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[flagged] Bernie Sanders unveils $16T 'Green new deal' plan (nytimes.com)
117 points by kaushikt 52 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments

From Reddit, posted by 'AlarmedScholar':

The most significant goals:

- Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization by at least 2050

- Ending unemployment by creating 20 million jobs

- Directly invest an historic $16.3 trillion public investment

- A fair transition for workers

- Declaring climate change a national emergency

- Saving American families money

- Supporting small family farms by investing in ecologically regenerative and sustainable agriculture

- Justice for frontline communities

- Commit to reducing emissions throughout the world

- Meeting and exceeding our fair share of global emissions reductions

- Making massive investments in research and development

- Expanding the climate justice movement

- Investing in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands

- This plan will pay for itself over 15 years


Given how cities that transitioned to $15 minimum wage workers did better* after implementation maybe it's time to try investing in infrastructure and the working class rather than the 30 years of trickle down economics and stagnate wages we've suffered from both Republican and Democratic administrations...

Please define "did better" because small businesses in those cities generally took a beating.


> ...reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by 6-7 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by 3 percent ... consequently, total payroll for such jobs decreased.

> ...

> Those who were already working more hours before the wage increase saw “essentially all of the earnings increases,” while the workers who had fewer hours saw their hours go down, but wages go up enough so that their overall earnings didn’t really change


Seems like its a mixed bag, and depends on circumstances.

I'm asking this in good faith. Does the success of a $15/hr minimum wage in specific cities indicate that it would be successful across the US?

In other words, A) does the local cost of living matter to its success? and B) does the limited rollout keep inflation in check?

Is YC still studying UBE in an attempt to answer questions like these?

I think what keeps inflation in check is that we no longer manufacture most things locally, and things which are made locally are heavily automated, so wages aren’t the primary driver of their costs. So incomes are largely decoupled from the prices of consumer goods. Housing and other assets, on the other hand, have been exploding.

Yes the local cost of living matters, however it also depends on how you define success. If the minimum wage constitutes an overall increase in wages then you could consider that successful by some metrics. However if success is defined by people not living paycheck to paycheck and feeling financially secure then it would be unsuccessful...even at 15 an hour. We're setting such a low bar for ourselves still at 15 an hour IMO. People will still live paycheck to paycheck at that wage.

If people live paycheck to paycheck despite wage increases, doesn't that indicate that wages aren't the root cause?

B) does the limited rollout keep inflation in check

Even a full scale rollout probably would as well - minimum wage workers are not only a small part of the overall workforce but also the ones that obviously make the less, so they can't possibly increase total consumption significantly.

Do you have any links to those stats? I’ve only ever heard partisan talking points and haven’t looked at the data myself.

We can dream

If his goal is 2050, how is he going to ensure that the deal is maintained for long enough to last until then? Maybe the Democrats happen to gain control of the House, Senate, and President in 2020, and he's capable of getting it passed as a result. Or maybe it's close enough that he gains a few votes from the Republicans with a bit of effort.

If Republicans gain control of the President at any point between 2024 and 2050, they will make every effort to ruin it as much as possible. And if they also get the House and Senate, they will dismantle the whole thing. Then what? Will it all be for nothing?

They've already dismantled Obamacare by removing the individual mandate. It's just a matter of time - Obamacare will inevitably collapse because the economics are unsustainable.

They'll do the same to Bernie's deal. Is there anything Bernie can do to stop this?

No offense, but you're misinformed about the individual mandate. It was nothing but a tax on healthy people without fixing any of the underling issues like runaway cost, incentive incompatibility and predatory billing by providers.

The only reason it worked for the short period that it did is because many insurance plans significantly raised their deductibles.

It was a half measure that only further entrenched insurance companies.

Healthcare needs to be single payer, period. Allowing for individuals to purchase plans to supplement single payer if they choose to do so, but it needs to be single payer at its core. And the US govt. needs to be able to strong-arm providers into lowering costs.

The green deal would, hopefully, be mostly infrastructure. Solar power plants, battery installations, maintenance jobs for those fields.

> No offense, but you're misinformed about the individual mandate.

I'm not sure how I am misinformed about the individual mandate. I see nothing that I disagree with in your comment, so I think you missed my point, or misread something I said?

Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle. That destroys intellectual curiosity, which is what the site exists for.

They are just reposting a summary of the goals of the plan.

"The proposal opposes nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage technology." Ugh

Do you see nuclear as a stopgap between coal and renewable, or do you think that 100% renewable is not going to be possible?

I'm with you as being pretty pro nuclear, but if I'm making a plan to spend $16T, why even bother with half measures; just go straight for the future ideal.

Nuclear is the "future ideal". Non intermittent power means no need for complex and costly energy storage. Seawater uranium extraction has been demonstrated, and scientists have found cost-effective ways of producing it (not quite as cost effective as mining at the moment, but enough to supplant it once the mining capacity is exhausted).

