# Scariest Stuff About Global Warming?

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### #18 Eclipse Now

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Posted 14 October 2014 - 08:06 PM

Wait, what? How can this really be defended, when coal power kills tens of thousands of people yearly; many times more than nuclear power has killed over all of its existence? Direct deaths from nuclear power plant accidents are somewhere in the order of 30-40 deaths, and indirect death estimates somewhere in the thousands. Not yearly, but ever in the history of nuclear power.

And coal appears to kill that many people every month. According to our best research (as far as I can tell).

And factor in how many people it has potential to kill via global warming?

According to "Pandora's Promise" (a pro-nuclear documentary), solar power kills more people per energy unit than nuclear power, and I wouldn't be least bit surprised if it's actually true.

And this is with half a century old nuclear technology. The real question is, can we design nuclear power plants to be small enough to not yield a global threat, and can we design them so that they simply cannot melt no matter what the operators do?

According to that same documentary, yes, we can. I would like to research more about that argument, but I have not really found much info. Anyone else knows anything about that?

Another really important argument is that our quality of living really is strongly tied to our ability to produce a lot of energy with as little effort as possible. Yeah, we live in nice warm (or cool) houses. Most of the world does not. Maybe they would like to?

H-bond often says the darnest things but I think he has a case with this one.

Some references;
http://en.wikipedia....s_by_death_toll
http://www.forbes.co...-it-has-killed/
http://thebreakthrou..._times_more_peo
http://www.imdb.com/...ref_=fn_al_tt_1 (availabe on Netflix)

Exactly!

10 points!

Thank you for playing!

As I say on my blog:

3. Safe

SAFEST YESTERDAY: Even yesteryear’s old reactors have *already* demonstrated that nuclear power has the best safety record of any large scale energy system! As George Monbiot says: “Coal kills more people when it goes right than nuclear power does when it goes wrong. In fact coal kills more people every week than nuclear power has in the entire history of its deployment.”
http://www.monbiot.c...-of-the-matter/

....

Basically, banning SAFE modern nukes because of Chernobyl or Fukushima is like banning modern aviation because of the Hindenburg.

### #19 Eclipse Now

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Posted 14 October 2014 - 08:10 PM

HB, wonder why you quoted me there...

Anyway:

you say:

Might be true, but it is thanks to guys like you that it still is in children shoes. Support it now, then it will get down to the same price as fossil fuel and then you do away with fossil fuels. I means it is just wlike with any new tech-gadget, only the tech-freaks bought eg. projectors 20 years ago (when they were way worse than nowadays and waaaay more expensive), now everyone does. Why being against a similar approach to green? Just because you have always been is not enough...or because you are disillusioned with what happened to nuclear.

Which brings me to your point on nuclear energy: you assume that I/we are not happy about having fossil instead of nuclear. This is just wrong, I would play (again if I were old enough) away from nuclear into fossil fuel. The risk and consequences of nuclear are just soo much worse...yeah, the reactors are safe today (fukushima) and we have safe deposits for the radioactive waste. Think again. Take europe for instance and say that the human error risk is literally zero here (which I might agree on), so stuff like tchernobyl is not gonna happen. But remember also that the European and African continental plate touch under Europe, just because in the last few hundred years there was no big earthquake here does not mean it is not gonna happen. And if it is a big one what then? Whole Europe a radioactive wasteland? This is why I still prefer oceans to rise and other global warming effects.

Like your argument though that if oceans rise it is the rich who pay, although that holds only the western world. Whole polynesia pays and countries like bangladesh, etc.

Also, did you know people could move back into most of the Chernobyl area and still be relatively safe? It depends on how many rads are safe, and whether one buys into the "no linear threshold" argument. If they resettled Chernobyl (apart from maybe the Orange forest and directly around the sarcophagus itself) I don't think we'd notice a statistically detectable increase in cancers from the background noise.

### #20 AnssiH

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Posted 15 October 2014 - 03:54 AM

Pandora's Promise is interesting, but it's not unbiased. Smart people involved, but it is advertising. Nothing wrong with that, just that it's better to look elsewhere to justify the data.

