Thursday, March 31, 2011

Technology to the rescue?

LONDON (Reuters Life!) – A new technology that allows hydrogen to be stored in a cheap and practical way, could make its widespread use as a carbon-free alternative to petrol a reality, according to its developers.
The company said hydrogen could be an economically viable alternative to fossil fuels if the gas is produced with renewable energy sources like wind or solar. It has three times more energy than petrol per unit of weight and could power cars, planes and other vehicles that currently use hydrocarbons.

It said it is also attracting interest from large established companies in the energy and transportation sectors.

New technology makes hydrogen more viable car fuel

Find out more at Cella Energy

The leaf's ability to convert sunlight and water into storable fuel makes it the ultimate in solar energy. Now researchers say they have found a way to mimic this seemingly simple feat.

The technology developed by Dan Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and colleagues could eventually power a house and bring electricity to the developing world with little more than a chip sunk into a bucket of water. The device could even store the energy for when the sun isn't shining.
I can take the chip and put it in this bottle of water and just go and hold it up to the sun and you would start to see hydrogen and oxygen bubbles coming out," Nocera said.

The hydrogen and oxygen could later be used in a fuel cell to generate electricity as they recombine to form water.
A remaining engineering challenge to take this from the lab to the rooftop is to figure out how to capture the oxygen and hydrogen and store them for later use. "That's going to be some tricky engineering," he said. It remains to be seen how expensive this aspect will be.

Up a tree no more: A 'real' artificial leaf debuts

Renewable Fuels: Saturday Panel from Phil Wall on Vimeo.

Gotta get these guys talking to each other :-)

If things like this live up to their promise, there may be hope for civilization.
Fuel cells for powering homes is an idea that was around in the mid 1990s. Wonder what happened to that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who are you going to blame?

The United States fell behind China and Germany in clean energy investments in 2010, a result of the lack of a coherent national energy policy in the U.S., according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

e360 digest

Blame the voters. We have met the enemy and he is us

Another thing that bugs me is the way we all discuss the coming climate catastrophe as if everything will be normal, and suddenly in 2050 it all goes to hell. No, in 2049 it'll be bad, in 2039 and 2029 it'll be bad, but not as bad... and we are likely to see more rough spots (drought, fire, flood) this decade.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Relationship between Nuclear Power and Climate Change

The situation in Japan is undeniably dire. But Jeffrey Eckel, president and CEO of Hannon Armstrong—a company that finances infrastructure technology for sophisticated energy systems—argues that, without nuclear power, we will not be able to reduce carbon emissions enough to avoid the ruinous consequences of global warming. Eckel spoke to Joshua Pringle, senior editor for, about the tough choices we as a society face in providing energy for the world's ever-expanding population.

The Relationship between Nuclear Power and Climate Change

It's been disheartening to see the traditional environmentalists cling to opinions held since the 70s. No, nuclear is not the solution, it is a bridge that will support us while we build energy systems that do not have lethal consequences, either by operating as designed (coal) or human error and natural disaster (Fukushima).

Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises

He says we do not currently have the technology to replace fossil fuels with renewables such as wind and solar.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Imagining The U.S. Without Nuclear Power

It's uncomfortable for me to see we know so little.


If you rely on the main stream media to identify issues you need to pay attention to, you are being misdirected. Japan's epic catastrophe and the looming problems at the Fukushima reactors should still have our attention.  MSM is like a young dog whose discipline is broken by a passing squirrel. Only in this case the squirrel is anything that resembles war.

However, let us not be lead astray, let's keep our attention where it should be:
Fukushima is like a cancer eating away at the habitat of the East coast of Japan. Whilst the situation appears to be stable, a number of slow burning processes must inevitably be eating away at the heart of these reactors. The solution to a number of these problems is to restore fresh water circulation to each of the cores and the spent fuel ponds. Whether or not the pumping systems work remains to be seen. Disposing of the salty radioactive sludge from inside the reactor vessels presents another major challenge.

It seems possible that the current meta stable condition may persist for many more weeks, and all the while the release and accumulation of radioactive isotopes in the environment will continue. And there is still risk of a catastrophic failure due to heat or corrosion that would result in the status degrading rapidly. It is too early to call this crisis over.