Why bother with energy storage if we can just deliver enough capacity to meet peak demand 24/7 and use the excess energy to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere during non-peak hours? If we don't just want to stop emitting CO2 but actually reverse climate change, then we need truly immense amounts of energy.

1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2016/07/01/uranium-s...

2. https://newatlas.com/nuclear-uranium-seawater-fibers/55033/

Not only that, but modern nuclear technology, especially closed cycle breed reactors of various types, not only produce far less waste and more energy per unit than the old-school enriched uranium reactors, but the waste is safer, and they can be smaller, far more geographically diverse, and cost a fraction of the equivalent for the same output in renewables when infrastructure and maintenance is fully taken into account.

You can replace all current nuclear generation in the US with solar and batteries in less than 2 years, for a lower cost (nuclear generators take at least 10 years to build, and almost always go over budget; some are never finished and abandoned [See Duke in Florida, ratepayers got soaked on a nuclear plant they gave up on]). Your point is spot on.

Nuclear lost (for commercial generation; edge cases like the Arctic circle and marine applications are still valid). It’s time we get over it and build as much solar, wind, and batteries as we can, and get Americans trained to deploy these technologies. Anything else is deck chairs on the Titanic. Drive out fossil fuel use through any means necessary.

Nuclear only lost because the government picks winners and losers. Wind and solar are getting subsidies. France manages to produce its electricity at 1/10th the cost as Germany, while also emitting less C02 because of its investment in nuclear power.

American nuclear plants tended to be one-off projects of unique designs. This is drastically less cost efficient than what the French did, design a handful of standardized designs and do serial production.

France heavily subsidizes their nuclear fleet operator (EDF), and continues to own 85% of the company. No one wants to wait decades for ROI on funding a nuclear power plant, and no one (besides governments) will insure them from black swan events.

Everyone gets subsidies, provide them wisely.


And we're heavily subsidizing wind and solar - it's just as much of a black swan event. The market will always pick the most cost effective power generation: fossil fuels. And for what it's worth, ~70 billion Euros of debt in order to bring a country like France up to ~70-80% nuclear electricity generation is dirt cheap compared to this $16 trillion dollar plan.

If the government is going to pick our power source, then there's little justification not to choose the source that is more cost effective and does not require complex energy storage.

The main reason I see why democrats stay away from nuclear power is twofold. One, nuclear plant operators are typically traditional power companies and thus Republican donors. Democrats don't want to give contracts to the people that fund their political opponents. Second, the cost efficiency of nuclear power in the long term mens that it won't result in as many jobs. The reality the emphasis on the phrase "Green New Deal" is on the latter two words. These plans are promising 10-20 million jobs. These are federal jobs programs with the word "green" prepended to them.

Just wait for the first blackout caused by careless implementation of renewables.

Ehh, so install some battery storage. It’s not like we’re going to reverse course because of mistakes made along the way.

I feel like all the waste created from those batteries (since wind and solar can't meet peek demand) will ultimately be worse for the environment than any waste created by modern nuclear technology. If you compare the waste created by the two at the scale needed to cover peek demand, nuclear actually creates less.

Yes, batteries can be recycled[1], but from what I've seen, many of the efficiency figures are grossly overstated (or absolute best-case scenarios rarely seen in practice).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_recycling

Do you mean, replace just the nuclear with solar in 2 years, but keep the rest of the infra (Coal and other source of power generation) as is?

If so, it can only mean exponentially more coal/gas power generation to supply power during peak demand. How does that help?

Coal is going away regardless due to it not being competitive against natural gas, no solar required. I’m saying nuclear should stick around until it’s the last base load left, but not bother building one more nuclear generating unit. Safely extend operating licenses whenever possible.

Batteries and their lower costs will meet us at peaking needs in 3-5 years. There are hundreds of GWs of battery manufacturing capacity coming online over that time frame. Every million Tesla EVs is 10GW of controllable battery storage load on demand (example used only because I’m familiar with their presentation on it, and have seen it’s orchestration demo).

I agree

Natural gas burns fairly clean and will likely be supplanted by as better gridscale storage technologies reach the market (which will happen now that demand is there). Coal is on its way out anyways because it can't compete with natural gas. Coal is more expensive than natural gas and the plants are more expensive to operate and can't react to demand as quickly (you can turn a gas valve faster than you can light coal). Coal will silently vanish as existing plants reach the end of their life and no new ones are built.

You are arguing that we should keep burning (400.000-1M years old technology) instead of using nuclear fission (70 years old tech) because natural gas burns fairly clean?

Maybe it depends on the country. USA have enough heavy sun areas to go full. But in France people think it's gonna be just too irregular to be the main generation.

“Europe Could Power The Entire World With Onshore Wind Farms Alone” (2019)



I’ve also seen a proposal to transmit electricity from Northern Africa solar generation to Europe, but nothing has come of it.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161129-the-colossal-africa... (2016)

nobody wants to depend on another continent for energy, let's be realistic

The point was there’s enough renewables everywhere. You don’t have to rely on another continent if you don’t want to. No more energy geopolitics.

