China, Myanmar, U.S.A. and rare earth metals. This may be serious.

In early May, 2019, 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 extended far beyond tariffs and intellectual property, it began to involve control of 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 the regulatory agencies decided to make rare earth metal ore subject to nuclear regulations with all what that meant for record keeping and control. This made mining of rare earth metals in the U.S. unprofitable, so in 2001 the last domestic mine closed down. China had no such scruples, such as human or 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.

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 restarted  refining again late 2020.

 

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 were so complicated and hard fought, but necessary. Donald Trump fought for reciprocity and fair competition.

For example, according to a 2013 report from the Congressional Research Service, each F35 Lightning II aircraft requires 920 pounds of rareearth materials. Who is making the most critical parts to this airplane? You guessed it – China, from our drawings and according to our specifications.

Here is  a picture of the F-35

Image result for f-35

And here is a picture of the Chinese clone, the J-20, stealth capacity and all.

Image result for chinese j-20 vs f-35

It is a lot cheaper to steal technology than to develop your own.

Not all rare earth metals are of equal importance, and this is reflected in their price. The rare earth metals mined in Myanmar are high in the most sought after metals, such as neodymium and dysprosium 

November saw the prices of all major Chinese-sourced rare earths spike, but especially those used in magnets. In particular, the research note mentioned neodymium, which is the most common rare earth used in making magnets, which rose by 27% since early in November, up over 50% year to date. Several other key rare earths also increased in value last month, including dysprosium (+17%), gadolinium (+9%) and terbium (+27%).

Another factor in the price surge is a new law that came into force in China on December 1, Hamilton noted. Known as the Export Control Law, it creates new regulations that give the government more control over such exports as technology and rare earths.

It turns out that Myanmar provides half of China’s need for neodymium and dysprosium, so any disruption in the supply would be most unwelcome for China.

China has been hard at work trying to keep a near monopoly on rare earth metals, by securing patents> Here is a chart of recently issued patents

https://cdn.i-scmp.com/sites/default/files/d8/images/methode/2021/02/03/8e8a1524-65dd-11eb-bc00-908c10a5850a_972x_175322.jpg

Yogi Berra once said: Predictions are hard, especially about the future Here are the predictions for rare earth metals prices:

On February 1 there was a coup in Myanmar, and the military took over power. Prices of some rare earth metals spiked to more than estimated 2025 levels.

China has been quietly exploring the economic damage it could inflict to US and European companies – including defense contractors – if they were to impose export ‘restrictions’ on 17 rare-earth materials, according to a report in the Financial Times.

FT added that “[t]he Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last month proposed draft controls on the production and export of 17 rare earth minerals in China, which controls about 80% of global supply.”

Before being voted out of office, President Trump and his administration sought to take steps that might help the US limit China’s resource dominance in this area, including signing an executive order declaring a “national emergency” in the US mining and minerals industry (much of which remains focused on digging coal out of the ground). China has been widely acknowledged as dominant in the rare-earth minerals market for decades.

But with Trump out, and a much more China-friendly administration back in power in Washington, it looks like Beijing is already considering playing hardball to get what it wants.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is considering sanctions against Myanmar, a country that is poorer than Bangladesh.

China is the world’s dominant producer of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used in consumer electronics and military equipment. But it relied on Myanmar for about half its heavy rare earth concentrates in 2020, says Adamas Intelligence managing director Ryan Castilloux.

Myanmar is therefore an “exceptionally critical supplier of … feedstocks that are essential ingredients in high-strength permanent magnets for electric vehicle traction motors, wind power generators, industrial robots and a wide array of defense-related applications”, he said.

There has been no sign of disruption for now, since Myanmar’s rare earth mines are under the control of autonomous militia groups, but the test will come after the Lunar New Year holiday, which has just ended.

 

 

 

The Great Global climate change Swindle.

This is a very good summary of the origin and development of the Global Warming hypothesis and its origin in the Global Governance movement. After all, the first Earth day was set to be the 100 year anniversary of Lenin.

