Climate Catastrophe? No, but an environmental challenge. A Limerick.

Is climate change all in the cloud?

Acknowledge it is not allowed.

Settled science, they say.

Buckle up and portray

disaster! Close rank, join the crowd.

I believe in climate change. It is obvious by observing how the climate has changed over the years. Here is a chart of global temperature and CO2 for the last 600 million years.

The chart is smoothed over millions of years, but it shows that the global average tempera ture stabilizes at 22C regardless of CO2 levels, and there is precious little correlation between temperature and CO2 level. Taking a look at the last 450,000 years it shows an interesting pattern:

It shows that more than 90 percent of the time the earth has been colder than today, most of that time in a series of ice ages, interrupted with inter-glacial periods of between 5,000 and 20,000 years.  This inter-glacial period is of interest, since it points to our future – another ice age, the question is: When it will start? According to the Milanković cycles we are still in the moderate temperatures sweetspot, and it will last for another few thousand years, but the trend is down, tne next ice age is inevitable. In fact, except for the little ice age and the time between the Roman warm period and the medieval warm period,  the global temperatures have been higher than now for the last ten thousand years. This shows the temperature from the Greenland ice cores for the last 10000 years:

Greenlandgisp-last-10000-new

All of these changes in climate occurred with a relative constant CO2 level of about 260 ppm!

This time is different; CO2 levels are now over 400 ppm, rising about 2 ppm per year with no end in sight. The question is: Is this increase good or bad? If it is bad, how bad is it going to be?

To answer this question the world spends over 400 billion dollars a year in climate research and are starting to spend much more in climate remediation. Over 30 nations are making climate models trying to predict future temperature trends. Of the models so far all but one fail miserably when compared to what actually is happening. The sole exception is the Russian model which tries to fit their  model to past temperature records rather than postulate that response from CO2 and water vapor are always additive.

There is a better, far simpler way to predict future temperature trends. The reason CO2 and water vapor are not always additive is because water vapor is a condensing gas, sometimes forming clouds, which drastically alter the temperature of the surface. Clouds forming at day reflects a large portion of the sunlight back into space, clouds at night keep the heat in.

Willis Eschenbach has made en excellent analysis of 19 years of data from CERES (Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System from NASA). He compensates for the effect of Advection (horizontal heat transfer of energy from one place on earth to another.) The results are startling:

The 3.7 W/m2 is the expected increase of heat retention for a doubling of CO2 as per IPCC  (the U.N  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). A similar result is obtained if one is to include data from HadCRUT (Temperature data from the Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office)

This agrees very well with my own, much coarser examination of data, but should include that the expected temperature increase observed for a doubling of CO2 is by no means evenly distributed. In addition, if temperature rises 0,39C there will be  about 2.6 % more water vapor in the air which would rise temperature another 0.35 C. This too is not evenly distributed. Here are the expected result:

In the tropical doldrums there will be no change at all, the water vapor is all dominant and thunderstorms keep the average temperature constant.

In the 10-40 latitude there will be an increase, but increased clouds will moderate the increase except in the most arid deserts that will experience around a 0.9 C increase.

The temperate regions will experience about a 0.4 C increase in the wet areas, and about a 0.6 C in the arid parts.

Most of the increase will be experienced around the poles, with minimum temperatures rising five to ten degrees, but maximum temperatures staying about the same. We are seeing this increase in the Arctic, and the rise is nearly all due to rising winter minimum temperatures.

Source: Danish Meteorology Institute

Why is that? With on the average 2.6 % increase in water vapor there will be an increase in the rainfall,  about 2.6% on average, but since there is no change in the tropics it will be concentrated at the higher latitudes, especially around the poles where it will manifest itself as more snow, and that is the main reason for the increased minimum temperatures. Notice there has been no increase in summer temperatures!

So, how bad is it going to get if nothing is done to stop the increase in CO2?

The temperature difference between poles and equator will be less, which means:

Fewer and less severe hurricanes, less severe tornadoes, less severe winter storms, less droughts.

But there will be about 2% more average cloud cover, more rain and more flooding.

So, with an 0.4C average temperature we will not even be back to the medieval warm period, much less the Roman warm period, not to speak of the Minoan warm period.

The sinking eastern seaboard is a problem that has very little to do with ocean rising, and all to do with tectonic plates movements, which we will have to accept.

Will anything else good come out of this climate change?

