Archive for the ‘Global Warming’ Category
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
February 22, 2011
From the Editors
Ever wonder where all those legions of young people who believe the world can run on wind and solar energy get their ideas? No need to look any further. The University of Maine has laid it all out for us.
This op-ed, written for the school newspaper by a senior engineering students, describes a recent Renewable Energy Meeting in which faculty and administrators decided what will be taught on the Maine campus in campus in coming years. The lessons will be:
1) Global warming is a world threat
2) China is increasing its consumption of fossil fuels
3) World peak oil may soon be a reality, and
4) “we don’t have the infrastructure to ship and deliver our own natural resources; and the threat of terrorist attacks is too high to trust the far most efficient energy source of nuclear power. “ (Just what terrorists would do with a nuclear reactor besides shut it down is never discussed.)
As a result of all this, wind and solar are the only options and are the only thing that will be taught or discussed on the UMaine campus.
Author Alexander Polk describes one engineering student, Jim LaBrecque, who had the courage to stand up and question all these assumptions. “Before LaBrecque could finish his complete thought, he was rudely interrupted by Evelyn Silver, the senior advisor to UMaine President Robert Kennedy,” writes Polk. “Throughout LaBrecque’s moment on the floor, Silver shook her head and spoke with her neighbors. She was very close-minded on the issue, cutting off all naysayers.”
And for this people are paying $15,000 a year in tuition? A job in the local power plant would provide a better education.
Read more about it at Maine Campus
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
January 12, 2011
Washington is a government town that thrives on crisis and so the big problem comes when a crisis starts to abate.
With the Northeast digging out from its latest blizzard and snow covering the ground in 49 of the 50 states, the panic about global warming seems to be abating. Only a year ago, environmental extremists were saying that nuclear couldn’t replace coal because we “couldn’t wait seven years” for reactors to get built and would have to settle for windmills instead.
Now the CIA is trying to figure out how to defend its new Center for Climate Change and National Security.
“[W]ith calls for belt tightening coming from every corner, leadership in Congress has made it clear that the intelligence budget, which soared to $80.1 billion last year, will have to be cut,” says a new study from Northwestern University’s National Security Reporting Project. “And after sweeping victories by conservatives in the midterm elections, many political insiders think the community’s climate change work will be in jeopardy.” The report received the attention of Jeff Stein’s “Spy Talk” blog on the Washington Post’s website.
The Center, which just opened its doors two years ago, finds itself under attack from skeptics such as Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, who called it “Spying on sea lions.” But Democrats such as California’s Senator Diane Feinstein still defend it. “The Center on Climate Change and National Security that the CIA recently established is fully consistent with the intelligence community’s mission of protecting the United States,” said Feinstein when the project was previously under attack.
Although the prospect that the U.S. is going to be overwhelmed by heat seems to be fading, supporters say it is necessary to gather information on what increased rainfall and flooding may mean in low-lying countries such as Pakistan. “I consider what the U.S. government is doing on climate change to be lip service,” Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former senior CIA official who led the Department of Energy’s intelligence unit from 2005 to 2008, told the Northwestern reporters. “The intelligence agencies have a hard time understanding a project that doesn’t involve stealing secrets.”
Congress will probably be taking up the issue, along with many others, when it convenes in two weeks.
Read more about it at the Washington Post
Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
December 28, 2010
From the Editors
In an op-ed contribution that will probably stand as a landmark to chutzpah, a Massachusetts weather consultant has told readers of The New York Times that it’s no mystery why they have just been hit by a two-foot blizzard – it’s global warming!
Judah Cohen, who wasn’t even polite enough to leave the name of his company, told Times’ readers that increased snow pack in Siberia – the result of greater evaporation from the oceans – has created a column of cold air above the Himalayas that has diverted the jet stream. Not even Al Gore has advanced this theory.
"In response, the jet stream, instead of flowing predominantly west to east as usual, meanders more north and south. In winter, this change in flow sends warm air north from the subtropical oceans into Alaska and Greenland, but it also pushes cold air south from the Arctic on the east side of the Rockies," writes Cohen.
"Meanwhile, across Eurasia, cold air from Siberia spills south into East Asia and even southwestward into Europe. That is why the Eastern United States, Northern Europe and East Asia have experienced extraordinarily snowy and cold winters since the turn of this century," he adds.
If Cohen’s thesis is to be the new paradigm, there is already room for head-scratching. He says, for example, that "as Arctic sea ice has melted over the past two and a half decades, more moisture has become available to fall as snow over the continents." It seems impossible that the run-off from a few melting glaciers could have any conceivable impact on the amount of water in the ocean – which suggests that Cohen is winging it rather than making calculations. (The alternate explanation is that rising temperatures are leading to increased evaporation – many global warming theorists make this argument.)
Nonetheless, the article is likely to stand as a centerpiece of a new approach to global revisionist thinking. Maybe global warming isn’t so predictable after all.
