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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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Permafrost thaw won’t run away with Earth’s climate

Permafrost thaw won’t run away with Earth’s climate: report
But melt could release over 100 billion tonnes of emissions within century

by Meagan Wohlberg

Melting permafrost in the Peel region of the Northwest Territories causes an effect called slumping, where portions of the landscape collapse and pour into nearby waterways. Photo: NWT Geoscience Office

Despite making a contribution of 100 billion tonnes to global warming emissions over the next century, permafrost thaw in the North is not anticipated to cause a catastrophic, runaway feedback loop with respect to climate change, according to a new report.


“One of the things we want to emphasize is that we don’t think the permafrost thaw can turn into a runaway feedback loop situation, where it’s self-sustaining and climate change runs amok,” Olefeldt said. “When it comes to climate change, it’s still very much up to human decisions.”

The report finds that around 10 per cent of the carbon stores in frozen permafrost will be released through warming by the end of the century, totalling around 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

In comparison, the combustion of fossil fuels is releasing around 10 billion tonnes per year alone.

Though considerably lower on the order of magnitude, Olefeldt said the impact of permafrost-related carbon emissions must be factored into current climate models being used to shape global policy on climate change....


Nuclear isn’t the only energy phase-out happening in Germany

Craig Morris, who maintains an energy policy blog focused on the German energy transition spends a few minutes comparing the data to a few of the the wild-eyed claims of nuclear power advocates...

Nuclear isn’t the only energy phase-out happening in Germany

By Craig Morris on 29 May 2015
Energy Transition


...there has been no surge in coal power during the nuclear phase-out. In fact, total coal power production (both lignite and hard coal) fell by six percent last year alone. If German coal power is polluting Parisian air, the problem should be getting smaller.

...the journalist also believes that “numerous new [coal] plants are scheduled to come online in the next few years.” Tellingly, he does not provide a specific number or a link to a source – yet, the number is knowable.

German utility lobby group BDEW regularly updates its “power plant list” (PDF in German). The version from April 13 (which Reuters published in English on the same day) has a total of 74 projects, six of which would consume coal:

The two plants to be completed this year already started producing electricity this year and will therefore not “come online in the next few years.” Neither was a reaction to the nuclear phaseout of 2011; the Moorburg plant was first proposed in 2004, Mannheim in 2007.

Two weeks after the BDEW updated the list above, Mibrag announced that it was stepping away (report in German) from the Profen project entirely. A fourth project, Hamm D, should already be online, but various acids entered the boiler, and the plant has been delayed indefinitely. The latest word (report in German) is that the plant “may never generate electricity” because German utilities began building too many plants 10 years ago.

The fifth plant, RWE’s BoAplus Niederaussem, is especially interesting in this respect....


Craig Morris' website is worth regular visits.

China warned over 'insane' plans for new nuclear power plants

China warned over 'insane' plans for new nuclear power plants

China’s plans for a rapid expansion of nuclear power plants are “insane” because the country is not investing enough in safety controls, a leading Chinese scientist has warned.

Proposals to build plants inland, as China ends a moratorium on new generators imposed after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, are particularly risky, the physicist He Zuoxiu said, because if there was an accident it could contaminate rivers that hundreds of millions of people rely on for water and taint groundwater supplies to vast swathes of important farmlands.


He, who worked on China’s nuclear weapons programme, said the planned rollout was going too fast to ensure it had the safety and monitoring expertise needed to avert an accident.

...He spoke of risks including “corruption, poor management abilities and decision-making capabilities”. He said: “They want to build 58 (gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity) by 2020 and eventually 120 to 200. This is insane.”

He’s challenge to the nuclear plans is particularly powerful because of his scientific credentials and a long history of taking a pro-government stance on controversial issues...


Nuclear power not cheap, being phased out: expert

Nuclear power not cheap, being phased out: expert
By Sean Lin / Staff reporter

Former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Gregory Jaczko yesterday said that nuclear energy is playing an increasingly insignificant role in electricity generation worldwide, and that, contrary to popular belief, it is actually more expensive than a range of methods of energy generation.

