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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 30,034

Journal Archives

A woman who happens to be gay has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

I have had considerable interest in the analytical chemistry of glycans and thus have had general interest in the work of Carolyn Bertozzi. I've attended some of her lectures in connection with mass spectrometry.

She has long been a candidate for the Nobel Prize, and won it for the invention of "click chemistry," high yield fast reactions. (I attended a lecture on the subject of click chemistry today has luck would have it, but not one by the three scientists who won it.)

She shared the prize with Barry Sharpless - who won a previous Nobel for his work on chiral synthesis - and Morten Meldal.

It's pretty general knowledge that the remarkable Dr. Bertozzi is a gay woman, which has nothing to do with her work. Frankly I was more interested in her lab's work on analytical chemistry than I was on her work on click chemistry, with which I have had only passing familiarity.

An article on the subject of her prize is in Nature: Chemists who invented revolutionary ‘click’ reactions win Nobel


Three chemists who pioneered a useful technique called ‘click chemistry’ to efficiently join molecules together have won this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Barry Sharpless at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, and Morten Meldal at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark laid the foundation for click chemistry and independently discovered a pivotal reaction that could be used to link two molecules — an azide and an alkyne — with relative ease1,2,3. This reaction has been applied to develop a host of different molecules, including modified plastics and potential pharmaceuticals.

The third winner, Carolyn Bertozzi at Stanford University in California, used click chemistry to map the complex sugar-based polymers called glycans on the surface of living cells without disturbing cell function4. To do this, she developed reactions called bioorthogonal reactions, which are now being used to aid cancer drug development...

...In 2003, Bertozzi returned from a conference with an idea for dispensing with copper by using alkynes that have been constrained into a ring, says Nicholas Agard, a senior scientist at Genentech in South San Francisco who was a graduate student in Bertozzi’s group at the time. The ring bends the alkyne out of its normal linear form, placing it under strain. “The question was: is that energy releasable in an effective way?” he says.

Agard spent hours digging around in the library looking for some precedent for the idea that ring strain could be harnessed for a non-toxic form of click chemistry. He eventually found a 40-year-old paper written in German that seemed to have some relevance. “I could understand three things in it: ‘phenyl azide’, ‘cyclooctyne’, and ‘explosion’,” he says.

But Agard and his colleagues were able to find a nonexplosive way to harness ring strain for click chemistry, and the lab set about applying the technique to label cells in zebrafish and mice. It was an exciting time, says Pamela Chang, a chemical biologist who earned her PhD in Bertozzi’s lab in 2010. “We knew we were part of something special,” she says. “It made for a really amazing environment for all of us.”

By then, Bertozzi was busy traveling to give talks and running a large research group, but made time to meet with lab members and help them edit their papers. She is an advocate for women in science and, in particular, a role model for female chemists, says Chang, who notes that at one point 50% of the lab’s members were women — an unusually high proportion in the chemistry department at the time.

“She gave us a lot of freedom,” says Chang, who now uses click-chemistry approaches in her own research on bacterial enzymes and metabolism in gut microbiomes at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “If you needed advice or help, she would drop everything and make time for you...”

I added the bold.

Some statistics on the climate and energy costs of concrete production.

Recently, when reporting on a proposal, particularly advanced in coal dependent Poland, on the conversion of coal power infrastructure into nuclear plants, a critic, looking for an excuse to make a rote (and ignorant) announcement that nothing involving nuclear energy could possibly work, declared containment buildings "too expensive."

Of course, the critic clearly knows very little about engineering, and in my opinion zero about science, less than zero about economics, and predictably does not raise the same point about the literally thousands of concrete platforms for wind turbines required to match the energy output of a single nuclear plant - not even counting the requirements for the redundant fossil fuel systems to address wind's unreliability, or the fact that nuclear plants are now designed to operate for a significant portion of a century, while wind turbines convert to landfill in about 20 years.

The attention of antinukes is very, very, very, very selective, which accounts for issues like climate change and a vast death toll from air pollution. They can't see the forests for the trees, which is not a problem, because very few of these people ever saw a forest they weren't ready to rip apart and industrialize for so called "renewable energy."

Concrete is a problem, but it can be addressed with climate change gas free high temperatures, of which there is only one form, nuclear energy.

I came across a paper this evening on a subject which gives some idea of the scale of the climate cost and energy cost of concrete manufacture, although the main topic of the paper was not especially directed at this point.

The paper is this one: Effect of Impurities on the Decarbonization of Calcium Carbonate Using Aqueous Sodium Hydroxide, Marco Simoni, Theodore Hanein, Chun Long Woo, John Provis, and Hajime Kinoshita ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2022 10 (36), 11913-11925.

The statistics on the climate and energy cost of concrete from the introduction to the paper:

The calcination of calcium carbonate to obtain lime (CaCO3 → CaO + CO2) is currently considered one of the major contributors to the global CO2 emissions due to both the large global demand (1) and the specific carbon footprint (1.0–1.8 kgCO2/kgCaO). (2) The Portland cement (PC) industry is currently utilizing the largest portion of calcined limestone, with a global market size of 4 Gt PC per year, (3) which makes the cement industry responsible for about 8% of the total CO2 emissions worldwide (4) and 12–15% of global industry energy use. (5)

The calcination of calcium carbonate usually involves two distinct emission sources: process- and fuel-derived CO2. The former arises from the calcination stoichiometry (0.44 kgCO2/kgCaCO3), (6) while the latter is linked to the combustion of the hydrocarbon fuels to attain the required pyro-processing temperatures (∼900 °C (2,7) for lime production and 1500 °C (5) for PC production). Although the fuels represent the largest portion of the overall economic operating costs for both lime and cement industries, (8) the process CO2 represents the biggest challenge for their sustainable production. The process CO2 accounts for the majority of the CO2 emissions from the limestone calcination step, and several solutions have been proposed...

The current rate of carbon dioxide release while we all wait for the "renewable energy" nirvana that did not come, is not here and won't come is on the order of 35 billion tons per year.

Good luck with generating temperatures of 1500 °C sustainably and reliably with wind turbines.

Assessment: Recycling Does Not Always Lead to Recyclable Products: A Statistical Entropy-Based...

I came across this paper while catching up on back issues of a journal I regularly read but in which I am behind: Using Recyclable Materials Does Not Necessarily Lead to Recyclable Products: A Statistical Entropy-Based Recyclability Assessment of Deli Packaging Cristina Moyaert, Yanou Fishel, Lorenz Van Nueten, Oliver Cencic, Helmut Rechberger, Pieter Billen, and Philippe Nimmegeers ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2022 10 (36), 11719-11725

(The full title of the paper didn't fit into the title spaces allowed by DU.)

As I'm behind on my reading and have been wasting time with arsonists complaining about forest fires, I won't have much time to discuss the details, but thought I'd quote an excerpt quickly to raise a point that should be obvious, but isn't.

To wit, from the text of the paper:

Plastics are the preferred material in a wide range of applications, involved in almost every aspect of our daily lives. Their commercial success is due to their unique functionality and low manufacturing cost. Plastics have great corrosion resistance, degrade slowly, and their properties can be tailored to meet specific requirements by incorporating composites or additives. This incorporation of composites or additives and the large number of different polymer types raises the complexity of plastics, making them challenging to recycle and challenges the transition toward a plastics circular economy. (1,2)

Nowadays, product designers are shifting from plastics toward resources that are perceived as more environmentally friendly, like paperboard. Deli packaging is an excellent example of products that have undergone such modifications. However, deli packaging still requires the use of plastic for food preservation by creating moisture and oxygen barriers due to the poorer properties of paperboard. As a result, various types of deli packaging exist, ranging from all-plastic packaging to paperboard-plastic composites, with the latter being advertised as the most environmentally friendly.

State-of the-art quantitative sustainability assessment methodologies such as life cycle analysis (LCA) and techno-economic assessment (TEA) (or combinations) are limited in quantifying the recyclability of products, as these rely on detailed information that is only valid for a specific system boundary and subject to a background system including a specific set of technologies, in a certain region and under other specific assumptions. In addition, as highlighted in a recent review, (3) most such studies contradict each other due to these specific assumptions.

To overcome the above-mentioned limitations, we hypothesize as in Nimmegeers et al. (2021) (4) that recyclability can be quantified by merging information on the compositional complexity of deli packaging in terms of their chemical substances (quantified by statistical entropy-based calculations) with the energy required to separate the products into their chemical substances (quantified by generic energy calculations originating from generic sorting and separation processes). In essence, recycling is an entropy-reducing activity, for which energy is required.

The novelty of this explorative study lies in the validation of a generic recyclability assessment method based on the combination of statistical entropy calculations with energy calculations on collected deli packaging products. This methodology is a paradigm shift in current recyclability thinking and requires further attention and developments in research. In addition, it is the first time this method has been applied to real-life experimental data...

I added the bold to emphasize the point I wished to raise.

I have taken to stating here, in response to all the nonsense rhetoric that continues even as the atmosphere is obviously in collapse about batteries and hydrogen and other absurd attachments to the absurd garbage thinking that wind and solar energy will save the world, that people should be required to have at least a primitive understanding of the zeroth, first, and especially the second law of thermodynamics to graduate high school.

