Mark Lynas pens error-riddled, cost-less nuke op-ed

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"Mark Lynas pens error-riddled, cost-less nuke op-ed"

UPDATE:  In the comments, Lynas says Breakthough Institute made the initial mistake.  They must have fixed it before I saw it.  But there are so many errors that it’s still not clear who got what wrong.

And the winner of the most egregiously error-riddled paragraph published in a presumably fact-checked newspaper op-ed this year:

According to some recent number crunching by the Breakthrough Institute, a centrist environmental think tank, phasing out Japan’s current nuclear generation capacity and replacing it with wind would require a 1.3-billion-acre wind farm, covering more than half the country’s total land mass. Going for solar instead would require a similar land area, and would in economic terms cost the country more than a trillion dollars.

No, it’s not Charlie Sheen weighing into the energy debate.  And no, there aren’t any typos.  Sadly, this breathtaking collection of whoppers is by none other than Mark Lynas, author of the excellent book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet.

I’m not quite certain what is more depressing — that Lynas wrote this paragraph in the first place and has since reposted it at the Economist‘s online nuclear debate (a debate that is, typically, poorly framed).  Or that not one person at the LA Times, Economist, or McLatchy thought the numbers looked funny or self-contradictory enough to spend even 10 seconds on Google to fact-check them.  Or that even two days later the head-exploding errors are still there.

See how many errors you can count before reading the rest of the post.

While I realize that “acres” is not a metric most people work with often, presumably if you are going to use acres you would at least check on Google to make sure your answer is not wrong by, say, a factor of 1000!  Or that you haven’t gotten the area of Japan wrong by a factor of 30!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As bad as the analysis is from The Breakthrough Institute, I was pretty confident they wouldn’t make a numerical mistake this huge.  While it may be mostly a red herring to bother calculating what it would take to phase out Japan’s current nuclear generation, their April 5 post, TBI’s post, “The Costs of Replacing Japan’s Nuclear Power,” states:

… replacing the generation lost from a complete phase-out of nuclear power entirely with wind energy … would require 152 GW of installed wind capacity, at a total installation cost of $375 billion (using an estimate of $2,466/KWe). According to NREL’s wind farm area calculator, the installation of these wind turbines would require 38,000 acres taken out of production on a wind farm, and a total of 1.3 million acres for the entire wind farm.

Yes, 1.3 million acres.  With an ‘m’.  Doh!

As one can quickly find out on Google, “1 square mile is equal to 640 acres.”   So this wind farm would — in its full dimension — extend over perhaps 2000 square miles.

Had 1.3 billion acres been the correct answer, that would have covered roughly 2 million square miles.  Again, using Google, something apparently Lynas and the LA Times don’t, we find that Japan’s area is about 150,000 square miles.  Double doh!  The beauty of using Google is that it might tip you off that your original calculation was quite wrong.  It was under 1% of Japan’s area, not half of it!

For the record, the area that would used by solar is “similar” — to the 1.3 million acres, not the 1.3 billion!

But, as TBI notes, the actual footprint used up by the wind turbines is quite tiny.  Let’s go into NREL’s wind farm area calculator, plug in 0.25 acres per turbine and 152 GW (152,000,000 kW), and use 2 MW for wind turbines, not the 1 MW that TBI used — since “Most of the commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3.5 Million installed.”

“The estimated land area required is: 19000 acres.”  That would be 30 square miles of Japanese land taken out of production, or one-fiftieth of one percent!  Not exactly half.  The cost is $266 billion.  That isn’t cheap as a replacement cost, but I don’t really know a lot of folks talking about shutting down all of Japan’s reactors.  That strikes me as mostly a straw man.

Now if we are talking about building some 50 GW of new nukes, well, even with a conservative price of $7000/kw that would cost more than the wind power.  True, wind power isn’t baseload, but then it doesn’t have a fuel cost.  Or those pesky decommissioning costs, which, as Japan learned, can sometimes be forced on you quite prematurely.

But you never know any of that from Lynas since he never mentions the cost of new nuclear power even once even though he can’t get enough of the costs of renewables.  This seems to be an emerging trend for this new breed of environmental journalists.  Keith Kloor, as I noted last week, in his new blog at Climate Central write 800 words on the role of nuclear power in dealing with climate change and never once mentions cost.  George Monbiot is now also writing column after column that misses this central point.  Lynas writes:

As the British environmental writer George Monbiot has pointed out, if we took the scientific consensus on nuclear energy as seriously as we take the scientific consensus on climate change, we environmentalists would be telling a very different story.

Personally, I have never considered myself an environmentalist, but rather a physicist and energy technologist.  I take the scientific understanding of climate change is seriously as anyone, but only in a world where we have an unlimited amount of money to spend on reducing greenhouse gas emissions can we ignore costs.

The fact is that the staggering cost of new nuclear power — and the risks associated with losing a multibillion-dollar asset in a matter of minutes thanks to a disaster and/or human error — are the primary reasons the nuclear Renaissance in this country died before the Japan disaster (see my recent post “The Nukes of Hazard” and the 10/10 post, Exelon’s Rowe: Low gas prices and no carbon price push back nuclear renaissance a “decade, maybe two”).  It must be the basis of any serious discussion of new nuclear power in market economies.

Lynas makes many more errors, small and large in the piece.  On the small side, in this context, the Breakthrough Institute is not “a centrist environmental think tank,” whatever that means.  Whatever they once were, they are now a pro-nuclear, anti-clean-energy-deployment think tank that has partnered with the American Enterprise Institute to push right-wing energy myths and that routinely attacks energy efficiency programs, except when they reverse themselves.

It is also sad to see Lynas push right-wing myths:

In the 1970s it looked as if nuclear power was going to play a much bigger role than eventually turned out to be the case. What happened was Three Mile Island, and the birth of an anti-nuclear movement that stopped dozens of half-built or proposed reactors….

Actually, just as the U.S. nuclear renaissance was mostly dead before Fukushima, so too was the original cycle of nuclear plant orders dead before TMI — killed by rising prices for plants and cost over-runs.  I think I’ll do a separate post on this.

Let me end by reposting the negative learning curve for nukes:

Nuke unlearning

Fig. 13.  Average and min/max reactor construction costs per year of completion date for US and France versus cumulative capacity completed

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59 Responses to Mark Lynas pens error-riddled, cost-less nuke op-ed

  1. Incredulous says:

    I’ve never heard Breakthrough referred to as “centrist.” Also, I’ve never heard them referred to as experts on nuclear power (or wind power, for that matter).

