  

      •  While mature technology, eg LWR, ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... ought to sink or swim on whatever the business case is when realistic carbon pricing is included, without nuke-specific subsidies ...

        ... if we have a promise of nuclear technology that we could see deployed in Nigeria or the Democratic Republic of Congo without proliferation fears, that would merit R&D funding.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 03:47:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  we have that: it already exists. (0+ / 0-)

          Pebbles and thorium.  Can't use either to make nuclear weapons.  Could be deployed to any unstable place with no worries.

          We should be doing this with Iran right now:  "We'll give you thorium technology free including reprocessing, if you drop uranium technology."  Publicize this widely enough in the right ways and it would fly.  

    •  Big Hurdle is Lack of Mega Profits (10+ / 0-)

      Non-renuable energy sources are popular because they offer an easy path to huge profits. As we have seen with the oil companies soaring oil prices leads to huge windfall profits that are not dependent on the actual cost of extracting the oil. Renewable energy is less popular simply because there is no way to extract huge profits. Instead of selling a commodity where the sky's the limit in profits, they would be tied to a fixed profit model as they became little more then overseers of wind and solar farms.

      I've read that the cost of windpower is so very low once it is up and running that there is almost no scope for profit of any kind. Even worse, from their perspective, is the thought of solar panels on everybody's roof where they would not be making any money at all and may even be forced to pay for the energy everybody is producing by taking it back into the grid and redistributing it.

      Nothing is going to change as long as we the highly profitable dirty energy industries are allowed to call the shots in Washington.

      •  No, people will always make money (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Russgirl, erratic, koNko

        electricity will always be scarce and people will always want it. None of the technologies we are discussing radically reduce the cost of generation to zero (the marginal cost, but that's different) so there will always be plenty of opportunities for businessmaking as the world population continues to expand and climb up the development ladder.

        •  The greedy guys want a higher mo. rent! (0+ / 0-)

          They can't control small off grid shops people can learn to make themselves.

          Time for people to decide - not greed head corporations - who are killing our world for profit.  

        •  The problem is Who and How much (0+ / 0-)

          Why do fossel fuel producers and commodity trades hate wind? It is a cheaper form of energy and cuts off their legs.

          A significant problem is renewable energy equipment industry does not have the $$Politial Clout$$ of the fossil fuel industry.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 08:06:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure nuclear is dead (0+ / 0-)

      Even if no more plants are built the existing inventory will be with us for awhile so the saftey issues won't go aay and have to be delat with. But no dount the staus quo on nuclear is DOA and as old plants are taken off-line as was done in Germany this week, we must make up for the capacity loss (given that world power consumption is increasing despite greater use effciency in some coutires).

      So why gas? Because, as you say, we are conditioned to think renewables are "marginal" and:

      :: We can't survice without them
      :: The myth they are clean
      :: Bridge technolgy (lesser evil than coal)
      :: $$$ for producers and traders
      :: $$$ for politicians

      Opinion: Refer to the last 2.

      So is it any suprise publications like the FT propagandize on this?

      Excellent diary, T+R

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 07:43:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Greenhouse gas emissions (0+ / 0-)

      Looking at the first chart showing greenhouse gas emissions of various energy generating methods, I have to question if the figures for Nuclear are accurate.  When talking about Nuclear's carbon footprint, we should be considering the entire plant construction cycle, the entire nuclear fuel cycle and the costs associated with decommissioning old plants and of storing spent fuel--the last of which occurs over a period of possibly hundreds of years.  If we make sure to figure in all of the above, Nuclear's carbon footprint may not look as good as the graph suggests.

      When we add in the hidden financial costs of Nuclear--that liability insurance for Nuclear plants would be impossible to obtain if most of the cost were not subsidized by the public, as well as the costs of cleanup from accidents, and the historical research and development costs of the atomic bomb industry, which were very large indeed (the Manhattan project involved an investment roughly equivalent to the total invested in the U.S. automobile industry at the time)--well, Nuclear power is not such a good deal as its proponents would have us believe.

  •  Reality therapy! (19+ / 0-)

    Thanks for jumping in, Jerome, with some "reality therapy" about our energy resources.  What we need is more creativity and less pressure from the ptb in energy production companies and their supporters.

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:26:12 AM PDT

  •  Oh, wind power is evil (41+ / 0-)
    Wind farms kill whales: blubber on the green movement's hands

    The price of wind?

    So wind farms don’t just despoil countryside, frighten horses, chop up birds, spontaneously combust, drive down property prices, madden those who live nearby with their subsonic humming, drive up electricity prices, promote rentseeking, make rich landowners richer (and everyone else poorer), ruin views, buy more electric sports cars for that dreadful Dale Vince character, require rare earth minerals which cause enormous environmental damage, destroy 3.7 real jobs for every fake “green” job they “create”, blight neighbourhoods, kill off tourism and ruin lives, but they also KILL WHALES!

    In case there was any doubt, the story about whales (to which I am not linking)  is, of course, a complete fabrication...

    •  Now that's funny . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      In her own Voice, ExStr8, highacidity

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:34:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  its ok its an istyosty link (5+ / 0-)

      to cut out going to their pages


      This site was set up after readingthis. I thought it would be more fair to the statistics if only people who actually liked the daily mail appeared as a "hit" on the site. We are a proxy service enabling users to view that particular site without necessarily visiting it. Pages are cached here for a few days so many hits on a particular story will only count as one initial hit on that website (until the page is re-cached). Hits to the homepage however, are updated every few hours to keep it reasonably current. This system has the added advantage of providing anonymity from their invasive tracking and the advertisements from companies that should know better (we strip the ads, referer information and the javascript by default).

      Interviewer: What do you believe is behind this recent increase in terrorist bombings? Helpmann: Bad sportsmanship

      by ceebs on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:39:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And it kills kittens, too! Really! n/t (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExStr8, grrr, incognita, pat bunny, highacidity

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:56:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the farmers in (12+ / 0-)

      eastern OR like it.  It helps them financially and doesn't interfere with their crops. I read an interview with a farmer who was even extolling their beauty.   They helped push back on the opposition kicked up my the military for installing new wind farms. After what Fnron did to our state financailly, you would think that state governments would get behind this especially in areas like eastern OR which are perfect for them.  Same with the gorge here Portland it's windy most of the time strong winds that I experience most of the year as my neighborhood is near the mouth.  

    •  Jerome, a methodological question that is not (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, Jerome a Paris, BruceMcF

      meant as a criticism of you, but actually to make you point even stronger.

      When Exxon presents these side by side comparisons of electrical generation cost without footnote, is there not a serious and misleading methodological error being committed?

      Specifically, this seem as if they are the cost for the individual investors in the plants no the true costs to society we should be looking at as policies makers for the common good.

      The Price-Anderson Act, in the US limits industry liability in urban zones to ridiculously low levels.  If a fire in any of the 100 plus side in which spent fuel rods are stored, causes a Chernobyl like release, which Albert Averez says is possible, it could leave 200 square miles ininhabitable for decades.   And born by tax-payers.   Is it not true that the comparitive advantage shown for nuclear in this chart does not reflect this, and other "externalities" for nuclear.

      Another big one, is the long-term waste storage costs, and the risk terrorist events, and the extra costs of guarding them.

      If a terrorist could induce a Chernobyl like fire in the spent fuel rods cooling ponds, by displacing the water, and igniting the rods, we are going to have to have a tremendous escalation of protections.  A Cessna airplane, drone, or small rocket, loaded with fuel or C4 could ignite the rods in such ponds.

      So will we now need expanded peri-meter no-fly zones around all 104 US nuclear plants, (not to mention weapons grade, and hospital wastes?)   The perimeter needs to be large enough to allow time for the nearest US Fighters on standby to arrive in time to intercept this threats.   Of, course, we will sometimes mess up and accidentially take down innocent civilians.

      Patriot missle batteries, with advanced low altitude radar arrays, may help against rocket attacks.  But, I pressume none of these costs makes it into the comparitive cost chart above.

      Additionally, let's pressume the Federal Government forces the people of Nevada to accept Yucca Mountain as the permenent repository for these wastes.

      Let's now imagine the enormous tasks of thousands and thousands of secret unmarked truck transporting these waste with caravans of armed escorts.  

      Accidents happen, and will be unfortunate.  But, think also of the security, and intelligence considerations.  Every secruity guard, loading dock worker, logistics scheduller, and anyone else knowledgable about routes, schedules, the look of the trucks, is going to need security clearences, and subsequent moniteering to make sure they do not link up with terrorists.   How do we quantify these costs?   I suspect they are also not included in the above chart.

      My understanding is that former CIA director Woolsey,  a former strong advocate of nuclear power, has just surprised folks by stepping back, warning that, globally,  the extensive education in nuclear engineering required for the civilian nuclear industry, risk proliferation of the knowledge of our to construct nuclear weapons programs, and of course, also trains potential terrorist of the many opportunities here.   Are these cost included in those charts?

      So, it is hard for me to imagine that an extensive system of an upgraded smart electrical grid (which we should do anyway), combined with a variety of wind, solar, tidal, geo-thermal, and some back-up, variation backfill bio-mass, and natural gas, would not be vastly less expensive on a per unit basis than the true cost of the nuclear option to us as societies.

      Which is the way we should be making these decisions, it seems to me.  

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:10:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That get impossibly complex (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, BruceMcF

        To hang a number on because it is speculative.

        The cart is pretty clear on the variables considered, with or withhout an assumed cost burden for carbom emissions.

        But one factor a bit easer to cost that improves the position of renewables is the social cost of emissions including healthcare and environmental degradation, where there have be studies that could be used as a baseline.

        I agree with your point, it's just hard to monitize and invites distracting arguments so I think better left as a bullet on the potential risk walkdown verses cost comparrisons.

        Carbon taxation provides a practical measure.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 08:25:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with your idea of a carbon tax. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Maybe we should have a radiation tax too.  