The problem with so called "renewable energy" is that it is unreliable, and extreme measures to make these intrinsically unreliable systems into reliable energy will all fail, just as so called "renewable energy" has already failed to address climate change.

Almost all of the tragedy before us now with respect to the environment, notably but not limited to climate change, derives from public ignorance of, in particular, ignorance of the second law, which simply states that no energy transformation from one form to another can take place without a loss of energy to heat, heat being an expression of disorder. (A corollary that may be less obvious is that it is not possible to separate two different materials without the use of energy.)

Ironically the best use of closed material recycling for materials such as those described in this paper (Deli packaging waste) is almost certainly pyrolysis and/or steam (or dry) reforming. Here the energy provided would be in fact, heat itself.

Enjoy the rest of the evening.

The KrCl* excimer lamp for UV irradiation a 222 nm.

I am always interested in the use of radiation to destroy water contaminants.

I came across this paper this evening: UV 222 nm Emission from KrCl* Excimer Lamps Greatly Improves Advanced Oxidation Performance in Water Treatment Emma M. Payne, Bryan Liu, Lauren Mullen, and Karl G. Linden Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2022 9 (9), 779-785.

I don't have much time to fully discuss this paper, but I thought it worth excerpting briefly and posting a figure from it.

222 nm is a shorter wavelength (higher energy) radiation than traditional mercury UV lamps.

An excerpt:

Ultraviolet (UV)-based advanced oxidation processes (UV/AOPs) are frequently employed in municipal drinking water and water reuse treatment for micropollutant abatement. Common UV/AOPs utilize hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) to generate hydroxyl radicals (•OH) under monochromatic low-pressure mercury vapor lamp (LPUV) irradiation at 254 nm or broad spectrum (200–800 nm) irradiation from medium-pressure mercury vapor lamps. This UV/AOP generates hydroxyl radicals via hydrogenperoxide photolysis, which react rapidly (rate constants of 10^07–10^10 M^(–1) s^(–1)) and nonselectively with many organic and inorganic contaminants. (1,2) In recent years, the UV-driven production of hydroxyl radicals from species other than hydrogen peroxide has generated interest. AOPs that use chlorine (UV/Cl2 or UV/NH2Cl) (3−5) or peroxydisulfate (UV/PDS) (6,7) as the radical promoter are increasingly being studied and, in some cases, employed at pilot or full scale. (8−11) Additionally, water matrix constituents such as nitrate or iron can create de facto AOPs when exposed to UV light. (12−15) Nitrate absorbs light very strongly at wavelengths below 240 nm to produce hydroxyl and other radicals and has demonstrated potential as a radical promoter in UV/AOP systems that utilize light sources emitting at far-UVC (200–230 nm) wavelengths. (16−18)

Coinciding with the investigation of alternative radical promoters are advancements in UV source technology. Both germicidal UV light-emitting diodes and excimer (or exciplex) lamps have emerged in the past several decades as potential tools in UV-based water treatment technology. (19−21) Of particular interest here are excimers, which generate deep UV emission when a rare gas or rare gas–halogen dimer returns to the ground state from its excited state, with the emission wavelength corresponding to the composition of the dimer. (22,23) KrCl* excimers emit narrow-band UV light at 222 nm and have recently been studied for use in disinfection, (20,24,25) greatly enhancing the disinfection of UV-resistant viruses, (26) including for control of SARS-CoV-2. (27−29) KrCl* excimers have advantages over conventional UV sources because they do not contain mercury and the far-UVC emission at 222 nm is not very harmful to human tissue, (30−32) thereby eliminating several hazards typically associated with conventional UV treatment of surfaces, air, and water. Few studies have exploited the unique wavelength emission of KrCl* excimers for improving advanced oxidation. (33−36)

The goal of this study was to promote radical improvements in AOP treatment through the use of 222 nm emitting lamps by comparing •OH generation, as measured by a probe compound, across three UV advanced oxidation systems: conventional LPUV with hydrogen peroxide as the radical promoter (LPUV/H2O2), KrCl* excimer with hydrogen peroxide (KrCl*/H2O2), and KrCl* excimer with nitrate (KrCl*/NO3–). Experiments were conducted in both ultrapure water and a natural groundwater to investigate the rate of •OH production and the impacts of background water constituents on the 222 nm-driven generation of •OH in comparison to conventional LPUV emitting at 254 nm. The opportunities for process optimization by utilizing new UV sources or radical promoters are presented, and the challenges of quantitatively comparing different UV/AOPs are described. Lastly, areas of needed research are proposed to support adoption of 222 nm-driven AOPs...

A figure from the paper:

The caption:

Figure 1. (a) pCBA degradation in three UV/AOPs in ultrapure deionized water. (b) pCBA degradation in three UV/AOPs in groundwater. The slopes of all linear regressions (i.e., rate of pCBA degradation) are presented in Tables S3 and S4.

"pCBA" is parachlorobenzoic acid, a model aryl chlorocompound for far more toxic pollutants, for example, PCBs, polychlorobiphenyls, which represent a major pollution problem.

The krypton halide source suggests to me a use for the fission product Kr-85, an isotope produced in about 0.7% of fast fission of plutonium, which has a half-life of 10.576 years. Presumably this isotope can be recovered from liquid nuclear fuels (or fresh solid nuclear fuels) in order to generate this kind of UV source for the continuous generation of 222 nm UV light without requiring a power source.

Cool, I think.

Definitely on my reading list...

Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber

Andy Borowitz, “one of the funniest people in America” (CBS Sunday Morning), brilliantly examines the intellectual deterioration of American politics, from Ronald Reagan to Dan Quayle, from George W. Bush to Sarah Palin, to its apotheosis in Donald J. Trump.

The winner of the first-ever National Press Club award for humor, Andy Borowitz has been called a “Swiftian satirist” (The Wall Street Journal) and “one of the country’s finest satirists” (The New York Times). Millions of fans and New Yorker readers enjoy his satirical news column “The Borowitz Report.” Now, in Profiles in Ignorance, he offers a witty, spot-on diagnosis of our country’s political troubles by showing how ignorant leaders are degrading, embarrassing, and endangering our nation.

Borowitz argues that over the past fifty years, American politicians have grown increasingly allergic to knowledge, and mass media have encouraged the election of ignoramuses by elevating candidates who are better at performing than thinking. Starting with Ronald Reagan’s first campaign for governor of California in 1966 and culminating with the election of Donald J. Trump to the White House, Borowitz shows how, during the age of twenty-four-hour news and social media, the US has elected politicians to positions of great power whose lack of the most basic information is terrifying. In addition to Reagan, Quayle, Bush, Palin, and Trump, Borowitz covers a host of congresspersons, senators, and governors who have helped lower the bar over the past five decades.

Profiles in Ignorance aims to make us both laugh and cry: laugh at the idiotic antics of these public figures, and cry at the cataclysms these icons of ignorance have caused. But most importantly, the book delivers a call to action and a cause for optimism: History doesn’t move in a straight line, and we can change course if we act now.

At this moment, all the wind turbines in Germany are producing less power than its three...

...three remaining nuclear plants.

The nuclear plants are producing 100% of capacity, 4.06 GW.

All of the wind turbines in Germany are producing 3.78 GW, 5.82% capacity utilization.

The German carbon intensity is 517 g CO2/kwh.

Coal is producing 48.52% of Germany's electricity, 25.24 GW of power.

Germany Electricity Map (Accessed 12/30/22, 0h:34 min, 9/30/22 Berlin time.)

It's just after midnight. No sun. It's 7°C, (44°F).

Whether one experiences energy poverty in Germany depends entirely on whether the wind blows.

Guess which plants the Germans want to close?

Hindsight is an awful instructor.

Man they got that right on CCS schemes...

I'll briefly excerpt for amusement the opening lines of the introduction of this paper: A Machine Learning-Aided Equilibrium Model of VTSA Processes for Sorbents Screening Applied to CO2 Capture from Diluted Sources Alexa Grimm and Matteo Gazzani, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research 2022 61 (37), 14004-14019.

I refer to the cited play myself when discussing energy schemes.

The text:

In Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot”, (1) two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, manage to keep the audience’s attention while nothing happens: indeed, Godot never arrives. Few would disagree that the play somehow represents the story of CO2 capture and storage (CCS): since the early 2000s, CCS has taken on a role in key climate mitigation technology but has so far failed to deliver the required CO2 capture capacity. However, as we keep burning fossil fuels to match the increasing energy demand, (2) a timely and cost-effective decarbonization will be relying more and more on CCS. (3) In order to limit global warming to 2 °C, the amount of CO2 captured needs to increase from the current 40 Mt per year to 1070 in 2030 and 7600 in 2050. (2) Notably, 70 Mt per year in 2030 and 630 Mt per year in 2050 need to be removed from the air using engineered technologies, for example, via direct air capture (DAC). While these figures may seem daunting, it is clear that the role of CCS in the energy system is becoming more and more essential. Even if the under performance of CCS is just remotely connected to technical reasons, one could say that CO2 separation processes are complex but also offered commercially with warranties by a few companies, it is important to keep improving CO2 capture technologies; the scale of deployment simply asks us for it. This is particularly true when considering gases with (ultra)diluted CO2 concentrations, e.g., DAC. Not surprisingly, the academic and industrial interest in DAC is growing significantly. (4−10)...

