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CO2, the life giving gas, not “Carbon Pollution”. A Limerick – and explanation.

CO2, the life-giving gas, not “Carbon Pollution”. A Limerick – and explanation.

What then is this “Carbon Pollution”?

A sinister, evil collusion?

CO2, it is clean,

Makes for growth, makes it green,

A transfer of wealth, a solution.

Let me first state I am serious about this Limerick. It is not even tongue in cheek. I am an engineer by training and look at the earth as a “living” organism that responds to changes in its environment.

First, the increase in CO2 concentration itself and how nature responds to it.

Second, the effect it has on the earth’s temperature and all its consequences, and finally

Third, the acidification of the oceans.

CO2 concentration has increased from about 280 ppm in pre-industrial times to nearly 400 ppm today, and is increasing at a rate of 2 ppm per year. We are way past the point of no return, 350 ppm which would lead to a temperature catastrophe. (1) But instead, something rather interesting is occurring. The earth is getting greener! (2) This 40 % increase in CO2 the last 250 years has led to a more than 30 % increase in agricultural production all by itself without adding fertilizer or using higher yielding seeds. (3) Thanks to this we can now feed an additional two billion people on earth without starvation. The news are so good, that the per capita food production is increasing, even as the population is increasing. (4)

Look at it this way. The value of basic agricultural products is more than 1.5 trillion dollars worldwide. 30% of that is due to increased CO2. That means that the CO2 emitted is worth 450 billion dollars, spread out over all farmers and ranchers worldwide. This wealth transfer is occurring right now, and knows no national boundary. It is a gift from the developed countries to the rest of the world. Who could be against that?

It turns out that this wealth transfer occurs without global governance. The leaders of the world will not have their say in who gets the wealth transfer, the U.N. bureaucrats will not get their cut, and politicians cannot get a campaign issue since it  occurs without their involvement.

So to recapture the initiative they renamed this life-giving gas “Carbon pollution” and managed somehow to get the Supreme Court to agree with the notion that CO2 is a pollutant.

How can that be? They argued that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which is true. It is second only to water vapor. It is responsible for about 9 degree Celsius rise in global temperature, and if CO2 increases, so does the greenhouse effect and the temperature increases. This in turn leads to more water vapor in the air, and water vapor is the strongest greenhouse gas, so there is a risk of reaching a “tipping point” when we could experience a thermal runaway of the planet. All of this is true, so U.N. and many governments around the world have sponsored studies to model  climate change, over a hundred models have been constructed, and they all come up with rather gloomy forecasts. The research is so intense that over 3 billion dollars of government monies are spent yearly on climate change research.

All models show a similar pattern, a fairly steep and more or less linear rise in temperature as CO2 increases. There is only one major thing wrong with them. They do not agree with what is happening to the global temperature. We have now had 200 months without any global warming, in fact, the trend is down. (5)

What is wrong with the models? They all assume a passive earth, where there is no negative feedback to the changing environment. It turns out, the earth has a “governor”, and it can be expressed in one word, albedo, which means “whiteness” or how much of the incoming sunlight that gets reflected back into space.

The major albedo changers are the amount of ice around the poles and clouds, but even land use changes such as forests cut down and replaced by agriculture and urbanization.

When there is snow or ice on the ground, more sunlight gets reflected and it gets colder still. Urban heat islands are warmer than the surroundings, airports are warmer than its surroundings. Interestingly, that is where we are placing our new weather stations. (This is great for pilots that have to evaluate take-off and landing conditions, but is less than ideal for climate research. But then again, climate research has moved from the realm of physical science to political science, where different rules do apply.)

The most important albedo changers of the earth are clouds. Without them no land based life would be possible since clouds serve both as rainmakers and temperature stabilizers. If there were no clouds the equilibrium temperature at the equator would be around 140 degrees F.

Over the oceans, in the so called “doldrums” where there are no trade winds, the mornings start with a warm-up, and when the conditions are right a shower or thunderstorm occurs. The ambient temperature is usually between 84 and 88 degrees when this happens. As CO2 concentrations increase thunderstorms occur a few minutes earlier and last a little bit longer, but they are no more severe and as a result the average temperature stays the same. (5)

In desert areas of the world this temperature regulator doesn’t work well, so deserts will receive the full force of temperature increase which is 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit per doubling of CO2 levels.

In the temperate region the temperature increase will be somewhere in between. Dry days will be warmer, cloudy and rainy days will have the same temperature as before, since the regulator starts to function.

The polar region is a special case. None of the models have done a good job at modeling the clouds at the poles, especially the South Pole. (6) They will warm up more than 2 degrees F, how much is a question. In the South average temperatures will rise from – 70 degrees F in the interior all the way to maybe – 63 degrees F, and come closer to freezing in the summer at the northern edges. There may be added snowfall that will expand the ice sheet. The Antarctic ice sheet has set new records since record keeping began, and is at the moment bottoming out at 30% more ice than the 30 year average. (7)

The North Pole region is even more complicated since it is partially land, partially ocean. The oceanic ice cap has been shrinking  at a fairly constant rate the last 30 years, but last year it broke the trend and grew back to break the trend line. The winter snow cap has remained at about the same level year to year with a slightly positive trend line, this year being no exception.  So, why is the snow cover growing slightly, but ice cover shrinking? The common explanation has been global warming, but the ice cover kept shrinking even as the temperature increase leveled off. There are two possible explanations: Warming oceans and changes in pollution. The North Atlantic Oscillation has been mostly positive (warmer) since 1970 and has only recently turned negative, so that is certainly part of the cause of the shrinking of the icecap, but another candidate is even more likely: Carbon Pollution. With that I do not mean CO2, but good old soot, spewing out from the smokestacks of  power plants in China. 45% of all coal burned is burned in China, often low grade lignite with no scrubbers. The air in Beijing is toxic to humans more days than not. Some of that soot finds its way to the arctic and settles on the ice, changing its albedo, and the sun has a chance to melt the ice more efficiently. This occurs mostly in the months of August and September when the Sun is at a low angle anyway, so the changing of the albedo has very little effect on temperature. The net result of all this is that the temperature in the North Pole region will rise about 3 degrees Fahrenheit for a doubling of the CO2. This will have a very minor effect on the Greenland ice cap since they are nearly always way below freezing anyway (-28 degree C average). The largest effect will happen in August and September in the years when all new snow has melted and the soot from years past is exposed. This happened two years ago with a sudden drop in albedo for the Greenland ice. It will also lead to an increase in the precipitation in the form of snow, so the net result is the glaciers may start growing again if the amount of soot can be reduced.

The conclusion is: The temperature regulator of the earth is working quite well, and the increase in temperature at the poles is welcome as it lessens the temperature gradient between the tropics and the polar regions, which in turn reduces the severity of storms, since they are mostly generated by temperature differences and the different density of warm, humid and dry, cold air. (8) The Polar Bears will do quite well, their numbers have more than doubled in the last 50 years.

What about ocean acidification? As CO2 increases, a lot of it will be absorbed in the oceans, thereby making the oceans more acid. This is true, but CO2 is a very mild acid and has a minor acidic influence. Of much more importance is acid rain. At one time in the 70’s some lakes in Norway had a Ph. of about 4.5, enough to kill most trout fishes. In Sweden it was said they fertilized their rivers and lakes four times as much as tilled soil, leading to significant acidification of both the Baltic and the North Sea. The Baltic Sea is still in danger of total oxygen depletion. By comparison to these dangers CO2 in the ocean is only a very minor disturbance. Clean the rivers and lakes first!

Oh, and one more thing. The sea level rise is a natural phenomenon of tectonic plate movements, the Atlantic Ridge is rising and the Eastern Seaboard is sinking.  These movements will continue to occur regardless of the climate.

John Kerry said in Indonesia the other day: “The science is unequivocal, and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand. We don’t have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society.  And in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.

The opposite is true, increased levels of CO2 is a major vehicle of wealth distribution.

The increase in temperature is manageable and even desirable in most regions of the world, desert areas and areas prone to flooding being the exception.

In conclusion:

CO2 is a clean gas, necessary for life, and an increase in the amount of CO2 is highly desirable.

The very minor increase in temperature is on balance beneficial, since it leads to a less violent climate, with fewer storms, hurricanes and tornadoes.

The increase in CO2 makes us able to feed another 2 billion people on earth, not to mention additional wildlife.

Ocean acidification is a problem, not so much from CO2, but from sulfuric acid, nitrates and other pollutants.

The increase in precipitation is beneficial, except in areas already prone to flooding. It is especially welcome in arid areas.

On the other hand the great conservationist SARAH PALIN once said: “We’ve got to remind Americans that the effort has got to be even greater today toward conservation because these finite resources that we’re dealing with obviously – once oil is gone it’s gone, once gas is gone, it’s gone. And I think our nation has really become kind of spoiled in that arena.”[Fox News, Hannity's America, 10/12/08]

Coal, oil, peat, wood  and natural gas are our best raw material to sustain life as we know it, and are far to valuable to waste on electricity production, so let us switch electricity production to thorium based nuclear energy (8). Coal can be converted to jet fuel and gasoline, air planes have no alternative fuels.

I welcome constructive comments. Tell me where I am going wrong. I have done my very best to look at what is really happening to the earth and from there draw conclusions, rather than rely on climate models.

