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January 01, 2007


Edward Ho

The only way to stop climate change is to stop time. Climate always changes, regardless of the flora and fauna on earth. It is an absurdity to focus on CO2 as the sole determinant of climate. It is a sign of mental retardation to fixate on a single determinate of complex phenomena. The media is retarded, obviously, but is everyone?


You are correct that there are many, many things that affect the inevitable change of earth's various climates. Carbon Dioxiode, however, is entering the atmosphere at unprecedented speed and quantity. Many other things, manmade and otherwise, also effect the environment--i don't think anyone would disagree with that. But CO2 is changing the climate in ways that are far more drastic, rapid, and potentially harmful than the climate change of the pre-industrial-revolution world.


I guess we're fortunate then that CO2 is apparently at a record low level for earth's history. I wonder how life survived for all those hundreds of millions of years prior?



It's at a record high for the last million years, and probably the last fifty million.  The last time CO2 levels were around 2000 ppm, it was called "The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum" and coincided (not by chance) with a mass extinction.


JD: I went to the site you posted, and what was there looks legit--i'm not saying its a sure thing, im saying it looks legit. However, the carboniferous period was about 300 million years ago. Last i checked, human civilization has been around for a few thousand years. We have made a myriad developments since then, and have obviously experienced tremendous growth. All of these developments and all this growth has come up around the world we have known since we really started getting our act together. Now if global CO2 is at a record low as you say, I will believe you for the purposes of this discussion. However, that does not change the fact that the world we as a species have grown up knowing is changing at a remarkably rapid pace. Climate change happens, just not usually this fast. And from what I've heard, changes this drastic tend to result in mass extinctions.

I dont mean to say the world is coming to an end. I simply mean to say that huge economic damage will be the result of a world changing from the world weve always known to one that existed hundreds of millions of years ago.

I apologize if my writing is broken or redundant or whatever. Im doing fifty other things right now and its hard to keep my mind together.

brian hans

the data is pretty clear that humans are having an impact. and history should tell us that humans need to live sustainably or they wreck what was once a resource.

add those 2 together and u can see a valid argument. biodiversity is a resource that we are clearly losing because of CO2 levels.

Greg Woulf

I won't be the judge of whether CO2 is the primary cause, or even a significant cause, but what I would say is that if the majority of scientists are wrong we don't lose anything by lowering our CO2, if they're right we have millions of human deaths, and possibly more if we just ignore it and keep pumping CO2 into the sky.

If we wait until the Earths temperature does exceed the record of all time it'll be way too late.

Paul Dietz

The big problem with a system like this is: where do you get the alkali? Sodium and potassium hydroxide are not all that easy to make; there's a lot of chemical energy locked up there. The typical means of making them is electrochemical (made a byproduct of chlorine production).

If you could make alkali, you could scrub CO2 just by exposing the alkali to the general atmosphere (see Lackner's 'artificial trees'), from which it would absorb CO2 to make carbonates or bicarbonates. No need for a chimney.

Bicarbonates would actually be better to make than carbonates, since more carbon is bound per unit of reactant. This leads to a perhaps more practical suggestion: accelerate the process by which the oceans will soak up CO2 over the next 1000 years or so by artificially accelerating the dissolution of calcium carbonate. Mix powdered limestone with compressed CO2 and water and allow them to react to make calcium bicarbonate, and dispose of this at depth in the ocean.


If the base used to sequester the carbon dioxide is an externally supplied alkali, I can't regard this as anything but a stunt, since it won't survive scaleup to industry-wide application.

As Paul noted above, alkali is produced by electrolysis of water. The reductive half-reaction is

2 H2O + 2e- --> H2 + 2 OH-

But you need an oxidative half-reaction to go along with it. For industrial alkali production, that reaction is the oxidation of chloride to chlorine, but the market for chlorine and its compounds has diminished to to environmental concerns, and even if you could think of an chlorine application to soak up all the chlorine you would need to make to make enough alkali to scrub the world's CO2, you wouldn't want to to do it. To my knolwedge, there are no industrially useful oxidation reactions whose markets can be expanded to soak up the world's carbon dioxide.

What you need is a naturally occurring supply of base that you can mine. Calcium and magnesium carbonates are one option: each mole of carbonate can soak up a mole of CO2 to make two moles of bicarbonate. Indirectly, this is what happens in the Solvay process for industrial manufacture of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate, but as no one is rushing to stick Solvay plants on the ends of their smokestacks, I have to assume the economics don't work, and I have to posit this: any workable solution for mineral sequestration of carbonates will produce carbonates more cheaply than Solvay. Unless you can revolutionize this century-old industry, your process is not worth discussing for carbon seuqestration.