I'm on the fence in terms of future of nuke power, and a lot of that ambivalence has to do with what's going to be done about moving to passive safety systems (ones that are stable and don't melt down when all cooling mechanisms are lost).

But where I think Sanctus and a whole lot of others get justification for their arguments--and having looked at some of the back and forth about the data referred to by Pandora's Promise which I'm too lazy to look up--the comparison of carbon vs. nuclear "costs" suffers from the same shortsightedness that has plagued defenders of carbon: there's a tendency to ignore the long-term costs.

In the case of carbon, it's not so much the direct detrimental medical effects of poisonous combustion byproducts, it's the global warming caused by the medically benign CO2. Similarly for nuclear power, counting up the deaths from Chernobyl and Fukushima sure don't sound too bad over the 60 years of nuke power we've had, but the problem is having a gigantic pile of unbelievably poisonous plutonium that has to be locked up for a quarter of a million years, which even experts say is not really solvable.

In order to say nuclear power is safe you can't just consider our own life spans, and betting that our great-grandkids will figure out a way to solve this is neither a safe bet nor one I want them cursing us for, since it's obvious that not only "should we have known how dangerous the stuff is" it's provable that we DO.

Yeah Pandora's Promise is completely made as a pro-nuclear argument, so of course it is important to research the points it makes. It does make a case worth researching, and what I'm mostly bothered by is the fact that I can't find any information about the new passively safe reactors they talk about. Also they make a claim that the nuclear waste from the old reactors can be refined into a fuel for the new reactors, over and over. That sounds like a suspicious claim, and they don't explain it at all. And also I can't find any information about what do they mean.

However, if that is true, I would say it solves the waste problem by itself.

One interesting little aspect of this is how little waste is actually produced by nuclear plants. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (yeah they are biased I know), the entire nuclear industry globally over its entire lifespan has so far produced only little over 70 tons of waste. "If used fuel assemblies were stacked end-to-end and side-by-side, this would cover a football field about seven yards deep."; http://www.nei.org/K...f-Nuclear-Waste

But I think it's safe to say that coal power is extremely hazardous under normal operation, while nuclear power is virtually pollution free as long as there are no accidents. I think everyone agrees that there will be nuclear accidents in the future. The important question is, can we build nuclear systems so that they physically cannot create a global threat WHEN there's an accident? Can the scale of accidents be kept on the same level as with other industries?

If the answer is yes, the case is pretty much closed, is it not?

### #21 Eclipse Now

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Posted 15 October 2014 - 07:16 PM

60 years of nuke power we've had, but the problem is having a gigantic pile of unbelievably poisonous plutonium that has to be locked up for a quarter of a million years, which even experts say is not really solvable.

Buffy, I'm shocked!

You know the waste problem has been solved, right?

It's not waste. Not yet, anyway.

There is a final waste product, but that is so hot it burns itself out in about 300 years. In other words, I can imagine nuclear energy parks where uranium goes in, and nothing comes out. It's all stored on site. One golf-ball of waste per human lifespan of 70 years. That's all. Store it for over 300 years, and then you could let the kids play with it.

There is no waste problem!

### #22 Buffy

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Posted 15 October 2014 - 09:54 PM

Don't have a lot of time right now, but let's just say there are a few problems that Barry Brook likes to gloss over:

It's true that with these liquid fuel reactors, because it's molten fuel, there won't be a meltdown. But the volatile fission products evaporate from the molten salt. You have to trap them. They are put into another chamber – they make steam, very hot gases,to run a turbine that will generate electricity, liquid sodium is used to cool them. It's the sodium circuits that have given lots of problems - "...sodium reacts explosively with either air or water, necessitating elaborate safety controls in places where it must get close to water in order to create steam to turn a turbine to make electricity, such as steam generators. As a result of numerous fires from leaking systems, operating sodium-cooled fast reactors to date have been shut down more than they have run". - David Biello, writing in Scientific American

For fast neutron reactors, large or small, Barry Brook himself admits that there are currently none in commercial operation.