I often refer to waiting for Godot as the "nothing happening" associated with the grand so called "renewable energy" nirvana that did not come, is not here, and won't come.

CCS - carbon capture and storage - is a proposal to make dumps. It is unconscionable to build dumps with which future generations will need to deal. CCU - carbon capture and utilization - is another issue entirely although the energy and technical demands are indeed daunting.

It's not going to be easy; that's for sure, and the fact that we have used the planetary atmosphere as a dump will not be forgiven by history.

For my 30,000th post, I'd like to thank DU for inspiring me to expand my knowledge, and of course...

...for giving me the right to assert my disagreement on a key element of our party's dogma.

For my 30,000th post, I'd like to talk, using the style of my posts and recalling some of them, about how and why I write my posts, the serious ones at least, and - as I am a member of the pernicious baby boomer generation to whom such things matter above all else - what's in it for me.

I have chosen DU's magnificent Science forum for my 30,000th post because, after being a husband and a father, the most important love in my life is my love of science. The majority of my original posts at DU have been about science.

First off, as is my style, a diversion about a 30,000th post, which this post is:

There is nothing particularly remarkable about that number, 30,000 in my view. It's an artifact of the evolution of human beings with ten fingers.

Other number systems might have proved more useful than base 10, ten having only two factors, 2 and 5. If one wrote "30,000" in the duodecimal system (base 12), which would be more utilitarian than base 10 because it has more factors (1,2,3,4, and 6), "30,000" would convert to 62,208 in base 10.

The advantages of the duodecimal system and derivative enumeration schemes based on it, are related to the reason why we have 360 degrees in a circle, for example, rather than 100, because we can express π/6 radians, π/3 radians as well as π/2 and π/4 radians as whole numbers. It is why we have a word for "dozen" so we can divide a dozen donuts between either 2, 3, 4 or 6 people if we don't eat all of them ourselves. (As for a "baker's dozen," let's not go there.) We can have a third of a foot (4 inches), a quarter of a foot (3 inches), half a foot six inches. These ratios are more problematic in base 10.

Trapped as I am intellectually in base 10, we'll have to live with a repeating decimal for a third of a meter in the metric system in which I live for most purposes.

In any case, I would have never gotten to "30,000" in base 12.

Anyway. Here I am, 30,000, base 10, quite sure I'll never live to have reached 40,000, base 10, posts on DU.

Recently in one of my OP's I remarked on why I have been a Democrat since I was 18 years old (much to the chagrin of my father).

To wit:

The reason I am a Democrat is basically connected with my view of human rights, in particular the rights of women, my abhorrence of racism, my concern for the impoverished (a far less fashionable focus in our party than it used to be), but most importantly my view that we owe future generations a sustainable world, a task at which my now dying generation has failed miserably and for which history will not forgive us.

I added the bold here that was not in the original which is here: Governor Gretchen Whitmer Announces Plan to Reopen the 50 Year Old Closed Palisades Nuclear Plant.

There are many things that are important to us in the Democratic Party, most recently, doing something about arresting and imprisoning the racist, abysmally stupid, incredibly uneducated orange traitorous thug who somehow left an indelible stain in the Oval office and on our nation's history as well.

Nevertheless, the fact is that in the long run, Donald Trump will be as meaningful as the "last" Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustus, who actually was a ten year old child rather than a 75 year old petulant son of a bitch who simply acts like a ten year old child, an overly narcissistic one at that. Nearly 1600 years later, no one gives a shit about Romulus Augustus sometimes mocked in his own time as "Augustulus" (little Augustus).

Of the things Rome left behind that does matter, one is that is somewhat obscure, but which nonetheless matters to some people in which I include myself, for instance people interested in the health of birds, is an environmental consequence of Roman "civilization."

To wit:

Significant lead production commenced c. 5,000 years ago with the discovery of smelting techniques for lead sulphide ores (galena). Its geological co-occurrence with silver (of significance for coinage) resulted in an increasing extent of lead production over the next 2,000 years, with mining and smelting in Spain representing c. 40% of worldwide lead production during Roman times (Hong et al. 1994). Roman production has been estimated at 60,000 tonnes per annum for 400 years (Hernberg 2000). The environmental emission of air-borne lead particles from these early Roman mining and smelting activities have given a record of changing deposits not only within the Greenland ice-cap (the first evidence of anthropogenic hemispheric-scale lead pollution (Hong et al. 1994)), but also in wetlands across the whole of Europe (Shotyk et al. 1998, Renberg 2001). The source has been isotopically distinguished from naturally occurring emissions sources such as sea spray and volcanic eruptions.

Proceedings of the Oxford Lead Symposium, 10 December 2014, Edward Grey Institute, Oxford University. Lead Ammunition: understanding and minimising the risks to human and environmental health (Professor Richard J. Delahay, University of Exeter, Professor Chris J. Spray, MBE, FRSA, University of Dundee, Eds.)

It would appear that the Romans mined and used about 24,000,000 tons of lead if the above figures are correct, and the effects of that industry are still with us.

(cf. also: Ingemar Renberg,* Richard Bindler and Maja-Lena Brannvall, Using the historical atmospheric lead-deposition record as a chronological marker in sediment deposits in Europe The Holocene 11,5 (2001) pp. 511–516)

Here, for comparison purposes, is the amount of lead that was vaporized as a gasoline additive in the 20th century, during the rise to dominance of the car CULTure:

Source: The Rise and Fall of Tetraethyllead. 2. Dietmar Seyferth Organometallics 2003 22 (25), 5154-5178.

At its peak, the amount of lead vaporized in gasoline alone exceeded by a factor of six, the entire annual lead output of the Roman empire.

Of course, lead is commonly used in many products, batteries, bullets, ballast and shielding, and the amount of lead mined each year dwarfs anything the Romans might have done.

Further, there were and are lots of other applications for lead than those I've just listed in modern technology and more are being proposed:

If this is in any way shocking, I note that one of the big trends in so called "renewable energy" is the development of lead iodide perovskite solar cells. Here, from a recent paper on the subject, (Peng Yu, Wenjun Zhang, Fumeng Ren, Jianan Wang, Haixin Wang, Rui Chen, Shasha Zhang, Yiqiang Zhang, Zonghao Liu and Wei Chen Strategies for highly efficient and stable cesium lead iodide perovskite photovoltaics: mechanisms and processes J. Mater. Chem. C, 2022, 10, 4999–5023) are some of the chemical reactions for methyl ammonium lead iodide perovskites decomposition in solar cells at 95°C:

The "HI" in reactions 5, 7, 9, and 10 is hydroiodic acid, an acid marginally stronger and corrosive than hydrochloric acid, which for full disclosure is an intermediate in my favorite thermal water splitting cycle, the closed sulfur iodide cycle, but (if not neutralized by ammonia or methylamine in the gas phase) could prove problematic for fire fighters fighting a fire at a bourgeois McMansion covered with "green" lead perovskite solar cells. More serious is the methyl iodide in reactions 8 and 9, which is an insecticide, now largely (but not entirely) banned because of its ozone destruction potential, that alkylates tyrosine, serine, and threonine residues in proteins, causing their essential tertiary structure to fall apart. The issue of slower decomposition is always present of course, since solar cells can rise to temperatures far above ambient temperatures much as asphalt does as one may notice walking barefoot in a parking lot.

Happily, at least in my opinion, "efficient" (is this a joke?) lead iodide based perovskite solar cells have not gone commercial, owing to their stability issues, and they are not (yet) a major source of lead pollution.

By the way, the idea of putting tetraethyl lead in gasoline was considered wonderful in its time, and the discovery of its use as an antiknock agent won all kinds of awards and praise. Maybe stable lead iodide perovskite solar cells, should they be realized will be similar, perhaps in the very same way with the very same consequences.

Be that as it may, this brings me to the point underlying a major theme of my 30,000 posts, at least beginning around 2010, I'd guess, which is a dissident view among the bulk of my fellow Democrats. I reject, totally and completely, without reservation, the notion that so called "renewable energy" is either sustainable or environmentally benign. For me the purpose of a political party should not be simply to hold power vs the "bad guys," but rather to govern well. In my view, when Democrats hype the value of so called "renewable energy" - in reality the use of the word "renewable" renders the phrase oxymoronic - we are not governing well. We need, as Lincoln wrote in another context in one of my favorite writings, his 1862 message to Congress - from which my sig line here is an excerpt - as Democrats to "think anew" about what I regard as the most serious issue before humanity in our times, climate change.

On the political left this issue is most often of critical importance; way more than 90% of us, I'm sure, think it so. The question is not whether we acknowledge the importance of the issue; the question is whether we have any idea at all as to what can or should be done about it.

Here is a statement, in various forms, that I have included in a large number of my 30,000 posts on this website:

So called "renewable energy" has not addressed climate change, is not addressing climate change, and will not address climate change.

Amiri Baraka wrote a beautiful poem, first published in The Dead Lecturer in 1964, a poem, the opening lines of which have hung in my mind since the early 1970's:

Duncan Spoke of a Process

And what I have learned
of it, to repeat, repeated
as a day will repeat
its color, the tired sounds
run off its bones...

"To repeat...the tired sounds..."