Read more at the New York Times
Monday, December 20th, 2010
December 20, 2010
From the Editors
Whenever someone wants to change the opinions of a large group of people, they always talk about it in terms of “educating” them. Somehow it never occurs to them that the dialogue might be a two-way street – that they also might need some educating.
Thus, Todd Stern, head of the U.S. delegation at Cancun, returns from the climate conference with the news that the American public has to be “educated” about global warming.
“There is a gap and I think there is an educational effort that really needs to be made,” said Stern in a pre-taped interview with the energy and environment news program energyNow!, according to The Hill. According to a recent Rasmussen survey, only 41 percent of the public now believes that climate change comes from human activities while 47 percent believe it is due to natural cycles. “Asked who should lead the education effort,” continues the report, “Stern pointed to both scientists and policymakers.”
What’s interesting is the reader reaction to Stern’s lecture. The Hill is pretty benevolent as Capitol Hill publications go, but on this matter readers do not seem in a receptive mood. ‘Tell the Marxist Global Warming crowd that the U.S. is broke,” “Another record breaking winter. So what happened to global warming?’ and “Indoctrination and Propaganda” are just a few of the responses. One reader asks: “Which side of the debate should we educate them on? Clearly there are sufficient skeptics in the scientific community to have a wide open debate prior to educating anyone for or against.”
And then there’s this response: “It is nearly as bad as the country having 3 days of money to operate on, and the Dems using a last-minute lame duck session to vote on how we understand an Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire 95 years ago. Some people have no grasp of reality.”
Clearly the people who want to educate the public on global warming have their work cut out for them in the next Congress.
Read more about it at The Hill
Friday, November 19th, 2010
November 19, 2010
From the Editors
Haven’t seen much about global warming in the press lately? Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.â€¨
According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, global warming remains the #2 topic in the blogosphere, that wholesale market or journalism that lurks behind the headlines. Just as economists look at commodity prices to see what inflation is going to be like in three months, Pew has decided to cull the blogs to see what subjects will soon be breaking out as front pages.â€¨
It’s an interesting concept. The #1 topic of discussion of late – would you believe? – is federal workers’ salaries. Apparently bloggers don’t work for the government and so find all those stories about high government salaries offensive. That’s hasn’t made too much splash in the mainstream press yet, but don’t be surprised. Then again, the #3 topic is the Grand Prix, which shows that much blogging occurs in a microenvironment. It also suggests that blogging is not concentrated on the East and West Coasts. The economy and the recent election only make it as the #s 4 and 5 topics of conversation.
â€¨Pew also reports that pro-climate-concern bloggers are now on the comeback. Since Climategate a year ago, the “deniers” have held the floor. Now the worriers have been energized by a report that the American Geophysical Union has lined up 700 prominent scientists who are going to try to convince the public that global warming is real.
â€¨All this cuts both ways for nuclear. If global warming is real – and there appears to be a good case for it – then people who are concerned about it should be crying out for more nuclear. But these are often the same people who think the world can run on hundreds of thousands of windmills and solar collectors (without harming any migrating birds or desert tortoises). Or, like James Fallows in the current Atlantic Monthly, they don’t remember much about nuclear energy but have decided to be “realistic” and admit we have to burn more coal.â€¨
Somebody should start blogging about that.
Read more about it at Journalism.org
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
November 17, 2010
From the Editors
It was a year ago this week that the hacked emails at East Anglia University set off the “Climategate” scandal that pretty much sunk any attempt to impose a carbon price paradigm, either in Congress or at Copenhagen.â€¨
To celebrate the anniversary, extreme partisans on both sides have taken up the cudgels to prove once again that either a) climate crusaders never did anything wrong or b) all of global warming science is a fraud.â€¨
â€¨The Associated Press, for example, read through all 1,073 emails, picked the juiciest parts and showed them to three other climate scientists, asking them to evaluate. Naturally, the scientists go easy on their brethren. The quality of the report can be seen from this single paragraph where Michael Mann, the principle suspect in Climategate, is asked to defend the famous “hide the decline trick” by fellow scientist Phil Jones.
â€¨â€¨“The `trick’ that Jones said he was borrowing from Mann was to add the real temperatures, not what the tree rings showed. And the decline he talked of hiding was not in real temperatures, but in the tree ring data which was misleading, Mann explained.” (Emphasis added.)â€¨
â€¨Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph, which lifted him from academic obscurity to appointment as editor of the IPCC’s Journal of Climate in just a few short years, was based entirely on tree ring data. Yet when the tree rings didn’t say what he wanted, he substituted real temperatures. If that’s not “selecting your date,” what is?â€¨ â€¨At the other extreme is James Delingpole, the London Telegraph blogger who thinks that all climate science is “a crock” and is apoplectic that Climategate has not put all concerns about global warming in its grave. â€¨
â€¨“This week marks the anniversary of Climategate but even though I helped break and name the story I’m certainly not celebrating,” Delingpole writes in his latest blog. “That’s because, despite the marked shift it effected in public opinion, its effect on public policy-making has been close to zilch.”
