It's good to be able to visit friends in the next town over in a few minutes, in any weather, rather than having to walk and then transfer in some distant location.
It's good to be able to have our choice of food, rather than having to accept what's left of what the comisar of production allocated to are area.
The nice thing about technology is it will allow us to improve the future, rather than having to don the hair shirts of the past.
We should strongly consider things like redefining energy security rather rather than wallowing in our base loss aversion. We'll need to develop alternative ways to deliver all of these improvements that don't assign an unpayable environmental debt to our future generations.
I mean, fifteen years ago, electric cars weren't a thing. If we had abandoned cars in favor of bicycles then, Tesla wouldn't have gotten off the ground. And I think I'd rather ride around in a Tesla than on a Schwinn.
Basically, I think we have to find climate solutions that allow us to maintain our standard of living. And I think by accepting that's what we need to do, we can and will find those choices, and not divert attention to unpalatable options.
I'm an optimist, but the post-enlightenment world routinely justifies such optimism.
This is a statement made by a rich and enormously privileged person. You can't deny that most of the world's population lives in poverty without these choices. Your goal is not to push a post-enlightenment techno-optimism despite the couching of things in that framework. Your goal is to avoid losing what you have today.
And that's just not realistic. We will all need to redefine what is "normal." Our lifestyles not only can't pass environmental debts forward, they can no longer be defined by the extreme luxury of the top 7 richest nations at the expense of the majority of the world. Both our lives are sustained by what amounts to indentured servitude. As traditional power systems are disrupted by the inability to maintain deep supply chains, people aren't going to bow to your desire for comfort at their expense. Why should they?
We absolutely have to keep moving forward with technology that is more efficient and makes energy essentially free in the long term (and minimally rationed in the short term). But we can't do it at the expense of the future while chanting "standard of living" at obvious outcomes we don't like.
Outside of India and China, the developing world doesn't possess the military/technical capabilities to prevent the richest from securing the natural resources to maintain their gilded standard of living. Developing countries will either rapidly industrialize and militarize, becoming yet another part of the problem, or they are likely to be marginalized into migration, collapse, and death.
>>>Your goal is to avoid losing what you have today.
Which in practical terms applies to every human being, ever, who didn't become an ascetic monk.
Without re-examining our priorities quickly and changing our economies, this fate awaits everyone.
> Which in practical terms applies to every human being, ever, who didn't become an ascetic monk.
No, not everyone is a Reactionary.
I don't get this way of thinking. This isn't the first time people thought that:
They were wrong then, they will be wrong now. Why do I think that ? Because we are already far over the carrying capacity of the planet without fossil fuels. Either technology will save us or your doom scenario WILL happen. In other words, you could be wrong or right. If you're wrong, then of course we should only take limited steps to change. If you're right and we cannot adapt, then we're fucked unless we kill something like 90% of the human race (exact number doesn't really matter, even if it's 50%). Any event that kills 90% of the human race is going to be as bad as just waiting for the "migration, collapse and death", whether we engineer it or not.
So you're wrong. Not just because there's a range of technologies that could save our ass, but also because "changing our priorities" is no different from "migration, collapse, and death" at this point.
BUT on the plus side: stabilization is happening, without us having to do anything:
World population is on the path to peaking at around 8.5 billion humans and then dropping to steady state at around 7.5 billion. That's our current guess. Barring a great war or something like that, that's what will happen.
Animals come with a built-in "carrying capacity guesser", and populations end up very close to the exact STABLE carrying capacity of whatever environment they find themselves in. And while it's possible to disrupt this (famously the case of rabbits and cats in artificial environments without good enough places to hide for the rabbits, but abundant food availability), shouldn't our default assumption be that there clearly is a mechanism controlling human population size, and that it's not in fact screwing up ? That that 8.5/7.5 billion number is in fact a pretty good guess ?
As the history of Yellowstone park illustrates, humans have done far more damage attempting to control population sizes of animals than we have just letting them be.
I'm quite certain you've misread me because you seem to be suggesting I'm not advocating action and a possible stable outcome. I am. What I'm saying is that making no changes in the face of new data will simply continue to ignore the reality we're increasingly convinced of: that climate change is going to collapse every aspect of modern society unless we react swiftly and broadly to counteract it and its effects.
Suggesting this is Malthusian in nature is wrong.