It is over one hour long, but well worth the time. Listen carefully.

 

Clouds, water vapor and CO2 – why nearly all climate models fail. – and a Limerick.

 

Fear spreads up on Capitol Hill

The Climate change will break their will.

AOC: In Ten years

our world disappears!

She acts as a New Green Deal shill.

Quote from Alexandria Occasio-Cortez in January 2019: “Millennials and Gen Z and all these folks that come after us are looking up, and we’re like, ‘The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change, and your biggest issue is how are we gonna pay for it?’ ” she said.

I beg to differ.

We live in only one world. As a concerned citizen I realize we have immense environmental challenges before us, with water pollution; from plastics in the ocean, excess fertilizer in the rivers, poison from all kinds of chemicals, including antibiotics, birth control and other medicines flushed down the toilet after going through our bodies, animals fed antibiotics, pest control, weed control and so on. Increasing CO2 is not one of the problems, it will in fact help with erosion control, and allow us to feed more people on less agricultural land with proper management, and require less fertilizer and water to do so. In fact, proper water management is a larger problem, with some rivers no longer even reaching the ocean. All water is already spoken for, especially in the 10 to 40 degrees latitude, where most people live.

Allow me to be somewhat technical and give the background to why I know we will never experience the thermal runaway they are so afraid of.

Many years ago I worked at Hewlett Packard on an Atomic Absorption Detector. It was a huge technical success but a commercial failure, as it was too expensive to use for routine applications. However it found a niche and became the detector of choice when dismantling the huge nerve gas stockpiles remaining from the cold war. I was charged with doing the spectrum analysis and produce the final data from the elements. One day two salesmen came and tried to sell us  a patented device that could identify up to 21 different elements with one analysis. They had a detector that divided the visual band into 21 parts, and bingo, with proper, not yet “fully developed” software you could now analyze up to 21 elements with one gas chromath analysis. What could be better? We could only analyze correctly four or five elements simultaneously. It turns out the elements are absorbing in the same wavelength bands, scientifically speaking they are not orthogonal, so software massaging can only go so far. It turned out that the promised new detector was inferior to what we already had and could only quantify three or 4 elements at the most.

In the atmosphere the two most important greenhouse gases are water vapor and CO2 with methane a distant third. Water vapor is much more of a greenhouse gas everywhere except near the tropopause high above the high clouds and near the poles when the temperature is below 0 F, way below freezing. A chart shows the relationship between CO2 and water vapor:

Image result for h20 and co2 as greenhouse gases

Source: http://notrickszone.com/2017/07/31/new-paper-co2-has-negligible-influence-on-earths-temperature/

Even in Barrow, Alaska water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas. Only at the South Pole (And North Pole) does CO2 dominate (but only in the winter).

All Climate models take this into account, and that is why they all predict that the major temperature increase will occur in the polar regions with melting icecaps and other dire consequences. But they also predict a uniform temperature rise from the increased forcing from CO2 and the additional water vapor resulting from the increased temperature.

This is wrong on two accounts. First, CO2 and H2O gas are nor orthogonal, that means they both absorb in the same frequency bands. There are three bands where CO2 absorbs more than H2O in the far infrared band, but other than that H2O is the main absorber. If H2O is 80 times as common as CO2 as it is around the equator, water vapor is still the dominant absorber, and the amount of CO2 is irrelevant.

Secondly gases cannot absorb more than 100% of the energy available in any given energy wavelength! So if H2O did absorb 80% of the energy and CO2 absorbed 50%, the sum is not 130%, only 90%. (0.8 + 0.5×0,2 or 0.5 + 0.8×0.5). In this example CO2 only adds one quarter of what the models predict.