          It's better that we have some explicit recognition of the concept.  We could admit that it's not high enough to represent the real costs because of the complexity.

          But, they are real costs koNko.  And, uncertanty as real cost implications as well.

          That's why borrowers pay more than the "risk-free-rate.  We call it the risk-premium.

          But, my complaint is the chart above makes not footnote qualification of these left out cost.

          The only value we know for sure is wrong is zero, which is what these representations, represent.

          If we included a 10% "radiation uncertainy tax."   Or a risk of terrorism tax, with the footnote that it's vastly higher but, exactly how is uncertain, and government will have to absorb those cost later, it would lead to a higher qualify discussion.

          Instead of say, alternatives may be a little more expensive now, as represented by these uncertain estimates, by the extra-uncertainty is on the side of radiation, and/or global warming.

          Maybe it's going to be much worse.

          Then folks might say, you know, we better take a chance on those photo-voltiacs.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:01:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortuantely .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... there is a certian segement of the public against wind because they buy into the bird death argument and are not inclined to compare this to the number killed by burning coal.

      Seach this site and you will find diaries on the subjet.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 08:16:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That clean, green, natural gas. (22+ / 0-)

    When you take into account actually collecting producing it, it's unbelievably dirty. "Gas is clean" is just another inaccurate GOP talking point.

    But to renewables: imo, they are suffering from the fact that the energy market is anti-competitive, and from lack of working capital. It would help a lot if we increased loan guarantees to green businesses. The DOE keeps cutting that pot, though.

    It's hard to get venture capital, too. R&D is crippling to small businesses and startups (this is responsible for some of that anti-competition with large companies that have research budgets) -- release to market in theswe circles often takes longer than the life of a patent. When that's true, forget venture capital.

    There are many corners to this fight for renewables. We have a lot of work to do.

    Please donate to HEAL Africa, and support HR4128.

    by rb137 on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:35:58 AM PDT

    •  Plus lots of political and institutional barriers (9+ / 0-)

      to putting new power sources on the grid. The barriers are specific to different states and regions. Huge problem.

      •  the problem is huge (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rb137, BYw, highacidity, out of left field

        and we have to get away from centralized power and use a more robust, distributed power grid.  That makes LOCAL (IE renewable) power more efficient and desirable.

        Yes, I am psychic...or was that psycho? I always forget which.

        by Farradin on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:25:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But could you imagine if we launched a Manhatten (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic, Farradin, highacidity

          like Project to solve this, and the storage problem?  

          And put this $36 billion nuclear subsidy into renewable alternatives.

          Last week, Meteor Blades did a night owl discussion about some small amount of money for research and development for solar, wind, and other renewable alternatives and it was so small it was sad.

          I think about $2 billion was the maximum proposal, and MB was reporting to warn us this was about to be stripped, or already stripped or something so sad, I couldn't even read the details.

          Could be a lot of jobs in such efforts as well.  Long-term green jobs, difficult to outsource overseas, and priming the pump kind of jobs that will lead to others.

          I mean upgrading our electrical grids to smart grids.  

          The variability factor in wind and solar become less of a problem as the areas within the economic transmission radius expands.  

          Just basic statistics, if the high winds shift north of one set of windmills, you need backup natural gas, or something.

          But, if your grid is so modern and smart, you just transmit the extra power from those winds caught be another windfarm north.  

          So some of this variability can be canceled out statistically with smarter, more efficient grids.  Theoretically, with super-cooled trunk transmission lines with virtually no resistence we could do this over such wide areas that we wouldn't need back up natural gas plants.

          This last one may be a bit of a stretch given current technology, but we should be researching the heck out of every breakthrough.

          And, storage technology.  

          Given the outraegously large non-included external costs, not included in these comparative cost charts, I wouldn't be surprised if we learned to "surprising" things with a more methodologically correct analysis.

          For example, some have proposed ideas like pumping water up into mountound ponds from surplus wind, or daytime solar electrical production, and then using the hydroelectric at night when it's not needed.

          But, experts correctly point out that we lose about 90% of the potential energy with each conversion, so these designs can not be economic.

          Which is why we need to know more precisely, what all these non-included real now external costs of nuclear really are.   It's conceviable we have a larger margin of error for creativity than we are currently allow ourselves.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:26:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, Windpower ... (9+ / 0-)

      ... even utility grade windpower, is Jeffersonian electricity supply, as opposed to the heavily centralized power (in both senses of the word) represented by coal, gas and nukes.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:05:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh rubbish (0+ / 0-)

        Your neighborhood co-op doesn't have a hope in hell of building an efficient wind turbine. For that you need an industrial base.

        Reactors can be scaled down to tiny sizes too. The US military is studying their use to power individual bases. Does that make nuclear "Jeffersonian"?

        •  They sure as hell can own ... (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, erratic, HoundDog, alizard, highacidity, prndl

          ... an efficient wind turbine, or even better, units in an efficient wind farm, which can go up in much smaller increments than any mature cost-competitive nuclear technology.

          Its a wonderful rhetorical twist to try to compared the minimum efficient scale of a wind turbine manufacturing plant with the scale of non-cost-competitive experimental nuclear reactors ~ but compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

          The scale of the individual cost-competitive units, wind vs nuclear, and the scale of the individual manufacturing plants, for wind turbines or for nuclear fuel rod assembly and processing ~ in both cases the required scale for nuclear power is greater.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:02:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what a pleasantly reasonable response (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, highacidity

            to a less reasonable comment...Nicely Done!

          •  As E.F. Schumaker pointed out in Small is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Beautiful in the 70s, to the extent we choose highly centralized, forms of energy production such as nuclear which require heavy military and police protection from the attacks of individuals, we simultaneously choose highly centralized, and vulnerable forms of social organizations, (i.e. police like states).

            When we choose energy infrastructure that allow individuals, like terrorists to inflict greater harm on the society, society then must take greater measures to protect itself from individuals.

            The amount of individual freedom we actually experience is a variable not a binary constant.   And, it is not an independent absolute, we discover how much of which we have, but a design choice we make in these large decisions we make like what forms of energy production we will have over the next 100 years.

            Is this what you mean by Jefferson, BruceMcF?

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:32:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Re: Oh rubbish (0+ / 0-)
          Your neighborhood co-op doesn't have a hope in hell of building an efficient wind turbine. For that you need an industrial base.

          Wrong.  Go see the Otherpower web site which contains complete plans and kits for building affordable wind turbines.  There are many off-the-grid homes that already use such wind turbines very effectively.

      •  to be efficient, we're always going to be (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        discussing very large scale, and still somewhat centralized, installations. Just because wind turbines come in small incremental units doesn't mean there is no economy of scale.

        •  But the fact that they come in ... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erratic, HoundDog, out of left field

          ... small incremental units is a difference that makes a difference. Treating a wind farm in our mind as a monolithic thing is a category mistake.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:23:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's actually a complex problem (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          out of left field

          I have put a lot of reserch into.

          In broad strokes, we can say there are situations where local grids and off grid are the best solutions, and others where grids are reality and won't go away so to improve effciency all grids ahve to migrate to smart grid technology and higher effciency transmission lines, which is a large undertaking that will and can be done incrementally but faces consumer resistance (which is very wrong-headed since they benifit).

          But here are a some key points advocates of small/beautiful need to understand better:

          :: Cities tend to be more energy effcient but depend on grids and face some problems ever achieving truely localized generation (although a higher fraction of local generation will be possible with increased use of solar).

          :: Industrial centers - again improvements in generation technology including cogeneration solar roof tops, etc can contribute a siugnificant fraction or in some cases all power, but generally requiring grids.

          :: Mass transit systems needing continuty of power particulary urban Metros, which greatly improve energy efficiency in comparrison to car (even EVs) and there the system is a grid.

          So I would reframe the issue by asking "What is energy diversity?"

          Diversity of scale and distribution is just as importiant as diversity of soure and there isn'a one size fits all solution.

          Some people make the arguement that off-grid is inherently better because you don't have a problem if a major source fails, but that ignores the reality that small soures fail and without a grid it is a much harder failure from 100-zero. Hence, even in situations were communities might be relatively self-suffcient, local smart grids are a better solution than none.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 08:46:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I love cities. The bigger the better. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'm in a metro area of about 6m. I want to be in a metro area of 20m. Or 50m.

            •  My Metro is 20m (0+ / 0-)

              And headed for 30m.

              This can be a nightmare without good urban planning and infrastruture when we were at 12m getting across towncould take 2 hours but with the rollout of the Shanghai Metro (which was a painfil 10 year proess) that comes down to 30 minutes and significantly improved quality of life.

              Yes city life can be good. Or horrid.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Tue Mar 22, 2011 at 09:24:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Great potential from wind and solar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sneelock, Russgirl

    So much more exploration and development that could bring more production of new, renewable energy.

    But what about further outside the box.  The Italian inventor, Rossi, has not yet been refuted in his claim of a new energy generator using cold fusion (that doesn't defy the law of thermodynamics).  Cheap and plentiful (only who would make money off its use) -- that's the main problem to its development and wide use, it seems.

    Energy generator

    Find your own voice--the personal is political.

    by In her own Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:38:21 AM PDT

    •  I tend to view any claim of cold fusion as (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      junk science. Its promoters don't release the details of their experiments so others can replicate them, and they don't release a commercially available model that others can test.

      Outside-the-box GOOD science would be lovely.

      •  Just can't help but wonder (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sneelock, wytcld, HoundDog

        how much ridicule of cold fusion possibilities has colored its being considered by "serious" scientists.  There are, as we know "serious scientists" who are deniers of climate change.  I am not a scientist in the area of physics, but I have been a "serious" researcher, and I know how scientific prejudices and funding sources can affect outcome.  So I like to keep an eye open to new possibilities.  Be glad to let this go, when nothing comes of it, but until then...