Fast-neutron reactors would not improve the economics of nuclear power based on past experience….As far back as 1956, Adm. Hyman Rickover, who oversaw both the Navy's nuclear-propulsion efforts as well as the dawn of the civilian nuclear power industry, cited such sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactors as "expensive to build, complex to operate, susceptible to prolonged shutdown as a result of even minor malfunctions, and difficult and time-consuming to repair." That judgment remains despite six decades and $100 billion of global effort, according to physicist Michael Dittmar of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who wrote, "ideas about near-future commercial fission breeder reactors are nothing but wishful thinking. Source: Answering Barry Brook on Australia's nuclear power future, Noel Wauchope, Online Opinion Australia 12 June 2012 The embedded link is interesting too. None of this is to say it's impossible, just that it's got some--if not more--of the kinds of "development challenges" that solar and other alternatives do. In fact of course, we've got constant improvement in solar efficiency already in the pipeline that nuclear is still trying to get funded because of it's bad reputation. And as I like to point out, the biggest issues with solar are things we need to fix for ANY new source of power: • Replacing our antiquated 1950s vintage electrical grid, and • Battery technology Those are the really interesting challenges, and yet they have more to do with just developing stuff we already understand than in finding out stuff we don't. The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane, Buffy ### #23 AnssiH AnssiH Understanding • Members • 829 posts Posted 16 October 2014 - 02:38 PM Don't have a lot of time right now, but let's just say there are a few problems that Barry Brook likes to gloss over: Thanks for that, it's nice to read arguments from both sides of the isle. That being said, I can't help but feel the anti-nuclear side is starting to grasp at straws a bit, or at least this guy is. All of his points are addressed in much more informative manner already at; http://en.wikipedia....Breeder_reactor In a nutshell, there has only been experimental breeder reactors, but in principle these things can be developed. But just to comment on some of the things in the Noel Wauchope's article; His counter-argument for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is basically "climate change may be irreversible already so why bother". Really? And he complains that the uranium mining and waste disposal are also greenhouse producers. Because one uses trucks to do these things? Come on. Sodium reactor risks and technical difficulties are real. Although, sodium based breeder reactors are not the only possible type. That is not to say the other types are simple either. But "they don't exist yet" is no argument for not developing them. Weapons proliferation, this appears to be a real argument; you can produce weapon grade materials with allknown types of breeder reactors. Although I think the real problem here is the childish global politics. I won't go into that topic (in this thread anyway). He is saying the 300 year toxicity of the waste is simply a lie. The wikipedia article explains what that claim is based on, and it appears to be a real possibility, in principle. Meaning, we have not yet proved it in practice, but it should be possible with good enough refinement processes. So the real question is, is it realistic in practice? Costs, now this is a complete joke. I don't understand why otherwise intelligent people can think "lack of money" can stop us from doing something. "Money" doesn't do anything, it's just a number on computers. If we have human resources and reasons to do it, "money" is merely a political problem. Or does someone actually think "well sure, we could create tens of thousands of jobs, solve a massive pollution problem and generate ample amount of energy increasing everyone's standard of living... buuuut that would require us to type in far too large number into a computer. That would be such a drag to my fingers." People really need to start wrapping their head around "money" and stop being stupid... But that's another topic. And the on the "time" section he is basically just self-referencing. "People wouldn't want to do it because they are against it"... meh ### #24 Eclipse Now Eclipse Now Explaining • Members • 885 posts Posted 16 October 2014 - 08:54 PM Don't have a lot of time right now, but let's just say there are a few problems that Barry Brook likes to gloss over: The embedded link is interesting too. None of this is to say it's impossible, just that it's got some--if not more--of the kinds of "development challenges" that solar and other alternatives do. In fact of course, we've got constant improvement in solar efficiency already in the pipeline that nuclear is still trying to get funded because of it's bad reputation. And as I like to point out, the biggest issues with solar are things we need to fix for ANY new source of power: • Replacing our antiquated 1950s vintage electrical grid, and • Battery technology Those are the really interesting challenges, and yet they have more to do with just developing stuff we already understand than in finding out stuff we don't. The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane, Buffy 1. Are you sure renewables are a high enough energy source in the first place? On their own their energy payback (ERoEI) is fine. But once you include the energy cost of storage... ouch. The energy cost to build all those hydro dams and batteries is just too high. EG: Solar PV + storage = no energy source, and is just fossil fuels dressed up in disguise. Wind + storage only gives you 3 times the energy it took to build it all. Not worth doing! http://bravenewclima...energy-storage/ Nuclear can have an EROEI of 75 through to several thousand depending on the model and make and whether it even requires uranium to be mined. Imagine breeder reactors sitting there burning America's waste pool for 1000 years without any uranium mining! 2. There are other waste-breeding/eating GenIV reactors. Check out the Chinese plan to make nuclear power cheaper than coal in 8 years using high pressure WATER reactors. China has completed the basic technology research and published a development roadmap for a Generation IV demonstration SuperCritical-Water-cooled Reactor that could be commissioned in 2022. This reactor could achieve costs that are up to half the cost of current reactors and have higher efficiency. They could be low cost enough to displace all future coal plant construction in China starting in 2025-2030.$900 per kilowatt is over three times cheaper than the estimated overnight cost of advanced nuclear reactors (\$3100 per kilowatt) estimated by the US department of energy