Yes, indeed. With a doubling of CO2 there will be a corresponding response from plant life increasing biological productivity 30 to 60%. It is not linear, and above 800 ppm it tapers of for most plant species. But we will be able to feed at least another 3 billion people and keep them from hunger, but also much cattle and wild animals, (yes that includes flies and gnats, but I digress)

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/increase.png?w=660

This picture gives us hope for the future. Notice the most significant increase was in Sub-Saharan Africa, western United States, western Australia and western India. These are the areas that need more rain the most!

If increasing CO2 concentration is not the problem, then what is? Let us take a look at the sources  from which U.S. generates electrical energy.

Image result for us electricity generation by source

We live in challenging times indeed, with enormous environmental challenges. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the mess we have generated over the ages. It would be a shame to use up our remaining coal, oil and gas to produce the electricity needed to clean up. Oil coal and gas will eventually be depleted and we need to save some for our great grandchildren so they can enjoy flying like we have become accustomed to. Like the famous conservationist Sarah Palin once said: “for when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Solar generation is about 4 times more expensive (without subsidies) to produce energy than coal and gas, but has important niche applications, such as on roofs for backup in case of short grid failures and for peak power assist. The Amish people have given many practical applications on how to live off the grid.

Wind power is cheaper when the wind blows, but the full 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. In addition, wind power kills birds, the free yearly quota of allowable Bald Eagle kills was upped from 1200 to 4200 during the Obama administration. Golden Eagles and a few other rare birds have a quarter of a million dollar fine associated with their kills. If wind power is increased without finding a solution to the bird kills, whole species may become extinct.

Hydroelectric power is for all practical purpose maxed out, except one large untapped resource; the Kongo river in Africa. Some hydro electrical project do more harm than good, such as the Aswan Dam in Egypt, and some are waiting for the next big earthquake, such as the Three Gorges Dam in China.

Geothermal power is good but difficult and risky to utilize in geologically unstable areas.

Biomass should never be burned for electricity production but be used for soil regeneration to combat erosion. Only polluted biomass such as medical waste and plastics should be incinerated at high temperature, complete with scrubbers to eliminate poisonous gases.

All necessary cleanup and recycling consume a lot of energy, and it has to be generated somehow. We would like save some Coal, Natural Gas and Petroleum for our great grandchildren. This leaves us only

Nuclear power.  After a nearly thirty year hiatus in building new nuclear power plants they are slowly being built again. The permit process is fraught with citizen opposition (NIMBY), very strict bureaucratic delay, first by the Three Mile Island incident, then by the Chernobyl disaster/unintended sabotage, and finally by the Fukushima catastrophe. In addition conventional nuclear power produces large amounts of transuranium waste products that has to be stored for a million years. The Obama administration ended reprocessing of spent fuel rods, so not only must the transuranium products be stored, but also some unused U235. This makes conventional nuclear power using enriched Uranium too expensive to compete against coal or natural gas. But there are powerful commercial interests to keep it this way. After the Westinghouse bankruptcy GE has a virtual monopoly on nuclear power. They are in no hurry to make any changes.

There is a better way: Thorium Nuclear power. The advantages are:

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

6. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel ia already molten.

10. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

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

12. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

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

15. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will lessen the need for an expanded national grid.

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

20. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

21. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

23. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

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

There is no time to waste. This is my suggestion list:

1. Immediately take Thorium off the list of “source materials”. While Thorium is radioactive slightly above background radiation no amount of Thorium can make it go critical, and it cannot be source material for making bombs.

2. Make separate regulations for Thorium based Nuclear plants apart from Uranium plants. One thing that goes away is the need for evacuation zones due to the inherent safety of Thorium Nuclear plants.

3. Declare Thorium Nuclear Power to be the preferred replacement for Coal or Gas powered electric plants.

4. Streamline the permit process, like Uranium powered plants enjoyed when there was a desire to build Nuclear Bombs.

5. Increase research and development into Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors to speed up their development.

6. Develop hybrid Tokamak powered Thorium reactors like the one Russia is developing to burn off transuraniun  nuclear waste products.

With all this done, I envision coal, gas and biofuel Power stations to be eliminated within ten years, and transuranium waste products to be eliminated within twenty years.

When Coal, gas and biofuel are eliminated as source for Electric Power, then it is time to switch most of the transportation to electric cars and trucks, but not before.

in another twenty years, maybe, just maybe it is time for Fusion Power to take over.

Let us get going!

 

Climate emergency? No, but plenty of environmental and conservation challenges. Only Thorium Nuclear power can solve the energy challenge.

