Tag Archives: Biosphere

If one term doesn’t work, try another.

The term ‘Global Warming’ isn’t working anymore because the earth hasn’t warmed in the last 18 years so let’s try ‘Climate Change’ instead because it’s always happening naturally or man made, whether mildly or catastrophically. Better yet, we could just use the termed ‘Climate’ because for the first 4.5 billion years the earth’s biosphere has always been changing. Consensus or Me-tooish is not proof that something is true.

Now the term ‘Renewable Energy’ is no longer working for a number of reasons demonstrated over the last 40 years so let’s change it to ‘Clean Energy’ instead because that is what can work for ‘all of the above’ energy sources. Clean is the new catch all; clean food, clean water, clean air, clean coal, clean nuclear, etc.

The terms, global warming and renewable, turned out to be too restrictive and did not include the source of efficient energy that does work to create base load electricity and transportation fuels: fossil, hydro and nuclear. Solar energy just passed 1% of global electricity generation. World energy usage will probably triple by 2050. Therefore, a new term was needed in order to expand the definition to include the final four: coal, gas, hydro and nuclear.

Coal is the primary source of energy that has provided us with the bounty we share today. Burning coal has also created problems with the environment and has caused some concern. However, the elimination of coal as an energy source to produce electricity is not reasonable to fight environmental concerns like climatic changes in weather patterns, allegedly caused by CO2 increases.

A better solution is to remove the toxins and particles when burning fossilized materials like coal, wood and dung. Better yet, gasify the coal into a liquid form removing most of the bad carbon at the same time. Coal is still the number one source of energy around the world and in some places is actually increasing in usage.

Through innovative technology, natural gas has become so plentiful here in the U.S. that it has become the new base load source for electricity generation. Fracking, another one of those terms that needs to be redefined for political reasons has allowed horizontal drilling to capture NG deposits otherwise unavailable through normal vertical drilling.

Nature gas is about half as bad on the environment as coal but can also be improved, especially the methane leaks. NG is so plentiful, therefore cheaper, and is becoming a major export product from the US to EU and Asia, competing with the Russians. Like coal, NG is being discovered everywhere with new technology locating and accessing the deposits. A most recent discovery is in the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Israel and Egypt. The NG supply chain doesn’t have a firm sunset date yet because of new discoveries year after year, but it is probably less than coal.

The one term that is completely misunderstood is nuclear. There is a scientific and a political definition of the term. The science is very simple; nuclear is the action of splitting or bonding atoms that creates heat and also other isotopes within the periodic table. Most of those isotopes are actually unused fuel that can be completely consumed to create more heat. The political definition is based on ‘fear’ of the nuclear bomb.

One of the newer terms being used for advanced or next generation nuclear energy is molten salts reactors (MSR). These newer designs have addressed most of the concerns of previous generation reactors, especially waste and proliferation.

Each fuel and technology used to generate electricity has its own benefits.  However, nuclear energy brings distinctive attributes to the power grid— large-scale, affordable, zero-emission, 24/7 reliability. These are critically important every day, but especially so during severe weather events like a polar vortex or the dog days of August, when other fuel sources may not be available or responsive.

So what energy policy should our presidential candidates articulate? Clinton advocates wind and solar (the unreliables) and Trump advocates fossil (the dirty guys). However, both are short sighted when it come to nuclear (MSR), the long term future of energy. We should always use the best technology available.

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Good fences make good neighbors

Given how many different cultures have versions of this proverb, it represents a very common sentiment among neighbors and countries everywhere around the world. The most notable use of the quote in English Literature belongs to Robert Frost who used the line in his poem “Mending Wall.”

This proverb poses the question: How can neighbors come together if they are divided by fences? This quote seems to be contradictory in nature but it actually ‘is not’. When boundaries are clear, relationships can better prosper.