        Rossi Energy Amplifier or the Rossi Catalyzer

        "This would become the world's first commercially-ready "cold fusion" device. Licensees are mentioned, with contracts in the USA and in Europe. Mass production should escalate in 2-3 years. Presently Rossi says they are manufacturing a 1 megawatt plant composed of 125 modules. These modules should begin shipping in about three months. On January 31st, 2011, Rossi wrote: "The cost to produce the catalyzer is 1 cent per MWh generated; the life expectancy is 20 years; the cost impact is between 1 and 1.5 cents per MWh."  

        Find your own voice--the personal is political.

        by In her own Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, I would love to be wrong in this case, (6+ / 0-)

          and physics has its prejudices just like any other field.

          But efforts to duplicate cold fusion haven't worked, and the likelihood of a Nobel if anyone could demonstrate it reliably tends to offset the prejudice problem. :)

          •  I would love for you to be wrong (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ozsea1, nirbama, erratic, HoundDog

            as well!  And I can imagine a small-time inventor avoiding the ptb in the scientific community and going ahead with production and sales.  Therefore an uphill battle for laud and honor would be sacrificed for bringing a technology much needed in the world today to the forefront of availability.

            I can as easily imagine the "inventor" to be a charlatan scamming a public fearful about resource depletion for quick money.  After all, it is easy to get the press to buy into repeating ridiculous claims such as made recently by Ann Coulter--that radiation release in Japan could be good for us b/c it can help prevent cancer.

            Still, I will keep my hopes up for a powered up and mobile future, and my mind open to fringe science.  


            Find your own voice--the personal is political.

            by In her own Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:23:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  As much as I would love for all these folks to be (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              wrong, I'm not surprised by their skepticism.   It would seem to me, if anyone could demonstrate sustain cold fusion, it would be such a sensation, we would see breaking news from CNN, showing whole departments of tentured physists jumping up and down in the streets and refusing to go home.    lol

              We'd see pictures at 300 am of regular folks shouting out the windows, "shut up, wer're trying to sleep."   And, riot police would have to carry off Tenured faculty deparment heads from major universities to drunk tanks to restore order.

              This is actually a silly exageration to make the point, that we wouldn't hear about it first, in obsure alternative energy blogs, by folks like us, desparate for better alternatives.

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:39:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  More on low-energy nuclear science (0+ / 0-)

            Cold Fusion: It May Not Be Madness  from Tech News World

            ...serious scientists want to re-examine old prejudices with new, more sophisticated methods.

            "An unprecedented and widespread failure of the scientific method is partly to blame for the failure of Pons and Fleischmann," explained MU's Duncan, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Institute for Advanced Studies. "It made sense to question their results, but only insofar as the methods of the day were capable of reproducing them."


            "Cold fusion, or low-energy nuclear science, has benefited from exciting innovations and outstanding minds, yet massive, destructive 'group think,' has given it a checkered past," Duncan explained. "Now, however, it is of paramount importance that science proceed boldly, with a determined yet dispassionate focus, on the objective study of these fascinating phenomena."

            Find your own voice--the personal is political.

            by In her own Voice on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 04:26:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  My experience (23+ / 0-)

      is that every single one of these claims to have found a great new energy source is completely bunk.

      If it wasn't, ie if it could be replicated, you can be damn sure that a lot of Serious People would invest a lot of money in it to make it happen, because such a source would be an immediate massive money spinner.

      •  I think you're right, Jerome (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sneelock, Mary Mike, erratic, HoundDog

        And maybe I'm being stubborn about conceding yet just in order to remain optimistic or to prove a point about how some inventions/technologies have been discredited, bought out, or buried by large concerns in the current energy business -- just like wind and solar have.  I wonder what "serious" investor right now would consider an energy generator using a completely discredited technology?

        This particular report just grabbed at me -- maybe b/c it said all the right things to influence me to draw in my skeptic's antenna.  In the least, I am curious to see what happens, and bold enough (though probably through ignorance) to say so.

        Appreciate hearing your view, though, b/c I do respect it.

        Find your own voice--the personal is political.

        by In her own Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:39:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you've read the diary ... (12+ / 0-)

          ... there is plenty to be optimistic about. Countries that have adopted serious renewable policies have gained double digit shares in under a decade.

          So there is no need to hope for a big win from out in left field: we have already tested big wins already available, if we only elect to pursue them.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:13:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Capitalism, communitarianism, and non- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:


            A very complex system we are.  I've been keeping up with the energy group here at Kos for four years now, and I have been up to date with what's available, though I'm not currently up to date with the progress being made in pursuing them.  I am excited about the serious renewable energies that have come to the forefront.  However, I struggle with their development and use being at the hest of a capitalistic form of economy.  Even though we may develop clean energy, I am afraid that its distribution will still be "dirty".

            At the same time, I struggle with the power-down model suggested by so many in the environmental/peak oil people, like Richard Heinberg, who believes that, even with peak production of renewable energies, we will have to power down to the living standards of the fifties and lose a substantial portion of our population to make do.  The environmentally friendly communitarian approach to living within our means on renewable energies leaves something to be desired, also.  I would like to believe we could continue to advance and make an evolutionary leap to a space faring race.  I would like to believe there is a possible future where there is continued inventiveness and innovation, keeping the culture of man constantly refreshed and improved upon.

            A power source that is not commodified, one that is easily accessed, and has little waste is appealing to me from these perspectives.

            Find your own voice--the personal is political.

            by In her own Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:32:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Like Raiders of the Lost Ark - box it up (0+ / 0-)

        hide it - so they continue their sick game at everyone's expense but there's.

        WHY are these evil men not afraid of cancer?
        Did they find a solution and keep it to themselves?

        Just thinking out loud - been a little stressful for all these days.

    •  Shredded: 10KW LENR Demonstrator? (0+ / 0-)

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:53:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Windpower is several steps ahead ... (5+ / 0-)

      ... of "not yet refuted", in that it is a mature and proven technology onshore and a rapidly maturing technology offshore.

      A claim of "Not yet proven wrong" is much less to hang our hat on than an empirical observation of "proven right thousands of times so far".

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:07:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  cold fusion claims are automatically ignored (0+ / 0-)
  •  The "serious" people (13+ / 0-)

    will keep seriously sticking with fossil fuels as long as they and their cronies can keep making serious money off them.

    Unless and until they can make money off free and infinitely renewable wind, sun, and water power, they will continue to oppose them.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:46:05 AM PDT

  •  Then there's all that hydrofracking damage to.. (22+ / 0-)

    the enviroment.
    I live in rural western NY State, right on top of Marcellus shale. We (my family and everyone in my township) get our drinking water from wells. As night follows day, hydrofracking on any of my neighbors' property will make my water undrinkable and generate millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive waste water that has to go somewhere, all for a decade or two of gas production. That natural gas will surely be a hell of a lot more valuable 50 years from now, but...whatever.

    •  I saw Gasland and thought through (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, erratic, highacidity, marina

      what the effects of the toxic byproducts including natural gas itself might mean to a place like New York City - and it could in theory render the city uninhabitable if you really think it through.  Where would they put cisterns and how would they prevent natural gas explosions in such a tightly woven infrastructure?  How would they even be able to begin to address a problem like natural gas in the water lines?  

      Worth thinking about, I think.

    •  Another side-effect of hydrofracking..... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Drama Queen, erratic, marina unscrupulous contractors illegally disposing of wastewater - like this one.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:55:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a horrendous story (0+ / 0-)

        and a hint of things to come, or probably, already happening on a wider scale but less publicized.  The story you link to points to the hauler as being a probable cause of the 30-miles long poisoning of Dunkard Creek, a treasured fishing and recreation area.
        I wonder how many treasured areas will end up being scorched earth.  I wonder how many people realized the soil being used to grow their food is being ruined forever when it is contaminated by toxic wastes.  (We are not allowed to call them "hazardous wastes" legally--then they couldn't be dumped into landfills and along country roads to keep the dust down....)

    •  Read this article (0+ / 0-)

      Most of it will sound very familiar to you, I'm sure:

      He never signed a lease with natural gas drillers, but was subjected to an undisclosed perpetual lease signed by a previous owner of his land in 1921. Greenwood's first-hand experience was truly horrific. Numerous aborted and deformed calves followed by the deaths of the cows themselves were ignored by the gas company and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which claimed the die-offs had nothing to do with fracking chemicals. Having informed the company that he was going to construct a home for his son on a small piece of his land, he arrived home one day to find a drilling rig on that very plot.
      Ron Gulla is another farmer from Washington County whose 141 acre farm was the site of the second Marcellus Shale well drilled in Pennsylvania. Now there are four wells. He claims, "This unconventional form of drilling obliterated my farm. My dreams (of having an organic farm) went up in smoke."

      And, from a member of the Responsible Drilling Alliance in Williamsport, PA:
      The color of gas drilling is a dull, stultifying, choking, brown.  I drove south along Rt. 14 in PA this past weekend and was absolutely struck by the amount of dry filth everywhere.  It hit with a rush at Columbia Crossroads.  I had the external air vent on in the car, and even filtered, there was a noticeable difference in the breathable air inside the car, thicker and with a dirt taste.  Beginning at Columbia Crossroads, the pavement is brown, and the guardrails are no longer galvanized gray but instead coated with a layer of particulate, spun off the wheels of trucks.  Troy, once a lovely country village, is covered, roof to sidewalk, with a gritty pall that cannot help but sift to the inside.  Canton is the same, and the scene did not let up until Roaring Branch, when there was some relief from the brown cloak that now smothers a former refreshing, pastoral highway.
  •  According to the IAEA, nuclear has lower (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    indirect life cycle CO2 emissions than solar PV or wind? Is that accurate or an IAEA dream calculation?

    “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”, Theodore Roosevelt

    by the fan man on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:59:34 AM PDT

    •  It's hard to know, as they're all very low (5+ / 0-)

      compared to coal and natural gas, and the results depend greatly on factors that can vary widely: mining ore concentrations, the electricity mix in the country where new wind/pv/nuclear components are being manufactured, etc.