Paul Dietz

Alkali can also be made by a process called electrodialysis with bipolar membranes (EDBM). This breaks a salt solution into an acid and a base stream, and is used industrially to convert salts of organic acids back to acid form. You'd do this with (say) sodium chloride, then dispose of the hydrochloric acid side stream by reaction with olivine (which dissolves in acids rather quickly).

If you can make the bipolar membrane work with CO2 (performing the reaction H2O + CO2 --> H+ + HCO3- instead of H2O --> H+ + OH- at the membrane interface) the voltage of the EDBM stack could be reduced, which might make the idea more practical.


Engineer Poet

The PTM was not caused by CO2. At the estimated begining of this event CO2 was far lower than any period after the Permian. Current theory points toward a 2-3 giga ton release of methane from hydrate deposits brought about by continental drift (with the entailed oceanic circulation changes) and or bolloidal impacts in Siberia and the Chesepeak Bay area.

There's far better reasons to migrate to other energy sources than the overhyped fear of basic CO2 emmissions. This will progress over the coming decades. I do predict that despite a reduction of humanity's share of yearly CO2 emissions (~4% I believe) climate change will still continue.

I realise that you consider anyone who disagrees with you to be living along some river called denial. That's fine. I consider you to be riding behind a wild, unguided, horse because you've taken off it's blinders and shoved them on your own head.



Of course climate change will continue! Nobody's denying that! It simply wouldn't be such a rapid/drastic change if there were no manmade greenhouse gas emissions. And you're right: of course those aren't limited to CO2: it is simply the largest current pollutant. Of course things should also be done (and are being done) about methane and mercury and all those other damn things. But what's your objection to focusing on CO2?

PO'd Patriot

Some enterprising 'Global Warming' convert needs to explain why Mars' polar ice caps are shrinking.

Global warming on Mars

SPACE.com -- Mars Ski Report: Snow is Hard, Dense and Disappearing

Mars Is Warming, NASA Scientists Report - by James M. Taylor - The Heartland Institute http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=17977

Not that I think we shouldn't abandon foreign oil. I do. Very much so.

The best (and only) reasons to use alternatives to foreign oil are still:

1. National security (google James+Woolsey+hybrid for an eye opener) and

2. Reduced particulate and other pollution (e.g. heavy metals, SO2, etc.)


What the @#@$&^ has Mars got to do with anything??!!

Bill Hannahan

This could be attractive to small producers of CO2 wanting to improve their public image, but for the big producers there is a problem with mass balance.

A one gigawatt coal power plant consumes 7,800 tons of coal per day, 5 trainloads per week, assuming a 100 car train carrying 110 tons per car. It produces 20,000 tons of CO2 per day.


For potash the reaction and mass balance are;

6KOH + 6 CO2 + 3 O > 6KCO3 + 3H2O
336 + 264 + 48 = 594 + 54

it will require 1.27 tons of pure potash per ton of CO2, 26,000 tons of potash per day, 16 trainloads of potash per week.

The process will produce 46,000 tons of solid waste, per day, 29 trainloads per week.

In 2005 coal transportation costs averaged $8.63 per ton. Assuming the same transportation cost for all materials, the total transportation cost will be $87 per ton of coal consumed.

Transportation requirements increase from 5 trainloads per week, to 50 trainloads per week. Even if the empty coal trains carry 5 loads back to the mine for disposal that leaves 40 additional trains per week. The rail system in the US is near maximum capacity now.

Over the 60 year life of the plant it will consume 560 megatons of potash. The US imports 90% of its potash, so its transportation cost will be much greater than assumed.

Over the 60 year life of the plant it will produce 1000 megatons of solid waste. The waste will be contaminated with mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cadmium, uranium, radium etc. Who’s back yard will be accepting the 29 trainloads of waste each week, and what will it cost to protect against leaching and erosion of toxics forever?

A 1000 megawatt nuclear plant produces 7.4 pounds of fission products / day, 1.35 tons / year, 81 tons over a 60 year life.

If all our electricity came from fission it would produce 5.4 ounces of fission products per person over an 80 year lifespan, of which less than one ounce would still be radioactive at end of life.

For details click on




There is an Excel spreadsheet with calculations and references.


JD:  You may not realize it, but we're already starting such a methane release now.  Permafrost bogs in Siberia and Canada are thawing, and the methane emissions are rising rapidly.  Given methane's far greater GHG effect than CO2, this is all too likely to create a positive feedback loop as each year's release raises temperatures to thaw more permafrost.