The world of walls is changing. Sixty-five countries have erected fences on their borders as governments try to hold back the tide of migrants. That is four times as many as when the Berlin Wall was toppled in 1989. Every single one of these fences/walls is designed to restrict movement of people and vehicles coming into a country. Sections of the famous Berlin Wall are now scattered around the world including Roswell, NM (by the Iron Cross along Spring River).

The Great Wall of China was built to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe coming from the north. No longer needed, the wall has become one of China’s biggest tourist attraction and movie backdrop.

The next tangible wall that is getting a lot of attention is the Israeli-Gaza solid concrete wall that is being constructed tens of meters under and above ground along the border that divides Israel and the Gaza Strip. The purpose is to deter Hamas from tunneling into Israel at the same time still allow for trade to continue with the local merchants. I suggested that they need an In-N-Out Falafel at every entry/exit security check.

Fences or walls are used to prevent entrance, to confine, or to mark a boundary. If you look around Roswell and the County you will see fences everywhere. Most are used to control the movement of livestock and others are for people, whether law abiding or unlawful activity. There are many other uses of the word ‘fence’, such as the fence on my table saw. It is there for my protection just like any fence or wall – safety and protection.

We basically have two choices to protect our southern border with Mexico. We either build a beautiful Trump Brand wall or we fill the Rio Grande with robotic alligators and the land areas with robotic snakes. Hey, it might sound ridiculous but the technology is there. And the best part is more people fear alligators and snakes than security guards with AR-15’s. Deterrence can come in many shapes and sizes.

If we look just south of Roswell we will find WIPP, which has multiple cyclone fences around it, as well as sensors and cameras. Those fences are there to protect stupid people from wondering into a restricted area. WIPP is being a good neighbor by maintaining this protective fence with warning signage in English, Spanish and non-verbal symbols.

If you look to the north of Roswell you will find several solar farms with cyclone fences around them too. Again, those fences are there to define the boundary of the farms and to protect the animals from wondering in. In some cases, the animals are actually placed inside the fences to eat the vegetation under the solar panels.

One of the worst plagues that we are experiencing in the world today is unchecked migration. As you may recall in my previous article about the zika virus and others, the human is the host by which the virus moves around. Recently a man died in Salt Lake City from the Zika virus that he contracted in South America. There are no zika carrying mosquitoes in Utah. Also, the first Zika carrying mosquito has been ID’d in Florida and probably came into the country in someone’s backpack.

Another problem that is escalating from unchecked migration is the re-occurrence of diseases that we have already eradicated in the past through immigration practices that kept those diseases in check. When you have complete anarchy on the southern border with Mexico, you will never be able to keep the people of the United States safe and protected, whether it be from viruses or terrorist.

If Mexico were a good neighbor, they would help maintain a good wall between our two sovereign nations.
 

Climate Change vs. World Migrations

I spent a lot of time using the on-line dictionary when writing my articles because different word synonyms can completely change the intent of a description. All words matter! One noun that I have struggled with is the definition of climate change. It is one of the more complex word combinations to get a full understanding of.

In my research of science and technology, I have always tried to find out the history and evolution of a particular science discipline. Today, one of those sciences is climate change. I am not sure you can say climate change is a science all by itself because it is made up of many different physical, biological and chemical sciences as well as many political or social interpretations.

If we follow the flow of ecological climate change from the beginning of the earth to the present we will easily see how migration was a huge part of disseminating life around the earth. If we narrow down this migration to just the human species, we know that it originated in the eastern part of Africa about 200,000 years ago and over time worked its way north through Europe, east through Asia and finally across the Bering Straights into the Americas 12,000 years ago. Climatic conditions have always influenced migration and now migration is starting to influence climate conditions.

One of the most recent mass migrations has been from Syria to the European Continent. This migration or refugee movement has it roots in the civil war going on in Syria that was originally cause by the lack of water to grow food for the people. An extended drought cause by a climatic shift in the weather failed to provide enough rainfall for survival in farming.