Fukushima Dai-ichi status and slow burning issues

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

.Climate programs fail at first step

GOVERNMENT programs to tackle climate change, worth more than $12 billion over the past 15 years, have largely failed to reduce carbon emissions.
The independent Melbourne think tank the Grattan Institute, analysed the more than $12bn of state and federal funding for more than 300 carbon reduction schemes and renewable energy programs over the past 15 years and found the result was mostly negligible.

The institute's John Daley told ABC's Lateline program the biggest failure was also the most expensive, with $7bn in commonwealth grants for companies showing few results and running years behind schedule. "Governments have spent a great deal, they have promised a great deal more, not much has actually happened," Dr Daley said.

"The good news is we haven't actually wasted our money, but the bad news is we haven't actually done very much."

.Climate programs fail at first step

High hopes for low carbon: an interview with Professor Jim Skea of the Committee on Climate Change

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The anti nuke sentiment is as strong as ever

These people are all for letting the science speak for itself when it comes to climate change... but not so much for nuclear power. I can't stand to read another blog post full of knee jerk emotional response to the events in Japan.

Lesson number one from Japan: Do not put backup generators in the basement if you are in an area vulnerable to tsunamis.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Know Nukes

The nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan is bad enough; the nuclear disaster unfolding in China could be even worse. “What disaster?”, you ask. The decision today by the Chinese government to suspend approval of new atomic power plants. If this suspension were to become permanent, the power those plants would have produced is likely to be replaced by burning coal. While nuclear causes calamities when it goes wrong, coal causes calamities when it goes right, and coal goes right a lot more often than nuclear goes wrong. The only safe coal-fired plant is one which has broken down past the point of repair.
He gets it. The risk of continued use of coal is greater than the risk of nuclear power.
HT veritone Instead of putting the brakes on nuclear plants, should we be building safer ones?

It has haunted me this last week that we arrested our development of nuclear power because of fear. We failed to learn as much as we could have these past 30 years. If we had used the Maddow approach: 'Know Nukes' instead of the one we chose, 'No Nukes' we would have safer plants right now.

But after watching the special on Three Mile Island last night, I think what we really need is more perfect people. That accident,like all nuclear accidents, was made worse by the operators trying to fix things.

And this:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Be calm people, be calm.

Tokyo (CNN) -- The Japanese government halted the sale of all food from farms near a tsunami-affected nuclear plant Saturday after abnormally high levels of radiation were found in milk and spinach.

The news of food contamination came as emergency workers scrambled to curb a nuclear crisis sparked by last week's monster earthquake and tsunami.

A person who consumed the tainted food continuously for a year would take in the same amount of radiation as a single CT scan, Edano said. That's about 7 millisieverts or double what an average person in an industrialized country is exposed to in a year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Radiation found in food as workers scramble to curb nuclear crisis

Shamelessly begging for comments

How do you think Americans will react when their energy (gasoline, electricity etc.) bills triple, and along with it the price of everything else?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dog Bless You

via facebook Dog Bless You

Spent fuel pool breached.

US Experts: Breach in Spent Fuel Pool may doom repair effort – Also, Add Volcano to list
Climate Denial Crock or the Week

Claims Times had it first, but I speculated that the pool was breached Wednesday. Do I get any credit?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eye opener

I have really had my eyes opened to threats posed by nuclear power plants that I was totally unaware of.
Perhaps you have too.
This is disconcerting, because nuclear power was the one CO2 free source of electricity that could replace coal in time to prevent calamitous increases in global temperature (more than 2C).

Of course, these circumstances were exceptional. Both the magnitude of the earthquake and the size of the tsunami exceeded the most pessimistic predictions.  But perhaps it will be shown, as the facts are gathered and the story pieced together, that the Japanese had become complacent about the safety of nuclear power. Just as we did with regard to the space shuttle, resulting in the loss of two crews.  Nuclear power, like space travel, is inherently dangerous. We must not forget that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Continuing emergency in Japan

The nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan has all the experts scratching their heads.

I speculate that the plant did not weather the earthquake as well as originally thought. And that the many after shocks have further damaged it, that parts are no longer water tight,  so that no amount of pumping power can keep the fuel, spent or otherwise, covered in water.

I wonder about the integrity of the  instrumentation. I don't understand how explosions could be a surprise to the crew there.

I totally agree that all plants around the globe should be inspected. We need to learn as much as we can about what happened here to avoid it in the future.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Apparently the explosion breached the containment structure of reactor #2 at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.
We are worse than Three Mile Island now, but not even close to Chernobyl.

