Sunday, July 14, 2013

Climate consensus cracking under weight of evidence

By Larry Bell

As the President demonstrated once again during his “climate action plan” address in Georgetown, he is not someone ever to allow facts to stand in the way of ideology and Green lobby cronyism. The familiar take-away line is that even more regulation is essential to bludgeon energy producers and consumers to abandon climate-ravaging fossil fuels in favor of heavily taxpayer-subsidized “alternatives.”

Even his staunch allies in all things liberal, the New York Times, appears to have finally recognized that the feverish climate fervor behind these Green grab gambits is overheated. They reported on June 6 that, “The rise in the surface temperature of Earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.” Reporter Justin Gillis went on to admit that the break in temperature increases “highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system,” whereby the lack of warming “is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists.”

Incidentally, on the same day that the NYT wondered where the warming went, the Washington Post breathlessly reported that “Global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent to 31.6 gigatons in 2012, setting a record and putting the planet on course for temperature increases well above international climate goals.”

They went on to quote the International Energy Agency declaring that “continuing that pace could mean a temperature increase over pre-industrial times of as much as 5.3° C (9° F), which IEA chief economist Faith Birol warned ‘would be a disaster for all countries,’ ”

Yup. Climate Really Changes…Has Before…Will Again.

Should lack of actual recent observed warming be taken to mean that climate doesn’t change, or that warming won’t occur again? No…hardly. But it does suggest a couple of important things. First, and foremost, it means that theoretical climate models upon which crisis claims are entirely based can’t be trusted. Second, if those models can’t be validated, then claims of consensus attributing an unproven crisis to human CO2 emissions, or to any other cause for that matter, certainly don’t warrant legitimacy either.

Isaac Held, a research scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, says “no one has ever expected warming to be continuous, increasing like a straight line.” He’s right about that. As Fred Singer stated in my recent article, “the global climate has warmed since the Little Ice Age (about 1400-1700 AD), and it will likely continue to warm for another 200-300 years, in fits and starts, towards a max temp roughly matching that of the Medieval Warm Period.“

Held notes that observations “make it more plausible that the size of climate response to greenhouse gas increase is on the lower side of what models have been projecting over the last 10 or 20 years than over the high side.” Citing scientific uncertainty, particularly with regard to cloud influences, he said “It’s like cancer.” Held referred to “many, many research problems” posed by numerous types of clouds, each with their own special properties that might reflect or trap more or less of the sun’s heat.

Can’t Be the Models… Something Must Be Wrong With the Climate!

Mark Maslin and Patrick Austin stated in their June 2012 article in the journal Nature that, for the next UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment, “climate scientists face a serious public-image problem.” If the ClimateGate scandals weren’t enough, they observe that, “The climate models they are working with, which use significant improvements in our understanding of complex climate processes, are likely to produce wider rather than smaller ranges of uncertainty in their predictions. To the public and to policymakers, this will look as though the scientific understanding of climate change is becoming less, rather than more, clear.”

D’ya suppose they might have something there?

Maslin and Austin emphasize that a major uncertainty relates to subjective ways models are weighted. They note, for example, that “Every model has its own design and parameterizations of key processes, such as how to include clouds: and every model and its output [in IPCC’s last 2007 assessment] was assumed to be equally valid, even though some perform better than others in certain ways when tested against historic records. The differences between the models will be exacerbated in the 2013 IPCC assessment, because many, but not all, of the models have improved spatial resolution.”

Writing in The New Republic, Nate Cohn shares Maslin’s and Austin’s public climate science confidence concern: “Since 1998, the warmest year of the 20th Century, temperatures have not kept up with computer models that seemed to project steady warming: they’re perilously close to falling beneath even the lowest projections.” He observes that “in the end, the so-called scientific consensus on global warming doesn’t look much like consensus when scientists are struggling to explain the intricacies of the earth’s climate system, or uttering the word ‘uncertainty’ with striking regularity.”

Cohn then unhappily concludes, “The recent wave of news and magazine articles about scientists struggling to explain the warming slowdown could prolong or deepen the public’s skepticism.” He’s correct in acknowledging an existing and growing public skepticism.

How Trustworthy are those Models? Here’s a Reality Check.