Many farmers moved into the cities seeking work opportunities and found little to none. Civil disobedience eventually developed into all out civil war that has now drawn other counties and warring factions into it. There is no reasonable life to live in Syria or Iraq so the population was force to migrate to other places and that creates a strain on those ecosystems.

The planet’s environment is a precondition for human life. Early migration has always had time for assimilation with the ecology and other human tribes in the surrounding areas. But it also created warring faction when there wasn’t enough land, food or water, and other resources like energy.

Israel, just south of Syria, is a completely different world. Craved out of a similar arid landscape as Syria, Israel used modern technology to overcome the harsh climate. As a Jewish State, like minded Jews from around the world migrated to Israel and developed an intellectually based economy.

With limited natural resources like its neighbors, Israel developed solutions for the lack of water, food, energy and limited usable land. Migration has been very restricted in the number of people migrating to the nation so that everyone had time for assimilation and law and order could be maintained.

What has been effecting climate change the most in recent decades is the exponential increase in world population year after year. This puts a strain on the various ecosystems to sustain the increase. While there is the capacity to produce enough food for the world today, the production and distribution of that food is being corrupted by greedy little men.

Technology and energy have always improved the lives of millions, maybe billions around the world. One of those technologies that have increased the life span of humans has been refrigeration. We are able to store food longer and provide medicines where they are needed. Refrigeration requires electricity and that is why we need to electrify the world with clean sustainable energy (nuclear is my preference).

However, The Secretary of State, John Kerry, has really stepped in it this time. He has stated that air conditioning is worst than terror conditioning when it comes to priorities the world needs to be concerned with. I have no idea how he could have come to that conclusion, except that it was planted there by the Obama Administration for political reasons.

In an indirect way, Kerry could be right. Air conditioning is allowing people to live longer, thus increasing the world population, creating more migrations and affecting the climate. That is a stretch, but I was trying for balance. It is up to you to determine if you want to give up your air conditioner this summer to protect the planet.

The death cult agenda of the anti-advocates

 

As The Washington Post reports, 107 Nobel laureates have signed a letter blasting Greenpeace for opposing the deployment of a GMO rice which would help fix a dreaded condition, vitamin A deficiency (VAD). As the letter states:

“The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 — 500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.”

Sounds pretty serious! So what does Greenpeace have against “Golden Rice,” the GMO strain that is proposed to deal with this preventable catastrophe? The same letter also states:

“Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.”

The simple fact of the matter is that humans have been modifying their environment — animal and vegetal — for millennia. There’s no such thing as a wild cow, or a wild pig, or a wild shih-tzu. Wheat and corn, as we know them, bear almost no resemblance to their wild and distant ancestors.

There’s nothing new, unusual, or dangerous about GMOs and all the science confirms it (just like global warming). And yet a strong and vocal fringe in some advanced countries, are opposed to GMOs. In the U.S. it’s still relatively a fringe phenomenon, but in Europe, particularly France, it is very much part of the mainstream discussion.

But the extreme environmentalists have a long history of damaging hostility to evidence, a hostility which has cost many, many lives over the decades. Here is an example. In the infamous case of DDT, this miraculous insect-killer eliminated malaria, as well as many other insect-borne diseases, from the Southern United States, Southern Europe, and parts of South Asia, and was poised to do the same thing to Africa until it was banned by the US in 1972 on unscientific grounds as stated by the National Academy of Sciences.

The Academy stated: “To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT. It has contributed to the great increase in agricultural productivity, while sparing countless humanity from a host of diseases, most notably, perhaps, scrub typhus and malaria. Indeed, it is estimated that, in little more than [a period of] two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due to malaria that would otherwise have been inevitable.”

In 1962, Rachel Carson‘s book Silent Spring was published. It cataloged the environmental impacts of widespread DDT spraying in the United States and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of potentially dangerous chemicals into the environment without understanding their effects on the environment or human health. One book set off an anti-DDT frenzy to ban DDT in the US within 10 ten years and globally a few years later. The ban has been credited for the recovery of the American Bald Eagle and the reemerging of virus carrying mosquitoes. Now we are killing the bold eagle again, this time with huge wind turbines. Catch-22.