    It’s amazing what an aggressive, shameless social media strategy will do for a think-tank. The recipe’s simple: Send out a half-million tweets and wind up cited in serious policy discussion.

  2. Gordon says:

    Every day I see more and more evidence that this country’s education system has fallen off a cliff.

    The innumeracy demonstrated in this post, or perhaps outright fraud, tells me that something is seriously wrong with America’s schools.

    At work, we regularly test and interview a few people a week. The scores on our simple arithmetic test are declining each year and in fact accelerating. It seems that no one can do arithmetic in their head anymore.

    This is serious! We might wake up one day and find that the rest of the planet has eaten our lunch because we have made ourselves so damned stupid.

  3. Barry says:

    Mind bogglingly terrible journalism by Lynas and the editors that let it through. It doesn’t even pass the sniff test. The fact that there is no correction still is pathetic.

    Also, as Joe points out, it wasn’t environmentalists that slowed growth of nuclear power…it was costs.

    In the Pacific Northwest, nuclear power efforts failed spectacularly in the “largest municipal bond default in the history of the United States.”

    Here is a summary from Wikipedia. Please try to find “environmental” concerns in the long list of reasons for the massive “Whoops”:

    “Of the five nuclear power projects started, only one – WNP-2, now known as Columbia Generating Station, was completed. A combination of management failures, a depressed economy, soaring interest rates and material costs, labor unrest, ratepayer activism and over estimation of electricity demand by forecasters was more than the effort could withstand. The other plants were eventually terminated. In 1983, it became infamous for defaulting on $2.25 billion USD worth of bonds after construction on two of its nuclear power plants, WNP-4 and 5, was halted. The default remains the largest municipal bond default in the history of the United States. The WPPSS acquired the nickname “Whoops” in the media”

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    I also liked Six Degrees, and was surprised that Lynas got everything so wrong. Maybe he is used to quoting credible sources, and mistakenly assumed that Nordhaus and Shellenberger fit that description.

    BTI has always been terrible with data, since their real goal is to please their donors. They have correctly determined that there is a lot more cash available from Far Right “think tanks” like the American Enterprise Institute than from well meaning foundations.

    I have always found BTI, Pielke Jr., and Lomborg particularly loathsome, because they substitute words and rhetoric for scientific data. What numbers they come up with are economists’ numbers, which can be parsed and twisted all kinds of ways. It’s a short step to getting the arithmetic totally wrong, as BTI did here.

  5. MarkB says:

    Might be worth posting this on Mark Lynas’ blog.

    http://www.marklynas.org/

    I’ve read his “6 Degrees…” book. It’s meticulous with accuracy and reliable references, so this is disappointing to read.

  6. jcwinnie says:

    In Cash We Trust, all others, watch your derrière (oui, oblique reference to French nuclear industry)

  7. Davos says:

    Does Japan have NIMBY-proof siting capacity that can appropriately harness 2MW turbines that approaches even the 19,000 acre number?

    Not that it’s inferior to nukes…I’m just askin. It’s relevant.

  8. Paul Donohue says:

    Why wouldn’t Japan use their ample off shore areas for wind? I know the water is deep there, but there must be ideal sites. And, I could see them developing floating rigs.
    If the current disaster is as bad as Chernobyl, they may lose over a thousand square miles around the plant. Chernobyl now has a 19 mile radius exclusion zone. Japan can’t afford to lose that or any more area.

  9. Mark says:

    There was a good article in the FT about what we need to do recently, pushing energy efficiency, an end to fossil fuel subsidies and low carbon technology. My fear is that the huge cost of nukes will simply crowd out renewables and conservation, and as “the door is closing” we need to get our skates on.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/7dbcb112-49bd-11e0-acf0-00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=73adc504-2ffa-11da-ba9f-00000e2511c8,print=yes.html

  10. Tom Betz says:

    Yeah, the people of Japan would have good reason to be really worried about those horrible wind spills and wind radiation that will be released if an earthquake knocks over a wind turbine.

    Seriously, the Japanese demonstrate a lot less NIMBYism than Americans… witness the fact that our military bases still occupy Okinawa after all these decades.

  11. climate undergrad says:

    6 degrees was required reading for a climate change course I took in college and from all accounts is a good compilation of likely impacts. This is really a shame….

    I am having a difficult time understanding the figure at the bottom showing the ‘negative learning curve.’ What is the FF98/kW on the second y axis?

  12. This reminds me of David MacKay’s blunder(s) in his critique of ‘windmills’ in his highly acclaimed book ‘Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air’ vastly overestimating the area necessary to power an electrified car fleet.

    http://www.entrans.co.uk/david%20mackay's%20book,%20sustainability%20without%20the%20hot%20air.html

  13. Mark Lynas says:

    Hi Joe et al,

    Mea culpa. The Breakthrough Institute did make a substantial (i.e.two orders of magnitude) mistake with this calculation, and I did not check their figures before reproducing them. I did think it sounded somewhat high, and am kicking myself for my sloppiness. I have asked the LA Times to print a correction, which they will do as a matter of urgency, and send out with any other copies of the piece. To give them credit, it was TBI who came to me first pointing out this error yesterday morning. Apologies once again. In my upcoming book I do go into the land-use issue in more detail, using primary sources, so this has been a cautionary lesson at least.

    As to costs, I think that is a debate that will run and run. It is frequently asserted that no nuclear plant has ever been built without a subsidy, but then neither has a PV solar panel or a wind turbine been put up anywhere in the world without some kind of subsidy or government mandate either to my knowledge. So intervention in the market will be needed to solve the carbon problem, and it is difficult to judge your baseline when emitting CO2 from fossil fuels is essentially free everywhere outside Europe. I was glad to see large loan guarantees just given by the government in the US for the new round of solar thermal projects.

    Please point out the other “errors” with which my piece is “riddled” (as opposed to subjective points of disagreement) – I’d hate to make any more unnecessary mistakes!

    Cheers,
    Mark

    [JR: Mark, I am a big fan of your climate work, as I've said. I didn't see the mistake on TBI's website. I guess they fixed it. But which mistakes did they make? There are more than one, including the inconsistency. And million to billion is 3 orders of magnitude.]

  14. BlueRock says:

    Lynas has contracted the same disease – or given it to – George Monbiot. Chris Goodall is another (formerly) credible British (former) environmental journalist who has jumped on the nuke bandwagon. The Guardian has hopped on as well.

    They’ve all swallowed the same lies and propaganda from the nuke lobby. They all claim a handful died as a result of Chernobyl. They all believe the IAEA (whose stated purpose is to “seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy”) is a credible source and every other source is dishonest or misinformed.