It is truly disappointing that they didn't solve the cooling problems. It is guaranteed we'll learn a lot from this.

So remember, short term (decades) use of nuclear power is safer than BAU.

Let the science inform you. Not O'Donnell and the Last Word on MSNBC, who ignored reality ala Fox and spread total crap concerning the nuclear power plants here in California.
Same for Wolf Blitzer of CNN, who likewise thought he'd caught an expert out, but in fact only exposed his closed mind.

Big big kudos to Rachael Maddow, who is covering this expertly.

Again, let the science inform you, not the BS being dished out by the press.

Comparisons are being made with the accident at Chernobyl, but there are a number of very important differences, notably in terms of reactor design, and therefore accident implications. Nuclear safety in the former Soviet Union was once my research field (see Nuclear Safety and International Governance: Russia and Eastern Europe), and the specifics of the accident at Chernobyl could not be replicated in Japan. The risk in Japan is primarily meltdown, not a Chernobyl-style run-away nuclear reaction.

How Black Is the Japanese Nuclear Swan?

With a breach of the containment system of the Fukushima #2 reactor and release of significant amounts of radiation, we now have the answer to whether or not nuclear power is safe. In the eyes of the public and politicians the answer will be no, even before the final tally of nuclear casualties is counted. Looking to the future, the question should boil down to whether or not the risks of nuclear accidents are outweighed by the benefits to society of nuclear electricity. But in the current environment, and for years to come the risks are going to dominate government thinking and the benefits, all too readily ignored at present will be forgotten completely until we begin to feel the consequences of growing reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports and intermittent renewable energy.

Safety of nuclear power and death of the nuclear renaissance

To say nothing about mitigating climate change

Well, this will result in a halt of new nuk plants in the US.

Hope you are located where you can grow much of your own food, and don't need to use much gas to get around... it's going the be a bumpy ride.

Volcano in southern Japan erupts

Volcano in southern Japan erupts

Sunday's eruption, which was the biggest volcanic activity in Shinmoedake in 52 years, caused widespread destruction and panic. The blast could be heard for miles, and shattered windows four miles away, the BBC reported. Hundreds of people fled the area as the volcano spewed debris, including hot ash and rocks, more than 6,000 feet in the air, according to BBC reports.

Power Plant Air Pollution Kills 13,000 People Per Year, Coal-Fired Are Most Hazardous: ALA Report

How's this for bad reporting?
In a nation besieged with grief over mounting casualties, fears of possible radiation and the threat of more earthquakes, the nightmare grew for Japanese residents Monday as thousands of bodies reportedly were found and crews struggled to keep damaged nuclear plants under control.

Wouldn't the average reader believe that the bodies were associated with the unfolding nuclear power plant disaster?

via facebook
What abut the effect of major earthquakes on the vast industrial complexes of oil refineries, chemical plants and nuclear facilities that dot the West Coast of the U.S.? Should applications for continued use of existing plants, such as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County be approved?
Japan's crisis may have already derailed 'nuclear renaissance'

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The uproar over the nuclear emergency in Japan after a mag 9 + huge tsunami is embarrassing to me.
It is bad, but nothing like Chernobyl. It will not be like Chernobyl, ever, because the containment of the Japanese reactors is holding. Small releases, similar to Three Mile Island, have been intentional.
In spite of the fact that this overwhelming catastrophe is orders of magnitude worse than the nuclear power plants were designed to withstand, they are holding.   There may be a few die of radiation poisoning, but those will be the workers, not the nearby (or far afield) residents. I grieve for them, as I do the 10s of thousands who were swept away by the tsunami.

Chernobyl killed 4000 over all, including those that died due to long term effects of exposure.
How many, total,  have died due to nuclear power plants? It's a minuscule amount compared to those who have died because of coal... not to mention the millions who will die due to CO2 emission.
Get real people!

I figured out the main reason that I am so embarrassed by the climate hawk reaction to these nuclear power plant emergencies. It's because they are ignoring the science, and instead, reacting to their own anti-nuk bias. Much like the deniers scoff at the science of climate change because it does not support their agenda.. For shame.