> So you're wrong. Not just because there's a range of technologies that could save our ass, but also because "changing our priorities" is no different from "migration, collapse, and death" at this point.
If we refuse to apply said technologies, then we're in trouble. We might refuse if, for example, men are afraid recycling makes them look effeminate or because solar power is unpopular with people convinced oil industry=freedom.
> Animals come with a built-in "carrying capacity guesser", and populations end up very close to the exact STABLE carrying capacity of whatever environment they find themselves in.
... What? No, they don't. Any species that doesn't reach equilibrium dies.
> shouldn't our default assumption be that there clearly is a mechanism controlling human population size, and that it's not in fact screwing up ?
What a weird argument. So first you suggested we can and should use technology to preserve societal growth, and then you seem to suggest that being cognizant of these motivations and selecting among various strategies is wrong because we should trust in some kind of implicit governing principle or intelligence?
Which is it?
> As the history of Yellowstone park illustrates, humans have done far more damage attempting to control population sizes of animals than we have just letting them be.
Here again you're contradicting the sentiments you displayed in paragraph 1 and 2. Should we try and use technology to solve the problems before us proactively or accept any such intervention is doomed due to ignorance?
Are you sure you're the not the adherent to Malthusianism?
There's a great range of opinion on this. The extent of the expense and the meaning of 'future'. And what needs to be done first and foremost. And who gets to decide. And how our own children will be impacted by our choices of adversity.
The only real 'sure thing' is the arrival of another dinosaur killer.
And point out you and I live on lives sustained by indentured servitude.
Those folks subsist in extreme poverty, doing difficult physical work. They're miners and farmers and duck haulers and other such tasks that make up the bulk of the actual work but a minority of the actual profitshare.
You don't fix those problems in the long term by buying different things. You solve them by paying people sums commensurate with the value they produce and by focusing on making the base standard of living more fair for more of the planet rather than making it realistic for Jeff Bezos to build a private moonbase.
Such a reprioritization will surely see changes in what is available for the top 30% of the world, to the betterment of the bottom 70%. It is recency and identity biases that make it difficult for us to understand how much that matters.
But how would you propose to solve this? Say China implements a minimum wage that meets your standard of a fair wage. What happens to the people of Vietnam who would gladly take those jobs at half the pay? Will you tell them they can't have jobs they consider far better than what they have now, because you don't think they pay enough? Like it or not, we're not in some broken system, we're in the best system we've ever had with no clear competitor. And things are going up for everyone, the world has never been so well off, a truly incredible feet considering the incredible population.
Although if I were king for a day, I'd use the wealth of the industrialized countries to build out nuclear plants everywhere. Because at least with cheap unlimited power people would never have to worry about food, sleeping in the dirt, or clean water. Bonus points for ending the need for slash and burn, or more fossil fuels.
Just an aside, ask yourself if cheap energy is actually the problem to solve here.
The problem with your line of reasoning is that you seem to pre-suppose that the market has to solve every problem, even the ones that the market created.
We don't need to cut our consumption until we actually run out of energy, i.e. have harnessed the whole sun with a Dyson sphere and used up every other source. After that, there are other stars to harness.
The hard truth that makes this stuff even harder to convince is that, deep down, we know society will still function for those of us at the very top. Things will get permanently worse but _somehow_ systems will get set up so that those at the top of society will basically live comfortably forever.
The worst case climate scenarios are not actually "game over" for a lot of people. It will cause immense, quasi-permanent damage to a lot of people. But those people don't hold the levers of power.
> The worst case climate scenarios are not actually "game over" for a lot of people. It will cause immense, quasi-permanent damage to a lot of people. But those people don't hold the levers of power.
This really depends on the amount of system damage done. Sure, at +1.5°C of global average temperature increase, you'll probably do fine.
But at +15°C? What will wealth buy you?
These are not even close to the worst-case climate scenarios. We don't have enough scientific evidence to ascertain whether the real worst-case scenarios are likely, so reputable scientists avoid talking about them, but we can't rule them out either.
Even this seems optimistic to me. It might coast along on inertia for a few decades but once food production and distribution ceases, "rich" gets redefined pretty quickly.
Doesn't that arguement suggest that despotism is self-justifying because it increases the quality of life for the despots?
The notion that a temporary setback due to our worldview basing itself on untenable principles is no different than societal collapse is, to me, terribly wrongheaded.