How do I know this is true? Lucky for us we can measure what increasing CO2 in the atmosphere has already accomplished. For a model to have credibility it must be tested with measurements, and pass the test. There is important evidence suggesting the basic story is wrong. All greenhouse gases work by affecting the lapse rate in the tropics. They thus create a “hot spot” in the tropical troposphere. The theorized “hot spot” is shown in the early IPCC publications. (Fig A)

Fig. B shows observations. The hotspot is not there. If the hotspot is not there, the models must be wrong. So what is wrong with the models? This was reported in 2008 and the models still assume the additive nature of greenhouse gases, even to the point when more than 100% of the energy in a given band is absorbed.

How about Methane? Do not worry, it absorbs nearly exclusively in the same bands as water vapor and has no measurable influence on the climate.

But it will get warmer at the poles. That will cause melting of the ice-caps? Not so fast. When temperature rises the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, so it will snow more at higher latitudes. While winter temperatures will be higher with more snowfall, this will lower the summer temperatures until the extra snow has melted. And that is what is happening in the Arctics

As we can see from this picture, the winters were about 5 degrees warmer, but starting from late May through early August temperatures were lower. It takes time to melt all the extra snow that fell because of the less cold air, able to contain more water vapor.

These are my suggestions

  1. Do not worry about increasing CO2 levels. The major temperature stabilizer is clouds, and they will keep the earth from overheating by reflecting back into space a large amount of incoming solar radiation. Always did, and always will, even when the CO2 concentration was more than 10000 ppm millions of years ago. Ice ages will still come, and this is the next major climate change, maybe 10000 years from now, probably less.
  2. Clean up rivers, lakes and oceans from pollution. This is a priority.
  3. Limit Wind turbine electric energy to areas not populated by large birds to save the birds. Already over 1.3 million birds a year are killed by wind turbines, including the bald and Golden Eagles that like to build their aeries on top of wind turbines.
  4. Do not build large solar concentration farms. They too kill birds.
  5. Solar panels are o.k. not in large farms, but distributed on roofs to provide backup power.
  6. Exploit geothermal energy in geologically stable areas.
  7. Where ever possible add peak power generation and storage capacity to existing hydroelectric power plants by pumping back water into the dams during excess capacity.
  8. Add peak power storage dams, even in wildlife preserves. The birds and animals don’t mind.
  9. Develop Thorium based Nuclear Power. Russia, China, Australia and India are ahead of us in this. Streamline permit processes. Prioritize research. This should be our priority, for when the next ice age starts we will need all the CO2 possible.
  10. Put fusion power as important for the future but do not rush it, let the research and development be scientifically determined. However, hybrid Fusion -Thorium power generation should be developed.
  11. When Thorium power is built up and has replaced coal and gas fired power plants, then is the time to switch to electric cars, not before.
  12. Standard Nuclear Power plants should be replaced by Thorium powered nuclear plants, since they have only 0,01% of the really bad long term nuclear waste.
  13. Start thinking about recovering CO2 directly from the air and produce aviation fuel. This should be done as Thorium power has replaced coal and gas fired power plants.
  14. This is but a start, but the future is not as bleak as all fearmongers state.

Re-signing the Paris Accord, a very bad idea, even for the environment! A Limerick.

Don’t fall for the Paris accord!

A bondage we ill can afford

CO2 keeps us free

Food for you, food for me.

The temperature sham sows discord.

According to alarmists’ climate change models, staying out of the Paris accord will increase global temperatures by 0.05 to 0.17 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, a catastrophe too big to fathom. See the official chart!

These predictions are according to an average of climate change models, all sponsored by various governments in one way or another.

Here is a chart of 73 climate models, and the results of 6 observations.

And how is the current global temperature trend performing right now? There was  A  “pause” for over 19 years even though CO2 was increasing at 3 ppm (nearly one percent) per year! Then came a temperature rise. Here is a chart of the worldwide UAHv6 for the last 24 years.

With the discrepancy of more than half a degree C between the average of the climate models and observations, it pays to be skeptical of even the 0.17 degrees.

This chart shows the growth of China. Not only are they consuming 47% of the world’s coal production, they are also making 30 times more cement than  U.S. Cement production releases CO2, by replacing carbonate with sulfate.