The PETM probably started with CO2 alone, and that's pretty close to what we're doing (we added N2O, SF6 and perfluorocarbons too).

What we need is Paul Cruzen's stratospheric sunblock to pull the temperature back down while we address the causes.  And we need to get started on it now.


Kind of a random question, not really related, but I was wondering if anyone knew how big of a solar cell would be required to provide 9 volts? If someone could let me know, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.


It's not the size, it's the number.  Silicon PV cells provide roughly 0.7 volts, so you'd need about 13 in series.  The amount of current you get depends on the size (and the intensity of light falling on them).


EP: The key question on arctic methane is how fast could it happen? While methane is a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, it is fairly short-lived in the atmosphere. Its half-life in the atmosphere is 10-12 years compared to centuries for carbon dioxide. If the arctic methane inventory will be vented over a decade, that could be a big problem. If it will be vented over the course of a century or so, that would remain a smallish component of the overall greenhouse effect.

Paul Dietz

Some enterprising 'Global Warming' convert needs to explain why Mars' polar ice caps are shrinking.

For some reason unrelated to climate change on Earth. You did know that changes in solar irradiation can't explain the current warming trend on Earth, right? For one thing, the terrestrial stratosphere is cooling, in a way consistent with increased greenhouse gas forcing and inconsistent with increased solar forcing.

Paul Dietz

Its half-life in the atmosphere is 10-12 years

Since methane is removed from the atmosphere by reaction with short-lived radicals like OH and Cl, I wonder if other atmospheric trace gases that compete for these radicals may explain recent variations in methane buildup. In particular, carbon monoxide is also removed by reaction with OH. The extensive forest fires of some years back might, I imagine, have reduced OH levels globally, reducing the rate of methane removal.

I imagine it's also possible that the methane halflife could increase if too much methane is released, if this also causes the equilibrium concentration of OH to decline. The atmosphere has a finite cleaning capacity.

Geoengineers might like the idea of releasing molecular chlorine into the troposphere (over oceans, where one would hope it wouldn't affect many people). The gas is quickly photolysed to chlorine radicals, which would react with methane (extracting hydrogen to form hydrogen chloride). This may perhaps be relevant to the earlier comments about alkali production.


Marcus, I like you calculations. People have been scrubbing flue gas for some time. Making sodium hydroxide, uses considerable amounts of energy. If this is going to be made specially for scrubbing flue gas for other energy generation purposes, it seems a bit of a waste to me.


The US is running into limits of coal mining and shipping.  Anything which reduces the efficiency of coal-fired production will require more coal, aggravating those problems and leading to price increases or outright shortages.  That won't fly.

What we need are measures which scrub CO2 while increasing efficiency.  If we're going to use coal, that appears to mean IGCC in the short term, something like DCFC's in the long term.  DCFC's have the advantage of seamlessly converting to charcoal.


Coal is better converted to natural gas under ground. Oil too. Eliminates all the mess.

Forget "clean" coal. It's like "safe" nuclear power. Oxymoron.

Baseload power is wind and water. Along with distributed solar.


Engineer Poet

I've yet to see theory centering on CO2 as the initiater of the PTM. As far as long term trends with a balanced prospective I would encourage you to observe the graphs at


The climate is changing, humanity is either slightly accelerating or slightly retarding whatever change is coming. I deem human land usage as having the greater effect on whatever impact we're imparting. We'll probably have a more accurate view of these changes within the next 2-3 decades, about the time we've migrated to other energy sources due to economics.

Note, as to the permafrost melting away... I've seen no evidence of it here and I live about 80 miles south of the arctic circle.


Paul: As far as I know, the net effect of reduced carbon on hydroxyl in the atmosphere remains an open question. The issue is that while these species react with hydroxyl, ozone is a possible outcome of the oxidation reactions, which in turn gets photodecomposed back to hydroxyl. Depending on what other trace gases are present (especially the nitrogen oxides), the net effect of methane and CO on OH can be positive or negative. Or so the modelers say.


JD:  Whoever wrote the Wikipedia page said evidence pointed to CO2 from volcanic activity as the likely trigger for the PETM.  We are seeing how warming leads to methane emissions right now.


Amazingdrx--Coal power is far less safe than nuclear power. Nuclear power is safer than thousands of technologies and thousands of products out there.