Well-known climatologists Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville compared global mean temperature increases predicted by 73 models from 1979 to present with those actually observed. The observed temperatures were taken from four balloon radiosonde datasets and two satellite datasets which provided virtually identical trends. Less reliable ground readings weren’t used to avoid misleading trend data resulting from land-use changes around recording stations. In addition, the observed temperatures were taken from the tropical troposphere, a region where models project the strongest, least ambiguous greenhouse warming signal.

The results of the modeled versus observed trends revealed a striking contrast. Seventy of the model plots increased sharply over the measurement period, and three increased more modestly. Observed temperatures slogged along a slow incline, overall about two-thirds lower, amounting to a less than 0.25° C increase since the beginning. Many of those disproven models will serve as the basis for IPCC’s next report.

Cohn finally confesses that, “Nonetheless, the combination of imperfect data, overlapping explanations, and continued uncertainty means that scientists cannot discount the possibility that they have overestimated the climate’s ‘sensitivity’ to additional greenhouse gas emissions.”

And what are some of those overlapping explanations and uncertainties? Well, even as Cohn points out, there are unfathomable (sorry…pun intended) ocean influences…although sea surface temperatures and the upper heat content didn’t increase over the last decade by enough to account for the “missing heat” that greenhouse gas emissions should have trapped in the Earth’s climate system but couldn’t find.

So some scientists (including Kevin Trenberth) have speculated that the heat may have taken a dive into the deep ocean, beneath 700 meters (where lamentably, there are no reliable temperature measurements). And how have they arrived at this hypothesis? Well, perhaps you already guessed the answer. Of course! They developed some hypothetical, unproven guess-work models.

Another theory attributes the lack of warming to an increase in stratospheric aerosol levels since 2002. Although there hasn’t been a large volcanic eruption to blame since 1991, some have correlated this with increased coal burning from South and East Asia.

Worse Yet…Some Very Chilling Prospects.

Yes, and there are other scientists who think that the heat is missing because it never made it into the Earth’s climate system in the first place due to the fact that the sun’s energy output ebbs and wanes. In fact, scientists at Russia’s prestigious Pulkovo Observatory in St. Petersburg have stated that solar activity is waning to such an extent that the global average yearly temperature will begin to decline into a very cold and protracted climate phase.

Observatory head Habibullo Abdussamatov, one of the world’s leading solar scientists, member of the Russian Academy of Science, and director of the Russian segment of the International Space Station, points out that over the last 1,000 years deep cold periods have occurred five times. Each is correlated with declines in solar irradiance much like we are experiencing now with no human influence. “A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. The common view of Man’s industrial activity as a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect.”

Murry Salby, a climate scientist at Macquarie University in Sydney, agrees about the cause and effect reversal: “in the real world, global temperature is not controlled exclusively by CO2, as it is in the model world…in significant part CO2 is controlled by global temperature, as it is in the proxy record.” Salby points out that when models that have been predicting CO2-induced heating differ from direct observations, then they’re wrong, calling practices that claim otherwise a “cult science.”

Climate of Fear for Alarmists…Fewer People are Listening.

There can be little doubt that ongoing climate science consensus bleatings are receiving less and less of a howling response. According to Pew Research, fewer than half of all Americans now believe that scientists agree that warming is mostly due to human activities, down from 59 percent in 2006 to 45 percent today. And according to their annual policy priorities survey released last January, only 28 percent of those polled believed that global warming was a top priority for the President and Congress to address this year (ranking at the bottom of the 21 priorities listed). Four in ten of those who said it should be a top priority were Democrats, compared with only 13 percent of Republicans and about 30 percent of Independents.

Referring to flat temperatures and cooling public trust, The Economist observes that “there’s no getting around the fact that this reprieve for the planet is bad news for proponents of policies, such as carbon taxes and emission treaties, meant to slow warming by moderating the release of greenhouse gases.” The article points out that the moralizing stridency behind such policies was founded upon the idea that there is a scientific consensus about how much warming there would be if carbon emissions continue to rise according to a particular trend and heated debates regarding the economic and social damage that will result. “If that consensus is now falling apart, as it seems to be, that is, for good or ill, a very big deal.”

