Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Anti-fracking funding bias at work...

"Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies. The result? There's no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret. When asked at that meeting if the university planned to publicize the results, Dr. Amy Townsend-Small, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Geology and the leader of the study, said there were no plans to do so. I am really sad to say this, but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping this data could to a reason to ban it,” she said.

See: Why are they hiding the good news about fracking?

Friday, 15 April 2016

Fear of what - radiation or plentiful energy?

all that is real is rational
-- the old man

Why do greens still oppose nuclear power? OK, not all greens do, but nearly all green organizations do. Could there be a "sensible" (rational) reason for this?

The opposition to generation, and pushing for efficiency, stems from an acetic streak in the environmentalist movement. (i.e. "too much" consumption is a sin) So the fact that renewables can't generate power as well, and are not dependable, is actually a plus to that mindset.
-- Greg Barton

Nuclear France makes a lot of electricity

In France, 407 TWh (75%) out of the country's total production of 541 TWh of electricity was from fission-electric power stations. In 2012, it exported 45 TWh of electricity to other European countries. It's electricity price to household customers is the 7th-cheapest amongst the 28 members of the European Union, and also the 7th-cheapest to industrial consumers, with a rate of €0.14 per kWh to households and €0.07 per kWh to industrial consumers (2012). With a similar sized population, France uses a lot more electricity than UK. UK peak demand is about 55 GW. In February 2012, freezing temperatures across the vast majority of France saw the record peak of electricity consumption smashed, hitting 100.5 GW. A more normal French peak, in the absence of cold spells, was 82.5 GW on 9 December 2014.

The lessons I draw from this are:

  1. The more cheap electricity we make, the more we use.
  2. It's very hard to entirely decarbonize electricity. France has a lot of hydro and pumped storage too, but still has to burn some fossil.

The fact electricity consumption is so high in France might explain why so many greens are so dead against it. Apart from decarbonizing energy, the other flagship climate policy is energy efficiency - which basically means using less energy. France uses a lot of electricity. That's a "rational" reason so many greens could still be opposing nuclear power. It's their neo-Malthusian economics wot dun it - not their irrational phobia of radiation!

Why not just admit it?

One aspect of less consumption, degrowth, and doing with less, is that it's unpopular with people. Greens can't come out and say. "We want less - for everyone". It's a sure vote loser. So the public must be scared into voting for policies that give us less. Last years British election was a classic example of this. The English and Welsh Green Party actually want degrowth. The can't say that. So their 2015 manifesto actually promised growth for local economies, but admitted degrowth for the national economy. An incoherent: have your cake and eat it argument. So many green arguments are equally incoherent e.g. supporting intermittent renewables such as wind and solar despite the harm to the environment done, supporting organic farming which allows more harmful, less discriminatory pesticides, and needs more land per unit of food made. In every economic aspect, green ideas promote lower productivity, which is actually more wasteful (and less sustainable). They argue for sustainability but their policies don't actually lead there. Good evidence they don't actually want what they argue for.

But surely green fears are based on a flawed understanding of risk?

A theory goes that we form our political opinions (including pro- or anti- nuclear power, global warming, etc. according to our tribe. See David Ropeik, and cultural cognition. The problem with this notion is it overlooks the origins of environmental fears. If we examine fracking, in particular, we can see how greens manufactured an opposition against fracking by systematically lying against it. Even more damning evidence against cultural cognition is Solitaire Townsend's carbon fairly parable. If the carbon fairly could cast her spell to take away the negative effects of CO2 (global warming), then 99% of greens would vote against her. I conclude, it was the neo-Malthusian mindset wot dun it, not the fear of CAGW.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

How science broke - Greens - Final Iteration

This does not necessarily contradict anything else I wrote about them. The greens, or environmentalists have been telling us we must stop using fossil fuels for a long time. Back in the 1970s the argument was "we are running out of fossil fuel". Now the argument is: fossil fuels are catastrophically warming earth's climate, and this will kill humanity and the earth (or something like that. Woe and peril follow, anyhow), and, a secondary argument just in case the first fails!,: the pollution (CO2!, acid gases and particulates) from burning carbon fossil kills humans and sea life. How and why did the argument switch like that. From too little fossil fuel to too much? The too little fossil fuel argument was roundly defeated by reality. The more we looked for fossil fuels the more we found, including vast fields of low quality shales and tars. When we figured out how to extract the shales and tars that really blew the old argument to pieces. Today, one no longer hears greens saying "we're running out". The global warming argument was not actually a green argument, and one suspects many greens haven't a clue how it's supposed to work. The main green arguments in support of CAGW goes "Jim Hansen said it so it must be true", "97% of scientists say it's so", or even "The IPCC said it". It's basically an appeal to authority argument. It has to be. We'll find out why later.