      In comparison to several other available full cycle emission estimates, those IAEA 2000 ones are generally in the same ballpark but do seem to assign nuclear a range unusually lower than some other studies.

      For example, the Integrated Sustainability Analysis unit at the University of Sydney produced a 2006 report estimating life cycle greenhouse gas emissions for new capacity in Australia to be, in equivalent grams CO2 per kWh: Coal 750-1500, Natural gas 500-900, Wind 13-40, PV 50-200, Nuclear 10-130, Wind 13-40, Run-of-river hydro 6-44. (Dam hydro was not assessed.)

      The other notable difference between that IAEA-sourced graph Jerome included in the diary and other similar assessments of emissions, is the unusually large highest-case estimate for hydro - that bar showing a value of 236. If you look for the source data producing that hydro range of 4 to 236 (I have but cannot find the link right now) you will see it was comprised of a few studies of actual existing hydroelectric plants that all gave values very close to 4 (certainly under 10), and one study of a hypothetical hydroelectric plant in Brazil produced by a researcher whose estimates of hydro emissions in rainforest regions are the subject of academic dispute.

  •  Jerome, you're questioning T Boone Pickens? snark (6+ / 0-)

    A great fact based diary, thank you.

  •  Chu on Meet the Press tomorrow....maybe he'll (0+ / 0-)

    bring his tea leaves.

  •  Krugman had an interesting piece of renewables. (4+ / 0-)

    It seems he began his career working as a research assistant for Nordhaus when he was involved in natural resource economics. A good article on the subject can be found here:

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:04:13 AM PDT

    •  And iIn which is found yet another... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...comment by someone who has a well-developed speech about why renewables are far more costly than we (except those who read from the same speech) laypeople understand, so we'd all just be better off sticking with fossil fuels.

      The effort that some people put into propping up the status quo -- and particularly from some otherwise "liberal" people around here -- is pretty astonishing.

      Frankly, many of the commentators here at DKos have lead me to expand my definition of the term "conservative".

      - bp

      "I don't care who your goddam emperor is: his clothes still suck"

      by b00g13p0p on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:51:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Erm, I never said that and would disagree with that assessment. Of course, Heaven forfend I'd actually post a link to a left-wing economist citing a reputable study which he participated in.

        That said, I disagree with the conclusions in it. I think the last decade has proven pretty conclusively that many renewables are less expensive than fossil fuels, especially unconventional ones.

        And it seems - if I'm reading his post correctly - that Krugman isn't sure, either. He simply warned not to underestimate the cost of alternatives, because that is a mistake that has been made before and we really shouldn't repeat it.

        Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

        by Dauphin on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:01:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And he's largely wrong in that case (11+ / 0-)

        The cost of wind has been going down over the past 2 years. It did go up in 06-09 because of the sharp increase in commodity prices, but not by as much as other technologies.

        The fundamental problem for renewables is that all their expenses are made upfront, so cost increases (commodity and the like) apply fully, whereas the biggest component of the price of gas-fired electricity is the average price of gas over 20-25 years, so it's easier to ignore short term price increases...

        The 80s and 90s saw the collapse of oil prices thanks to actual conservation policies (think fuel taxes in Europe), Saudi Arabia pumping more, Alaska and the North Sea brought online. That combination won't be found again. Shale gas or oil sands are nowhere near the same league in terms of providing cheap-ish fuel, and Saudi Arabia no longer has any significant spare capacity.

        The last 30 years delayed renewables not because renewables were more expensive, but because we got a last shot of cheap oil. This is not going to happen again.

      •  It's time to figure "costs" (0+ / 0-)

        as including things other than money.  A livable habitat, for one--and for more than only humans.

  •  Fukushima (19+ / 0-)

    1.9 million people live within 50 miles of Fukushima.

    Many of them rely on agriculture and fishing to make ends meet.  There livelihood is, at the moment, gone.  The Japanese govt has effectively placed a ban on their products and even without the ban, no one in Japan will eat their stuff for years to come.

    There people need our help.

    •  sigh. (7+ / 0-)

      you know, I hadn't even thought of this piece of the puzzle yet.   So much for the drive to eat local.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:57:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In truth, if there is no meltdown (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        northsylvania, erratic, OtherDoug, raoul78

        the radiation will be gone in a matter of weeks.  But that will not matter, as people will associate the food there with poison for a long time.  The fish, on the other hand, is a different story

        •  I remember... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          northsylvania, erratic, marina

          ....a lot of tobacco fields up there. Which wouldn't go so well with radioactive contamination, of course.

          It's a beautiful area, largely neglected by other Japanese (why do you think the reactors were built there?), who consider the inhabitants yokels who speak an incomprehensible dialect. Some of the villages we visited still had the sites of old mass graves, "thousand-person pits", from the regular famines before the Meiji period. The central government demanded tax in rice, but rice doesn't grow that well up there, too cool.... so the crops would regularly fail and the people would starve. One temple we visited is supposed to have buried 60,000 of them.

    •  And their water has radiation in it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania, marina

      The help they really need is to be evacuated.

      Just think about managing to survive a massive quake and tsunami only to be done in by radiation that you didn't even know was doing its work on your body.  Really pisses me off.

      •  No, that is a pony (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It is simply impossible to evacuate 1.9 million people from that area right now.  I am talking about the farmers and fishers in the area, and beyond, who have had their economic well being ripped out from under them.

        In no small degree because of the hysterical notions about radiation.

        •  Screw that. (0+ / 0-)

          It is confirmed now that they are and have been in harm's way for days now.  They can't live off of the land now.  Their food and water are toxic.  Sorry.  

          Millions of people have been moved in the past and will do so again.  It is ridiculous to keep insisting that they can't move and should stay.  

          •  Who is they? (0+ / 0-)
          •  Oh, I see the millions of people (0+ / 0-)

            50 miles from the plant.

            First, as I said, that is impossible right now.  And will be for weeks.  If you do not understand that, you are not paying attention.  And it seems to me the reason why you are not paying attention is because your attention is focused on the nuclear crisis.

            •  The Japanese government has just (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              halted all food exportation from the area and told everyone not to drink the water because of radiation readings.  I would not be hanging around.

              •  To be more precise (0+ / 0-)

                You are not hanging around.  Because you are not there.

                This is not about you, and what you would do.  It is about the victims of this disaster, what is possible, and for me, what I can do to help.  The radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about 8 days and decays naturally within a matter of weeks.  Which means the people in the vicinity will need drinking water brought in for at least 8 days.

                I think it fair at this point to ask you if you have done anything to help.  If not, I urge you to. You can donate to various organizations that are on the ground right now throughout the stricken area.  Every bit of help anywhere in Japan makes it easier to help the people around Fukushima. Resources are limited, and the more they have the between.  Diaries are up here listing those various organizations.

                Again, this is not about you.  If you can not done anything to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, I really don't have much more to say to you other than good day.

                •  Sorry type (0+ / 0-)

                  If you HAVE not done anything to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami, I really don't have much more to say to you other than good day.

                •  Why in the world are you so intent to (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joieau, mimi9, marina

                  discourage the exact type of sympathy and empathy that inspires people to donate their time and money to causes?

                  I ask this question as the child of a woman who was one of the most successful and accomplished fundraisers for humanitarian causes over the course of her 40+ year career.

                  I was raised to consider what it would be like to be the young Mexican American kid with his hands handcuffed behind his back and shot to death by a policeman; what it would be like to undertake a journey in a tiny boat to escape political persecution or famine; what it would be like to live through a natural disaster and try to survive in its aftermath; what it would be like to live with the ailments that developed as a result of living near Love Canal...  Shall I go on, because a 40 year career is a freakin' long one.  We give.  I give.  I've given my entire life as it is what is required in my family.  Doctors without Borders is one of my top charities.

                  In any case, I'm going to suggest that you not pursue a career in fundraising if you are going to take an imperious attitude towards potential donors.  The basic human connection that is made when people see others in distress is an important and even critical element of driving those dollars and time donations up when there is a need.  You don't make "The Case" as it is know by explaining that an interested party is somehow self centered for putting themselves in another person's shoes.  You make the case by outlining the need, the strategy for meeting the need, and by engaging people's sense of brotherhood and humanity.

          •  I haven't seen any data showing significant (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            amounts of radiation contaminating areas outside of the plant. If you have info documenting that, I'd like to see it.

            Evacuation, staying sheltered, and avoiding consuming potentially tainted water/food is a reasonably cautious protocol, for the Japanese gov't - this is the best way to minimize risk.

            However, interpreting safety precautions as proof of serious radioactive contamination is a pretty big stretch, and one that is not confirmed by any data I've seen.

            The fact that elevated levels of radiation are being detected is partly due to the fact that we are able to detect even very small increases in radiation. The current levels documented outside of the plant have not come close to presenting a health risk, to my knowledge.

    •  My niece in Tokyo is taking donations (0+ / 0-)

      from her local business establishment she has run for the last 16 years.  Despite everyone's worry - she has decided to stick it out - and with "foreigners" leaving in droves - her bar/restaurant is suffering.

      Since she has excellent food contacts for her restaurant - she is turniing her talent and contacts into support for victims.

      Her Restaurant:


      ---her latest email ---
      Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:06 PM
      Subject: Re: Got provisions?

      Just as an update, I am (have been since it started) eating tons of seaweed, taking extra calcium, fresh fruit & parsley detox shakes and gargling with iodine daily for extra protection but so far tokyo within normal levels.

      We are taking both money donations and goods at the Cow. The money will be used to sent the goods directly to shelters and to buy things they need and send them. I am waiting for the list of what is needed and acceptable at the shelters and will let people know when I get it.

      We have to keep things moving forward!

      Love,  traci
      People - for humanity's sake - can help - we can change this mad destructive path that we DID NOT CHOOSE.

      If not now, now... when?  Time is now.

  •  "The Sun is notoriously elusive" (9+ / 0-)

    Wow !

