[Note: Watts Up With That, one of the web's most anti-scientific blogs, is a finalist for the Weblog awards "Best Science Blog" (see "Weblog Awards duped by deniers -- again!"). Even more farcically, early voting suggests Watts has a chance of winning (see here). Since the fine science blog Pharyngula is doing well in the voting, I'd now suggest voting for it.]
In this post I’m going to present the general diagnosis for “anti-science syndrome” (ASS). Like most syndromes, ASS is a collection of symptoms that individually may not be serious, but taken together can be quite dangerous — at least it can be dangerous to the health and well-being of humanity if enough people actually believe the victims.
One tell-tale symptom of ASS is that a website or a writer focuses their climate attacks on non-scientists. If that non-scientist is Al Gore, this symptom alone may be definitive.
The other key symptoms involve the repetition of long-debunked denier talking points, commonly without links to supporting material. Such repetition, which can border on the pathological, is a clear warning sign.
Scientists who kept restating and republishing things that had been widely debunked in the scientific literature for many, many years would quickly be diagnosed with ASS. Such people on the web are apparently heroes — at least to the right wing and/or easily duped (see “The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP“).
If you suspect someone of ASS, look for the repeated use of the following phrases:
[Bill Becker worked at SBA (Small Business Administration) before coming to DOE, where I met him. We tried to get SBA to use its huge loan program to help small businesses buy energy-saving equipment -- authority the SBA already has. But SBA had no interest. Obama's pick for SBA, venture capitalist Karen Gordon Mills, has green cred and joins a very cleantech savvy Obama team, so hopefully she will green SBA. Following Bill's recommendations below would be a good place to start.]
Companies that are “too big to fail” have been getting most attention in the bailout packages emerging from the federal government. But in the economic recovery plan now being considered by Congress and the incoming Obama Administration, the focus should be on small businesses.
While the Big Three have been the latest squeaky wheels to get greased by billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money, small businesses are the real engine of job creation and innovation in the U.S. economy. With a little bit of help, they will be the locomotive that pulls us into the new energy economy of the 21st century.
The first inaugural address of a President is among the most important and well-crafted speeches they deliver. It sets the direction and tone for their entire presidency. It can inspire the nation and indeed the world.
In two weeks, President-elect Barack Obama will deliver his. Given his well-known eloquence and the dire problems the nation faces, you can be certain this will be the speech of a lifetime.
I’m looking for some powerful rhetoric on energy and climate from you. No, I don’t expect those two subjects will be the primary focus of his remarks, and I expect he will talk more about energy than climate.
But both issues are among the greatest of our time, and Obama’s Cabinet selections make clear he is going to take strong action on both fronts. So does his post-election remarks, “The science is beyond dispute… Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”
Post your suggestions below. Whoever comes closest to what he actually says, wins the chance to post on Climate Progress [woo-hoo!]. Also, if anyone’s suggestion seems especially eloquent, I will send it to people who know Obama well enough to give you a (tiny) chance of making it into his speech.
Some suggestions to would-be speechwriters follow:
A new study puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour — triple current U.S. electricity rates!
This staggering price is far higher than the cost of a variety of carbon-free renewable power sources available today — and ten times the cost of energy efficiency (see “Is 450 ppm possible? Part 5: Old coal’s out, can’t wait for new nukes, so what do we do NOW?“).
The new study, Business Risks and Costs of New Nuclear Power, is one of the most detailed cost analyses publically available on the current generation of nuclear power plants being considered in this country. It is by a leading expert in power plant costs, Craig A. Severance. A practicing CPA, Severance is co-author of The Economics of Nuclear and Coal Power (Praeger 1976), and former Assistant to the Chairman and to Commerce Counsel, Iowa State Commerce Commission.
This important new analysis is being published by Climate Progress because it fills a critical gap in the current debate over nuclear power — transparency. Severance explains:
All assumptions, and methods of calculation are clearly stated. The piece is a deliberate effort to demystify the entire process, so that anyone reading it (including non-technical readers) can develop a clear understanding of how total generation costs per kWh come together.
As stunning as this new, detailed cost estimate is, it should not come as a total surprise. I detailed the escalating capital costs of nuclear power in my May 2008 report, “The Self-Limiting Future of Nuclear Power.” And in a story last week on nuclear power’s supposed comeback, Time magazine notes that nuclear plants’ capital costs are “out of control,” concluding:
Most efficiency improvements have been priced at 1¢ to 3¢ per kilowatt-hour, while new nuclear energy is on track to cost 15¢ to 20¢ per kilowatt-hour. And no nuclear plant has ever been completed on budget.
Time buried that in the penultimate paragraph of the story!