I'd love it if I were wrong, or if someone can change my mind, but in a world where we have never had as much access to information, large swaths of the population don't even believe global warming is _real_, let alone something we should do something about.
We should just start planning for the worst case scenarios, because they are going to happen regardless.
To give an example, I personally hate commuting and believe that spending hours sitting in traffic every day is a major waste of time. However, if a politician came by and promised to raise gasoline prices by 50% in order to invest $X billion into WeWork so that they could solve the commute problem once and for all, I would never have voted for them. Not because I love commuting, but because I don't believe this will solve the problem at all, given the track record of WeWork. Of course, people with a financial interest in WeWork would gladly label me a commutist and would try to make sure my arguments are not heard.
There are plenty of ways to reduce the emissions that are much easier to quantify and implement: making nuclear power safer, improving biodiesel, even a national standard for replaceable EV batteries so you could switch one out not much slower than filling in a gas tank. But instead we keep hearing the original sin  rhetoric on how we should eat less, not buy a big house and give up on having kids.
Climate change denial denial. Very meta.
Than you should like carbon fee and dividend scheme. Tax emissions, divide equally between all citizens. The end result is unchanged populations spending power, but redistributed towards less carbon-intensive products.
In my opinion, it's not about planting the trees, it's about finding a way to turn the carbon trapped by them into something logistically and economically comparable to fossil fuels.
Now, IIRC, the energy density of oil is much higher than the one of lumber. I haven't done the calculation, but we might simply run out of suitable area way before any reasonable effect is reached. Don't forget that the logistics of tree planting will spend some CO2 as well, and given the finite CO2-per-planted-tree amount, it could be considerable.
Also if the trees have not spread naturally in the past millions of years in the area where you would want to plant them, there might be some ecological reasons to it. Hence, they may not survive long-term, or may get wiped by forest fires, or may require irrigation, fertilizers or other support that also produces CO2.
The study showed that the available land at a low cost, much less than alarmist propaganda, is enough to reverse all the co2 emissions so far.
It's hard for people to work out what information is true, what information is denial, and what information is hyperbole. Unfortunately the warnings we are getting via the media are inconsistent, alarmist, and don't put things into useful human terms that you can use to make decisions by. There needs to be a concerted effort to do better on the messaging front. I don't have any hope that the news media will do better while Western society puts little value on honor and doing the right thing, and puts high value on making as much money as possible.
Given the inconsistent messaging, people cannot rationally work out the answer to the following question: Which is worse? Giving up meat, my SUV, and air travel... or dealing with a +1.5C temperature shift? Most people think the former is worse, and quite rationally keep living as they have been at carbon footprints well in excess of 10 mton-co2e/year. Alarmist messaging doesn't fix that situation because people aren't dumb and can tell what is alarmist and what is a statement of solid facts. In fact, I've yet to hear a statement of solid facts that lays out the case why I should give up my (meat + SUV + air travel) that isn't highly speculative. Personally I am giving up these things and planting trees, but only because I bothered to deeply research the situation. The messaging is still really bad.. especially in the US where people apparently have no will to listen to each other anymore.
The large swath of population that doesn't believe in global warming is far less important than the large swath that is anti-nuclear. China, India, etc will need substantial energy to improve their quality of life and their populations are so large relatively to that of the West that marginal improvements in the Wests consumption will have little effect.
Except that even the minimum reactor size (for technical, security and proliferation reasons) mandates extremely large investment in terms of capital and space, which in turn leads to ownership by large intransparent conglomerates, bickering by NIMBYs, clearances, costly audits and years of planning and validation.
Renewables plus storage on the other hand just get cheaper by automation and are relatively affordable. Any larger company can afford cash and space for solar on the roof plus a PowerPack in the backyard.
Knowledge and learning rate for that track advances at an order of magnitude faster rate than for fission or fusion.
In terms of scaling up as quickly as needed, nuclear is dead in the water.
Wind power is continuously upgrading due to more possibilities opening with higher turbines, as well as old sites being upgraded.
Offshore wind is just getting profitable without subsidies, it's just getting started.
Solar is fitting in anywhere and with still falling prices will get ever more cost competitive even at low insulation sites.
Storage technology is just getting started as well with many investments from the past 5-10 years now reaching maturity (low-cobalt, silicon, solid state, fuel cells...)
You're entitled to your opinion, but I'd be curious as to your sources.