    That is worth thinking about, making into a T-Shirt, tattooing on your wrist for daily contemplation.

    Do you know where your Sun is ?

    •  nobody knows how the tides work!!! (8+ / 0-)

      and the sun?
      PFFFT. it could go on vacation tomorrow, y'know.

      this line:

      ...power generation that works even when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.

      is verbatim what my former (R) governor said about wind and solar that he actively worked to curtail in Vermont, of all green places.
      i wonder what the source of that talking point might have been?
      Have these assholes never heard of batteries? it is weird, but it is actually possible to store electricity in these little magical containers so you can use it, like, whenever you want!

      Sexual orientation is as irrelevent on the battlefield as military rank is in the bedroom.

      by kamarvt on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:50:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right. But batteries have a limited capacity (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, kamarvt

        It's not that easy to store electricity.  It works ok for small amounts of electricity.  Like your phone might hold enough energy that you don't have to charge it more than once a week.  But the amount of electricity needed to drive 50 miles in a prius, takes a pretty heavy battery. And the materials required to build those batteries are limited.

        When talking about the amount of energy needed to keep 6 billion people comfortable in their homes and moving around the world and eating food that takes energy to produce.  Not much of that energy can be held in batteries in a practical way.  

        Stored electricity is good only on a very small scale.  Energy is hard to hold.

        •  and battery technology to the rescue (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Can't show you the linkies (I'm at work and should not even be on this website...) but there have been a number of advances in power storage, most recently at Stanford, IIRC, that promise to increase capacity tenfold while halving the weight.
          Regardless, the bullshit meme that solar power only works when the sun shines or wind power only works during a windstorm is deliberate disinformation. the fact that this disinformation is repeating verbatim around the RW is notable for its astroturfing stench.
          the cognitive dissonance of promising "clean coal" while insisting that no new technologies are possible with renewables is breathtakingly...normal for these liars.

          Sexual orientation is as irrelevent on the battlefield as military rank is in the bedroom.

          by kamarvt on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:04:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd like to see your linkies later (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erratic, kamarvt

            If you have time.  And I won't tell your boss you sometimes screw around on Kos at work.  That is, if you promise not to tell mine that I do the same thing.  

            I don't keep up with the latest developments in battery technology.  So I'm curious what those stanford geniuses may have found out.  And wonder what those higher capacity sources are made of.  Hopefully something plentiful on earth?  

            Hope the rest of your day at work is enjoyable.

            Cheers -- until later

      •  The wind is normally blowing ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, alizard, kamarvt, Sneelock

        ... somewhere in the country, and the sun is up and its hottest during the largest part of our biggest peak loads, which are AC driven.

        We already have ample hydro capacity to firm wind power up to 20% of total electricity supply.

        Getting to 20% will give us eight to ten years to work out how we manage a grid with 50%, which is plenty of time to work it out if we are serious rather than playing games with brain dead political sloganeering in support of the transnational corporate predator state.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:44:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Germany generally has less solar (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, northsylvania, erratic, BYw, Sneelock

      exposure than most of our states and yet they have a very successful solar program.

      •  Quite ~ we have one of the ... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        erratic, Joieau, alizard, Sneelock

        ... best high quality wind resources per capita in the entire world. If we decided to lead the way, we would easily make that lead stick, and then be exporting wind turbine rather than importing them because our boom and bust renewable energy policy leaves too much uncertainty to justify building the plants.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:45:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wind: 20% in 20 years (8+ / 0-)

    and the same for wind.

    I was looking at some BOE numbers for those Boeing/Spectrolab 39% efficient panels:

    60k Lexus 5 yr loan 100% financing
    60k solar panels 8 year loan 100% financing.

    I dont know the cost of the Spectrolab panels. but on the roof a house here in NJ, they do have the potential to produce 250% of the electricity that house uses in a year. I doubled the cost of a friends install of 30k to 60k and came up with a 7.5k per yr net, paying the loan in 8 yrs.

    We do know that the Kw cost of solar and wind is trending down, while other Kw costs, like Nuclear fission is rising.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:04:54 AM PDT

  •  "natural gas" is a touchy subject in my area (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, pensivelady, Calamity Jean, erratic

    after the explosion in San Bruno (about 15 miles from where I live.)
      Yes, I realize that gas lines to electrical generating plants would most likely be different than those running through residential areas, but try telling that to people whose houses were burned or damaged by natural gas explosions.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:24:30 AM PDT

  •  When the sun does not shine, the wind does not (13+ / 0-)

    blow, the waves don't break, and the tides don't budge.

    I think we would have more to worry about than the lights not working

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:26:10 AM PDT

  •  but the president has said (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, mightymouse, Joieau

    natural gas and nukes are part of our "clean" energy future. not sure if he still includes "clean" coal.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:29:46 AM PDT

  •  Humanity's search for energy is the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, Sneelock, Jerome a Paris

    defining issue of our time.

    Whether we rise to the challenge or allow the plutocrats to dictate our path will probably determine our fate as a species.

    Personally, I'd slap a Tobin tax on financial transactions and use that money to fund renewable development and deployment globally.

  •  Gas Astroturfing (7+ / 0-)

    There is a lot of money being spent on the natural gas PR push. It's a a campaign.  

    Let's not forget what fracking does to the water table too.

    •  The thing that amazes me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic, alizard

      about fracking and natural gas wells is that a private landowner, generally a farmer or rancher) appears to have no choice but to allow a drilling company to put any number of wells all over their land. And when the fracking destroys their water quality they have no recourse.  If they are lucky they might get the gas company to periodically deliver a tanker truck of water.

  •  excellent article Jerome! What I want to know is (5+ / 0-)

    What do you think is the ultimate solution to balancing humanity's energy demands with the limited resources of the earth, in the long run?

    It seems to me, the real problem is that our civilization is growing to the point where we are taxing the earth's resources too much.  We can't continue to grow our energy demands indefinitely.  The earth that birthed us is only so big.

    Technology and efficiency might allow us to extend the point at which the balance tip too far.  But if we allow our per-person demand for energy to grow, and likewise, our population to grow.  Aren't we still heading toward our own destruction?

    So, what do you think the world will look like in a century or two?  Will we control our population?  By choice or because the earth's resources become overtaxed, and demand it?   Will technology become so fantastic that the earth can support a population of say 100 billion comfortably?  Will that population learn to live without war?  Will our descendants have a huge discrepancy in income equality, like we do now?

    I'll appreciate your thoughts on any of these ideas.

    Thanks for an excellent diary!

    Cheers - sneelock

    •  Big questions! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sneelock, coolbreeze, erratic

      I agree that "our civilization is growing to the point where we are taxing the earth's resources too much" - we see it in simultaneous strains in many different commodity markets... but I don't have any easy answers, unfortunately.

      •  The biggest question is... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF, erratic

        Do we choose to live in a less destructive way, before the earth forces us to do that?  And if it happens by force, will humanity survive it?

        Not sure if you or I will know the answer to that before we pass away.  But our children or grandchildren likely will.  I hope they(or we -- humanity) make it.

        Thanks again.

    •  War Is the Answer (5+ / 0-)

      A wonderful aspect of modern warfare is it's a tremendous energy consumer. The life-or-death competitive drive to energize America's army will produce the energy spinoffs to power the rest of our nation.

      Back when we couldn't use our best tech in wars, we had to divert tech development into a space race. We couldn't afford to shoot missiles at each other, so we shot them at the moon. But now we've found fields of combat where the opponents don't have ICBMs. This allows us to return to war itself as the major driver of technological development.

      Just imagine what we can do at home with the new power tech that's currently being developed to enable the robot armies of the years soon to come to march through large areas of the "terrorist world" and incidentally solve the population problem there. Of course, the employment of robots will remove military service as the job-of-last-resort for America's underclass. No doubt some of those persons will turn to terrorist acts, and necessitate emergency deployment of our robot armies also at home, where they can solve that problem too.

      Meanwhile, our new, spinoff power tech will finally fulfill the promise of flying cars to take us between our gated cities. It's a glowing future.

    •  The choice remains what it has always been (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sneelock, coolbreeze

      find a way off this rock, or go extinct within the next two centuries.

      I get the sentimental attachment to Earth, I really do. But our future isn't here, it is out there.

      "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

      by Whimsical on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:20:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree whimsically that we have a future (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        outside of Earth.

        Do you really think that?  I'd like to know what you imagine that future to be?  Even if it envisions futuristic technologies that allow us go somewhere else and manipulate some planet's environment to suit our needs.  Please say more.

        •  We have NO future here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          While I admit to being a rabid Trekkie, and liking to think that someday our future will resemble theirs, it is more the certain knowledge of what will happen if we don't get off this rock that concerns me.

          You will never get people to lower their energy usage; indeed, as more and more people gain access to technology energy demand will go nowhere but up. Ditto for population- you will never get enough people to stop having children to do anything about overpopulation.

          Within 2 decades, we will be in resource wars for oil, and more importantly- water.

          Within 4 decades, climate change will add a third resource for us to fight over- land. And as the climate turns on us, whatever population has not already perished from the resource wars will dwindle down to a ragged band of refugees eeking out an existance around the poles until that too sputters and dies, and there's nothing but ruins for alien archeologists to comment on to mark our passing.

          Every inward-focused solution I've heard proposed  relies on fundamentally changing human nature - which simply wont happen so all the solutions that look inward are doomed to failure from the get-go.

          No, my friend, the solution is to look outward. To the stars.  Allow me to give you a quote from Reed Richards that I find both relevant and inspiring:

          "Here, at the end of human history, we sit on the verge of a transformative time.  We have never lived longer, eaten better, worked less or possessed more things.  We are more advanced then any species that has ever walked the Earth, and now, with our Promethean urge truly unleashed, we stand on the precipice of scientific marvels that will catapult us into the next millennium.

          Despite all this, evidence presented here suggests that most of you have never been more pessimistic about our future. You FEAR tomorrow.