Another example of Greenpeace damaging hostility is my favorite topic; nuclear energy, which has almost no carbon emissions and works safely. Opposition to nuclear power is mostly motivated by superstition or the perception of fear created by the environmentalist based on pre-historic data that has never been updated.

Environmentalism sometimes has a little trace of a death cult and they look at the world with those ridiculously insane predictions of Armageddon that scientists made in the 1970s, warning that we would all be dead, or something like it, by the year 2000, if we didn’t shut down nuclear power plants and oil wells right this minute. Well, what happened?

The radical environmentalists like Greenpeace actually have an anti-human worldview, one that views the Earth goddess as the only valuable “life-form” and humans as parasites. DDT was fine and Nuclear power is fine and Golden Rice will be fine. What is not fine is how a few people in the right places can turn the whole world society completely up side down.

However, some of the disorder is actually creating new order. Now there are pro-nuclear climate scientists and environmentalists that are expressing their concerns for climate change solutions through nuclear energy. Their open letter to all environmentalist [especially you Greenpeace] states:

“As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.”

I personally advocate nuclear energy for the sake of efficient and sustainable electric power. Hey, and it’s environmentally clean too. If there were ever an advance nuclear addendum on a climate change bill in Congress (not likely though), I am okay with that too. I would consider myself a pro-nuclear environmentalist if that is what it would take to move forward with nuclear energy.

Shut the front door – Britain’s New Foreign Policy

After Israel had taken the first order of the F-35 fighter jet from the United States recently, they renamed it the F-35I. The ‘I’ could stand for Israel or the ‘I’ could stand for improved. In this case it could also stand for the most innovative technology Israel has ever used to modify an American fighter jet. For 60 years, Israel has taken our technology and made it better. Why? Because terrorism has been knocking on their front door for that long and their door is still shut.

That can not be said about Europe and the Americas. We have allowed the front door to swing wide open and are paying the price for it. If you leave your front door open and unlocked, you are inviting the criminal elements in and they will steal you blind before you can respond. All the F-35’s in the world are not going to stop them. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and it is also the safest in the most dangerous place on earth. You must ‘shut the front door’ first and then defend your borders, with walls if you have to.

Britain has now learned that lesson and that is why the people took up arms with their vote and left the European Union. Brexit is about taking a step away from “globalism” and toward “individualism”. It was the only way they could shut their front door to control their own destiny. Brexit will allow Britain to move forward with nuclear energy their way and not restricted by the anti-nuke EU and their controlling standards. Britain will be able to negotiate trade deals directly with Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and the US for competitive nuclear technology which are not sanctioned by the EU.

Great Britain is the 5th largest economy in the world. I am willing to go out on a limb and predict that their economy could move to the 3rd largest in the world just behind the US and China. Japan and Germany, currently 3rd and 4th are both going in the wrong direction with their energy policies and that will have a drastic effect on their ability to compete. Britain is committed to advance Thorium Molten Salt Reactors (TMSR) for nuclear power and this will make the difference. The Americas have not made that commitment yet.

Germany will be the first to fall in the rankings because they are the primary economy in the EU and have to carry the load for all the smaller nations, like Greece. Without their nuclear energy, which the Green socialists are forcing them to shutter, their energy source will be expensive renewable, expensive biofuel (wood pellets) and cheap coal.

Germany has abandoned plans to set out a timetable to exit coal-fired power production and scrapped C02 emissions reduction goals for individual sectors, according to the latest draft of an environment ministry document seen by Reuters.

Japan could be the next to be bypassed unless they change course and restart all their nuclear power plants again. The energy is there and they just have to get over their psychological fear of nuclear. Fukushima was a financial disaster, not a nuclear disaster.

