Social Science versus Physical Science

Last month there was a guest editor from Colorado who voiced an opinion about some climate change report that was leaked and published by the New York Times. The report was the NCE4 Draft Report that has been in the public domain since January 2017. This report was a continuation of the NCE3 report published back in 2014. The Daily Sentinel (newspaper) in Colorado decided to make some kind of conspiracy out of it and the Daily Record decided to share that misinformation with us here in Roswell.

This letter is a counter point to those two newspapers. The report in question is the NCE4 report that is based on prior NCE reports as well as the IPCC reports from previous years. Here is the difference between the two types of reports. The NCE is a social science statement based on the IPCC report that contain more physical science data. The IPCC report are very complex because they cover way to much detail information across the board and are hard to understand unless you also study physics, chemistry, biology, geology and other physical sciences. So the Government decided to summaries that math data into words for understanding. It reminded me of ‘New Math’ back in the 1960’s.

For example, there is real data that supports an average temperature rise of 1.2 degrees since 1980. The report will state that as a ‘certainty’ and I have to agree based on all the background that I have studied. However, the actual cause of that is an ‘uncertainty’ because there are so many outliers involved in the complex climate system. For example: natural fluctuations in radiative forcing (volcanos, earthquakes), ocean oscillation, jet stream, compound weather events, even governance policies, and other natural variabilities.

These variables makes observation very difficult and predictions impossible. Yet, for some reason, these reports are taken for gospel which is a huge mistake. Speaking of huge, President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Accord was correct because the Accord is also a social science statement based on the best interpretation of the physical data by many who are not physical scientist. A self-educated commoner like myself probably has a better grasp of what is happening on the weather front than most in world Governments.

Climate Change is complex and a given certainty, but there is also an uncertainty of the cause at the same time.

Predictions versus Observations

I need to start off by defining predictions: to foretell the future or prophecy. What human being on earth has the ability to do that accurately? The other word to define is observation: to physically experience an event with one of your senses. Even then, it is an interpretation of the physical data and your personal conscience.

Sixty years ago the prediction of ‘doom and gloom’ was certain that the world was going to nuke itself and create a nuclear winter (the next ice age). With intense misinformation many people actually believed and prepared for it. After sixty years and over 400+ nuclear reactors around the world the observation is 100% the opposite. Nuclear reactors have been used to power our Navy and kept us safe from our adversaries. Nuclear reactors have provided 60% of our clean electricity and made America the dream location for the rest of the world to migrate to. Well, it looks like we all survived that prediction.

Ten years ago, Al Gore hosted his video “An Inconvenient Truth” based on the 1990 IPCC assessment report of simulation models that predicted global warming would be the next ‘doom and gloom’. Here it is 2017 and the observation for the last 115 years is that the average temperature has raised about 1.8 degrees (NCE4 Report). However, IPCC modeling predictions have been wrong even though climate change is real. Now Al Gore is hosting a sequel to the first video and trying to justify his wrong predictions with another set of predictions. So far, no catastrophe here either.

Another example is the 2014 ‘nuclear’ accident at WIPP. The trucks never stopped hauling the waste material from across the country. An alternate site called Waste Control Specialists (WCS), located in West Texas, was used to queue the safe canisters for final delivery to WIPP. The anti-nuclear folks predicted awful things would happen after this accident too. Observation: Nothing happened.

Based on observation, and not predictions, I would say that the benefit of storing nuclear ‘waste’ is worth the low level risk. I support the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance in their quest to obtain a license to store spent nuclear fuel in their counties. Everyone in New Mexico benefits from the potential revenue this will generate.

Here’s my prediction for the solar eclipse that will occur on August 21st. Someone’s solar panels will stop producing electricity and their lights will go dark.

Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance SNF Presentation w/Holtec

ELEA-CIS

This post is just a link to a presentation by Holtec and ELEA that explains how the dry storage system works. I will make references to this presentation many times in future letters to the editor of the Roswell Daily Record and post on this blog site.

If you are not familiar with how waste management works, this presentation is very easy to understand. Spent nuclear fuel (SNF) is basically the unused uranium in fuel rods that were not consumed in a nuclear reactor. SNF is not the same as transuranic waste stored at WIPP.

Here is the reference link:
http://www.csg-erc.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Holtec-Eddy-Lea-Alliance-Consolidated-Interim-Storage-12-16-15-copy.pdf

Life Requires Radiation

Dear Editor,

In my last letter I mentioned the financial benefits of storing radioactive materials to the State of New Mexico. Without a doubt, WIPP has been very successful and has brought jobs and millions in tax revenues to the City of Carlsbad, Eddy County and the State of New Mexico. However, there is still this uneasy ‘feeling’ about having nuclear materials stored in our back yard, even though ionizing radiation is all around us naturally.

Background radiation is, by definition, everywhere; it is produced by many natural and artificial sources such as the rocks beneath the ground, cosmic rays from the sun and space, and even the food and water we consume. What is important to understand is that low dose radiation is not harmful to our biological body while high level of radiation is very harmful. Low level radiation is any dose less then 100 milisievert (mSv) of ionizing radiation per year.