JD: just because there is no permafrost melting outside your door doesn't mean it's not happening like crazy in other places. I'm not saying it is for sure, but please dont site personal experiences to discredit human-caused global warming. Also, what are the graphs on your the site you cited trying to prove?? i looked at it and for one thing, none of the graphs even have a temperature scale.
Speaking of graphs, have you seen any of the graphs depicting CO2 & temperatures, including the CO2 levels of the modern day?? If not, which i would hardly believe possible, please look into that. I believe the wikipedia article on global warming has a few such graphs.

Paul Dietz

Cyrus: thanks. I later found some references online that said basically that, in some more detail. OH seems (evidence is not that strong) to have increased, but mostly due to smog over continents; OH over oceans seems to have gone down.

It would be a shame if methane concentrations have temporarily stabilized because of asian smog.


"Coal power is far less safe than nuclear power"

Tell that to the people of Chernobyl.

They are both very bad alternatives. Recent studies indicate wind can replace them both as baseload power.


What can you say about someone who, after being pointed to it repeatedly, still can't grasp the difference between the populations of Pripyat and Middletown?

"Amazingly stupid" still fits.

Paul Dietz

"Coal power is far less safe than nuclear power"

Tell that to the people of Chernobyl.

Even if you include Chernobyl, nuclear power remains safer than coal. Do you have any idea how many people are killed mining coal or breathing coal emissions around the world each year?

(If you complain that US coal mining is much safer than the world average, I will reply that US nuclear reactors are also much safer, by design, than the reactor type at Chernobyl.)


Dietz - Three Mile Isalnd was two hours from a core meltdown, so I do not know why you want to brag abour our safety record. I live in the Nutmeg state, home of Millstone1 and the now defunct Connecticut Yankee. I can not remember anymore how many times the NRC has fined them, before cutting off the Yankee for good. Millstone has been well recognized for discharging curies and curies of radioactive isotopes of cessium tritium and iodine upon our heads with their leaking fuel rods, and we have the cancer spikes to prove it.


Calvino wrote: Three Mile Isalnd was two hours from a core meltdown

The TMI incident is not unique in that respect. All US reactors are at all times within two hours of a core "meltdown".

Public Misunderstanding

In this chapter we have shown that there have been serious misunderstandings of reactor meltdown accidents in the public mind. In most such accidents there would be no harm to the public, and the average meltdown would cause 400 fatalities and do $100 million in off-site damage. Even in the worst 0.001% of accidents, the increased cancer risk to those involved is much less than that of moving from other parts of the country to New England. This is a far cry from the public image of many thousands of dead bodies lying around in a vast area of devastation, and it certainly is not "the ultimate disaster." Only a tiny fraction of the public recognizes that for nuclear accidents to be as dangerous as coal burning, we would have to experience a meltdown every 5 days.

The consequences of the misunderstandings have been tragic. Surely no one believes that we will have a meltdown every five days, or even every few months. We have never even had a large scale evacuation, which would be the first step if there was any apparent danger to the public. Mass evacuations following other type accidents are quite common. Chemical spills lead to evacuation of hundreds of people several times per year in the United States. In 1979, as a result of an accident of a railroad tank car carrying a dangerous chemical, there was a mass evacuation from a suburb of Toronto, involving over 100,000 people for several days.

Nevertheless, because of the misunderstandings attending nuclear accidents, utilities have continued to build coal-fired rather than nuclear plants. Every time this is done, thousands of Americans are condemned to a premature death.

Calvino wrote: I can not remember anymore how many times the NRC has fined them


In reactor design it is assumed that all sorts of things will go wrong — pipes will break, valves will stick, motors will fail, operators will push the wrong button, and so on, but there is "defense in depth" to cover these malfunctions or series of successive malfunctions.

Of course the depth of the defense is not infinite. If each line of defense would crumble, one after the other, there could be a disaster. But as the depth of the defense is increased, the probability for this to happen is rapidly decreased. For example, if each line of defense has a chance of failure equal to that of drawing the ace of spades out of a deck of shuffled cards — one chance in 52, the probability for five successive lines of defense to fail is like the chance of drawing the ace of spades successively out of five decks of well-shuffled cards — one chance in 52 x 52 x 52 x 52 x 52, or one chance in 380 million!

There have been cases where one of the lines of defense has failed in nuclear power plants. Utilities have been heavily fined by the NRC for such things as leaving a valve closed and thereby compromising the effectiveness of one of the emergency systems. These incidents are often given publicity as failures that could lead to a meltdown. But the media coverage rarely bothers to point out that there are several lines of defense remaining unbreached between these events and a meltdown — not to mention that there is still a major line of defense, the containment, remaining even if a meltdown occurs.