Delingpole is particularly distraught that Britain is still adhering to the Climate Change Act, which has committed the country to reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent in the next 40 years. “By the Government’s own estimates, this will cost up to £18 billion a year,” he writes, quoting fellow Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker. “Any hope that we could begin to meet such a target without closing down most of our economy is as fanciful as the idea that we can meet our EU commitment to generate 30 per cent of our electricity by 2020 from “renewable” sources, such as wind and solar.”â€¨
â€¨All true. But the fact is that Britain, with its fanciful goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent, is moving smartly ahead with nuclear energy while the U.S., without any kind of carbon incentive, is moving slower than a melting glacier.
â€¨ â€¨As Nobel Prize Winner Glenn Seaborg said in the 1950s, nuclear energy came along just at the right time – when we were approaching the limits of the fossil fuels. Only last month, the International Energy Agency put out a report saying that conventional oil production peaked in 2006 and is now being propped up by much more expensive technologies such as shale oil and tar sands.
Sure, climate fanatics have engaged in a little underhanded razzmatazz. (Mann’s “hockey stick” is now considered a model of data manipulation.) But there is still a credible school of thought that something unusual is happening to the earth’s climate. Last week The New York Times published a very sober, well-researched, on-the-spot report from Greenland showing that scientists are finding the glaciers melting faster than any theory has yet predicted. Temperatures in Russia averaged an unprecedented 14 degrees above normal and burned up significant portions of the wheat crop. Purportedly, this has never happened before—at least in recorded history.â€¨
â€¨The simple lesson is that the time for clean, efficient nuclear energy is now. But the alarmist who claim to worry about global warming the most won’t plausibly consider nuclear in the mix; and the people who support nuclear are driven by other megatrends – jobs, technology leadership, energy security. So while the pace in the U.S. is cause for concern, around the world, however, Climategate or no Climategate, the Nuclear Renaissance is in high gear.
Read more about it at Mother Jones and the Daily Telegraph blogs
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
Looking around the world at France, Japan, Korea and China building reactors, it’s easy for any American to experience “Renaissance envy.” But it’s odd to realize the same feelings are materializing within this country.
After attending the annual meeting of the American Nuclear Society in San Diego last week, San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Onell R. Soto has written a column that can only be said to express extreme Renaissance envy.
“Plants are breaking ground in the South. Big companies are talking about new designs. President Barack Obama says they can be a key tool in the fight against global warming, and some environmentalists agree,” writes Soto.
“But it’s not happening here in California. . . The state is focused on solar and wind development, and power companies say they will rely on natural gas for the bulk of the power. . .
“A 1976 California law says no nuclear plant can be built in the state until the federal government approves a way to deal with high-level nuclear waste and such approval is unlikely soon.
“But it goes beyond that law, said Stephanie Donovan, a spokeswoman for San Diego Gas & Electric, which has battled with critics over projects like its Sunrise Powerlink, a 120-mile line connecting San Diego to the Imperial Valley.
“’Given the public opposition to building infrastructure of just about any kind in our service territory, I can’t imagine getting anything through environmental approvals in this region,’ she said.
Soto’s thoughtful observations point up a division we’ll be discussing in Nuclear Townhall’s “Debate of the Week” this Friday. The Renaissance is becoming a two-tiered affair, with the South and the Midwest sensibly pursuing the technology while California and the Northeast not only chase the chimera of solar energy but are actively trying to close reactors down.
Should nuclear advocates be battling these opponents on every front, trying to keep these aging reactors open? Or should we just let Vermont, New York and California close down their nuclear plants and learn a lesson in where electricity comes from?
Join the debate on Friday and give us your opinion.
Read more at The San Diego Union-Tribune
Thursday, April 15th, 2010
“The threat of global warming might be the best thing to happen to nuclear energy.”
That bit of wisdom comes from National Public Radio, where reporter Christopher Joyce of WBUR-Boston recently did a take-out evaluating the nuclear revival.
Naturally, the report decided nuclear might be too expensive but Joyce was at least willing to entertain the idea that it might have a roll to play: “For three decades, no one built a new plant in the U.S., though some have been built abroad. Now nuclear looks better because it doesn't emit greenhouse gases that warm the planet.”
The report noted that loan guarantees may help the first plants over the financial hump but said that utilities ought to be paying a fee to cover their financial security. With new reactors estimated at $8 billion, the suggestions for fees ranged anywhere from 1 to 10 percent – $80 million to $800 million. The latter figure, of course, would probably be prohibitive.
Charles Forsberg, a professor of engineering at MIT, made a useful contribution: "The importance of the number of plants in the next 10 years is not total electric production, but what it sets in place," he said. "The licenses, the knowledge, the manufacturing facilities, it enables you to rapidly expand thereafter."
NPR is still unwilling to entertain ideas such as speeding up NRC licensing or allowing foreign governments to build reactors in this country. But the usual fear-mongering about nuclear was notable for its absence.
Read it at NPR
Then come back to Nuclear Townhall and give us your take
- William Tucker