    It’s a collective psychosis, protected by a bunker mentality and membership of a small, exclusive echo chamber. They think they’re the smartest guys in the room and they’ve very clearly collectively reached a conclusion that they’re not going to be moved from – no matter what evidence is put in front of them.

    Have the three of them had enough of earning a meagre salary as environmental journalists? Are they angling for consultancy roles at Westinghouse and Areva?

  15. Joan Savage says:

    This is a fabulous exercise to give as a senior high school or undergraduate class assignment. Along the way of testing it out, I found that there are a range of estimates of the current wind capacity in Japan, but no matter.

    A short version of the question could be given to shake down the algebra side of things:

    IF the recent nuclear generation capacity of Japan has been 47.5GWe,
    IF the NREL estimate of 0.25 acre per 1 MW of wind turbine is adequate surface area,
    How many acres are needed for land-based wind turbines to replace the nuclear capacity of Japan?
    What percent of the land surface of Japan would be required?
    Hint: No extra points will be given for correct conversion between MW and GW, or between square kilometers and acres.
    The option of putting more wind farms in the offshore, and not on the land surface, will be ignored for the purpose of the exercise.

  16. Mike Roddy says:

    As Joe has pointed out, the biggest nuclear touts are not nuclear execs, but right wing think tanks, whose money comes from oil companies. Nuclear is the perfect competition for coal and gas- it’s the most expensive thing out there, has ten year+ timelines, and has limited sites and uranium available. They love it, and so do the banks, with the guaranteed loans.

    BlueRock, something strange happens to British intellectuals when they head deep into middle age. They become pissy, contrarian, intellectually lazy, and right wing. We’ve seen it in Cockburn, Hitchens, and (many years ago) D.H. Lawrence. Monbiot is the latest example. I’ll give Lynas the benefit of a doubt, and am awaiting his correction.

  17. Bob Doublin says:

    The LA TIMES?!?! The area of Japan is within 10% of the area of their own state California!! This is not an honest error. It took me two minutes to find this out on wikipedia and I stopped and read a little about Queen Calafia. First George Monbiot now Lynas. I am so disappointed.

  18. I recently appeared before a federal panel regarding a proposal to build four more reactors on Lake Ontario near Toronto. Experts claimed nuclear was carbon free energy source and therefore the solution to climate change.. And yet at best when a full life cycle analysis is done — uranium mining, fuel processing, construction etc nuclear emissions are only better than fossil fuel energy. Here’s the 184 pg study: http://www.isa.org.usyd.edu.au/publications/documents/ISA_Nuclear_Report.pdf

    And here are results of recent study that’s rec’d little media attention: Solar power outshines nuclear power

    A year-long Queen’s University study has concluded that nuclear power is simply not worth the risk when compared to solar energy.

    “The current situation at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant and the anxiety of a possible meltdown are once again calling into question the use of nuclear power as a long-term energy option here in Canada,” Joshua Pearce, a mechanical and materials engineering professor told the Star.

    The university team looked at the 100 nuclear plants in the U.S. and factored in the indirect public subsidy, which amounts to the cost of insuring a nuclear plant in the event of a catastrophic accident, and the power produced over the lifetime of a nuclear power plant.

    “In my mind it is basically insanity to shoulder the public with risk to get relatively small amount of electricity out of it,” Pearce said.

    http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/954262

  19. cervantes says:

    No correction as of 2:15 eastern time. There seems to be little urgency after all . . .

  20. #15 BlueRock – FYI I am a middle aged Canadian enviro journalist who is earning a less than meagre living. I strongly suspect desperation is driving Monbiot and Lynas to favour nuclear, not money.

  21. Tom Gray says:

    It IS a remarkable, and saddening, error. I’ll be Pollyanna-ish, and hope that as they dig into the actual numbers, BTI will get a better understanding of the enormous potential of wind to generate electricity, without mining or drilling for fuel, air pollution, water pollution, or hazardous waste. The DOE 20% Wind Energy by 2030 Technical Report, available at http://www.20percentwind.org, includes a useful map, on page 10 of Chapter 1-Executive Summary, showing the land use requirements. Wind farms ARE spread out, but so, typically, are the benefits they produce, in the form of payments to farmers and ranchers and local property taxes.–Tom Gray, Wind Energy Communications Consultant

  22. William P says:

    Dr. Joe:

    Excellent use of Google.

    That ease of refuting lies and propaganda tells you something else important:

    Why the Republican Party and others like the Taliban want to kill the Internet.

  23. David Foley says:

    The area of the current 12.4 mile exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear plant works out to 77,288 acres. Half of that is over water, but as others have noted, wind turbines an be offshore. So there’s a start.

  24. Richard Brenne says:

    I’m a huge Mark Lynas fan, and if we had enough huge Mark Lynas fans we wouldn’t need nuclear.

    My being a fan comes from his intrepid research and writing of “Six Degrees” and his work on the excellent documentary National Geographic made from his book.

    He has graciously come to our home and offered a literal mea culpa. Now would be a good time to call off the dogs, even the nuclear-mutated ones.

    Of course I’m disappointed with all significant mistakes in journalism, especially such egregious ones about such important issues. But since Mark has come to us with an apology in person, I’m ready to move on.

    As a professional (or at least semi-professional) moderator I’m always willing to hear both sides of an issue and to look for skillful and nuanced arguments rather than one side trying to shout down, bully or intimidate the other.

    In fact when either side in a debate resorts to such tactics (things I’ve rather forcefully though hopefully humorously put to rest in about 50 hours of discussions) I feel that they’re going from evidence-based to emotional-based arguments (which reminds me of my many fantasies about moderators in our marriages).

    James Lovelock, James Hansen and James Howard Kunstler have all advocated what they call the right kind of nuclear at various times, and those are just the Jameses. I might not agree with them completely but I’m not willing to write them off completely, because their contributions to our understanding of Gaia, Climate Change and Peak Oil are unique and considerable.

    I feel similarly that the contributions of the Guardian, Monbiot and Lynas are also considerable in many ways and might dwarf many of our contributions, especially mine.

    I always seek to take the good I can from any individual, institution or situation even though I might disregard or be disappointed in the rest.

    I realize the many decades many have invested in this important issue, but feel that when these appropriate arguments are made without rebooting and recalculating the equation to consider the ever-accelerating dangers of climate change and our rapidly growing understanding of them, the equation might need to be modified.

