Re: [asa] World sets ocean temperature record

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Sun Aug 23 2009 - 19:24:07 EDT

Heya Rich,

Here's one problem I have with the suggestion you lay out: No one seems to
be talking about nuclear. At all. And I'm talking among the people who are
urging action, action, action on AGW. (Indeed, most of the action they urge
seems to come down to bureaucratic suggestions or "global initiatives" or
other such. And that's when I start to wonder if AGW is really the central
concern for many of the louder people.) This is doubly a concern since
nuclear power isn't exactly an option environmentalists (along with the
public in general) are known for being all excited about, and James
Lovelock's experience has to me demonstrated that even suggesting nuclear
power carries with it a risk as far as these groups go. Hey, just look at
what's going on with Yucca to this day. So I'm not really encouraged by the
idea that the nuclear issue will sort itself out. I'd be at the very least
encouraged if nuclear was being given a prominent place in the discussion of
these solutions, and as I said, I'm not even seeing that.

Mind you, I also think there's an argument to be had for not making any
massive changes or legislative approaches to the issue, even granting AGW.
But even if that argument became compelling, I still view nuclear ('regular'
nuclear plants and the mini-reactors) as an elephant in the room precisely
because it's a viable option, a tested technology we already have on hand,
and one which has been held back by what strike me as unjustified fears. And
as I said, this strikes me as a worthwhile path to walk down even if the
realization is "AGW isn't something we should be taking action on, or at
least it shouldn't be a major world/national priority." Once AGW is on the
table and treated as a serious, major concern, it nearly becomes a
no-brainer. (That was the other problem I had with Kyoto, which I'm glad you
recognize some problems with. If AGW is such a tremendous threat, leading to
almost doomsday scenarios in the future (and again, there are people who
have made these claims), why play politics with China and India's

And that could be yet another case of "the same people" and avoiding pain.
As in, some of same people who are demanding action on AGW are standing in
the way of nuclear solutions - and seem to want to pursue a path where
carbon is reduced, industry is pulled back, and any thoughts of alternative
power methods are at most a distant second concern. Or worse, have some
delusion that anything a nuclear power plant can do, wind power can do

Anyway, what I'm saying here is that nuclear should be getting discussed
right now and directly. Even if you believe that market forces after an AGW
bill is passed will naturally lead to increased pressure to start building
nuclear plants (and frankly, we should have been starting work on these
things years ago), that just means that a serious discussion about nuclear
is going to be inevitable. So why not do it now? I mean, I am excited at the
prospect of stirling engines, of alternative energy sources, of a more
efficient solar solution, etc. But those strike me as 'maybe someday'
solutions, and AGW proponents are insisting present action is needed.

On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 6:49 PM, Rich Blinne <> wrote:

> On Sun, Aug 23, 2009 at 4:09 PM, Schwarzwald <>wrote:
>> Rich,
>> Then perhaps you'll realize that the reason for the discussion over AGW
>> being such a mess isn't just because there's this group of "denialists" out
>> there and, darn it, they're messing the whole debate up. Just as I think
>> it's tremendously naive to believe that ID proponents came along and
>> politicized science/corrupted science with philosophical and theological
>> spin, whereas before there were hard and fast rules about what was and
>> wasn't science that all sides respected.
>> Because you happen to say that the "what do we do now" question is fair
>> game. For others, what we do now is utterly clear, and the only question is
>> "how do we get it done". I've seen AGW proponents complaining that AGW has
>> become politicized in part *by proponents* who talk about imminent doomsday
>> scenarios and the like, or go far beyond what can be reasonably taken from
>> the models and science, etc. And if this is true - if there are people who
>> are more than willing to exaggerate AGW claims or predictions - then right
>> there you can see the opening for AGW deniers to work in. Because every
>> exaggeration they knock down, along with every apparent hijacking of the
>> issue for political reasons they highlight, helps feed into skepticism.
>> Skepticism which in turn may go over the top itself.
>> Anyway, you don't have to convince me personally about the existence of
>> global warming. For the hell of it I'm willing to accept that it's related
>> to CO2 and is man-made. What do you think should be done about it? I already
>> admitted I'm a fan of nuclear power being pushed in a big way. It's an
>> existing, tested technology that would directly address the problem, though
>> I understand those things take a long time to build. (Maybe not so long with
>> the mini-nukes? Or the micro-nukes, though I'm not sure they exist yet.)
> Of the various options: cap and trade, carbon tax, R&D tax credits,
> government-run development programs, I prefer cap and trade because it's the
> most market-based and the government sucks at picking winners and losers.
> But that's the easy part because the devil truly is in the details on cap
> and trade. When a politician says that they want cap and trade you need to
> push them for more details.
> We've had two major experiences with cap and trade one utterly and
> completely successful and another more mediocre experience. Let's start with
> the success story first. In the 80s and 90s we had a terrible acid rain
> problem. To solve this problem the George H.W. Bush Administration proposed
> and passed a cap and trade on SO2 emissions for power plants. The EXACT SAME
> people and organizations who now are skeptical of AGW and that cap and trade
> will destroy the economy stated back then that power plants didn't cause
> acid rain and even if they did the economy would be destroyed if we
> implemented it. Acid rain was solved faster and with less money than was
> originally predicted. Why? Because the power companies were falling all over
> themselves coming up with innovative ways to get rid of SO2. A 2003 OMB
> study done by the Bush Administration concluded when we looked at health
> improvement that we got $40 of benefit for every $1 spent. Electrical rates
> did not spike like the nay sayers said they would.
> Now for the less positive experience. Europe tried cap and trade under
> Kyoto. This has not produced the reductions of CO2 has hoped and the price
> of Carbon crashed in their market. We're not quite sure what went wrong but
> the most likely problem was one of leakage with too many free credits at the
> beginning. The reason why there was too many free credits is politicians
> rarely if ever want to get real with people that there will be pain. So, you
> hear things like there will be green collar jobs as far as the eye shall
> see. No pain. Just a growing economy and a vibrant environment. Bull.
> The problem with a zero leakage approach is poor people get hammered by it.
> The price of energy will go up despite the cleverness of the market. What
> that means is there needs to be transfer payments to the poor to deal with
> the greater expense. This makes it more expensive for the wealthy but the
> wealthy can more easily change their behavior to purchase new technology
> that is initially more expensive. Such an approach is in the Waxman bill.
> As for your preference for nuclear power, cap and trade makes such
> technologies more preferable since nuclear is more expensive than coal. Cap
> and trade makes nuclear more competitive since its a zero emitter. Ergo,
> more nuclear power plants. Other technologies that may work are (if the
> market in its wisdom thinks I am not all wet) Stirling external combustion
> engines in conjunction with parabolic solar collectors (this will help
> Detroit) and decentralized technologies like you mentioned (the smart grid
> work in the Stimulus package will help here).
> The Waxman bill seems to accommodate the successes and failures mentioned
> above. Is it the best possible bill? No. Is the best we can get out of the
> Congress? Probably.
> Rich Blinne
> Member ASA

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Received on Sun Aug 23 19:24:54 2009

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