Thursday, February 26, 2015

A deliberately misleading anti-nuclear hit-piece from Canada's former national newpaper

I'm angry. if you don't want to be angry, don't read on.

In early December, 2014, I had the opportunity, provided by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), to see how spent nuclear fuel in Canada is handled, given a history lesson on what planning had been done on handling it long-term, and the current structure of waste handling responsibilities and funding.
irradiated fuel in DCS, just like farmer Tony McQuail's "shit"

I see little attempt to communicate reality in the hatefully misleading Inside the race for Canada’s nuclear waste: 11 towns vie to host deep burial site posted to the Globe and Mail's site. This piece enters the same competition as the Toronto Star's fear inducing anti-vaccination crap.

If this were a news story by a reporter, it would note both Sweden and Finland are progressing with deep geological repositories (DGR), and Finland's regulator just this month approved the next steps towards implementing one.

From the Globe's poison pen piece:
In 2005, after a low-profile consultation with 18,000 Canadians (roughly one in 2,000 of us), the NWMO decided that a deep repository was the answer to its mission.
These weren't the first 18,000 Canadians consulted, nor the last.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Regarding/Opposing Industrial wind turbines in Ontario

A couple of today's articles on industrial wind turbines in Ontario are worth citing, and provide an excuse to reference a slightly older article from a legal firm on upcoming changes to how industrial wind is pursued in Ontario.

New wind energy plan fragile | Stewart Fast and Warren Mabee| | Kingston Whig Standard
Problems with siting wind farms were catalyzed by the Green Energy Act put in place six years ago. The act was very successful in attracting investment and interest from wind energy developers. Fixed 20-year contracts at guaranteed rates were part of the attraction, but just as important was a streamlined approval process that reduced the approval authority of municipal governments and eliminated the need for developers to negotiate for local zoning approval. Residents of host communities had very limited opportunity to influence development decisions.
This lack of influence quickly translated into a drop in support for wind energy locally and generally. 
...there is substantial pent-up frustration in host communities that still have to face new wind projects approved under the old rules. The changes are unlikely to satisfy this segment of the population. It took six years for the province to lose the trust of host communities; it will take at least that long to start building momentum in the other direction.

Further north, a meeting on a specific project proposal is the subject of PJ Wilson's Chief promises protests, blockades in the North Bay Nugget:
MATTAWA – The Antoine First Nation “will use every means available” to stop a proposed wind turbine development near this community, including protests and blockades.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Infrastructure Ontario's $14.4 billion turnaround

a post from Parker Gallant

When Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario's Auditor General released her report on Premier McGuinty's creation; Infrastructure Ontario (IO), it was very critical of the way they measured Alternative Financing and Procurement [AFP], otherwise known as PPP (public private partnerships). In fact the report suggested they overspent, costing taxpayers $8 billion in tangible costs. The following is an excerpt from the report:
"For 74 infrastructure projects (either completed or under way) where Infrastructure Ontario concluded that private-sector project delivery (under the Alternative Financing and Procurement [AFP] approach) would be more cost effective, we noted that the tangible costs (such as construction, financing, legal services, engineering services and project management services) were estimated to be nearly $8 billion higher than they were estimated to be if the projects were contracted out and managed by the public sector."
In the fashion of IO's previous CEO, David Livingston, currently under investigation by the OPP for the deletion of e-mails while Chief of Staff to Premier McGuinty; they decided to do their best to erase the bad news emanating from the AG's report. What they did was concoct their own story, had it signed by the CEO Bert Clark, their Board of Directors and delivered it to their master; Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. The two page letter (three including the signatures of the Board and CEO) doesn't exhibit the tirade exhibited by the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli when he got the AG's “Smart Meter” report but it takes a swipe on what the report had to say.