I repeat myself a lot at DU, with slight - often very slight - modifications, more about that below. I appreciate where tolerance for my practice of doing so is allowed. It's like echolalia to which Kurt Vonnegut once referred mocking one of his characters, or perhaps, even more accurately, palilalia.

Baraka's poem ends like this:

...I see what I love most and will not
leave what futile lies
I have. I am where there
is nothing, save myself. And go out to
what is most beautiful. What some noncombatant Greek
or soft Italian prince
would sing, "Noble Friends."
Noble Selves. And which one
is truly
to rule here? And
what country is this?

...go out to what is most beautiful...What country is this?"

I suppose that anyone who is familiar with my writings here and elsewhere will refer, with more than a little accuracy, to me as "pronuclear activist" - another form of my dissidence as a Democrat, although this is changing for people like Gretchen Whitmer, and indeed, more quietly, with Joe Biden - but on a deeper level, the far more profound level, what I really am is as much as I might hate to admit it, is an "anti" as in "anti-fossil fuels." I often mock the "antis," antivaxxers, anti-GMO, antinukes, but in that's what I am, an "anti," anti-fossil fuels. I note that there are many pronuclear activists - although this is also changing - who a pro fossil fuels - muttering insipidly about economics. Of course, there are antinukes who also mutter insipidly about economics, a subject about which they are clueless as they are about environmental issues.

Climate change is the most serious risk associated with dangerous fossil fuels, but it is hardly the only risk by any stretch of the imagination. I sometimes muse to myself whether the rise of insanity in the world is actually a massive case of "Mad Hatters Disease" aka "Minamata disease" which is related to the neurotoxic element mercury, but at least with respect to its symptomology, in an etiological sense, also to lead. The mechanism for the neurotoxicology for both elements is, as I recall, generally associated with effects on the metabolic proteins responsible for energy generation in the most energy demanding tissues in human beings, brain tissue. Without energy, brain cells cease to function or die.

Without sustainable and clean energy, much of humanity will cease to function and die.

Let me return to the subject of the dangerous fossil fuel waste lead:

By far, one of the largest sources of environmental exposure to lead on this planet right now is longer tetraethyl lead gasoline; it’s the combustion of coal. (Coal also releases significant mercury to the environment.)

Here are two graphics from the following publication: Muyang Li, Wei Liu, Wenqiu Liu, Mengyan Bi, Zhaojie Cui, Dynamic substance flow analysis of lead in the fossil fuel system of China from 1980 to 2018, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 313, 2021, 127918,

The caption:

Fig. 2. Lead flows and stocks in the coal system of China in 1980, 2000, and 2018.

The caption:

Fig. 6. Lead release from the fossil fuel system in China during 1980–2018. Note: CCPP - atmospheric emissions from coal consumption in power plants; CCIB - atmospheric emissions from coal consumption in industrial boilers; CCOS - atmospheric emissions from coal consumption in other sectors; PPC - atmospheric emissions from petroleum products consumption; UFA - unused fly ash; UG - unused gangue; UDG - unused desulfurization gypsum; UC - unused bottom ash; RWS - recycled solid waste for backfilling, road construction, and land reclamation; TL - transportation loss; CWW - coking wastewater; CCS - coke consumption for smelting; and CDW - construction demolition waste.

Note that these environmental releases are not related to technological use of lead, but rather the release of the element into the environment from the use of coal. The technological use makes things worse, far worse. As the above graphics show, the lead in raw coal used just by by China rose from around 15,000 tons in 1980 to close to 90,000 tons in 2018. In the "percent talk" used by advocates of so called "renewable energy" to obscure its uselessness, assuming the numbers in the graphic in figure 2, by 575% in just 38 years, and is releasing into the environment twice as much lead as the Roman Empire consumed on average for all purposes each year during its existence.

And if China, where much of our "stuff" is made seems far away, we shouldn't feel all that smug. In my "what's in it for me" generation, we should know that the lead released in China does get "here:" Provenance of Anthropogenic Pb and Atmospheric Dust to Northwestern North America Bess G. Koffman, Patrick Saylor, Roujia Zhong, Lily Sethares, Meg F. Yoder, Lena Hanschka, Taylor Methven, Yue Cai, Louise Bolge, Jack Longman, Steven L. Goldstein, and Erich C. Osterberg Environmental Science & Technology 2022 56 (18), 13107-13118. From the text:

Comparison of the high-elevation Denali snow pit data with the Pb isotope record from the Eclipse ice core (11) demonstrates the changing history of Pb pollution in northwestern North America (Figure 7, Eclipse error bars are shown in Figure S7). During the 1970s, the Eclipse record was largely influenced by pollution aerosols from the US (Figure 7A). Beginning in the 1980s, the increasing influence of Chinese industrialization can be seen as a shift toward higher 208Pb/207Pb values (Figure 7B), with Eclipse data overlapping the field of Chinese urban aerosols. (47) During the 1990s, the Eclipse data span the fields of U.S. and Chinese aerosols and bracket the range of Denali snow values from this study (Figure 7C). By the end of the Eclipse ice core record in 2001, the Eclipse data plot almost entirely within the Chinese source fields, with most data indistinguishable from Chinese urban aerosols (Figure 7D). The Eclipse data overlap the data from two of the highest-elevation Denali snow pits, which according to Denali ice core Pb enrichment data receive up to 80% of their Pb from pollution sources. Together these records, along with the data from Barrow and the Arctic Ocean, (22) demonstrate the pervasive trans-Pacific deposition of Chinese pollution aerosols in northwestern North America...

...The new data from Denali are among the first from northwestern North America that demonstrate potential changes in the Pb isotope compositions of long-range-transported aerosols following the 2001 phase-out of leaded gasoline in China. A comparison of our 2016 samples with the most recent samples from the Eclipse ice core (e.g., 2000–2001; Figure 7D) demonstrates similarities in their Pb isotope compositions, indicating that the isotopic signature of long-range-transported pollutants remained fairly stable over the past two decades in spite of the phase-out of leaded gasoline in China...

...While aerosols measured in China show a slight shift toward higher 206Pb/207Pb and lower 208Pb/206Pb values (i.e., from a more “ore-like” to a more “coal-like” composition) following the gasoline Pb additive ban, (53) our data indicate that the ban did not have a significant impact on long-range pollutant Pb isotope compositions. This finding, though surprising, parallels results from the Devon Ice Cap in the eastern Canadian Arctic, where ice core Pb isotope data showed no change following the leaded gasoline bans in North America (1970) and Europe (1980)

If accurate, this suggests that taking tetraethyl lead out of gasoline formulations did very little to address the distribution of lead as a single component dangerous fossil fuel waste. In fact, it appears the situation is getting worse, not better.

And yet...and yet...there are people, albeit people for whom I clearly have little intellectual or moral respect, who want to tell me about so called "nuclear waste."

Here is a follow up paper from the authors of a scientific paper - designed to evaluate the migration patterns of tuna fish by the use of radioactive tracers - discussing the media reaction to that paper, since the radioactive tracer in question, the isotope cesium-134, was released by the famous (or infamous) Fukushima reactor: Fisher, Nicholas S. , Beaugelin-Seiller, Karine , Hinton, Thomas G. , Baumann, Zofia , Madigan, Daniel J., Garnier-Laplace, Jacqueline Evaluation of radiation doses and associated risk from the Fukushima nuclear accident to marine biota and human consumers of seafood , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 26, (2013) 10670-10675.

The paper is open sourced, and the reader is invited to look at Table 1, therein, which is about risk discussed in an important way, relative risk. I note that in Table 1, the nuclide in question, cesium-134, is observed to have one decay per kg per second (1 Bq) in a tuna fish. That single decay issue has come up in one of my favorite posts here, which I'll reference herein.

The introductory text from the paper just cited:

Recent reports describing the presence of radionuclides released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Pacific biota (1, 2) have aroused worldwide attention and concern. For example, the discovery of 134Cs and 137Cs in Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis; PBFT) that migrated from Japan to California waters (2) was covered by >1,100 newspapers worldwide and numerous internet, television, and radio outlets. Such widespread coverage reflects the public’s concern and general fear of radiation. Concerns are particularly acute if the artificial radionuclides are in human food items such as seafood. Although statements were released by government authorities, and indeed by the authors of these papers, indicating that radionuclide concentrations were well below all national safety food limits, the media and public failed to respond in measure. The mismatch between actual risk and the public’s perception of risk may be in part because these studies reported radionuclide activity concentrations in tissues of marine biota but did not report dose estimates and predicted health risks for the biota or for human consumers of contaminated seafood. We have therefore calculated the radiation doses absorbed by diverse marine biota in which radioactivity was quantified (1, 2) and humans that potentially consume contaminated PBFT. The aim of this paper is to provide estimated doses, and therefore objective risk estimates, to humans and marine biota...

The authors go on to report, in language more gracious than I generally use and will use, that the concern about the radioactive atoms in the tuna fish was, simply put, stupid.

Now, let's be clear on something, OK? Above I reported on the release of tens of thousands of tons of the neurotoxic element lead in just one country, albeit a big country, much of which ends up in the ocean and in the food chain of tuna fish. This release takes place more or less continuously, without interruption on a massive scale from the normal operation of dangerous fossil fuel plants. Although I have not focused on it, another dangerous fossil fuel waste released by the very same process is the similarly neurotoxic element mercury which is well known to be bioconcentrated in the food chain of tuna fish.