It’s absolutely silly to keep arguing against renewables. Enough sunlight falls on the Earth in an hour to power humanity for a year. The wind blows almost everywhere.

I mentioned something about irregular sunlight being a problem in some countries.

I didn't do the math, but some dudes (officially half pro nuclear) say that you cannot run industries on "maybe sun will power your furnace today".

It’s certainly not sustainable. We can’t handle the radioactive waste we already have unless there are some massive overhauls.

You are right, we cannot handle the nuclear waste from coal power plants. As far as nuclear waste from nuclear power plants go we can handle those very well because the volume is significantly less and there are very strict rules how to handle it.

Does nuclear waste really take up that much space? My understanding was that it's negligible for the amount of power it provides.

It does not. Nuclear waste is incredibly easy to safely store. Dig a deep hole, encase the waste in concrete, and bury it in a remote location (or in a location already poisoned by nuclear weapons testing). There are digs in Finland and Yucca mountain that have enough capacity for generations. And if that's still not enough room >98% of waste can be reprocessed. France does this, and their total volume of nuclear waste in only a few cubic meters.

The hypothetical scenarios in which nuclear waste can contaminate humans are borderline hyperbolic. Yes, if society collapses and all records of disposal sites are lost, and if some future civilization digs a mile deep in a location with no natural resources, and if they crack open a nuclear waste casked, and if they manage to do all this without knowledge of radiation then they will be irradiated.

> There are digs in Finland and Yucca mountain that have enough capacity for generations.

All we need is safe transport across large distances? It's not something we're very good at..

No, it's actually quite simple. Encase the waste in concrete, and ship it in a shipping container [1]. The concrete caskets have enough radiation shielding that it is not dangerous to stand near them. Burying the waste is really just a safeguard against potential long-term leakage.

1. These concrete caskets look like this: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2015/ph241/avery-w2/images...


> An average of 1,390 containers have been lost at sea each year over the past three years, [...]

To be more explicit, that is 1,390 containers per year out of all shipping containers shipped in a given year. That's a fairly low failure rate. And most waste doesn't need to be shipped overseas, just within continents.

And besides, losing one (or even dozens) of these caskets at sea will not result in any noticeable increase in radiation. Multiple nuclear powered summaries have sunk with fuel still in their reactors.

The point remains: nuclear waste is a non-issue, and it is extremely difficult to use it as an objection to nuclear energy in an intellectually honest manner.

It seems like an objective fact that we cannot handle nuclear waste, at least in the US. IMO you have to consider the political situation as part of the whole system. If we as a society cannot deal with having nuclear waste repositories in our backyard, it is irresponsible to create more nuclear waste.

This argument amounts to: "People freak out about nuclear waste. Therefore nuclear waste is bad even if it's not bad."

Handling it takes money and effort no one wants to spend. John Oliver covered the situation a couple years back [0].

[0] https://time.com/4908330/john-oliver-nuclear-waste-last-week...

Why then would people "want to spend" money and effort on handling the waste created by batteries? Let's be fair about the stick we're using to measure people's environmental altruism - it cuts both ways.

I'm for nuclear energy as it gets us away from coal the most reliably, but investing in solar, wind, geothermal, etc works too if we're serious about it. Not only that, but we'd actually be willing to share those green solutions around the world.

> but investing in solar, wind, geothermal, etc works too if we're serious about it.

2 questions:

Don't huge windfarms affect the local climate and wildlife? Afaik we don't know the long term effects of massive sustained wind farms.

Have we solved the solar storage problem yet?

I read something about massive battery plants and/or high speed flywheel energy storage, but as far as I know this is still a problem.

I vote we go all in on nuclear just to quickly remove coal, and then slowly phase out nuclear with better, low-impact renewables.

> we don't know the long term effects of massive sustained wind farms.

Yes, and we should pay (with money) more attention to study that. However we shouldn't/can't stop because of that and wait till we'll know more certainly - in general; some decisions need to be made early, and this question is an example.

> Have we solved the solar storage problem yet?

We have a variety of ways to store energy, and we're getting better with it with time, so forecasts here are optimistic. This is still a problem, but, again, we may move forward with other parts while we improving on batteries.

> I vote we go all in on nuclear

I think with nuclear we're uncapping worst case scenarios. This is harder to calculate, so I'm hesitant.

Seems that building nuclear plants takes much too long to have any noticeable effect in the short term, better to take it off the table so that it’s not present as a red-herring.

I rather like Yang. He’s my favorite candidate outside of my Warren and Sanders. His policies are evidence-based, compassionate, and Yang Gang is fun.

Yang is just flat out the best candidate IMO for those two reasons. Rational and empathetic.

Wish he had more of the spotlight.

Just as the US wasn’t ready for Sanders in 2016, it’s not yet ready for Yang in 2020. You can be ahead of your time but still right.

He would get my vote because of his views on nuclear too. It is a same that people are so uninformed about energy and have a strong view.


I can understand the opposition on a long enough timeline, but to dismiss it from the start is almost certainly a recipe for failure.