In China, water-cooled reactors are and will be the main reactor concept for the generation of nuclear power. China’s experience and the technology developed in the design, manufacture, construction, and operation of nuclear power plants are mainly concentrated on water-cooled reactors. Thus, the development of SCWRs is a smooth extension of the existing nuclear power generation park in China. From a technological point of view, an SCWR is a combination of the water-cooled reactor technology and the supercritical fossil-fired power generation technology. Hence, SCWRs ensure the technological availability.

The Nuclear Power Institute of China said the SCR-1000 reactor block will have a capacity of about 1,000 megawatts.

Edited by Eclipse Now, 16 October 2014 - 08:55 PM.

### #25 Eclipse Now

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 09:44 PM

OK, getting back to the OP.

Scariest stuff seems to me to be runaway scenarios.

This TED talk (remixed) says that if we get to 4 or 5 degrees, natural feedbacks (like the 'methane bomb') could take us to 12.

Nature says "thanks a lot boys and girls, but I'll take it from here" and cooks the planet.

He summarises the end result as us having to abandon half the planet! Half the planet becomes too hot.

But one commenter on that thread says:

http://journals.amet...LI-D-12-00579.1 There for example. They made 2100 simulations with CO2-concentrations ranging from 795 ppm to 1145 ppm (relative to present day). The feedback loops in their case were responsible for a temperature increase ranging from 3.7 to 3.9 degrees Celsius. So the difference between the two extremes (795 ppm and 1145 ppm) is apparently not as big deal as some would want you to believe. And again, uncertainty of 0.7 degrees doesn't make it super-valid, but I haven't found anything that suggests a worse scenario.﻿

What have people read? Does that study reflect the current state of climate science on feedback loops?

### #26 Eclipse Now

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 03:05 AM

Hi all,

Can feedbacks take us to 12 degrees warming, and does this mean half the planet will be uninhabitable?

Edited by Eclipse Now, 01 November 2014 - 03:06 AM.

### #27 Under the Rose

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 03:03 PM

Long dormant viruses and bacteria may be released from the permafrost as global warming continues to escalate the rate of melt. As I was driving home from work this morning, I heard an interview with the researcher who made the interesting find of a virus in 700 year old caribou feces preserved beneath layers of ice.

The discovery that a plant virus could be resurrected, after spending 700 years cryogenically preserved in frozen caribou feces, was a revelation both exciting and troubling for University of Calgary geography professor Brian Moorman.

On one hand, it was a groundbreaking find. Scientific knowledge of ancient viruses is limited because of their poor preservation in ancient specimens. Therefore, the discovery of viral genomes found in the 700-year-old caribou feces — extracted from layers of ice in the Selwyn Mountains of the Northwest Territories — was invaluable. It showed that cryogenically preserved materials can act as repositories of viral nucleic acids, allowing scientists to regenerate ancient viruses for study.

But the discovery has darker implications too, because as global warming continues to melt away the world’s ice, there’s no telling what sort of unknown viruses could be released into the environment.

http://www.ucalgary....en-caribou-dung

One might wonder about that flu virus from 1914, a mere 100 years ago compared to the 700 year old virus in the story above.

All I know is that I know nothing.

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Posted 01 October 2016 - 08:10 PM