This fact is not "covered by >1,100 newspapers worldwide and numerous internet, television, and radio outlets."

And yet...and yet...there are people, albeit people for whom I clearly have little intellectual or moral respect, who want to tell me about Fukushima.


...to repeat, repeated
as a day will repeat
its color...

Recently a generous soul commenting on my personality in this space said that though he or she or they liked my posts, they felt I can be a little, um, "off putting."

Some people can be too nice. Other people have described my personality as being that of a "damned asshole," again, too nice. A few, people, mostly pro-nuke types elsewhere, have described my style, approvingly, as "take no prisoners."

This is an old "problem" with me.

Shortly before I was banned at DailyKos - I say it was for telling the truth - I commented thus on my aggressive writing style, referring then to the famous Fukushima tuna fish of that time and my sense of outrage.

Thanks for your friendly suggestion, but...

...let me explain why I write the diaries the way I do.

The process by which I write my science diaries here begins with a scan of the usual journals that I read - although I do mix it up here and there and try to include some journals that I usually don't usually read - until I find some paper relevant to the on going catastrophe that I think I might be able to use to construct a poll here.

The polls are the thing itself.

Generally this list might involve 20 or 30 papers.

I narrow the list by deciding which paper involves a subject that I would like to know more about - since I always learn something when I write the diaries.

Writing this one while collecting the references from the original paper, for instance, I learned that the death toll from the 2003 European heat wave is estimated to be 70,000 people.

I didn't know that until two days ago.

When I was a younger man, I used to be very serious about writing, and engaged in lots of rewrites. Although there are exceptions in my diaries here, what I try to do is here now (partially because of time constraints) free write: Blurt out what comes into my mind as the diary evolves.

I think this shows up in the sometimes confusing rambling that my diaries sometimes involve.

I cannot read the things I read - for instance about the 70,000 deaths - without being simultaneously angry and filled with a sense of the absurd, and usually by the end, the anger just pours out.

The writer Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that he never felt as if he had absolute control over the lives of the characters in his novel: He compared himself to a puppeteer: A puppeteer with elastic strings.

So it is with my diaries.

I don't generally have time to fix them, which is why they sometimes appear with grammatic errors and misspellings. I might go back and change something a year or so later, but that's long after they've gone down the memory hole.

And, the truth is, really I don't want them to be nice.

You read scientific papers, and you recognize that they are often about real tragedy, real human tragedy, and the authors are trapped in this polite and gracious writing style.

The last excerpt from the Nature Climate Change paper above is about as strongly emotional as one sees, but look, they can't say, scream "WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THESE INSIPID JOURNALISTS!?!" can they?

The editors wouldn't allow it.

We're supposed to be "polite."

Well there are no editors here. This place has its flaws and its frustrations, but it has no editors.

I have to think that there are a lot of scientists who want to do more than be politefeel it some of them: Jim Hansen for instance in "Storms of my Grandchildren."

I mean, 70,000 people dead from heat and we are all about the "radioactive" tuna fish?

I'm not writing here to save myself or to make myself seem neat, or professional or kind. I'm none of those things.

I'm just screaming.

I'm screaming in hopes of letting someone in the next generations know - should any of them ever read any of this - that someone cared about what we were doing to them, someone tried to stop it, that some of us weren't seeking to live in some kind of sybaritic narcotic haze where we didn't have to know anything and just did what we damn well pleased to do in the moment.

But that hope too - that someone will notice what I say and what I tried to do - is like the hope that humanity would have addressed climate change before it was too late, is nothing...

...This is a backwater website; and I'm a minor writer on it; nothing that I say is likely to accomplish anything or even survive long; but if, by some accident, something of my work is noticed and survives, I want it to seem that I least I tried to do something.

I appreciate your kind words, and kind suggestion but these diaries have been this way a long time and I'm afraid I don't really control them as much as they control me.


Now, in the years that have passed since that long ago Kos post, we have discovered a new type of pernicious being, the MAGAT. No one here is inclined to be overly polite on the subject of MAGATS. They are awful people, overt and unapologetic hypocrites, who talk about "law and order" and then work to beat cops to death with flagpoles. They are racist and as perhaps the ultimate expression of sacrilege, if one accepts the concept of their being sacrilege, worship a dishonest and corrupt orange pig. They have killed people by spreading obnoxious idiocy about the nonexistence of Covid, or, if there is Covid, that it is cured by a cow de-wormer, or the anti-parasitic drug hydroxychloroquine or worse, have allowed the disease to spread based on an irrational fear of vaccines that they continuously hype and promote. Their ignorance literally kills people.

Frankly I think it would be morally dubious, even overtly wrong, to indulge MAGATs, to appease them with even a smidgeon of understanding. If they are not morally and intellectually wrong, nothing is wrong. Again, "to repeat, as the day repeats its colors," their ignorance kills people.

I refer to my own anger with nonsense expression on the subject environmental issues, issues that far outweigh the worst of Covid, and the people who grotesquely distort them with tiresome dogma, by analogy.

I am not inclined to worry if people regard me as an "insufferable asshole." I'm not trying to make friends or be admired. I am here to bring attention to a serious issue that will not be addressed by calling the solar installation guy and buying a Tesla car. It's no longer time for jokes. I am doing so because I feel a certain responsibility to future generations, as much as I am appalled by what my generation has done to them.

The general way I choose what to write on scientific/environmental subjects is basically the same, albeit somewhat more organized and sophisticated. I still go through certain scientific journals, to use an antique word, "religiously," but now I keep notes on the first pass through them, recording what I regard as "papers of interest" in the titles with a color code. Here are screen shots of a recent such file in MS Word, referring to the most recent, as of this writing, issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology:

The papers and descriptions that are in green are papers that on first impression about which I'd like to write either here on DU or elsewhere. Only a very small percentage of the large number of papers so marked actually appear in my writings; there simply isn't time to cover or read everything. Nevertheless, in terms of developing ideas, the sampling is extremely valuable. Red text refers to a paper about which I have written or on which I've commented in my writings. I cited a paper on lead transport in this post, hence the red mark. The papers marked in orange are papers that involve my professional development; recently I've been thinking a great deal about cell sorting, and although my professional interest in cell sorting has nothing to do with phosphorous recovery, the general concept is of interest, and the Raman spectral application broadens perspective.

While this approach may cover well over 50% of my original technical posts, sometimes I am stimulated to write posts in response to things I see or hear in the media, in particular in those cases where a media report is spectacularly misleading, misinterpreted. Often I become aware of these misinterpretations here. An example is a recent case involving research into the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, a subject of which I'm aware as I have some professional, if indirect, interest. A rather silly interpretation of the retraction or possible retraction (for scientific fraud) of a paper in support of one hypothesis behind potential treatments was blown out of proportion by a staff writer at DailyKos, and migrated here to the superior website where it was taken up. Since I knew the statements in the DailyKos article were very overblown, and since there's often trouble when non-scientists use their ability to communicate to spread nonsense like wild fire - for example with the "Fukushima tuna fish" described above; I had a neighbor who swore he'd never eat tuna again - I felt it behooved me to offer a correction, lest people advocate cutting Alzheimer's funding for a particular hypothesis which has significant support beyond the fraudulent literature that was taken as additional evidence for the hypothesis.

That post is here:

Some remarks on purported fraud concerned with αβ oligomer hypothesis in Alzheimer's research.

I hope in these kinds of posts I clearly define the limits of my knowledge, but nonetheless suggest the types of critical thinking should apply based on what one can find out. As I have managed to maintain complete access to the full scientific literature, and basically can access writings on a large number of topics in the primary scientific literature, and have long experience in reading and interpreting them, I can be helpful in this sense.

On occasion I write posts about subjects about which I know very little, or nothing at all, but which intrigue me in such a way as to inspire me to want to find out about them. Here's an example of such a post:

Chemical Principles of Topological Semimetals (It seems the graphics links in that post have died...oh well.) I was inspired to learn more about Dr. Shoop's work after attending a lecture she gave, and thus wrote about it here. People like Dr. Shoop make me feel stupid, which is a good thing. Feeling stupid is an opportunity and a motivation to learn, to expand one's knowledge.

Some of my posts merely report the data, albeit with some bitter commentary. I have diligently followed the DATA!!! reported weekly at the Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide Observatory for many years, entering it into spreadsheets that I use for calculations of exactly how disastrously inadequate whatever we think we are doing, or should do about climate change is.

For several years, I have regularly and constantly reported the new records set, and indeed to rising rate at which we are destroying the planetary atmosphere.

...And what I have learned
of it, to repeat, repeated
as a day will repeat
its color, the tired sounds
run off its bones...

Here's one in the series of these types of posts, for which I often cut and paste the text of a previous post into the latest version:

New Weekly CO2 Concentration Record Set at the Mauna Loa Observatory 421.13 ppm.

It's tiring, and because as I understand energy technology at a very deep level, and because I understand the chemistry and physics of carbon dioxide in particular, and other greenhouse gases in general, it's depressing, because I fully understand that world wide the generally accepted proposals for doing "something" is actually making things worse, not better. The accumulation of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide is accelerating, not decelerating.