I completely agree. In this age of broadband internet, social media where information is at your disposal, we are not matured enough to handle this, speaking from micro-evolutionary perspective. And where we can not digest/process/retain information, we conveniently convince overselves that it might not be real. Sadly, we are doomed.
The actual roadblocks to action are: (1) lack of a realistic plan (not like "we're going to subsidize renewables" but "we expect to reduce solar radiation by 0.25%, reduce emissions from power productions by 25%, ..." where the numbers add up to a real change) and (2) the conspicuous inability of the government to demand sacrifices from Elites (Macron's tax cuts), and (3) ordinary people feeling overwhelmed and that any sacrifice is the "last straw" (e.g. Yellow Shirts riot when they try to raise the price of gas)
(2) and (3) are linked because the government needs legitimacy to demand sacrifices and if it can't get them from those that have, how can it get them from anybody else?
If you want something to happen start a Kickstarter to rent a plane and seed the upper atmosphere with SO2 -- that avoids the 'collective action' problem.
Who is "we" here? If by "we" you mean those humans that are incapable of coordinated political action, then I don't see us planning for the worst at the moment. You just replaced one unattainable goal with another. If by "we" you mean everyone individually should start building bunkers for themselves, then that's a perfect recipe for extinction.
Like you, I would love to be wrong about this but I have not seen any convincing argument against it.
In the United States, for instance, a majority wants significant action to avert climate change. Some of the obstacles to this actually happening are the electoral college, the filibuster, gerrymandering, first-past-the-post elections, the Citizens United decision, regulatory capture, and so on. We don't need to fix all of those things in order to act decisively, but if we reformed at least some of them it would make progress much easier.
You're the one sitting here on the internet claiming defeat.
How many people have you told to cut back on consumption and fuel use this month?
Yea. That's what I thought.
Don't act like it's impossible to change behavior it's not.
Smoking, drunk driving, domestic violence, racism, homophobia, and a bunch of other social issues have all been largely tackled the last few decades.
In WW2 we repurposed car factories to make tanks in a matter of weeks.
Please, don't act like we're a bunch of invilids incapable of change.
Speak for yourself.
If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email email@example.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.
I say this because the cost of building a new nuclear plant is more expensive than wind and solar.
Nuclear might still be a good solution for northern and southern habitats. But, at this point, where most pollution is produced, solar and wind are viable.
With all that said, the real viability of renewables is partially going to be determined by storage costs. Nuclear doesn't really solve the storage problem though (it is a base load only power source). Eventually in order to hit a 7.6% reduction goal we'll have to phase out natural gas peaker plants. To do that, we need storage.
We certainly shouldn't be decommissioning nuclear plants in favor of renewables. I just don't think the time to build new nuclear is here. The cheaper and faster solution is new renewables.
Storage is quite a bit more expensive than nuclear, and while the cost is dropping it has a long way to go. At the same time, new nuclear technologies like molten salt reactors could well drop the price of nuclear. For that to be a factor, we'd likely have to get more aggressive with licensing new nuclear technologies; i.e. we'd have to treat climate change with the urgency it deserves.
Here's a Lazard report on levelized cost of storage: https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019
I can get behind the idea of pushing for nuclear in the case of baseload and even in the case of high population density areas where wind/solar are simply not practical. But, if there is anywhere to dump a bunch of money, it is wind and solar. We can have those producing electricity within a year, easily. Even if you want to talk about manufacturing costs, those are payed back within 1->5 years. Still shorter than the timeframe to getting a new nuclear plant online.
I'm not saying this to be anti-nuclear. I think it was a great solution. I just think that solar and wind have become the better solutions (at least for the shorter term).
The deployment time is a solvable problem though. We've built nuclear faster in the past, and some places still do today. France converted to 80% nuclear in 20 years, South Korea has recently built modern reactors in about five years , and some new designs can be mass-produced in factories. Thorcon is working on building molten salt reactors in shipyards, at massive scale .
I do thing there is some peak amount of producible renewables that we aren't really anywhere near. New nuclear would work well to decrease the amount of new renewable build-out required year over year.
Particularly, I think nuclear is a great option for islands (Hawaii, for example) where land is at a premium anyways.
The optimist in me believes that we'll eventually get good enough at solving the unit commitment problem in the energy grid that we'll reduce the need for carbon-intensive peaking sources and eventually even eliminate nuclear power. But we're not there today.
Storage is a problem that simply needs to be solved for any green solution. Nuclear and wind included.