If anything, the knowledge and technology we have gained enables us to imagine building something truly better from scaffolding erected by our current, less-than-desirable societal structure and industrial dependence on expensive and toxic energy (made all the more absurd by the fact it is essentially free with modern technology if we are just willing to alter our usage patterns a bit). Maybe we can imagine a world with a place for everyone and an understanding that cooperation and coordination need not only be accomplished via super-massive hierarchies that unjustly benefit only the upper strata.
I said that I wanted each generation to live better than the last. From what did you draw the conclusion that this means stasis, or is contradictory to my ethos?
Over the past several thousand years, on average, each generation has lived better than the previous, and technological progress is the main reason for that.
Since you didn't really grok my basic thesis, I think the rest of your argument is against a strawman.
The vast majority of people making those trips are able-bodied people in urbanized areas (80% of the US lived in an urbanized area as of 2010).
So if you can get bike infrastructure to where people are living, you've attacked a big chunk of the auto problem.
Per your second point, yes, it can be feasible. The modern rural US is very sprawling in terms of the built environment but it wasn't always that way. Rural areas in the US used to revolve around small villages and points of density that service a wide area, complete with transit connections. Many German rural villages are extremely bikeable and have regular transit through their regions and to larger cities.
You still can accommodate people who need vehicles, just the demand on infrastructure (parking, number of lane miles, subsidies and costs) would be greatly reduced. As it is now, the children, the disabled, and frequently the poor can't drive themselves and rely on other people driving them. Cycling can be done by almost anyone, is much cheaper and therefore much more accessible than driving.
But I don't think bicycles and mass transit will take over ultimately. But self driving electric vehicles a bit larger than a bicycle could do it.
These will only need one seat and minimal storage. They'll go directly from home to work without stopping at every bus stop or train station along the way. And they'll be 1/4 the cost of today's car.
And, yes, they won't work for everybody and every situation, just like everything else.
While not having to park, consuming electricity, and more efficient road usage will make cars much much better, this future car will still be significantly less efficient than modern trains in several key metrics. Examples include efficient land usage, efficient energy usage, maintenance requirements, raw resource requirements, max speed.
As the process of urbanization continues trains are the most logical next step in transportation for our cities. While side driving cars will play a role in less traveled routes, we’ll see heavy investment in trains as cities try to find ways to allow more and more people access to their most busy business districts.
Bikes won't carry everything but they go a long way in solving day to day commuting problems.
The answer to that, of course, is e-bikes aren't cheating, but driving a car is.
As someone who cycles to work year-round, I'd love to see more bicycles and infrastructure, but I don't think bicycles are a panacea.
I don’t own a car all my commuting happens on a bike. I live in a city with not so good public transport so when needed I just rent a car for the weekend or so.
It doesn't ; if anything our hardwiring is always for efficiency and less effort. It's just that there is no easy and low-effort way to avoid those things.
We should go after military and cooperate polluters first because of their larger impact, but that’s easier to do when you gain moral high ground.
But one way to drastically improve this situation is to improve public transit and alternative transit (e.g., welcome electric scooters if they can leave they're sustainably designed and sourced). Most people live in cities, so improving that story for cities is the most impactful way to reduce civil emissions.
As for corporations, I doubt any moral high ground will be impactful. It will almost certainly come to violence (or if we're lucky, implied violence via state action) over that in one form or another.
So even with pervasive nuclear fission we would have a shitload of problem to solve, but at least that would be an immediate first step, and could be replaced if we eventually figure out how to replace it. We haven't figured out that yet.
And since the government refuses to solve the problem or even really look deeply into solutions then it's not getting solved and it isn't ever going to get solved.
Because of this the solutions to recycle spent fuel is still in it's infancy. Nobody is allowed to do anything, the government isn't really interested in allowing nuclear power to be competitive, so it's just not happening. No money, no motivation.
People in the industry are not going to invest millions in developing these breeder reactors and other ways to recycle fuel if they will never be allowed to use them.
Theoretically you could recycle the fuel to the point to where most of it is spent and isn't much of a danger. Recycle the fuel 60 or a 100 times. Then mix it with clay and cook into into a ceramic so that they are safe to handle, transport, and store. Massively reduce the danger and radiation levels.