Notes:

(1). This is a message from 1010global.org. Their aim was to reduce carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.

http://lenbilen.com/2014/02/22/a-religious-message-from-1010global-org-and-a-limerick/

(2). The earth is getting greener!  http://lenbilen.com/2013/03/19/co2-the-solution-to-climate-change/

(3).

greenearthhigh_resolution1

(4).

chart11-2

(5). Reality versus climate models.CMIP5-73-models-vs-obs-20N-20S-MT-5-yr-means1(6) Projected cloud cover for various climate models versus reality.Cloudmodels

(7)

seaice.recent.antarctic46

(8).

uah-lower-troposphere-temperature

(9). http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-and-earthquakes-how-to-make-it-safer-and-better/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-based-nuclear-power-generation/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-more-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-as-nuclear-fuel/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-why-we-chose-uranium-over-thorium-and-ended-up-in-this-mess-time-to-clean-up/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/31/energy-from-thorium-save-500-million-from-the-budget-now/

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The wonderful planet Earth, complete with thermostat. Or is it out of control without human intervention?

The wonderful planet Earth, complete with thermostat. Or is it out of control without human intervention?

Climate Change is again making the news. During the February 13 broadcast of CBS This Morning, host Charlie Rose and his guest turned to the topic of this year’s harsh winter, calling the extreme cold an example of global warming.

Guest Michio Kaku, a physics professor from New York City College–not a climatologist, but a michio_kaku_ATSMIXphysicist– specializing in paranormal phenomena like ‘telepathytelekinesis and mind reading’ claimed that the “wacky weather” could get “even wackier” and it’s all because of global warming. “What we’re seeing is that the jet stream and the polar vortex are becoming unstable. Instability of historic proportions. We think it’s because of the gradual heating up of the North Pole. The North Pole is melting,” professor Kaku said.

“That excess heat generated by all this warm water is destabilizing this gigantic bucket of cold air… So that’s the irony, that heating could cause gigantic storms of historic proportions,” the prof. explained.

This was all because of global warming, Rose insisted….

CBS Host Norah O’Donnell also took the occasion of the discussion to claim that 2014 will be the hottest summer ever.

Yesterday, Feb. 13. John Paul Holdren, the senior advisor to President Barack Obama on science John_Holdren_official_portrait_smalland technology issues through his roles as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology spoke to reporters  about President Obama’s one billion (with a “b) dollar Climate Resilience Plan and made the following statement: Without any doubt, the severe drought plaguing California and a number of other states across the country is tied to climate change.

Among his other ramblings he came up with this priceless gem:

Weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change.

This is Holdren’s Law of Climate Causation, all you need to know about droughts and such … weather practically everywhere is being caused by climate change.

These are the people advising Obama on science. So, in his State of the Union message Obama made the following statement regarding the environment:

“Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet.  Over theslide_335202_3370024_free past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.  But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods.  That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.  The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way.  But the debate is settled.  Climate change is a fact.  And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

Of all the claims and statements Obama made during his hour long speech, this was the paragraph slide_335202_3370002_freenose
that received the largest difference in an audience tested poll between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats reacted more than 70% favorable, Republicans not so much, the approval was less than 10%.

Why is that? What is it in our respective world views that make such a difference?

Let us take a look at how most Democrats view the world and climate and contrast that with how most Republicans see it:

(Full disclosure: I am a Christian and take the God given call to be stewards of this earth very seriously, and I too want to leave this world a better place than I entered it.)

Democrats believe:

Climate Change is real. The scientific debate is over. Anyone disagreeing with this is still part of the flat earth society. (Obama, Al Gore, John Kerry, et. al. ) Kerry also calls Climate Change  our most terrifying weapon of mass destruction (Indonesia, Feb. 17, 2014)

 CO2 is a pollutant, and this pollution has been given a new name, “Carbon Pollution” The “environmentalists” have successfully convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that it is, and can thus be regulated. (D1)

The earth is heating up rapidly due to increased amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere. If we do nothing the earth will be between 3 and 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the year 2100. (D2).

The earth is overpopulated with over 7 billion people. A sustainable level would be somewhere between 700 million and 2.5 billion, and UN’s Agenda 21 will lead the way to reduce the world’s population. To this effect birth control, abortion on demand, euthanasia, and education on the evils of “excessive” procreation must be enforced. Alternate lifestyles such as LGBT must be given social preference. The conventional family unit is the greatest hindrance to achieving these goals. (D3)

Increased CO2 levels may cause the earth to reach a tipping point with the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps melting off, causing catastrophic sea level rise (300 feet or so) (D4)

Storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts floods and all kinds of extreme weather is increasing. 

The coming temperature rise will render large areas of the globe uninhabitable.

97% of active Climate Scientists agree global warming/climate change is caused by human activities. (D7)

Increased CO2 levels causes ocean acidification threatening coral reefs and all marine life. (D8)

We must develop alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal, but not nuclear. And indeed we have. Under Obama Solar has gone from 0.02% to 0.2% at a cost of more than three times conventional source development, Wind power has increased and is now approaching 5% , but depends heavily on subsidies. Geothermal is small and we have not completed a new nuclear plant since the Three Mile Island debacle.(D9)

We must invest heavily in alternate fuels like ethanol and biofuel. Not only that, its use should be heavily subsidized by the taxpayer. (D10)

Do not approve the Keystone XL pipeline! It will enable Canada to exploit the tar sands economically. The tar sands are one of the dirtiest crude oils ever discovered. It is an environmental hazard to transport it anywhere. (D11)

Don’t frack!  It poisons the underground water supply. But if you do, do it only for natural gas, not oil, and don’t touch Federal land! (D12)

Keep your hands off ANWR! Areas set aside for wildlife refuges must remain undeveloped forever! (D13)

Energy independence is a pipe dream, but it should be pursued anyway by regulating energy use, discontinue incandescent light bulbs, make smaller, lighter cars, making a smart grid that can tell you when to use air conditioning or the clothes dryer, etc. (D14)

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle! (D15)

Regulate, Regulate, Federal Regulate! (D16)

Republicans believe:

Climate change is real, has been and always will be. The question is: Is it getting warmer or colder, and is that good or bad? The so called consensus is anything but.

CO2 is not a pollutant; it is no more a pollutant than Oxygen and both are necessary for life. Carbon pollution is real and is called soot and comes from smokestacks in China, which by now burn 45% of the world’s coal. (R1)

The temperature of the earth is cyclical. There have been ice ages and warm periods in the past. It was warmer in the Roman and Medieval warm period than it is now. It was colder in the little ice age, then warmer till 1950, then cooling, then warming in the 80’s and 90’s. In the last 18 years global temperatures have been more or less constant and we are now entering a 40+ year cooling period. Though CO2 causes warming its effect is minor and mostly beneficial. There have been ice ages in the past where the concentration of CO2 was ten times higher than it is now. (R2)

The best way to stabilize the world’s population is by encouraging energy production, which is closely tied to quality of living. With stable and secure futures people naturally limit the size of their families. A well informed but free family unit is best suited to achieve this. (R3)

Increased CO2 levels lead to a greener environment. We can now feed 2 billion more people without starvation thanks to the increase in CO2 levels. Photosynthesis works more efficiently and uses less water in the process, so it becomes less sensitive to seasonal droughts, reduces erosion and helps stabilize the climate through evapotranspiration where there was only dry land before. The earth is getting greener. (R4)

With increased CO2 levels, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts are becoming less severe. The jury is still out on floods, they may increase. Extreme weather will decrease. (R5)

The tropics has found its temperature. The temperature was more or less the same as it is now during the ice age or medieval warming period. All temperature rise will occur in the temperate regions. The poles will warm the most making temperature differences less pronounced leading to less storms and violent weather. If the Greenland Ice temperature goes from -28 degrees to minus 24 degrees, who cares? It is still freezing. The Antarctic ice cap has been setting new yearly maxima the last two years, so there is no warming for now. There may be an increase in desert regions where there is very low humidity, but those regions are already unfit for inhabitation. (R6)

The 97% consensus among active Climate experts is an old myth. The survey is from a 2000 or so M.Sc. thesis where 10256 questionnaires was sent out and 3146 responded. There was the following qualification “Of all your peer reviewed papers in the last five years, was more than 50% about climate science”. 77 qualified, of which 75 responded positively that climate change is anthropogenic in origin. For most hat was the condition on which they had gotten the grant to produce the paper in the first place. On the other hand, more than 30000 engineers and scientists have signed a document stating that climate science is by no means settled. (R7)

Ocean acidification is mostly due to water pollution from acid rivers and acid rain. Sulfuric acid is more than 100000 times more acid than dissolved CO2. There is plenty of acid rain coming from China that burn 45% of all coal (mostly high sulfur lignite) and developing countries contribute as well. Underwater volcanoes do their part too. (R8)

We must develop alternate energy resources, like nuclear, and wind wherever profitable, continue solar research but refrain from mass production until profitability can be proven. My preference is for Thorium based nuclear power. (R9)

Alternate fuels like ethanol and biodiesel are terrible ideas. (R10)

Approve the Keystone XL pipeline today! (R11)

Fracking is our best way to become energy independent this decade. It is safe and economical and will finally get us out of this jobs recession. (R12)

Approve 400 acres for oil exploration in ANWR! It is Alaska’s oil anyway and by the Alaskan Constitution oil profits belong to the people, and is none of the Federal Government’s business. (R13)

We can be energy independent in less than 10 years if we go full out on fracking, approve ANWR and develop thorium based nuclear power. This will free us from dependence on Mideast, Nigerian, Nicaraguan oil, all countries that are unstable, have a terrible environmental record, and they hate us anyway. (R14)

Recycle whenever economically defensible (R15)

Regulation should be local whenever possible. (R16)

These are some of the differences between Democrat and Republican world views when it comes to energy. There are many more, and I have tried to be as fair as possible. After analyzing the facts I know where I stand, issue by issue. Do you, or do you only listen to and read from only one side of the spectrum prejudicing yourself?