A big issue is that solar, wind, and nuclear simply don't play well together. Nuclear wants to be a base load, solar and wind push down the maximum base load feasible.
Without storage to smooth out the demand curve, you can't efficiently operate either.
I think the latter is more feasible without too much wind, since solar predictably goes to zero when demand is lowest. I don't think it's at all clear that a grid with high amounts of wind instead of nuclear would be cheaper.
Today, I agree that if we could make the switch overnight that solar + storage would probably be a lot more expensive than nuclear + storage.
However, who knows in 10 years. I could see liquid metal batteries becoming extremely economical.
Regulatory decisions seem to be made on the basis of hysteria moreso than scientific merit. For instance, that in the US secondary waste is treated equally as dangerous as primary waste, leading to ludicrous disposal costs. And nuclear 'waste' isn't even an issue with many modern reactor designs.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the _current_ cost of bringing a new nuclear plant online is astronomical, but that doesn't mean that the cost can't be brought down tremendously with sane regulation and modern designs. In many ways, the nuclear industry is still in its infancy (how many of the reactors operating worldwide right now are boiling water reactors, literally the oldest and most dangerous design??). No one expects nascent technologies to be cheap, you look to the future.
And beyond that, nuclear and solar/wind are not directly comparable. Solar/wind cannot provide the base load that nuclear is so apt at. What you really need to be comparing is a nuclear plant vs renewable PLUS energy storage. And last time I checked, grid-level energy storage is still extremely expensive.
I don't think you can dismiss nuclear so easily. Not by a longshot.
It still blows my mind that we found an almost magical solution to use of fossil fuels over 60 years ago and fumbled it so hard. Shame on big oil, shame on our regulatory agencies and politicians.
Agreed! Nuclear could be much cheaper were there not so much fear mongering and red tape in the path. Chernobyl and TMI taught us the wrong lesions as a society. However, fat chance getting those policies, politics, and activists minds changed to decrease those regulatory costs.
> And beyond that, nuclear and solar/wind are not directly comparable. Solar/wind cannot provide the base load that nuclear is so apt at. What you really need to be comparing is a nuclear plant vs renewable PLUS energy storage. And last time I checked, grid-level energy storage is still extremely expensive.
I don't discreet per say. However, for the US, most power grids simply aren't at the point where storage needs to be considered. A large portion of power is coming from fossil fuels (more than the tipping point where storage needs to be considered).
In those cases, the clear path forward that will cut carbon emissions the fastest is deployment of renewable tech. You can bring online new solar and wind plants in less than a year. Nuclear requires at least 10->20 years of time before it can be brought online (mostly due to all the regulations surrounding it).
Storage will enter the equation when a large percentage of the grid is renewable (30->50% someone cited). We simply aren't even near that point yet. However, even before we hit that point, natural gas can provide a stop gap to allow us to have even higher mixes of renewable generation.
Nuclear doesn't solve the storage problem. You still need a peaker plant with nuclear.
> It still blows my mind that we found an almost magical solution to use of fossil fuels over 60 years ago and fumbled it so hard. Shame on big oil, shame on our regulatory agencies and politicians.
Agreed. We SHOULD have been ramping up on nuclear usage. I would MUCH rather have to deal with localized nuclear waste problems vs our current issues with climate change. It was simply a societal failure that we didn't go nuclear for everything from the 1960 onward.
It was the best solution to climate change for nearly a half century and the very people that should have supported (environmentalist) killed it with fear mongering.
(Yes, of course we need to have electricity in hospitals and for heating 100% of the time - but if the newspapers are unavailable three days per year, or if some non-essential TV channels turn off when it's really cold - maybe not as bad.)
Natural gas is currently the peaker plant solution to renewables. The fact that more of these plants exist is primarily driven by the fact that larger portions of the grid are being pushed towards renewables.
A little bit of nuclear in the mix, plus storing biogas, and aggressively pursuing thermal solar is very important, IMO. It just isn't possible to overprovision wind enough to meet 99th percentile supply/demand mismatch, but having a few percent of nuclear base load really helps.
If we want people to stop burning natural gas and heating oil for their homes, and more to move to electric cars, we'll need a ton more base load, too.
Yes, nuclear can't compete with natural gas base load, but we want to stop burning so much natural gas, so...
Even with a pure nuclear grid, you'd still need a peaking source. That would be provided, probably, by natural gas or hydro if available.
A storage solution is simply required regardless of where the grid goes. I think that Liquid metal batteries look to be the best solution for grid level storage. (relatively cheap, super long life, if massively adopted would likely become a lot cheaper).