Despite all the talk and rhetoric about CO2 emmissions you see coming from the state the petroleum industry is still king. People inside and outside of government are making a lot of money and they have no interest in seeing that go away.
The dirty secret with things like solar and wind is that in order for them to work reliably they need to have large number of natural gas generators. Because of this and other issues they really pose little threat to total fossil fuel consumption.
Several years ago I got to sit in a meeting between reps from a dozen advanced reactor companies, and a former head of the NRC. The reactor people said their biggest problem was that the NRC required several hundred million dollars worth of design work before even taking a look. Then they gave a flat yes or no. If yes then you still only had a paper reactor, and if no then you were out of business.
That's a difficult sell to investors. They said just a more phased process would help a lot. The NRC person was unsympathetic, said it wasn't the NRC's job to help develop nuclear technology, and was uninterested in climate change.
Of course they do. Because storage is not solved. That's why I said they are not a replacement without storage (among other reasons)
As for the economical cases, nuclear is competitive in the long term if we do not require stupid high rentability. Given wealth is extremely strongly correlated to energy consumption, and we will have to get rid of fossil (even if we don't want, we will be forced to), the economy will restructure anyway, and we will be forced to do rational things rather than wishful thinking economy based on ridiculous hypotheses (eternal exp. growth)
So in the long term, the governments will not really be able to allow or disallow things by incentives, if the world simply does not have any other solutions. That's not even what all the governments are doing today. China is building some nuclear power plants.
The reality is that capital and fuel costs make running coal and gas plants uneconomical because wind and solar do not have a fuel input and low capital costs. Building coal plants is very expensive therefore they need to amortize their capital expenses over as many hours as possible, they have to keep running even if they make a loss per unit of energy. Building a gas plant is very cheap but the fuel costs are significantly higher compared to renewables. What happens is that the gas plant reduces its output during times of high renewable energy instead of keeping it running to amortize costs. In other words it is more economical to run both gas and renewables combined than either of them alone. Your "dirty secret" is just a big fat lie.
It even shows today with even quite small capacity disturbing market prices. That's why even "low" production costs can make wind not profitable; you end up selling your production with very low prices (because there is some overproduction), in some cases even negatives. You would not have that problem with storage. But then the production costs of wind+storage are already high...
Yet the ocean and deserts are massive. More than enough room in the North Sea to provide enough kWh to power Europe each year. More than enough room in Saudi Arabia to power India (not to mention the indian ocean), more than enough room in China to power the far east, in the outback to power Austrailia
If you say to me that science proves the world is in grave danger, but we can’t use nuclear fission because it is “dirty” or “dangerous” (or even better, “solving one thing doesn’t matter because the real problem is our culture/capitalism”), I will immediately stop taking you seriously.
If the cost and time scale does not matter, fission is already good enough. People are just irrational and can't compare things. Fukushima type accident every few years would be completely acceptable and compared to coal and hydrocarbons.
You're quite right, but keep in mind that identifying the problem doesn't make it go away. If public opinion won't accept fission, then we'll need another option even if fission is technically a fine solution.
This is the most delusional thing I've ever read about nuclear feasibility. No country will ever accept more than one of those.
And yet most countries accept death toll and land area denial orders of magnitude higher every single year to keep operating coal plants and ICEs. As a randomly sampled person, you are almost certainly going to live less because of the use of hydrocarbons and you are almost certainly completely unaffected by the use of nuclear power.
This is the same effect as car crashes being just a death toll yearly statistic that everyone accepts, meanwhile each individual plane crash is subjected to news theatrics despite flying being orders of magnitude safer than driving.
Australian mining industry destroys one of the natural wonders of the world spanning 344,400 square kilometres just while doing business as usual? Meh. Second worst nuclear disaster of all time results in 371 square km exclusion zone where people are still safe and wildlife is thriving and with 0 casualties? Stop everything. Ban nuclear.
They won't (and shouldn't, since it should be preventable), but the fact of the matter is that coal power plants kill a hell of a lot of people, and recurring Fukushima style events are still less detrimental. They're just significantly flashier, and that makes them scarier.
1.069 PBq/yr Radioactive release from annual coal combustion.
600 PBq - Upper limit of radioactivity released from Fukushima accident. Actual may be half of that.
> No country will ever accept more than one of those.
Because people are irrational as I said.