Opposes? Or just "doesn't support"?

I mean, free market is still free to jump in and create nuclear power plants and CCS technologies, or am I wrong?

I'm on board with not funding nuclear (takes forever to build, on those time frames it will likely be outcompeted by solar+storage). But carbon capture and storage seems essential for keeping carbon levels on an acceptable level. We dragged our feet too long to solve this with just reducing pollution. And while carbon capture is expensive it's a bargain compared to the costs of climate change over a few decades.


Carbon capture is a completely absurd idea, but agreed on the nuclear.

We took a bunch of carbon from the earth and put it in the air, causing climate change. If we want to reverse climate change, we need to start pulling carbon from the air and putting that carbon back into earth.

How do you do that efficiently is going to be a challenge, sure, but one we need to undertake.

We are contributing to the climate change not necessarily causing it. The climate has changed significantly several times without humans in the past.



No it's not. What do you think trees do?

They seem to get in the way of humans. We keep burning them down.


I tend to think the opposite, but maybe nuclear isn't such a bad idea; this isn't clear to me.

why do you say that?

I should be clear by carbon capture I dont mean planting trees (which is clearly an excellent idea) but the commercial co2 -> liquid/solid process.

Firstly it can only be applied to large stationary emitters of co2 so stuff like refineries and gas/coal power stations but that makes up if i remember only 25% of our total emissions so the bigger stuff like transport and agriculture is missed.

Secondly its quite challenging to implement. think about how few plants can be retrofitted with the process, and even so you need a bunch more energy to convert it to a liquid form for long term storage so you need excess power generation in the first place (even more if you want to convert into a sort of brick). Even once its in liquid form thats an enormous volume of liquid we need to store somewhere and just think how much people hate living next to powerstations right now - so people are going to be okay living under like a billion cubic meters of Co2 gas that can start seeping into air in a few years time. So ok we have to start piping this gas far away into giant underground storage containers but even so thats a lot of infrastructure and there arent many places that have these big caverns we can pipe it into. And the volumes must be immense. Like absolutely immense if we want to do it on a large scale. And right now oil is worth like 30-40 USD per barrel? Pumping that Co2 back into the ground who wants to pay for that? It seems crazy to me. Planting trees and stopping the amazon from burning seems like a much more sensible investment

Well I was thinking investing more into something like this: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/21/carbon-engineering-co2-captu... which captures co2 out of the air, rather than retrofitting stationary co2 emitters...

Sooner or later we gonna have nuclear power as the main source of energy.

To disambiguate, it doesn't oppose energy storage technology, "carbon capture and storage" should be read as one thing, relating to carbon capture only.

I don't understand why politicians always put forth "plans" that would never pass. Why not put forth realistic options that would pass? It's not wonder we can't tackle anything, much less climate change. Everyone goes so far on the spectrum that they can't garner votes for anything. It's ridiculous. This pleases the base, it does nothing more. And even at that, I'm sure the far flungs will say this isn't enough. Come to the middle.

Because politics is largely a negotiating game. It's really not that different from haggling. Formal bills are adjusted in order to be passed, which usually involves making members of both major parties happy.

The other reason is that there's a large consensus that believes that we're not in a climate for moderate politics to thrive because some members of congress have a tendency to negotiate in bad faith. There's a widely held belief on the left that the GOP cannot be negotiated with, and any kind of call to the center requires giving them more power.

Of course it's a negotiation game...but that tactic works a lot better when the stakes aren't so public. In this political world, you have now tainted your proposal and any future proposal you make because the media on the other side will paint anything and everything as a slippery slow toward your original goal or plan. So this particular tactic doesn't work here, not anymore.

> The media on the other side...

If politicians like Sanders created their proposals based on what the other side was saying, we’d never have major discussions around our culture, policy, or anything else of consequence. In this hyper partisan, bifurcated media environment, we’re constantly bombarded with accusations of Nazism juxtaposed with accusations of Red-scare socialism. I don’t know many people that actually care what the other side is saying because we tend to focus on what our side is saying.

The big problem I see is that people want proposals to be perfect on arrival, which isn’t possible because A) perfect is subjective and people disagree on details, and B) in our legal system, just like life, nothing ever goes exactly to plan. As I said earlier, legislation is often passed by making trade-offs, and the ideal is often a moving target.

We shouldn’t look at proposals like this and expect them to come out exactly the way they’re advertised because our system has never, ever worked that way.

Look at the early drafts of Obamacare compared to what was eventually passed. Was the ACA a failure because dems made serious concessions around several aspects of the bill? How often do you hear that Obama was a failure because he wasn’t able to pass the ACA as he originally envisioned it? Never.

No one expects a proposal to be perfect on arrive, they want it to be realistic and grounded in reality.

It’s part of politics. You cannot put forth realistic plans because your opponents or competition would split the difference. Also at the early stages you have to appeal to your most fiery ardent base. Later on it’s time to “negotiate” and become more moderate and realistic.

Instead of getting both votes for going middle, you get neither.

> Why not put forth realistic options that would pass?