Gee, what are all these combined cycle gas plants that take 12-24 hours to start/shutdown, and require high duty cycle use to be economically competitive, if they're not base generation?
(Yes, I know we're starting to get faster combined cycle plants, but they're still not fast, and they still require to be producing power most of the time to be viable).
> Even with a pure nuclear grid, you'd still need a peaking source. That would be provided, probably, by natural gas or hydro if available.
I suggested use of biogas and hydro in the comment you replied to! Did you not read it, or just talked past it?
> A storage solution is simply required regardless of where the grid goes.
Sufficient overprovisioning of renewables and smart grid greatly reduces the amount of storage/peaking needed. A bit of reliable, carbon-neutral base load greatly reduces the amount of overprovisioning needed.
:) Fair point. I generally don't think of NG as being used for base load but you are correct.
> I suggested use of biogas and hydro in the comment you replied to! Did you not read it, or just talked past it?
I missed it in your original comment.
I've not looked in enough to biogas, honestly, to fairly say anything about it. Hydro is a little different though. It requires a lot of land and the right geography in order to work. While I think there are more places where you can add hydro, I think it they are generally running out. It also doesn't help that a lot of well meaning, but IMO wrong ;), environmentalist really oppose hydro for the effects it has on the river critters. That sort of red tape makes gums up new deployments about as bad as new nuclear deployments are gummed up.
That being said, states with a lot hydro in place (north west states, primarily) would be foolish, IMO, not to simply go all renewable. They already have the storage problem solved in the form of hydro power.
> Sufficient overprovisioning of renewables and smart grid greatly reduces the amount of storage/peaking needed. A bit of reliable, carbon-neutral base load greatly reduces the amount of overprovisioning needed.
Perhaps. You'd have to somehow incentivize some industrial businesses to participate in the grid smartly. For example, an electric smelter which only operates during overproduction periods. IDK, maybe the power companies get involved in the steal milling business.
You might be able to get there with things like smart ACs and electic car charging, but it seems like the required cost of deploying that sort of equipment would be pretty high (Higher than a special purpose steal mill? I'm not sure).
Yah, I'm not really saying to add hydro-- there's few opportunities to do this.
But lots of hydro installations are already suited to "peaker" use, where you draw from reservoir just when you need to, and many more can be adapted this way. (Really doing this effectively may require large capital costs to increase the amount of peak generation available from them, drawing down the reservoir more quickly).
> Perhaps. You'd have to somehow incentivize some industrial businesses to participate in the grid smartly. For example, an electric smelter which only operates during overproduction periods. IDK, maybe the power companies get involved in the steal milling business.
This already exists. You can get a big discount on your power if you are a big industrial customer and willing to be turned off with little notice. We need to extend this out to delaying house heat slightly, etc, electric car charging points, as you say.
> the required cost of deploying that sort of equipment would be pretty high
Ain't nothing compared to the capital cost of overprovisioning further or doing storage.
That's what I'm saying: use nuclear as part of a series of things to limit the amount of wind overprovisioning needed. We're going to have extra power during the day most of the time.
But the intermittency at night of wind alone is a big problem. It seems like burning some gas-- hopefully mostly biogas-- is part of the solution, along with leveraging hydroelectric to the maximum extent.
As we add things like electric heating and electric cars charging, etc-- nuclear has a big opportunity to address this increase in base load (and can be effectively combined with smart grid on these uses).
In the end, we cannot build out just wind fast enough, anyways, even if we ignore the overprovisioning required for availability. Might as well build out nuclear in parallel.
If everyone does it, then there would be no place to export excess, what do you do then?
You can always turn off renewables during periods of overproduction. Whether you build nuclear+renewables or just renewables, you need to overprovision the renewables and be willing to turn them off. You just have to do this more with only renewables.
(Of course, you'd want to use all available strategies to reduce required overprovisioning-- including maximizing use of dispatchable hydroelectric and biogas, some storage, and agreements with utility users to reduce usage during times of critical supply shortages).
We simply aren't at the point where there are enough renewables on the grid that adding more would ultimately cause more natural gas emissions. Until the renewable profile starts pushing into base load generation (particularly eating into green base loads like hydro and nuclear) then it is pretty much a pure win to add solar and wind. The natural gas peakers ultimately produce less CO2 with renewables than with base load fossil fuels.