The letter in two pages, claims IO turned the $8 billion cost to taxpayers into a $6.6 billion benefit for a $14.4 billion turnaround. The turnaround was explained in one short paragraph:

Information on renewables, ETS, markets and emissions

Some challenging reading if you're looking to lock yourself down until the deep freeze subsides:

Energy Policies of IEA Countries 2014Review European Union Executive Summary
...the EU carbon market did not stimulate investment in the decarbonisation of the power generation or other sectors and only contributed to a small extent to meeting GHG targets. In 2012, the power sector remained the largest emitter (38%) when comparing total EU CO2 emissions per sector.
image from IEA via @BSharpEnergy
Instead, national support policies and subsidies for energy efficiency and renewable energies have been driving decarbonisation. The IEA World Energy Outlook 2014 estimated the total value of subsidies to renewable energy in the European Union of around USD 70 billion or EUR 52 billion in 2013, which equals 57% of the global subsidies to renewable energy, with solar PV accounting for over USD 30 billion or EUR 22 billion, followed by wind with over USD 15 billion or EUR 11 billion. The support schemes had a strong impact on the wholesale electricity market, pushing down prices and reducing operating hours for conventional thermal plants. Together with changes in the relative international commodity prices, power generation moved towards coal, away from natural gas, amid changing economics of power plant dispatch.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ordinary consumer shouldn't eat local in this Climate: Ontario emissions week

some news, or news releases, of the week.

Glen Murray, Ontario's Minister of Earth love -or something like that - this week held court in front of primarily well tailored clean people to introduce a climate change strategy discussion - or something like that. A discussion paper is claimed to "asks important questions to inform a comprehensive climate change strategy and action plan;" Ontario's Climate Change Discussion Paper, 2015.
Parker Gallant continues to demonstrate how the audiences' pay cheques at Ministerial announcements tend to flow from the  Ontario government, this week in Ontario “charities”: giving to other “charities.”

David McLaughlin has a good post on where the Wynne government is going with this climate change show: Ontario’s Climate & Carbon Pricing Policy – Get Ready for Cap-and-Trade.
Cherise Burda's Speeding up climate action in the transportation sector post is also interesting.

I've stated in the past I didn't think this government would introduce a carbon tax as that could be honest, whereas cap-and-trade allows constituencies to be built by gaming the system.
I'm not as sure, but that'd still be my guess.

Then came the farmers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Barking Mad and David Keith: on geoengineering

"I think you’ve stated that this is not the right approach — that cutting CO2 as much and as quickly as possible is the right approach, but it’s not happening so... "

Saw an article in Slate today on Geoengineering that reminded me of a recent one from David Keith.
I think the important thing on geoengineering is it's unlikely to happen as an international effort, and it is likely to happen - and like the Cuban missile crisis, many will be scared.
And not much will happen.

Maybe I'm crazy though - from these two articles it seems somebody must be.

Harvard’s David Keith Knows How to Dial Down the Earth’s Thermostat. Is It Time to Try? | Re/code:
I work across a lot of pieces of research, but I’d say the frontiers are trying to understand how much effectively turning down the sun, solar geoengineering, actually reduces the climate risk that people care about: Crop losses, ice sheets melting, temperature extremes, or what have you.
There’s no question it reduces the global average temperatures; even the people who hate it agree you could reduce average global temperatures. The question is: How does it do on a regional basis?
By far the single most important thing to look at on a region-by-region basis is the impact on rainfall and temperature.
And the answer is, it works a lot better than I expected. It’s really stunning.