The problem is, there's no "middle solution" to climate change. There was 30 years ago, but we didn't do it then, and now it's too late. There's nothing "realistic" about being too indecisive to save the planet.

There is always a middle solution, the problem is that many people aren't willing to do it. All US electricity generation could be replaced with nuclear power for 1/5th to 1/10th the cost of this plan. Realistically, probably ~70-80% since we might not want to build plants in earthquake prone zones. How's that for a middle ground?

Does switching the US to nuclear power bring back the lungs of the earth (Brazil's forests)? Does it stop carnival cruise ships from emitting 10x more carbon emissions than all of Europe's cars? Is it going to reduce the 640,000 tons of gear that are thrown into the oceans?

If a middle ground is "not surviving" then it sounds pretty shit.

> Does switching the US to nuclear power bring back the lungs of the earth (Brazil's forests)? Does it stop carnival cruise ships from emitting 10x more carbon emissions than all of Europe's cars? Is it going to reduce the 640,000 tons of gear that are thrown into the oceans?

Wind and solar power do not do any of these things either. By comparison, maritime nuclear power could power cruise ships. Nuclear powered carbon sequestration can produce oxygen. I don't know why you're bringing up ocean waste dumping, since that's a waste disposal issue and has little to do with energy production.

For the same amount of money it would take to build up wind and solar capacity to 100% (or even close to 100%) of electricity generation, we could build nuclear plants that put out 5x as much energy or more. And then use that excess energy to sequester CO2 out of the atmosphere. That's what it takes to actually stop global warming. Even eliminating all CO2 emissions won't stop global warming because the existing CO2 emissions are enough to keep temperatures rising for the next 100 years.

If the plan is further out, so is the middle to. It's a political mandate, if your plan is milquetoast congress will pull it to almost nothing.

You have to aim high and have room to make sacrifices.

Starting negotiations from the middle never works out.

Well, not never.. but with congress.... yea, I definitely agree.

Something along these lines is necessary to save our planet. Cutting off the $650B in fossil fuel subsidies over the course of 15 years pay for a little over half of the plan.

If we can hand over trillions of dollars to save big banks, we can hand over what is necessary to save the planet.

Because there is no guarantee any of that money will actually save the planet but there is a guarantee that all that money will be missed in other places.

If an effort like this isn't made, then it's guaranteed we don't save the planet.

Yes, it sucks, but someone has to be the first to bite the bullet.

Well it is guaranteed that Greece will never repay the debt, but for some reason the ECB and the IMF keep flushing huge amounts of money down the toilet. No one seems to care all that much though...

> Cutting off the $650B in fossil fuel subsidies over the course of 15 years pay for a little over half of the plan.

That's not how subsidies work. "Subsidies" here are just lower tax rates for R&D spending.

If those tax breaks go away, so do most of the energy projects associated with them. The taxable income would shrink, and you'd have less money, not more.

Some quick napkin-paper math as far as how much electricity we could generate if this $16T was spent on nuclear energy:

The levelized cost (that is, including overhead costs of plant construction) are still lower than solar. Less than solar and about the same as wind, except that nuclear isn't intermittent which eliminates the need for energy storage. At $120 per megawatt hour, this $16 trillion could be used to generate 128000 terawatt hours of electricity [1].

Let's put this in more concrete examples. The total us electricity generation is ~1 terawatt. The Palo Verde plant generates ~4 gigawatts and cost $12 billion in 2018 dollars [3]. At this cost/capacity ratio, $16 trillion could be used to generate just over 5 terawatts. Over 5x the current capacity of the US power generation grid. What's even more impressive is that this is a one-off plant design, which is much less cost effective than serial plant production (like what the French did during the 70s and 80s) where a handful of designs are created but dozens or more plants are built using those designs.

Granted electricity isn't the only form of energy consumption, but it is a huge source of carbon production that can be replaced.

1. https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/electri...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_of_the_Unit...

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_Verde_Nuclear_Generating_...

Does that pay for the insurance liability?

The amount that insurance will cost depends on how much we want to insure against, there's no fixed value for that. Currently each US nuclear power plant has a minimum of $375 million in insurance, as compared to total plant costs often in the several billion dollar range. If those estimates above didn't include insurance, the total cost would not increase very drastically

Contrary to popular belief nuclear power plants have historically been the safest forms of power generation. Even more so if you restrict the analysis to nuclear power plants in developed western countries, where there are zero deaths due to radiation and only a few during construction. We could take 1/5th of the 16 trillion to construct the plants and have over 12 trillion left over to insure them.

Insurance is only that cheap because the liability is artificially capped to $1billion by the Price Anderson Act, when in disaster scenarios it can far exceed that (Fukishima didn't impact a major population center and is already $187billion). There are many plausible multi-trillion dollar scenarios.

That $187 billion figure is worthy of skepticism. Remember, the entire earthquake and tsunami is estimated to have caused US $235 billion of damage. That nearly all of this is going to reactor cleanup is suspicious. Especially when the 3 Mile Island meltdown and subsequent cleanup only cost $1 billion. It seems likely to me that this $187 billion figure includes damage caused by the tsunami, and is not specific to the nuclear meltdown.