However, there is a time where storage becomes the main issue. We aren't there yet. Until we hit that point, deploying as much solar and wind as possible is going to be the fastest, most efficient, and cheapest way to decrease our carbon footprint.
The lead time for new nuclear is 10->20 years. It is, frankly, too late for nuclear (at least without serious regulations overhaul). It might make sense to start building plants, but if we want to curb climate change then the only path is renewables.
thanks to their knee jerk reaction to nuclear one of the technologies (note that I say "one of", there is a range of choices, not an either/or black/white choice, as is so often case on internet discussions nowadays)
we ended up with more coal/oil power plants contributing towards climate change
nuclear could have been the bridging technology buying us decades to build up real renewables (and/or fusion) and provide base load, but no cant have that, ideology trumps pragmatism
The same attitude applies in engineering -- post-mortems aren't about assigning blame, they are about understanding the current state and how you'll address or mitigate any failures so they don't happen again.
If you want to be backwards looking, at least focus on what the lesson is and how you will turn that lesson into concrete actions that prevent the same failure case in the future.
There are about 100 nuclear plants in the United States generating 20% of the power.
Also, there really is something off-putting about leaving behind waste that lasts longer than civilisation has.
Still, currently electricity is way cheaper and much cleaner than in Germany. I certainly disagree with the amount of coal used in Germany.
Yes, the infrastructure is aging. Yes, it needs to be replaced ... with more nuclear power.
It has a proven track-record. It works well with the existing grid architecture (which avoids massive costs). It's eco-friendly.
The thing that prevents nuclear plants from being built is not nuclear technology, but rather public opinion. Revisionist comments like yours, are doing humanity a disservice.
And France will show, that you can't just replace nuclear reactors. They are certainly trying, but modern reactors are increadibly espensive. So they are currently building... one.
Gut instinct is that they were sponsored by shell corporations / charities to go after nuclear et. al. and leave other vested interests alone.
But, well, today is not 30 years ago, and the same way that nuclear power never could be the complete solution to carbon based fuels, today it is too late for them to even be a large component of it. So, today pushing for nuclear does more harm than good.
Outside of IPCC reports (which for all their process issues are generally fairly comprehensive and well written) and a small number of other scientific publications, there are few serious attempts to conduct objective cost/benefit analysis, rank order policy measures, etc. Instead, we have people who pretend science doesn't exist on one side and many of the same "environmentalists" who are, by virtue of their ideological stupidity, just as culpable for this mess as their opponents on the other. Given this state of affairs, I see no reasonable prospect of prevention. Instead, we will simply have more or less local mitigation solutions, which will work fairly well in the rich parts of the world and probably fail miserably in many of the poorer parts. The only silver lining here is that localized measures are far easier to implement as they require cooperation on a much smaller scale and, for the most part, will happen to avert dangers that will by then have become obvious to all.
You made the case for why you don't think nuclear can do any good (because it's too late), but what's the case for harm?
Building new nuclear just usn't the most effective use of limited capital to reduce emmisions at this point.
My understanding is that with any type of nuclear plant, in a non trustworthy country, it would still be dependent on importing the fuel from a nuclear state, making it quite unappealing and a security risk for the purchasing state.
That sounds to me, that every country should do its best to cut CO2 and not wait for others to lead first.
Edit: I suppose I should include a source. From the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
At the same time, you could replace all nuclear in the US currently operating in around three years (even compensating for capacity factor), solely from PV manufacturing capacity in the US. It is plainly obvious why nuclear is not included when renewables and at grid parity and the cost of utility scale storage is rapidly declining. Even if the cost decline of storage takes longer than expected, you can compensate with overbuilding, curtailment, transmission and demand response.
You ask why nuclear isn't being talked about. I can't fathom anyone thinking it's a real option compared to solar, wind, and battery storage, all of which are cheaper unsubsidized than nuclear today, can be manufactured and shipped where ever needed, and scaling up production is trivial (in comparison).
https://www.lazard.com/perspective/lcoe2019 (Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy and Levelized Cost of Storage 2019)
If Climate Change is so important, declare a total war against it like during WW2 against the Axis. With most production geared toward nuclear energy, you should have generator up and running a lot faster.
Why is the process much worse now?
That's with only four hours storage. That's a convenient amount since it's the excess typically generated by solar installations during the day, but to actually get through a windless night we might need more storage. Lazard's retail cost for storage alone is 48 to 104 cents/kWh. Plus you'll need extra solar dedicated to charging it.