We can be carbon negative in a decade and multi-digit negative in two, allowing us to sequester carbon released from humanities previous carbon age. All using well understood save nuclear energy. Modern breeder reactors will take nuclear energy from being orders of magnitude safer than coal, to even safer levels. And we can do this today, with boring old fission.
Yes it's the largest most immediate threat. But we will continue to have the dust bowl, ozone crisis, emissions crisis, microplastic crisis, etc. Unless we fundamentally address our relationship to this planet.
There's an incredible documentary that was way before it's time called "Who's Counting?" by Marilyn Waring. I think it addresses some of the fundamental causes of each crisis that comes up every so often. We're not accounting for the economic value or the "jobs of nature". We might not even be able to, because we really don't fully understand it.
At some point, maybe weapons engineers could start getting paid to just sit on their hands. Learn to make the bomb, get paid to not make it.
Is fusion a brain sink designed for non-proliferation? It's a pretty effective non-proliferation tool with total US fusion research at less than $1B/yr. Compared to a trillion dollar war or 10s of billions in monitoring etc.
By the way, the idea reminded me of "The Dead Past" by Asimov.
How dare people say just limiting consumption and CO2 pollution could have any effect. Let's just bet everything on zero.
Magic wands, warp drives, aliens, or colonising parallel worlds are not comparable. They are not, as far as we know, scientifically possible, and no progress has been made towards them.
In many cases it may be far easier to get billions funneled to researchers and scientists for moonshot projects like this than to get world leaders to agree to and enforce billions/trillions of dollars' worth of emissions reductions.
As mentioned in other comments, even if the warming issue itself is solved "out-of-band", there are still lots of other issues associated with what's being released. But it's a start, and might be the difference between turmoil and utter catastrophe. Countless human and non-human animal lives could potentially be saved which might otherwise not be if moonshot projects like this didn't exist. Reducing suffering and death, for all time scales, is the only metric we should be optimizing for at the end of the day.
This problem has to be viewed in terms of what will actually help, not what we "should" be doing. I'd certainly wish the president of my country would sign the Paris Agreement; obviously, we should. But a scientist won't be able to influence that, and probably otherwise won't be able to have much impact lobbying politicians, so they need to find a way to help any way they can.
I hope we do fix the political situation, but doing that may be harder than achieving fusion, so I wouldn't want to bet entirely on that. And even if we accomplish it, fusion could still make our task easier if it's cheap enough. There's no merit to making things harder than they need to be.
Limiting CO2 emission is needed anyway, I don't know why people feel the need to dismiss other parts of solution just to make their favorite parts seem more necessary.
EDIT For the young'uns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7aeWQCF1jM
One of them should call their product Mega Maid :)
We put our bets on everything that might help, long shots included.
Then there's also situations where engineers just make stupid design decisions like in the case of Chernobyl. Or when there's something that engineers just haven't thought of like a failsafe plan for an earth quake as we've seen in Fukushima.
Most of the benefits people talk about with thorium are related to using a liquid fuel in the form of a molten salt (LFTR), which allows for things like continuous operation, 100% fuel utilization, and "meltdown-proof" designs.
If it is really that great, China will make it happen. If not, then it's just overhyped, like hydrogen. People like to focus too much on arbitrary metrics, when really it's economics first, politics second and science/engineering last.
If we can make nuclear fission work with liquid fuel, that is a game changer. It is the equivalent of going from coal to gasoline. Except even better. Maybe more like going from wood logs to gasoline.
Future perfect nuclear fusion helps us become carbon neutral. Transportation, structures, agriculture, power generation are now carbon free. Yay!
But it's still not enough.
Carbon is now being added by "natural" causes, in a positive feedback loop. Thawing tundra, burning forests, ocean acidification. With the imminent threat of the ocean burping up all that the frozen methane currently stored on its floor.
Whatever is needed for humanity to become carbon neutral, we need much more to become carbon negative, to remove carbon faster than nature adds it.
We have processes to do this, cheap electricity would really help there.
Unfortunately, they've kept saying that every year since the 1950s. If it were truly possible, we'd be doing it already.
Nuclear energy too slow, too expensive to save climate: report
Fusion is even further out than fission.
As the climate situation worsens, more and more nations will overlook that obstacle and roll out large scale nuclear. The only question is, will they be able to do it quickly enough.