What went wrong

If greens didn't break science who dun it? Over the course of the 20th century, people, especially Westerners came to be inculcated with paranoia over the modern world. Paranoia over our food, medicines, toys. From sugar, fat, chemicals, and GMOs in food, through to chemicals in the environment. Modern people believe we're killing ourselves. A few of these scares are legitimate. Used in large quantities, some things are harmful: radiation, benzene, asbestos. However, I'd argue that harmful substances would've been properly regulated and replaced anyway without the green movement. Nearly all the warnings of harm come from science, often posing hypotheses : X could be killing Y. This is amplified by the media to become an incessant noise of scare and paranoia. This paranoia over the present and future comes from within society, from everyone, not just greens. Greens are just a symptom of what we become when we push the argument to it's limit. Scientists are now regarded as the most legitimate purveyors of dangers, certainly by themselves. The modern green is very different to the green of 4 decades ago. Modern greens are obsessed over personal health, and care little about saving or helping baby seals, whales, or wild birds. Make it safe become the only argument in town. Even greens no longer say "we're running out". Over time that's quite a change in the green movement: from nature-loving Malthusians to paranoid health conscious anti-vaxxers, anti-GMO, ... anti-nuclear power, anti-chemicals. The common thread in greenery is their Malthusian worldview and sustainability obsessions. Renewable energy ticks the old and new boxes. Greens can convince themselves that radiation from nuclear power is killing us but solar is a green, healthy technology. The argument against fossil fuel (it's running out, stop using it) was transformed by inventing the hypothesis of catastrophic greenhouse global warming, caused by burning fossil fuel. Here there's a grain of truth - more CO2 really does warm the climate, if only infinitesimally. By demanding the hypothesis be treated as if it were a valid theory. By demonizing as deniers anyone posing an alternative. Climate warming from burning all the fossil fuel on earth is very unlikely to cause any catastrophic global warming. That isn't the point. The point was to keep on throwing shit at us to see what sticks. They just got lucky with global warming, and found a con that scientists saw as plausible. The idea needed a grain of truth otherwise it would never have been able to con so many scientists too.

Science is broke, again

The head honcho climate scientist in Britain said, in 2007, that it must be CO2 causing global warming because "we can't think what else it might be". There two fundamentally unscientific things in what she said here.

  1. There's was no significant global warming from 1999 to 2007.
  2. Scientists aren't supposed to think like this: "it must be Jim wot done it because we can't figure out who else could've". They are supposed to gather data, do experiments, form hypotheses and test those hypotheses against what they found out from data. Such validated hypotheses are called theories, which could be considered scientific truth. Everything a scientist says is not scientific truth. It could just as well be junk.
It's not as if the greens broke science, nor is it the first time science broke. Modernity broke science. Or rather our obsessive fears over chemicals, radiation, GMOs, ..., our shadow. Rather than greens being the cause of, say, no-safe-dose (LNT), or the man-made global warming hoax, we, ourselves, are to blame. We broke science. We also made the greens in our image. They are just the far extreme of what's wrong with us, where our paranoias are amplified into a way of life.

Don't be silly, science is not broke!

I hear the sarky voice of a scientist at the back of my mind. Let me answer. By broke, I mean the majority of scientists believe that a hypothesis which was never validated is true. True in the sense that it has the status of law. It governs society. True in the sense that scientists treat it as if it were valid theory. The predictive power of this hypothesis is, actually, very bad. Scientists hoodwinked themselves into believing junk. Almost forgot. At least two hypotheses have this status now. Science is well broke. It changed from the child of Enlightenment, or perhaps, even the parent to the jailor. Adorno (and Nietzsche) would love the paradox.

Enlightenment reverts to mythology, which it never really knew how to elude

  • CAGW : Catastrophic Anthropic Global Warming

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Why Will Emissions Double as We Add Wind and Solar Plants (in Ontario, or France)?

From Ontario’s Electricity Dilemma (pdf slides, page 15)

  • Wind and Solar require flexible backup generation.
  • Nuclear is too inflexible to backup renewables without expensive engineering changes to the reactors.
  • Flexible electric storage is too expensive at the moment.
  • Consequently natural gas provides the backup for wind and solar in North America.
  • When you add wind and solar you are actually forced to reduce nuclear generation to make room for more natural gas generation to provide flexible backup.
  • Ontario currently produces electricity at less than 40 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh.
  • Wind and solar with natural gas backup produces electricity at about 200 grams of CO2 emissions/kWh. Therefore adding wind and solar to Ontario’s grid drives CO2 emissions higher. From 2016 to 2032 as Ontario phases out nuclear capacity to make room for wind and solar, CO2 emissions will double (2013 LTEP data).
  • In Ontario, with limited economic hydro and expensive storage, it is mathematically impossible to achieve low CO2 emissions at reasonable electricity prices without nuclear generation.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Climate Science

In Gary Smith's climate science summary (youtube video, 75 minutes), the central argument against CO2 Man-made global warming (AGW) is:

  1. Without the greenhouse effect average earth atmosphere temperature would be -18ºC.
  2. Actual earth atmosphere temperature averages 15ºC.
  3. Earth atmosphere is 33ºC warmer due to GHG.
  4. Water vapour causes 95% of GHG effect.
  5. So other gases (including CO2) cause 5% of the effect = 1.65ºC.
  6. All the CO2 causes, at most, 4% of the GHG effect = 1.3ºC

At first glance, it looks like the climate sensitivity = 1.3ºC. Not so fast, the most important warming from CO2 is due to the first 20pmm (over a third of it). As we add more CO2 the effect tails off to a gentle slope.