Drumbeat Special Edition: Fukushima Thread

Drumbeat Special Edition: Fukushima Thread
Without nuclear power it is very unlikely we can meet our goals, to reduce CO2 emissions enough to mitigate climate change.
If the extrodinary events in Japan that lead to the failure of these 40 year old nuclear power plants keep us from deploying safer 4th generation fission plants... we would be stupid indeed.
If you summed all the people who have died because of coal power and compared it to all those who have died because of nuclear power, you might see the risk differently.
And, of course, nuclear power plants have not contributed to climate change... and if we continue BAU, millions will die in the next few decades, and in the long run, civilization may face extinction.

Of course wind, solar, and geothermal, plus several other sources that are currently under development, are better. But do not let perfect be the enemy of good. Once we don't need nuclear anymore, we can dismantle them... and shoot the waste into the sun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japanese disaster

There goes fission as a possible mitigation for climate change.

Rachael Maddow had a wonderful program tonight. I haven't found it on line yet. Stay tuned.
Here it is
She is obviously anti-nuk.

Links to this post

Queen of The Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? - Official Trailer [HD]


Japan magnitude 9 earthquake of 2011, 10s of thousands dead.
Haiti magnitude 7 earthquake of 2010, hundreds of thousands dead.

All the facts aren't in yet, but I believe that most of those killed in Japan will be from the tsunami.
Haiti did not appear to be affected by a tsunami.

Japan rich
Haiti poor

This is analogous to how climate change will impact people based on their economic status.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Science Catfight - Joe Bastardi vs. Brenda Ekwurzel

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Science Catfight - Joe Bastardi vs. Brenda Ekwurzel
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

So glad Bastardi has retired.

Peak Bees

A perfect storm of perils and threats is behind the disastrous decline in honeybees over the last few years, a UN report warns today.
Scientists have identified more than a dozen factors - from chemical pesticides to the loss of wild flowers - which are conspiring against one of the world's best loved, and most useful, insects.

And without 'profound changes' to the way people manage the landscape, the , the declines are likely to continue, threatening food security and food prices, they say.
Embattled: A perfect storm of perils and threats is behind the disastrous decline in honeybees over the last few years, a UN report has warned
The scale of the vanishing bee population has shocked environmentalists.

In Britain the number of bees has halved by the mid-1980s, while in America honey producers have been badly hit by colony collapse disorder - a mysterious condition in which entire hives vanish..
Disastrous decline in honeybees is unlikely to stop due to a perfect storm of threats, UN warns
By David Derbyshire

Peak Coffee


Bean production at the Garz√≥ns’ farm is therefore down 70 percent from five years ago, leaving the family little money for clothing for toddlers and “thinking twice” about sending older children to college, said Mr. Garzon’s 44-year-old son, Albeiro, interviewed in a yellow stucco house decorated with coffee posters and madonnas.

The shortage of high-end Arabica coffee beans is also being felt in New York supermarkets and Paris cafes, as customers blink at escalating prices. Purveyors fear that the Arabica coffee supply from Colombia may never rebound — that the world might, in effect, hit “peak
In 2006, Colombia produced more than 12 million 132-pound bags of coffee, and set a goal of 17 million for 2014. Last year the yield was nine million bags.

Heat Damages Colombia Coffee, Raising Prices By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL

You gotta buy gas, but how expensive would coffe have to be before you gave it up?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sobering news from Greenland and Antarctica

Melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland is accelerating, according to a new study to be published this month in Geophysical Research Letters. According to the research, this acceleration is three times faster than what is being observed for mountain glaciers and ice caps.
From the study:

The magnitude of the acceleration suggests that ice sheets will be the dominant contributors to sea level rise in forthcoming decades, and will likely exceed the IPCC projections for the contribution of ice sheets to sea level rise in the 21st century.

According to the new research, if melting of ice sheets continues at the current rate for the next 40 years, sea level rise from that source alone would equal 15 centimeters, or 5.9 inches by the year 2050. With ice loss from glaciers, ice caps and thermal expansion of the oceans also factored in, sea level could come up by a total of 32 centimeters, or 12.6 inches, by mid-century, according to the new research.

Read the rest:
Sobering news from Greenland and Antarctica

Hearing on "Climate Science and EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations"

As long as we elect idiots like this we will continue to destroy the future

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Laurence Budd Part 2 Water and migration

Radio Ecoshock II

Radio Echoshock does not support embedding, but it's got a ton of stuff to inform you.