Scary Journalism

I did see the title on the main page of the Toronto Star, and thought it probably had some questionable content following it, but I'm surprised to see VOX commenting on it:
On Thursday, the Toronto Star, one of the largest newspapers in North America and the most-read in Canada, published a story that is everything wrong with vaccine reporting in one dangerous package.
I've written before on data and story. The VOX article that opens with the quoted sentence, How the Toronto Star massively botched a story about the HPV vaccine, communicates when annectote can be useful, and when it needs to be substantiated:
When anecdotes are all we have, they can be extremely powerful. Early stories about patients from doctors, for example, led to the tragic discovery that mothers who were takingthalidomide for morning sickness were having babies with missing limbs. These reports surfaced long before a randomized trial could be done — and spared thousands of babies.
But what was crucial about the reporting on those thalidomide side effects was that health researchers and doctors didn't have piles of contradictory studies involving millions of people showing the drug was safe. There, the stories were an early warning that were quickly confirmed by better evidence. The Star's story, however, is just the opposite.
VOX tells us "San Francisco ob-gyn Dr. Jen Gunter did a good job debunking the Star on her blog", and lo-and-behold, Canadaland has a guest post by Dr. Jen Gunter, The Toronto Star's HPV Reporting is a Disaster.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Energy Efficiency and the rebound effect

Interesting program from Freakonomics Radio, "How Efficient is Energy Efficiency":
It's a centerpiece of U.S. climate policy and a sacred cow among environmentalists. Does it work?

If you didn't pick up on the problem of resistance to acknowledging evidence from energy efficiency idealogues, it's a good time to read a recent (October) article on the topic; one with a more global perspective.

update: I tweet from Geoff Russell noted there is a transcript of the interview, and provided a link to Arik Levinson's "California energy efficiency: Lessons for the rest of the world, or not?" paper (.pdf)

IEA Acknowledges Rebound Effects | Alex Trembath | The Breakthrough Institute:
A reversal in the International Energy Agency’s views on energy efficiency suggests that as much as 2,176 million tons of oil equivalent worth of extra clean energy consumption will be required by 2035 to meet the organization’s aggressive climate targets. That’s the equivalent of 19 Australias’ energy consumption. This finding is the result of a Breakthrough analysis of a new IEA report, which showcased a new position for the agency on what energy experts call “rebound effects” – a hotly contested phenomenon in energy consumption growth.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is Science Biased Toward Natural?

“I believe that a scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy.”  - Richard Feynman

I'm glad I stumbled upon this speech from Dr. Bob Lackey, who spent nearly 3 decades in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Living in southern Ontario, I didn't find it hard to attach its content to the Rouge Park hand-wringing of quasi-environmentalists, or the push to ban logging in Algonquin Park.

Is Science Biased Toward Natural? | Robert T. Lackey - Academia.edu:
... one student pulled me aside and asked a question in a quiet, intense, and worried voice:
“ Nearly everyone in my family makes a living off the land—mostly as farmers and loggers. Nowadays —every one of them thinks that scientists are biased against their activities and even biased against most anything that humans might do to change the natural environment. Are they correct? Are your scientists —[by that she meant EPA scientists]—biased? ”
I didn't realize the attitude indicated a scientist.

I thought it indicated a Torontonian

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

growing threat of nuclear retirement parties in northeastern U.S.

New York’s apparent lack of interest in keeping its nuclear plants operating is ironic in that observers have noted that closure of some or all of these plants would send the state’s carbon dioxide emissions skyrocketing, upsetting the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative market and likely making the state’s CO2 reduction goals unattainable.
Ginna (picture from Democrat and Chronicle)
They wont' care.

An informative article from Power magazine on nuclear generation units - tweeted with the teaser, "The nuclear renaissance has turned into a nuclear retirement party":

U.S. Faces Wave of Premature Nuclear Retirements | POWER Magazine:
The nuclear renaissance has turned into a nuclear retirement party.
As recently as 2012, the U.S. had 104 operating nuclear reactors. With the retirement of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant at the end of December, that number has now fallen under 100 for the first time since the 1970s.
Yet as rapid as that pullback has been, the U.S. fleet may not be finished contracting. As many as 10 to 15 additional reactors are at risk of closure—not because they have reached their end-of-life but because of local political opposition, an inability to compete in an electricity market that is vastly changed from what existed when these plants were first conceived, or both.
Following is a state-by-state review of at-risk plants.
Please read the entire article at POWER Magazine