    This doesn’t mean nuclear energy is or should necessarily be our future, but since we have it then it might be a bridge that is in many ways safer than fossil fuels. This is at the very least worthy of rational, evidence-based, civil, nuanced discussion.

    Still, I think a likely scenario is that the entire thing craters, including the grid and everything else, and without sufficient resources or technology every nuclear reactor would become a Fukashima over time.

    So on second thought, let’s keep those windmills and solar panels coming.

    And fire away at nuclear (hopefully mostly metaphorically) while maintaining respect and civility to all those I’ve mentioned who’ve made immense contributions we need to appreciate. Heck, civility to everyone who speaks sincerely and in good faith is a good idea.

    Myself, I think there should be no nuclear energy, but everyone should be not only allowed but required to carry a concealed nuclear weapon.

    Also after my tirades today about Bjorn Lomborg, I’m in no position to judge those judging others (see Natural Gas fracking posts below). . .

  25. Mike # 22 says:

    Why haven’t Mark Lynas or BTI bothered to look up the wind resource numbers for Japan, a small country? In 2007, resources were put at 81 GW, and then increased to include off-shore resources to 133 GW.

    http://www.offshorewind.biz/2010/02/01/japan-capacity-of-133-gw-could-be-reached/

    More importantly, why haven’t they suggested that Japan use its geothermal resources, along with wind and solar, to phase out the fossil fuel electrical generation which relies entirely on imports? Not Breakthroughey enough.

  26. Leif says:

    The Fukushima area is a scenic heritage area featured in Japanese art for thousands of years. This melt down is equivalent to plopping a nuclear meltdown in Yosemite Park.

  27. BlueRock,

    I have been offered consultancy roles at a variety of nuclear companies and have turned them down.

    I have given a talk at a nuclear supplier and refused travel expenses and the offer of a cup of tea.

    It is an extremely sad feature of the debate over nuclear power that opponents all assume that proponents are being bribed. I would be happy for you to see my bank statement details if this would help show that I have no financial connection with the nuclear industry.

    Chris Goodall

  28. 350 Now says:

    Donald Trump is dumber than a sack of hammers.

    A pity these tools don’t know the difference in weather and climate.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/02/16/trump-gore-coldest-winter/

  29. My colleague Mark Lynas has written above that the numbers about land use and Japanese wind in his LA Times articles are wrong and he has expressed regret over the error.

    The key figure in the comments above is also wrong. It takes very considerably more than 0.25 acres to provide the space for 1 MW of wind.

    Please consider these numbers.

    http://www.aweo.org/windarea.html

    Chris Goodall

  30. BlueRock says:

    Mike Roddy says:

    > Nuclear is the perfect competition for coal and gas- it’s the most expensive thing out there, has ten year+ timelines, and has limited sites and uranium available. They love it, and so do the banks, with the guaranteed loans.

    This cannot be repeated enough. The fossil corporations love nuclear. They know it provides practically no competition to their stranglehold on energy markets – at least not for many decades. When the American Enterprise Institute (Koch Money) writes articles titled, ‘Nuclear Power Needed Now’, it should give everyone a *big* clue.

    > …something strange happens to British intellectuals when they head deep into middle age.

    I’ve used the phrase before, ‘Old, White, Male Environmentalist Syndrome’: where gentlemen of a certain age who have been fighting for the environment for many years appear to just give up and just grasp on to what appears to be an easy answer to everything – usually some wondrous techno-fix. It seems to be a common affliction: Brand, Lovelock, Monbiot, etc.

    > I’ll give Lynas the benefit of a doubt, and am awaiting his correction.

    You may like to read http://www.marklynas.org/2011/03/the-dangers-of-nuclear-power-in-light-of-fukushima/#comment-495 – it’s not just one error, it’s a pattern of thinking that is flawed, lacking coherence and not supported by science or reality.

    ~~~

    Stephen Leahy:

    > FYI I am a middle aged Canadian enviro journalist who is earning a less than meagre living.

    You’re on my reading list and I cite you regularly – “Nuclear Energy Steals Billions from Other Technologies”. :)

    > I strongly suspect desperation is driving Monbiot and Lynas to favour nuclear, not money.

    Sure. I was being facetious with my suggestion, borne out of frustration that these journalists have collectively been fooled by the nuke propaganda at a time when the UK’s conservative government are doing all they can to force nukes on us and handicap renewables.

    And it’s working: “UK slips down global green investment rankings. Britain falls from third to 13th place in league table of countries investing in alternative energy and clean technology.”

    I’m feeling the urge to extend my German beyond ‘wo ist die bierkeller?’ and emigrate. Although, perhaps that is all I need?!

  31. Mark Lynas says:

    Joe – Sorry if I wasn’t clear. The Breakthrough folks came back to me and told me that their figures for the land-use implications (and presumably cost, since it was the number of panels/wind turbines at issue) of a scenario where Japan phases out its nuclear sector were seriously out.

    In the interests of being as clear as possible about what went wrong, I am happy to share with you the following figures from TBI Policy Associate Sara Mansur, reproduced below:

    “Here are the corrected figures, using the US Department of State’s estimate for total Japanese land area of 93.4 million acres.

    Replacement of Current Nuclear Fleet:
    Solar: 1.3 million/93.4 million= 1.39% of Japan’s land area
    Wind: 1.3 million/93.4 million = 1.39% of Japan’s land area

    Replacement of Planned 2030 Nuclear Generation:
    Solar: 2.77 million/93.4 million= 2.97% of Japan’s land area
    Wind: 2.78 million/93.4 million= 2.98% of Japan’s land area

    The number in the sentence “”The installation of this 324 GW of wind turbines would cost around $798 billion, and would require…” is 81,411 acres, and has been corrected in the piece.”

    I hope this clarifies things somewhat.

    Richard Brenne – thanks! And I for one would love to have a candid and respectful debate about these things. I’m a big Climate Progress fan too… I’ve been known to tell friends and colleagues it’s a “must-read”, and I still hold to that. Still, I never imagined the legendary ‘head-vise’ would be needed for one of my pieces. Oh well. I only wish it had been for something I got right rather than something I got wrong.

    Mark

    [JR: Okay (though I'm still not clear who got the area of Japan so wrong). I remain a big fan of your climate work. I hope the lesson learned is not to rely on anything Breakthrough writes. Also, I think emphasizing the total area encompassed by the wind farm, without mentioning the actual footprint of the turbines, is misleading.]

  32. Lou Grinzo says:

    I would hope all of us here, and I most definitely include myself in that grouping, will take a moment or three to consider what happened here, from Mark’s initial piece to Joe’s post to all of our comments here.