Comments:

(D1) CO2 is a pollutant.

http://lenbilen.com/2013/08/15/co2-is-it-carbon-pollution-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/26/should-the-epa-regulate-co2-at-what-level/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/25/water-the-real-climate-challenge-much-bigger-than-co2/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/24/80-reduction-in-co2-emissions-by-2050-is-that-even-possible/

(R1) CO2 is not a pollutant

http://lenbilen.com/2013/03/19/co2-the-solution-to-climate-change/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/30/dihydrogen-monoxide-the-main-source-of-greenhouse-gases-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/31/co2-mans-best-friend/ 

(D2): The earth is heating up rapidly

IPCC Report AR5 summary for policymakers. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/docs/WGIAR5_SPM_brochure_

http://lenbilen.com/2013/08/05/obama-the-real-flat-earth-society-spokesman/).

(R2): The temperature of the earth is cyclical.  My best take on real climate science looking at what is really happening:

http://lenbilen.com/2014/02/12/great-lakes-ice-cover-now-at-86-7-the-most-since-1994-we-are-in-a-cooling-trend/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/10/18/a-new-little-ice-age-is-looming-ten-days-in-new-all-time-record-for-ice-in-the-antartics-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/08/12/eleven-reasons-we-are-entering-a-new-little-ice-age/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/02/the-cause-of-climate-change-is-still-up-in-the-air/

(D3) The earth is overpopulated with over 7 billion peopleplannedparenthood91

A happy  valentines’day massage from Planned Parenthood, Maryland: 

(R3) The best way to stabilize the world’s population is by encouraging energy production, which is closely tied to quality of living.

http://lenbilen.com/2013/07/11/go-green-like-spain-obamas-dream-a-limerick/

(D4) Increased CO2 levels may cause the earth to reach a tipping point

(R4) Increased CO2 levels lead to a greener environment

(D5) Storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts floods and all kinds of extreme weather is increasing. The president’s statement, no scientific backup, only an assertion.

http://lenbilen.com/2012/05/05/forecast-of-drought-in-britain-brings-record-april-showers-time-to-change-climate-models/

(R5) With increased CO2 levels, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts are becoming less severe.

http://lenbilen.com/2013/11/18/2013-the-year-with-the-fewest-tornadoes-on-record-and-no-major-hurricanes-making-landfall/

(D6) The coming temperature rise will render large areas of the globe uninhabitable.

(R6) The tropics has found its temperature.

(D7) 97% of active Climate Scientists agree global warming/climate change is caused by human activities.  http://www.skepticalscience.com/debunking-climate-consensus-denial.html

(R7) The 97% consensus among active Climate experts is an old myth. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

(D8) Increase in CO2 leads to ocean acidification.

(R8) Ocean acidification is mostly due to water pollution from acid rivers and acid rain.

(D9) We must develop alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal, but not nuclear.    

(R9) We must develop alternate energy resources, like nuclear

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-and-earthquakes-how-to-make-it-safer-and-better/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-based-nuclear-power-generation/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-more-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-as-nuclear-fuel/

(D10) We must invest heavily in alternate fuels like ethanol and biofuel.

(R10) Alternate fuels like ethanol and biodiesel are terrible ideas

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/12/the-malthusian-option-food-or-ethanol-a-limerick-with-explanation/

(D11) Do not approve the Keystone XL pipeline!It’s the kind of scene we’d like to think we’d put behind us.

How would you like to look outside and see masked radicals with torches on your front lawn?Pipelineexecutive
That’s what greeted Mark Maki and his family.
Maki was targeted for this shameful act of intimidation because he is a member of the board of Enbridge Energy Management which works with oil pipelines.
The masked perpetrators refused to identify themselves, or their group, claiming only that they represent “the people.”

http://lenbilen.com/2014/02/14/the-real-reason-obama-wont-approve-the-keystone-xl-pipeline/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/03/22/obama-in-oklahoma-claims-credit-for-half-a-pipeline-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/01/the-keystone-xl-pipeline-decision-a-view-from-canada-and-rebuttal-from-the-obama-campaign/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/01/obama-and-the-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-keystone-xl-pipeline-decision-2/

(R11) Approve the Keystone XL pipeline today!

http://lenbilen.com/2013/07/07/ttain-derailment-in-quebec-and-keystone-xl-pipeline-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/03/the-keystone-xl-pipeline-decision-crony-capitalism-at-work/ 

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/25/warren-buffet-profiting-from-working-on-the-railroad/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/27/obama-and-the-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-keystone-xl-pipeline-decision/

(D12) Don’t frack!

(R12) Fracking is our best way to become energy independent

(D13) Keep your hands off ANWR!

(R13) Approve 400 acres for oil exploration in ANWR!

(D14) Energy independence is a pipe dream,

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/03/the-electric-car-is-it-good-or-bad-karma/

(R14) We can be energy independent in less than 10 years

(D15) Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

(R15) Recycle whenever economically defensible.

(D16) Regulate, Regulate, Federal Regulate!

http://lenbilen.com/2013/09/22/learn-from-the-amish-phase-out-the-cfc-light-bulb/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/04/ban-inhalers-to-save-the-environment-fda-and-epa-gone-mad/

(R16) Regulation should be local whenever possible.

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/29/save-the-chesapeake-bay-a-limerick/

These are assorted observations on the earth’s recent climate.

http://lenbilen.com/2013/12/31/calamity-in-antarctica-global-warming-alarmists-get-stuck-in-ice-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/12/13/snow-and-cold-records-in-the-u-s-and-the-middle-east-baby-its-cold-outside/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/09/30/nine-new-all-time-records-for-ice-in-antarctica-so-far-this-year-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/09/09/shh-dont-tell-anyone-record-ice-growth-in-the-arctic-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/02/13/a-response-to-the-energy-portion-of-the-state-of-the-union-message/

http://lenbilen.com/2013/02/11/crounhog-day-climate-change-and-obamas-inauguration-and-state-of-the-union-message/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/04/30/wind-farms-warming-and-tilting-at-windmills-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/18/will-we-pass-an-energy-bill-finally-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/02/no-free-speech-in-australia-carbon-tax-rules-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/31/energy-from-thorium-save-500-million-from-the-budget-now/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/31/job-czar-jeffery-immelt-crony-capitalism-101-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/31/lies-damned-lies-statistics-and-climate-forecasting-a-song/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/30/minnesotans-for-global-warming-rise-up-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/30/climate-change-a-homeland-security-matter-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/30/the-lanthanides-lamentation-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/29/frankly-im-exhausted-is-this-my-new-reality-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/29/climate-change-is-now-global-climate-disruption-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/27/obama-loves-spain-its-hard-to-explain-a-limerick/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/01/27/climate-challenges-the-term-for-today-a-limerick/

Obama also made the following comments about his energy policy

“It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.  Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.  Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume.  When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.”

But I guess commenting on this will have to wait for another time.

I welcome comments that tell me where I am going wrong. The research is ongoing, and I am really trying to understand how we shall best live so we can leave this earth a better place than we found it.

Obama, the real Flat Earth Society spokesman.

The Flat Earth Society: Still going strong.
Obama the spokesman, so what can go wrong?
All his “Carbon pollution”
is a Marxist collusion.
It’s food for the hungry, so let’s get along.

President Obama angrily blasted climate change skeptics during his energy policy speech Tuesday Jun 25 at Georgetown University, saying he lacked “patience for anyone who denies that this problem is real.”
“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-Earth society,” Obama said. “Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.”
O.K. I’ll bite. Who belongs to the true flat earth society?
Obama mentioned more than 20 times “Carbon pollution”. In his weekly radio address the following Saturday he mentioned it again, without specifying what he means by “carbon pollution”. He also likened it to Mercury and Arsenic pollution, so it must be very serious and dangerous in his mind. He did not specify if he meant carbon as in “soot” or carbon as in carbon dioxide, but he is not alone in not understanding the basics of Physics and Chemistry.
Earlier in his remarks, Obama said the “overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry, of physics, and millions of measurements” put “to rest” questions about pollution affecting the environment.
I agree totally. Mercury and Arsenic are poisons pollutants. What about Carbon?
Mercury is bad, unless of course it is used in energy efficient light bulbs that can break and splat Mercury all over the nursery.
Arsenic is bad in large doses. The jury is still out if there is a safe minimum dose. There was a suggestion at one time by the EPA to go to 5ppb as a safe drinking level. That would have put much of Maryland drinking water in the forbidden zone. So they settled for 10 ppb.