At this point people often bring up long-distance transmission. The report happens to include that too, with a cost starting at $2.35/kWh wholesale and going way up from there.
None of this includes the overcapacity we'd need, to get through cloudy winter weeks.
Lazard puts nuclear's cost at 12 to 19 cents/kWh but it's unclear whether that's retail cost; I suspect so since I only pay 12 cents/kWh on a grid that's heavy on nuclear.
Wind/solar is very cheap when the grid is still mostly fossil, but to run a reliable carbon-free grid in areas without abundant hydro, nuclear is still cheaper. The cheapest combination is probably nuclear to the level of minimum nighttime load, and renewables for everything beyond that, without just enough storage to even out remaining discrepancies with demand.
There's also heating, air conditioning, street lights, etc. Aluminum plants, which can't shut down more than 4-5 hours without major damage from the metal solidifying.
Before long, electric vehicles charging in people's garages at night; it'd be nice if we used them to supply the grid at night but that would require parking lots full of charging stations where everybody works, plus new infrastructure in people's houses, and some kind of incentive to get people to bother. All that costs money too.
I think that you may have confused PV manufacturing capacity in the US with global PV manufacturing capacity.
The US generated 807 TWh from nuclear power in 2018 . If solar farms achieve a good-but-realistic capacity factor of 25%, you need 368 gigawatts of modules  to produce 807 TWh per year. That's about 3 years' worth of global module production at 2019 production rates. US domestic module production is currently below 10 GW per year.
 (807000 / (24*365)) / 0.25 = 368. Actually you need a bit more because most solar farms report capacity factor on an AC basis, and the inverter loading ratio is greater than 1.0. But close enough for a quick estimate.
If you could replace it all in 3 years, wouldn’t we be better off replacing 20% of coal power over 3 years and wait a little longer on the nuclear power?
If your math is right, half the grid would be zero carbon in 5 years.
Coal power is going away, full stop, due to the cheap cost of natural gas and renewables. It is not cost competitive. Natural gas throttles fast; it's why California can have such a steep Duck Curve  and support GWs of solar generation capacity. It is a great stop gap until batteries catch up.
Utility scale generating plants coming online over the next year (green = wind, yellow = solar) https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/images/figure_6_01_c...
Utility scale generating retirements over the next year (gray = coal) https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/images/figure_6_01_d...
 https://www.nrel.gov/news/program/2018/10-years-duck-curve.h... (Ten Years of Analyzing the Duck Chart:
How an NREL Discovery in 2008 Is Helping Enable More Solar on the Grid Today)
Europe has enough wind potential to power the world .
"Taking into consideration socio-technical constraints, which restricts 54% of the combined land area in Europe, the study reveals a nameplate capacity of 52.5 TW of untapped onshore wind power potential in Europe - equivalent to 1 MW per 16 European citizens – a supply that would be sufficient to cover the global all-sector energy demand from now through to 2050."
Maybe capitalism isn't the right model for energy? Or, if you are a die hard capitalist, maybe we aren't costing externalities correctly and we should get some folks in power who will ensure that the right options are also the cost competitive options?
"Doing nothing often has a cost — and when it comes to storing the nation’s nuclear waste, the price is $38 billion and rising.
That’s just the lowball estimate for how much taxpayers will wind up spending because of the government’s decades of dithering about how to handle the radioactive leftovers sitting at dozens of sites in 38 states. The final price will be higher unless the government starts collecting the waste by 2020, which almost nobody who tracks the issue expects.
The first $15 billion is what the government spent on a controversial nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain until the Obama administration scrapped the project. The other $23 billion is the Energy Department’s estimate of the damages the government will have to pay to nuclear power utilities, which for the past 30 years have paid a fee to DOE on the promise that the feds would begin collecting their waste in 1998.
Industry argues that the damages are closer to $50 billion — which raises the bottom line to $65 billion including the money spent on Yucca."
So we're going to build more reactors you say? Where will that waste go? This is not an issue with renewables and batteries.
Your original assertion:
> but then we're also not costing decommissioning of nuclear generators or the waste disposal either.
But we are costing and accumulating funds for that purpose.
> the final price will be higher unless the government starts collecting the waste by 2020, which almost nobody who tracks the issue expects.
You're now complaining that costs are accruing to utilities because the other money we've collected isn't being spent. This means we're effectively double costing the storage/disposal.
I disagree with that precise statement, BTW. The final price in current dollars for final disposal will decrease the more time the waste has sit in spent fuel pools and cooled. Not that this is a great thing to be doing.