And with the Paris accord, China was free to grow emissions until 2030, up to 6 times U.S. output, and get paid for it! And we were to pay them!

What is China doing with all its cement? Building artificial islands? Bunkers? Ghost cities?

world-cement-production_2

Well, it takes a lot of cement to build artificial islands in the South China Sea!

china3

 

Vitamin D as COVID-19 fighter, a most important virus fighter!

The organization Grassroots health put out the results of 212 people that had the COVID-19 virus, roughly 50 each having a critical or severe or normal or mild outcome. The results were stunning. Nearly all with a high level of vitamin D level in the blood had a mild outcome, as opposed to those with a vitamin D deficiency.

Up to now vitamin D deficiency has mostly been a concern for the people with the following risk factors, but not as a virus fighter.

  • Osteoporosis or other bone disorder
  • Previous gastric bypass surgery
  • Age; vitamin D deficiency is more common in older adults.
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exposure to sunlight
  • Having a darker complexion
  • Difficulty absorbing fat in your diet

It should be fairly simple and fast to expand this analysis to a larger sample of people that also include people with antibodies to COVID-19 but never showed any symptoms.

If this holds true, we did the exact wrong thing by keeping people indoors in hope to slow the spread. Instead we should have encouraged people to be outdoors as much as possible, still practicing hygiene and social distance, give vitamin D to all over 65 (4000 IU), to all obese and people of dark complexion.

This is by no means the only suggestion, but it is one more weapon in the arsenal to combat this virus.

An Indonesian study indicates the link between Vitamin D Deficiency and death is even stronger:

 

It is correct special attention should be given African Americans and Native Americans, since they have a much higher rate of Vitamin D deficiency.

Conclusion: The AMA should start paying attention to food supplements and issue recommendations for Vitamin D that it is an  important therapeutic and prophylactic against COVID-19.

This also means that forbidding outdoor dining, forcing people to eat indoors in their own homes makes matters worse. This is also confirmed by the statistics of lockdown states, they do worse after lockdown than before. In contrast, states with less confinement are nearly all well past their peak.

 

 

Climate change and the Paris climate agreement. A Limerick.

Re-enter the Paris accord?

A folly we ill can afford.

We’ll help China pollute,

they won’t still give a hoot.

Re-sign is a Damocles sword.

I am a climate realist, that means I look at the totality of what is happening to the climate with increasing CO2 levels, and what it means for our future.

Climate alarmists and IPCC believe that the thermal response to increasing CO2 is a feedback gain from increasing water vapor that results from higher temperatures, leading to much higher temperatures. Current climate model averages indicate a temperature rise of 4.7 C by 2100 if nothing is done, 4.65 C if U.S keeps all its Paris commitments and 4.53 C if all countries keep their part of the agreement. In all cases, with or without Paris agreement we are headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

As the chart indicates, implementing all of the Paris agreement will delay the end of mankind as we know it by at most 4 years.

The cost is staggering. The developing countries want at least 100 billion dollars a year to implement the Paris accord, all paid for by the developed countries. The most infuriating thing about that is that China is considered a developing country, and being a developed country The U.S., while reducing their CO2 footprint will be paying China until the year 2030 to further develop their coal burning electric plants until the China CO2 output is six times our output. They had plans to add 65 GW  (+6.5%) of coal-burning power plants this year alone to their grid. The china-virus delayed that by a few months, but their intent is still to dominate the world by 2025. They already consume 48% of the world’s output of coal, produce over half of the world’s steel and cement (it takes a lot of reinforced concrete to create multiple islands in the South China Sea).

clip_image004

 

Myself and quite a few scientists, meteorologists, but mostly engineers believe the feedback loop in nature is far more complicated than what the climate models suggest, in fact, there is a large negative feedback in the system, preventing a temperature runaway, and we have the observations to prove it.  The negative feedback manifests itself in 2 ways:

Inorganic feedback, represented by clouds. If there were no clouds, the tropics would average a temperature of  140 F  thanks to the greenhouse effect. The clouds reflect back up to 300 W/m2 into space rather than the same energy being absorbed into water or soil. Clouds are highly temperature dependent, especially cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. The figure below shows temperature at the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Cumulus clouds are formed in the morning, earlier the warmer it is, and not at all if it is cold, thunderstorms appear when it is warm enough. The figure shows how temperature in the equatorial Pacific rises until about 8:30 a.m, then actually declines between 9 and 12 a.m. even as the sun continues to rise. The feedback, which was positive at low temperatures becomes negative at warmer temperatures, and in the equatorial doldrums, surface temperature has found its equilibrium. No amount of CO2 will change that. Equatorial temperature follows the temperature of the ocean, warmer when there is an el niño, cooler when there is a la niña. Here is a chart of temperature increases since satellite measurements began as a function of latitude.

The tropics follow the ocean temperature closely, no long term rising trend, the extra-tropics are also stable.

Not so at the poles. the temperature record indicate a noticeable warming with large spikes up and down, up to 3 degree Celsius difference from year to year, especially the Arctic. So, how much has the Arctic melted? Here is a chart of Arctic ice cover for 31 May for the last 39 years.

If this trend continues, all ice may melt in 300 to 400 years, faster if there is further warming and nothing else is changing. Let’s take a look at the Arctic above the 80th latitude, an area of about 3,85 million square kilometers, less than 1% of the earth’s surface, but it is there where global warming is most pronounced. Here are two charts from 2016 and 2017.

meanT_2017

Starting at summer 2016, the Arctic was melting quite normally, but something else happened that is not shown in the chart. Every 5 years or so, the Arctic suffer a large storm with full hurricane strength during the summer. In 2016 there was no one, but two such storms, and as they happened late in the season when the ice is rotten they result in a large ice loss, making the ice minimum the lowest on record, and the ice volume nearly 4,000 Gigatons (Gt) less than the 30 year normal. Then the temperature from October thru April did run 7 degree Celsius warmer than normal with a spike as high as 20 degrees warmer. Yet today the deficit is down to 2,500 Gt. What happened? It snowed more than normal. In the Arctic, it gets warmer under clouds, warmer still when it snows. Take a look at Greenland and what happened during the freezing season. It snowed and snowed and Greenland accumulated 150 Gt more ice than normal. So, at that point in the season we were a total of 1650 Gt ahead of previous year, and this was with Arctic temperatures being seven degrees warmer than normal during the cold season. The counter-intuitive conclusion is that it may very well be that warmer temperatures produces accumulation of snow and ice, colder temperatures with less snow accumulates less. What happens during the short Arctic summer? With more snow accumulated it takes longer to melt prevous year’s snow, so the temperature stays colder longer. In 2017 the Arctic temperature was running colder than normal every day since May 1. If this melting period ended without melting all snow, multi year ice will accumulate, and if it continued unabated, a new ice age would start.

 

The second feedback loop is organic. More CO2 means more plant growth.  According to NASA there has been a significant greening of the earth, more than 10% since satellite measurements begun. This results in a cooling effect everywhere, except in areas that used to be treeless where they have a warming effect. The net effect is that we can now feed 2 billion more people than before without using more fertilizer. Check this picture from NASA, (now they can publish real science again) showing the increased leaf area extends nearly everywhere.

In addition, more leafs changes the water cycle, increases evapotranspiration, and more trees and vegetation reduces erosion and unwanted runoff. Good news all around.

In short, taking into account the negative feedback occurring the earth will warm up less than 0.5 degrees from now, not at all in the tropics, and less than 3 degrees at the poles. Without the Paris agreement there will be no increase in the death rates in the cities, except from the slight increase of city temperatures due to the urban heat effect. With the Paris agreement we will have to make draconian cuts in our use of electricity, meaning using much less air conditioning and even less heating, and life expectancy will decline.