When considering all the GHG effect (water vapour included), at 400 ppm, the effect of more CO2 almost plateaus.

The chart above is a model output, but the CO2 logarithmic effect was first presented by Guy Callendar, an English engineer, in 1938. The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Temperature, by G. S. Callendar, 1938, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Volume 64, Issue 275 [pdf should be available online to download]. Interested parties can make their own charts by following Callendar. Although the IPCC, and apparently, all other climate scientists accept this logarithmic effect, none of them seem to use it to arrive at climate sensitivity. The still end up with big numbers.

I conclude: yes there is a warming effect from CO2 but it is nothing like alarmists say it is. It is a tiny effect. I'm just not convinced by the science any longer.

PS 1: I don't care whether Gary Smith is considered a denier, or whatever, if alarmists can't refute his points, their argument that more CO2 is the central cause of, near catastrophic global warming is irrelevant. What catastrophe?

PS 2: I don't see alarmist climate scientists queuing up to refute the anti-nuclear power claim that nuclear power causes climate change due to the release of krypton-85. I wonder why they're so selective about whom they tar as a denier. It seems their anti-nuclear power friends in the green movement get off scot-free.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Carbon Brief : What they leave out in their pseudo-criticism of Energiewende

My reply to Carbon Brief article on German Coal. Written in the style of a letter to Carbon Brief (or not, given I'm a sloppy stylist!):

  1. Let's begin with the "planned levy on the oldest and dirtiest coal plants" which did not happen. After closing so much nuclear power plant, spending so much money on 80,000 MWe of solar and wind (about 50:50), Germany can hardly afford to increase the cost of energy even more can it? Especially when all the costs fall on consumers and few costs fall on industry. With so many consumers being disconnected from the grid because they are unable to pay for expensive German electricity.
  2. You quote Energiewende but don't list all the criteria specified by it. There are at least 6 criteria. "Fighting climate change" is but one. This gives the reader a false impression of German energy policy, implying that Energiewende is primarily about fighting climate change, which it never was.
  3. Germany is burning coal because it meets its energy demands. As simple as that. Intermittent renewables can not meet demand. They are dependent on time of day, season and weather. It is absolutely essential to provide power from fossils when renewables don't work.
  4. Another reason why Germany is burning far more fossil than planned is because the carbon intensity of intermittent renewables is a fraudulent stat. In two ways. First the fossils used to provide power when intermittents don't deliver run more inefficiently. Fossils waste heat which is not used to make electricity. Fossil plants cycle up and down more often, or they must keep burning even when their generators are not delivering, or both. Renewables will not work without dispatchable support, like fossil fuels.1
  5. Gas is an alternative to coal with half the carbon intensity. Germany phased out some gas in favour of coal because Energiewende also specifies "reducing energy imports", "energy security", and "strengthening local economies". AKA preferring coal over natural gas. Yet you must already know that because you read Energiewende. Right?
  6. The Carbon Brief criticisms of German coal burning might make sense if they expanded it to also criticise Energiewende itself and the German nuclear power shutdown. A pity Carbon Brief declined to take that opportunity in their article. Missed scoring couple of goals with opps' goalposts undefended. Which side are you playing for?

Your article gives the impression that Germany can easily close down coal-fired electricity without hurting itself. It can not. That's why they are burning so much coal.

As in "Will not work" : without blackouts.

Jacobson's WWS doesn't work with underground thermal energy storage (UTES) either

by Jaro Franta (reblogged from a Facebook page)

Jacobson’s “100% WWS” scheme (“The Solutions Project”) relies heavily on Underground thermal energy storage (UTES).

The 2015 PNAS paper references a small UTES project in Canada, the Drake Landing Solar Community (DLSC) project (a master-planned neighbourhood of 52 homes in the Town of Okotoks, Alberta).

Jacobson scales it up to the continental US, with a UTES heat capacity of 715 GW and 515 TWh of storage.

The DLSC project demonstrated a UTES efficiency of about 50%, but Jacobson assumes 56%.

Aside from the optimistic efficiency assumption, there is the larger question of the overall impact of Jacobson’s scheme.