Fair, but in my mind this is why globalism is a thing -- because it doesn't account for the exploitation of human labor and lack of regulation. If it did, there would be no reason to ship a few dollars of plastic from China to the USA.
So it might be more efficient to make a large investment in the American railroad network and start removing trucks from the road, than to start making toothbrushes in the US.
Some back of the envelope math:
- Distance China to US East Coast ≈ 10 000 km
- Weight of 1 toothbrush = 10 gram = 0.0001 tonne
30 g * 10 000 km * 0.0001 tonne = 30 gram of Co2
30 gram of Co2 is the amount of Co2 emissions from ≈ 100 meter of travel with an average car.
Of course there is secondary land transport from the port etc. But even though the sea shipping industry is one of the biggest Co2 emitters (not to speak of other nasty stuff ), it's still incredibly energy efficient.
: You saying the ships are "diesel-spewing" is actually doing the ships a favour, it's usually heavy fuel oil.
> Who is going to pay to build the local factories for everything your local drug store stocks
The manufacturer is going to pay for it by selling their products to drug stores.
> Wont all of those thousands of local toothbrush factories worldwide pollute even more than a single toothbrush factory worldwide?
How so? Even if there was a single manufactory in Oklahoma it could serve the entire country at a fraction of the environmental cost.
I understand that price doesn't take externalities into effect. That said price is the best way we have to allocate resources - it conveys that information better then any other tool we have. If price indicates to people that toothbrushes should be made in China and shipped to the U.S. then I tend to think that's probably the most efficient way to do it.
It's a think tank working on handling the climate crisis with excellent, pragmatic, efficiency-focused studies, without ideologies or dogma. They have recently been known to put some numbers on the CO2 emissions caused by the digital industry, that is less visible but very real (4 percent of total emissions, 4x more than air travel!)
They have Jean-Marc Jancovici in the management, who also founded Carbone 4 - a consulting firm working on enabling companies to make their transition to a carbon-neutral world. He's an original figure among ecologists in France because he pleads in favor of nuclear energy in France, to avoid emitting CO2 (it's mainly thanks to nuclear energy that France emits 7 times less CO2 for the same amount of electricity produced compared to the OECD). I highly recommend
When the developed world can gradually reduce CO2 emissions, China, India and the rest of the developing world will continue to increase emissions.
Since that won't happen - we are royally screwed.
If we could go back in time and the US had the option at the time of using today's technology, and they chose not to, we would condemn them.
Pick some maximum acceptable total level of atmospheric greenhouse gases. Fair would be for each country to be allowed to emit greenhouse gases up to the point that their share of the total in the atmosphere is equal to that total acceptable level divided by the country's population.
Even if you decide to pick a pretty high acceptable total, you'll find that the US is already way over its share, and the developing world countries are all way under their shares. The US has emitted about 8 times as much total as India, for example, and about 4 times as much total as China.
Fair, then, is either for (1) the US to not only cut emissions to zero, but to also implement massive carbon capture to get its cumulative emissions back down to its fair share, so that developing countries can use their fair shares for development, or for (2) the US and other developed countries to kick in to pay for the developing countries to build green infrastructure so that they can develop without making use of cheap non-green energy.
The Paris Agreement includes provisions along the lines of #2.
The other problem is that this incentivizes population increases since energy is the limiting factor for a developed nation's GDP and they can effectively raise their limit by having more children. That's not a good thing either and goes directly against the fertility declines that are about the only good news we have.
Per capita is one way to slice it, but it's not the definition of "fair."
Just citing spot price in price/kwh is not telling the truth about total cost. You need to build energy storage, grids and extra capacity to fix the fluctuation of renewable availability.
Chunks of brown coal to used in heating and cooking will be cheaper than renewables for as long as I can see. Only infrastructure cost is a road for the truck to deliver coal.
Elites don't want to stop global warming, they've spent billions of dollars trying to stop a response to global warming.
Ordinary people say they want to do something about global warming but if it inconveniences them such as an increase in gas taxes, they will riot in the streets. (See the Yellow Shirts in France.)
The conspicuous inability of governments to make elites feel a little pain (Macron and the wealth tax) means that governments have no legitimacy with which to demand sacrifices from anybody else. Thus you see "last straw" rebellions just about anywhere when there is an unpopular change, say a 4% increase in subway fares.