We live in challenging times. while, in a previous blog it was pointed out  that the” climate catastrophe” is not real and the scientific reasons why for a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration the average temperature rise would be less than 0.4C, almost negligible and well within the Paris accord without changing anything we are doing about CO2 emissions.

If increasing CO2 production is not the problem, then what is? Let us take a look at the sources  from which U.S. generates electrical energy.

Image result for us electricity generation by source

We live in challenging times indeed, with enormous environmental challenges. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the mess we have generated over the ages. It would be a shame to use up our remaining coal, oil and gas to produce the electricity needed to clean up. Oil coal and gas will eventually be depleted and we need to save some for our great grandchildren so they can enjoy flying like we have become accustomed to. Like the famous conservationist Sarah Palin once said: “for when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Solar generation is about 4 times more expensive (without subsidies) to produce energy than coal and gas, but has important niche applications, such as on roofs for backup in case of short grid failures and for peak power assist. The Amish people have given many practical applications on how to live off the grid.

Wind power is cheaper when the wind blows, but the full 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. In addition, wind power kills birds, the free yearly quota of allowable Bald Eagle kills was upped from 1200 to 4200 during the Obama administration. Golden Eagles and a few other rare birds have a quarter of a million dollar fine associated with their kills. If wind power is increased without finding a solution to the bird kills, whole species may become extinct.

Hydroelectric power is for all practical purpose maxed out, except one large untapped resource; the Kongo river in Africa. Some hydro electrical project do more harm than good, such as the Aswan Dam in Egypt, and some are waiting for the next big earthquake, such as the Three Gorges Dam in China.

Geothermal power is good but difficult and risky to utilize in geologically unstable areas.

Biomass should never be burned for electricity production but be used for soil regeneration to combat erosion. Only polluted biomass such as medical waste and plastics should be incinerated at high temperature, complete with scrubbers to eliminate poisonous gases.

All necessary cleanup and recycling consume a lot of energy, and it has to be generated somehow. We would like save some Coal, Natural Gas and Petroleum for our great grandchildren. This leaves us only

Nuclear power.  After a nearly thirty year hiatus in building new nuclear power plants they are slowly being built again. The permit process is fraught with citizen opposition (NIMBY), very strict bureaucratic delay, first by the Three Mile Island incident, then by the Chernobyl disaster/unintended sabotage, and finally by the Fukushima catastrophe. In addition conventional nuclear power produces large amounts of transuranium waste products that has to be stored for a million years. The Obama administration ended reprocessing of spent fuel rods, so not only must the transuranium products be stored, but also some unused U235. This makes conventional nuclear power using enriched Uranium too expensive to compete against coal or natural gas. But there are powerful commercial interests to keep it this way. After the Westinghouse bankruptcy GE has a virtual monopoly on nuclear power. They are in no hurry to make any changes.

There is a better way: Thorium Nuclear power. The advantages are:

1. A million years supply at today’s consumption levels.

2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

3. One ten-thousandth of the TRansUranium waste compared to a U-235 based fast breeder reactor.

4. Thorium based nuclear power produces Pu-238, needed for space exploration.

5. Radioactive waste from an LFTR decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors.

6. Thorium based nuclear power is not suited for making nuclear bombs.

7. Produces isotopes that helps cure certain cancers.

8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

9. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel ia already molten.

10. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

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

12. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

13. Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

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

15. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will lessen the need for an expanded national grid.

17. Russia has an active Thorium program.

18. China is having a massive Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program.

20. United States used to be the leader in Thorium usage. What happened?

21. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

22. With a Molten Salt Reactor, disasters like Chernobyl are impossible.

23. With Molten Salt Reactors, a catastrophe like Fukushima cannot happen.

24. Produces electrical energy at about 4 cents per KWh.

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

There is no time to waste. This is my suggestion list:

1. Immediately take Thorium off the list of “source materials”. While Thorium is radioactive slightly above background radiation no amount of Thorium can make it go critical, and it cannot be source material for making bombs.

2. Make separate regulations for Thorium based Nuclear plants apart from Uranium plants. One thing that goes away is the need for evacuation zones due to the inherent safety of Thorium Nuclear plants.

3. Declare Thorium Nuclear Power to be the preferred replacement for Coal or Gas powered electric plants.

4. Streamline the permit process, like Uranium powered plants enjoyed when there was a desire to build Nuclear Bombs.

5. Increase research and development into Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactors to speed up their development.