In Wikipedia it is broken down without the cost of the tsunami damage, though it is an estimate from 2016:

>Japan's economy, trade, and industry ministry recently (as of 2016) estimated the total cost of dealing with the Fukushima disaster at ¥21.5 trillion (US$187 billion), almost twice the previous estimate of ¥11 trillion (US$96 billion). A rise in compensation for victims of the disaster from ¥5.4 trillion (US$47 billion) to ¥7.9 trillion (US$69 billion) was expected, with decontamination costs estimated to rise from ¥2.5 trillion (US$22 billion) to ¥4 trillion (US$35 billion), costs for interim storage of radioactive material to increase from ¥1.1 trillion (US$10 billion) to ¥1.6 trillion (US$14 billion), and costs of decommissioning reactors to increase from ¥2 trillion (US$17 billion) to ¥8 trillion (US$69 billion).

Three Mile Island is one where the liability cap wouldn't have mattered so much, but compare Chernobyl. And compare plausible scenarios affecting populated areas depending on the winds, etc.

The liability cap is so extreme, it is as if you had to only buy insurance to cover your healthcare deductible, and the government paid for all the actual insurance.

Interesting why one nuclear meltdown costs 200x more than another, that is a disparity that would be worth digging into. Inflation accounts for 10x of that at most.

The nature of insurance is that th cost of it is amortized. One individual plant may create a hundred billion dollar disaster, but spreading this risk over hundreds or thousands of plants results in a liability rate that is not so large per plant.

Depending on the winds and nature of the incident I could imagine one costing >1000X more than another (causing evacuation of a major city, etc.)

Three-mile island was a 5 on the INES scale, Fukushima a 7:


Tokyo (the most populous metropolitan area in the world) was considered for evacuation, and had things gone a little different it may have been evacuated.

The cost of decommission alone is 70 times higher, differences in th surrounding geography don't explain this discrepancy. It's worth pointing out that from what I can tell, this money hasn't actually been spent it's a forecast. Furthermore, a competing party held power in Japan at the time of the accident vs. when this projected cost was drawn up. There's a conflict of interest in that exaggerating the damage is politically advantageous. I'm interested in seeing how much money actually gets spent.

And what are your thoughts on Fukushima being a level 7 vs Three Mile a level 5? Is that just a political distinction?

Yes, it is mostly political. What is the difference between a "major" release of radiation and a "significant" release of radiation? These levels have vague, subjective descriptions.

Question: If he is dropping 650B in FF subsidies, does that mean we can assume the price for gas prices, flights etc will all go up respectively ?

Yeah, as they should.

it's fine for people that can afford it, i suspect a large group of people in the US cannot afford gas prices to double/triple

Housing prices will likely adjust accordingly too though. Houses further from jobs will decrease in value because it costs so much in gas just to get to it.

I respect and listen to Bernie even though I have very different ideologies and fiscal policy. Recently he went on the Joe Rogan podcast for over an hour; it is a great source of information on his politics: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2O-iLk1G_ng

NYT appears to link to a scanned copy of the plan;


The article mentions that the plan doesn't include a carbon tax, and that one of Sanders' advisors says we need "more than just a carbon tax", and then gives a favorable quote from that advisor. I can understand why a carbon tax might not be _enough_ given the current state of affairs, but is there a good argument against including it in a comprehensive plan other than that people dislike the idea of new taxes?

Good. This is the kind of total war ramp up to help attempt to save the planet that we desperately needed to do years and decades ago.

I don't like this. I like the sentiment but repeat after me: politicians should never ever insert themselves into engineering! The only exception would be politicians who are engineers, and there are not many of these in the US. Bernie Sanders it not an engineer.

When they do we tend to get ignorant choices (because 99% of them are not scientists or engineers) and corruption. A great example is our biofuels programs that gave us corn ethanol, which is literally the absolute worst possible biofuel for EROEI. Another example unrelated to energy is the Space Shuttle. NASA would have built a much more affordable and reusable orbiter had Congress not mandated a bunch of extra capabilities that were never used, specific contractor mandates, and other meddling that ruined the design.

Just tax fossil fuels and other carbon emitting activities. Do not allow politicians to get involved in picking the alternatives or they'll pick the wrong ones or be influenced by lobbyists for the most expensive or politically well connected ones.

I also don't like the categorical rejection of nuclear. I'm not strongly for expansion of current-generation nuclear power but I am also not at all opposed to more research on better ways of exploiting fission energy. I'm also strongly in support of increasing funding for fusion energy given the progress that's occurred in areas like compact superconductors and computer modeling. If we can solve fusion we'd at the very least have a source of base load power for regions with strong base load power demands and that lack large scale renewable resources sufficient to meet that demand.

> or be influenced by lobbyists for the most expensive or politically well connected ones.