The whole point of “100% WWS” is to de-carbonise all energy sectors, in order to reduce GHG emissions and global warming.

GHGs absorb solar radiation, converting it to heat.

Different gases have different GHG potential, depending on how effectively they absorb different frequencies of solar radiation across the spectrum, and convert it to heat (infrared radiation).

If we compare large-scale use of UTES to the effects of GHG gases, it appears that UTES would fall at the high end of environmental warming effectiveness, well above that of carbon dioxide for example (CO2) – at least in the short term.

The solar heat collectors have a very low albedo – about 5% of incident light reflected – but their efficiency in heat trapping and transfer to UTES is only about 33%, meaning that about 67% of the collected heat is lost before it gets to storage (most of that heat loss is from the large surface area of the solar panels – by conduction, convection and infrared radiation).

Of the 33% transferred to UTES only half is returned – for a net 17% usable heat.

The rest – 83% -- is heat lost to the environment, as the losses from UTES eventually pass through the surface to the atmosphere.

Of course the 17% of usable heat also winds up in the environment, as the homes and other buildings lose heat through their imperfect insulation.

But it’s a small fraction of the trapped solar heat, compared to, say, heat from burning gas or oil to heat a house.

The big difference being of course that fossil fuels emit large quantities of GHGs in the process, which contribute to the global inventory, which has a very long half-life in the atmosphere.

Nevertheless, it seems that large-scale deployment of a technology that releases 83% of trapped energy into the environment without serving a useful purpose, would figure significantly on a global heat budget.

On top of that, include the large solar collector areas where trees cannot be planted, because they would shade the equipment – trees not available to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

Plus of course all the energy used in manufacturing the equipment and drilling millions of boreholes for large-scale UTES.

Compared to the 83% thermal inefficiency of the solar-UTES system, the ~65% inefficiency of existing Gen-III nuclear power plants doesn’t seem so bad !

And there is potential for considerable improvement in the future – to about 30% inefficiency, with high-temperature reactors running on combined Brayton + Rankine conversion cycles (or 50% with high-temperature Brayton alone).

Those figures are of course for thermodynamic conversion of heat to electricity – which would then be distributed to homes for electric heating & A/C.

If Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) could be built locally, and their heat transmitted directly via a network of pipes carrying hot antifreeze (like the solar heating units), then losses could be much lower still, because the system is “dense” in the sense that it does not require large areas of heat-losing panels like the solar-UTES system.

Something close 5% overall heat loss should be feasible (compared to 83% for solar-UTES).

So from this perspective at least, it seems that nuclear is a much better option than Jacobson’s “100% WWS” – even ignoring all the other insane requirements of that scheme, such as the two-trillion-dollar construction of HVDC transmission lines all over the US, to compensate for regional solar and wind energy variation.

Long-term energy storage for winter!

The challenge is to store summer heat for winter use: (BTES stands for Borehole Thermal Energy Storage -- in other words Jacobsonès UTES)

The BTES takes about 5 years just to build up enough ground heat capacity to heat the homes through winter. For cooling, you would need a separate system, in a different location.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Toxic Environmentalism Movement

Is full of people who hate nature, and are phobic of life.

Their hatred of nature is demonstrated by their political project to plaster the world with low power density, intermittent renewables like wind and solar power. Systems which won't even make substantial dents in our carbon dioxide emissions! [as the example of Germany shows]. Because renewables can not replace hydrocarbons at scale. Yet when we prove these self-styled environmentalist wrong they just shut their eyes and stamp their feet. Can't hear, won't see. Environmentalism has to be the biggest con trick pulled on the public in the last 50 years. The greatest con of all being that the assortment of billionaires, and human-hating dysfunctionals conned us into believing they were doing all this for nature. Phobic of life: They are terrified of radiation, GMOs, vaccines, "chemicals", but immune to evidence. They routinely overstate threats because the great majority don't understand basic science, or risk-analysis, and are terrified little people living in fear of shadows, and their own propaganda, e.g. krypton-85 causes climate change!. For example, the effects of radiation are misunderstood, and significantly less than we fear, as modern research shows. GMOs are a good thing, allowing us to farm more intensively, use less fertilizer and pesticide, get higher crop yields and better crop disease resistance. More intensive farming frees up land for other uses such as recreation and nature reserves. Vaccine phobia : don't even get me started on that, I might blow a blood vessel!

A loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires presides over a vast well-knit network of like-minded funders, government bureaucrats, and enviro-activists who manufacture phony grassroots campaigns and churn out bogus propaganda disguised as science and journalism in an effort to control economic decision-making across America.
--By William Walter Kay. Captures the essence of modern environmentalism. About the only thing I disagree with is their website name: Environmentalism is Fascism. It's far more insidious than that. Fascism is out in the open and pretty honest about itself. Environmentalism is wrapped in multiple layers of deceit and lies.