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 -
... 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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Big Small Modular Reactor news

Treats for nuclear followers: James Conca in Forbes, on Terrestrial Energy, and Rod Adams on his site with ThorCon.

Nuclear Power Turns To Salt, James Conca, Forbes:

Today, the United States Department of Energy announced that its Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is partnering with Canadian nuclear company Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI) to assist with TEI’s new Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The engineering blueprint stage for this GenIV reactor should be reached in two years. The reactor should come online in less than ten.
Image from Forbes article
Think of it: a nuclear reactor that
- is cheaper than coal
- creates much less waste and few long-lived radioactive elements
- uses almost all of the fuel which lasts 7 years between replacement, and can be recycled easily
- is modular, from 80 MWt to 600 MWt, able to be combined and adapted to individual needs for both on and off-grid heat and power

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Low gas prices make people think poorly, so...

Many stories on oil pricing: 2 initial citations to restore sanity to the discourse, and then some on distasteful politics attempting to take advantage of a perceived crisis - that crisis being people paying less for fuel.

What is bad about low gasoline prices? Are they unusual? | Vaclav Smil:
Falling oil prices have been called shocking, unprecedented, and (most incredibly) a highly regrettable development that will end the rise of American stock market and create unrest and uncertainty around the world. However, what we are experiencing is the eighth oil price decline of more than 30 percent during the past 30 years.
Oil prices have been falling — and with them the quality of reporting and writing about this periodic event. advice is to enjoy low oil prices, knowing that we are living through yet another down chapter of a prolonged undulating saga. What is the best thing to do? Old World herbalists and modern promoters of chamomile tea agree: the golden-hued beverage has a mild sedative effect, it eases anxiety and insomnia and it leaves a soothing aftertaste. I recommend increased doses of this classic tisane (with a touch of honey) as long as the current oil price fall lasts. By the time the trend, inevitably, reverses itself, your drinking of chamomile tea might become a new, and beneficial, habit — ready to ease the anxiety brought on by the rising prices.
Top 10 News Stories of 2014 | Tom Whipple and Steve Andrews
...The cause of the crash was a combination of rapid growth in US shale oil production and weakened demand for oil products largely stemming from the slowing Chinese economy and continuing weakness in Europe, the US, Japan and other countries. The result was a global oil surplus of 1.5 – 2 million b/d.