We need energy. It takes a lot of energy to clean up the planet. Developing nations should be encouraged to use electricity rather than cooking by dried cow-dung. Coal is limited, and we should leave some for our great great grandchildren. Oil and gas should be preserved for aviation, since there is no realistic alternative with a high enough energy density. Therefore I am an advocate for Thorium based nuclear energy, being safer than Uranium based nuclear energy, and, properly implemented will produce about 0.01% of the long term radioactive waste compared to conventional nuclear power plants. And there is a million year supply  of Thorium available. Once the electricity power plants have fully switched away from coal and gas, then and only then is it time to switch to electric cars. The case for Thorium generated electric energy can be found here.

The many cases why Thorium Nuclear Power is the only realistic solution to the world’s energy problems.

 1. A million year supply of Thorium available worldwide.

 2. Thorium already mined, ready to be extracted.

 3. Thorium based nuclear power produces 0.012 percent as much TRansUranium waste products as traditional nuclear power.

 4. Thorium based nuclear power will produce Plutonium-238, needed for space exploration.

 5. Thorium nuclear power is only realistic solution to power space colonies.

 6. Radioactive waste from an Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor decays down to background radiation in 300 years compared to a million years for U-235 based reactors. A Limerick.

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

 8. Produces isotopes that helps treat and maybe cure certain cancers.

 9. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe, only gravity needed for safe shutdown.

10. Molten Salt Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten, and it is a continuous process. No need for refueling shutdowns.

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

12. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions. Much safer and simpler design.

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

14. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Nuclear reactors scale beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

15. No need for evacuation zones, Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactors can be placed near urban areas.

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

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

18. Russia has an active Thorium program.

19. India is having an ambitious Thorium program, planning to meet 30% of its electricity demand via Thorium based reactors by 2050.

 20. China is having a massive Thorium program.

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

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

23. With a Molten Salt Reactor, accidents like Chernobyl are impossible.

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

25. Will produce electrical energy at about 4 cents per kWh.

26. Can deplete most of the existing radioactive waste and nuclear weapons stockpiles.

27. With electric cars and trucks replacing combustion engine cars, only Thorium Nuclear power is the rational solution to provide the extra electric power needed.

28. The race for space colonies is on. Only Molten Salt Thorium Nuclear reactors can fit the bill.

29. President Donald J. Trump on Jan.12 issued an Executive Order on Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration. Only Liquid fluoride thorium reactors can meet all the needs.

Climate change and droughts and wildfires.

History shows us there has always been climate change, from ice age to the Minoan temperature optimum to the Roman warm period to the dark ages to the medieval warm period to the little ice age to now. The question is, where does the climate go from here, how much will it warm from here, or will it start cooling again? One question is; will wildfires contribute to global warming, or will the smoke act as a cooling agent? The only way to give an answer as a scientist is to look at what the wildfire trends are. Wildfires have decreased 25% worldwide in the last 15 years!  This is according to NASA:the full article is in https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145421/building-a-long-term-record-of-fire

One recent confession from the governor of California!

 

The question is then: Why are wildfires decreasing?

One possible exclamation, droughts are decreasing. Let us check:

No, there is no discernible trend in droughts.

Since the beginning of industrialization CO2 has risen about 50%. CO2 is the feed-stock for all plants and indeed the earth is getting greener!

Yes, most areas are getting greener. There are a few areas that are getting less green, such as the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, the South American Gran Chaco, the American South West and the edges of the Gobi desert. The global environmental challenges are still enormous, but thanks to the overall increased vegetation the earth can now feed an additional 2 billion people, not to mention provide livable habitat for many more animals.

What increased CO2 does to global temperatures will come in future installments.

The case for Thorium 20. China is having a massive Thorium program.