Bill Hannahan

The routine emissions from coal burning power plants kill over 20,000 people each year in the US alone and mercury from those plants damages the brains of newborn children all over the world. For details see;


If the US did not have 103 reactors generating 20% of our electricity we would have 103 more fossil fuel plants, mostly coal, generating that power, taking another 4,000 to 5,000 lives each year. Every two years U.S. nuclear power plants save more lives than the Chernobyl accident is projected to take over 40 years.

Had we continued building nuclear plants at the rate of five per year we could be generating over half our electricity from fission, saving over10,000 lives per year.

Nuclear reactors destroy uranium thereby making earth less radioactive in the long run and eliminating radiation exposure that would have occurred when that uranium eroded to the surface. Nuclear power saves lives now and in the future. See table 1 of this document;


Bill Hannahan

“Three Mile Isalnd was two hours from a core meltdown
The TMI incident is not unique in that respect. All US reactors are at all times within two hours of a core "meltdown".

New plants are being designed to take a full meltdown without a significant release.


See pages 50 and 51 of this document.

Paul Dietz

Three Mile Isalnd was two hours from a core meltdown,

I've got news for you -- TMI wasn't two hours from a core meltdown. A good part of the core did melt! Cleaning the solidified core stuff out of the reactor vessel was a lengthy process.

Somehow, the world didn't end, and no one was hurt by emissions from the plant, which were limited to part of the noble gas component of the melted fuel. One of the lessons from TMI is that LWRs behave much better in core meltdowns than had been conservatively assumed.


"The TMI incident is not unique in that respect. All US reactors are at all times within two hours of a core "meltdown".

Exactly why they should be replaced with wind and water power as baseload power sources. Nuclear power is not safe. And it is way too expensive.

Paul Dietz

Exactly why they should be replaced with wind and water power as baseload power sources. Nuclear power is not safe.

Are you aware of how many people have died installing and maintaining wind turbines? As of a few years ago, the number was surprisingly large; per unit of energy produced it was as bad as coal mining.

And water power is too limited, and is very dangerous in its own right. A dam failure in China killed 3/4 of a million people back in the last century.


Oh yeah, humans are killed in construction projects. Wind, water, fossil, nuclear construction what have you.

That will most likely remain no matter what we do, short of turning all work over to robots.

But nuclear power can render whole regions, like Chernobyl, uninhabitable. That is just to great a risk. Imagine Manhattan evacuated from a meltdown? who would insure against that? Nobody.

That's why congress gave the nuclear industry a pass on liability insurance. Only mass insanity can explain that.

You all keep forgetting all the extra cancer deaths from radioactive contamination. Then you keep saying coal kills more people from radiation.

But I want to shut down coal too. And power dams are not needed to get wave and ocean current power, huge sources of clean energy.

A new technology just emerging can generate power from rivers with no hazard to fish,wildlife, or navigation. And all down the course of the river, not just where it's dammed up. This needs no dams. It can provide distributed generation for communities along rivers.

Paul Dietz

Oh yeah, humans are killed in construction projects. Wind, water, fossil, nuclear construction what have you.

Yes, and because wind requires so much construction (and maintenance) high off the ground, the number for wind was distressingly high, per unit of energy produced.

But perhaps you just don't like construction workers.

But nuclear power can render whole regions, like Chernobyl, uninhabitable.

For some value of 'nuclear' (badly designed plants) and some value of 'region' (sufficiently small value). Nuclear plants that would be licensed in the west can't and won't.

You all keep forgetting all the extra cancer deaths from radioactive contamination.

Wrong. We just don't wildly exaggerate them (like that earlier poster's hysterical nonsense about cancer spikes.)


Bill - you are absoulutely correct, if we fired the techs in the control room and replaced them with two non-union rhesus monkeys, while the suprevisor was outsourced to a videofeed - I am sure we could have a rod jamming, shut down the coolant valves, let her ride meltdown party and get a complete core meltdown, after all the fissile material goes into a self-feeding reaction. Would that not be fun! So I stand corrected, every reactor is maybe half an hour from a total core meltdown.

- And Paul, I stand corrected by you also. We did have a partial core meltdown at Three Mile - were you wishing for a complete meltdown, like above? You show great concern for the airborne disease from coal particulates. Since this is a CTL post, and CTL removes mercury and the other less noxious airborne particulates from coal - huh? And there is no hysteria in my statistics, the thyroid cancer spikes around Waterford are sadly proof, and statistically significant beyond any reasonable doubt. I would think you should show those people respect, if not for intellectual intergity.

Bill Hannahan


The automatic protection system at TMI started the high pressure injection pumps. The operators mistakenly thought it was overfilling and cut them back. Had the operators gone out for coffee and doughnuts till the shift change the plant would probably be in operation today.