Yes, the people are promoting their latest book. If you like what they say you actually might like their book.

Just listened to Wicked Problems & Solutions interview with Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon. Recommend.

I am proud of the collection of videos and audios I have pulled together here in this blog. I encourage you to browse my archives.

Beyond the Tipping Point

Oh afraid new world.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

World on the Edge

The real issue is, excluding some so far unknown technological miracles, the peak of oil production means we are going to become poorer in terms of goods and services we can buy, a decline that might be masked by monetary inflation. This is the hard truth almost nobody wants to face. (I don't.) A decline is tolerable in case of war or a business cycle or some brief emergency, but even in a civilization not based on "the American dream," a long-term decline might be unwelcome or even devastating.

Read the whole book review, and read the book (check it out from the public library?).

World on the Edge

I argue that we need to change our definition of poor. I think a child raised with all the electronic devises available but who has never seen a deer in his back yard might be considered poor. To discover a red trillium, or see a mountain lion in the wild... intangibles whose value cannot be measured in dollars, or square feet, add to our net worth, and we are richer for them.
But nobody counts that anymore.

I am starting to see all my stuff as a burden. Are you?

Inequality and crises: coincidence or causation?

Robert Reich: “The problem wasn't that consumers lived beyond their means. It was that their means didn't keep up with what the growing economy was capable of producing at or near full-employment. A larger and larger share of total income went to people at the top.“So in the longer term, it's hard to see where the buying power will come from unless America's vast middle class has more take-home pay.”

from Inequality and crises: coincidence or causation?
Paul Krugman

via Crisis at Princeton

This is something the Republican right doesn't get at all. They rail against "redistribution of wealth" as if the wealthy could keep the economy afloat all by themselves.

Joke from NHGranite
“KOCH JOKES.....­A Koch brother, a tea partier, and a union rep get a plate with 12 cookies. Koch immediatel­y takes 11 of the cookies for himself, then turns to the tea partier and says "watch out for that union guy - he wants your cookie."

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Sometimes Frost

The Sometimes Frost audio at Living on Earth

GELLERMAN: So what has to be done is we gotta make even greater cuts than are now being voluntarily agreed upon.

Large chunks of soil collapse as a result of permafrost thaw and erosion, as this image taken along the Sagavanirktok River on the North Slope of Alaska near Deadhorse shows. (Photo: Kevin Schaefer)

SCHAEFER: The release of carbon from permafrost is irreversible. Just like fossil fuels. Fossil fuels - once you drill the carbon, drill the oil and burn it, there's no way to put that oil back into the ground. In permafrost, once you thaw out the organic matter and it decays, there's no way to put that organic matter back into the permafrost.
So what it means is that we have to reduce our emissions even more in order to hit a target atmosphere CO2 concentration. The primary results of our paper is that permafrost can release a huge amount of carbon, and that we really have to account for that carbon when developing our global strategies to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

The predictions are too optimistic because the models are incomplete... and we just don't know enough about systems such as permafrost to include them. I wish they'd say so when telling us that we'll be seeing ice free summers in the arctic by 2070... when in fact it may occur within the next 5 years.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Climate Show 08: Kevin Trenberth and our shaky future

Climate Chaos - Damage done by delicious cheeseburgers

Science Saturday: Climate Chaos
Damage done by delicious cheeseburgers (08:31)
Why global warming is the biggest problem of our century (06:43)
The evil and the stupid among those who welcome a warmer world (04:31)
Is geoengineering the solution? (12:48)
Asteroids, intelligent machines, and other threats to humanity (04:07)
Will our civilization survive much longer? (05:24)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thomas Friedman on America and China

Note chapter 12 54 minutes into it

There's China, and then there's US


In an essay published on the agency’s Web site, the minister, Zhou Shengxian, said the government would take a more aggressive role in determining whether development initiatives contributed to climate change through a new system of risk assessment.

Ignoring such risks, Mr. Zhou said, would be perilous

“In China’s thousands of years of civilization, the conflict between humankind and nature has never been as serious as it is today,” he wrote. “The depletion, deterioration and exhaustion of resources and the worsening ecological environment have become bottlenecks and grave impediments to the nation’s economic and social development.”

China Issues Warning on Climate and Growth


Brain vs Blowhard 2: Taking it to the Tweets

Quite a contrast heh?