The Economist concludes: “The reality is that the already meager prospects of these policies, in America at least, will be devastated if temperatures do fall outside the lower bound of the projections that environmentalists have used to create a panicked sense of emergency. Whether or not impossible, to sell to the public, which will feel, not unreasonably, that the scientific and media establishment has cried wolf.”

No, that’s really not unreasonable at all. But there are a couple of larger issues. First, will someone at the New York Times please inform the President about this? Even more important…will he really care to know?


Does the environment naturally process CO2?

By Willie Deutsch

With Obama’s War on Coal in full display, the economic destruction the environmental movement is willing to cause to eliminate CO2 emissions and “save the planet” is becoming tragic.  Environmentalists depend on two claims 1.) Rising CO2 emissions will harm the planet, and 2.) Humans can emit enough CO2 emissions to effect this change.

While both claims are debatable, there are some recent studies which bring the first into doubt.  One of the primary concerns that global warming alarmists have is that over time CO2 will build up in the atmosphere causing a green house effect which will trap heat on the planet and warm the earth.  One thing missing from their equations is whether CO2 is naturally used up by the earth.  Recent studies indicate the earth has two natural processes for doing just that.

An article published July 9 entitled “Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Causing Desert Greening” details one of these studies.  “A new study, based on satellite observations, CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) reported that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have caused deserts to start greening and  increased foliage cover by 11 percent from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.”  The study used mathematical modeling together with satellite data.  The Australian scientists found that CO2 acted as a fertilizer in warm climates.  This was because “elevated carbon dioxide levels affect the photosynthesis process of a leaf causing it to consume less water to convert sunlight into sugar. This leads to plants in arid environments increasing their number of leaves.”

While the study warned of potentially dangerous secondary effects that required more research, this study seems to confirm that the earth is using up increased CO2 to create more trees, which will in turn use up more CO2 since trees continually turn CO2 into oxygen.

This reinforces research by  Dr. Craig Idso in his book, ““The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, ” discussing the potential benefits of higher CO2 levels. As a result of higher atmospheric CO2, earth’s plants are likely to sustain themselves within large portions of their natural habitats, which will also work to the advantage of animal life that depends on those plants, Idso observed at the 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting.

“The end result is a future where there will likely be a great CO2 induced proliferation of regional biodiversity as opposed to extinctions of species globally,” he said. “Lots of peer reviewed research supports this outcome.”

There is also a fascinating UCLA textbook-like summary on the relationship between plate tectonics and the carbon cycle.  In it they contend that plate tectonics act as a natural carbon recycling process through subduction and eruption:

“Subduction is the process by which continental crust slides beneath another portion of crust.  The subducting crust melts and becomes magma, the material that fuels volcanic eruption.  The melted crust contains carbon in the sediments and soils, thus recycling it through the mantle of the earth.

“The melted crust convecting through the mantle will eventually resurface in the form of lava during eruptions from volcanoes. These volcanoes were originally formed by tectonic forces–where there is an excess of magma below the crust due to subduction, it is forced to erupt.  The process of eruption includes degassing.  Degassing is where carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as the eruption occurs because the dissolved carbon in the magma is unstable and under pressure, and is therefore forced to leave the fluid.”

While clearly a much more destructive form of recycling, the idea that the earth naturally recycles CO2 is something that is often overlooked, and worth remembering.

Work by John Kehr, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Matt Ridley undercuts an even more fundamental myth of global warming alarmists: the idea that rising CO2 levels causes the earth to warm.  Writes Ridley, “First, it’s true that in the distant past (hundreds of thousands of years ago) a rise in carbon dioxide sometimes did follow a rise in temperature.” Actually, this is invariably the pattern in the ice core record, not ‘sometimes.’ Moreover, as you can see on John Kehr’s excellent graphs here, the inconvenient truth is that at the end of the Eemian interglacial temperature fell steadily for thousands of years before CO2 levels fell at all.”

The Ridley article goes on to cite studies and data which look at the earth’s historic temperature shifts, which all interestingly happened before fossil fuels were depended on for fuel, and argues there is no historic correlation between CO2 levels and the earth’s temperatures.  He admits that, “CO2 is a greenhouse gas and will in the absence of other factors cause net warming,” but finds it highly doubtful that current CO2 rises can cause dangerous warming.  Some of the factors which keep the environmentalists modeling from aligning with what actually happened and is happening probably includes the two factors outlined above, as well as other potentially still unknown processes occurring in a highly complicated biosphere.