The United States has the largest economy in the world, but for how long? China is knocking at our front door and by 2025, they may be coming though that door to take over 1st place. China is investing in energy to feed their growth with nuclear power. In 2015, they had 33 critical reactors connected to their grid with 22 more under construction. Nuclear was China’s fastest-growing electricity source in 2015 (29% growth), not coal, not natural gas and not renewable (wind or solar).

Hillary Clinton once said recently: “[We have] the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges [to] face as a nation and a world.” She wasn’t talking about ISIS or the growing terrorist threat, but about climate change. She also stated that she was going to put the coal industry out of business and has taken a transitional position with natural gas and fracking.  She is not against nuclear power but she is also not a strong advocate for it either. She would likely keep nuclear at around 20% of net electricity generation by continuing the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

Donald Trump, on the other hand is all about ‘high energy’ except when he uses a teleprompter. Well, in his North Dakota Energy speech he included nuclear as a renewable energy. Does that mean nuclear will get the same subsidies as renewable?  He also wants to discontinue the CPP which could have a serious effect on existing nuclear power. He is not against nuclear power but he is also not a strong advocate for it either. With Trump, this can be remedied when you show him the numbers as projected economic growth in jobs and wealth.

Gary Johnson is ‘high’ on nuclear energy. When asked if he supports nuclear energy his answer was “yes”. That was it. No qualifier other than “do it in the free market”. The one thing Johnson doesn’t support is “we must use nuclear energy to save the planet”. This, I absolutely agree with him on. Nuclear energy should be developed because it is the most efficient commercial energy source on earth at this time. The next generation of nuclear reactors will be even better. No other energy source will ever match up against nuclear efficiency and sustainability (millennia’s favorite word).

Nuclear Energy is what feeds a healthy and secure economy and environment.

“Nuclear energy by the numbers”

A truism is a claim that is obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning, except as a reminder or as a rhetorical device. If only that were true! What do I mean by that little sarcasm? Whenever I read an article from an anti-group regardless of topic, they use a technique which uses a true fact to lead a scientifically and mathematically ignorant public to a false conclusion. Hmmmm.

When I started writing this series about our nuclear biosphere, I promised myself that I would try to avoid stating a bunch of numbers, pushing partisan politics, definitely no religion and to keep the articles to 600 words. Well, this week I have to violate the numbers rule.

Recently, I started reading a manuscript for a new book about energy and the planet. In the chapter titled “Lets Run the Numbers”, there are many detailed figures for what it means to have nuclear vs. wind and solar as a primary energy source. The comparison was based on standard size 500MW power plants to provide electricity distribution through the US national power grid to service the same base of customers. The following four statements were made and the rest of the chapter referenced supporting statistics, formulas, modeling numbers and did I say lots of números to backup each of the following statements.

  • It would cost over $29 Trillion to generate America’s baseload electric power with a 50 / 50 mixture of wind and solar PV farms, on parcels of land totaling the area of Indiana. Or:
  • It would cost over $18 Trillion with Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) farms in the southwest deserts, on parcels of land totaling the area of West Virginia. Or:
  • We could do it for less than $3 Trillion with AP-1000 Light Water Reactors (Gen3+), on parcels totaling the area not much bigger than Roswell, NM. Or:
  • We could do it for $1 Trillion with liquid-fueled Molten Salt Reactors (Gen4), on the same amount of land as the AP-1000, but with no water cooling, no risk of meltdowns, and the ability to use our stockpiles of nuclear “waste” as a secondary fuel.

Whatever we decide, we need to make up our minds, and soon. Burning carbon fuels are killing us and killing the planet as well. Sorry folks, but a good planet is hard to come by. The above 4 statements are from ‘Power to the Planet’ manuscript/new book by Mike Conley, except for the reference to Roswell, NM.