A Commentary on Failure, Delusion and Faith: Danish Data on Big Wind Turbines and Their Lifetimes.

Let's do something very, very, very crude, just as an illustration with the understanding that it is unsophisticated but may be illustrative:

As of this writing, I have been a member of DU for 19 years and 240 days, which works out in decimal years to 19.658 years. This means the second derivative, the rate of change of the rate of change is 0.04 ppm/yr^2 for my tenure here. (A disturbing fact is that the second derivative for seven years of similar data running from April of 1993 to April of 2000 showed a second derivative of 0.03 ppm/yr^2; the third derivative is also positive, but I'll ignore that for now.) If these trends continue, this suggests that “by 2050,” 28 years from now, using the language that bourgeois assholes in organizations like Greenpeace use to suggest the outbreak of a “renewable energy” nirvana, the rate of change, the first derivative, will be on the order of 3.6 ppm/year. Using very simple calculus, integrating the observed second derivative twice, using the boundary conditions – the current data - to determine the integration constants, one obtains a quadratic equation (0.04)t^2+(2.45)t+ 419.71 = c where t is the number of years after 2022 and c is the concentration at the year in question.

If one looks at the data collected at the Mauna Loa displayed graphically, one can see that the curve is not exactly linear, but has a quadratic aspect somewhat hidden by the small coefficient (0.04) of the squared term:

This admittedly crude "model" roughly suggests that the concentration of dangerous fossil fuel waste, carbon dioxide concentrations, given the trend, will be around 520 ppm “by 2050,” in 28 years, passing, by solving the resultant quadratic equation, somewhere around 500 ppm around 2046, just 24 years from now.

I’ll be dead then, but while I’m living the realization of what we are doing to future humanity fills me with existential horror.

(The bold was added here; it was not in the original.)

This brings me to the subject of the kind of "environmentalist" I am. I am a "John Muir" type environmentalist, inasmuch, unlike the modern day assholes who perverted the organization he founded, the Sierra Club, I oppose the industrialization of wilderness, in particular to produce, in a sloppy, ineffective, wasteful and very dirty way. As opposed to Muir's purposes, the modern day Sierra Club membership, perverting Muir's vision, never saw a wilderness they didn't want to trash with wind turbines, all of which will be landfill within 25 years. As I repeat often, "as the day repeats its colors" the responsibility for cleaning up the destruction and the mess of this bourgeois fantasy based affectation will fall to today's toddlers just as they are finishing college and entering their careers.

This, to my mind, defines "injustice." One thing that should define Democrats in my view is contempt for injustice.

I recently posted reference to an interview of another kind of environmentalist with whom I'm in accord, Jim Hansen, the climate scientist and activist. During the interview, it was pointed out that modern "environmental" organizations are prevented from doing anything meaningful because they are a big, big, big business, driven by donors who have drank the disastrous and deadly antinuke Kool-Aid that is killing people. No purveying of ignorance, no money. (How this differs from Exxon, if not on scale, then certainly in spirit, escapes me.)

An URGENT Chat with the Godfather of Climate Science|An Urgent Chat With the Godfather of Climate Science.

I will return to the work of Dr. Hansen below when I discuss my cut and paste approach to responding to pertinacious, interminable antinuke dogma.

Recently, as the world burns; as people drop dead in the streets, in fields, and sometimes in their homes from extreme heat; as crops fail from a lack of water; as ancient huge rivers dry up and disappear; as the glaciers that represent the water supply of billions of people melt, a new type of antinuke has appeared at DU, the "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke, a type of person who pretends not to have a visceral hatred of nuclear energy but baldly asserts, despite dragging out every idiotic objection to nuclear power ever raised by chanting oblivious fools. They are a generic bunch of overt frauds, Trumpian in the scale of dishonestly describing themselves.

Now there is no value in attempting to convince these sorts to change their ossified and rather small minds about doing anything involved with "thinking anew." They do not think. They chant. Maybe they join bourgeois oblivion squads like Greenpeace or the Sierra Club, where they get their incantations to repeat. I don't know and I don't care.

The German "Climate" Antinuke Envoy from Greenpeace says:

Germany’s decision to burn coal this winter ‘a hard pill to swallow,’ climate envoy says.

This is an asshole who applauded the closing of nuclear plants to burn coal. It's not a "bitter pill." It's a deadly pill. The German decision to embrace so called "renewable energy" was never about climate change. It was always about irrational fear of nuclear energy. They are burning coal, lots of it, and killing people by doing so.

And let's be clear, the "I'm not an anti-nuke" antinukes who write here to make excuses for the failure of so called "renewable energy" to do doodle squat about climate change, or who engage in tiresome and fallacious soothsaying about what so called "renewable energy" will do "by 2030," or "by 2040" or "by 2050," after all of the soothsaying about "by 1990" and "by 2000," "by 2010" and "by 2020" yuppie baby boomer "aspirational" "deadlines passed with things worsening by the minute, have seldom been interested in climate change, or the preservation of wilderness, or the death of seas or any serious environmental issues. What bothers them, and frankly many people, including asinine "ministers" in the German government. These people are terrified that a single radioactive atom will show up in their tiny and largely brains, killing them.

"A single atom...in a tiny brain." For a long time I kept antinukes, including "I'm not an antinuke" antinukes on my magnificent ignore list. However when I opened the DU website without bothering to log in, I noticed a few of them whining in my posts.

This year, 2022, glaciers all over the world have been collapsing, and major glaciers, including the so called "Doomsday glacier" are approaching collapse. Some of these collapses, notably in Italy, but especially in Pakistan - where the collapses have caused disastrous flooding - have involved fatalities.

Sometime ago, an "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke called up one of my old posts to report that nuclear power was "too dangerous" because a tunnel with some old railcars on which abandoned slightly radioactive chemical reactors were being stored collapsed.

Now, the "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke is in my opinion a very uninteresting person, who likes to whine along the lines of "I never said that..." when confronted with my sarcasm directed at his, her, or their stupidity and ignorance. I really don't study stupid people deeply to see what they did and did not say, I am far more interested in what highly intelligent people, Dr. Shoop referenced above, or Dr. Hansen, also referenced above say. One of the sarcastic remarks I made to this particularly stupid "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke involved the "single radioactive atom in a tiny brain" terror of antinukes.

"I never said that! I never said that!" whined the "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke, as if I give a rat's ass about what antinukes say. Hell, I know what they have to say; they've been dogging me with their selective attention and gaslighting for years. They are rather like Republicans in this respect: Whining about a collapse of an old tunnel at Hanford is exactly equivalent in my mind to Republicans whining about the teaching of "Critical Race Theory," or any of the other specious bullshit they raise.

Nevertheless, I'm actually happy that the "I'm not an antinuke" whined about my sarcasm, because it inspired me to ask a question which is this, "How many radioactive atoms from Hanford might actually migrate into the brain of an antinuke, and more importantly, what would be the physiological consequences of these atoms in the antinuke?"

This brings me to a second reason I write posts, which is to deepen my understanding.

I have long been aware that every human being on this planet, indeed every living thing on this planet has been radioactive for billions of years, owing to the natural radioactivity associated with the essential element potassium and its congener (which follows potassium into living tissue) rubidium, also naturally radioactive. I have also long been aware of the chemistry of plutonium, which I regard as the key element to save the world, as well as many aspects of its geochemistry. I am, in fact, an expert on the chemistry of used nuclear fuels and their components, which some people, absurdly in my opinion, call "nuclear waste."

My status as an expert in all things nuclear has been acknowledged by some members of DU when I was asked to write this post:

Some comments on the war situation with Chernobyl as well as the operable nuclear plants in Ukraine. (Here I explored the "Fukushima syndrome" that drove Germany to fund Putin's war in Ukraine.)

Nevertheless, the dumb "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke's whining did indeed inspire a lot of research on my part, not because the "I'm not an antinuke" antinuke is equipped emotionally, intellectually or ethically to be educated - he, she or they clearly isn't/aren't so equipped - but because the question led me to call up lots of papers that inspired calling up additional papers until I found myself learning things that I didn't know before:

I write to learn, as I noted in my DailyKos comment so many years ago.

The post I wrote on the subject of radioactive atoms migrating into the tiny brains of "I'm not an antinuke" antinukes is very arcane, long and probably uninteresting to most people, but it was a joy to write it, as it brought together several concepts from my professional life in pharmaceutics and my environmental interests, centered on the importance of advancing nuclear energy as quickly as is possible. It involved geochemistry, physical chemistry, physiological chemistry and indeed, general inorganic chemistry. So I do owe a vote of thanks to this particular dumb antinuke for inspiring the research which ultimately deepened my understanding of otherwise familiar concepts. That post is here:

828 Underground Nuclear Tests, Plutonium Migration in Nevada, Dunning, Kruger, Strawmen, and Tunnels

Finally, there is a third reason I write posts, when current events inspire me to coalesce crude ideas that have floated around in my mind but I have not strictly evaluated on a quantitative basis. I used to live, a very long time ago, in California, and there are parts of me that still love the place. The recent drought and the extreme temperatures and fires there have broken my heart, and I have long been disturbed by the destruction of the Colorado River Delta, the death of Owens Lake, and related issues connected with water supplies in that State.