“The planet is warming. Human activity is contributing to it,” Obama said.
Well is it?
It is a fact that thunderstorms are a stabilizer of temperature. Thermal thunderstorms can start when the temperature exceeds 76 degrees Fahrenheit. In areas with daily thunderstorms, like in the tropical doldrums temperatures rarely reach 90 degrees and average out around 88 degrees. In the desert where there are no thunderstorms it can get substantially hotter.
Atmosphericcirculation70_zps62ce2ee6

My daughter lives with her family in the Delhi area of India. My grandchildren go to a school without air conditioning. They stop school for seven weeks during May-June when the temperature frequently tops 115 degrees. Around Jul 1 the monsoon starts, and the temperature goes down to around 88 degrees and humid, but they can go back to school. This is the great thunderstorm temperature regulator. During the ice age the tropics were still tropical, so that temperature is fixed regardless of what happens elsewhere.
Not so around the poles. If rising CO2 should have a great effect on temperature we should notice it there first.
The best indicator we have is the ice that covers the poles. We have all seen stories like: “the Arctic ice will have melted away in just 5 years.” That was in 2007 when there was an unusually large summer melt. Since then the icepack has recovered somewhat, but in 2012 it did it again and melted even more than in 2007. Why is that? Is it “carbon pollution” like Obama claims?
icepoles
(Note the maximum snow/ice cove over the North Pole is much larger than the Antarctic ice cover)
icecover_current

The level of CO2 has increased about 14% in the last 30 years and is roughly the same all around the globe. Since that is true, if CO2 causes large temperature increases around the poles the Antarctic ice shield should be shrinking. Is that so?
The Antarctic ice shield hit an all time record since measurements begun more than 30 years ago last year between Sep25 and Sep29. This year it is on pace to equal or exceed that record with about 500,000 square miles more ice than the 30 year average.
seaice_recent_antarctic

Why then is the Antarctic icecap growing and the Arctic ice cap shrinking? It is the same CO2 concentration in both places.
seaice_recent_arctic

Something else must be the cause.
May I suggest carbon pollution and volcanic activity as two possible hypotheses.
This time carbon pollution is not CO2 as Obama defines it, but good, old fashioned soot.
black-carbon-2000

While Obama is fighting a war on coal China is building one coal fired plant a week, burning mostly low grade lignite coal. China now burns 45% of all coal burned in the world. They are said to use scrubbers, but since scrubbing costs money they are often down for “service” The soot that is choking the people of Northern China (Remember the Olympics when they shut down most production for the duration of the events to reduce air pollution?) is going out as a brown cloud, following the Siberian coastline. Some of ir reaches the Arctic and deposits itself on the white new fallen snow. When the snow melts the following summer the soot comes back to the surface and causes a more rapid snow and ice melt. The speedup of the ice melt occurs at the time of the changing albedo, so that must be a large contributing factor.
arcticmeltingpond

Last year when the freeze cycle started again new ice accumulated at a record pace, so the ice pack may be largely gone in early September, but at that time the albedo change is of little consequence since the Sun is almost gone anyway. In the Arctic the winter Albedo comes mostly from snow over land, so that would be highly sensitive to soot. This pollution is partly manmade from unclean burning.

The other hypothesis is volcanic activity. The island of Svalbard lies near the 80th latitude and the Western part is mostly ice free all year. We learned in school it was due to the Gulf Stream transporting warm water from the Mexican Gulf all the way to the Barents Sea, which is the reason towns like Hammerfest in Norway are ice free all year. The northern part of the Gulf Stream is now called the North Atlantic Current, and it has been strong for a long time.
Atlanticcurrent

Most of the ice melt is due to melting from warm water underneath. But there is another reason it is so warm between Iceland and Svalbard. The North Atlantic Ridge between the Norwegian islands Jan Mayen and Svalbard is rising out of the Atlantic at a rate of 0.4 inches a year.

svalbard_volcanoes1

Some peaks are so high the depth is only 60 feet, and the next volcanic eruption can form a brand new volcanic island much like the island of Surtsey, south of Iceland was created some 40 years ago. This volcanic activity may account for about 30% of all volcanic activity in the world, but it occurs with very small earth quakes and is under water, so it has not attracted much attention. The heat up of the ocean is, however substantial and goes a long way to explain why Western Svalbard is Ice free, and why the whole ice cap is melting.
Of course since this ridge is rising out of the ocean, the water must be rising somewhere else, so it is not surprising the whole Eastern seaboard is slowly sinking into the Atlantic,
What is the conclusion? The Antarctic Ice cap is the best indicator we are in a cooling trend, and the increasing CO2 levels will help delay the start of the coming ice age.
lows_for_july
meanT_2013
(Not one day has the temperature been above average in the Arctic above 80 lat. since May 5 this year)
The rising CO2 levels has already made it possible to feed another billion people on earth, because increasing CO2 levels improves the photosynthesis in plants, increasing plant growth, so it is good for both flora and fauna.

co2
In addition, an increased CO2 level makes photosynthesis more efficient over a larger temperature range, using less water in the process.
The earth is getting greener. A greener earth makes it more resilient to climate change, whether manmade or natural.
This cooling of the world is of course anathema to true flat earth believers like Obama.He is desperate too control CO2 emissions under the guidance of U.N. regardless of what goes on in nature. This is not to deny we have problems by manmade climate change. For example, cutting down the rain forests of Borneo to make biofuel is a really bad idea, but it is going on. To use corn to make alcohol may be even worse, nearly half of the weight of sugar is converted to CO2 during the fermentation process. To transport crude oil through a pipeline is far more efficient than transporting it via railroad, even if Warren Buffet owns the railroad. The energy used in mining the material used in batteries and motors exceeds the potential energy savings in Hybrid cars. Making electric cars charged from household electricity makes no sense as long as we generate electricity from coal. Wind power kills birds and bats, and when the wind does not blow you still need all the generation capacity. Solar energy is most efficient where it is not needed. The electric grid is overloaded and vulnerable to attack. Uranium based nuclear power generates waste products lasting for millennia
What to do?
LLNLUSEnergy20112

 

 

Solar, wind and biofuel are but hairs on the energy chart.
One solution is converting electric power production from coal fired plants to thorium based nuclear power generators. There is an 800,000 years supply of thorium ready to be mined. Thorium based generators produce 0,01% as many waste products as uranium generators after 300 years. Thorium generators are scalable, cheaper to make and operate than all alternatives except coal and natural gas generators. They can be made inherently earthquake safe and in case of terrorism really easy to poison and be made unusable.
This is lacking in our energy debate.
Mr. President, we need an energy policy, not a war on coal and CO2 generation without a clue on how to solve our energy needs for the future. As Sarah Palin so succinctly put it: “We must be good stewards of all our God-given resources, for when they’re gone, they’re gone”

CO2 the solution to Climate change.

A few days ago I came across this video that puts everything we have heard so gar about CO2 and its influence on the climate on its head.article-2294560-18B8846F000005DC-184_634x427

We have been told about the dangers of CO2 as a greenhouse gas, how it is going to raise the temperature by 3 to 6 degree Celsius in the next century. If there is no gain in the system temperatures will rise only 0.9 degree Celsius if CO2 doubles. The truth is there is a dampening of the system instead. When there is more CO2 in the air, plants grow better. This changes the albedo and this helps to stabilize the temperature.
Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen, Genome, The Rational Optimist and other books, dropped by Reason’s studio in Los Angeles last month to talk about a curious global trend that is just starting to receive attention. Over the past three decades, our planet has gotten greener!

After seeing the video I have the following recommendations to make to the administration:
Stop Biofuel subsidies!
Stop subsidizing electric cars! The energy equivalent of producing an electric car is equivalent to driving 80000 miles; the equivalent for a conventional car is about 30000 miles.
Continue battery research, but please do not subsidize battery manufacturing.
Stop subsidizing wind power, the generators are mostly made in China anyway.
Stop subsidizing solar power – the panels are made in China anyway, and China controls 97% of the rare earth metals needed to produce the solar cells.
Stop punishing coal plants!
Approve the Keystone pipeline!
Don’t even think of Cap and Trade!
Start a major push to tritium based nuclear power. It produces 0.01% of the long term radioactive waste compared to a conventional Uranium based power plant. India and China are making major investments in Tritium technology. Done right, this will greatly lessen the burden on our electric grid.
The list could go on and on, but this will suffice for now.

Groundhog day, Climate change and Obama’s Inauguration and State of the Union message.

Phil Punxutawneystate-of-the-union_gi_topGroundhog Day is over. Next step in prognostications of questionable value is the President’s State of the Union message. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this Feb 2. Through the ages he has seen his shadow 87% of the time and prognosticated six more weeks of winter. This year he forecast an early spring. His record is pretty good, he has been right 37% of the time.

As for the President, there has been a lot of ballyhoo about Global Warming/Climate Change/Global Climate Disruption/Climate Challenges – pick your term. Besides Al Gore who recently sold his Current TV channel to Al-Jazeera, a known champion for Mideast oil, few has been more vocal about Carbon Dioxide “pollution” than President Obama.

In his second inaugural speech there was scant mention of the economy, jobs, the impending debt crisis, overbearing regulations and loss of personal freedom. None of these things concern him. He was, however very concerned of climate change and promised a real effort to move towards sustainable energy. This is what he said:

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. ”The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries ­ we must claim its promise. ”That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure ­ our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.”