At a news conference in Taipei, Jaczko said that the future for nuclear power generation in the US and worldwide is one of “decreasing use and eventual phase-out.”

Referencing data generated by the US commission, Jaczko said that even if all US nuclear power plants were able to renew their operational licenses, the use of the energy source in the nation would come to an end by about 2055.

Diminishing use of nuclear power is a global trend, with just about 70 reactors under construction worldwide — a small fraction of operational reactors worldwide, he said, adding that the majority being built are in China.
The number of new plants is...


What if we all adopted the nuclear industry's interpretation of a 'planned' project?

What if we all adopted the nuclear industry's interpretation of a 'planned' project?

You’d have to wonder how nuclear energy receives such a wave of fandom from some quarters, particularly in the business and conservative press.

If you search the definitive list of reactors on Wikipedia, you’ll find that reactors are being decommissioned globally at a rate of knots, and many more are set to be decommissioned in the not too distant future. This includes the entire fleet in Germany and a significant portion but unspecified number of reactors in Japan.

If you looked further, you’d find that you could count the total number of reactors built in 2014 and 2015 on just one hand. In that period there was activity predominately in China -- with its centralised state control avoiding the scrutiny the technology gets everywhere, outside a lone reactor in Argentina being the exception -- but you could hardly get excited as that project was started when first of the Generation Ys were still in nappies in 1981.

So you’ve got a few plants getting built at a much slower pace than planned in China, and a bunch of plants ‘planned’ all over the place. But as is the case with almost all nuclear plans in the last 25 years, they’ve gone nowhere. They are plans (if a dream is a plan), but are not likely to be plants.

So why do we hear about these so called plans over and over?

The answer is the stockmarket...


There's a gender divide on nuclear power, but it doesn't mean what you think it means

There's a gender divide on nuclear power, but it doesn't mean what you think it means
David Roberts on May 27, 2015

Is it because women know less about nuclear?

Is it because women are more liberal or environmentally conscious?

Is it because women assess risk differently?

Is it because white men assess risk differently?

Is it because conservative white men assess risk differently?

What other risks do conservative white men assess differently?

So what are you saying?


16 maps that Americans don't like to talk about

16 maps that Americans don't like to talk about
by Max Fisher on May 27, 2015

The United States has a lot to be proud of: it is the most powerful country on Earth and a global leader in culture and innovation as well as international affairs, and has a well-earned reputation for freedom and democracy. But, like any country, it has its flaws, as well. And those flaws are important to remember and examine — even if many Americans would probably rather not think about them.


This 1939 map of redlining in Chicago is just a hint at the systematic discrimination against African Americans

The New Deal brought with it a number of government institutions meant to expand access to housing, including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC). This is an HOLC map of Chicago from 1939, with neighborhoods color-coded by stability, as judged by the government.

"On the maps, green areas, rated 'A,' indicated 'in demand' neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, lacked 'a single foreigner or Negro,'" Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in the Atlantic. "These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated 'D' and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing. They were colored in red."

This practice became known as "redlining," and would be the norm in the housing sector as a whole for decades to come, effectively denying black people the ability to own homes...


I'd love to show a sample map, but DU won't accept the links because they all use a set of parenthesis () as part of the URL. If anyone knows how to fix that, it would be great if you'd educate the rest of us.

Thank you MaryM625 for your assistance in getting these maps posted. #1 from the list is below.

Graphene supercapacitor equals Li-ion battery energy density w/ 4 min recharge

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2015

Graphene Supercapacitor equals Li-ion battery energy density

Scientists in South Korea have developed a graphene supercapacitor that stores as much energy per kilogram as a lithium-ion battery and can be recharged in under four minutes.

Supercapacitors are not a new idea. But graphene, which is a form of carbon composed of sheets a single atom thick, is especially suitable for making them.