          'One billion: The optimum population of humanity ' is the narrow vision of a dying man. Preserve everything.  Do WHATEVER it takes to hang on a little longer.  It's the speech of a coward...

          The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon to be dead planet, but one trillion human beings spanning an entire galaxy.  The future of man is not here, it is out there.

          Because it's our new horizion. Because it's what's next...

          Because there is a fire called discovery burning within me ...and I won't go back in the cave for anyone."

          "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

          by Whimsical on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 01:58:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for that (0+ / 0-)

            Live long and prosper.  

            I'm not convinced that we'll curtail our demands in time to save our planet and civilization.  But I hold out
            SOME hope for that.  More likely though, we'll perish within a couple centuries.  But that will be the end of us.  I have no doubt about that.

            We have nowhere else to go.  And we never will.

            But let's say we could travel to another solar system and find another planet to live on.  Would it be ok with you for us to take over another living planet.  Rather than leave the creatures of that planet to their own destiny?  And wouldn't we just ruin that place too?  

            That's a future of planetary genocide.  I wouldn't want my descendants to be a part of that.  Better that we just die off.

            •  Depends (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I'm not saying we displace another civilization.

              But I'd have no problem taking over a planet that say had only the equivalent of dinosaurs on it; I personally would have a hard time equating the killing of animals with "planetary genocide".

              You raise a better question when you ask "Wouldn't we just ruin that place too?"

              To which, after careful thought, I can only reply "Possibly. But now I need to change my original answer somewhat. When I said you will NEVER get people to change, what I meant was that there is no way you will ever get enough people to change IN TIME.  It is possible to change human nature, but it's a task that requires generations, and we have, as I said, decades. It is also aided by improvements in technology(Hell, if we crack nano-technology all of our current problems go away. Granted, to be replaced with a brand new set, but that's a whole nother thread...).

              What is the best way to both generate technological improvements and give the human race the time to bring about the necessary changes?

              I maintain that it is the race both to get to and colonize other planets. And if it costs one more, or two, or hell, three of the untold trillions of planets out there for the human race to learn their lesson? As long as they aren't anybody else's, I think I could live with that. YMMV"

              "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

              by Whimsical on Tue Mar 22, 2011 at 06:41:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Changing human nature. Or at least human behavior (0+ / 0-)

                I agree, that's a big challenge.  

                I'd rather see us decide to live in a way the earth can sustain.  But it seems more likely we'll wipe ourselves out.  Or maybe cause an environmental catastrophe that wipes most of us out.  And those left might then decide to change their ways.

                I agree with most of what you say above.  But I think traveling to another solar system is impossible.  I don't think there is any getting around what Einstein's theory of Relativity implies.  That is, matter can't go as fast as light.  Not just that.  Matter can't be made to go anywhere near the speed of light in a sustained way.  And the distances to other solar systems are gigantic.  

                Some people disagree.  Some scientific theories even predict there might be something like worm wholes, that would allow us to instantaneously move through space-time.  But I don't buy that.  And I think it's best that we are stuck in one place.  And it's up to us to treat it well or perish prematurely.  We're going to perish eventually anyway.  Our sun will only burn at a comfortable temperature for so long.

                Nice chatting with you Whimsical.  

                Thanks - Sneelock

    •  Great Question. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      my money's on Post-Apocalyptic de-industrialized tribalism.

      Taking it way back!

  •  Technical feasibility of Bering Sea cable (0+ / 0-)

    I've often wondered what a world grid would look like if power could be conducted between Siberia and Alaska. I suspect that would require a superconducting cable laid on the historic land bridge that existed between the continents, technology of which barely exists but could be developed given resources. I was inspired in this by talk of a cable between North Africa and Europe crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

    This would go along way to making Solar and Wind base load for a location skewed many time zones away form the generation site, and would provide a stable income for countries around the globe rich in Solar and Wind.

    •  No superconducting cable required ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Boreal Ecologist

      ... the normal High Voltage Direct Current lines that are used for long distance Electricity Superhighways on land are also useful at sea.

      First let us get to a surplus of renewable electricity to export to Canada and Mexico before we worry about exporting from our massive renewable energy resources to East Asia.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:49:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i'm actually getting sick of these diaries (0+ / 0-)

    if you want to live in a modern society then you will have to accept that we will have to do some sort of pollution to get energy.. and when it's all added up it will be a lot of pollution

    coal, gas, oil and other fossil fuels are easy to figure out how they pollute.

    nuclear - radioactive materials have to be stores somewhere for a few thousand years.

    hydro - cannot be placed just anywhere.

    solar - require the creation of solar cells that require alot of energy and pollution to create. they can also be broken easily in bad weather. On top of all of it they require batteries that are full of toxic chemicals. Requires huge tracks of land and dozens or hundreds of units to provide for a community, likely taking away from farmland or animal habitat

    wind - the wind doesn't always blow. also requires huge tracks of land and dozens if not hundreds of units to provide for a community, likely taking away from farmland or animal habitat

    so take your pick. if you like your modern lifestyle then stop whining about hurting the environment. if you don't care about living modern you can get a log cabin in the woods and hide from the world.  

    •  Your wind segment is bullshit. (5+ / 0-)

      See, the big space taken up by wind turbines is taken up a hundred feet over our head, in a big cross section facing into the wind ~ the footprint of the wind turbine tower footing is modest, and the land that the windfarm occupies is also still used to farm with.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:51:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The argument boils down to ... (4+ / 0-)

      .... "Everything has a cost, so do not send time working out which costs are higher and which costs are lower, because everything has a cost."

      Which is a brain dead argument when you boil it down, and in this case seem certain to be originating from a paid propagandist from one of the industries that will lose if we do indeed count the full economic cost and do indeed make the choice to go with the lowest full economic cost solutions to our problems.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:57:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  pft, u dont get it, do you? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, alizard, marina

      its not about 'hurting the environment'.

      What coal, natural gas and uranium mining 'do' to the environment has a direct harmful impact on human health and safety.

      The impacts from solar and wind alternatives are insignificant when compared to the 'cheaper' ones above.  

      And they only SEEM cheaper because no full cost accounting is done on their long term effects on especially human health, both in this generation and the next.

      But you can keep sitting in front of your TV/'puter, paying through your nose for health care, not making the connection that poor health is as a result of the pollution of the environment you so easily diss.

      Dont worry,, be happy now :)

      (oh, and read my sigline  - its for people like you!)

      "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of every good Government" ~ Thomas Jefferson

      by watershed on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:02:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of the interesting thing about the Japan quake (5+ / 0-)

      was that wind saved the powergen's collective asses.

      Japan's offshore wind - you may have noticed there aren't all that many animal trails or farms offshore - shrugged off the tsunami and earthquake as if they never happened.

      The result was a solid baseload of backup capacity, which kept working while the nukes were melting down.

      Scaled over large - multi-state sized - areas wind is at least as reliable as other forms of power. But with none of the pollution.

      If there are problems, they're problems caused by inefficient corporate distribution. And those problems need to be solved anyway.

      Currently the plan seems to be build stupid powergen to make up for inefficiencies that could easily be avoided with smart powergen.

      This is bad for any number of reasons.

      Renewables aren't just renewable, they're also the smart, reliable, and efficient option.

      "Be kind" - is that a religion?

      by ThatBritGuy on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:07:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And look at all the farmland and ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, marina

      ... animal habitat Larry Hagmans's PV panels are displacing:

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:26:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  but "hurting the environment" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      means, sooner or later, no modern lifestyle.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 04:01:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  are you an astroturfer or just an asshole? n/t (0+ / 0-)

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 07:30:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Gas lines blow up. We just had a big (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    explosion in CA.  It can be a very dangerous method of supplying energy.  Gas leaks also in homes and businesses.

    Character is who you are when no one is watching.

    by incognita on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:51:02 PM PDT

  •  Wind and solar go well together (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pat bunny

    If you can build a solar power plant next to a windmill farm there is synergy between both.

    This gives me ideas.  Merci beaucoup.; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:52:08 PM PDT

  •  Natural Gas is not always "safe" either (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    incognita, Sneelock, marina

    The explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9 last year leveled a whole neighborhood.  Here's a paragraph from the news story from the San Jose Mercury News:

    In a frightening conflagration fueled by a broken 24-inch gas main, a massive fire in San Bruno on Thursday destroyed 53 homes in the hillside community, killed at least six people, critically injured two dozen and sent scores of residents fleeing as firefighters battled the ferocious blaze.
  •  The obituary of the nuclear industry is... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource, bryfry, erratic, Mcrab, raoul78

    ...regularly written.

    In a few months, the actual death toll for Fukushima in comparison to deaths from, the, um, earthquake will begin to sink in among rational people, although predictably hysterics will go on and on and on by irrational people.    As usual, the selective attention will not consider neither refinery explosion in Japan, nor the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a call for the phase out of oil, or um, the burning gas lines that not only are almost certainly an issue in Japan, but also blew up huge portions of the Marina district in the US San Franciso quake in the 1980's.

    Apparently, because people can't think, don't want to think, and can't count, we are hearing from journalists that everyone who died in Japan was killed by nuclear energy, which is similar to the representations that Kiev and Harrisburg were both depopulated by respectively, Chernobyl and TMI.

    Contrary to popular opinion however, they are both still there.   I haven't been to Kiev - but its existance is still widely reported - but I have been to Harrisburg.    I'm quite sure its still there, since I, um, saw it.

    The strongly intertwined gas/wind industries will drag out the usual wishful thinking, not even stopping, for thirty seconds, to consider, for instance, where the neodymium for all these swell wind plants that are supposed to displace all the nuclear, oil, and gas plants is going to come from, especially because of all the swell wind powered electric cars we've been hearing about for decades, also require neodymium.

    The world production of this element, most of which is found in China, although smaller less economic reserves are known in California and a few other places, is about 10,000 tons per year.