Let us take the statements one by one and see how well we are doing so far. He has had one full term, so the verdict is in.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change

The most drastic step we have done so far is to outsource manufacturing, mostly to China. In so doing we have actually decreased our energy use while China’s is doubled, and China is now using 50% more energy than the U.S. In addition, nearly half of all coal used in the world is burned in China. Not only that, China’s coal is of the soft, brown, dirty coal variety. It is so bad that Beijing now has the highest air pollution in the world. The soot clouds arechina_tmo_2013014 carried  by the prevailing westerly winds up into the Arctic.(More on that later) Another example of less than stellar action was the “cash for clunkers” program, where “nearly new” cars were destroyed to make room for new, more fuel efficient cars. This was a subsidy for the upper and upper middle class, since they were the only ones that could afford to upgrade. The real clunkers are still left on the road, driven by the less fortunate since the cars they had hoped to upgrade to were taken out of circulation, leading to higher prices for used cars. A true lose-lose proposition. And don’t get me started on Karma and Tesla, highly subsidized electrical play-toys for playboys.

“knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

What we have done so far to betray our children and future generations is putting us in an unsustainable debt and deficit situation. Obama seems determined to follow the example of Spain. They went green, and in one year’s time their unemployment rate went from 9% to over 21%. It is now 26%. Their debt is as bad as that of Greece and we are headed that way. Our debt per person is over 52000 dollars, Greece’ is more like 47000 dollars.

“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

The real threat of climate change is not so much global warming but a possible onset of a new Ice Age. Before you dismiss me as a real whacko, let me assure you that I know CO2 to be a powerful greenhouse gas, second in importance only to water vapor, and without gain or attenuation in the response of the Earth, a doubling of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere would cause a 0.9 degree C warming. As an engineer I look at the impulse response of the earth to a variation in the Sun’s effect on temperatures. There are two overwhelming impulses from the sun. They are called day and night, summer and winter.

Let us first take the tropics, since it doesn’t really have summer and winter, only day and night. In an ideal situation,Atmosphericcirculation70_zps62ce2ee6 where the sun bakes down on the surface with no clouds and the earth radiates back into space, the equilibrium temperature in the tropics would be about 140 degrees F (60C). But it isn’t, since thunderstorms and winds carry away the excessive heat from the equator towards the poles. One could say the tropical thunderstorms are the thermostat of the earth. The tropics have found its temperature. It was about the same as it is now even during the last ice-age. The absorbance spectrum of saturated water vapor covers the whole IR spectrum, so any amount of CO2 makes no difference.

But, you say, what happens at the poles? Glad you asked. The heat is carried towards the poles and comes down as rain or snow or not quite as cold air. Since many temperature stations are located on heat islands such as air ports and urban areas that have suffered significant land use change the most unchanging temperature observable is the melting point of ice.

So let us take a look at ice around the poles. The ice cap over the Antarctic is growing. Between Sep 25 and Sep 29 of antarctic_seaice_color_000last year it hit a new all-time record since measurements begun. Notice the maximum occurred more than 3 months after maximum solar influx – a 96 day delay. The southern icecap is about 700000 km2 larger than the 30 year average nowadays.

Not so the Northern icecap. For a fleeting period around Mar 25 last year it was back to the 30 year average, after that came the most rapid snow melt on record, followed by the most rapid refreezing on record. At the minimum it was about 2.8 million km2 less ice than normal, leading to a flurry of press releases of our imminent demise, and of the polar bears. By the way, the number of polar bears has doubled since its minimum. They do not mind a slightly milder climate. There is now slightly more ice in the Arctic than last year – about 700000 km2 less than the 30 year average.

So, the Arctic ice cap is shrinking, but the Antarctic ice cap is growing. Why is that? The CO2 level is the same in both places. Something else must be the cause.Arctic snow

Let me suggest: Air pollution. We have outsourced our manufacturing of steel, gypsum boards and other high energy uses to countries like China and the third world. China is by far the world’s leading polluter and the soot cloud runs all the way into the Arctic. The tell-tale sign of soot pollution is the soot in arcticmeltingpondthe bottom of the ice-ponds that form in the summer icecap, leading to a much more rapid ice-melt. This masks an inconvenient fact. It is getting colder.

In addition, because of more open water in the fall, evaporation increases and this leads to increased snowfall. Moscow has now the snowiest winter in over 100 years. Alaska broke records last year. The snow cap stretches over much of the northern hemisphere, increasing the reflection of the incoming sunlight, and that means a delayed spring.

What does this mean for us? The summers may or may not get warmer, but the winters will get colder in the temperate zone.

Storms are formed and driven mostly from temperature differences. The worst storm recorded on the Eastern seaboard was not Sandy. The headlines claimed the storm surge that hit the U.S. east coast during Sandy was unprecedented, and was caused by global warming. It is my contention that a more likely scenario is that it is an early warning of global cooling.NE_Storm_Surges

There have been two storm surges on the east coast larger than hurricane Sandy’s. They occurred in the years 1635 and 1638. Ship logs from the 1600’s also show storms were more violent during the little Ice Age. It got so cold that in 1658 the Swedish Army crossed the Great Belt in Denmark and sacked Copenhagen.  The Great Belt is now nearly always ice free.Svenskene_ut_pa_isen_maleri_av_Johan_Philip_Lemke

The raging fires of 2012 was less than average.

The crippling drought of 2012 was less severe than the 30’s dust bowl. Remember “The Grapes of Wrath”.

Tornadoes numbered about 30% less than normal and we broke a new record for consecutive days without a death from a tornado.

The number of hurricanes and their severity is down.

The solution: Increase the amount of CO2 in the air, but reduce the worldwide soot emissions.

”The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. “

I totally agree. The regulatory environment makes it nearly impossible to go forward with such worthwhile projects as geo-thermal, thorium-based nuclear power and the like.

“But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries ­ we must claim its promise. “

We have already ceded the initiative in Thorium based nuclear energy to the Chinese, the Russians and the Indians. All three have active developments going including patents. Until recently China controlled 97% of the rare earth metals mining, – a national security threat. See my thorium blog posts: http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-and-earthquakes-how-to-make-it-safer-and-better/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-based-nuclear-power-generation/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-more-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-as-nuclear-fuel/

http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/nuclear-power-why-we-chose-uranium-over-thorium-and-ended-up-in-this-mess-time-to-clean-up/

”That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure ­ our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.”

CO2 is a non-participant in global warming. The earth, mostly through clouds and thunderstorms has wonderful feedback mechanisms, which keep temperatures stable on the warm side. The stabilizing mechanisms grow weaker on the cold side, and normal steady state for the earth is ice age. Increasing amounts of CO2 will delay the onset of the next ice age, and in a small way reduce the severity of storms.

We have not had any statistically significant increase in global temperatures for the last 16 years but the amount of CO2 has increased by more than 10%.

Are there benefits with an increased amount of CO2?

You bet. Thanks to increased CO2 the earth can now feed an additional 2 billion people, people that had otherwise starved to death. For a doubling of CO2, plant yields increase between 40 and 70%. In addition plants use less water to do the CO2 breathing when CO2 increases. This can be seen in the vegetation line growing northward south of Sahara.

It is still not a good idea to use ethanol from corn for fuel. Cutting down the rain forests of Borneo to produce biofuel is even worse. Irrigation is sometimes good, sometimes bad. Irrigating from the rivers feeding to Lake Aral was supremely unwise. That displaced about a million and a half people.

My suggestion is to attack environmental problems regionally, especially when it comes to land use. Central planning, especially about water use and water pollution is sometimes disastrous. The worst we could do is to entrust this to UN. They apply political considerations rather than scientific and rational every time.

To protect ourselves we must take back the energy initiative from China, India and Russia. Let us use scientific facts this time and not again succumb to political rhetoric.

Nuclear power and earthquakes. How to make it safer and better.

The earthquake that hit Japan on March 11 caused enough damage to at least 11 of Japan’s 55 nuclear reactors that they will have to be repaired before power production can resume. Three reactors are so badly damaged that they are releasing short term radioactive gases. Three reactors have suffered a significant hydrogen explosion from released gases from exposed and overheated fuel rods and much secondary damage has occurred.  Three reactors are now in a stage of a partial meltdown, they will never be restarted again and the radiation poisoning the environment will last for millennia. In addition there was a fire in the spent fuel compartment of a fourth reactor releasing much radiation.

This is the problem with Uranium based nuclear power generation. These particular reactors are of the GE Mark-1 type, the design is from the 60’s, and there has been complaints the safety updates and inspections have been falsified. They were designed to withstand a 7.0 earthquake, further reinforced by the Japanese to an 8.2 earthquake. The tsunami wall around the complex was built 30 feet high, but the tsunami was 39 feet. Be that as it may, the tsunami took out the backup generators and the earthquake was severe and sudden enough that some of the SCRAM-rods could have been jammed. Time will tell what the failure mode really was. We seem to have a significant safety problem with nuclear power.

Is there a better way? Let us look at the history of nuclear power. Fission from Uranium 235 was confirmed in  1938 and fission from U-233 was discovered in 1942. During that time WWII was raging, and the Germans had a head start with many superior nuclear scientists. Some had fled to the U.S. but many remained. Germany had captured Norway and there was excess hydroelectric power available in Rjukan so they started to manufacture heavy water. When they had made a whole railroad container car of heavy water , the “Heroes of Telemark” managed to sink the ferry it was transported on and the German program was set back, probably by a year.