How does this low dose guideline relate to our normal daily activity? For example, my wife has had many CT abdomen scans at 8 mSv each. For me, I have had several Coronary CT angiograms at 16 mSv each. Neither of us have cancer nor will we get cancer from these low dose medical imaging diagnostic procedures. Every other year, we travel by air and are exposed to .33 mSv. This amount is in addition to the average natural human dose of about 2.4 mSv per year from all non-medical sources.

Bringing the topic of radiation closer to our homes was the 2/14/2014 accident at WIPP. According to the WIPP web site, the filter reading the next day was 0.87 becquerel (Bq) and three days later it was 0.0047 Bq. Only 2 other locations on site had detectable amounts of either Am or Pu isotopes. After 10 days there was no non-background detectable radiation anywhere. Note: Bq is the radioactivity and Sv is the dose equivalent.

To put this into perspective, the amount of the radioactive isotope potassium in a 150lb person is about 5,000 Bq, which represents 5,000 atoms undergoing radioactive decay each second. Anyone else out there taking potassium pills or eating bananas daily beside me and my wife?

See how transparent and invisible WIPP has been in our back yard, except for the quarter billion dollar budget that provides high paying jobs and taxes/fees to Carlsbad, Eddy County and New Mexico.

Waste Pit versus Money Pit

Dear Editor,

Remember when the phrase ‘money pit’ use to mean a property that was costing you more money than it was worth? Well, over in Andrews County West Texas, it has one of the most valuable money pits in the world. Waste Control Specialist (WCS) opened up their waste facility in 2012 to low-level ‘radioactive’ waste (LLW).

Why would the people of Andrews TX want to have this waste in their back yard? Space inside a pit goes for $10,000 a cubic foot in most cases, but sometimes more depending on the waste class (A, B or C). There is enough radioactive waste to be managed that I agree with others; it could be a trillion dollar industry.

For example; there are currently twelve shuttered nuclear power plants (NPP) across the country today. In the next 20 years, between 50 and 60 NPP’s will be decommissioned. At $10K a cubic foot for LLW it will supplement the budgets of Andrews County (5%) and the State of Texas (25%) from WCS’s gross income. Each reactor could generate millions in storage fees and create a healthy revenue stream for Texas.

The WCS site has a current storage capacity of 1338 acres on the 14,000 acre company property near West Texas border. It is actually a 5 minute drive from Eunice NM and nearly a third of the employees live in NM and yet, NM does not profit from the risk of having the storage facility as a suburb. WCS has recently applied for a license to temporarily store spent (unused) nuclear fuel (SNF) as well. More money for Texas!

The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) is also focused on getting a license to manage the SNF currently stored safely at each NPP. However, irrational fear has prevailed over the nuclear industry for 60 years and many communities don’t want it in their back yards. Fortunately, Eddy and Lea communities already understand the benefit/risk ratio.

Holtec International is one of several companies seeking cooperation from the federal government and has partnered with ELEA to construct a facility in SENM, just east of WIPP, to store SNF. Holtec has also developed an advanced nuclear reactor to consume the stored SNF and is partnering with a Canadian company to commercialize it. New Mexico could be the first state in the Union to have a commercialized, clean and safe, advanced nuclear power facility.

Climate Change Infrastructures

Dear Editor,

The President withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord not because he is against the notion of ‘climate change’ but because he understands that change is going to happen and the non-binding Accord would not move the needle one way or the other. How should we handle climate change projections? Infrastructure changes are one way.

What does the American infrastructure have to do with a changing climate? Everything! I am asking you to put your critical thinking caps on for just a moment. Expand your minds and think about the climate as part of the infrastructure of our society. It doesn’t mean we have to get rid of anything, like fossil fuels. It means to improve what we got with more efficient innovative ideas so that there is a more compatible environment between earth’s biosphere and mankind’s infrastructure.

An often-repeated truth about Hurricane Katrina is that the events of August 29, 2005 were not a natural/climate disaster – it was a man-made disaster caused by the failure of levee and pump systems designed to protect a city built on a floodplain.

Solution: Hurricane Katrina was considered a 400-year storm but the levee/pump system in place could barely handle normal storm surges before climate change was all the rage. What the Army Corps of Engineers should be doing now is designing a levee/pump system for 2050, not just a Category 3 storm surge for today. After $14.5 billion spent, there are still documented flaws in the new levee system. There should have been some climate infrastructure planning and yes, which does cost a lot of extra dollars.

Another example of climate infrastructure planning in the US is for national defense. The US Military has always been concerned about climate and has tried to plan for the worst case scenarios and then determined the risk and budget for them. Norfolk Naval Base and Shipyard is one of the largest in the world set at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Like New Orleans, the majority of Norfolk Naval Base, if not all of it, is at risk of annual flooding because it’s so low and flat (another floodplain).

President Trump has substantially increased the Department of Defense budget for 2018 without defining line items to be allocated. He has left that decision to the DOD which will probably invest a portion in climate infrastructure for all their hardware and personnel. If the Norfolk base needs a levee around it or the docks elevated, then that has to be a line item in their budget. Norfolk Naval Base isn’t going anywhere except up.

If you impede the floodplains the water has to go somewhere else. That somewhere is also up or out. It is amazing how we blame climate change for outdated coastal infrastructures that were designed for minimal storm surges. Well, now we have to make a choice: continue paling against rising sea levels or just leave.