China is having a massive Thorium program. The People’s Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology. 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.
China is currently the largest emitter of CO2 and air pollutants by far, and according to the Paris accord was allowed to emit six times as much pollutants as the U.S. by 2030, being a “developing nation”. Their air quality is already among the worst in the world so something had to be done if they were to achieve world dominance by 2025 and total rule by 2030. Only Thorium can solve the pollution problem and provide the clean energy needed for the future. Regular Uranium Nuclear reactors require large amounts of water and Molten Salt Thorium reactors require little water to operate.

Geneva, Switzerland, 21 August 2018 – As the world struggles with a record-breaking heatwave, China correctly places its trust in the fuel Thorium and the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR) as the backbone of its nation’s plan to become a clean and cheap energy powerhouse.
​​The question is if China will manage to build a homegrown mega export industry, or will others have capacity and will to catch up?
For China, clean energy development and implementation is a test for the state’s ability. Therefore, China is developing the capability to use the “forgotten fuel” thorium, which could begin a new era of nuclear power.​
The first energy system they are building is a solid fuel molten salt reactor that achieves high temperatures to maximize efficiency of combined heat and power generation applications.
However, to fully realize thorium’s energy potential and in this way solve an important mission for China – the security of fuel supply – requires also the thorium itself to be fluid. This is optimized in the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR).
The TMSR takes safety to an entirely new level and can be made cheap and small since it operates at atmospheric pressure, one of its many advantages. Thanks to its flexible cooling options it can basically be used anywhere, be it a desert, a town or at sea. In China this is of special interest inland, where freshwater is scarce in large areas, providing a unique way to secure energy independence.
“Everyone in the field is extremely impressed with how China saw the potential, grabbed the opportunity and is now running faster than everyone else developing this futuristic energy source China and the entire world is in a great need of.”
– Andreas Norlin, Thorium Energy World
Picture
China is not telling all they are doing on Nuclear Energy.

The case for Thorium. 18. Russia has an active Thorium program.

Russia has an active 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 to be serviced will have all the power it needs. This is especially useful in the Arctic. Russia is trying to establish Arctic domination, both commercially and militarily. They have over 30 ice breakers, some of them nuclear. U.S. has two, only one of which are operational.
Russia is also trying to commercialize hybrid fusion-fission reactors:
Nuclear Engineering International: 29 May 2018

Russia develops a fission-fusion hybrid reactor.
A new fission-fusion hybrid reactor will be assembled at Russia’s Kurchatov Institute by the end of 2018, Peter Khvostenko, scientific adviser of the Kurchatov complex on thermonuclear energy and plasma technologies, announced on 14 May. The physical start-up of the facility is scheduled for 2020.The hybrid reactor combines the principles of thermonuclear and nuclear power – essentially a tokamak fusion reactor and a molten salt fission reactor. Neutrons produced in a small tokamak will be captured in a molten salt blanket located around tokamak. The facility will use Thorium as a fuel, which is cheaper and more abundant than uranium. Moreover, unlike a fusion reactor, a hybrid will not require super high temperatures to generate energy.

  • A new paper describes computer simulations of a hybrid fusion-fission reactor that runs on thorium.
  • Thorium has benefits compared with uranium reaction and has been endorsed by Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.
  • In the reactor, plasma fusion generates neutrons that fuel subsequent fission.

 

Hybrid reactors reduce the impact of the nuclear fuel cycle on the environment. The concept combines conventional fission processes and fusion reactor principles, comprising a fusion reactor core in combination with a subcritical fission reactor. The results of the fusion reaction, which would normally be absorbed by the cooling system of the reactor, would feed into the fission section, and sustain the fission process. Thorium in a molten salt blanket will enable breeding of uranium-233.

Some of the expected advantages include:

  • Utilization of actinides and transmutation from long-lived radioactive waste;
  • An increase in energy recovered from uranium by a large factor;
  • The inherent  safety of the system, which can be shut down rapidly; and
  • High burnup of fissile materials leaving few by-products.

The hybrid fission-fusion reactor is seen as a near-term commercial application of fusion pending further research on pure fusion power systems.

This is very interesting, and I will follow up when I get more information.