I feel like I'm the only person in the room missing something when watching the world focus on 'renewable' technology when a much less resource/labour intensive and much higher energy dense power source is already available. And it's safer too. 
Why is renewable in quotes? Because we don't actually have a way to recycle solar and wind installations. Nuclear is the only currently available large scale power source that doesn't require a large and continuous supply of mined materials.
Am I missing something? Am I an idiot? Why is everyone so anti nuclear and pro 'renewable' when nuclear is significantly better by every objective metric? Looks like the 'ban plastic straws' activism which ignored that straws make up an insignificant fraction of ocean waste and the vast majority of it is discarded fishing equipment. Inconsequential feel-good activism is a higher priority goal than more difficult but effective solutions?
We could even keep generating power with natural gas and just capture all of the carbon emissions at the powerplant. Nuclear is an improvement but you don't even need to go that far if you are serious about decarbonizing the power grid as quickly as possible.
the UK is building new fission plants. It costs more than renewables, and won't be ready for a decade.
Your link number 1 is supposed to support nuclear being safer than renewables, and it simply doesn't do that.
There's a few links that regularly get shared, intending to make that point and they all don't actually make it.
The list of things that nuclear is safer than, is notably missing grid scale wind and solar. What a mysterious ommision from something that is trying to argue they are not safe.
Having read your link 2 and 3, I see they also don't support the point you are making (the first describes how to recycle turbine blades into concrete and is looking for more applications, the second says solar panels are 90% recyclable and just wants some government policies to ensure this happens), which makes me wonder if you're arguing in good faith here?
Are you disputing the article? My interpretation of it? The sources it cites? The error bounds on the estimates? What?
The stats are from 2012 and wind and solar have improved markedly since then, generating more per installed item.
I didn't notice this link includes wind, the others I see shared usually only have rooftop solar. I know the figures will be very out of date though.
Trying to find the source of these wind figures is interesting. The same author links in a later column to what I guess must be the source though he misquotes their global figures as UK only figures. It appears to include suicides by people who live near wind turbines. The totality of 17 deaths globally in 2012 appear to be 17 bus passengers who died in march 2012 in Brazil, but I can't find any trace of a news story to explain what actually happened to them. Basically, it appears to be made up nonsense and even then it only has 3 deaths worldwide last year for wind.
This gets amplified further in the retelling, the author of your link however quotes 14 deaths in England alone in one year. Which simply didn't happen. And even then it compare favourably with other sources.
Why should we treat nuclear power differently and discard all of its advantages just because worst-case failures can render small land areas unusable, but smaller than other alternatives already do on a regular basis? I'm not even bringing up the fact that there exist modern reactor designs that are provably incapable of failing like this. The comparison is in favour of nuclear even when we're looking at currently rolled out explode'y reactors.
You sound like you've watched too many Hollywood horror films. The only place to get a meaningful dose is inside the sarcophagus or to venture deep into buildings that contain dumped cleanup equipment. Both are fairly difficult to access to wildlife or civilians.
I'm in contact with people from our nuclear physics faculty that are doing actual research on this, I don't need to read random articles from your generic newspapers. If I need to know something, I can just go down the hall and ask them. That the exclusion zone still has significant hot spots is what they told me.
[EDIT: Your article  says basically the same things that I did, most notably the "Nature flourishes when humans are removed from the equation, even after the world's worst nuclear accident" and "The Chernobyl exclusion zone is still considered an unsafe region for humans due to the high levels of radiation". Thanks for that corroboration.]
The 90% recyclable figure refers to the materials that can be used in low grade applications. The remaining 10% are the rare earth minerals that actually make the panel work and need to be mined.
You’re not talking about recycling, you’re talking about downcycling to a nearly worthless product. It will be cheaper just to send the old panels to landfill.
How are these power sources renewable if they are only possible if we keep mining our dwindling natural resources?
 says that "[the waste components] are crushed into granulates that can used to make new panels". Are new panels a "low grade application"?
> The remaining 10% are the rare earth minerals that actually make the panel work and need to be mined.
Excuse me, but what "rare earth minerals" are you talking about? There are none in solar panels, much less 10% of them. (That would be 2 kg per average panel, mind you!)
Refer to Fig. 11.1
If you need more help to identify REM or understand basic PV chemistry, get in touch with a local middle school chem tutor, they will help you out.