2008 research by Christopher Monckton in “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” found that the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had most assuredly overstated the impact of CO2 on warming in its climate models.

Writes Monckton, “[T]he IPCC’s estimates of climate sensitivity must have been very much exaggerated. There may, therefore, be a good reason why, contrary to the projections of the models on which the IPCC relies, temperatures have not risen for a decade and have been falling since the phase-transition in global temperature trends that occurred in late 2001. Perhaps real-world climate sensitivity is very much below the IPCC’s estimates. Perhaps, therefore, there is no “climate crisis” at all. At present, then, in policy terms there is no case for doing anything. The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.”

This uncertainty on the impact of CO2 levels on the environment makes Obama’s War on Coal seems like the destruction of jobs and a way of life for many is based on blind faith instead of irrefutable data of an eminent impending global catastrophe.


NYC Mayor Bloomberg Announces $20 Billion Climate Change Plan

May it be as successful as his ban on large fizzy drinks!

Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a $20 billion plan to defend New York City from what he says will be the ravages of global warming in the coming decades. Bloomberg’s plan will cost the average New York City household nearly $3,000.

Bloomberg’s 430-page plan, Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, includes approximately 250 recommendations ranging from new floodwalls and storm barriers to upgrades in the city’s power and telecommunications infrastructure. The plan also calls for $1.2 billion in loans and grants to help owners make buildings more resilient to floods and proposes changes in the city’s building code.

The mayor announced his proposal eight months after Hurricane Sandy (which had diminished to tropical storm force winds at landfall) struck New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

New York has always had to deal with the threat of flooding.  Hurricanes and severe tropical storms have struck the area periodically since the founding of New Amsterdam (today’s New York) in 1624.

Bloomberg announced the plan by claiming New Yorkers could either “do nothing and expose ourselves to an increasing frequency of Sandy-like storms” or “make the investments necessary to build a stronger, more resilient New York.”

Facts Contradict Mayor

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane data contradict Bloomberg on the “increasing frequency of Sandy-like storms.” Major hurricanes are actually becoming less frequent as the planet gradually warms. During the 30 years between 1930 and 1960, five major hurricanes made landfall in the Northeastern United States. During the 50-plus years since 1960, only one major hurricane struck the region.

The same trend of decreasing hurricanes applies throughout the United States. According to NOAA data, major hurricanes struck 50 percent more frequently between 1900 and 1950 than has been the case since 1950.

“I have trouble seeing exactly how spending $20 billion—that’s billion with a ‘b’—will prevent bad weather or climate,” said climate scientist Willie Soon. “In general, to be more prepared is a good thing. But preparing, as New York City is apparently doing, using the faulty climate modeling scenarios offered by the UN IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] is a serious distortion of basic science.”

Sea Level Rise Not Accelerating

Global sea level rose approximately eight inches during the past century and shows no signs of acceleration. Nevertheless, global warming alarmists claim sea level will rise by up to six feet by the end of this century.

“Global sea levels will not rise by the three to six feet imagined by the IPCC political scare tactics,” Soon explained. “So adding this large amount [of sea level rise] to the scenario for New York City will be too extreme for any commonsense approach to disaster preparedness.”  


Horrors! Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels Causing Desert ‘Greening’

What about the "fragile ecosystems" that disrupts!

Rise in the level of carbon dioxide in the air is causing desert "greening" and has increased foliage cover by 11 percent.

Up until now the negative aspects of rising levels of carbon dioxide have been highlighted in almost all studies conducted on this matter. A new study, based on satellite observations, CSIRO, in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU) reported that the rising levels of carbon dioxide have caused deserts to start greening and  increased foliage cover by 11 percent from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied in Australia, North America, the Middle East and Africa.

"In Australia, our native vegetation is superbly adapted to surviving in arid environments and it consequently uses water very efficiently," CSIRO research scientist, Dr Randall Donohue, said in a press statement. "Australian vegetation seems quite sensitive to CO2 fertilization."

While scientists have speculated that carbon dioxide may be causing such changes, this is the first study that confirmed the effects. For the study, researchers used a mathematical modeling together with satellite data adjusted to take out the observed effects of other influences such as rainfall, air temperature, the amount of light and land-use changes.