  33. Tom Gray says:

    Joe, I’m a huge fan of yours, and really appreciate the work you are doing. Let me quibble slightly and say that I don’t think it is misleading to cite the entire area within a wind farm’s boundaries, but when that is done, it’s important to qualify the statement by noting that 95% to 98% of the land remains available for farming, ranching or other compatible uses.

    [JR: I wasn't saying that citing the entire area is misleading. I don't think it is. I said "I think emphasizing the total area encompassed by the wind farm, rather than the actual footprint of the turbines, is misleading." If one cites the entire area but doesn't qualify the statement as you (and I) suggest -- and Lynas didn't -- that seems to me misleading. In the real world -- where economics dominates, as you know, it's the land taken out of commission that really matters. If wind actually talk up all that area, it would be far less attractive -- and far less deployed -- than it is today, I'm sure you'll agree.]

    The Bush Administration’s 20% Wind Energy by 2030 Technical Report, which I cited above, provides both numbers in its map–each state on the map contains a small square denoting the area needed to host the amount of wind projected, and then a minute square within that denoting the area that would actually be occupied by turbines, service roads, etc.–and I think that is a good way to go.

    Chris Goodall, with all due respect, I would not count on AWEO, an anti-wind group, for accurate information without double-checking it. There are a number of objective sources available, such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and others, that take pains to provide accurate information.–Tom Gray, Wind Energy Communications Consultant

  34. FredT34 says:

    Joe,

    I think I would have preferred if you had contacted Mark privately, so he could double-check these mistakes, have them corrected, and give you credit. Crucifixing him is not really elegant, and I don’t see any benefit for ClimateProgress and/or the global community of people fighting global warming (to which Mark and you obviously belong). Everybody can make errors… and must be given a chance to correct them; I don’t think that peer-reviewers publish their comments in the wild…

    Of course, this very comment won’t calm down the “Hey, I found a mistake” cycle, but I have no other way to reach you. It’s probably better if you don’t publish this comment!

    (BTW, I appreciate both Mark’s work in 6 Degrees and yours!)

  35. Joan Savage says:

    It was refreshing to see a conversation develop here between Mark Lymas and Joe Romm. I can learn from this, and I too endorse direct conversation where possible.

    FredT34, You probably know, but let’s agree that a peer-review occurs prior to publication. Once a paper or opinion is out in the press and read by thousands, open comment is the norm.

    In journalism an old rule is have at least two sources behind one’s words before making a statement that is served up without attribution. However, editors don’t have to ask for sources for an op-ed piece, and that leaves it to blog comments for counterpoint.

    From of this interchange I also now believe that Joe Romm or Mark Lymas might read nearly anything, anywhere.

  36. Lewis C says:

    TBI pushes an additional and damaging delusion both via Lynas and others who’ve turned their coats and also via a certain lack of vigilance among environmentalists.

    The delusion is that Wind & Solar are the primary alternatives to replacing old nuclear with new nuclear. This is not to deny that these ‘renewable’ options have been given huge fractions of the total investment in Non-Fossil Energies’ [NFEs] R,D&D over the last 20 years, and are thus more advanced commercially than other options, but rather to observe that replacing Fukushima’s six reactors (let alone the rest of Japan’s fleet) with new nuclear would take at least one decade, and perhaps two. Thus it is plain wrong to assume that Wind & Solar ARE the alternatives to nuclear re-build, when the baseload NFE options of Geothermal, Ocean Wave and Forest Biomass show excellent potential for gigawatt-scale baseload supplies within the 10 to 20 year time-frame.

    (Baseload Solar Thermal could also serve of course, but I suspect that this option is too land-hungry per GWe of output to suit Japan’s priorities).

    What is more, Japan is a fairly small highly populated island nation that is also both well-wooded and notably seismically active, with world class R&D capacity. With Japan, China and Germany all clearly losing some confidence in Nuclear, the re-orientation of their capacities to advance those baseload NFE options to commercial mass-deployment may be the one major benefit of the Fukushima fiasco.

    And at that point the manufactured delusion of inherently intermittent Wind & Solar being the preferred alternatives to inherently baseload Nuclear will be as widely derided as that of Nuclear being the preferred alternative to Gas, Oil & Coal.

    Regards,

    Lewis

    PS – Regarding some unworthy aspersions cast on middle-aged British intellectuals with Lynas and Monbiot as supposed exemplars, given the extraordinary resilience and perseverance of most such Brits, I’d point out that those two renegades are plainly the exceptions proving that, as a rule, Brits will fight on regardless of the odds.

    Would that this could be said of more nations.

  37. Joan Savage says:

    Chris Goodall (#30)

    The NREL number of 0.25 acre per MW is found at
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/power_databook/calc_wind.php

    It reflects the surface area taken out of production on a farm, not the areal spacing of the turbines. Joe addressed that further up, but the link to the source is provided here.

  38. Anne van der Bom says:

    We know the anti-renewable folks are every bit as anti-science as the climate deniers. It is revealing to see that even the most basic and simple calculations are beyond their capacity and that they tolerate the persistence of flagrant errors, for no other reason than that it is for ‘the good cause’.

    Another thing that I would have liked Joe to point out is that just as the actual area occupied by wind turbines is relatively small, the same is true for solar PV, but in a different way. Placing pv panels on roofs and canopies on parking lots does not cost any land area at all. Zero. Their is a lot of built-up area to use before any agricultural land or nature has to be sacrificed for solar power.

  39. pete best says:

    Hi guys

    unfortunately here in the UK two people have recently converted to be pro nuclear by the looks of it. This is mainly due to the power of coal and it dirty emissions and the intransigent state of UK politics as it is percieved by the environmentalist movement. Environmentalits are easily alarmed and hence easily persuaded as to what is best.

    if the choice was between coal and nuclear and nuclear was deemed to be the more low carbon and lowerr pollutant overall then costs dont come into it from their perpective. You see to be an all around person who considers all of the factors in determining energy solutions then you are a better person than most.

    YOu see the UK cant have solar baseload (solar thermal- only via desertec and as North Africa is presently having stability issues it is unlikely to materialise any time soon). Each country has different populations, different geography and differing energy needs.

    The UK has issues with onshore wind as it is opposed but offshore wind is deeemd to be ok and hence we have a push towards that.

  40. Dappledwater says:

    Mark Lynas – It is frequently asserted that no nuclear plant has ever been built without a subsidy, but then neither has a PV solar panel or a wind turbine been put up anywhere in the world without some kind of subsidy or government mandate either to my knowledge.