Meanwhile in the U.S. the Manhattan Project was going on. They used brute force to separate out enough U-235 out of natural Uranium. Copper was in short supply so they could not get enough to make all the electromagnets necessary for the separation. Not to worry they availed themselves of the silver in Fort Knox, making the best magnets the world has ever seen.

Germany capitulated May 5 1945, but not Japan and on August 6 the first nuclear bomb was dropped, changing life as we see it forever. The nuclear nightmare had started. In the 50’s the Oak Ridge ‘boys’, (the laboratory, not the quartet) proved that nuclear power from Thorium was a realistic power source, but then the nation was more interested in making plutonium for nuclear bombs, and thorium based reactors did not produce enough bomb-making material. So Thorium was mothballed and the Uranium based reactors won the day. Thus the military industrial complex gained virtual monopoly on nuclear power, and that is why we are now in a terrible fix trying to promote nuclear power.

Sweden started a heavy water project but the light water reactors proved more economical and the development cycle much faster thanks to the military applications un US. India refused to join the nuclear proliferation treaty so they were shut out of access to enriched uranium and light water reactor technology. What to do? They built a heavy water reactor that uses natural uranium instead. The beauty of that process is that it produces even more plutonium than what is possible with light water reactors. So they built their nuclear bomb, pretending to promote peaceful nuclear energy. What if we instead had said: “Forget the bombs, go with Thorium instead?” Would there be any difference?

Thorium is four times more abundant than Uranium, and is found as a byproduct when mining rare earth and heavy metals. It is radioactive, but not more than the background radiation found everywhere. It is at the “banana level”, about as radioactive as bananas. Thorium is completely safe from terrorists, it cannot be used for anything sinister.  You only need very small quantities to fuel a reactor, and since it is a by-product it can be bought for the price of refining it, about $40 per Kg.  There is enough Thorium around to produce power at today’s level for over a million years.

Thorium can generate electricity at a cost of about 4 cents/kWh, even when all regulatory  requirements are satisfied. It generates 0.01% of the long term waste products of a Uranium reactor, and can even consume some of the waste-products from uranium based production. There is no risk of boil-overs since the fuel is already molten and at atmospheric pressure.

Sounds too good to be true? Let us take a look at the thorium reactors and see what they seem to promise.

1. Cheap and unlimited raw material.

2. Produces electricity at a cost of about 4 cents per kWh.

3. 0.01% waste products compared to a Uranium fast breeder.

4. Radioactive waste lasts max 300 years instead of a million years.

5. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

6. Produces Plutonium-238 needed for space exploration.

7. Does not produce Plutonium239 and higher used in Nuclear bombs.

8. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

9. Earthquake safe.

10. No risk for a meltdown, the fuel is already molten.

11. Very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe control.

12. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions.

13. Scales beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

14. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed in urban areas.

15. Rapid response to increased or decreased power demands.

16. Lessens the need for an expanded national grid.

17. Russia and China is starting up a Thorium program

18. India has an active Thorium program.

19. Lawrence Livermore Laboratories is developing a small portable self-contained Thorium reactor capable of being carried on a low-bed trailer.

20. The need for a Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility will eventually go away.

Obstacles in the path of Thorium reactors.

1. They are fast breeder reactors and fast breeders have a bad reputation for potential risks. The political resistance is enormous.

2. The military industrial complex (GE, Westinghouse, etc. ) has an enormous investment in Uranium based light water reactor technology. They would like to keep it that way.

3. The NRC is nearly impossible to move forward.

4. The political power landscape will change. Thorium based nuclear power is best left to regional control, and the world body trying to control all aspects of power generation would have a much harder time establishing total control.

5. Electricity will to a lesser degree be produced from coal, leaving the coal states with less clout.

Where do we go from here? India has for a long time been the only serious developer of Thorium based nuclear energy, a program that has been languishing too long since it has zero military applications, Thorium power produces 0.01% of the nuclear waste of conventional nuclear power, Thorium is abundant in Australia, India and the U.S. She should encourage cooperation on this type of nuclear energy. Thorium based generators can be made safe from earthquakes in a way no other nuclear energy can. Even though Thorium reactors are fast breeder reactors they are inherently stable and can be placed on barges in rivers. They are also superior in adapting to variations in power need, in short: we are way behind in developing the nuclear power for the future.

All of us should read up and try to understand the Thorium process and be ready to give a reason why we should not abandon nuclear power but change direction in this critical time. We need a new “Manhattan project” for energy. This time all the silver in Fort Knox will not save us, for we have lost the ability to do it by using brute force. Instead we will have to take a decentralized approach, developing small to medium size Thorium reactors near centers of power consumption. This will lessen our dependence on the National Grid, a grid that is vulnerable to terror attacks. Thorium reactors are not vulnerable to attacks, they can be neutralized and shut down with gravity alone, the one force that is always there.

Eleven reasons to switch to Thorium based Nuclear Power generation.

Eleven reasons to switch to Thorium based Nuclear Power generation.

1. Cheap and unlimited raw material. There is enough Thorium around for many millennia, and not only that, it is a byproduct of mining heavy metals and rare earth metals The price is the cost of refining it, about $40/Kg.

2. 0.01% waste products compared to a Uranium fast breeder. The Thorium process has a much higher efficiency in fission than  the Uranium process. See the figure below.

Note the Plutonium in the Thorium cycle is Pu-238, which is in high demand.

3. Radioactive waste lasts max 300 years instead of a million years. Initially a Thorium reactor produces as much radioactivity as other nuclear reactors, since that is what generates the heat by converting mass to heat, but the decay products have a much shorter half-life. See the figure below.

4. Can deplete some of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles. Thorenco LLC is developing a special reactor to purify spent nuclear fuel. This thorium converter reactor is designed to transmute and to “fission away” the heavy transuranic metals, the “nuclear waste” that the world’s fleet of 441+ light water reactors produce in spent fuel. This waste is about 4-5% of the volume of the fuel rods. It is composed of neptunium, plutonium, americium and curium. These transuranic elements are radiotoxic for very long periods of time. Thorenco’s technology fissions the plutonium and irradiates the transuranics causing the heavy metal elements to fission or to become lighter elements with much shorter decay periods. The thorium fuel cycle provides the neutrons as does the reactor grade plutonium. Nuclear power becomes more sustainable because the volume of the spent fuel from the uranium plutonium cycle is reduced by up to 95%. More importantly, the storage time for the residue from the recycled thorium fuel is materially reduced. This will have to be stored for less than 1% of the time needed for the storage of the untreated transuranics.

5. Produces Plutonium-238 needed for space exploration. WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate gave final passage to an energy and water spending bill Oct. 15  2009 that denies President Barack Obama’s request for $30 million for the Department of Energy to restart production of plutonium-238 (pu-238) for NASA deep space missions. The House of Representatives originally approved $10 million of Obama’s pu-238 request for next year, but ultimately adopted the Senate’s position before voting Oct. 1 to approve the conference report on the 2010 Energy-Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 3183). The bill now heads to Obama, who is expected to sign it. NASA relies on pu-238 to power long-lasting spacecraft batteries that transform heat into electricity. With foreign and domestic supplies dwindling, NASA officials are worried the shortage will prevent the agency from sending spacecraft to the outer planets and other destinations where sunlight is scarce. Thorium reactors produce PU-238 as a “free” byproduct.

6. Does not produce Plutonium239 and higher used in nuclear bombs. The higher Plutonium isotopes are about as nasty as they get, and need expensive protection against terror attacks, and need to be stored for a very long time.

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers. For decades, medical researchers have sought treatments for cancer. Now, Alpha Particle Immunotherapy offers a promising treatment for many forms of cancer, and perhaps a cure. Unfortunately, the most promising alpha-emitting medical isotopes, actinium-225 and its daughter, bismuth-213, are not available in sufficient quantity to support current research, much less therapeutic use. In fact, there are only three sources in the world that largely “milk” these isotopes from less than 2 grams of thorium source material. Additional supplies were not forthcoming. Fortunately, scientists and engineers at Idaho National Laboratory identified 40-year-old reactor fuel stored at the lab as a substantial untapped resource and developed Medical Actinium for Therapeutic Treatment, or MATT, which consists of two innovative processes (MATT-CAR and MATT-BAR) to recover this valuable medical isotope.

8. Earthquake safe. Thorium reactors have a very simple and compact design where gravity is the only thing needed to stop the nuclear reaction. Conventional Nuclear reactors depend on external power to shut down after a SCRAM, where poison rods fall down to halt the reaction.  The next figure shows the concept of a Thorium reactor.

The idea is to empty the fissile U-233 core through gravity alone. Since the fuel is already molten, it can run out like pig-iron into cooling heat exchangers with  water supplied thru gravity alone.

As we can see the reactor hardened structure is compact, and can be completely earthquake and tsunami proof. What can be sheared off are the steam pipes and external power, but the shutdown can complete without additional power.

9. No risk for a meltdown, the fuel is already molten. The fuel in a Thorium reactor is U-233 in the form of UraniumFluoride (UF4) salt that also contains Lithium and Beryllium, in its molten form it has a very low vapor pressure. The salt flows easily through the heat exchangers and the separators. The salt is very toxic, but it is completely sealed.