Sanders has categorically rejected PAC money and large donations from high-profile donors. If you had a rate a candidate's platform based on likelihood of lobbyist influence, this would undoubtedly be one of the least corrupt proposals.

I think Sanders is pretty honest in this department. The problem is that if he becomes President (or influences the next one) and puts a gigantic trillion dollar money pot out there, lots of politicians and bureaucrats are going to be involved in doling that out. It's gonna be a wild pork stampede and we'll end up with a lot of BS shell companies doing "green" stuff that involve no real engineers or other people who know how to actually build anything.

Edit to clarify: I also think we'll end up with a lot of well-meaning people who simply don't understand the science or the engineering wasting a lot of money. Corruption is a problem but it's not just corruption.

That's why I like incentives much more, whether they be tax incentives or general goal-oriented subsidies. There's a lot of surface area to work with here, not just carbon taxes:

* Extending and deepening EV tax credits.

* Reforming zoning laws to encourage density and eliminate impediments to it. This is largely a state thing but the Fed could apply pressure or incentives to states. It would also help with the housing affordability crisis that exists in some cities and states.

* Tax credits to encourage higher density housing, such as an increased mortgage deduction for condominiums in multi-story buildings and a rent deduction.

* Building public transit, a lot of public transit, and fixing/elminiating the regulatory and bureaucratic nonsense that stops the US from building high speed rail like other developed nations.

* Funding R&D by labs and universities with a record of producing results in areas like batteries, next-generation nuclear power, fusion, better solar PV, etc.

There are also some areas where you might have to fight with environmentalists, like expanding hydropower. I've long wondered how much hydropower potential there is in Northern Canada and how efficiently it could be transported by HVDC lines to the US. Would Canada like another big export?

That's a very understandable reaction, and very much a possibility.

What data do we have on how much is skimmed from proposals like this, or fraudulent companies that are set up to exploit this funding?

Michael Lewis talked a bit about this in The Fifth Risk, particularly the Solyndra scandal. The Obama administration took a lot of heat politically for Solyndra, which in reality amounted to a tiny tiny fraction of funds made available for solar development, and the overall solar research fund that Obama allocated wound up turning a profit for the government. You wouldn't know that based on the reporting though.

The new deal worked fine and it was put forward by a politician.

> politicians should never ever insert themselves into engineering! Never. Ever.

So Manhattan Project and Apollo program were mistakes, in your opinion?

In those cases politicians set the goals. They did not pick how it was to be done. If NASA came back and said "we think we can put humans on the moon with a big catapult" and they were right, we would have built a big catapult. They set the goals and let the real professionals do the work.

What I dislike about this and other proposals is politicians specifically saying what technologies should and should not be used. That's the road to an expensive failure. Instead we should just tax carbon and set emissions goals and let the people who know how to build stuff build stuff.

Thanks for clarifying that's a fair point.

See my caveat in reply to GP though

Look at Dieselgate where the engineers pulled the wool over the politicians’ eyes and they merrily kept cranking down the emissions targets without checking if or how they were met

There are several problems with a just-carbon-tax approach:

1) Carbon taxes just get passed on to the consumer. This makes them incredibly unpopular, because consumers see a short-term cost, but not a short-term benefit. In the US, this means that implementing a carbon tax is a good way to make sure you get voted out and replaced by a climate-denier in the next election. The Yellow Vests movement in France was sparked largely by a fuel tax.

2) Using a consumption tax also means that the poorest people of society pay the highest cost (relatively speaking.) It's unjust to make the poorest people pay the most, especially since they also do the least "damage."

3) According to the IPCC report, a carbon tax high enough to effect a rapid enough change would effectively be a fossil fuel ban anyway.

Engineers are equally stupid on average as everyone else. It takes an engineer to believe in apolitical money or unbiased facial recognition “predictions”.

Sixteen T's is too many T's. He needs a plan with less T's.

Agreed there too. A few tens or hundreds of B's in the right places could have a huge effect. I'd put the money on extending EV tax credits and subsidizing solar, wind, and grid-scale storage, and fund it with a big tax on carbon emitting fossil fuels.

I would make it 60 and force the EU to pay at least 30%.

> and commits $200 billion to help poor nations cope with climate change.


Poor nations will continue to do whatever is most economically expedient to them. Does that mean burning down the rainforest? Overfishing oceans? Or any number of other environmentally unsustainable things? Yes, it does.

People do these things to make ends meet. Make their ends meet on condition that that stop doing $BadThing, and the problems stemming from e.g. burning the rainforest will diminish.

If the countries themselves aren't willing to establish these programs, let's help. Climate is a world game with all humanity on one side.

Furthermore, if the solution has to be solved for the entire planet, it's in our interest to ensure poor nations play ball. We have limited options to do that while not forcefully invading/etc.

Alternatives are always welcome; but the premise here is that we need them to do it. We need everyone to do it.

If I had to guess: Justice. Wealthy nations like ours are the primary driver of climate change while poor nations will suffer the bulk of the damage.

US and EU have reduced carbon emissions in the past decade. Meanwhile China almost doubled their emissions, and now emits more than the US and EU combined.