    (Mostly this industry - the lanthanide industry - is dependent on solvent extraction techniques that use solvents like, um, kerosene, although there are - I confess - better technologies available for lanthanide separations, just as there are better techniques for separation of actinide separations.)

    Without neodymium, wind turbines get, um, heavier, and have greater torque.     They already don't last all that long, and they'll be even more unreliable and short lived without it.

    If the wind plants were so great, all the uncritical cheering for them would have helped them to keep pace with the gas industry's growth, which they have, in fact, not done.

    This has, of course, been a great week for the gas industry and its allied wind industry, but the fact is that wind doesn't work very well, is not sustainable, nor is the gas industry even remotely safe, and it is clearly not sustainable.

    The wind industry doesn't produce 1% of the electricity in the United States, nor does it produce 1% of its electricity from wind on the entire planet.

    All about wind from the EIA.

    If wind energy is really an alternative to the gas industry, how is it that Denmark can't issue new offshore oil and gas leases in the North Sea fast enough?

    Danish Energy Agency:  New Application for Oil and Gas Leasing in the North Sea.

    There is a reason for all of this being worth considering, especially since the wind industry has been the subject of uncritical cheering since the late 1970's.

    There is almost certainly no one on earth right now who is writing on a computer that is 100% powered by wind energy.   I'll bet you aren't.

    The old joke goes that one doesn't need to be the swiftest runner to outrun an angry bear.    One only needs not to be the slowest runner.   But nuclear energy is not merely the least slowest runner.   It is the fastest runner.    It has been, consistently, the fastest growing form of climate change gas free primary energy for more than three decades.

    Just one of the 25 nuclear reactors under construction in China - and almost any of the other 62 now under construction around the world  can easily produce more energy than all of the wind turbines in Denmark.

    Obviously the risks of nuclear energy can be made arbitrarily small, especially by examining failure modes, and the earthquake is, in fact, a failure mode.  The events here certainly represent a data point, just as the collapse of buildings can be used to make future buildings safer.  But neither nuclear energy, nor any other form of energy can be made risk free.   The question is however, whether anything else can be made as small.    I would argue that the effects of the earthquake on buildings shows that buildings are not safe.   True or not?  

    I, personally, have no respect for "nuclear exceptionalism" which is the argument that 10 nuclear deaths are worse than 10,000 deaths from other causes.   (Air pollution - including that from so called "renewable energy" kills about 1.6 million people per year, from normal operations of renewable (biofuel) and dangerous fossil fuel energy.)

    If all the nuclear plants were shut by selective attention in the next year, the next Tsunami would still kill people, as will the next earthquake, except of course, ocean levels will be much higher.

    In fact the Tsunami in Indonesia early this decade killed more people than nuclear energy has killed in its entire existance.    Is this not an argument for not raising sea levels?

    I (and other scientific types) have even speculated - and it is speculation - that the frequency of earthquakes might be a function of the known changes in distribution of mass in earth's crust attributable, to, um, so called "renewable energy."

    Science 16 January 2009: Vol. 323 no. 5912 p. 322:  A Human Trigger for the Great Quake At Sichuan?

    It is well known that the redistribution of mass to dams as already changed earth's rotation speed, and I, for one, am hardly ashamed to speculate that the effects on torques and fault lines from the redistribution of mass may be greater than generally appreciated.

    By the way, did the fact that 1800 houses by a dam in the Japanese earthquake, in your opinion, spell the death knell of the, um, hydroelectric industry?

    It didn't?

    Why is that, do you think?

    But that's dams, not wind.

    You've been cheering here for wind for many years.   You are enormously popular here for doing so.   But are you right?.   The rest of the world, with few exceptions, is very much like DailyKos.    The wind industry is very seldom subject to anything but uncritical cheering anywhere.  

    Even I used to cheer for wind energy, even if I've changed my mind in recent years and now regard it with an exceptionally jaunticed eye.   (That business with the Danish oil and gas leases had something to do with it, but in truth, it goes deeper, especially as I have dealt with the complacency generated by the "wind will save us" argument, the complacency being much greater than the energy generated.)

    Why then, with all this cheering is it that it still produces less than 1% of the world's electricity?

    So let's consider yet another of the "deaths of nuclear energy."   Is it even remotely rational?

    Not really?

    The facts will - as they have before - prove inescapable.

    It happens that nuclear energy need not be perfect, nor risk free to be vastly superior to everything else.  It only needs to be vastly superior to everything else.  

    Actually the tsunamis of the future will be worse if sea levels rise, and the fact is, that all the selective attention in the world cannot make the nuclear events being hyped by the press as bad as the normal operations of gas plants, which have a waste problem and which are rapidly killing the planet.

    All the public relations in the world, and all of the selective attention and wishful thinking cannot change the laws of physics.   If I wish I could have Icarus's wings - never mind Dedalus's - I still won't be able to fly.

    Have a nice day tomorrow.  

    •  sigh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic, raoul78

      This diary did not say anything about nuclear energy. As you know, or should know, I happen to be favorable to nuclear energy, and I largely agree about your arguments in the first part of your comment about the hysterics around the real damage from the nuclear accident.

      I still don't see why being pro-nuclear means that you have to be anti-wind.

    •  sigh (2) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard, raoul78

      this diary was about how the gas industry is using this accident to do anti-wind propaganda, and you answer with anti-wind propaganda from the nuclear perspective. Weird.

    •  Please parse the first sentence carefully (4+ / 0-)
      The final outcome and cost of the nuclear accident at Fukushima are yet to be determined but the obituary of the nuclear industry has already been written, and one competing source of power has already been declared the absolute winner by the Serious People: natural gas.

      The alleged eulogy is being written by gas speculators, not something Jerome is stating he himself believes. Indeed, his previous diary explicitly talked about premature judgments about future nuclear needs, exactly as you state in your comment.

    •  Typical incoherent garbage (0+ / 0-)

      full of deliberate misinformation.

      The wind industry doesn't produce 1% of the electricity in the United States

      There was of course a year when this was true ... I believe 2007 was the last such year. I also have little doubt that ten years from now you'll still be referring to the proportion of electricity generation from wind in 2007 and using present tense to misrepresent it as current data.

      By the way, did the fact that 1800 houses [were swept away?] by a dam [collapse?] in the Japanese earthquake, in your opinion, spell the death knell of the, um, hydroelectric industry?

      It didn't?

      Why is that, do you think?

      But that's dams, not wind.

      (Words in brackets added as a best guess of original meaning to make it coherent.)

      As far as I can tell, this is a false story that you invented. If you have a reliable source that indicates otherwise, please share the dam and city where it happened and share the source.

      (Cue incoherent ranting NNadir reply with "You. couldnt. care. less." and "Got it? No? Why am I not surprised." in three ... two ...)

      •  Typical incoherent garbage by retrograde (0+ / 0-)
        As far as I can tell, this is a false story that you invented. If you have a reliable source that indicates otherwise, please share the dam and city where it happened and share the source.

        Yes, this is all NNadir's imagination. Perhaps you can explain that to the editors of International Water Power & Dam Construction magazine. They have an interest in that kind of stuff, you know. Perhaps you can explain that to the editors of California Watch who, along with Gov. Jerry Brown (as the article mentions), seem to be suffering from the same shared hallucination.

        Of course it's a false story. So how does that crow taste? ;-)

        An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
        -- H. L. Mencken

        by bryfry on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 06:27:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As I've already pointed out, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          this BBC article from March 11 seems to be the reliable source before the confusion, where it gives two developments in adjacent but separate points:

          • Some 1,800 homes are reported to have been destroyed in the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture
          • A dam burst in north-eastern Fukushima prefecture, sweeping away homes, Kyodo news agency reports

          It appears some reports echoing those two developments dropped the bullet points and made them appear related.

          The only dam collapse named in news reports has been the Fujinuma, an irrigation embankment dam, with around five houses swept away. This is inland, many miles from coastal Minamisoma where the tsunami did such massive damage.

          So again, if you know the name and location of this mysterious additional dam collapse that has washed away 1800 homes without getting identified by media, please name it.

          •  OK, Sherlock (0+ / 0-)

            Did it occur to you that (according to your own link) the Fujinuma Dam failed on 12 March, but the BBC article is dated 11 March? Is the BBC prescient? If they were talking about the Fujinuma Dam, then that's some damn good reporting! (Pun intended.)

            Did it occur to you that the Fujinuma Dam is located in central Fukushima prefecture, but the BBC article states that the dam that burst is in "north-eastern Fukushima prefecture"? The city of Minamisoma, on the other hand, where 1800 homes were allegedly destroyed, is in north-eastern Fukushima prefecture.

            I don't know the name of the dam that was destroyed, but I'm sure that you don't know it either. Anyhow, I take your reply as an admission that this is not a false story that NNadir invented. Did the crow taste good?

            An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
            -- H. L. Mencken

            by bryfry on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 07:24:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ... (0+ / 0-)
              So again, if you know the name and location of this mysterious additional dam collapse that has washed away 1800 homes without getting identified by media, please name it.

              "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

              by indycam on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 09:09:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Uh, two things: (1) Time zones (2) Occam's razor (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              First of all, may I assume you are not a netizen of and know of our established UTC system of civil time its derived time zones. For example, the comment to which I am replying was probably typed by you some time mid-morning Sunday if you are in the continental United States, but it was posted around 11:30pm Japan time and half past three Monday morning where I live. (Excuse in advance any off-by-an-hour errors; early Monday morning and time zone math are not the best of companions.)

              This has understandably contributed to some of the initial confusion that pervaded reports within the first few days of the quake and tsunami. Regarding this particular event: on Wikipedia (which is of course excellent as a starting point for any information but I would never suggest it as a finishing point nor a definitive source) you can read on the Fujunuma dam article a reference to "in the early morning of 12 March 2011" and on the Dam failure article a date of "March 11, 2011" for the event. The BBC article has an attributed time of "11 March 11 22:24 GMT" which is mid-morning 12 March in Japan.