Next generation reactors are being designed with level instrumentation in the reactor vessel. See page 17 of this document;


That will prevent confusion by providing direct evidence that the core is submerged.


This is news to me, please provide a link.


Actually the process would take several hours. It would probably not lead to a significant release from first generation plants and certainly not from plants designed to take that kind of accident, as explained on pages 50,51 of the previous link.

Airliners are always less than sixty seconds from diving into the ground at 500+ mph and smashing themselves to bits. Suppose Boeing or Airbus built a plane that could protect its passengers in such an accident, and you survived such a crash. Would you be upset if the plane was no longer airworthy after impact?

If there were no cancer spikes in the vicinity of nuclear power plants it would be positive proof that nuclear power plants prevent cancer spikes.

Cancer spikes can be caused by numerous manmade or natural risk factors, or just random statistical fluctuations. Can you provide a link to a scientific, pier reviewed report that proves a solid link between a cancer spike and the plant?

Several decades ago a small test reactor was built at Piqua Ohio. Operators were annoyed by occasional shutdowns initiated by the automatic protection system. They traced the problem to an outside radiation detector on top of the containment building. After several attempts to diagnose the problem they set up an air monitor to collect particulates from the air. When they tested the filter paper from the monitor, it was contaminated with radium. They noticed that the trips only occurred when the wind was in a certain direction. They looked upwind and found the towns power plant which was eating into a vein of coal with high radium content.

The smoke from that plant was falling on streets, houses, playgrounds, drying laundry, farms and gardens throughout the area. The filter paper was too radioactive to be disposed in ordinary trash.

Most towns do not have facilities to detect such emissions. If a cancer spike is identified around Piqua, what will you attribute it to?


Extra cancer risk from nuclear contamination is a theory based on scientific evidence, like increased cancer risk from smoking.

If one can prove some other source is more likely to explain extra cancer deaths then nuclear power could get off the hook. But if the same contamination from many different nuclear plants, like strontium 90 in Florida and Massaschusets and other locations, causes similar elevated cancer rates in those different locations, that tends to eliminate other factors.

Anecdotal claims that are impossible to document, like the radium from the coal plant in the radiation moniter, can only challenge observed data if they are repeated in more than one location.

Plutonium in groundwater, for instance,from the reactor fuel processing plant in in Paducah Kentucky is going to be hard to blame on coal.

The horrible leak and contamination track record of the nuclear industry can't be wiped away by claiming that connection between leaks from plants and increased cancer rates are merely based on theory. All science is based on theory.

If you want to talk about the trustworthiness of the theory of radiation elevating cancer risk it will be hard to use nuclear industry claims to challenge it. The public does not trust the nuclear industry anymore. That trust will need to be reclaimed with proven performance of better reactor designs that eliminate waste and contamination.

The deaths per kwh of power analysis is ridiculous Paul. Give it up. And the you must not care about workers schtick? A sick joke.

Do you not care about uranium miners and residents around mines who died from cancer from yellowcake? Cancer caused by persistent criminal negligence to benefit the bottomline of nuclear industry corporations is not a laughing matter.


My last post was for calvino, sorry for the error.


You need to put numbers on your examples to compare risk vs. benefit. Do not mix the record of the nuclear weapons industry with the commercial nuclear power industry. The attitude and methods were vastly different.

High energy prices push people toward decisions that make life less safe and less comfortable, smaller cars, motor scooters, less security lighting, lower quality food, medical care etc.

Studies show that smoking is risky even at low levels, but radiation risk is extrapolated from high level exposure like Hiroshima. Radiation levels in the Rocky Mountains are way above the national average due to altitude and uranium decay products yet most cancer rates are well below average. Some other parts of the world have very high background levels with no detectable effect.

Google “radiation hormesis”.

Let’s say it costs Saudi Arabia $5 to pump a barrel of oil out of the ground. If the price of ethanol drops to $20 / barrel will the Saudi’s cap their wells and go back to camels and tents? No, in fact they may increase production to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to. The same argument applies to coal and gas.

Expensive boutique energy systems will not curtail CO2 emissions. We need huge sources of cheep alternative energy. This is why my energy paper recommends that the US increase R&D spending for non fossil energy sources from $2.09 per person per year to $200.00 per person, $60 billion / year. If some technology emerges that can generate more energy than fission at a lower price, that will be great.


"my energy paper recommends that the US increase R&D spending for non fossil energy sources from $2.09 per person per year to $200.00 per person, $60 billion / year. If some technology emerges that can generate more energy than fission at a lower price, that will be great."