China now burns more coal than all the other countries of the world, combined.

Any plan ignoring China's dramatic carbon emissions growth (for example: the Paris Accords) will do nothing to stop climate change.

I'd go one more explicit step: the carbon we emitted made us wealthy while externalizing the costs. The recipe for gaining wealth at present for poor countries is, emit a shit ton of carbon in the pursuit of growth. If we're serious about reducing emissions we'll have to provide a different recipe.

Well you guessed wrong. What justice? Developing nations are the major polluters (reasons aside, that's just a fact). If there was "justice" for pollution we'd be at war.

In addition to that, wealthy nations developed by exploiting resources like forests and oil. Now we're asking less-developed nations not to do that. Instead, they need to leapfrog that phase of development, which will cost money they don't have.

Countries like the US and China are the largest contributors to climate change while the nations most affected by it (poorer countries at or near the equator or coastally located) have the least resources to actually do anything about it. How unfair is that? We should be footing the bill to help them.

Global deforestation is one concern. Instead decrying nations depleting their rainforests for economic benefit, we should put money where our mouth is given the importance of these ecosystems for overall global health.

From the plan pdf, p. 3:

Commit to reducing emissions throughout the world, including providing $200 billion to the Green Climate Fund, rejoining the Paris Agreement, and reasserting the United States' leadership in the global fight against climate change.

from p. 12:

In order to help countries of the Global South with climate adaptation efforts, the U.S. will invest $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund for the equitable transfer of renewable technologies, climate adaptation, and assistance in adopting sustainable energies. U.S. leadership can ensure that the developing world secures reliable electricity, reduces poverty and pollution-related fatalities, creates greater net employment, and improves living standards - all while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions


"reasserting the United States' leadership in the global fight against climate change."

nitpicking, did he consider changing "reasserting" to "asserting" ?

IIRC, California has had strong pro-environment policy long before it was popular to love the environment. So I don't think it's an outright abuse of language.

I don't understand why you were downvoted for just asking a question.

I don't understand why you would ask this two minutes after the comment in question was posted.

The new HN.

Man you gonna be so upset when someone tells you how insurance works

Probably because diffusion, air currents, stratospheric jets, winds and other climate phenomena are not contained by national borders.

He should do it like China does. “Give” them 200 to buy our solutions with natural resources as collateral. No free lunches. Either that or do it multilaterally, otherwise you’re just encouraging gamification of the system.

Where do you think China got that strategy? We've long had aid-with-strings-attached.

Besides morality and compassion (and who cares about that, amiright? /s), there's an enlightened self-interest here.

If, e.g., droughts and floods make a various regions holding, say 1 billion people unable to sustain themselves, those billion people are going to be forced to try to move to some place they can survive. That may cause us a lot more than $200 billion worth of trouble.

(Not that $200 billion is going to counteract the effects of climate change, but they idea is that it would substantially mitigate the most serious issues. I have no idea if that's true under this plan or possible under any plan, but that's the idea.)

Because otherwise our abandonment of fossil fuels would make their price fall on the global market, causing them to just be burned in poor countries instead. This is one place in the proposal where he's right. CO2 is a global problem so we can't ignore the rest of the world.

This is not as simple.

my guess would be potential allies and short and long term investment opportunities for American businesses.

That is four times the entire US foreign aid budget, perhaps it is a typo?


Unfortunately planet Earth doesn't care if you ran out of green cotton notes. Make it work.

If we shouldn't expect people to be compensated, then why even bring up a dollar amount in the first place? Are you justifying enslaving people in order to "make it work"?

Did chattel slaves have democratic consensus mechanism where they agreed to do the work?

How do you "make it work" without someone agreeing to do the work?

I think it would be funded through dollars but it could also be done by barter in items/services valued in dollars.

"planet Earth doesn't care" - The printed money will end up in retirement and transfer funds. Put another way if San Francisco can't even control the human feces, homeless and needle problem - how on earth can liberals control something complex like CO2 through non market legislative means?

What? No we're absolutely not broke.

I never hear this criticism when devaluing our currency to go to war or subsidize large business.

Devaluing the currency as a form of redistribution downward seems to be way more radical then devaluing it for wealth transfers to military contractors and large institutions. Why is that?

> I never hear this criticism when devaluing our currency to go to war or subsidize large business.

Oddly, I hear it all the time.

Perhaps two wrongs don't make a right.

It is wrong to redistribute to those born into poverty, countries exploited for their resources, and those living around toxic industrial externalities?

Maybe, from a libertarian "I got mine"/"I did this all on my own" attitude. But, damn that is a simplistic, selfish outlook

Just gave the leadership to Biden.

The worst thing to post or upvote is something that's intensely but shallowly interesting: gossip about famous people, funny or cute pictures or videos, partisan political articles, etc. If you let that sort of thing onto a news site, it will push aside the deeply interesting stuff, which tends to be quieter.

can someone explain why I got downvoted for quoting the community guidelines?

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