The physics and chemistry of supercritical water have long been an interest of mine, mostly connected with environmental remediation of damaged water supplies, but I have long been aware of its potential for desalination, but I never made a quantitative estimate of what would be involved. The events in California owing to climate change inspired me to write here on the subject, and thus to do some calculations and learn new details on the topic.

That post is here: The Energy Required to Supply California's Water with Zero Discharge Supercritical Desalination.

These are some of the posts for which I have learned new things in the preparation of them. In a moment, I will close with comments about why Democratic Underground is the best liberal blog on the planet, vastly superior to some more prominent and popular blogs, because Democratic Underground's operation reflects Democratic values.

First, about repetition...

...And what I have learned
of it, to repeat, repeated
as a day will repeat
its color...

There are certain things that I repeat simply by cutting and pasting text I've saved in a word file, to quickly address the rote stuff I hear about energy.

Some examples:

The death toll associated with not embracing nuclear energy:

It is here: Global burden of 87 risk factors in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 (Lancet Volume 396, Issue 10258, 17–23 October 2020, Pages 1223-1249). This study is a huge undertaking and the list of authors from around the world is rather long. These studies are always open sourced; and I invite people who want to carry on about Fukushima to open it and search the word "radiation." It appears once. Radon, a side product brought to the surface by fracking while we all wait for the grand so called "renewable energy" nirvana that did not come, is not here and won't come, appears however: Household radon, from the decay of natural uranium, which has been cycling through the environment ever since oxygen appeared in the Earth's atmosphere.

Here is what it says about air pollution deaths in the 2019 Global Burden of Disease Survey, if one is too busy to open it oneself because one is too busy carrying on about Fukushima:

The top five risks for attributable deaths for females were high SBP (5·25 million [95% UI 4·49–6·00] deaths, or 20·3% [17·5–22·9] of all female deaths in 2019), dietary risks (3·48 million [2·78–4·37] deaths, or 13·5% [10·8–16·7] of all female deaths in 2019), high FPG (3·09 million [2·40–3·98] deaths, or 11·9% [9·4–15·3] of all female deaths in 2019), air pollution (2·92 million [2·53–3·33] deaths or 11·3% [10·0–12·6] of all female deaths in 2019), and high BMI (2·54 million [1·68–3·56] deaths or 9·8% [6·5–13·7] of all female deaths in 2019). For males, the top five risks differed slightly. In 2019, the leading Level 2 risk factor for attributable deaths globally in males was tobacco (smoked, second-hand, and chewing), which accounted for 6·56 million (95% UI 6·02–7·10) deaths (21·4% [20·5–22·3] of all male deaths in 2019), followed by high SBP, which accounted for 5·60 million (4·90–6·29) deaths (18·2% [16·2–20·1] of all male deaths in 2019). The third largest Level 2 risk factor for attributable deaths among males in 2019 was dietary risks (4·47 million [3·65–5·45] deaths, or 14·6% [12·0–17·6] of all male deaths in 2019) followed by air pollution (ambient particulate matter and ambient ozone pollution, accounting for 3·75 million [3·31–4·24] deaths (12·2% [11·0–13·4] of all male deaths in 2019), and then high FPG (3·14 million [2·70–4·34] deaths, or 11·1% [8·9–14·1] of all male deaths in 2019).

Jim Hansen's famous paper with a colleague showing that nuclear energy saves lives:

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power (Pushker A. Kharecha* and James E. Hansen Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (9), pp 4889–4895)

The vast expense for the useless so called "renewable energy will save us" fantasy.

The amount of money "invested" in so called "renewable energy" in the period between 2004 and 2018 is over 3.036 trillion dollars; dominated by solar and wind which soaked up 2.774 trillion dollars.

Source: UNEP/Bloomberg Global Investment in Renewable Energy, 2019

The trivial amounts of unreliable energy we got from this expenditure on the useless solar and wind industries compared to the energy produced by the vilified nuclear industry, also showing the scale of use of deadly and dangerous fossil fuels:

Source: IEA World Energy Outlook, 2021, page 294, Table A1A

Data with which show by calculation how many people the German antinukes, who funded Putin's war on the Ukraine with their dangerous fossil fuel purchases, are killing with their switch from nuclear to coal.

Anil Markandya, Paul Wilkinson, Electricity generation and health, The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9591, 2007, Pages 979-990.

Here's table 2:

Duncan Spoke of a Process

And what I have learned
of it, to repeat, repeated
as a day will repeat
its color, the tired sounds
run off its bones...

For my 30,000th post, which this is, I chose to look back at what I have done here, and why I did it. "What was in it for me," the Baby Boomer quest, was that writing at DU gave me the opportunity to make myself learn, sometimes as a reaction, and sometimes in hopes of doing my little part to allow us, Democrats in general, to change for the better, for now we are the party of Lincoln, the party which must and can think anew.

Now in closing, let me remark on what makes Democratic Underground Democratic: The founders and the operators of this website have embraced Democracy. They do not and have not, in general, despite their "ownership" of the site behaved in an autocratic fashion. I'm often obnoxious. Sometimes I step over the line. However, when I am so there is no autocratic fiat by which I am banned or my posts are hidden. Rather the admins here have created the wonderful "jury system" whereby the membership can decide on these issues of disagreement with a rule of law. DU's rules are defined. When one is called to a jury here, one must first read the rule to rule.

Secondly, there is the MIRT system, whereby DUers are called upon to rule on whether new members actually belong here or whether they are trolls. Although admins serve continuously on this task, the members of this function rotate. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on MIRT.

In short, Democratic Underground, embraces with Democratic values, in spite of no fixed requirement to do so.

This may contrast with say, DailyKos, which has an "owner" and which functions as an autocracy at worst, and oligarchy at best.

I am honored that in spite of my disagreement with certain elements of our dogma, I have been allowed to persist.

"Still, I persisted..."

Many years ago, long before I met my wife, when I was young, I spent an afternoon with a nice young woman, a refugee from a wealthy and sophisticated family, drinking wine laughing over a book of Kliban cartoons, whereupon we ended up taking a bath together and doing other fun stuff. It was nothing serious and went nowhere after that, but she liked me, she said, because she thought - even though I was something of a dummy in those days, looking back - she thought I was a pretty smart guy.

She, and I, loved this particular cartoon:

I leave it to others to decide whether I am "Judy with a tiny head" or a "callous sophisticate" or neither.

I thought I'd take the occasion of my 30,000th post, as meaningful as the number itself may or may not be, to reflect on what DU has meant to me, and equally important, what it has done for me.

And which one
is truly
to rule here? And
what country is this?

Have a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

Well, rather than read and reread my responses, people could find things out for themselves.

I do.

As for the claim that solar and wind cut into the use of fossil fuels, one would think that after trillions of dollars squandered on them the rate of accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is going down, but the opposite is true. The accumulation is accelerating.

I derived a crude quadratic equation reflecting this rate here:

A Commentary on Failure, Delusion and Faith: Danish Data on Big Wind Turbines and Their Lifetimes.

As of this writing, I have been a member of DU for 19 years and 240 days, which works out in decimal years to 19.658 years. This means the second derivative, the rate of change of the rate of change is 0.04 ppm/yr^2 for my tenure here. (A disturbing fact is that the second derivative for seven years of similar data running from April of 1993 to April of 2000 showed a second derivative of 0.03 ppm/yr^2; the third derivative is also positive, but I'll ignore that for now.) If these trends continue, this suggests that “by 2050,” 28 years from now, using the language that bourgeois assholes in organizations like Greenpeace use to suggest the outbreak of a “renewable energy” nirvana, the rate of change, the first derivative, will be on the order of 3.6 ppm/year. Using very simple calculus, integrating the observed second derivative twice, using the boundary conditions – the current data - to determine the integration constants, one obtains a quadratic equation (0.04)t^2+(2.45)t+ 419.71 = c where t is the number of years after 2022 and c is the concentration at the year in question.

Anyone who wants me to be impressed will show me data that gives different boundary conditions. However they don't because they can't.

Of course, fossil fuels were never the focus of the wind and solar scam. The goal was to attack nuclear energy, which has been successful in Europe, in particular in Germany with the result that energy poverty is arising because the Germans can't get Putin to take more of their money to use to kill Ukrainians.

I note that, in contrast to the Germans, most of the former USSR's former client states are embracing nuclear power. (The report linked cites Polish literature.)

One would think that if solar and wind were so damned quick to build, half a century of cheering for them and throwing huge sums of money at them would have led to them producing more than the roughly 11 exajoules they produce each year, and something like the roughly 30 exajoules nuclear, even with its infrastructure being defunded, has been producing each year for decades in an atmosphere of vituperation and selective attention.

As for my responsibility to answer questions, including deliberately loaded questions, I read for myself, find out things for myself, and it's not my job to teach the anti-nuke community how to face reality. Experience teaches that they won't do it anyway.

I'm an autodidact. Anyone can be one if they spend the time.

Rather than badger me, I wonder if anti-nukes can look in the mirror and see if they're wearing any clothes.