Wind power already has acomplished that Bill.

Without more research money invested. I propose that only 10 billion per year be spent on tax credits to homeowners, farmers, and small business owners to switch to renewable energy, plugin electric serial hybrid vehicles, and geothermal heating/cooling.

And the cost of those tax credits be balanced with cuts in corporate welfare subsidies to multinational energy companies. Like the 8 billion dollar giveaway in oil leases the Bush administration just provided.

Encourage real investors to put their money into this energy revolution and the economic boom created will revive US. Or turn the fate of the planet over to the benevolent leaders of China.

Pretty simple choice really. Nuclear power will only help the takeover. As scarce capital is misplaced into hugely expensive corporate contractor boondoggle projects. Halliburton-like mega-contractors powering the US with nuclear plants? Nearly 1000 new ones would be needed to replace coal and oil.

That would take maybe 10 trillion dollars and over 30 years. Too slow and too expensive.

The renewable energy revolution could bring global climate relief within 10 years at a fraction of that cost. And pay it's own way in huge econmomic growth, great jobs, and US debt payed back down to safe levels.

Give up on nuclear power. It's more corporate scamming.

10 billion per year transferred from corporate welfare to tax credits for renewable energy would atract 10 times that amount from private investors, that's a trillion over 10 years and that ought to cover it.


The countries that have been pushing wind very hard with decades of massive subsidies are running into a wall at around 10-15% wind electricity, about 4-6% of total energy consumption. Denmark Germany Spain and others are cutting back their wind subsidies because of the problems. Germany just reversed its long standing decision to phase out nuclear power.

Windmills have been evolving for 300 years and the latest windmills operate near theoretical maximum efficiency. There is no room for big improvements. If there were thousands of places around the world near where people live, where the wind blew continuously at a steady substantial velocity, wind power could be affordable, but those places do not exist, and so, wind power will always be expensive.

Here is a report that summarizes the problems.


Solar has potential. For example, if the gene splicers create algae capable of making a light hydrocarbon fuel out of sun air and water, that could change things. Think of going out to your backyard solar energy pond and skimming off a gallon or two of diesel fuel.

That would be worth a substantial R&D effort.

The world needs an affordable practical way to store electric energy so that electricity can compete with oil in transportation. A significant part of the $60 billion would go towards exploring all ideas with potential solutions for this problem.

We cannot count on breakthroughs. We must plan for the use of existing technology.

If CO2 turns out to be a really big problem we can build a carbon free nuclear / electric / hydrogen energy system with existing knowledge. We can build plug in hybrid vehicles with hydrogen burning internal combustion engines (microturbines if you like) for backup.

The lifetime uranium requirement to sustain the US energy consumption rate would be 1.5 pounds per person, costing $25.50, about 32 cents per year.

If breakthroughs come life will be even better.

Brian Wang

Here is a site that shows subsidies for various energy forms.

In the bottom of this post, I show that moving billions of tons of coal as we do costs lives in the US and other places from rail and traffic accidents. I would say getting hit and killed by one of the
millions of coal train loads counts as a death against coal. 500-1300 deaths from transportation accidents in the USA related to coal.

So over 1,000,000 pollution deaths/year worldwide from coal.
10,000+ mining deaths/year from coal.
10,000+ transportation deaths/year worldwide from coal.
40% of rail cargo in the USA is coal.
40% of Rail maintenance costs and railway subsidies are linked to coal.
Uranium and nuclear power would involve 1-3% of the mass volumes of coal so it has fewer of these deaths (depends upon average richness of the ore).

All of the death and illness caused by coal increases the healthcare costs for everyone. It also increases the costs of goods. The 50 billion/year in sales of coal in the USA is a deceptive industry in that there are hundreds of billions in costs generated by it.

Radiation can kill but coal power releases more radioactive material than nuclear power. 6 billion tons of coal burned per year releases 20,000 tons of uranium and thorium into the air. Do you somehow think
there are zero parts per million of uranium in the coal and the dirt covering it? 20,000 one ton dirty bombs every year. Nuclear sticks its waste into vats.

For all factors costs, deaths, illness, subsidies, economics coal is
far worse than nuclear. Solar and wind by themselves are not going to
get online fast enough. 1000-4000 deaths per day from coal. Show your stats for nuclear. I calculate less than 2 deaths per day that can or would be attributed to nuclear if it replaced coal. It would mostly be moving the ore traffic/rail but a fraction because a fraction of the mass and number of trips. Moving, environmental, including possibly leaks etc...