Without doing the math myself, I actually came to a similar conclusion that nuclear was more efficient than all other sources of energy by sheer observation and a little bit of scientific research. When the energy density of uranium or thorium fission is 2 million times more than the next densest source, coal, you have to wonder why we would want a mixture of other less efficient energy sources with capacity factors less than 50% at production time. The capacity factor is where nuclear power excels; it’s almost always above 90% online. And it’s why the most productive power plants in America are nuclear (Palo Verde, AZ is #1).

For those of you who have been reading my column weekly already know that nuclear is my preference for electricity generation. After 3 years of writing about nuclear I am starting to get redundant and have decided to move on to the next revolution of technology: nano-technology and robotics. This will keep me busy for the next couple of years writing some very interesting articles.

One last comment – Pope Francis is the first Pope to have studied chemistry and who worked as a chemist prior to entering the seminary. In section 104 of the Encyclical it states: “However, we cannot ignore the fact that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, the knowledge of our own DNA and other potential advances that we have acquired, offer us tremendous power and opportunity”. This sentence should have been in section 1. Unfortunately, main stream media won’t read past section 10 and focus only on climate change and social injustice issues.

California Dreaming: “Only as a Last Resort”

Over the last 45 years, California has made some very questionable choices about the future needs of stored water and energy starting with banning new hydroelectric dams back in the 70’s, decommissioning nuclear power plants in the 80’s, ignoring desalination during the epic drought in the 90’s, preventing coal from getting a foothold in the 00’s and recently, limiting fracking. What were they thinking? How much time is there after the decision “ONLY AS A LAST RESORT” is made can they actually build something new? There isn’t any energy or water resource that doesn’t require a 10-20 year lead time to propose, design, develop and implement. Add another 5-10 years to that for regulation court cases that always go with these multi-decade projects. The only new energy sources available to California in a reasonable time frame are wind, solar and natural gas turbines. The alternative for California is to purchase electricity from the National Grid, which is mostly nuclear and coal base generated, two sources that California no longer allows in state. There is no new water available for the state either, that will make a difference in their current drought. When the rains came back after the previous drought in the Southwest, San Diego County decided to seek out a positive solution. They started the largest ocean water desalination project in the Western Hemisphere at a cost over a billion dollars which is schedule to come online in late 2015. This plant will only provide 10% of the fresh water the county needs in 2016 and will drop to 7% by 2020 (population increase). However, that is 10% less dependence on diverted water from Northern California and Colorado River which represents 80% of San Diego County’s water usage today. California does have one operating desalination plant at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station, currently running at half its capacity, for plant operations and local community water needs. During that same 20 year time line, Israel also decided not to get caught in another drought. Israel has always had a chronic water shortage problem and as the population and industry continued to grow it became critical and needed to be resolved to sustain their economy. Ground water in Israel wasn’t going to do it anymore so Israel turned to the Mediterranean Sea. Through aggressive desalination programs, Israel has created the possibility of transforming the region in ways that were unthinkable just a few years ago. Israel is actually drought proof and has so much extra fresh water that it is now supplying its neighbors, even the ones that are hurling rockets at them. Back here at home, there is a grandiose idea in New Mexico to divert water from the Gila River, west of the Continental Divide, to the east side.  This proposal would require a diversion structure and some combination of a pumping station, a power station, a massive pipeline, canal system, an off-stream dam reservoir and a huge price tag. When asked in a June 2013 poll by the Interstate Stream Commission which approaches the residents would prefer to address the state’s water situation, New Mexican’s overwhelmingly supported alternatives to diversions. Recycling treated wastewater would be a better approach. Congratulations to UTEP for their second place finish in the Desal Prize ($600,000) designing a clean water solution for brackish water contest. Now they have some funding to take their design to a pilot project here in New Mexico which has plenty of brackish water. Without new technology, the alternatives for fresh water are to do nothing, hope for the best, pray for rain or spend $1B for water diversion. Reference Link to a solution: http://www.haaretz.com/life/nature-environment/1.596270