              Which brings me to Occam's razor, as it is commonly and colloquially used.

              To believe that there is some mysterious massive dam collapse causing damage on a scale orders of magnitude greater than the Fujinuma one, but is still unnamed and unlocated by the intensive media coverage of events in the region more than ten days after if happened - in spite of all the evidence that this arose from conflation of two separate events - is to my mind several steps beyond the sensible bounds of conspiracy theory thinking.

              •  Did you see this ? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                bryfry to Meteor Blades .

                You don't need to tell me that you're not a scientist and not an engineer.

                "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

                by indycam on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 09:37:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Heh, your sig quoting MB is apropos here (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I've been called "asshole" at least once, I believe probably more than twice, by this user on this website. Many moons ago.

                  •  No, you have me confused (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't remember ever calling you an asshole.

                    (FWIW, I call myself an asshole all the time, so if I did call you an asshole, you are in good company.) ;-)

                    I remember calling you "retrotard," but that's about it.

                    An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                    -- H. L. Mencken

                    by bryfry on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 12:01:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Oh my god! (0+ / 0-)

                  I agreed with Meteor Blades!

                  Please call the DK cops on me! I must immediately go to DK jail and not pass GO and not collect $200.

                  If you had any sense, you would realize that my comment was in response to a comment made by MB where he said: "But you're right to discern that I am not a scientist and not an engineer."

                  So if you have a problem, take it up with MB.

                  Or are you going to just HR me? That is your style of argument, isn't it?

                  An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                  -- H. L. Mencken

                  by bryfry on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 11:52:24 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  heh (0+ / 0-)

                Er ... I notice that you skirted the question of location.

                The information coming out of Japan is confusing, without a doubt. If this is the dam in question then the failure would have occurred at 12:44 am local time.

                So, please tell me again how NNadir "invented" this story?

                So, please tell me again how the houses that were washed away by this dam failure are insignificant?

                An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                -- H. L. Mencken

                by bryfry on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 11:44:51 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  A couple of quick points (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  as I have work and won't be around.

                  Re location: the earliest reports I've seen noted simply a collapse "in Japan's northeastern prefecture of Fukushima" which could understandably have been mangled to mean a northeastern part of that prefecture in the usual media chain. I don't think English-language media regarding the events in Japan makes for a reliable education in the geography of the country, as I've read such things as the Fukushima I NPP being located in the city of Minsmisoma, and even being located northeast of Japan.

                  Re link to NNadir: when I got curious about the story and did a quick google for japan dam 1800, the earliest prominent link was a blog post on a different sebsite by a user of that name. There are likely earlier sources.

                  So, please tell me again how the houses that were washed away by this dam failure are insignificant?

                  You'll have to point out where you think I implied that. I'm aware of the scale of devastation there, and how it is massively greater than what we in Christchurch are recoving from. I think it's treating the situation insignificantly to be clinging to a story of some mysterious unnamed dam collapse washing away 1800 homes that appears to be without any corroborating evidence providing a name or location where it might have actually happened, but I guess we will not agree on that.

                  •  Well, it's been fun (0+ / 0-)

                    but pointless, nevertheless.

                    Long story short: you accuse NNadir of fabricating a story; I demonstrate that he was simply quoting mainstream news sources; you spend a hell of a lot of energy to demonstrate that news sources coming out of Japan are highly unreliable to avoid admitting that you were wrong.

                    You obsession with trivia is admirable, but that and eighty cents might get you a cup of coffee. ;-)

                    An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
                    -- H. L. Mencken

                    by bryfry on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 06:22:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  ... (0+ / 0-)


              TOKYO, Japan 3/11/11 (PennWell) -- A dam in the northeast Fukushima prefecture of Japan broke and homes were washed away, Kyodo news reported, following the biggest earthquake in the nation's history.


              As of March 15, 414 dams were inspected. 10 embankment dams suffered from shallow cracking on the crest. But all these dams function well with no problems. At two asphalt concrete rockfill dams, small cracking occurred at the face. It sustains water with no problems. A small slope failure occurred on the reservoir at a concrete gravity dam, but it is not serious. There are still some dams not accessible which are in the earthquake affected area. Fujinuma Dam, a 17.5m high earthfill dam is reported to have failed according to news media. Its crest length is 133m and the reservoir capacity is 1.5 million m3. The information on this breach is under investigation and will be reported later.

              "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

              by indycam on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 09:33:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Typical counter factual wing nuttery by Nnadir (0+ / 0-)

      The key to "understanding" Nnadir's bizarre rants lie in psychopathology, not in policy.  They are based in delusions, not disagreements.  These delusions are so common in his rants, that we now tend to over look them.  Just in the first paragraph, there is this batshit crazy statement:

      Apparently, because people can't think, don't want to think, and can't count, we are hearing from journalists that everyone who died in Japan was killed by nuclear energy, which is similar to the representations that Kiev and Harrisburg were both depopulated by respectively, Chernobyl and TMI.

      Yet not one single journalist -- not one -- has said that everyone in Japan was killed by nuke energy.

      Not to mention that it is also an absolutely counter factual lie that everyone other than Nnadir can't think or count.

      These "facts" exist solely in Nnadir's delusional consciousness.

      So if the commenter is delusional from paragraph one, why would anyone take seriously anything else he has to say?

  •  I have mixed feelings about natural gas prices (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    going up as a result of increased demand.

    Since I receive monthly royalties based on the wellhead price of natural gas, I would love to see prices go through the roof.

    On the other hand, I don't want to see my gas bill go up.

    My January 2011 royalty check was at an all time low. Back in September 2008 the checks were six times larger and I've found it hard to adjust to the change. Back in 2008 it was a significant fraction of my income and I wouldn't mind to see the prices climb back up.

    As I understand it, the supply of natural gas is highly dependent on the new fracking technology. And, new wells are quickly exhausted and have to be replaced by new ones.  And given the controversy surrounding fracking who knows what's going to happen there.

    Here's a useful link for anyone interested in tracking the wellhead price of natural gas:

    U.S. Natural Gas Wellhead Price (Dollars per Thousand Cubic Feet)

  •  As someone who lives in Marcellus Shale country... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, erratic, marina

    New York state hasn't quite made up its mind to allow drilling yet - but the longer we wait, the more horror stories come out of Pennsylvania which has. (Ironic, considering PA is where we first started drilling for oil.)  

    Natural gas is an extraction industry, which means money is made by extracting something and selling it as profitably as possible. It's a finite resource in other words, so the more pennies saved getting it to market, the bigger the profit margin.

    The history of extraction industries is remarkably similar: vast amounts of environmental damage, costs externalized to other people, terrible safety records, etc. etc. Because of the inherent nature of extraction industries, they have every incentive to cut corners wherever possible. They can't be trusted to regulate themselves, and they can't be expected to take responsibility for anything once they've made their money and closed up shop.

    Given that, the only sensible way to allow hydro-fracking is under strict regulatory oversight and sufficient taxation to make sure there's enough money available to deal with the problems it creates. With today's political climate, what are the odds of that?

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:41:28 PM PDT

    •  Former DCNR Secretary John Quigley: (0+ / 0-)
      “My heart aches for you and others who are feeling the effects of this industry first hand… The cumulative impacts of Marcellus development will dwarf all of the impacts on PA of timbering and oil and coal combined.  I am afraid for the future of this state. It is hanging in the balance…”
      (My emphasis)
      In addition, new Governor Corbett opposes a severance tax.  Penn's Woods is being given away for a song, and there will be few trees or unspoiled land for agriculture if the gas industry has its way.  Not only those who've leased their lands will be affected, but those living in drilling areas, those who will lose land to eminent domain for pipelines and compressor stations and so on.  Everyone will lose in quality of life as the state is turned from green to brownfields.

      Even if gas companies were really careful of the environment, it woudl be a challenge to live among the drilling.  That they've bought off our governor and most Republicans means that we are at the mercy of the despoilers, completely.

  •  All non-renewables grow scarcer. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, alizard

    Scarcity drives up price. Cost + 30% on something yields a hell of a lot more profit when that something is $10 a unit than when it was $1 a unit.

    And thus, there is no business in a position to buy our government which wishes to see non-renewables in place. They can look at ever-more profitability, as their costs will always be passed on to us. Plus % markup.

    One of the great tricks we often fall for in various debates, not just energy, btw, is the substitution of percentage rates for absolute numbers. Nobody counts their money in percentages though, they count it in actual currency.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:07:25 PM PDT

  •  Tidal turbines (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, marina

    More consistent than wind. Puget Sound has some great straights that would be ideal, but I have not read the research on the negatives.

  •  Is that bar the true cost of nuclear energy (0+ / 0-)

    including the spiraling costs over an 8 year time period to build a plant, including government subsidies to the industry, including the insurance costs?

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:43:04 PM PDT

  •  Diarist lost credibilty claiming nukes safe. (0+ / 0-)
    Even with an accumulation of adverse events (earthquake + tsunami), the overall safety design [at Fukushima fission plants] seems to have, ultimately, functioned.

    Since EVERY safety design FAILED at Fukushima and the consequences are orders of magnitude more catastrophic than ANY conceivable natural gas explosion,  the diarist might want to consider taking a holiday from posting the anti-natural gas diaries.

  •  I noticed how cheap my natural gas bill is (0+ / 0-)

    compared to friends burning oil. It looks like the equivalent of $1.50/gallon gasoline.
    They woulld not consider switching to gas because they are fearful. Now their reconsidering and the gas company will supposedly convert with no upfront cost.

    Here in Northeast some folks have to decide between filling the oil tank and filling their stomachs. I'm going to share this great Diary with my oil burning chums.

    •  Natural gas frequently spikes (0+ / 0-)

      it's cheap, now. Natural gas is particularly attractive to speculators precisely because the price often peaks -- in a commodity market, this is where you make the cash. In our deregulated electricity market, around 50% of generation is natural gas, and people scramble to get into long-term provider contracts because the price can be so volatile.

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