Elevated carbon dioxide levels affect the photosynthesis process of a leaf causing it to consume less water to convert sunlight into sugar. This leads to plants in arid environments increasing their number of leaves. This increase in the number of leaves can be easily detected by satellites since foliage cover is less in arid areas when compared to wet locations.

"On the face of it, elevated CO2 boosting the foliage in dry country is good news and could assist forestry and agriculture in such areas; however there will be secondary effects that are likely to influence water availability, the carbon cycle, fire regimes and biodiversity, for example," Dr Donohue concluded. "Ongoing research is required if we are to fully comprehend the potential extent and severity of such secondary effects."

The findings of the study were published in the journal US Geophysical Research Letters.


Shrub Proliferation Throughout Low Arctic Ecosystems.  The Arctic is getting greener too

Discussing:  Lantz, T.C., Marsh, P. and Kokelj, S.V. 2013. Recent shrub proliferation in the Mackenzie Delta Uplands and microclimatic implications. Ecosystems 16: 47-59.


The authors write that "local observations, repeat photos, and broad-scale remote sensing suggest that tall shrubs are becoming an increasingly dominant component of Low Arctic ecosystems," but they say that "to date there have been few quantitative estimates of the rate of tall shrub expansion."

What was done

To help fill this data void, Lantz et al. "used soft copy stereo visualization of air photos to map fine-scale changes in tall shrub tundra and green alder density in the upland tundra north of Inuvik, Northwest Territories, between 1972 and 2004," while also using 2004 photos "to map tall shrub tundra in areas affected by fires that occurred between 1960 and 1968."

What was learned

The three Canadian researchers report that "the vegetation in the upland tundra east of the Mackenzie Delta has changed dramatically in the last three decades with relative increases in tall shrub cover and alder density of 68.1 and 35%, respectively," while noting that "fine-scale anecdotal observations and broad-scale investigations using NDVI [Normalized Difference Vegetation Index] suggest that changes in vegetation have been widespread (Bhatt et al., 2010; Mackay and Burn, 2011)."

What it means

"Based on these results," in the words of Lantz et al., they suggest that "predicted increases in the size and frequency of tundra fire are likely to drive rapid shrub proliferation in the Low Arctic." Indeed, they report that local observations in other regions, combined with broad-scale remote sensing studies, suggest that similar changes have taken place across the Low Arctic portion of the entire Northern Hemisphere, citing Silapaswan et al. (2001), Thorpe et al. (2002), Jia et al. (2003), Stow et al. (2004), Forbes et al. (2010), Beck and Goetz (2011) and Fraser et al. (2011). And they say that "in the Northwest Territories and Alaska, anecdotal observations and population age structure data suggest that the proliferation of the nitrogen fixing species green alder has contributed significantly to the observed vegetation changes," citing Tape et al. (2006) and Lantz et al. (2010). And that is one of the many different places and ways in which the greening of planet earth continues.


Want to kill fewer people? Go nuclear

The record of deaths and diseases over the past 60 years shows nuclear power is safer than every other source of energy.

Most of us do not understand every quantum-level nut and bolt of nuclear power - we have physicists for that. That does not quite explain why many people still treat it like black magic.

Any suggestion that we use nuclear power virtually incites a pitchfork-waving mob who demand we have nothing to do with it, while relying on other energy sources that all kill more people.

Nuclear power is the safest source of energy by a long way. Solar power causes five to 10 times as many deaths (depending on the estimate of panel longevity) per unit of energy generated.

That can't be right, is most people's first instinct. Similarly, findings by a United Nations panel and the World Health Organisation that the Fukushima nuclear accident caused no deaths or illnesses, and is unlikely to affect the future health of anyone but a few emergency staff, were so widely ignored they must simply have been disbelieved.

Remember, this was the worst-case nuclear scenario of reactor meltdowns amid the catastrophe of one of the biggest earthquakes and tsunamis in history. The operator had a culture of corner-cutting and cover-ups. Even then, the record shows, the predictors of apocalypse got it badly wrong and the experts - nuclear physicists - got it right.

We also have decades of operational experience and research, which enable us to calculate every energy source's ''death print''. The data compiled by the WHO, the International Energy Agency, NASA, the Centres for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences in the US, and the Europe-wide ExternE project all points to a similar conclusion.