Graphene has an area of 2,675 square metres per gram. All of this surface is available for the storage of static electricity. Graphene could therefore be used to make supercapacitors that hold more energy per kilogram than lithium-ion batteries.

Graphene is to graphite what a single playing card is to a full pack. Strong chemical bonds keep the graphene layers intact, but the individual layers are held to each other only weakly, which is why graphite can be used to make the “lead” in pencils. To make small amounts of graphene, you can peel the layers from the surface of a graphite crystal one at a time, as a dealer might when distributing cards (there are various ways of doing this). To make a lot of it, though, you have to pull the whole crystal apart, as one might scatter a pack across a table.

Dr Lu Wu of Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, in South Korea, did this in ...

More at http://www.electric-vehiclenews.com/2015/05/graphene-supercapacitor-equals-li-ion.html

Redacted DOE report gives details on MOX boondoogle (MOX=Nuclear fuel with plutonium)

Redacted DOE report gives details on MOX boondoogle

The Savannah River Site, with the unfinished MOX facility in the foreground. In the background is Georgia's Vogtle reactor complex, where two new reactors are under construction. With the likely demise of the MOX project, their power won't be needed at SRS. Photo by High Flyer, special to SRS Watch.

For decades, some in the U.S. government backed by a few in the nuclear industry and perhaps more in what I call the “nuclear priesthood”–those who have conducted their careers in the shadows of the nuclear industry and in academic settings where they can promote all things nuclear–have espoused the idea of reprocessing used fuel rods (also known as high-level radioactive waste) and creating MOX (plutonium-based) fuel for use in commercial nuclear reactors.

It’s always been a stupid idea environmentally–reprocessing is perhaps the dirtiest of all nuclear industry processes–and an even stupider idea economically. That’s because reprocessing is so expensive that mining and enriching uranium from scratch is still cheaper and always will be. Use of plutonium fuel would also exacerbate nuclear accidents, another trait that makes it undesirable, even for most of the nuclear industry.

For some years, NIRS ran a NIX MOX campaign, that was fairly successful at keeping the MOX concept in the dark corners of the priesthood. But the idea keeps coming out again and again for air, and thanks primarily to the determined efforts of some South Carolina Congressmembers–who can count only money and a few jobs and refuse to acknowledge both the short-term dangers to their state and the long-term environmental devastation a major MOX program inevitably would deliver–the government began construction of one of the pillars of a MOX facility at the Savannah River Site several years ago.

Almost since the first shovel of construction dirt was turned, the government–particularly the Obama administration–has tried to kill the project, knowing that it is both unnecessary and unaffordable. And yet, those South Carolina Congressmembers keep the money flowing in. Not enough to actually build the thing, but that’s not the point for them. The point for them is money, pure and simple. It’s the flaunting of pork barrel politics at its most basic level.

A new report, commissioned by the Department of Energy (where the MOX program still has some backers), was “released” Friday. You’ll see below why we put “released” in quotes....


The accelerating decline of French nuclear power

The accelerating decline of French nuclear power

For most people with any interest in energy issues, France is synonymous with nuclear power. With 78% of its electricity generated by the atom, it is by far the most nuclear-dependent country in the world. It’s state-owned flagship Electricite de France is the world’s largest nuclear utility. State-owned Areva is one of the largest nuclear reactor manufacturers in the world.

When nuclear industry lobbyists–anywhere in the world–try to find a success story for their technology, they invariably point to France.

But more rapidly than could have been imagined even five years ago, pointing a finger at France doesn’t evoke nuclear success. Rather, France, whose nuclear industry is in speedy and accelerating decline, today exemplifies the failure of nuclear power. Moreover, a closer look at France reveals where the world is headed: to a clean and surprisingly affordable nuclear-free and carbon-free energy system.

If that kind of energy future can come to France–and it increasingly appears that it will and sooner than might be expected–then it can come everywhere...

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