With geoengineering you only need to scrape together a few billion a year which could be done by a small group of elites or governments (if Bloomberg didn't waste his time and money and reputation running for pres he could do it...)
The best part of it is that a credible threat to Geoengineer might solve the collective action problem for other interventions:
As for all the reasons why geoengineering is seen as a "cop-out" note that if it's really an extinction worth rebelling about, then we have to use "all means necessary" and that includes solar radiation management.
Governments are not moving quickly enough on climate change with small incremental changes over time. However, people and organizations who champion these efforts can pressure governments to drive faster change.
To protect humanity now and for the future of our posterity I am committing to the following.
- I pledge to limit eating red meat. I will restrict intake of cows and lambs etc.
- If I choose to have children, I will have 2 or less.
- I will try to use cycling or mass transit options whenever possible and to participate in efforts to expand transit.
- I will restrict flying to only when necessary and try to limit flying to only when no other choice is available. If I do fly I will try to offset all emissions.
- I will try my utmost to conserve energy and minimize use of heating and cooling appliances.
- I will try my best to limit energy use to renewable sources when I have the choice. When I cannot choose I will fight for the ability to have this choice.
- I will try to help those close to me understand these choices and the need for those able, to also join the pledge.
- I will only consume what I need. I will not perpetuate extravagance and will only support companies who champion sustainable efforts.
- I will do my best to strive for and support sustainable and minimalist technology.
- I will stay involved in the public discourse on environmental issues and stay engaged on efforts to mitigate climate change.
I'm not fully convinced. When you know better, you do better. And we now know better.
"A did a stupid thing to achieve X result, therefore B must be allowed to do the same stupid thing" is not a great argument.
There's more than one way to create economic value.
Is the argument to have less kids to save the planet not just population control propaganda?
Cratering energy prices makes it more affordable for developing nations to rapidly industrialize which is a one way street towards massive emissions until a sustainable solution is realized.
Climate Policy is a classic example of how the prisoner's dilemma can cause a tragedy of the commons. I personally don't see how it can be solved in a world where there is intense competition.
I think if everyone was doing their best to conserve, they would be a lot more upset when they see others and corporations undoing their good work. Right now it's hard to judge others for doing the same thing we do but on a bigger scale.
Start by not using the internet. Thank you in the name of 7bn humans.
Coastal cities are going to move.
The +9m to +31m isn't from simulations. It's from ice core sample and sediment analysis.
"Most estimates of global mean sea-level rise this century fall below 2 m."
Also, looking at which countries _are_ having the most success (if any), would help to show which strategies work better than others (e.g. the nuclear debate).
The first state to do it will see its economy shrink, and it will be bought by other who do not.
Also, it is possible for a country to become greener without shrinking its economy. There's a lot of economic theory that public investment brings public and private growth. Green infrastructure supporting green industries is already profitable in many places.
The US can do better, but China and much of the developing world isn’t exactly helping.
New growth forests are good at capturing carbon short term, but established forests aren't as good as the rate of growth is slower and there is more tree decay & decomposition of organic matter releasing C=2. In some places, and more common due to climate change, a forest fire will sweep through a forest and undo all that carbon capture.
If we use trees for fuel it is closing most of the cycle for that carbon, less ancillary fuel use for harvesting, producton & transport, but that doesn't solve the production from other sources. If we use wood for building & materials then the carbon capture is longer, but that's a small fraction of the CO2 capture needed.
What most people don't realize is the trees that exist today are all "new", as in are less than a few hundred years old. The trees that were cut down in the 18th and 19th century are unlike anything you'd see today. Far, far bigger and longer lived, on time-scales that we're really not used to dealing with.
These capture carbon and store it for hundreds of years. When they die they will decay and be recycled back into the forest floor and soil, not necessarily burned off and released as CO2.
Sure, a half-hearted tree-planting effort is not going to solve the problem, but a more ambitious reforestation plan with an emphasis on carbon-sequestering trees instead of those trees intended to be harvested every 20-40 years could make a huge difference.
We cut down trees and burned fuels. Planting trees only undoes one of those two.
This kind of facile response radically underestimates the magnitude of what we have to reverse.
The problem is that we keep pulling carbon out of the ground and introducing it into the ecosystem. If we don't have a corresponding method of removing it from the ecosystem, we'll eventually run out of room for forests that we can use to store it. Some of that happens by natural means, but we'd have a bit more breathing room if we could figure out how to make it happen faster.
After the apocalypse a new civilization might find them again as coal and to start the cycle again.