Counting the deaths from power-producing activities and associated pollution and environmental damage, coal is by far the most deadly (and most studies exclude speculative estimates of global warming impacts). The WHO attributes at least 1 million deaths a year to coalmining, transport and operating accidents and air, soil and water pollution. (By contrast, even the radiation exposure of wildlife in the Fukushima evacuation zone was ''too low for observable acute effects''.) In countries where coal is a big part of the energy mix, such as Australia, this increases healthcare costs by an estimated 10 per cent.

Coal supplies half the world's electricity, in spite of an estimated global death rate of about 100 lives per terawatt hour of power - much higher than all other sources. Oil is next with 36 deaths. The world uses the two deadliest power sources for 60 per cent of its energy needs. The fourth most dangerous source, natural gas, supplies 21 per cent, at a death rate of four per terawatt hour.

The dangers of fossil fuels are not a challenge to the thinking of environmentalists (I include myself) but the risks of some alternatives surely are.

Biofuel claims 12 lives for every terawatt hour, hydro 1.4 lives (largely because of rare but catastrophic dam failures), solar 0.44 lives (mostly through roof falls and electrocution) and wind 0.15 lives. Safest of all is nuclear, which supplies 17 per cent of global electricity, at 0.04 deaths per terawatt hour. Thus, for a given amount of energy, coal power kills about 2500 times as many people.

Ah, you might ask, what about Chernobyl, the full cancerous horror of which is yet to come? Well, the above calculations include the WHO's worst-case estimates of future Chernobyl deaths. Anti-nuclear advocates rely heavily on one disaster 27 years ago, when not one plant today is comparable to Chernobyl's fatally flawed design. It even lacked a proper containment vessel. Building of the Chernobyl plant began in 1970, just 14 years after the world's first commercial nuclear power station opened. To use Chernobyl as a guide to assessing current third-generation nuclear plants and the coming fourth generation is like judging today's vehicle safety on the basis of the Model T Ford first made in 1910, 14 years after the first commercially made car.

Why should Australia turn to nuclear power? First, as a country with nearly 40 per cent of accessible uranium reserves, which happily supplies the world, we are needlessly ignoring a huge domestic energy resource. Solar and wind power are effective for many applications but are not reliable sources of the massive baseload power we need.

Second, under the status quo, we unthinkingly accept Australian deaths from mining, transporting and burning vast amounts of materials and fuels and associated pollution.

The amounts of nuclear fuel and waste are minute, which cuts mining, transport and pollution risks compared with fossil fuel loads, toxic waste and environmental damage. A coal-fired plant produces almost 15,000 times as much waste as its nuclear equivalent. Unlike most fossil fuel pollution, nuclear waste can be stored securely underground in stable geological formations.

Third, the decay of uranium-bearing ores releases radon gas, creating natural areas of high radioactivity. (Parts of Australia have restricted access because of this.) Radon accumulates in buildings and is a leading cause of lung cancer, so nuclear power may save lives by reducing its environmental release.

Fourth, nuclear plants can power cost-effective, high-volume desalination, using the waste heat energy. The heat from high-temperature reactors may also be harnessed to produce the ultimate clean fuel, hydrogen, on the scale needed to replace oil as a transport fuel. Finally, the finite nature of oil and gas reserves - which are also essential for plastic and chemical production - pose a problem of energy security.

Nuclear power could preserve oil and gas for industrial production. This might even eliminate one trigger for the use of nuclear weapons: conflict over oil and gas resources. The genie of nuclear proliferation is out of the bottle and is not dependent on civilian power plants. We might as well reject oil because it fuels hugely destructive weapons of war.

We often have blind spots when it comes to the miracles of science, and nuclear power is one. The blindness becomes wilful when we have leaders who pander to, even exploit, public fears rather than promote a rational policy approach to big national challenges.

None of these challenges has a greater bearing on our future than harnessing energy on a sustainable, industrial scale. Our civilisation has been built on that and it is folly to let romantic, ill-informed and often hysterical notions of what is sustainable, green and safe decide national energy policy.




Preserving the graphics:  Graphics hotlinked to this site sometimes have only a short life and if I host graphics with blogspot, the graphics sometimes get shrunk down to illegibility.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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