    My suggestion, do some research. Here in New Zealand wind generation is not subsidized. I must say, I am unimpressed by your ignorance on this topic.

  41. Andrew DeWit says:

    Someone asked why Japan doesn’t use its offshore wind potential. You could ask the same for its geothermal and other resources. The common answer is the determined efforts of the nuclear-laden utilities, the METI, and much of the political class. The Japanese weeklies have considerable detail this week on the efforts of this clique to block renewables, smart city and smart grid initiatives. To get a sense of how cult-like is the nuclear faith, have a look at this cartoon this made to convince people plutonium is a cute and misunderstood substance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrAd0LxjcWE

    They won’t give up either. Tonight’s news has the CEO of TEPCO calling for a quick re-opening, this year, of the Kashiwazaki reactor. The Governor of Niigata (where the reactor’s located) shot that idea down. The Kan government’s council on reconstruction also revealed tonight that they will plan for a “clean-energy society,” which in Japanese parlance means renewables.

  42. Anne van der Bom says:

    Will Mark Lynas will change his opinion on renewables now this has been pointed out to him? Will just the numbers be fixed in the article or will the tone be adjusted too? Or will he simply ignore it and stick to his preferred option, no matter what?

  43. Joan Savage says:

    Andrew DeWit (#42) and others.

    Japan already uses some of its offshore wind potential. A multitude of articles are out on the survival of the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm that was unaffected by the 9.0 earthquake on March 11.

    Mark Lynas’ LA Times op-ed had a more limited scope of how much land surface could be needed for on-shore wind farms to replace nuclear generation of electricity.

    In my opinion, looking at the coast line of Japan and the prevailing winds is a topic likely to have been well-investigated by the Japanese.

  44. Mike # 22 says:

    The Earth Policy Institute has a recent Update to Plan B for Japan. Japan’s “geothermal solution” should be leading the discussion of Japan’s energy future, rather than these contrived worries about how devasted Japan would be by being smothered in windmills and solar cells. Cheaper than nuclear, cleaner than coal, safe, inexhaustible.

    “Located along the tectonically active Pacific Ring of Fire, with nearly 200 volcanoes and some 28,000 hot springs, Japan is one of the world’s most geothermally rich countries. Using conventional technologies, geothermal energy could provide over 80,000 megawatts of electricity-generating capacity—enough to meet half of the country’s electricity needs. But with the modern enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) technology now available, Japan’s geothermal potential could be far greater.” http://www.earth-policy.org/plan_b_updates/2011/update94

    Framing the Fukushima disaster as a trivial event (no one is dying…) and as an opportunity to tell everyone how indispensable these plants are is just wrong. Many tens of thousands of people are suffering right now from the evacuations caused by this nuclear accident, this nuclear accident which is now an INES Level 7, this nuclear accident which is nowhere close to over yet, this nuclear accident we know so little about because the nuclear power industry has circled the wagons. A framing which I would suggest is that Fukushima has revealed a huge public health and safety issue in the fragility of these plants, just as climate disruption has confirmed the huge public health and safety issue behind fossil fuel use. Neither of these issues need be endured, not when safe solutions are available for just a few percentage points of GDP being redirected into new energy supplies.

  45. Mike Roddy says:

    Mike #22, I agree that geothermal is the way to go in Japan. It’s too far north for solar, and not windy enough except offshore, which is expensive.

    Lewis C, I disagree about any form of biomass power. It has always failed the test of feasibility, and the CO2 score is not what forest owners and developers claim it is. Biomass power is to solar what ethanol is to electric cars. We tried biomass power in the 70′s energy crisis, when big power generation boilers burning junk white pine were built in the Sierras. It was abandoned as a boondoggle. The numbers are the same now.

  46. Lewis C says:

    Andrew at 42/. -

    “The Kan government’s council on reconstruction also revealed tonight that they will plan for a “clean-energy society,” which in Japanese parlance means renewables.”

    This is very good news – with Japan’s re-orientation alongside that of German and Chinese energy priorities the prospect of a rapid advance of the baseload non-fossil energies is much improved.
    (Which is not to suggest that these sustainable energies can or will displace fossil energies globally, but they will give far better confidence to those negotiating the climate treaty that legislating the phase-out of fossil dependence does not of itself imply massive energy shortfalls).

    In addition, those nations which are currently having to raise hard currency to fund fossil fuel imports will find homegrown baseload energy supplies particularly attractive. There are thus potentially large export markets to encourage German, Chinese and Japanese R&D efforts.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  47. Lewis C says:

    Mike at 46/. -

    Your sweeping assertion makes no sense. Biomass is useless because American corporations used it as a boondogle 40 years ago ?

    Since when was the past abuse of an option considered to be evidence of that option’s inherent lack of utility ?

    US tree-huggers may well be sufficiently obstructive of forest biomass projects within America to block their advance – but in other nations in Europe, Africa, Asia and S America, the advantages of sustainable afforestation for energy & biochar are steadily gaining wide recognition.

    A US failure to participate in the deployment of forest energy would be America’s loss – but it will do nothing to hinder this option’s advance among the other 96% of the world’s population.

    As no less an authority than Aldo Leopold wrote in his classic work “A Sand County Almanac” :

    “The best of conservation . . . . is written not with a pen but with an axe.”

    But then he was taking practical responsibility for managing land – and, of course, making good use of trees felled, not least for domestic heating.

    Regards,

    Lewis

    “T

  48. cervantes says:

    Still no correction at the LA Times as of now.

  49. Gnobuddy says:

    In post #3, Gordon says:

    Every day I see more and more evidence that this country’s education system has fallen off a cliff.

    At work, we regularly test and interview a few people a week. The scores on our simple arithmetic test are declining each year and in fact accelerating.
    ============================================================================================
    As an educator struggling with hordes of incredibly ignorant students who are fundamentally impossible to educate (they cannot seem to learn anything, no matter how many times or how many ways you try to teach them) every quarter, my observations agree entirely with your second point (falling math skills).

    However, I don’t believe the fundamental problem is the educational system. What is happening now is that students are entering school already unable to learn, to the point where I would suggest they are suffering from brain damage – or, more accurately, abnormally developed brains.

    There are a host of research papers on how the early environment that an animal is subjected to affects its brain development. Infants raised in a deprived environment suffer abnormal brain development. For instance, young kittens raised in a white room with black vertical stripes become functionally blind – the eyes are normal, but they cannot see horizontal edges, and cannot function in a normal environment. The damage is permanent and irreversible.

    This stark fact – early life environment affects brain and body development permanently – applies to human infants just as much as to any other animal.