All kinds of causes for different kinds of cancer. Lung cancer
increase from exposure to air particulates from coal power plants and
other sources. Tons of scientific papers.

The first paper has been sited over 700 times.

Lung Cancer, Cardiopulmonary Mortality, and Long-term Exposure to Fine
Particulate Air Pollution
C. Arden Pope III, PhD; Richard T. Burnett, PhD; Michael J. Thun, MD;
Eugenia E. Calle, PhD; Daniel Krewski, PhD; Kazuhiko Ito, PhD; George
D. Thurston, ScD


Besides the particulates
Coal power plants release 100 times the radioactive lements into the
air than nuclear power plants. So even with the focus on radiation.
Coal loses.


the link references a paper
J. O. Corbett, "The Radiation Dose From Coal Burning: A Review of
Pathways and Data," Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 4 (1): 5-19.

Plenty of other causes of cancer besides radiation.

diet, exposure to metals, sunlight

We keep saying coal causes more deaths than nuclear because it is true.


A PBS show upcoming: China From the Inside: Documentary. Directed by
Jonathan Lewis, co-produced by KQED and Granada Television. Parts 1
and 2 at 9 p.m. Wednesday; Parts 3 and 4 at 9 p.m. Jan. 17, KQED.
While there are fleeting glances at the larger cities here and there,
most of the filming took place in the provinces, in parts of the
country few have ever heard of: the virtual dust bowl in the middle of
China, where the Gobi Desert is encroaching rapidly now because the
trees along the Yellow River have all been cut down; the little
village of Hisai, where townspeople dared to expel a gang of corrupt
local officials; various locales along the Huai River, a waterway so
thick with pollution it is called "the river of death" and communities
along its shores are labeled "cancer villages." [Cancer caused from
waste and pollution from coal plants]

Coal mining by itself in the 20th century killed more people than all
the nuclear deaths combined. Including Hiroshima and Nagasaki against

Coal transportation kills more people than nuclear.
40% of rail transportation in the US is for moving coal. 3000 railway
crossing accidents per year. About 300-400 rail deaths per year would
be coals statistical share. 150-1000 additional trucking deaths from
accidents. More added deaths and health effects from the pollution.

Approximately every 2 hours, a railroad train in the United States
strikes a motor vehicle or a pedestrian. According to the Federal
Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis, in 2002 there
were 14,355 railroad related accidents, resulting in 951 deaths and
more than 11,000 injuries, including 311 deaths and 859 injuries at
highway-rail crossings, and 463 deaths and 414 injuries from accidents
resulting from trespassing on railroad rights-of-way and property.

Some coal is also transported part of the way by large trucks.

Coal volumes are far higher than Uranium. Moving it causes more
accidents and deaths.

Transporting the 1.2billion tons of coal (2002) heading to 1.8 billion
tons per year now costs lives and money. Directly from accidents and
more from the oil pollution.

40% of freight rail cargo is coal.

There are about 900 rail fatalities per year. Coal
statistical share of that is 360. The 2 billion tons of coal also
sometime travel in large trucks.


There were about 5000 large truck fatalities per year in the united states.



There are about 24 mining workers driving
fatalities per year and 621 workers per year died from material moving
(1.24 billion tons of coal in 2002

Coal share of that is probably about 100-150 workers.

Breakdown of freight tonnage


1.8 billion tons by rail. 40% of rail tonnage is 720 million tons. So 500 million tons would move by truck.

Moving that much material also uses up a lot of gasoline. So the secondary effects continue to increase the costs in money (40% of railway maintenance related to coal and more oil used) and lives (truck and rail pollution generated by moving all that coal.

Brian Wang

The Amazingdrx proposed plan is a fairy tale that will not happen or work.

0.34 quadrillion BTU in 2004. Would need to be increased 60 times to replace current coal usage.
Nuclear is at 8.232 quadrillion BTU. Quadruple it and it can replace current coal usage.

I am for increasing everything that is not coal. Coal as I showed is 100 times worse than everything else. So until coal is gone increase everything else.

Capital is not scarce. Show some proof for that statement. Here is my proof that your statement is wrong. The US has been able to flush 300 billion on Iraq every year.
Over 4 trillion in bonds were issued in 2006

Pretty much all of your assertions are without proof and wrong.
Your statement on causes of cancer. Wrong as shown in prior comment by me.
Your statements about fatalities from energy sources is wrong.
Your understanding for everything related to how business, geopolitics and economics works is wrong.


Nope Brian and Bill, you are wrong.

Click my name to read my blog to find out exactly why. It's far longer than your posts. And full of links to fact based information.

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