6. Develop hybrid Tokamak powered Thorium reactors like the one Russia is developing to burn off transuraniun  nuclear waste products.

With all this done, I envision coal, gas and biofuel Power stations to be eliminated within ten years, and transuranium waste products to be eliminated within twenty years.

When Coal, gas and biofuel are eliminated as source for Electric Power, then it is time to switch most of the transportation to electric cars and trucks, but not before.

After that, maybe, just maybe it is time for Fusion Power to take over.

Let us get going!

 

 

The need to develop Thorium based Nuclear Energy as the major electric energy supply. 21. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen.

With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like the Three Mile Island disaster will not happen. Ah yes, I remember it well, March 28, 1979. We lived in South East Pennsylvania at the time, well outside the evacuation zone, but a fellow engineer at work took off, took vacation and stayed at a hotel in western Virginia over the weekend fearing a nuclear explosion. My wife went to a retreat just outside the evacuation zone, and none of them so much as heard of any problem, there never was any evacuation. There was concern though, and a disaster it was indeed with a partial meltdown of the core, rendering the installation a total loss, just a big, forever cleanup bill. The cost so far has totaled over 2 billion dollars.

A combination of personnel error, design deficiencies, and component failures caused the TMI accident, which permanently changed both the nuclear industry and the NRC. Public fear and distrust increased, NRC’s regulations and oversight became broader and more robust, and management of the plants was scrutinized more carefully. Careful analysis of the accident’s events identified problems and led to permanent and sweeping changes in how NRC regulates its licensees – which, in turn, has reduced the risk to public health and safety.

The side effect of increased regulation is increased cost and delay in construction of new nuclear plants. Eventually, more than 120 reactor orders were cancelled, and the construction of new reactors ground to a halt. Of the 253 nuclear power reactors originally ordered in the United States from 1953 to 2008, 48 percent were canceled.

Another side effect of the TMI accident is fear of trying a different and safer approaches, since they conflict with existing regulations. The next Nuclear power reactor came online in 2016, but it is the same type of boiling water reactor as before, not a Molten Salt Thorium reactor with its increased safety.

 

Bill Nye knows nothing of Climate Change Science. A Limerick. Al Gore and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are worse.

The Roman Northamptonshire wine

was good, not exquisitely fine.

So it just goes to show

that Bill Nye does not know

of Climate Change past, that’s my line.

The “Science guy” Bill Nye once claimed that we are as a globe heating up rapidly and are at the point of no return and the only solution is to drastically reduce burning fossil fuel. As a proof he pointed out that they have started to grow wine grapes in England, unprecedented in history in his opinion.

During the Roman warm period wine grapes were grown almost up to the Hadrian Wall, and there may have been over ten wineries in England. Then the dark ages came and grapes no longer ripened so the wineries were abandoned. During the Medieval Warm Period there was at least one cattle farm on Greenland,  “Gården under sanden”, exporting cheese, seal skins and meat, as well as peregrine falcons, much sought after by the Arabs. But it was abandoned around 1200 A.D. as the glaciers regrew, starting the “Little Ice Age”. We are still recovering from the little ice age. 2018 may have been a warm year, but most years since the ice age were warmer. See Chart.Greenlandgisp-last-10000-newWe are still in the sweet spot of a remarkable stable climate. The next major climate change will be the onset of another ice age. Most of the time the earth is in an ice age.

Image result for ice ages

As we can see, most of the time the earth is in a glacial state. It gets really interesting when we see the temperature versus CO2.

Image result for ice age co2 levels

A similar chart led Al Gore to write “Earth in the balance” since the correlation between CO2 and temperature seemed almost perfect and CO2 is rising faster and faster. His conclusion was that temperature will soon follow, and we are all doomed. All Arctic ice would be melted by 2015, Greenland was soon to follow, and by 2020 the tipping point would occur after which we were all doomed unless we stopped burning fossil fuel and produced no more CO2 than what plants absorbed, the so called sustainable model.

We know these facts: If there were no greenhouse effect the average temperature on earth would be -18C, half a degree more or less dependent on solar activity. But, thanks to greenhouse gases it is a comfortable +15C. The two most important greenhouse gases are water vapor and CO2, and of the two water vapor are by far the most important, contributing more than 3/4 of the total temperature rise. We know that if nothing else changes, temperature rise would be between 0.9 and 1.05C for every doubling of CO2. But if temperature rises there would be more water vapor in the atmosphere, so the total rise must be more, maybe as much as 8C per doubling of CO2. This assumption is wrong on at least two accounts. First, water vapor and CO2 absorption spectra are not orthogonal, that is , they absorb mostly in the same wavelengths, and you can not absorb more than all the energy available in that wavelength, so if water vapor absorbed 90% and CO2 30% the total sum of absorption is not 120%, but 93% (0.9 +0.3×0.1). There are over 30 government funded climate models that makes this mistake, and they form the basis for the IPCC climate assessment. Only one, the Russian model does not, they base their model on measurements, and it works much better, so it has been excluded from the IPCC as an outlier.