10. Very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe control. This is another beauty of the molten salt design. The temperature coefficient is highly negative, leading to a safe design with simple and consistent feedback. What does that mean?  It means that if temperature in the core rises, the efficiency of the reaction goes down, leading to less heat generated. There is no risk for a thermal runaway. In contrast, Chernobyl used graphite moderated Uranium , and it suffered a thermal runaway as the operators bypassed three safety circuits trying to capture the last remaining power during a normal shut-down. The reactor splat, the graphite caught fire and the rest is history. Five days later two nuclear installations in Sweden shut down their reactors due to excessive radiation, but it took a while before they could figure out what had happened. First then did the Soviets confess there had been an accident.

11. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions. Materials subjected to high radiation tend to get brittle or soften up. Thorium reactors operate under atmospheric conditions so the choice of materials that can withstand both high temperatures and high radiation is much greater, leading to a superior and less expensive design.  There is no high pressure gas buildup and the separation stage can be greatly simplified.

Many of the pictures are from a slide presentation given by David Archibald in Melbourne Feb 5 2011. He posted it “for the benefit of all” which I have interpreted as waving the copyright of the pictures

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/12/david-archibald-on-climate-and-energy-security/

Next installment:  Eleven more reasons for Thorium http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-more-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-as-nuclear-fuel/

Eleven more reasons to switch to Thorium as Nuclear fuel.

Eleven more reasons to switch to Thorium as Nuclear fuel. The first eleven are found in http://lenbilen.com/2012/02/15/eleven-reasons-to-switch-to-thorium-based-nuclear-power-generation/  I am following the events at Fukushima Nuclear Power plants with great interest. How ironic that the greatest risk is with the spent fuel, not with the inability to shut down the working units. The spent fuel issue is the real Achilles’ heel of the Nuclear Power Industry. Thorium power works differently as nearly all fuel gets consumed as it is generated. When the process shuts down, that is it. Only the radioactivity that is en route so to say will have to be accounted for, not everything generated thus far in the process. The difference is about 10000 to one in the size of the problem. Time to switch over to Thorium.

12.  Scales beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants. One of the first applications was as an airborne nuclear reactor.

 Granted this was not a Thorium breeder reactor, but it proves nuclear reactors can be made lightweight. Thorium reactor may be made even lighter as long as they are not of the breeder type.

13. No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas. Thorium reactors operate at atmospheric pressure and have a very high negative temperature coefficient, so there is no risk for a boil-over. They are easily made earthquake-safe since no pressure vessel is needed.

14. Rapid response to increased or decreased power demands. The increase in power output to increased power demand is faster than in coal-fired power plant. All you have to do is increase the speed of flow in the core and it will respond with raised temperature.

15. Lessens the need for an expanded national grid. The National Electric grid is at the breaking point. It needs to be expanded, but neighborhood resistance is building in many areas where they need an expansion the most. The grid is also sensitive to terrorism activities.

 As we can see the national grid is extensive, and under constant strain. A way to lessen the dependency on the national grid is to sprinkle it with many small to medium sized Thorium Nuclear Power generators.  They can be placed on barges in rivers and along the coast, giving the grid maximum flexibility to respond in  case of an emergency.

16. Russia has a Thorium program This is a self-contained Thorium Nuclear Reactor on a barge. Coolant readily available. Hoist it a couple of cables and the town will have all the power it needs.

17. China is starting up a Thorium program. The People’s Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology, it was announced in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) annual conference on Tuesday, January 25. An article in the Wenhui News followed on Wednesday. Chinese researchers also announced this development on the Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum. Led by Dr. Jiang Mianheng, a graduate of Drexel University in electrical engineering, the thorium MSR efforts aims not only to develop the technology but to secure intellectual property rights to its implementation. This may be one of the reasons that the Chinese have not joined the international Gen-IV effort for MSR development, since part of that involves technology exchange. Neither the US nor Russia have joined the MSR Gen-IV effort either. A Chinese delegation led by Dr. Jiang travelled to Oak Ridge National Lab last fall to learn more about MSR technology and told lab leadership of their plans to develop a thorium-fueled MSR.The Chinese also recognize that a thorium-fueled MSR is best run with uranium-233 fuel, which inevitably contains impurities (uranium-232 and its decay products) that preclude its use in nuclear weapons. Operating an MSR on the “pure” fuel cycle of thorium and uranium-233 means that a breakeven conversion ratio can be achieved, and after being started on uranium-233, only thorium is required for indefinite operation and power generation.

18. India has an active Thorium program. • India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032.  It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050. • Because India is outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty due to its weapons program, it was for 34 years largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, which has hampered its development of civil nuclear energy until 2009. • Due to these trade bans and lack of indigenous uranium, India has uniquely been developing a nuclear fuel cycle to exploit its reserves of thorium. • Now, foreign technology and fuel are expected to boost India’s nuclear power plans considerably.  All plants will have high indigenous engineering content. • India has a vision of becoming a world leader in nuclear technology due to its expertise in fast reactors and thorium fuel cycle. • India’s Kakrapar-1 reactor is the world’s first reactor which uses thorium rather than depleted uranium to achieve power flattening across the reactor core. India, which has about 25% of the world’s thorium reserves, is developing a 300 MW prototype of a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). The prototype is expected to be fully operational by 2011, following which five more reactors will be constructed. Considered to be a global leader in thorium-based fuel, India’s new thorium reactor is a fast-breeder reactor and uses a plutonium core rather than an accelerator to produce neutrons. As accelerator-based systems can operate at sub-criticality they could be developed too, but that would require more research. India currently envisages meeting 30% of its electricity demand through thorium-based reactors by 2050.

19.Lawrence Livermore Laboratories is developing a small portable self-contained Thorium reactor capable of being carried on a low-bed trailer. A Democratic member of the United States House of Congress (Joseph Sestak) in 2010 added funding for research and development for a reactor that could use thorium as fuel and fit on a destroyer-sized ship.  Lawrence Livermore national laboratories are currently in the process of designing such a self-contained (3 meters by 15 meters) thorium reactor. Called SSTAR (Small, Sealed, Transportable, Autonomous Reactor), this next-generation reactor will produce 10 to 100 megawatts electric and can be safely transported via ship or truck.  The first units are expected to arrive in 2015, be tamper resistant, passively failsafe and have a operative life of 30+ years.

20. The need for a Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility will eventually go away. Since Thorium consumes the fissile material as it is getting created, the need for a long term storage facility of the Yucca Mountain type will eventually go away. In remote locations there can be built Thorium Nuclear Power generators that consume spent material from other nuclear processes. The need to do it in remote locations is the hazard of the already existing nuclear wastes. It should be possible to reduce the existing stockpile of nuclear wastes and nuclear bombs by about 90% and make electricity in the process. The cost to do this is higher than the normal process due to the additional cost of security.

21. Produces electricity at a cost of about 4 c/kWh.  The cost to produce electricity with Thorium generators should be about 40% less than Advanced Nuclear and about 30 % less than from Coal (with scrubbers). Solar generation is about 4 times more expensive (without subsidies) Wind power is cheaper when the wind blows, but the generation capacity has to be there even when the wind doesn’t blow, so the only gain from wind power is to lessen the mining or extraction of carbon.  Even if we double the renewable power we will only go from 3.6% to 7.2% of total energy needed.  Hydroelectric  power is for all practical purpose maxed out, so all future increase must come from Coal, Natural Gas, Petroleum or Nuclear. Thorium powered Nuclear Generators is the way to go.

22. Save $500 Million and use the 1600 Kg U-233 we have to start Thorium Reactors! Here is an idea on how to save money that comes from the Thorium community on how to save more than 500 million dollars in the federal budget and energy, scientific and medical benefits as a bonus. The situation: The Department of Energy has 1400 Kg Uranium-233 stored at Oak Ridge National Lab. They are in process of downgrading it to natural uranium by downblending it with depleted uranium. They need 200 tons of depleted uranium to do the task, rendering it unusable for anything. The decommissioning was approved in 2003 and to date 130 million has been spent, but the actual downblending hasn’t even started yet.

Proposal 1. Sell it to India which has an active Thorium nuclear reactor program. There it can be used as a fuel producing an estimated 600 million dollars worth of electricity. Sarah Palin is going to India to be the keynote speaker at the India Today Conclave, a good forum to publicize this and other potential cooperation in future of nuclear power generation.

Proposal 2. Stop the decommissioning immediately. Build our own Thorium Nuclear Reactor and over time get 600 million dollars worth of electric power and 45g of Plutonium-238.

Nuclear Power. Why we chose Uranium over Thorium and ended up in this mess. Time to clean up.

I was born in Sweden, on the beautiful west coast where fishing was a way of life, the sunsets magnificent in the summer and the sailing around the skerries and in the fjords could never be forgotten. On the West Coast is also the second largest Swedish city, Gothenburg, home of the famous Chalmers’ Technical University. The year was 1948 and the Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl had made his famous “Kon-Tiki  expedition” sailing on a balsa raft from South America to Polynesia.