    Many children now spend the first five or six years of their lives – the most important years of their lives, developmentally speaking – sitting in front of a TV or video game in a dark room. Nobody reads to them, nobody sings to them, nobody plays with them or carries them, they don’t spend any significant time outdoors in nature, they don’t climb trees, they don’t chase each other round the playground, they don’t make sand castles, they don’t dig holes. Instead they sit still on a couch, pushing buttons on a video game controller.

    My very strong hunch is that this deprived early environment is causing brain damage in many of our children, and by the time they arrive in elementary school at age five or six they are already like those functionally blind kittens – their brains have been damaged and they are incapable of learning and functioning like children who have had normal brain development. The condition is almost certainly permanent and irreversible, which is why I teach young adults who have no idea how big an inch is, how to read an analog clock, what 10% of a hundred dollars is.

    The young people I teach have been shown all these things in school, but they are incapable of learning them. After sixteen weeks in my classroom, with me making every possible effort to teach them, many will leave just as ignorant, and just as dysfunctional, as the day they entered. That’s hardly surprising when you consider they have learned almost nothing in the twenty YEARS that preceded my sixteen weeks with them.

    It’s a tragedy, but we as a nation are living the story of “Lord of the Flies”, on a nation-wide and much slowed down scale, with actual brain damage accompanying the cultural decline portrayed in the book.

    -Gnobuddy

  50. BlueRock says:

    Chris Goodall:

    > Please consider these numbers. http://www.aweo.org/windarea.html

    This explains a great deal. You are referencing a sideshow website from an individual with a clear agenda to attack wind energy. Why would you reference such a non-credible site other than to confirm a pre-determined conclusion?

    The near-invisible keywords at the bottom of the page should give a small clue to the ‘quality’ of the site. Or just read the about page: “…I had seen industrial wind turbines in Spain and their undeniably intrusive presence on the landscape…” He’s a NIMBY with a home-made website.

    It really does go some way to explaining the nonsense being produced by you, Lynas and now Monbiot.

    ~~~

    Mark Lynas :

    > It is frequently asserted that no nuclear plant has ever been built without a subsidy, but then neither has a PV solar panel or a wind turbine been put up anywhere in the world without some kind of subsidy or government mandate either to my knowledge.

    It beggars belief that you can say that. You really believe no one has ever put up a solar panel or a wind turbine without government subsidy? It’s almost as though you are choosing to remain uninformed on this subject in preference for pushing an ideological belief.

    ~~~

    Andrew DeWit:

    > To get a sense of how cult-like is the nuclear faith, have a look at this cartoon this made to convince people plutonium is a cute and misunderstood substance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrAd0LxjcWE

    I had no doubt about cult-like qualities of the nuclear faith, but that video is disgusting.

    “Give me the children until they are seven and anyone may have them afterwards.” Francis Xavier

    ~~~

    cervantes:

    > Still no correction at the LA Times as of now.

    Even if it is corrected, the damage is done. More anti-renewable, pro-nuke propaganda fed to the public.

  51. Richard Brenne says:

    Gnobuddy (#50) – Another amazing essay! So you’re saying we should take our kittens out of the white room with black stripes where we’ve imprisoned them? I kid. I’d love to know where and what you teach, if you care to share. If you want to do so privately I’m at rabrenne@hotmail.com.

    Recently I had lunch with a friend’s son who I thought I might be in a position to mentor if he wanted. He was a (nearly) state champion distance runner who runs for fun now on Portland’s amazing forest trails and who was accepted to the Naval Academy and to give a paper there about Peak Oil, but turned down the opportunity and is now rebelling, reading many of the great philosophers and questioning all the excesses of capitalism. Also I know from his parents and a very special community he has had at least two decades of exposure to a very progressive thread of spirituality.

    So in each of these areas I’m guessing he has to be in the top one per cent of the U.S. population not only for his age, but for any age.

    Yet during our lunch he started checking and sending texts, and many times literally yawned in my face. Generally he was rude, arrogant, stupid and incapable of meaningful conversation other than parroting some of what he’d read, and lunch with a parrot would’ve been much more fun.

    In the end I felt I was casting my pearls before swine, something that appears to have become a habit, at least if I were to listen to the many swine who have attempted to point this out to me.

    I would not give up on him or anyone else if they came to me with enough humility (and in his case repentence) and sincerity. I just met a recent Reed College graduate who will be attending my college talk on Monday with others like her (she says) and her critical thinking skills impressed me a great deal.

    Your list of how to parent and nurture a child is a great one, and we didn’t have a TV or video game in the house, spent an average of hours outside everyday exploring, playing and climbing trees as you describe, and going to where the high energy was for her to chase and be chased by countless kids, not only along streams and in parks and playgrounds, but also often on ice and in-line skates and even cross-country skis. I mean for so many hours that climbing and skiing off the summits of big Cascade volancoes like Mt. St. Helens, Hood and Lassen beginning at age nine was effortless for her.

    We also built the sand castles on the beach you describe, always with the tide coming in, usually from multiple directions (due to estuaries of small rivers as they entered the sea) so that she’d know that nature always bats last. At 13 she looked at the waves surrounding and engulfing one such castle and said, “It’s sad that New Orleans is America’s biggest sand castle. . .”

    We lived and trekked in the Nepal Himalayas and explored glaciers on three continents by the time she was seven. She got blindsided by society’s stupidity in some ways as is unavoidable with every teen, but now in college (Quest in Squamish, British Columbia, where she spents part of every day rain [a lot] or shine [a little] contemmplating nature, she works in America’s finest bike shop, coaches kids in ski racing and other sports often in wilderness (or near wilderness) settings, is an activist and volunteers counselling kids with severe and unique challenges, and has become fascinated with eco-psychology (so we’re getting together with a pioneering eco-pyschologist when she visits in a couple of weeks).

    Also she is such an astute critical thinker that she regularly out-debates me on a very regular basis. This often happens as we’re contemplating the view from a summit, a mountain lake, stream, waterfall, forest or the Pacific. At such moments I feel I’m in the presence of our Creator, and that I’m seeing Her face to face.

  52. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Gnobuddy #50. Yes, TV does have neurophysiological effects, specifically producing slow wave activity particularly in the left cortex demonstrating reduced cortical activity and hence learning and remembering. Our first work on this was picked up by Jerry Mander in his book Four Reasons for the Elimination of Television. It was also the subject of my PhD in 1986 where all experimental data showed this effect.

    The response is to the medium not the content as Marshal McLuhan predicted and your Surgeon General recommends that children under 2 years should watch NO TV.