Second, and even more important, water vapor is a condensing gas and forms clouds when the temperature is below the dew point. This means that part of the indwelling sunlight radiation is reflected back into space rather than hitting earth, and that has a larger effect on temperature than the night time reflection back to earth of the long wave radiation. Can we measure that? Clouds are fickle, they come and go and are hard to grasp. Luckily we have the CERES data set, measuring temperature versus surfaca absorption. The results are staggering.

(Thanks,Willis Eschenbach) Note that 3.7 W/m2 is the increase in downwelling longwave radiation expected from a doubling of CO2 …

There we have it! 0.38C temperature rise globally for every doubling of CO2.

But that is not all! It depends on where on earth we are. Check this temperature rise chart:

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/uah-lower-troposphere-temperature.jpg

Since 1980 CO2 has risen from 335 ppm to about 405 ppm now or about 21%. This change should show itself in rising temperatures. As we can see from this chart there has been no temperature increase at all except for el nino- la nina variations. The tropics has found its temperature since it is mostly water vapor, and CO2 increase is of no consequence. Not so at the poles! The temperature rise at the poles has so far been about 1.2C above the Arctic Polar Circle, less so below the Antarctic polar circle.

What does it mean when the temperature rises in the Arctic? It means More Snow! And we can see that this is happening.

From Rutgers University climate lab comes this chart of fall snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere. This year’s snow cover is about 5% larger than last year at the same day, so we can clearly see that the increasing trend is not broken; if anything, it is accelerating. The snow is also melting faster in the spring and summer, but melting snow keeps temperature in check, so even though winter temperatures are rising (It is less cold in the winter when it is snowing. After the snow comes the cold) the summer temperatures are below normal as long as the extra snow lasts.

Let us go to ice cover, this time on the Great Lakes. If there is any climate change they should surely show it: March 8 2019 the Great Lakes ice concentration hit 80 percent.

Lake Superior and Lake Erie both had an ice cover of over 95%, Lake Huron over 90%. Only Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario lagged with 60% and 40% ice cover.

This has happened only seven times in the last 45 years that the maximum ice cover has exceeded 80%. And if one looks at a graph, there seems to be no trend whatsoever.

But we just had a streak of bad tornado outbreaks. Isn’t that a sign of climate change?

Historically, strong tornadoes are declining.

And until this year the trend was down even further

So, tornadoes are down. How about wild fires?

Wildfires used to be much worse before modern forest management (Smokey the bear was the symbol) was initiated. Recent environmental concerns has led to a reversal of proper forest management “to save the environment”.

What else does increasing CO2 bring?  Take a look at all disasters.

Image result for disaster statistics

There seems to have been a strong increase in reported disasters. Could it be that the reporting got better after year 2000, after which we see a slightly declining trend?

Image result for death rate from disasters

We seem to be able to handle disasters better. It was much worse a long time ago. Or – the climate is getting more stable.

How about droughts?  Here is a chart of droughts worldwide

Image result for worldwide droughts

And the U.S. has not been so drought free since measurements started

Image result for worldwide droughts

Yes, but that is because there has been unprecedented rain with unprecedented floods. Isn’t that the extreme climate we are talking about? Yes the Missisippi watershed has gotten a lot of rain lately, and it occurs at a time when the solar activity is at its lowest, in other words, it should be getting colder, but since it is raining and snowing so much this releases a lot of heat into the atmosphere while it is raining out, so the cooling is masked. It is also true that building levees to protect cities increases the flooding in the non levied parts of the rivers, a dilemma indeed.

Could it be that increasing CO2 is good for the climate?

Yes there is a Green New Deal associated with increased CO2! The world is getting greener!

Increasing CO2 helps climate resiliency by greening the earth.

https://lenbilen.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/increase.png?w=660

(iii) healthy food;

Increasing CO2 helps increasing food supply. This is good for both people and animals. As a side benefit photosynthesis is more efficient and uses less water as CO2 increases.