Apr 30 is the official day to celebrate the arrival of spring in Sweden and Chalmers celebrates it in its own way with a parade somewhat like the Mardi Gras parade in Latin countries. I was there as a 6 year old lad when the float with a rather imaginative copy of the Kon-Tiki raft rattled by. I say rattled, for a galvanized wash tub was hooked up in the back with a rope and it made a loud metallic noise going down the cobblestones. This was the greatest thing I had seen or heard, so I decided right then and there to become a Chalmerist.

Sweden is a beautiful country with clean and abundant water, beautiful forests, a coast line full of small islands and fertile valleys, where the long summer days provide enough growing season to ensure good harvests. The nature is fragile, sensitive to acid rain and pollution. As I grew up I noticed a sharp deterioration in the water quality, there was too much nitrogen in the lakes, “we are fertilizing or lakes on average four times as much as our land” was a quote that stuck in my mind. The acid rain that came in from England and Germany killed the trouts in the cold mountain lakes, and algae bloom took out the oxygen in the larger lakes. In addition we had been treating our seed with Mercury, so carnivorous birds and animals were threatened with extinction.

The time came to apply to University, and to my delight I was accepted to Chalmers’ as a Technical Physics major. I felt, maybe I can do my part by becoming a Nuclear Engineer and help solve the energy needs of the future. The Swedes at that time championed the heavy water – natural Uranium program together with the Canadians. Sweden was at that time non-aligned, so it was not privy to any atomic secrets, it had to go it alone. They settled on the heavy water moderated natural Uranium process because Sweden had an ambition to produce its own nuclear bomb. Officially this was never talked about, and I was not aware of it at that time. They could have gone with Thorium instead, but Thorium produces very little Plutonium, and what it produces is PU-238, not suitable for bomb making.

I was excited to learn about all the possibilities and signed up for a couple of nuclear classes. One lab was to design a safety circuit, then run the heavy water research reactor critical and hopefully watch the reactor shut down from your circuit, not the safety shutdown. Then the word came that U.S. will sell partially enriched uranium at bargain basement prices if Sweden agreed to abandon the heavy water project and sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, a treaty being formulated by U.N.

Sweden was in awe about U.N, all the problems of the world were to be solved through it, and it had such capable General Secretary in Dag Hammarskjöld, a Swede. I looked at the light water, partially enriched  Uranium nuclear power plants being developed and decided to have no part with it, not due to safety concerns but it was the design that produced the most nuclear waste of any of the available designs. At that time there was still optimism that fusion would be ready by about the year 2010 or so. The cost of maintaining spent fuel in perpetuity was never considered, so light water reactors became the low cost solution.

India on the other hand refused to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, kept their heavy water program going and had by 1974 produced enough plutonium for one nuclear bomb, which they promptly exploded.  They still use heavy water moderated reactors, but since India is low on Uranium but rich in Thorium they have now converted one heavy water reactor to thorium with a Plutonium glow plug. It is set to go on-line in 2011. (1)

They are also developing  molten salt Thorium reactors, but full production is still a few years off.

There we have it. We could have gone with Thorium from the beginning, but the cold war was on, and the civilian peaceful use of nuclear energy was still all about nuclear weapons. Once all the bombs we could ever need were developed the greatest asset of nuclear power became its greatest liability.

We need to start over with Thorium, producing 0.01% of the long term wastes of other processes. There is enough Thorium around to last a million years at today’s cost. They can be built and produce energy for about 60% of the cost of a light water plant, and the total cost of ownership is even less since it produces and consumes its own fuel as you go. We will run out of just about every other ore long before then.

As time goes by, garbage dumps will look more and more attractive, having batteries, Mercury lamps, poisons galore, but also useful stuff capable of producing energy and fuel for transportation.  There are ongoing plans to convert garbage to jet fuel is taking place(2)

The future will need more energy to clean up the mess we’ve gotten  ourselves into.  Thorium is one part of the answer. Wind and solar are only blips on the energy chart, ethanol made from corn or other edible sources should be done away with, other biofuels can only do so much. Nuclear will have to play an increased role. Go Thorium!

• (1) India has a vision of becoming a world leader in nuclear technology due to its expertise in fast reactors and thorium fuel cycle. India’s Kakrapar-1 reactor is the world’s first reactor which uses thorium rather than depleted uranium to achieve power flattening across the reactor core. India, which has about 25% of the world’s thorium reserves, is developing a 300 MW prototype of a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). The prototype is expected to be fully operational by 2011, following which five more reactors will be constructed. Considered to be a global leader in thorium-based fuel, India’s new thorium reactor is a fast-breeder reactor and uses a plutonium core rather than an accelerator to produce neutrons. As accelerator-based systems can operate at sub-criticality they could be developed too, but that would require more research. India currently envisages meeting 30% of its electricity demand through thorium-based reactors by 2050.

(2)(Feb 18, 2010) British Airways has announced plans to source a part of its fuel supplies from waste municipal waste to fuel plant. The company plans to procure 16 million gallons of green jet fuel annually from the Solena plant that would come up in London. The plant which is expected to come online in 2014 would convert 50,000 tonnes of municipal waste into jet-grade fuel. The volume of fuel supplied initially would be 2 percent of the total fuel consumption of British Airways. This would cut down on the carbon emissions generated due to the conventional jet fuel, kerosene.

The electric car. Is it good or bad Karma?

The electric car. Is it good or bad Karma?

Boy are we advancing in leaps and bounds:

Here is the Roberts electric car, built 1896.

It gets 40 miles to the charge.

116 years later, how far have we come in battery development?

Most electricity is produced by burning coal.  Much peak electricity is produced by burning natural gas. We have recently discovered large quantities of shale deposits. One of the chief developer  of the North Dakota deposits is Mr. Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, who at one time had a brief talk with President Obama. Mr. Hamm told Obama of the revolution in the oil and gas industry and how we have the capacity to produce enough oil to enable America to replace OPEC. He wanted to make sure that the President knew about this.

The President’s reaction? He turned to Mr. Hamm and said: ‘Oil and gas will be important for the next few years. But we need to go on to green and alternative energy. [Energy] Secretary [Steven] Chu has assured me that within five years, we can have a battery developed that will make a car with the equivalent of 130 miles per gallon.’

116 years after the Roberts electric car we have the 2012 Chevrolet Volt. It gets 36 miles to the charge.

But it is not over yet.

The latest entry in the electric car business is the Fisker Karma. It sports 32 miles to the charge.  When running on electricity, the claim is it gets the equivalent of 54 miles per gallon. After that it has a regular sports car engine that gives 20 MPG. What does that last statement mean? Batteries store energy and can never be more than 100% efficient. There is a loss of energy when you charge them and a loss of energy when you discharge them. The energy is typically produced by burning coal. By charging batteries you need to keep old coal burning plants in production longer. The average energy efficiency of an aging coal plant is 31%, the transmission losses are about 8% and battery efficiency is about 75%. When electric car companies calculate MPG equivalency they only take into account the battery efficiency. For the Karma the total energy efficiency equivalence would not be 56 MPG, but 16 MPG.

For now the Karma will be built in Finland, with a half billion dollar loan guarantee from the Federal Government. After one year this energy guzzler is supposed to be built in Delaware. Maybe it will be as popular as the Chevy Volt, which is on track to sell 6000 vehicles this year.

There already exists a car that claim 135 miles per gallon equivalent fuel consumption.

(The picture to the right shows the Tesla in a car crash in of all places Aalbaek, Denmark. The Tesla is at the bottom.)

The car is Tesla, a new car company set up privately in 2003. It got a 465 million dollar Federal loan guarantee in 2009, but has yet to turn a profit. The car is all electric, and gets up to 300 miles to a charge.  It can be yours for a mere $109500 plus taxes, but you will get a 7500 dollar federal tax rebate unless you live in Colorado where you will get an additional 40000 dollars in state and local tax rebate. The car is sold to rich playboys, who use it as the ultimate chick attractor, and the making of the car is financed on borrowed money. If one is to include the losses in producing the 4000 cars sold thus far, the cost per car approaches 200000. But fear not. One of the sources of income for Tesla is the sale of zero emission credits to other car companies so they can meet their emission standards. It is the new round of charlatans selling indulgences so the global governance can be realized.

Why am I down on electric cars? First, the energy to drive the car must have been produced somehow. As long as we use coal to produce electricity there will be more CO2 in the air with electric cars than with diesel powered cars. Second, electric cars are heavier than corresponding gasoline powered cars and have less room. Third, it takes an awful lot of mining to produce all the rare materials that goes into a modern battery. This too takes a lot of energy and leaves scars on the landscape. Fourth, batteries last only so long and are expensive leading to a much more expensive car to purchase and maintain.

The same arguments can be raised against solar and wind power. It takes more energy to mine and refine the materials than the equipment generate since they generate the electricity when they want, not when the need is there.

Are we doomed? Not at all. As oil and gas is becoming more and more expensive, especially if the Middle East cuts off its supply, we should build up the nuclear power plants, not with old Uranium based nuclear plants with all their nuclear waste, but with small, distributed thorium based plants. They have 0.01% as much nuclear waste as uranium based plants and are earthquake safe and much less vulnerable to sabotage. They also respond much better to demand fluctuations. As the plants would be more distributed it would lessen the need for an expanded electric grid, which is unbelievably vulnerable to sabotage. The long and short of it: Go Thorium and then Electric cars!

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