    This also explains why TV is the perfect medium for advertizing where the ‘best’ ads, including the political variety, contain no information but leave a warm purely emotional response. The industry well knows what it is dealing with which is why most commercial TV news has become ‘infotainment’.

    Teachers have been complaining about kids brought up by TV from the earliest days of Sesame Street. USA has the highest average viewing hours in the world so I am not surprised at your observations. It needs to be tested however, whether this is actually a permanent neurophysiological deficit or just an ingrained habit of not attending to information presented.

    My bet would be the latter and that they could still learn if they engaged in group based work around a project which truly motivated them, ME

  53. PurpleOzone says:

    Are the Japanese people going to permit nuclear power plants to be rebuilt?

    Supposing the national politics to be doable, the building of 6 new nuclear plants face these obstacles:

    A place to put them that is ‘safe’. Nuclear plants need lots of river or sea water for cooling. The land on Japan’s seacoast dropped 3 ft (a meter) as a consequence of the earthquake. A big tsunami may happen again. Where do you get the necessary water and be away from the possible damage of tsunamis?

    Cost. A new nuclear plant is expensive — what is it now? $25 billion, 6 would cost $150 billion. Plus the costs of the fuel rods, I don’t know how much they cost, or how many new ones are needed a year.

    Place to store waste. Presumably the treacherous storage location at Fukushima was chosen for cheapness.

    Time to build. What is it, 20 years?

    NIMBY.

    Wind and solar can be built incrementally, as needed, and may not be vigorously opposed by local populations.

    One big reason nuclear plants ceased in the U.S. after 3 Mile Island was the bank-rollers had been assured there would be one serious accident in a commercial plant in 10 million years. This was a walloping lie since the non-commercial Hanford plant had already melted down, but the funders swallowed it until 3 Mile Island. The plant had cost 1 or 2 billion dollars to build, which the funders lost due to the accident. In order to restart the business, our government recently passed assurances the government would cover accidental damage.

    Tom Hartmann had a woman on his radio show yesterday who has been collecting data and statistics on the consequences of accident. I was driving and didn’t get much of the discussion. She has cancer rates, and has tracked mutated plants and lack of animal life ever since. Nobody measured the amount of radiation emitted for a day or two after the accident (if I remember right). I’m sorry I didn’t get the woman’s name, but she deserves more exposure (she’s not a webbie).

  54. Holly Stick says:

    An important article by Andrew Nikiforuk on Japan’s addiction to oil:

    “…After the quake, Japan’s big energy dilemma remains the same: how can a nation unsustainably fashioned by a flood of cheap oil (less than $20) 40 years ago, reboot or rebuild now that oil exceeds a $100 a barrel?

    This arresting drama has a science fiction-like quality because Japan reflects both our petroleum pasts and our energy futures. It is the world’s petroleum everyman. In many ways Japan’s fate is our collective fate…”

    http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/04/14/JapanOilFragility/

    The Tyee also has many good articles about the oil sands/tarsands in Alberta:

    http://thetyee.ca/Topic/Energy/

  55. BlueRock says:

    Chris Goodall:

    > It is an extremely sad feature of the debate over nuclear power that opponents all assume that proponents are being bribed.

    Chris,

    As per my reply to Stephen Leahy: “I was being facetious with my suggestion, borne out of frustration that these journalists have collectively been fooled by the nuke propaganda at a time when the UK’s conservative government are doing all they can to force nukes on us and handicap renewables.”

    A much sadder feature of the debate over nuclear power is prominent environmental journalists pushing very clearly false information and not responding to the incontrovertible evidence that shows they are wrong. See the really quite despicable claim from you, Monbiot and Lynas that only 43 (or is it 47? Or is it 64?) people died as a result of Chernobyl. This is simply not true. No source puts the total mortality anywhere near that level. Not the WHO or its puppetmaster, the IAEA. They suggest 9000 excess deaths. And they reach that number by assuming that not a single person outside the Ukraine and Russian territories was affected.

    You are grossly misinforming the public. Do not be surprised if people react angrily to what you are doing.

    Sincerely,

    David.

  56. cindy says:

    Suggest that Mark needs to check his sources on most things, along with his friends – I’d like to hear his views on his guest blogger Chris Goodall’s reliance on a vociferously anti-wind group.

    Equally, on the arguments Mark uses on Chernobyl deaths. He’s endlessly quoting UNSCEAR – an organisation well known for its strong links to the nuclear industry (indeed many of the physicists on the Chernobyl panel actually worked for the industry – and they were phsysicsts, not experts in the biological effects of radiation).

    Equally, the WHO’s links with the IAEA are also a major problem – we all know that the IAEA is an apologist more than watchdog for the nuclear industry. This 2002 article in the Journal of Humanitarian Medicine is quite informative on these matters http://iahm.org/journal/vol_2/num_3/text/vol2n3p21.htm

    What amazes me is that while Lynas and Monbiot have both accepted and dislike the fossil fuel industry’s influence on – and funding of – the climate deniers, are both appear quite happy to become a “nuclear-hazard denier” without properly investigating the studies they have cherry-picked to support their arguments. The Breakthrough Institute is but one example.

    There are plenty of wind farms around the world that have gone ahead without government subsidy. Is Mark really arguing that renewable energy should not get Government mandates?

    The difference between a Government mandate on wind and a mandate on nuclear is Governments have largely agreed that with nuclear that they will have to underwrite the massive liability and decommissioning costs – neither of which are very large costs for the renewable energy industry.

    Like you, JR, I would like to see Lynas tackle the cost issue properly and let us see those arguments.

    In pushing the argument too far this way, Lynas and Monbiot end up supporting the nuclear industry’s lobbying strategy against renewable energy. We all know that in the end (well, by 2050) that even the IEA accepts that nuclear will only make up 10% of the energy mix, with energy efficiency and renewables taking up the vast majority.

  57. scas says:

    Nuclear power is only worth it if society remains uncollapsed. Since we have not replaced coal, gas, and oil with low-carbon power, global warming and runaway methane heating threatens us with collapse, so nuclear is a bad idea. Tough call.

    Still, I am with James Hansen, James Lovelock, James Kunstler, Steward Brand, Mark Lynas, George Monbiot, David Keith..and more.

    Earth is priceless. Life is priceless. Runaway climate change is priceless. It sucks to be a minority and be crucified by all sides for ones opinions, but one has to stick with what he believes.

  58. Neven says:

    TV is bad for kids, but don’t forget processed foods either, especially sugar. Give kids the wrong food from age 0-6, and they will never recover from it.