[EDIT: Even in wind turbines, they're not technically necessary, as, e.g., Enercon turbines such as https://www.enercon.de/en/products/ep-8/e-126/ with induction generators are demonstrating. But I'm glad we dispelled once and for all this with this nonsense that lanthanoids have anything to do with PV technology.]
Nuclear Fission might be too slow to build - at least that's what the report claims. That would not be a problem with Fusion - its energy output should be so high that building it should still be worth it. The 'slow' regarding Fusion is the time taking to research it.
IMHO, researching Fusion is worth it, but we can't rely on it at all for solving our problems, since it's unlikely to be available in time. We'll have to handle our climate problem with more ordinary means.
I'm not sure what they are doing wrong, but it probably isn't inherent to nuclear power.
That's an Apples to Oranges comparison. Nuclear provides stable energy, wind provides volatile energy. You need to factor in the cost of buffering that volatility, which will likely be natural gas, in which case you should be fair and put a price on that CO2 as well.
Yeah you're right, they should remove all redundancies, ridiculous factor of safeties, and over the top safety measures /s
Because that's what we're doing in practice - assigning vastly different value for lives of people depending whether they live near a nuclear or a coal powerplants. And then complaining that nuclear power cannot compete on cost :)
Oh, BTW, renewables kill more people per MWh generated than nuclear, too :)
Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)
Coal – global average 100,000 (41% global electricity)
Coal – China 170,000 (75% China’s electricity)
Coal – U.S. 10,000 (32% U.S. electricity)
Oil 36,000 (33% of energy, 8% of electricity)
Natural Gas 4,000 (22% global electricity)
Biofuel/Biomass 24,000 (21% global energy)
Solar (rooftop) 440 (< 1% global electricity)
Wind 150 (2% global electricity)
Hydro – global average 1,400 (16% global electricity)
Hydro – U.S. 5 (6% U.S. electricity)
Nuclear – global average 90 (11% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)
Nuclear – U.S. 0.1 (19% U.S. electricity)
It's so frustrating how irrational people can be with good intentions... If you demanded same safety factors from other power sources as from nuclear - they couldn't compete with nuclear on cost. But people killed by radiation are much more important than people killed by falling from their roof while installing a solar panel :)
You need baseload power anyway, so you have to choose some way to generate power. Nuclear kills the least number of people per MWh. So not choosing nuclear kills people and choosing nuclear saves people.
Even if you decided to return to the pre-industrial era and not generate power at all - that would kill even more people, so going nuclear is still better.
You need to look at alternative costs when comparing your options, you cannot just look at bad sides of one option and good sides of the other.
If people wanted solar power to be as safe as nuclear powerplants it would have to be much more expansive than it is now. But apparently deaths are ok as long as it's not from nuclear powerplants :/
If you like you can increase the Chernobyl number by 1,000x. The point still stands; nuclear is measurably, unambiguously and has proven to be safer than coal in every way that effects humans. Except evacuation risk. Which is still tiny vs any reasonable standard.
Plus the modern designs are different from the Soviet designs. They have improved. We have Computer-aided design now.
I've seen this bandied around a bit over the past few months - perhaps something to do with a certain TV show? - but despite trying, I've never found anything that substantiates the claim.
IE - the words will change, but the freak out will be the same.
The National Ignition Facility also got a lot of funding but it has goals beyond the study of fusion
1. Cost. The big problem here is that fusion does not address the main impediment of current nuclear fission. It's going to be really expensive to build power plants that are about similarly sized to fission power plants and more complicated (ITER is $65B... other projects are in the $5B range). They will still be massive construction projects. Renewables have proven that you have to manufacture your power systems in factories to lower costs rapidly. At the end of the day, fusion is going to be construction with all its associated delays, cost overruns, and low productivity. Can't really fix this without going much smaller and simpler, and that's not really an option based on physical/engineering requirements.
2. No current functional prototype. How long does it take from functional prototype to large-scale deployment, especially considering the massive regulatory overhaul required? eg. 50 years for aircraft? That might be fast enough.
3. Lots of very difficult engineering to deal with all the neutron damage and extreme temperature gradients. Million degree plasmas, 600 degree coolants, -40 degree super magnets, all within a few meters = nightmare. It's quite a hassle, but there are lots of smart people working on this. Can probably throw more money at this.