What do you think? We have enormous environmental challenges, and pollution. CO2 is not a pollutant, but will help delay the coming of the next ice age.

 

 

The need to develop Thorium based Nuclear Energy as the major electric energy supply. 8. Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe.

Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are 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. All that is needed is a melt-plug that is constantly cooled by cold air. In an earthquake the cold air flow automatically shuts off, and since the fuel is already molten, it will then run down into channels like pig-iron into cooling heat exchangers with  water supplied through 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 reactor shutdown will complete safely without additional power, even if the earthquake is so bad the reactor is broken into pieces.

China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. Why is that important?

One week ago, President Xi and Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator, visited a rare earth metals mine in Jiangxi province. This has led to the rumor that China is seriously considering restricting rare earth exports to the US. China may also take other countermeasures in the future. The trade negotiations between U.S. and China got a lot more serious. It extends far beyond tariffs and intellectual property, it now involves strategic materials.

The first thing we must realize is that rare earth metals are not all that rare. They are a thousand times or more abundant than gold or platinum in the earth crust and easy to mine, but a little more difficult to refine. Thorium and Uranium will  also be mined at the same time as the rare earth metals since they appear together in the ore.

Related image

U.S. used to be the major supplier of rare earth metals, which was fine up to around 1984. Then the U.S. regulators determined that Uranium and Thorium contained in the ore made the ore radioactive, so they decided to make rare earth metal ore subject to nuclear regulations with all what that meant for record keeping and control. This made mining in the U.S. unprofitable so in 2001 the last domestic mine closed down. China had no such scruples, such as human and environmental concerns, so they took over the rare earth metals mining and in 2010 controlled over 95% of the world supply, which was according to their long term plan of controlling the world by 2025.

Rare Earth Element Production

The U.S. used to have a strategic reserve of rare earth metals, but that was sold off in 1998 as being no longer cost effective or necessary. Two years later the one U.S. rare earth metals mine that used to supply nearly the whole world, the Mountain Pass Mine in California closed down, together with its refining capacity. From that day all rare earth metals were imported. In 2010 it started up again together with the refining capacity but went bankrupt in 2015, closed down the refining but continued selling ore to China. They just announced they will start up refining again late 2020. Meanwhile China is slapping on a 25% import tariff on imported ore starting July 1. Rare earth metals may be in short supply for a while.

So, why is this important? Just take a look at all the uses for rare earth metals. The most sought after pays all the cost of mining and refining, and the rest are readily available at nominal cost.

The Chinese almost got away with it, and that is but one reason the trade negotiations are so complicated and hard fought, but necessary. Donald Trump fights for reciprocity and fair competition.

The Philadelphia Soft drinks tax, a disaster, a Limerick.

The City of Philadelphia has levied an 1.5 cents per ounce of soft drinks.

So, if you buy one gallon of sweetened ice tea for 1.72 (on special) you end up paying 1.92 in tax, for a total of of 3.64, a 112 percent tax.

philly-beverage-taxpng-63dc7e14e957b452

The soda tax levied in Philly

all soft drinks are taxed willy nilly.

Aspartame is taxed too

sugar drinks, shame on you.

The tax that lacks facts, Philly silly.

Nearly one third of Philadelphians  receive food stamps (SNAP).

According to a new study released by the Food and Nutrition Service, the federal agency responsible for running the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), soft drinks are the #1 expenditure for people on food stamps (# 2 for the general population).

Great job, Philadelphia! Tax the people on food stamps! It would have been better to make soft drinks not eligible for food stamps!  (They would have to settle for 70% or more non carbonated fruit juices!)

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So, what was the result of the beverage tax!

Wonders never cease. People stopped buying their soda in the city (and almost undoubtedly a lot of other shopping list items) and decided to shop where prices were lower. The study they reference also goes on to note that there was no corresponding increase in sales of bottled water or healthier beverage options. And as for the revenue question? They don’t even delve into that, but you can do the math easily enough. The tax on soda increased by 17%, but the sales fell by 51%. The only people left paying the soda tax were those without transportation alternatives, such as people on SNAP. The rest took the more economic option, shop elsewhere.

The results were devastating. Many ShopRite stores closed within Philadelphia boundaries, and many mom and pop stores finally gave up, leaving the most needy with even fewer shopping alternatives.

The Democrats solution to this problem would normally be to launch an all out effort to tax all soft drinks nationwide equally, but instead Philadelphia may throw in the towel and give up with the damage to the city’s economy already done.