Anti-nukes don't answer the question "If used nuclear fuel is so 'dangerous' how many people have been killed by the storage of used nuclear fuel in the 70 year history of commercial nuclear operations?" even though they report so called "nuclear waste" to be a big, big, big, big "problem." When they act this way, I wonder if they're insane.

Why is it my job to answer them about anything?

They also can't explain why after all this "wind and solar are cheap" poor people can't afford electricity in Europe, why Germany's industries are shutting down and people are being laid off.

Crippling’ Energy Bills Force Europe’s Factories to Go Dark

Manufacturers are furloughing workers and shutting down lines because they can’t pay the gas and electric charges.

(Ref: NY Times, 9/19/22)

The planet is on fire. People have died all over the world from extreme heat. Rivers have disappeared. Glaciers that are the source of fresh water for billions of people are melting and disappearing Crops are failing from heat and a lack of water. Huge ecosystems are collapsing.

And I'm being asked to count beans on coal to nuclear conversions?

Should I include the payback for people not being killed because coal isn't burned because coal was replaced by nuclear?

The cost of rivers flowing because nuclear power produces reliable and constant power without driving climate change by relying on fossil fuel plants to start up?

How about the cost of forests not burning, also because nuclear plants don't need to fire up coal plants like the Germans do when the wind isn't blowing?

How about the cost of having water to irrigate crops also because nuclear plants don't drive climate change?

How about the cost of treating people disabled by air pollution, because nuclear plants can contain their by products on site indefinitely?

I linked a report. Anyone can read it. It's not my job to inform people whose main concern is the cost of the "clean up" of Three Mile Island and isolate it from the cost of the FACT that solar and wind are unreliable and inordinately expensive.

All the nickel and diming in on this issue frankly disgusts me.

A nuclear plant, no matter how much it costs, is a gift to future generations. This was true in my lifetime. My father's generation built the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant, which came on line in 1969 and was generating electricity for me at a low price until 2018. It operated for 49 years without killing anyone. It could have gone longer, but bean counters determined that burning dangerous natural gas and dumping the waste directly into the planetary atmosphere was cheaper.

Again, for whom?

My son is on the front lines of nuclear engineering. It seems quite likely he may interact with some of the people who wrote this report, since the nuclear research community in the national labs is relatively small and his advisor holds a joint appointment to one of those labs. I'm not going to bother him with, "An anti-nuke wants to know..."

Anyone who wants to find out about external costs, the costs to the environment and to living things, including but not limited to human beings can do so. I did. Anyone who wants to talk about construction costs and construction costs only, using selective attention and ignoring the costs of the redundant systems on which the short lived solar and wind junk depend is entirely missing my point, and there's no real value in discussing anything with them. They don't hear what they don't want to hear. They may as well be on a different planet. I, by contrast, am living on the planet that's regrettably burning because of irrational fear and deliberate ignorance.

Am I being clear?


I couldn't care less.

Three DOE National Labs (ORNL, ANL, INL) Report on the Conversion of Coal Plants to Nuclear Plants.

The full report is here: Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants. (ORNL, INL, ANL).

The trend in modern nuclear engineering is to treat the nuclear island separate from the islands devoted to producing consumer energy, in all most every case, electrical energy up to now. There is no intrinsic reason for doing so, steam Rankine engines either from the coal plants on which the antinuke rhetoric supports, or current dedicated nuclear plants are low thermodynamic efficiency, around 33%. While one can applaud the basic idea considered in reusing the steam turbines and heat sinks from coal plants for the conversion of nuclear heat to electricity, given that coal plants have a reliability second only to nuclear plants (and ignoring that coal plants kill people during normal operations and nuclear plants, um, don't), we do need to consider that because of climate change, the heat sink systems need adjustment. The ideal solution is to capture waste heat as liquid fuels, raise efficiency by raising reactor temperatures, and reject unused heat directly to the atmosphere rather than water, except in the case where electricity is a side product of desalination.

I discussed a thought experiment about the latter case here:

The Energy Required to Supply California's Water with Zero Discharge Supercritical Desalination.

Nevertheless, the consideration of this case, apparently under discussion in coal heavy Poland using either the Kairos or NuScale technology (cf pp 28-32 in the report) does seem of value. Coal steam turbines are designed to operate continuously, meaning that the materials in those turbines, as well as the attached generators should be considered for further use.

The DOE News Item: DOE Report Finds Hundreds of Retiring Coal Plant Sites Could Convert to Nuclear

An excerpt:

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released a report showing that hundreds of U.S. coal power plant sites could convert to nuclear power plant sites, adding new jobs, increasing economic benefit, and significantly improving environmental conditions. This coal-to-nuclear transition could add a substantial amount of clean electricity to the grid, helping the U.S. reach its net-zero emissions goals by 2050.

The study investigated the benefits and challenges of converting retiring coal plant sites into nuclear plant sites. After screening recently retired and active coal plant sites, the study team identified 157 retired coal plant sites and 237 operating coal plant sites as potential candidates for a coal-to-nuclear transition. Of these sites, the team found that 80% are good candidates to host advanced reactors smaller than the gigawatt scale.

A coal to nuclear transition could significantly improve air quality in communities around the country. The case study found that greenhouse gas emissions in a region could fall by 86% when nuclear power plants replace large coal plants, which is equivalent to taking more than 500,000 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles off the roads.

It could also increase employment and economic activity within those communities. When a large coal plant is replaced by a nuclear power plant of equivalent size, the study found that jobs in the region could increase by more than 650 permanent positions. Based the case study in the report, long-term job impacts could lead to additional annual economic activity of $275 million, implying an increase of 92% tax revenue for the local county when compared to the operating coal power...

I added the bold; my reason for supporting nuclear energy is not about saving a few bucks for the short term and screwing all future generations. My reason is ethical; it's about saving lives and leaving gifts for future generations, rather than liabilities.

The WNN news item:

US study assesses potential for coal-to-nuclear conversion

An excerpt:

Hundreds of coal power plant sites across the USA could be converted to nuclear plant sites, providing huge decarbonisation gains as well as bringing tangible economic, employment and environmental benefits to the communities where those plants are located, a new US Department of Energy (DOE) study has found.

A coal-to-nuclear (C2N) transition - siting a nuclear reactor at the site of a recently retired coal power plant - could help increase US nuclear capacity to more than 350 GWe, Investigating Benefits and Challenges of Converting Retiring Coal Plants into Nuclear Plants found. The USA's current nuclear fleet has a combined capacity of 95 GWe.

The report is underpinned by a study carried out by the Argonne, Idaho and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, sponsored by the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy. It is guided by three overarching questions: where in the USA are retired coal facilities located and what factors make a site feasible for transition; what factors of technology, cost, and project timeline drive investor economics over such a decision; and how will C2N impact local communities?

The team screened recently retired and active coal plant sites to identify 157 retired and 237 operating coal plants sites as potential candidates for a C2N transition, which it further evaluated on parameters including population density, distance from seismic fault lines, flooding potential, and nearby wetlands, to determine if they could safely host a nuclear power plant. It found that 80% of the potential sites are suitable for hosting advanced nuclear power plants of varying size and type, depending on the size of the site being converted.

The team then evaluated a case study of detailed impacts and potential outcomes from a C2N transition at a hypothetical site, considering various nuclear technology types for a range of scenarios including large light-water reactors, small modular reactors, sodium-cooled fast reactors and very high temperature reactors.

Of course, there are trends in some places to replace nuclear energy with coal.

Recently I engaged a rather stupid antinuke in an online conversation for the purpose of letting him, her or they display exactly how stupid he, she, or they is/are. It succeeded. The anti-nuke in question whined about so called "nuclear waste," but refused with childish evasions to answer the question I asked: "How many people in the 70 years of commercial nuclear power operations have been killed by the storage of used nuclear fuel?"

My favorite part in this exposure - the anti-nuke claimed not to be an anti-nuke as they typically do these days, now that they helped to destroy the planet - was showing data reflecting that the officially anti-nuke country Germany has shut its nuclear plants to burn coal. (Our President is clearly wiser than their Chancellors.)

Anti-nukes aren't very bright, so I made sure to use graphic representations; apparently they have low reading comprehension:

Germany's electrical generation sources for the last 5 years:

Germany's electrical generation sources for the last 30 days:

Source: Electricity Map, Germany (Accessed 9/16/22)

For comparison purposes here's France for the last 5 years:

I noted that the type of coal the Germans are burning, their primary domestic coal supply, is lignite.

I then pointed to a rather well cited study in Lancet - one I've referred to a number of times - suggesting the mortality rates associated with primary energy types

Here's table 2:

Anil Markandya, Paul Wilkinson, Electricity generation and health, The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9591, 2007, Pages 979-990.

When presented with the question, after lots of dumb excuses for not answering it, the anti-nuke rather reminded me of this fun interchange with former Senator Al Franken when he asked a straight up question (in another context) that his rhetorical opponent refused to answer, because the rhetorical opponent was lying:

While Franken's exchange was amusing; I'm actually not amused by anti-nukes. The planet is burning. Rivers have disappeared. Crops and people have been killed by extreme heat. Glaciers on which billions of people depend for their water supply are melting permanently. Vast oceanic ecosystems are being wiped off the face of the planet.

It's not funny, nor is it amusing.

Ignorance kills.

Have a nice weekend.

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