4. Not safer than fission. Yes, no long lived fission products for fusion and meltdowns are more difficult. But reactor damage and tritium release are probably more likely than in fission. Fusion power plant would be a lot more complex (more parts and systems) and has lots of tritium (tritium likes to escape from where you put it and diffuses through metals) with tritium processing facility to breed and fuel the reactor. Tritium has 10 year half life and not good for you when ingested. Essentially, lots of radioactive material handling + lots of equipment to maintain = higher chance of small accidents. See page 10 in link at bottom. Can probably throw more money at this.
5. Proliferation. Fusion reactors have lots of neutrons and tritium. Neutrons can be used to breed weapons material simply by placing normal uranium or thorium in the neutron flux. Tritium is used to boost nuclear weapons (just a bit of tritium drastically lowers the plutonium required). Is the only we to solve this state controlled fusion power? How can that be market competitive?
6. Probably only good for electrical power. While this is really just a limitation, it illustrates that fusion, should 1-5 be resolved, is not a magic bullet. You can't do much with it other than make electrical power. The power plants are too big to use for distributed process heat or hydrogen production.
Lidsky's often ignored 1984 paper: http://orcutt.net/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Trou...
I think (combined with the statement about hot things next to cold things) you're overestimating how much fuel there is in the plasma. It's density is about a million times less than air. In most other contexts, that's a very good vacuum. I don't think there are any consequences to a fuel leak, but I could be wrong.
The primary issue is neutron activation. The neutrons from the fusion reaction tends to make inert components of the machine radioactive. Again, short half-lifes, but a concern that needs to be mitigated.
"Who benefits" is always a valid question. However in the climate and energy debates it is usually just left hanging there - implying that some cabal of shady characters somehow benefit. The question serves very little purpose if it isn't followed by a somewhat coherent story that points to "who benefits" and "how".
So in order to redeem yourself, would you mind terribly answering who benefits. And perhaps why this is either good or bad? Names, numbers and observable facts.
As for who doesn't benefit, that's much easier: incumbent energy companies and the immense government interests in maintaining the status quo. (Even the tinfoil hat "free energy" quacks manage to harp on about who is thwarting their efforts to supply the world with free energy).
Heck: _I_ would benefit from maintaining the status quo. I live in Norway - a country whose pension fund is built on oil revenue and is currently the largest national sovereign wealth fund in the world. My quality of life as I retire is directly linked to how large this fund is. It would be in my interest that we keep pumping out hydrocarbons for as long as possible so we can load up on stocks and not depend on being innovative or doing actual work to remain wealthy.
(That being said, this pension fund is essentially a giant index fund. So there's that :-))
I might have misunderstood the comment I was replying to. I thought it was ironically suggesting that "climate catastrophe" is being pushed by some due to an agenda so I was genuinely asking who this was and what the agenda is.
At least it's my suspicion I might have misunderstood something since I'm a bit confused by the replies to my comment.
There are a few reasons why this was effective, especially in the US. The first is the most powerful, best expressed by the old Upton Sinclair quote, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Second, many believe that God would never do such a thing to us - it states clearly in the Bible that the world is ours to do with what we want, and it would be unjust for God to let us shoot ourselves in the foot like that, and God is not unjust. And third, it's not even real science, just dirty red communists trying to psych us out, and feckless scientists out for grant money. Fourth, Americans seem very prone to believe on authority, powerful and wealthy people, even when the statement is self-serving.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming has a lot of great content, and is well linked to, e.g., climate change denial articles.
That cabal definitely exists, it's the old "Malthusian vs. Cornucopian" debate, revived in the form of the Club of Rome and people like Paul R. Ehrlich. Lots of scientists have this attitude. The scientists that do not have this attitude are rarely heard, because anything less than the impending apocalypse barely sells an newspapers.
And it isn't really as simple as "well, I don't eat fish anyway". It is unlikely that other ecosystems wouldn't be affected by this. There is a greater than zero probability that if this happened today you would be dead in a few years. If not of starvation then due to societal collapses resulting from a sudden shortage of resources.
The thing is, the things that can result from climate change are not part of our experience so we can't really relate to it. We're used to "tomorrow is going to be more or less like today" and "well, this has never happened before so it can't happen".
Don't do it for me, do it for yourself and posterity. As it stands, your answer is only fit for preaching to the choir.